You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Simple Living’ category.

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?

Hope is important.  In my life, it is the hope for a more beautiful tomorrow that really keeps me going.  That is not to say that today isn’t wonderful and brilliant but, if you think about it and for me, every ‘next day’ IS more beautiful than the last simply because it is the next and holds all sorts of untold and potentially amazing adventures.  Of course, it could also be rather bland but that is OK too.

 

Someday soon I am going to have to track down exactly when I became such a Pollyanna…I’m becoming annoyed with me.

 

The past two weeks for me have been about my hope for a future out of Nelson Lagoon.  Not that this place and the people here are not beautiful and perfect for what and who they are…they are, for certain, and I will love and miss them each in their own ways.  But there is something calling me…

And that voice always means one thing for certain:

Packing.

Ok, so this isnt my ideal amount of “stuff” but bear with me here since one of the green and one of the grey are Ms’ leftovers so those don’t even count!  The others are mine though and I claim them 🙂  One grey is linens…2 sets of sheets, a quilt and a duvet.

One of the green is books, a few fiction that I adore, cookbooks that get a weekly if not daily workout and knitting books that I refuse to live without.  I had a few others packed for sentimental reasons but have decided to share them.  Whats the point of a great book if you hide it?

The blue has two suitcases in it and those have my shoes, dress clothes and my sleeping bag.  Those things cannot be pared any more…I’m already sending shoes to my mum!

The other green has food stuffs that would not be easy to re-buy.  Most are specialty from the UK so are totally worth the shipping charge.  Also in the box are my kitchen utensils that I really love and don’t want to re-buy, my mugs that are special to me and the flatware of my childhood.

The last grey is my fragile box.  Inside are glass balls and Marsali…both packed with copious amounts of egg carton foam and bubble-wrap that I virtuously left un-popped.  There are also my framed prints and Christmas decorations.  Since there are only 2 prints and I have just a small tree with only lights and no decorations, I don’t feel the need to pare there either.

Left to be packed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a few bags and skeins of fiber-y goodness 🙂  Honestly though, those become the “packing material” for my wheel.  I never have been more grateful that I kept a box in my life.  The wheel fits in and all the contents of those totes go-round and keep each other safe during shipping.  Yes, I insure the box heavily…after a quick inventory, I have well over $700 in spinning fiber alone and most of those are unrepeatable colours.  This doesn’t even cover the yarns so yes, there is major insurance.  I also insure the computer box, another box that I am glad I kept (but I knew that I would be moving when I bought it so I kept it on purpose) and, for the first time, I am insuring a separate tote because that will have my laptop in it, along with other odds and ends.  Those things will go out on Tuesday the 7th.

Finally left?  My backpack with clothes and Sisu with her kennel.  I know that I can’t manage her kennel, her on a leash AND a suitcase AND a carry-on so I’m down to my red backpack as a carry on (complete with Kindle, iPod and knitting) and my large backpack as my luggage.  When I get off the plane in Anchorage I can zip-tie one backpack t’other and Roberts my mothers brother!  Hand free to leash the Su’ and manage the unwieldy kennel.

So where does “Hope” come in?

I hope I can get thru Intentions: “Hope” before I have to pack my wheel.

I hope that I haven’t overlooked something key.

I hope that, while leaving my buddy is painful, the inspiration of my own possibilities carries me thru.

I hope that I remember that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t really a train, though I may feel like I’ve been hit by one.

I dwell in Hope…

Always.

The post idea for today was: Are you stressed out?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

Nope, there is NO stress here at Chez Sisu.  In fact, there is a great joy, anticipation and relaxation around here and here’s why:

Joy?

Oh yes.  The Cold Bay store got a shipment of frozen okra and that means that I can make Okra and Tomatoes, a dish that I just LOVE but havent been able to make properly, due to lack of frozen okra, in 2 years.  It will be hard not to eat the whole batch in one sitting but considering the hours I would have to spend in the loo tomorrow if I do so, I think I’ll restrain myself.

Anticipation?

There is brown rice in the rice pot and lemon chicken (and shrimp) in the crock pot right now.  I’m waiting for the rice to finish and the shrimp to pink up.  The shrimp were a late addition to the pot…I had made a really good version of lemon chicken {3 Bl/Sl Chicken thighs, 3T lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, 1/2c water, 1 T chicken bouillon on high 3 hours} and then fished the chicken out, added 3T of soy sauce and 6 frozen shrimp and popped the lid back on.  They are nearly done and its been about 20 minutes.  Yes, I should be worried that any possible bacteria haven’t been killed because the broth hasn’t come to a boil, but as I’ve never gotten sick (knock on wood), I’ll enjoy it as broth over the top of all foods on my plate tonight.

Relaxation?

My Ribby Cardi #2 knit from City Tweed in Orca and Cottontail (Cottontail doesn’t seem to be available anymore, I’m glad I got lots.)  For some reason, I am loving this right now.  I’m knitting it in one piece and, so far, No Worries.  However, I bet money that there will be some issues as my work goes on just because the pattern has to be re-written.  I’m going to take my time though and just work steadily through using all Ravelry tips I can get!

I am spinning Connection, my third Intentions roving and really, all of the above things blend into feeling connected.  I have grand memories of eating okra and tomatoes AND using the crock pot with my family.  I was given my rice pot by the family I was a nanny for and I have quite treasured memories of all of them.  Knitting always makes me feel like I am connected with my Mum, who taught me to knit, and my Nana, who was ALWAYS knitting.  My cardigan was a good knit the first time that I made it (sadly felted it too much to wear again) and I can’t wait to have another, especially one knit in these colours because they match a Favorite Sweater that I had bought at Primark when I was in Belfast…and then lost in Seattle, most likely at Pike Place Market.

To further the connection, I am feeling very connected to M as he is away.  I feel his absence quite keenly this time and I think its because there is a HUGE reason why he is gone:  Training for a new job.  A job that is going to take us away from Nelson Lagoon and on to a new village.  We will be moving together.  Making a fresh start together.  Being connected together.  Being a part of a Couple.

And I am so excited about it, the spinning, M and the move, and the feeling of connectivity is the part that makes me know that everything is as it should be.

 

The Grand Update of my 101 in 1001!

101 in 1001
Grand Aim: To do some amazing things along with the mundane before my 30th Birthday.  To live my life fully and with no gaps between what I want and what I do.
Begun: 1/1/09
Formally Ends: 9/29/11  Goal End Date: 8/29/11 (970 days)

Completed

In the works

(Altered)

Last updated 12/2/09
1.    Go 24 hours w/out TV once a week
2.    Read Narnia Series
3.    Read “Alaska” by Michener
4.    Read Higgins ‘Sean Dillon’ books
5.    Listen to 1 podcast a day – 335/1001
6.    Move DVD’s into 1 case and out of jewel cases
7.    Borrow and read 3 books a month from the Library (I’m calling this one In the Works since I’ve gotten/am getting books for my Kindle)

8.    Watch 9 movies a month
9.    Return Netflix movies the day after watching them
10.    Read the Bible
11.    Read all of Terry Pratchetts ‘Discworld’ series
12.    Catch up and continue reading Brian Jacques ‘Redwall’ series
13.    Read all of Jane Austen’s novels
14.    Hike the Superior Trail
15.    Visit Hawaii
16.    Visit all of UK
17.    Visit Marquette 3 times – 1/3
18.    Lose 40 lbs – Lost 60!
19.    Keep it off
20.    Spa day-the works- on 30th Birthday
21.    Manicure or Pedicure every other month (DIY at home so I can use up some Mary Kay handcare)
22.    Shave once a week – 143 Shaving is SO far from important to me
23.    Take a vitamin every day for 3 months – 90/90
24.    Do a cleansing fast. Nope.  Not important and chances are, not healthy either!
25.    Be in bed by 10 pm 6 days a week
26.    Get up at am 5 days a week Jan-May 09
27.    Walk Sisu 2 laps – 5 days a week Jan-May 09
28.    Walk Sisu 2 mi/day May -?
29.    Drink only 1 cup of coffee per day
30.    Workout 1 hr, 5 days a week @ PF Jan-May 09
31.    Workout ‘Biggest Winner’ 4 days a week May -? I just went to walking Sisu and running and it was perfectly me 🙂
32.    Complete couch to 5k program using Podrunner Intervals
33.    Try 10 Pilates workouts – 5/10
34.    Run 2 – 5k’s
35.    Eat Vegetarian 1week/month 6 times – 6
36.    Eat beans not meat 1 meal/week for 6 months – 20/24
37.    Have friends over for dinner 1/month (Trying but fallen way short)
38.    No processed foods 2 days/week for 12 months – 24
39.    Buy and enjoy 2 bottles of wine/month – 64
40.    Save 75% of income Jan-May 09 Save 50% of income Jan-May
41.    Review and plan savings when I get a new job
42.    Detail and monitor $300/month budget Jan-May 09
43.    Review, detail and monitor new budget May 09
44.    Use cash or check for all minor purchases.
45.    Pay off all credit cards by May 09
46.    Pay off student loan by Jan,‘10
47.    Get a CHA/P position
48.    Move
49.    Put laundry away immediately after folding
50.    Vacuum once a week
51.    Organize and de-clutter once a month
52.    Put all important documents into a binder
53.    Create workout binder
54.    Write letters to family members 1/month – 32
55.    Email Mum once/week – 143
56.    Keep in touch with Jessica Campbell
57.    Blog 2 times/week
58.    Update 101 list once/week
59.    Pare down possessions to 4 totes, 2 suitcases, wheel and dog food J
60.    Catalog entire yarn stash
61.    Catalog entire fiber stash
62.    Keep both #60 and #61 up to date bi-monthly
63.    Spin thru entire fiber stash as of 1/1/09
64.    Knit 12 sweaters for myself (3/12)
65.    Buy no more sock yarn until all existing stash has been used 2/24
66.    Knit hats from remaining Noro 0/6
67.    Spin 30 mins/day
68.    Knit 2 hours every other day
69.    Knit Christmas ornaments 1/month – 3/32 (gave 2 away!)
70.    Put all patterns into pockets and into a binder
71.    Organise patterns
72.    Photograph all WIP’s every other week
73.    Update Ravelry every other week
74.    Knit 3 baby sweaters for Bolliger baby 2/3
75.    Buy only Etsy handpainted fiber after all stash has been used
76.    Knit a Christmas Stocking for myself
77.    Knit thru ‘The Great American Afghan’
78.    Go to OR fiber festival
79.    Go to MI fiber festival
80.    Go to sock summit, Portland, OR 8/09
81.    Only buy yarn for a specific project.
82.    Work towards becoming self-sufficient
83.    Research raising ducks
84.    Research raising rabbits
85.    Research raising bees

86.    Write a business plan for dyeing yarn and fiber

87.    Research land availability
88.    Save towards buying house and/or land
89.    Plant herb garden/pots
90.    Plant vegetable garden
91.    Be open to dating after May ‘09
92.    Pray Daily
93.    Get my dresser from Mum I’ve got to first find a longer term housing arrangement first, then I can get my furniture!
94.    Knit 3 vests of different styles with at least 1 being of my own design

95.    Design and knit one pair of mittens.

96.    Knit 2 things using patterns from 365 Knitting Sitches a Year

97.   “Bite it, Write it and Move on” for 3 months

98.    For 2011
99.    For 2011
100.    For 2011
101.    Make a new list

 

I love reading thru this list nearly as much as it formatting between Word for Mac and WordPress annoys me…some things I just can seem to be able to alter.  On the other hand, there are some things that I can do something about and its those that look like they are going to be the most interesting.  I have to laugh at myself when I read some of my goals…12 sweaters?  What was I on when I thought that THAT would happen?  Using up ALL my sock yarn before buying more?  Um, No.  I failed at that one early on.  My list was written when I was in a very different place…physically and mentally, A year ago I was in a different, different place and today I am looking forward to a whole NEW different place within the time of the list expiring…a new place that can change a lot of these plans and ideas into real things.  Growing green things is hard when you dont have any dirt in your region…but after re-doing #47 and #48, there will be plenty of dirt, a chance to become more self-sufficient, raise ducks/chickens and plan on what I am going to with the last two “For 2011” challenges.

For the record:  #98 is Spin my Intentions Rovings.  I really, really like what I have come up with so far with this project and I can’t wait to see what the next 12 rovings bring me.

Happy Old Years Night!  Stay Tuned tomorrow of my Knitting/Spinning recap of 2010 and some photos of recent adventures.

I think when I knit.

Sometimes deep thoughts, sometime shallow but always inwardly focused.  Knitting and Spinning is the time when I can mentally shut out the world and just focus on me.

Lately my thoughts have been deep inner ramblings that have stilled my hands over the needles and my “normal” knitting WIPs have dwindled as I thought more and knit less, I haven’t been able to sit at my wheel for nearly a month because of work travel…and I see that as part of a problem.

For me, knitting and spinning is a stress relief and a way of escaping into my thoughts and soothing them with wool.  I figure out most of my woes with the balm of lanolin and pretty objects and not doing that has lead to a buildup of nearly toxic levels.  *I* feel toxic and I am sure that my someone is suffering for it as well.  The last thing I want is to have my toxicity rubbing off on someone who I love and the other someones who I see on a work-daily basis.  Not good all around.

So here is me trying to knit, spin and think more and reduce those toxic levels…I don’t think that my run this afternoon will hurt any either 🙂

While I’m in Anchorage, I have a LOT of shopping to do.  I say I but what I mean is M has a lot of shopping to do.  He is going to the VPSO academy on January 2nd and needs to get all the necessary gear from undershirts to boots and that means a lot of shopping.  Lucky for us, he had a brilliant idea: Shop with a suitcase.

Seriously.

We walked thru the malls and various shops with my empty suitcase in tow and whenever we bought something (or multiple somethings), we put it into the bag instead of carrying plastic bag.  Not only did we not have to use plastic bags, (a great way to be green!) we only had to pull one bag!  The best part of this idea was that we weren’t trying to juggle multiple bags the entire day.  It was the best idea I’ve ever heard and if I was trying to shop again during the Christmas season, I would totally bring another suitcase.  I give M all the credit for having such a fantastic idea!

 

As I am passing through Anchorage on my way to Nome I am able to endulge in some luxuries. I had a wonderful dinner of sashimi and sushi and an A-MAZING glass of plum wine. I stopped at the Asian grocery store before getting a cab home and picked up some Furikake (rice seasoning), black currant sweets and packet miso soup, all to enjoy up in Nome and headed home to indulge in the BIG luxuries…cable TV and high-speed Internet.

And less than 20 minutes into my cable connection, I am ready to cut the cord already, all because of commercials. Jewelery commercials in particular. They all seem to say to men, “Get her this sparkly thing and make her Christmas”, and worse,  “If you don’t get her this shiny thing to prove your love, you don’t really love her” From kisses beginning with ‘K’, which is, in my opinion, one of the smartest slogans to the horrifying commercial with the kid oogling the chocolates who grows up to be the woman oogling the ‘chocolate’ diamonds (because we don’t have ENOUGH issues with food as it is, we need to now relate diamonds to food too?), its all about one-upping the gift giving between partners…

AND IT IS STUPID!!

So here is the solution: Remember that there no such thing as the perfect gift, only perfect thoughts.

Let me explain:  I have a sister who knows that I have a mad passion for Frosty Nerds that only come out at Christmas and haven’t been able to find them anywhere in Alaska.  So she sends me a few boxes every year and totally makes my season and I am so very grateful to her.  As you can see from that link, they are $2.29/box.  At that price, you would never expect the joy that I get from such little things.  And I don’t get the joy from the candy…not really.  Its not to say that I don’t love every little apple, cherry or fruit punch tang on my tongue, cause I really, really do; no, I get the joy because its my sister thinking about me.

Really, no matter how trite it sounds, it IS the thought that counts the most.  So think about your gift recipients.  Think about the little things that they love but rarely get to indulge in and consider making a gift of that.  Focus on the little things that make their day and stop trying to out-do each other.

 

If there is anything that I’ve learned it is that one of the most important things to remember before Navajo plying is that you MUST let the single rest before trying to ply.  (Joy of Handspinning explaination here; but it was Rexenne’s AMAZING Video that really helped me learn…she is fantastic with those slow-mo segments!!)  If you don’t let the single rest for a few days, the twist is still really ‘active’ and will cause all sorts of difficulties…so in order to balance my sanity with my desire to have a finished yarn, it is sitting, resting and deactivating a bit before the plying process and I’ve started on the next roving, Clarity: (Top centre)

While getting ready to spin Clarity, I came into focus a bit more with Balance.

As a whole, I’m a pretty balanced person and have been very aware of what I need and making sure that I get it.  I do pretty even amounts of what I like/want to do and what just needs to be done.  As I’ve said before, generally there are multiple projects in the works just because I know that if ‘forced’ to only work on one thing at a time that I won’t.  I mean, I just won’t work on it and nothing will get done.  One of the best forms of balance in my life is my balance between projects.  Socks can have a time-out while I work on a sweater, if the last thing that I want to see is another grey stripe, I can switch to orange, spinning is my break between knitting projects and everything moves towards completion in an orderly fashion.  When a project stalls, thats OK because there is another to take its place.  When I just don’t want to ____, I don’t and I ____ instead.

This is how I do housework as well.

Which explains why dishes, vacuuming and laundry are the only things that get done on any sort of regular basis and why it takes the whole day for the latter two to see completion.

But I have some pairs of amazing socks, really cool sweaters and gorgeous handspun.

And I don’t mind a bit of dust in exchange so really, everything is as it should be.

Balanced.