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Someone recently said to me, “If you think that time flies now, just wait until you have children!”.  Well as there are no children, save for those borrowed from my friends and family in my future plans, I’ll just have to settle for time passing at my own appalling rate.

 

I have been…busy…since I last blogged in so many, many ways.

 

My joy of fibre continues. My spinning had been amazing and I’m working on this Into the WhirledDSC_6335, in Mandarin (an old club offering on BFL) and this Enchanted Knoll DSC_6345, in Johnny Jump-Up on Superwash Merino.  More on the spinning soon because , OH BOY, do I have something to show you!!

I have been knitting, but not so much in the last week due to an unfortunate injury:

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Pepper was rather put out that we left her at home when we went on our recent camping trip to Salt Creek Recreation Area 20130720_143925 and didn’t let her seen the pod of Orcas 20130720_161505 or chase chipmunks and get tangled up like Sisu did 20130721_142151 so she took out her vengeance on my leg, claws and teeth, after purring and rubbing into me 5 seconds before.  I swatted at her, missed, hit the wall and heating vent and damaged my fingers badly enough for x-rays, good painkillers and at least 2 weeks in splints to protect me.  Yes, they still hurt 1 week in but I finally have some mobility back though I cannot make a fist or touch those fingers to my palm without pain and actually, they won’t bend that far at all, pain or no.  I am not impressed with myself.

 

Mike and I 20130721_082240 have been exploring our area more than just camping too.  We went up to Hurricane Ridge and admired the view  DSC_6470

and I loved the wildflowers too DSC_6440  Lupines always remind me of my Mum and that view is to be admired! DSC_6406

The biggest part of what I’ve been doing?  Running.20130519_124750_2  Finishing the Rhody Run with my friends was the start of my real training for the Seattle 10k and my mileage has only grown from there.  So much so that I have these to proudly display:  DSC_6473  Bruised toenails #1 and #2.  They are my external display of my long runs and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of myself.  11 weeks ago I was dreading the idea of 8 miles whereas now, my last long run was 13 miles in 2.5hours.

 

Oh yeah.  And I’ve been cooking and kitchen experimenting daily, bought a sewing machine and have made pj bottoms, skirts and an amazing infinity dress that I LOVE, have a successful herb garden in my strawberry pot, been reading and listening with voracity and spent far less time with my camera than I intend to do in the future.  And intend to keep this blog going as I know I have missed sharing and need to write again.

 

 

 

We ALL have them.  Its those little things that we do that make us, well, us.

My newest quirk is a little hard to explain.

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Well, actually, its easy to explain, just harder to Explain.

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Those things?  Yeah, those are part of my new daily habit.  Unsalted Kerrygold butter, MCT oil and locally roasted fair-trade coffee.

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The special butter is for various reasons.  You can read about the nutritional value of grass-fed butter vs. grain fed here, here and the importance of good butter here.

MCT oil takes a bit more explaining because I bet many people aren’t familier with it.  MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil, basically a fat that doesn’t have a long chain of fatty acid esters of glycerol.  It is found most commonly from Coconuts and Palms (Coconut and Palm oil are both MCTs)  There are lots of articles out there that extoll the virtues and uses of MCT oil in the athletic community, bodybuilding community and the low-carb (Adkins) community.  This blogger wrote a fantastic post with lots of links to studies regarding MCT oil and its usefullness.  I HIGHLY suggest taking a look if you are interested in more information.  I don’t care about the use of MCT for bodybuilding and I love rice, flavoured pasta and potatoes far too much to ever think about low-carb anything.  The BIG upside for me is that MCT’s are not digested by the liver or bile salts in general, they are absorbed directly and can be put to use in the body.  As someone who no longer has a bile concentrator in my body and who has been suffering with the digestion of nearly EVERY form of dietary fat, just let me tell you what a godsend discovering this has been for me.

You could also use coconut oil if you don’t have or want to try MCT oil.

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So now we see the addition of the third and final ingredient:  My own Port Townsend roasted coffeeMade in my fantastic vintage Regal Poly-Perk.

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Yes.  I am blending the coffee, MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together.  On High.  For 30 seconds to a minute.

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This is the result:  Creamy, frothy and perfectly hot, thanks to the speed of the Vitamix.

How does it taste?

Well, thats where my quirk gets quirkier.

Its amazing.  Creamy, smooth and perfect.

And this coming from someone who has ALWAYS had at least 2 sugar packets in a regular diner cup or at least 2 tablespoons of Coffeemate in her home-brewed mug.  For years I have been saying that my concession to “fake” food was Coffeemate but no longer.  I don’t need the sugar and don’t miss it.  As for the flavours, I have tried vanilla and almond extract and both are lovely additions.

Before you wrinkle your nose at the idea of butter and an oil in your coffee, stop and think.

Do you take cream/half-n-half/milk in your coffee?  Butter is simply whipped cream.  Or over whipped cream, depending on your POV.

Oil?  If you put Coffeemate/International Delight or ANY other non-dairy creamer in your coffee, you already are putting oil in yours.  A highly processed oil and most likely a trans fat.  Mine is simply better for you.

Now for the big question:  WHY?

Because I figured I had nothing to lose when the nutritionist at work told me about it.  She told me that drinking this “Bulletproof Coffee” helped her feel full while she was IF-ing and/or low-carbing.  Considering that I often fast by accident (get ‘too busy’ at work for lunch and go for 10+ hours), the idea of something that would help give me energy without a sugar crash or processed food binge was very appealing.  Let me be very clear though:  I DO try to eat and have healthy choices around if I take the time to eat them.  I just have no sense of time and it passes me by without me being aware until I am ‘starving’ with an hour before I get to go home and make dinner.  With the sun shining these past few days, I have totally taken my lunch breaks and enjoyed the sun, and the lunches, immensely.  I don’t generally skip meals on purpose.  Just usually.  On accident.

However…for the past week, this coffee has totally carried me through from 8am to 3pm with NO hunger and complete ability to resist the candy and snacks that have been out tempting me at work.  I feel alert, boundless energy and really enthusiastic about life in general.  Granted, this could be due to the increase of Vitamin D but I’m going to give the coffee its due.

Interested?

Do your own research like I did.  There are tonnes of blogs about different peoples trials of buttery coffee.  There are just as many articles out there about the benefits of grass-fed butter and just as many of those about MCT oil and Coconut oil.

Think I’m nuts and that this is just another fad in the food world?

Possibly.

If you discount the yak butter tea that has been drunk in Tibet and China and Bhutan so long that it has “Traditional” in front of ‘recipe’.

I just know it works for me.

Try it and let me know what you think!

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Sometimes what you really need in your life is a jump start.  For me, this project is my jump start back into blogging so I hope you enjoy it.

For me, one of my favourite holidays has always been Easter.  The promise of spring, the joy of hunting for our Easter Baskets that were expertly hidden, the pretty new dresses all were part of it, yes, but there was something else:  The Easter Tree.

When we lived on Craw Drive, there was a forsythia bush outside the first house we lived in and it was HUGE.  Not just kid huge, like that thing you think was SO BIG but really turns out to be small once you get to be full size, but really big, like big enough that we had multi-kid ‘forts’ underneath its branches.  I clearly remember my mum going and cutting some branches from that bush as it started to bud and bringing them inside to put into water.  The warmth of the house would push those buds into bloom and we would have beautiful spring yellow blooms on the table. Pussy willows sometimes would be a part too and their soft little paws I remember with fondness.

But there was more.  We would decorate those branches with Easter ornaments too.  Some were store bought…like the wooden bunnies pushing wheelbarrows, bunnies holding flowers, fuzzy chicks…but the ones that I remember best are the hand-made marbled eggs.  My memories of making these are vague at best.  I remember being in a garage, most likely in Cali, with newspaper and coffee cans on the floor (which was odd because I don’t remember coffee being drunk in my house at all, only tea), my mum and friends and dipping eggs into the cans.

Thats it.

But, Oh, these eggs.  Beautiful.  Marbled and shiny with the enamel paint.  Tender and delicate and one of the special joys of unpacking those Easter decorations.

Last year, when I started buying duck eggs at the Port Townsend Farmers Market from various sellers, I started thinking about how else I could use these beautiful eggs and it wasn’t a far leap to thinking about marbling them.  The leap was figuring out HOW to do it.  As I said, I didn’t really have a clear memory of the process.  Lucky for me, my Mum came to visit at the end of February.  Unlucky for me, we bought the wrong kind of enamel paint so we couldn’t do it!

Fast forward a few weeks.  Yesterday I stopped at the local art supply store and bought the right kind of paint and today I got to dye-ing!

Step 1: Assemble the cast of characters.

Blown Eggs.  Here are some of the duck eggs but in another box there are more duck and also 6 quail eggs too…DSC_6265

Bucket with water…DSC_6270Drying box, skewers for swirling, paper towel for wiping…DSC_6271And, of course, the enamel paint!DSC_6269

I used Testors enamels that I got at my local art store.  You MUST use these type (small bottles) of enamel paint/model paint, NOT the “enamel paint” you can get at JoAnns or Michaels in large bottles with the acrylics.  They are different.  If you can clean up with soap and water, it isn’t the right paint.  See the note at the end.

Step 2:  Prep the eggs for dipping.  I wiped the eggs with the alcohol to clean them of any residue so the paint will stick better.  I then threaded the eggs with pipe cleaners to make “handles” as well as holders for keeping the eggs up while drying.  I used full sized cleaners for the duck eggs and half sized for the quail eggs.

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Now the fun part!

Step 3:  Float the paint:DSC_6273Black and Silver shown here.

Step 4:  Swirl the paint:DSC_6274 DSC_6275

Make sure there are NO pockets of paint after the swirling because this will mean drops of paint on your egg.  You can see the paint pockets in the above photo…those little round dots of silver?  Yeah, that you want to avoid.  I swirled a bit more after the photo but I liked the look with the smaller quail eggs.

Step 4:  Get your egg…DSC_6276Step 5: Dip your egg straight down…DSC_6277

This is when the paint sticks to the egg.  If you look carefully, you can see that the paint has stuck to the egg under the water.  A better photo of this is on the next step.

Step 6:  Wipe the surface of the water free of paint.  DSC_6279This is important because you will be lifting the egg up again, obviously, and if you bring it up thru more paint, that paint too will stick and muddy the marbling.  Do you see how the paint is on the egg under the water?

Step 7:  Voila!DSC_6278

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Step 8:  Place egg onto the drying box and admire your handiwork!  Play with the colours and have fun!  Swirl more or less, use only 2 or all your colours…DSC_6290

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I had a great time!

Step 9: Allow eggs to dry in a safe, animal-free, minimal dust place for as long as it takes for them to dry.  This may be a few hours to a few days, depending on the humidity of your area.

There will be a Step 10 in a few days…threading and hanging, but right now the eggs are drying, safe in the guest room!

An Important Note:

Enamel paint is not water soluble.  I feel silly mentioning this since obviously it isn’t because it floats on the water to marble but this is important when it comes to clean up.  You need more than soap and water…in fact, soap and water won’t do anything for you at all except give you clean, paint filled hands.  And a ruined manicure.  Plan ahead.  Wear gloves if you’re smart!  Unlike me…DSC_6283

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The best thing to use to clean up is mineral spirits.  However, I didn’t think that far ahead.  But I did have nail polish remover.  The good stuff with acetone and that’s the key here.  The non-acetone stuff will leave you with still paint-filled fingers.  So a little rubbing later, I was the proud human with…slightly still stained fingers.  What had I missed?  The oil.  Mineral spirits or Turpentine, is made from petroleum.  With the nail polish remover, there was no oil to help the removal of the paint.  I washed my hands to get rid of the nail polish remover and then I used a finger full of my favourite coconut salt scrub (coconut oil and salt, nice and simple), rubbed briefly and…DSC_6288

Voila!

On the final day of the 4th Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour, I visited Compass Rose Farm and their Icelandic sheep.

One of the first things that grabbed me was the colours of the sheep.  Not just black, brown, grey and white but all types of shades that comes from different breeding.   Light brown, dark brown, brown-black, red brown, tan, carmael, brown with white/grey/black/different brown spots grey, silver, grey-black, white white, off white, white with brown/black/grey spots, black with white/brown/grey spots, black-brown, black black…the list goes on and on and on…

And, just for MORE variety, there were two guard llamas looking on.  Yes, guard llamas.  And, just as their sheep are different colours, they are too!

I had a wonderful talk about the sheep themselves and breeding practises in the US versus Iceland (for multi-coloured wool here vs meat and milk there) and the practises of Compass Rose Farm.  It makes me so glad to hear that breeding for colour and fine-ness are hand in hand for them.

After talking sheep for a while, I then looked around a bit more and admired their garden and plants and realised that I really like their set-up with the chip lined pathways…

but kept being drawn back to the animals.

It was a wonderful visit.  They also have bees, though I failed to photograph their 3 hives.  Like most of the farms that we visited, these lovely folks have chickens too, 4 different breeds, and I had to buy some eggs.

 

And yes, since you asked, some wool DID follow me home.  There was a beautiful black for Mike, much more black than the dark grey (dark brown) Romney we found yesterday but with enough character for me than I won’t feel like I’m spinning into an abyss.  26 ounces (1.625 lbs) in 2 bumps.

And a cinnamon tweed for me:

36 ounces (2.25lbs) in 2 bumps.  It was love at first sight and no, I’m not sorry at all that there is barely any room in the spare room wool room.  If I could have still fed my family and bought the rest of the cinnamon tweed, I would have.  Granted, if I had bought it, I would have needed less fiber to clothe us but I didn’t think it would be in our best interests.

All in all, this has been such a stellar weekend.  The weather has been lovely, the people super friendly, the animals beautiful and the fiber abundant.  While at Taylored Fibers, Barry showed me the rescue/freecycle llama, alpaca and random breed of sheep wool fleeces that he had washed and was ready for the carding machine in the next few weeks.  With glee I gave over the Shetland and two other alpaca fleeces and should have those in 6 weeks or so.  I am so very excited about getting started spinning all my new lovely wool so the real question becomes:  Which do I spin first?  Suri Alpaca? Jacob?  Romney?  Icelandic Black or Cinnamon?

So many choices came into being this weekend, we shan’t speak of the beautiful colours that are already in the stash or coming from the ITW club.  While I’m selling my Ladybug this weekend, I am sorely tempted to get another wheel so I can have multiple projects going at once!  Wouldn’t it be smart to have two though?  One for natural colours, one for those beautiful dyed woolies?  Makes sense to me!

This weekend is the Fourth Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour and I can’t tell you how excited I have been waiting for it to arrive.  Last year, I was all excited about going and then I didn’t have a job so no real money for fiber…but this year there was no problems what-so-ever.

Mike and I started our tour with a stop at Metro Bagels for our Chai (regular for him, soy for me) and bagels (plain bagel with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese for him, parmesan bagel with sun-dried tomato and garlic cream cheese for me).  We have a tradition of starting out our explorations with a breakfast from them and haven’t seen any reason to stop yet!  Everything goes better with chai and bagels to begin with and today was no exception.

We arrived at Ananda Hills promptly at 10am and spent over an hour talking and walking around there, admiring the tomato hot house, the guardian dogs with the chickens, seeing the Shetland sheep hiding in the hills and right outside the barn door, and talking for a long time with J and C, the amazing people who own and run the place.    I don’t think we could have had a better start to our day than visiting with them!

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Next we moved on to Spring Hill Farm and their beautiful Romney sheep.  I loved seeing all the variations in the colours, especially how it looked when blended!Image

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Out to Quilcene we went and onto Jacob’s Fleece where we met the lovely JG and her flock of Jacob sheep.  Talk about colours!  They have such a distinctive look and I must say, I have a ‘thing’ for critters with spots so they really appealed to me.

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Finally for today we stopped at Taylored Fibers, home of the Taylors and their fantastic fiber processing business in addition to seeing their Chevoit sheep.  I had quite a lot of alpaca to drop off for processing as well as something else that I’ll show you in a moment, but what I was really looking forward to doing was meeting Judith MacKenzie.  She was lovely and I hope that someday I’ll be able to take a class with her.  Fiber people are just some of the best people there are, I swear its true.Image

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Because we had to head home for a delivery, there is one more farm to visit on the tour and we’ll see them tomorrow.  We had a fantastic day visiting the sheep and their farms and their owners and I can’t wait to do more tomorrow.

One last thing…did you think that I could visit sheep and shepherds and not bring home souvenirs?  Nope, me neither and that would be why I brought my checkbook.

From Ananda Farm, I found a perfect Shetland in multiple shades of brown.  In a world where historically colours have often been bred out in search of the “perfect” white, I can’t tell you how excited I am.  Actually, I can:  Excited enough that I forgot to take a photo of the bag ‘o fleece before I handed it over to Barry Taylor and only have the sample of the locks that I pulled aside for myself!

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ImageSo perfect!  Before washing/carding: 3.5lbs

From Spring Hill Farm:  2 bumps of Dark Grey Romney, 15.75 and 15.25oz = 31oz (1oz shy of 2 lbs)

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Now, in the direct sun, you can see that they look MUCH more brown…but with myself casting a shadow:

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Quite a bit more grey.  Mike picked this out for himself so I am already plotting a project with him in mind!

From Jacob’s Fleece, 9.2 ounces of a true “grey”, if anything with spots can ever be truly one colour or another!Image

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Jan was spinning some of this herself and I just loved the tweed-y way the colours were blending.

I also picked up 2 ounces of pure heaven in batt form from Karen Rose of Rosebud fibers, a Port Townsend local company.  I was powerless to resist and you can see why:

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At Taylored Fibers, I dropped off my lovely new Shetland to be processed…along with 2 alpaca fleeces.  One was a 3+ pound cria fleece that I had been lucky enough to A) find on freecycle, B) be the first person to respond to the posting, C) have 2 years of growth, not the normal 1 and D) have Judith MacKenzie look at it just prior to me handing it over for processing and nearly have her swoon.  She laughed and was enthralled and could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me that she had bought some alpaca fleece recently that was nearly exactly like this…for $65/lb.  Seriously.  I knew that it was something special, so fine and long and just lustrous but now I’m even more excited about it!

The second was a birthday present from my amazing sister J.  She went to a fair in MI and walked thru the shearing and showing barn where alpaca fiber was on display.  After looking around and feeling and talking to people, she made a purchase of 3 pounds of cream alpaca with a gorgeous crimp to it.  It has a 2-3″ staple and is so lovely.  I feel so lucky to have such a thoughtful sister!

All told, I have…a LOT of fiber now.  Alpaca, llama and wool that were an amazing find from freecycle, alpaca from my sister, Romney, Shetland and Jacob from local sheep AND some lovely brown from Friday Harbor sheep that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the breed!  I have satisfied my want for natural wools for…most likely the rest of my life.

And tomorrow I get to visit Icelandic sheep…and THAT will be it.  Really.

Instead of launching into a mass of reasons why I haven’t posted, what has been going on with me and my general life status; it should suffice to say that I have been floundering in an ocean of depression, have taken many mouthfuls of brackish water, dodged the flotsam and jetsam of plans, saved all the wool, planted a long awaited garden and finally, finally learnt to swim again.

 The Wool:

A trio of socks; blue for me, boy colours for the boy.

     

A shawl.  More specifically The Jubilee Year Shawl

…which I am calling “Happiness” both because it is making me very happy to use this skein of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn (188) which I have had in my stash since 2008 or so and happy because I finally feel like I have found the true calling for this yarn.  It has tried to be socks and mittens and a hat and none of those things looked…right.  And then I found this pattern purely by chance and it is perfect.

What you aren’t seeing in this wool section is something that is done and gone and I, being the forgetful Auntie that I am, forgot to take photos of said items first.  I made my new nephew (RGB) 12 single socks from KP’s Imagination and then knit him blanket squared with the remaining 22g of the skein.  Actually, what I did was a bit more complicated than that…I wound each 50g skein into a ball, knit a single baby sock using my standard baby sock pattern, weighed the remaining and split it into 2 22g balls.  I then used 22g to knit RGB’s baby blanket.  What you see here is the second 22g knit into mitered squares with a bundle left over on top.  As I finish this project, I’ll give you more details on it but the general plan is that this will be joined by 12 more colours (24 total), yes, I know you only see 7 here but the other yarn isn’t squared yet, and become a blanket and more baby socks.

Also in Wool is the beautiful Intentions yarn that I have been spinning and thinking through.  This project became so much more than I thought it would and while life got in the way and derailed my plans for doing the project in a year, I am so happy to still be working through it.

   

This is Patience and is perfect for the lesson that I am learning.  Thats part of what makes me love my Intentions project.  Though it is nothing like I planned, it is exactly what I needed and has been fitting into my life exactly as I needed it.

The Garden:

6 years ago, I made a plan.  I wanted a herb garden in a strawberry pot.  I knew I wanted rosemary on top, cilantro (coriander), dill, thyme, marjoram, oregano, chives and sage, all the herbs I love to use, in the pockets.  The only problem was that I was living remotely and the getting of said pot, herbs and soil was an insurmountable challenge due to cost and logistics.  Since then I haven’t lived long enough in a big enough town to have my dreamed of herb garden.

Until now.

I can not tell you how happy it makes me to have this wee garden.  Something that I have wanted for ages is finally mine and just the thought of it makes me smile.  And salivate because I can’t wait to use the herbs along the way.

I also planted Orange mint and Spearmint with a Chamomile between them:And two of a crazy plant that I couldn’t resist because of my love of and for them:

Artichokes.

Swimming:

In other parts of life, I have gotten back into running almost by force.  I say “force” but what I really mean is that I registered for the Rhody run (12k) on May 20th, the Seattle 10k at the end of August (again) AND the Seattle Half Marathon the Sunday after Thanksgiving and if I don’t “get back into running” then the registration monies go down the toilet and I embarrass myself when I try to complete any or all of these events.  So running it is and I feel great doing it.  Makes me wonder why I was foolish to ever let myself stop.

In all parts of life…I feel like I am…getting there.

Emotionally.  Physically.  Mentally.

I’m not quite sure where “there” is but, as always,

“It is the Journey, Not the Destination”.

 

 

 

Lucky me, I had to pick M up from the airport on the 30th and since we were so close to Seattle, and niece S wanted to go in anyway, we went to Uwajimaya, a HUGE asian supermarket. I found so many yummy things, a very cute present for M for Christmas and had a fun ferry trip back across towards home.

 

I have a few fond memories that many would call…odd…to say the least.  One of my most treasured memories is making calamari with my mum.  Now, I’m sure that some of you may have bought the pre-breaded calamari rings and either fried or baked them yourself but I am talking about making-from-scratch-including-the-dissection.

For some reason we had bought a box of squid (I’m sure I saw it and begged for it because it would be ‘fun’ to make it ourselves) and spent an afternoon cleaning, de-quilling, de-beaking, creating rings and making a squiddy feast.  I remember how she showed me how to do the cleaning so I would not burst the ink sacs and my curious mind actually focused on looking at the entrails and I won’t even talk about how excited I got when I cleaned a female squid full of eggs!  We made two different dishes and they tasted all the better because it was the whole experience that was savored.

Trust me, I do have a point here and it all links together:

 

This Holiday season, make a savory food memory with your kids.

Make a savory dish together that is partly fiddly, possibly hard to gather the ingredients for and required steps to make.  Include them in all the steps and take your time.

Do they like calamari?  Trust me, making your own from scratch is a fantastic memory.

Someday, when they are older, they might buy their own squid so they can repeat the experience themselves.  I know I did.

Did you know that there are only 24 more shopping days until Christmas?  20 if you are Hanukkah shopping.  Didja? Didja?  Didja?

Oh yes, it is that time of year again.  What am I saying?  Its been “that time of year” since October but the insanity and pressure of “Holiday Shopping” has and will only get worse.  I’ve been grateful for the past 3 years NOT to have cable service because I was spared the incessant jingles, scare tactics and pressure to buy, Buy, BUY!  However, I am noticing something as a childless adult…I’m not feeling the pressure, only the disgust at our completely commercialised western culture.

Want her love?  Remember what kiss begins with or what store to shop in to make the burly football player smile.

Want to make him cheer?  Buy tools or a red metal toolbox.

Want the kids to be happy?  Buy one of a zillion and a half toys.  Better yet, buy lots.

Despite the ABC World News push to have a “Made in America” holiday, ITS STILL ABOUT BUYING!  Now, I am in favor of creating jobs as much as the next person but really, I would rather save my money entirely, have a handmade holiday or give a family gift.

Here is my plan for a revolutionary holiday:

A)  If you feel like you MUST shop:

#1:  Before you shop for anything, purge your closets.  Go thru and clean out the clothes you don’t wear, the toys your kids don’t play with and the ‘things’ that you have around that are just gathering dust.  Give away to your local charity shop.

#2: Make a list of your NEEDS.  Do you/your partner/the kids in your life NEED a new winter coat?  How about boots?  How about underwear or socks?  How about diapers?  How about crayons or paper?  Parents, be honest, wouldn’t you rather your kid have new socks or snow boots that they can actually USE or a beeping, flashing, noisy toy that will drive you batty and run on hellishly expensive batteries?  I thought so.

#3: Make a list of your WANTS.  For me, I REALLY WANT a kitchen aid mixer, like really, really badly.  Mike really, really wants an Xbox with Kinect.  Keep it simple and keep it to the “Really, Really” wants.

#4: Make a list of your likes.  Do you like yarn, non-food or floral scents and the colour blue and red?  How about yellows and greens, fruity smells and hair products?  War games?  Chocolate?  Car toys?  Bicycles?  Horses?  BE SPECIFIC!!!  You can also make a very specific dislikes list but its easier to shop for someone when you know what they really like.

#5: Share those lists with your family.

#6: Buy accordingly.  Needs come first, then wants.  Consider buying only gifts that can be for the whole family instead of person specific.  The mixer will provide hours of kitchen fun and the Xbox hours of playing together.  We both win.

#7: Go volunteer for at least 1 hour for every ‘thing’ you buy.  Trust me, if you have time to battle the stores or search the ‘net for the best deals, you have time to help someone in need.

B)  If you feel crafty:

#1: Make nearly identical gifts for everyone.  I still think that the best year of my giving was when I made stained glass angels for everyone.  Using scraps and leftovers from my Mums projects, I changed the colour of the dresses, made some look left, others look right but made a bunch for family and friends.

#2 Knit/Make slippers.  Everyone needs slippers and wearing them in the house cuts down on the vacuuming.  Win-Win for everyone!

#3 Recycle containers and fill with other goodies.  I know I plan to make snowmen like Kristy did and fill them with mint hot chocolate or russian tea.

#4 Should time run out, give IOU’s!  Adults understand this more than kids so try your best to complete the kids gifts first.

C) Give

#1: Give of your time and skills.  Not only am I advocating volunteering but also giving of yourself to your family.  Offer to babysit the niece/nephew(s) while the parents go out.  Offer to do the laundry while your partner has some alone time.  Offer to make their favourite snack during Sunday football.  Give coupons and follow thru and all will be happy.

#2: Give to your favourite charity.  Heifer International is mine and, like always, I am giving a Knitters Gift Basket to a needy family in honour of my Nana.  What better way to share the holiday season than giving to people who are in true need?

D) Create traditions NOT around gifts.

Mike and I are really looking forward to having a feast like we did last year:

and watching Christmas specials.  I’ve got to work on Christmas day so nothing fancy for us but really, we don’t need it.

What are your non-commercial holiday ideas?

I have been temped, so very sorely temped, in these past few days to spend money on yarn.  Sheri at The Loopy Ewe just got in some Amazing colours in bases that I really enjoy and crave, especially the new line from Fiesta, Baby Boom Spirit of the Southwest, and wouldn’t a few skeins of that make some lovely socks?  I swear, just about each of those colourways could find a very loving home here with me.

And then I remember:  I have a few skeins of FBB that are waiting to be knit…2 of Surf, 2 of Alaska, 2 of Arctic Ice and 1 of Spring Chill to be exact.  Each was bought at a different time and for a very specific reason.

The Arctic Ice is to become the Rimefrost socks from Knitspot because it seems that I have more than a soft spot for Anne Hanson patterns since I knit Sprossling and have Bel-Air ready to be knit and would love to make a handful of her other patterns besides.  There is something about her patterns that just takes me away and makes me want to knit more of her functional lace…which is what I love about her patterns, the functional, sensible garment that have such beautiful lace in it.  Getting my copy of Rimefrost for my binder was the beginning of the love affair with Knitspot back in September 2009…but sadly, that is where that pattern has been since then.  Often looked at, often moved to the front of the binder but always moved back a bit to make way for something else.  The yarn sits in its icy-blue coldness staring at me from the sock yarn bin.

The Spring Chill came from a blog friend, Muddy Moose who was doing a de-stash back in February.  It was a special colour that was part of The Loopy Ewe club for March 2010 but there was just something that called to me in its blue-green-purple-cream amazingness that I offered to take it off her hands and, once she found it, she sent it on its way.  It was the perfect timing because I got the yarn just as spring began its slow creep into Nelson Lagoon…a process that takes more than a few months and I thought that I would have socks to celebrate the spring when it fully came on.  Other projects have gotten in the way though and the skein sits, completely forgotten, in the sock yarn bin.

Alaska came to me in December of 2008 for obvious reasons of being called “Alaska” and being a lovely blend of purple, blue and teal.  A very cold colourway and certainly says “Alaska” and reminds me of visiting the Mendenhall Glacier, knitting in front of another Southeast glacier in between running gear and wearing all of my cold-weather gear while walking in a blizzard with my best buddy M and still getting frosty eyelashes despite feeling toasty warm.Yet the yarn sits, untouched, in the sock yarn bin.

 

 

 

Surf called to me with memories of the waves lapping against the boat and made me thing of capturing the beautiful surf crashing against the beach in Nelson Lagoon that June of 2009But has yet to become anything other than beautiful string sitting in my sock yarn bin.

Why?

Why do I have the craving for more of something when I have never knit a stitch with what I have previously bought?

I don’t feel pressure of a “One Time Only!” or a “Limited Edition” or “Buy More”.

I’m not scared that some fluke of genetic nature will cause all the sheep in the world to lose their fuzz so I need to stockpile for the fleeceless apocolypse.

I’m not worried that the artists over at Fiesta or any other yarn company or indi dyer will go on strike or will encounter a world-wide shortage of dyes.

And I’m not limited to just the FBB.  I have some yarn from my very first Loopy Ewe order back in August of 2006!  To that end, I am SO on a yarn purchasing restriction.  Not a diet because we all know that diets never work, but a “Use It” mantra.  The pope isn’t coming to admire my beautiful collection of string and I’m not even Catholic to care but if I show off knit socks?  Everyone admires.

I bought these beautiful skeins because I wanted to wear them, not stare at them.

If you have the answers, I would love to hear it.  Until then, I’ll be here…

knitting a pair of Rimefrost socks in Fiesta Baby Boom in Arctic Ice and planning my next projects with my other FBB.

Because only then can I buy more.

I am getting back on “a schedule” and am LOVING IT!  Not only does my day have a rhythm again focused by work but that means that my crafting life can merge too.  While I am still in the early stages of scheduling, there is a smoothness that I really, really enjoy.  Let me catch you up on what I’ve been doing:

 

There is a “guest room” that is in shambles

and will be tidied tomorrow on my day off 🙂  I had a hard time at Jo-Annes on Saturday…learning what size of fabric could work and what couldn’t but I finally came away with

patterns

 

and fabric for PJ trousers for Mike  and I 

and fabric for skirts… 

and for a jumper

Just let me tell you how excited I am about getting into these….VERY.  I finally live in a place where I can wear skirts and my oh so comfortable heels on a regular basis and not worry about sand and wind and now, all I have to wait for is an iron and then I can get started in making some very nice new skirts to wear!

The sewing machine hasn’t been idle though…First up was a duvet cover that I did when making sure that the machine worked.  It would be folded but needs to be washed because I am pretty sure that the sheets were last washed in Tide and I do NOT want a full body allergic reaction…my hands were itchy enough.

I had planned to hand stitch a small market bag from leftover tulle and old ribbon at the end of June but, after a few failed attempts due to darn slippery tulle, put it aside until last Saturday when it finally became this:

Sorry for the overexposure but you can see the flower edging there around the bag and the handle too.  I also, while sorting thru the odds and ends I rescued from dry-rotting away, I found a cut out (what I though) leg to cotton trousers.  Since I can’t wear just one leg of trousers with the blinds up, I thought that I would just lay the fabric on the remains to use as a pattern and just make another and then sew them up…and I did :

and then I talked to my mum and found out that PJ patterns are Fronts and Backs, not just legs…so the excess fabric in the front of my new trousers isn’t because I mis-sewed, it’s because I don’t have a rear on my front.  Go figure.  I’ll wear them regardless because a) they are my first adult garment and b) I like the stamp fabric. 

 

On the spinning front, I have been happily plying Intentions and I’ll have a few of those in specific posts.  I am still working on them and still loving them and I’ll update you all ASAP.

 

On the knitting front, I finished the top for E

and, despite thinking that it would be ribbing hell, it wasn’t that bad.  I knit mindlessly while watching Season 7 of Greys Anatomy, which is my form of TV crack, and finished it yesterday.  I’m going to see E on Friday and we’ll see if it fits.  If so, YAY!  If not, well, its a good thing that she has a little brother, C! 🙂  Yes, it does look small and skinny but remember, ribbing stretches and what gets wider also gets shorter so it needs to be oddly long so it fits.

 

Since finishing, I began a Karin Kurbits hat (that is Johanne, the designers, blog and photos) (Rav link) (Loopy Ewe Link) in Spud and Chloe in “Popcorn” which is nearly white but just this side of cream and Noro Kureyon Sock in 188 which is gorgeous purple and green, both of which I bought at The Loopy Ewe from the fabulous Sheri.  I love colourwork and can’t wait to get thru this ribbing and onto the stranding.  I’m using my Kollage square 2.25mms to rib and think that I’ll switch to my KP’s 1.5’s (2.5mm) to do the colourwork but as the hat is ‘slouchy’, I may stay with the smaller needles to make it less slouchy and more of a fitted hat but we’ll see!

 

Thats all for now as I’m off to make lunch.  One of the biggest changes in my life is that lunch has become the biggest meal of the day since I am working from 2pm-10pm but I’m enjoying that change.

TTFN!