Where to start…

Lots of words to lead up to 10 minutes that I haven’t to right words to speak more clearly about…I hope you read and understand where I’ve been and where I am now…

March:  I’m starting to run again because I have again signed up for the Port Townsend Rhody Run, a local 12k which is run in May*  I’ve encouraged friends at work to sign up but, as of yet, I’m running alone again.  I love the power I feel after increasing my distance.  Each step is “further than I’ve gone before” and I am in awe of myself.  Not that I’m doing anything special that anyone else would think was worthy of awe but when I think of how many years I talked about running while I barely made it over the bridge in Sitka and how far I have come since my ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photos…well, it is darn amazing to me.

Early April:  Still encouraging friends to sign up for the Rhody, I may have 2 on the hook.  Still training and increasing my miles.  Love it!  Toying with the idea of running the Seattle Marathon in December.  I get emails all the time from SM because I ran the Seattle 10k in 2011 and had registered for the 2012 10k but failed to train.  Maybe I could do that as my “next big thing”.

Mid-April:  Found a blog that talked about “destination races”, the idea of travel to a distant place to run a race.  Her #1 pick?  Maui.  Hmmm…I know someone on O’ahu…is there a big race there I could train for?  I wonder….

Late April:  M is late picking me up from work and I get a random phone call from my brother, K who lives on O’ahu and has so for nearly all his life.  Its a guilt call because I haven’t met my nephews, his sons, yet and they are now 8 and 6.  Big fail Auntie Tasha.  They say that if I don’t come to visit soon, Auntie Janyne will be their favourite.  Enough.  I tell K that I’m thinking about registering for the Honolulu Marathon that will be run in December and that he should run with me.  He laughs at me and tells me that he’ll cheer very loudly instead.  He also makes a Clydesdale vs Stallion comparison about his own body type and running and tells me that he and Janyne have picked me as the runner which I laugh at (and then blog about in mid May).  I stand in the cold outside of work for a little while pondering this now verbalised idea of running a marathon for a while before calling and waking up M to come and get me.  I go home and research plane fare and race fees.

Mid May:  I register after weeks of researching training plans, best plane fares and questioning my sanity.  I run the Rhody Run on the 19th, all 12k/7.46mi of it, and wonder why I ever thought that a *$&^ing marathon with its 42k/26.2mi was a good idea.  Training begins a few days after but, since I can never do anything by half, I had thrown in a few other races before my December 8th goal.  Lots of weeks are between me and then and I want incentives along the way.  Foam Fest, Seattle 10k, maybe a half…we’ll see what else.

Rest of May, June, July:  Running.  Lots and lots of running.  Sometimes following the Runners World SmartCoach plan, sometimes not being so specific but always getting in the mileage because I want to hit my goal for the Seattle 10k of PR-ing.

Early August:  Foam run with KV and KT, my co-workers.  So. Much. FUN!  Worth the drive to Issaquah just to play in the foam and certainly will have many, many others join us next year.**  Not so much a race but an obstacle course that was so very much fun as well as so very muddy and foamy!

End of August:  Seattle 10k.  I felt very good for this run, especially since we got there right on time (not too early) and I had never been to Gas Works Park.  The run was…challenging…more for little issues with the course and post-race than anything else.  For starters, who plans a race like this and then doesn’t post the course on the website until 2 days before?  Apparently they had planned things and then forgot to tell the runners.  Next, who on earth thinks a funnel is a good idea in the early parts of a race?  Yeah, me neither.  How about a time when the racers have to run against the tide of other runners coming thru?  Or, better yet, when one group has to cross paths with the other? Yeah, me neither.  Oh, how about when we mislabel a box of shirts with “M” when they are “XXL”?  Yeah, that was a PITA.  I understand running out of shirts towards the end but really, I was in the front of the middle of the pack, not the end so that last one shouldn’t have been an issue!  In the days after the race I sent a strongly worded email (well thought out and not sent for a few days post anger) about the course and my unwearable shirt, seriously, it was too big for M(!), to the contact that I had emailed for months before about the course plan with no hopes of a reply because my months of prior emails never got me a response and, surprise, surprise, got one back.  She apologised and asked for my mailing address so they could send me a proper shirt.  Thankfully I got it…and wear the XXL for a nightdress.

End of September:  On a cold, blustery, rain sideways-y day, I ran the 1st ever Quilicene Half Marathon and my first “official” half marathon.  KT and KV were going to run it with me but then KT hurt her back and KV had to work so they were going to cheer for me until the weather hit this particular stage of icy death.  It was actually a cheat on my planned training schedule of 16 miles but considering that I did it in a running skirt and wool top in the pouring and blowing rain, I called it a win.  Actually, I tell myself and M that because of the foul weather and my insanity of running in it on an ‘off’ day, I get credit for those other 3 miles.  Despite cramping about mile 10 and forgetting fuel, I managed to pull out a very respectable 2:26:46 and am quite happy with myself.  And I take a long, hot bath to thaw the surface ice and get blood flowing back into seriously wrinkled toes from being in soggy shoes.  Disregarding the rain, it was a beautiful run, I loved the distance and I’ll sign up again next year.***

October:  More running and I get up to 20 miles in training.  Starting to get…bored.  I love running but I’ve been training for this One Big Race for 5 months now and I’m ready to shake things up a bit.

November:  Nothing shakes things up like not running at all for 3 weeks.  For the record: Not my best idea ever.  Also for the record:  Not the worst one, either.  I’m not as tired all the time, I feel like I’m totally ready to get back out there and I really did need to total break from this one focus.  Being actually ready for the marathon is niggling at the back of my mind but I have so much working/thinking/packing to do before I go, oddly, its not high on my list of rightnow worries.

Post Thanksgiving to 4th December: All relevant thought processes ran as thus: ‘Do I pull out decorations Before or After?  Do I have time for this or the other?  Should I pack X?  Damn.  I don’t think I’ll get presents knit in time to mail to get there in time for the big day.****  Work is stressful.  Meh, go for a run and then think about it/stop thinking about it.’

December 5th-7th:  All thought processes ran with this following phrase running as a background track:  “I’m in Hawaii!  Feel that beautiful sun on your shoulders and know you made it.  Look!  A palm tree!”  Also running:  “Are you ready?  Really Really?  You know you could spend the day at the beach instead.  Not really, but doesn’t that sound nicer than attempting 26.2 freaking miles?”  I got lucky enough to have family who live in Mililani, HI, which is smack-dab in the middle of the island of O’ahu, and thus avoided most of the tourists, you know, cause I’m not one of them and got up every morning and ran before the sun got too much.  I did some mild sightseeing but was afraid of wearing out myself both from the heat and sun so I took it pretty easy.  Thursday was lovely as SIL W took off the day from work and showed me around and then to the Expo so I could pick up my packet and race bib.  Best days ever were spent at Haunauma Bay on Friday where I saw so many fish and even two green sea turtles(!) and with my nephews, first at the Christmas parade and had home and then at the Lagoons and sushi on Saturday before the race.  They were amazing at keeping my mind off the race and on them.

December 8th:  Why on earth did I think that what I really, really wanted to do in life was spend 6+ months preparing, travel 6 hours by plane, lie awake worrying about 6 our of 8 hours “sleep” about missing my set alarm to get up at 2:30am, get dressed in running clothes, get picked up at 3 to head to the race state at 4:30 for a crazy race start at 5am?  And why, during all of this would I have this niggling voice to put a totally unnecessary piece of plastic in my pocket?  Crazy.  But I did it.  I honestly spent the first 1.5 hours thinking that I was nuts, questioning why I was doing this insane thing and thinking very negative thoughts about Sisyphus as I worked my way up Diamond Head within the crush of the crowd.  And then, it happens.  Of all the random things, as the sun begins to rise on that beautiful December morning, a rooster calls out his greeting just as he always does because its a normal day in his chicken life and he is oblivious to the thousands of people moving along, just this side of his little chicken world, and I start to laugh.  Suddenly, this run becomes fun again and I, I am in Hawaii darn it all.  I have been running my backside off, literally as I dropped a pants size, to get here and how many people do I know that can say they ran a marathon in Hawaii so how very cool am I?  This positive burst gets me up the hill with a smile and keeps me going thru Hawaii-Kai where I see the turnaround that I was promised, lo those many miles ago and I finally get the sun OFF my face directly and onto the side and I begin the trek back.  Damn plastic getting in the way when I reach for a gelblok.  I am pleased to see that there are people behind me because I had started to get nervous although my splits, as near as I can figure since my watch has been blinking Low Battery at me for a while now, have been pretty steady and right were I want them…which is “consistent”.  While I tried to/thought I’d have a time goal, I learned quick that it wasn’t so smart, especially since the people that picked me up commented on the heat and lack of wind.  Note:  When the locals say its warm and windless, be warned.  Wow.  Was it ever hot, that sun is relentless and boy, was I ever tired and, from looking at the signs, I still have at least an hour+ to go because I’m just passing mile 20, the furthest I’ve ever gone.  I finished chewing my most recent gelblock, a gift from the gods for LDRs in this runners opinion and was cursing, once again, that piece of folded plastic in my pocket that keeps getting in the way of my access to the manna kept in my thigh pocket (the best part of my SparkleSkirt and THE reason I chose to wear my Everest sparkle over another).  I move the little orange pouch to my L side thinking that it may not bother me as much over there.  And then…

Ooops, I see someone trip and start to fall in the distance, up there and on my right…hope they are OK…hope I’M OK…I’m so hot…where is the next water station…just keep going…

And then…

I hope they are OK…I can see there is a group of people standing around them…that girl further back was OK after she tripped on a cone, maybe this one hurt a knee or ankle…that would suck so close to the end, I mean, we’re just over 20 miles here, nearly there Tasha, just keep going because you know you can do it…

Then.

That looks weird…he’s on his back…

I knew the reason I had not ignored that still, small voice that had told me to bring that orange pouch.

STOP. He is not ok.  Someone says he’s not breathing…where is the pouch, did I drop it, oh God don’t let me have dropped it after all this time…I can help him…the pouch is on my left…Call 911, tell them where we are…who else knows CPR, lets get started…thank goodness for this other guy in purple, we can do this for this guy…totally sucks…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30…breath, breath…again, keep going, keep going, EMS is on their way, switch roles, keep going, keep going, switch roles…finally, EMTs…they didn’t move me, just put the pads around us…clear…keep going…clear…keep going…get him on the gurney…keep going…OK, they are lifting and taking him now…there goes my valve…the guy in purple looks as…stunned is a good word as I do…say something…Ok then…good…see you…

And it was over.  He, both of the “he”s were gone.  The EMS with one, the crowed with the other.  It took me a minute to realise that the race had gone on around me, that 99% of people passing by hadn’t stopped and that this hadn’t changed their race at all…and there was nothing else I could do but continue my run and pray for the downed CPR guy.

“Aside from that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

Ouch.  There was soreness especially from, as I came to learn later, my hips were forced to go from ‘movement’ to ‘stability’ in about an instant and without stretching or cooldown and then I expected to go back to ‘movement’ about 10 minutes later.  Not pleasant at all and very visible to all friends and family who watched my times get longer and longer and wonder what was happening.  I just kept going, walk some, jog some, all the rest of those 6 miles and thinking about how good it would feel to stop moving and stretch and relax those sore places and hope that CPR guy was OK and, in a morbid sense of humour, just laughing at myself knowing that I felt better than him, especially since I felt those ribs crack and cartilage pop!

And then it was over.  And there were phone calls to my support crew all over the country and my SIL who would be picking me up later from the park and a banana and water and then the joy of my first shave ice from the Waiola Store…the best shave ice that I had (I tried 3 places before I left 🙂 ) And walking was difficult and I couldn’t have eaten more than that shave ice if I wanted to and I really, really didn’t want to eat anything, and laying at the beach and walking in the water at the lagoon was so lovely though the salt water stung my raw bits, both known and unknown and then felt so very good and then I felt like a salad would be just the right amount of food and then shower and then bed and feeling like I was worn out though not totally horribly bad…until I woke up in the morning and found that sleeping up in a loft was probably NOT the best idea ever because the thought of that ladder was scary enough to make me stay in bed until my bladder forced me to move, like NOW.

The rest of my Monday was spent hobbling around the North Shore with my friend, my brother K’s mom, PR and her son MR, admiring waves and water along the North Shore and they treated me to dinner and a show at the Polynesian Cultural Center, both of which were fantastic, as was the company.  Tuesday was spent with W and my nephews at the Arizona Memorial which was breathtakingly sad/amazing/thought-provoking/awesome and then playing in the “ripples, because ‘waves’ are bigger” at the beach before I’s basketball practice and then home for packing before my flight home on Wednesday morning.

While at the airport, I got a text from W who excitedly told me that she met someone who knew the guy I gave CPR to and wanted to pass on my contact information.  I agreed wholeheartedly…and then got on a plane to the frozen Pacific Northwest…and landed with a message left on my phone from a mysterious HI phone number…

And thus started the “Thank Yous” and messages about and phone calls with my CPR guy, BD.  He not only made it to the hospital but, in the following 11 days, has made it thru surgery to be home again and is on the road to recovery.  As his story post CPR isn’t mine to tell, I shan’t but I will tell you that I have been…overwhelmed with emails of thanks.  Overwhelmed because, well, as much as I feel like I just did what anyone would do, I know that, obviously, it was a HUGE thing for him and his friends and family and that, as I saw, very few people stopped to help or even knew what to do.  I just don’t have the words to respond to them as “You’re Welcome” just seems…silly and inadequate somehow.  My friends and family are also admiring of my actions and, again, I don’t know how to deal with this attention.

I did something fantastic…but I did nothing that anyone who had the knowledge wouldn’t do.

I gave up my marathon time AND kept running after performing CPR…but I didn’t really have an option, its what you do when someone needs help and you know what to do.  Besides, it was my first marathon and I was hot and tired and I’m just glad that I had the stamina to perform CPR correctly!  As for still finishing the race…um, I had to get to the end because thats where my ride would be and my mileage and sun fried brain couldn’t have told you any other way to do it.

I’m in touch with BD and friends and family and, in honour of my efforts, have been given the hash name of “Heart Throb” and a honorary place in their running group which I am so thankful for.  As a solo runner, the idea of having a group to run with is fun and inspiring to me, and  I’ve passed on to everyone that the biggest “Thank You” that they can give me is a copy of their renewed CPR card because, obviously, even marathon trained runners can need assistance!***** I’m toying with the idea of going back to HI in the near future and teaching CPR myself to the group and other groups that those members are a part of because, well really, someone nicknamed “Heart Throb” teaching CPR to a group whos member recently needed it is…totally awesome.
I’m so glad I was there in the right place at the right time.
Live well BD.  Know that MY life has changed because of you too.

*I’ll sign-up again on January 1st when early registration opens.  Race date: May 18th, 2014!

**Foam Fest Seattle, Sat. July 12th 2014!

***Sept. 27th, 2014 is the 2nd Annual race.

****Yeah.  No.  There was very little knitting and actually NO spinning done from September to the present day.  I need to spend some quality time with my wheels.

***** As an instructor for AHA CPR, I have watched the instructional DVD for BLS for healthcare providers about a gajillion times and can recite the *@%#ing thing.  The one part that has always bugged the crap out of me is the opening scene:  Two runners who slow down to take a break on a bridge and talk about A) “thinking about training for a marathon.”  B) “Oh, count me in!  I’ve always wanted to do one but didn’t want to put in the training alone.”  A)”Great” B) “So hows work going?” A) *dramatically clutches his chest* B) “Oh, that bad huh?” A)*falls to the ground  B) “Someone call 911” …and then cuts in the voice about the importance of this training and such.  I used to laugh in my head and think, uh, sure, like that would ever happen to someone prepping for a marathon.  I’ll never be able to see that opening scene again without very vivid memories, thoughts of BD, a tear and a prayer of thanks.

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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.

 

 

 

One of my clearest memories is flipping thru a photo album and seeing photos of my father running.  Not just running but RUNNING.  Short shorts, no shirt or only a vest, sweat beading…Running.  His sport was track and field in high school and then earned a scholarship to college for his excellence.

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Third from the right, front row is my father with the rest of the 1969 University of North Texas Team (photo from the digital archives of the Yucca, the UNT yearbook)

I know that his running continued through his time in the US Marine Corps too…though that may be an understatement considering how much running those corpsmen/women do…far too much for the dead!  Anyway, I know that there is at least one photo I remember of him racing in a USMC singlet, most likely a battalion ‘team’.

I also know that there was more than once when I was growing up that I wanted to go run with him and he never let me.  I was always hurt by this leaving of me behind but I justified his doing so because I was a)not long legged like him, b) not in shape to run with him, c)any other reason I could convince myself of.  I don’t know that he ever knew how much I really wanted to run with him.

In 7th grade, I ‘joined’ the middle school track team and signed up for the 3200m (2 miles).  Because, you know, my father ran long distances so I can show him how much I am his daughter and make him proud of me and he can come to my meets and be proud of me…yeah.  After a week or so of ‘practice’, we had our first meet and I ran…for about 200yds with the pack and then had to walk because I gave myself such a horrible side stitch and was THAT ill-prepared for the race.  I also broke one of the rules of running by staying in the inner lane as I was lapped and lapped and lapped again.  I was so embarrassed and only saved by two things #1: My family wasn’t there to see my abject failure.  More specifically, I mean my father; and #2: One of the guys, G, an 8th grader who had already ran the race, who I barely knew from passing in the hall and at the door to band class, re-entered the track with me and encouraged and wheedled me to jog along with him for the last 2 laps.  He stayed with me the entire way and pushed me to keep going.  I don’t think that I ever could have thanked him enough.  I would still send him a card today if I knew where he was.

After that fiasco, my knees were hurting so much for the next week that I didn’t return to practice again and didn’t actually attempt to run until just a few years ago when wholeheartedly embarking on my weight-loss/health building journey.

I found my passion.

After years of saying that I hated to run and that it wasn’t for me, turns out that it was all along.  Which is pretty funny considering my sister has always hated running.  Weird because she LOVED soccer when in High School but she always said that she hated the running part.  She said that about hating that part in Volleyball too, even though it was just the warm-ups.  My brother, K, just professed to me yesterday that HE too dislikes running.  While talking to him the other day he declared ME to be the runner of my fathers children and promised to cheer very loud and be very proud of me.

Why would he cheer and be proud of me?

Because in 204 days and some odd hours from today, I’m going to start running in a big race.

SisuGirl is now Registered
for Honolulu Marathon.

I have a training plan, I have races along the way to keep me going and I have a goal.  That and some good shoes.

Here we go.

PS: To my HS friends: I was serious about sending G a card.  If you know where I can find him, please let me know!

Oh this project…

I bought this fiber back when I begun spinning and what a lucky purchase it was.  I had seen it on Etsy and messaged the dyer to see if she would dye it for me.  I learned 2 things from this exchange.
#1: You always should ask because the worst they say is no.
#2: You always should ask how much if you haven’t seen the original listing.
I was a little shocked when the bill came but chalked it up to learning and the cost of cashmere.DSC_4492

I would do it again instantly if I found another listing that sang to me the way this did.
This beautiful fiber came out of its packaging every few months to get pet and admired and then put away as I realised that I was no where near the spinner I needed to be to delve into this gorgeous stuff and give it its due.DSC_4491
After I finished Intentions, I needed a break from BFL and thought that, after all this time of spinning consistantly, it was time to get in there…and it was.
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The fiber spun as from a dream and the colours were beyond my hopes.  DSC_6147
The plying was perfect and preserved those colour repeats that I wanted to hold on to.  DSC_6170
The knitting was more bliss as I began a simple shawl with a 3 stitch garter edge with a YO and then YOs next to the spine stitch before YO next tot the other garter edge.

It worked up beautifully.
As I got to the end of my ball, I thought that simple lace faggoting would be the perfect way to finish.

It is.

I worked until I could feel the end was nigh and began my cast off with JSSBO.  I knew it would take a good deal of yarn so saved myself what I thought would be perfect.
I was close.

6 stitches close.

There was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Ask M.  There was cursing too.
Lucky for me, I was binding off in the brilliant line-green section of yarn and I just happened to have some lime green yarn that is a very nearly perfect match.  You can’t tell unless I point it out to you.
The blocking was magical, as it always is, and the simple lace is perfect.

Perfection
I wear this scarf/shawl often and it is the project that I stick into my bag daily if I don’t wrap it around my neck  before leaving.  The cashmere and superwash merino couldn’t have been a more perfect blend and this project is sheer perfection in every possible way.

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!



Team Jamie/ Clan Fraser middle

Originally uploaded by knittingfisher



Team Jamie/ Clan Fraser

Originally uploaded by knittingfisher

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This was the fiber that I scored on Freecycle: 2 llama, 2 alpaca and 1 random surprise sheep fleeces from an animal rescue in this area.

In order of photos: Bags o’ Fiber, Alpaca #1, Alpaca #1 close up, Llama #1, Llama #2, Me with llamas 1 and 2.

Now, most of the llama that you see in the photos with me in it above was far too fragile to be processed, sad but true.  This happens when animals aren’t fed properly or on a regular schedule and aren’t treated right because the stress has an impact on their hair growth.  But, that beautiful chocolate brown?  Oh baby, it was super soft even when dusty and dirty so I divided it from the other colours and told Barry (of Taylored Fibers) that, if anything, I wanted him to process this in particular.  He looked at it and thought that it would be OK and, if that was what I wanted, would try it.  Best. Decision. Ever.

The alpaca I picked through to get out the vegetation and de-haired (that long, string-y looking thing in the 2nd photos).  Just like the chocolate llama, so, so soft and I knew that it would be a beautiful roving once that lighter cream tips were mixed with those beautiful milky coffee patches.  Holy. Alpaca.  Its so pretty and so very soft.

What you don’t see is that in the Alpaca #2 bag, which just went to Barry on the 15th, there was a random sheep fleece as a surprise!  The most surprising part was that this fleece wasn’t completely loaded with VM and actually was in very good shape.  When I had Barry assess the Alpaca #2, the sheep fleece just fell out of the bag and I was thrilled that it was something not only salvageable but a great find to boot.  The crimp is lovely and with a 3-4″ staple and soft enough to be close to skin worn, this turned into a perfect white roving.

Take a look at my beautiful new roving:  From L to R: Alpaca (4), Sheep (3), Llama (2)

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You can really see the creamy colour of the alpaca when compared to the bright white of the sheep.Image

And this perfect milk chocolate of the llama?  Heavenly.

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All told, I have 24.3 oz / 1.5 lbs of llama, 39.75 oz / 2.5 lbs of sheep and 47.3 oz / 2.95 lbs of alpaca.
And there is more wool coming within the month from Barry, both sheep and alpaca.

 

You must excuse me now.  I need to revel in my luck of finding such a grand find for free and start spinning my wheel so I can get this beautiful ITW August club Image

off my wheel and start with one of these beautiful natural wools.  Which to choose becomes the new conundrum!

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!