Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sock Hygge . . .

My local library has a book club that I joined early this year.  I really like it and I look forward to it every month now.  It's usually all women (there was one guy one time, but he never came back).  We read books that are uplifting and that have application in our lives.  For May, the book was  this:

It's pronounced hoo-ga (in case you wondered).  I so enjoyed this one, and discovered that I'm pretty much in the hygge groove already.  In fact, the entire group really enjoyed it - we were all in the spirit of it!  One lady brought her crocheting to work on, and she brought cookies, and made a Danish folded lace heart for the table!

Candles, lighting, friends, scarves, sweaters, woolen socks, coffee, wine can all be hygge, but it's more a feeling than a thing.

An important thing for your Hygge Emergency Kit (it's in the book  :-) ), is a pair of woolen socks.

I have a 29-year supply of woolen socks.  They never seem to wear out - probably because I don't wear them enough.  So, earlier this week, I had a bright idea . . .

Yes.  I took 20 pairs of socks with me to book club.  Some never worn, some gently worn (all clean, of course :-D).  I brought home eight.  It was SO FUN to give everyone a pair of woolen socks  :-D  I have so many that never get worn - and I'm a big believer in stuff being used rather than sitting around.  Everyone was really happy  :-)

Other things have been accomplished around here.  I had to file an extension for my taxes this year.  I had been scheduled for the Saturday after my retina tore, and I couldn't get anyone to drive me up to Sheffield & Diversey for my appointment, so my accountant filed an extension for me.  I met with him last night and that's now out of the way!  Yay!

I finally sprang for some blocking mats and T-Pins.  O. M. G.  WHY did I wait so long???  I've been blocking on beach towels and using regular sewing pins with little roundy bead tops forever.  The mats and T-Pins are amazing!!

Here is my Hale-Bopp MKAL shawl from back in February - finally blocked.  I'm not quite sure how to wear it, but it's done.

And my Copenhagen Calling cowl is done, too, and I'm all ready for next winter!


Sorry for the pretty much no makeup face.  I managed to get my eyebrows on this morning and that was about it  :-D


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day . . .

I follow the artist, Brian Andreas, on Facebook.  He posted this drawing yesterday:

I don't know if he meant it as a love story, or for Mother's Day.  I took it as the latter.

My mom used to hum all the time.

I always figured it was the sound that all moms make. Soft, quiet, sometimes tuneless, sometimes a snatch of a random melody. It was comforting in a way that only a mom can be.

I remember that it really bothered one of my ex-husbands, and at first I couldn't figure out what he was talking about - humming was just the sound that I thought all moms made.  It was important to him that I never do it . . .

My young life was filled with music - she was always singing to me, and teaching me songs, and encouraging me to sing along.  Humming seemed a natural extension of that, to me, I guess.

It was so much a part of who she was that it was often unconscious on her part. When I was little, we drove to California with a friend of hers.  We stopped at a restaurant and she left the table to go to the ladies'.  Shortly thereafter, I excused myself to go, too, and I found her in the public rest room because she was (unconsciously) humming.

Lord, I miss her . . .

I can't share her humming with you - but I can share a huge piece of my childhood.

Traumerei was one of her favorite pieces of music.  Not one that we sang - it's on one of the steel records for the antique music box that was my father's - she would wind it up every night and play it so I could fall sleep to it, and it was nearly always this tune.  I still wind it up from time to time . . .

It's very fast on this recording.  It shouldn't be this fast, but the Regina was all I could find on YouTube, and I have a Lyon and Healy Empress.  Traumerei starts at :48. 

Here is about how fast it should actually be, and there is interesting history behind it if you're so inclined.  But to me it has always been my falling asleep music.  My "Mom, please wind the music box" music . . .

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hold the Phone . . .

I'm still trying to figure out how even when I am working to slow things down around me, they pay absolutely no fricking attention at all.


It's nearly mid-May and it's been quite awhile since I've really blogged. It took me two days to get this far.  I had an entire post crafted this morning, and then Blogger barfed and I lost it.  ALL of it.


Onward . . .

The update on my eye is really good news!  As of two Fridays ago, I'm back to 20/20 vision in both eyes.  It appears that I didn't lose any vision in my right eye.  Can't even tell you how grateful I am.  I still have a few floaters, but, for the most part, they are doing what they are supposed to, and being reabsorbed by my body.  I continue to experience flashing in my right eye, which is odd, but it's been checked twice, and all is well.  This just might be my new normal.  I did have an odd occurrence - my left pupil dilated.  Just the left one.  It gave me a distinct Little Orphan Annie appearance for as long as it lasted.  This has happened a few more times, but not to the extent of the first time.  My Retina Guy knows about it, and I'm to get a photo if it happens again.  In the meantime, no one thinks it's serious.  Just interesting  :-)

No real news on The Kidney Stone Incident front.  I'm still working daily with my new way of eating.  Most days I'm on target with my reduced sodium.  It's challenging, though.  Getting enough calcium has been the biggest challenge, however (potassium, too), because getting enough without causing intestinal distress is tough.  Cheese doesn't affect me as much as milk (Lactaid) or fortified orange juice do, but most cheeses are very high in sodium, so that's the rub.  It's definitely a balancing act.  I'm not perfect by any means, but I'm making daily progress.

At the moment am dealing with being on the Prednisone Bomb for allergy-related issues, including a cough that was just brutal.  Nothing stopped it - no even my rescue inhaler - but the P-Bomb has definitely made a difference.  The trees are still trying to leaf out here - it got so cold again that they pretty much stopped, lengthening my misery for a few extra weeks this year.  I took the last bomb dose this morning, and for that I'm extremely grateful.  Prednisone makes me crabby, causes me to retain fluid, disrupts my sleep, and makes me hungry for stuff that is way not best for me - in particular sugar and a massive craving for the salt I'm so focused on limiting.  With the last dose this morning it will be out of my systems in another few days.  In the meantime I just need to hang in.  It's finally warm and sunny again to day - I'm hopeful that the trees will get cracking and finish leafing out!

This is my new water bottle - I got it at the Hallmark Store (of all places!).  The rubber bands are for me to be able to make sure I'm getting my 3-4 liters of water in daily.  I take one off every time I get up to refill the bottle.  I've found this size (500 ml/17 oz) is way easier to deal with than my old 1 liter SIGG bottle.  On Amazon I found MIRA bottles, which look to be pretty much the same thing, and got this one.  I decided it would be easier to have one at the office and one at home, lightening my commute load.  Plus, I love the Moroccan feel of the MIRA one  :-)

I'm stalled on the Ben Lomond mitts I've been making for my cousin - I just have the thumbs and finish work left, but I needed a break, so I cast on for Copenhagen Calling last weekend.  I've wanted to knit this since I first saw the pattern.

The colors in the photo are a little bright - in real life they are much deeper/richer.  I'm in the process of the bind-off now.  Two skeins of Socks That Rock Heavyweight, in the True Blood Red and Copperline colorways.  I wasn't sure at first if they would go together, but they really, really do.  You use more of the second colorway (for me, that was Copperline).  I had thought to maybe get a hat out of the leftovers, but I'm thinking now that that's not going to happen.  I'm going to have very little left once this bind-off is complete.

And, like hundreds of others, I'm contemplating the Joji Locatelli mystery knit-along, called Starting Point.  These are my skein choices:

I like them a lot.  I discovered with the Hale-Bopp mystery KAL that I didn't care for light/dark color changes.  I know a lot of people think that they makes things pop, but I find it distracting.  I like how all my colors are similar but different, with nothing majorly bright.  I've been hesitating because I'm a little concerned on yardage for one of the skeins, but also because the initial spoiler photos I saw did not thrill me.  However, some this morning were much more to my liking, so I think it was that I just didn't care for some of the color combo choices I saw.  So, I'm close to caking these skeins and casting on.

Spent some time this morning getting patterns and assorted magazines gone through and either tossed (in the case of some magazines) or catalogued into my Ravelry library and put away.  That felt pretty good!

That's the update here - been listening to the Bee Gees this morning . . .

Monday, May 1, 2017

Beltane . . .

In the Celtic calendar we walk out of the dark, into the light today.  Imbolc passes into Bealtaine and the world becomes all about the return of life and fertility - even though it's in the low 40s today, it's raining, and I have to wear a coat (probably my winter coat again) to work  :-)

Vacation is over and I'm headed back to the real world today. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

More Cleanup . . .

I'm on vacation for two weeks even though I had two weeks of unexpected leave with both the kidney stone and then my torn retina.  I really, really needed this time, however, and my boss was agreeable.  One of my besties is here for a couple of weeks taking her vacation, too, so that's great!  For the past couple of days we've been hanging out at home. watching various television shows, and going through my cookbooks.

As I continue on my new food journey, I wanted to look at the cookbooks I kept in the last purge.  Gotta tell you - a nice stack of books just went to my local Little Free Library.  I'm looking at recipes with a new eye now.  I did find some wonderful ones to try - lots of little sticky flags on various pages  :-)

I also decided that I needed to deal with my spice cabinet - it escaped the last go-round with the food cabinets.  So - I pulled everything out.  I have no earthly idea how all this stuff fit in that little cabinet . . .

As with the food cupboards, I found a lot of stuff that was expired, and, unfortunately, a lot of stuff that had salt in it!  Spice mixes often have salt - something that had never occurred to me before.

And I guess that stuff does actually wear out/expire . . . These are red pepper flakes.  I don't use them, but have them on hand.

The one on the left I'm sure was my mom's . . . (she's been gone 13 years next month).  The one on the right doesn't expire until 2018.  Quite a color difference!

I went through every bottle and jar - these made the cut because they don't have salt in them - but they have some possibly questionable ingredients in them for someone watching their oxalate.  Again, I don't have to watch my oxalate as closely as most other people who make kidney stones.  Salt is the biggie for me.  I'll be talking to my Health Coach about these.  Crossing my fingers that they will still be OK for me to use!

I have a question for you cooks out there - if a jar of spice has never been opened (i.e., it's still sealed under the lid), is the expiration date still a true expiration date?  

All of these are old - the Dill Weed has a 2006 expiration date and the Cinnamon Sticks don't even have an expiration date - but all of them are still sealed.  Thoughts?

Similar question for extracts - do they really expire/go bad??

Yes - that's a glass bottle with a metal lid.  You know that was my mom's.  :-)  They all have been opened, but they all still smell OK.

So - yeah, the spice cupboard is now set up for success!  The top shelf has all the questionable ingredients that I will be asking about in Jill Harris's Kidney Stone Prevention Course

Looks kinda empty, doesn't it?  I had a lot of spice blends, and, as mentioned, they nearly all had salt/sodium in them.  I'm doing well with limiting my salt.  I'm struggling, however, to get enough calcium and enough potassium in each day.  I'm certainly better than I was, but I'm still learning this new balancing act - and getting enough calcium has proved the most problematic because when I drink too much milk (Lactaid) or too much calcium-enriched orange juice, I have intestinal distress and have to run for the bathroom.  I'm sparing you the details.  You can imagine . . .

I can hardly wait for my course to start tomorrow!!  I know I'm going to learn so much every week - I already have a list of questions!  :-)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

No Autotune Here . . .

Masterful musicians . . .

Happy Saturday  :-)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Setting Myself up for Success . . .

Kind of a wild story, all this kidney stone stuff, huh?  Many thanks for your messages of support  :-)  They mean a lot!

I spent a good part of my weekend working on my cupboards, fridge, and freezer.

I had a 29-year supply of tea - a lot of which was past its "best by" date.  I decided to pretty much let it all go.  There's no point to keeping it in the house when I know I won't be drinking it.

There were a lot of things that have a LOT of salt in them.  I also had a lot of other stuff that was also past its prime.  Often by five or six years . . .  three trash bags went out, and the bags in this photo will go to my cleaning lady if she wants them.  If she doesn't, I will take them to the local food pantry on Monday.

The cupboards are cleaned out, and cleaned up.

There are a few things that once they're gone I won't get again.  There's a lot of room in there now, because most of the stuff that you would keep in cabinets usually has a lot of salt in it.

That's my pantry cupboard.  The brown bags on the bottom are Irish whole wheat flour from King Arthur.  I got them to make Wheaten Bread, which is common in Northern Ireland and which is the best bread ever.  Although whole grains are higher in oxalate, I figure since I'm baking it myself, I should be able to have it once in awhile (particularly if I drink a glass of milk with it).  Besides which, that stuff was spendy  :-D  in the front is my 100% Whole Wheat pasta that I really like - believe it or not, I think I get to go back to regular pasta )although I can tell you that it doesn't taste nearly as good without salt . . .) again because the whole grain is higher in oxalate.

Here's my fridge.  Yes, I really do have an entire freezer shelf devoted to icing devices for multiple part of my body  :-D  I am, however, going to move them down to the bottom shelf!

I think this was a good way for me to really start getting things in order in my kitchen.  It's now imperative that I cook more.

It certainly didn't hurt to clean all this stuff out and wipe down all the shelves.  Kind of like a mini-spring cleaning  :-)  I think I'm ready!  If you have any low-sodium recipes that actually taste good, please share  :-D

Feeling the need for some true singers and amazing harmonies today . . .