Friday, March 29, 2013

88:365 Treasure in the Mail

These came yesterday but I didn't photo them until today. I regretted not having my camera with me today - an afternoon spent at the Art Institute - but I just didn't want to have another heavy thing in my purse. Oh well.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

87:365 Vertigo . . .

Inside the Thompson Center. You can hardly take a bad photo in here - just point your camera and capture something. This view is looking up toward the ceiling.

86:365 Spring?

These are the snowdrops in front of Old Mr. Cox's house. Old Mr. Cox doesn't live there anymore - I think he is in a nursing home - no one lives there anymore. I see these every spring. They are so beautiful . . . I wonder if spring is ever going to arrive?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

85:365 St. Brigid


It's DONE!!!!! The color is not true - I fooled with it to color-correct as best as I could, but this is a deep navy, which is very hard to photograph at the best of times.

I cast this on initially on February 1, 2009 with some of my SnB gang.  I started the larger size and realized about half way up the back that it was going to be far too large.  I frogged and started again on the smaller size, and got about back to where I had been.

And then I got side-tracked.

This is the best shot I could get of it indoors at night, and, as mentioned, the color is not perfect.  It fits me perfectly.


84:365 Another Violet


This one is Optimara Michigan. I need those blossoms to OPEN!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

You Learn Something New Every Day

Alrighty then.

I pulled out the box of "instant" steel cut oats that I have (because I used up the regular ones in a recipe).  It's McCann's and according to the package directions, you're supposed to be able to make them in the microwave.

I followed the directions . . .



And when what's left cools off, you get a midget-size frisbee!!


How the hell did they think you could cook these in the microwave?!

It was faster to just cook them on the stove - where they STILL bubbled out under the lid - and they took about the same time as the microwave directions.  I'll use up this box and then just buy the can of the real thing again.  I only eat them on weekends anyway, so there's plenty of time to cook them.

Always learning  :-D

83:365 My (ahem) Christmas Socks . . .

Well, I got one of them done before Christmas, but finished the other last week. Guess they will be Christmas 2013 socks :-D

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Catching Up

Whew!  I shot photos all week, but didn't get to get them out of the camera until this morning.  Don't know why things felt so busy, but they did.

And, for a change of pace, here is some knitting content :-D   My Christmas Socks.

I finished one in plenty of time for Christmas . . . and although I'm usually pretty good about finishing what I start, I didn't finish these until this past week.  I cast on for the second one at the end of February/beginning of March.
The yarn is Jarbo Garn Mini Raggi. I got it at The Fold. I believe it's Scandinavian.  It's similar to Opal in feel and in how it knitted up.  The pattern is Spring Forward - a free one on  I made my standard modification (this has to be at least the third or fourth pair I've made in this pattern) of increasing the pattern repeat from 11 to 13 stitches (otherwise I can't get them over my heels).
With these off the needles, I have have only two works in progress - my St. Brigid, which I did finish work on for a couple of hours this morning, and the ill-fated entrelac hat I started in class last fall.  I have a corrected pattern now, though, so I have high  hopes of finishing it, and the sleeves are attached and I've started the sleeve/side seaming on St. Brigid and have started knitting the lower/neck part of the neck/collar. 
Kinda wish I did not HAVE to go to the store and run errands today!

82:365 Tassles

I'm always looking around my house to try to see things in a different way - and one can only look at so many photos of African violets, even if they are in bloom :-D

These tassles hang on the doors to my "yarnoire" in my sunroom. Inside, it's filled with yarn and spinning fiber :-)

81:365 The Sunroom

One half of the sunroom. Geez, it looks very, very neat ;-D

80:365 It's Dark Out!

I wonder if this is how night vision devices see. I put the "low light" setting on the camera and went out on the deck. It's green :-D

79:365 Roulette

I got up out of bed to take a photo - it was a long day and my camera was not in my hands. This plant holds significance for me. When my former stepson was about five years old, he went to an African violet show with me and his father. He wanted to get a plant for me and this was the variety he picked. It's a chimera - striped - which means it's much more expensive than the average violet. His father was quite surprised when he paid the bill - expecting to pay about $5, and getting charged at least $15 :-D

I got it back into my collection last year and am very happy to have it again. It, too, is getting ready for show.

78:365 Spring Pine


I pass this pine tree every day on my way to the train.

77:365 Blooming :-)


Another plant getting ready for show in a couple of weeks. This is a semi-miniature trailer named Rob's Wagga Wagga.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Week 1

I've been an Ovo-Pescetarian for a week now. I'm going to abbreviate this as O-P, because every time I type Ovo-Pescetarian, I nearly always type Ovo-Pescetarina, which makes me laugh and think about dancing with fish and eggs, but is most likely only funny to me  :-D

Anyway - I set the intention last week that I would love being an O-P and that I would wonder why I didn't do it sooner. So far, so good.  :-)

I lost 10.4 pounds this week. Of course we all know that a very large portion of that had to be water - I must have been holding on to a LOT of it, and I lost quite a bit of that in the first few days or so.  I do realize that I will not have a loss like that every week - after all, this is not the Biggest Loser - but it was certainly a great morale booster and a great jump start for me on the scale, dropping me below a number that I've been struggling with for some time.  I am feeling pretty good about it all. :-)

As requested, I have dialed down my morning cardio to 30 minutes so that I can sleep for an extra 30 minutes (I could be doing better with the cardio - I only got three days in last week instead of four).  I have made a concerted effort with this because I was just not getting enough sleep.  I am feeling pretty good about this change and I've been tracking my sleep with my Fitbit, so that is helping me gauge what I need to be doing in that regard, and I'm doing it.  I was averaging maybe 6 1/2 hours most nights, and now I'm much closer to 8 most nights and I'm sleeping better.

I'm also tracking my food on my Fitbit page.  The dietitian suggested that I not count WW points as I'm getting used to eating this way, but I felt like I needed to track somehow, so accounting for stuff on Fitbit is working well, and and I'm able to see calories throughout the day and plan accordingly for the evening.  I could be eating more vegetables, but I'm certainly eating a lot more veggies than I was before, so that's all good.

Even though the program I'm on is pretty strict, so far I'm really not having much difficulty adhering to it.  I definitely thought it would be harder to do than it has been so far.  Yesterday was the first day that I did not bring my lunch (because I ran out of time in the morning), so I got to go and get shrimp sushi and steamed edamame at Tokyo Box, which is always a treat.  Of course, it was like the coldest day EVER here yesterday (and today, too), but I bundled up and toddled on over anyway.   Yum!

I have not had the time to make the beet and carrot soup yet, but I went to the store tonight and got most of what I think are the necessary ingredients. Prolly I should have actually checked the recipe before I went, but I had another errand to do and I wanted to get both accomplished.

It's been an interesting week, too.  I have learned that ground up flax seed is not a good accompaniment to plain pasta.  More importantly, however, I have learned (or maybe was reminded) that I must have real protein for breakfast.  On Wednesday I did not, and found myself - two thirds of the way to the kitchen -  holding on for dear life to the front of a work station, relatively sure I was going to sink to the floor unconcious. I was literally seeing stars.  I do have relatively low blood pressure (after this event it was 106/60) and I do have to be careful of getting up too fast, but usually that's from a lying down position to standing rather than just from sitting to standing.  On Wednesday I didn't have any real protein at breakfast and I didn't have my morning snack in a timely manner.  So, for me, no protein in the morning apparently equals the distinct possibility of losing consciousness upon standing up at some point before having my morning snack.  I'd like to avoid that in the future because I'm reasonably sure if you pass out at work, they probably have to call 911.  I'd seriously like to avoid that.  For sure.

Those are my two best lessons/learnings so far.

Week 2, here I come!   :-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oops :-D

I can say with great certainty that ground up flax seed is NOT a good topping for pasta.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

76:365 Happy St. Pat's!

It's me! :-D I generally don't do self-portraits - I'm not particularly photogenic - but I kind of liked this one so I kept it.

It's St. Patrick's Day!

I have had a most productive weekend.

I finished the major knitting on my St. Brigid sweater, and the four pieces are now blocking on the guestroom floor.  Once they are dry, I will do the seaming and then pick up the stitches for the neck and collar.  It's nearly done!!!!!

I watched all my Netflix. (Lark Rise to Candleford, how I love you!)

I got five loads of laundry done (the last of which is in the dryer as I type).

I'm on the home stretch of knitting on my second Christmas sock.  Guess I will be able to wear them NEXT Christmas  :-D

I wove two more mug rugs on my loom.

I finished some photos that I took last weekend of hem stitching for weaving and emailed them off to my class teacher so he can use them, if he chooses, in his handout - and discovered that I remembered incorrectly from my class last week and was doing it wrong.  Good thing I looked at them!  (I don't think my error will make any difference on the mug rugs I wove.)

I got my Podcast put together, filmed, edited and uploaded.

I walked on the treadmill.

And I've cooked and eaten well all weekend long.

Setting the intention that I would love being an Ovo-Pescetarian was a good plan, because, so far, I do!  It has already made a big difference in how I feel, in just under four days.  Plus, I must have been holding on to a LOT of water in my system, because I've been peeing like a race horse for the past three days  :-D  (Sorry - probably TMI - oh well  ;-D).

Here is a photo of my haul from last weekend.  You'll notice how restrained I was  :-)  Last year's stash busting really had an effect on me, I guess.  The only yarn in the photo is the skein I entered in the skein competition.  I entered this one in "Best Use of Color," and I won that class!  That was exciting!!  The blue polar fleece socks were my door prize.  I have no idea what I will do with them, but I thought they were pretty cute and they actually do fit my feet  :-D

The black and purple is Merino/Bamboo from Gail White, and the blue/green/purple silk was from A Twist in Time, as was the glitz.  The three cones are weaving yarn (Bamboo) that I got from Hillcrest Fibers, and that thing in the back?  That's a hackle that I picked up from Diana Armes Wallace.  I took her blending class last fall at Fiber Daze and have been wanting my own hackle ever since. The fibers I bought I bought specifically to try my hand at blending again  :-)

The last thing is a little pin that is sitting on my yarn.  You can't see it very well, but it's silk ribbon embroidery.  I liked Carol Hagen's class so much last year that I took it again!

Fiber Retreat 2013

 It took me all week to recover from being away for a few days - I didn't build in a recovery day this trip.  Probably a mistake . . . still, I had a wonderful time.  And I made up for any lost time with this weekend.  I'm also making an effort to sleep more - which undoubtedly is having a good effect on me and my energy. 

Like I said, I had a very productive weekend  :-)  And now I'm off to meet my crazy family at some Irish bar for St. Pat's.  :-D

75:365 Yarn

How can you get through the entire day, film a podcast even, and not have taken any still photos?! I got back up out of bed and looked for something intertesting. This had to suffice - all yarns that are for sale on my Ravelry page!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

74:365 Grape Glory

I think I've shot this plant before, but one of the great things about my hobby of growing and showing African violets, is that there is usually something in bloom on a day when my camera has not even been out of its case.

This plant will be in a show next year - it's still a relatively young standard (that's its size). It has pretty good potential as a show plant.

73:365 Wabash Avenue

This second year of photos seems more challenging to me as I traverse the same route most days, and although the city is ever changing, I am always looking for shots when I happen to be somewhere where I'm usually not :-)

This is looking North. The L tracks, and many years and styles of architecture - all of which I have chronicled in 2011. Still, I think it's so interesting to see them all so close together.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WTH is an Ovo-Pescetarian?!

Me. I am an ovo-pescetarian.  Well, for at least the next three months I am, anyway.

It's like a vegetarian who eats eggs and fish.


So - I went for my annual physical, and my doctor was quite pleased with me.

And then my labs came back. 

My cholesterol, which has been borderline for years, is now on the wrong side of the border . . .

I have a pretty awesome doctor, and he said I had two choices, either I could try harder with the diet and exercise, or I would have to go on statin drugs.  Yeah, no.  Not so much.

I asked him to please let me try to do better rather than add another drug to my daily life, and he was pleased with my choice.  He asked me if I would consider meeting with his dietitian to be put on a Strict Program for Three Months.  I said yes.  Kinda funny - he told her the same exact words.  She told me he never put anyone on a Strict Program for Three Months before  :-D

Alrighty then.

The long story short is:  No meat.  No butter.   No more that six egg yolks a week.  Very limited dairy - I can have one ounce of cheese a day (and I can eat yogurt.  Ick.).  I have to add 2 tsp of ground flax seed to something every day. 

I heard or read somewhere (exactly where is escaping me at the moment), that a lot of people who say they are vegetarians are actually carbetarians.  I don't think I'm going to run that risk - I'm already avoiding sugar and highly processed foods, so that part won't be any different for me, and because I'm already avoiding those two things, it should make it a lot easier for me to avoid subsisting on Mac & Cheese (which isn't really cheese anyway when it comes out of a blue box).  Oh, and the bread I made?  It made my joints hurt.  Shit.  Shit. Shit.  I had really high hopes for it.

Anyway, luckily, I am a pretty plain eater.  I got that from my mom.  Sauces and gravies are not my thing, so that will be pretty easy.  I can eat fish, and shellfish (hooray!), and beans, and nuts, olive oil, sprouted bread (if I want to try it), whole grains, whole wheat pasta, fruits and vegetables, and I can eat tofu.

I hate tofu.

It has the consistency of scrambled eggs, which make me gag.  It's a consistency/texture thing.

I'm going to try tofu again, however.  I got the wrong kind yesterday, but I heard that if you use the stuff that's not silken, you can put it in a press and get some of the water out of it before you attempt to cook and eat it.  I'm going to get some of the extra firm and hope it's not like scrambled eggs.  I will attempt stir fry it.  I have no idea what the difference between silken and not silken is.  But whatever it is, it means you can't put it in a tofu press.

Even though it all sounds a bit draconian, I'm not looking at this change in a negative way.  Certainly there will be some challenges, but it's only for three months (initially), and if it means that I don't have to take a drug.  I'm all in.  Plus, I've set the intention that I'm going to LOVE being an ovo-pescetarian, and that I'm going to wonder why I didn't do it sooner.

And really - this has GOT to help with the size of my ass.   ;-)

72:365 Ovo-Pescetarian


That's me, for the next three months. Due to a health concern, a change of diet was called for. I took a trip to the health food store - almonds, brown rice, flax seed (and a grinder for it) and some extra firm tofu. I'm nervous about that last one - it's a consistency/texture issue . . . we'll see how it goes :-D

71:365 Nearly Ready for Show


My numbering is off somehow . . . This is one of my African violets - the variety is Von's Little Lady.  It's on the Pre-Show Schedule for a show on April 6th.  Cross your fingers  :-)

Monday, March 11, 2013

69:365 Daylight Savings Time

This is the last of the sunlight today, glowing out of one of my Tibetan singing bowls.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

68:365 Home Again, Home Again . . .


. . . jiggedy jig.  Pulled into my driveway after a long weekend in Missouri, and there was my porch goose, Garfield (named for a beloved Chicago children's show goose from back in the day (and geez he is looking very disreputable . . . )). He got St. Patrick's Day bombed a week early. :-D

67:365 I'm WEAVING!!!


This is my sample - some tabby, some herringbone, a test with variegated yarn and with some solid. 72 warp threads, 10 dent reed - cotton rug yarn warp in dark green, and Peaches & Cream cotton for weft.

66:365 Winter Warp


My warp chain, hanging in the window.  :-)

65:365 Ready to Go

Heading out for Fiber Retreat :-) I look forward to this event all year long.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

64:365 Still There

This was taken this morning from my front porch. You can see where I got tired last night and had to stop. And of course another inch fell over what I managed to get done. I spent another hour tonight and it's pretty much clear now - enough to get the car out anyway.

63:365 Winter is Finally Here . . .


. . . in March.  This is my street, captured on my way home from work yesterday. The light was failing and the snow was still coming down. I would say about seven or eight inches of snow. I tried to clear my driveway, but was not fully successful. My snowblower was like a toy in a snowfall of this magnitude, which was very frustrating.  But, it's really beautiful, isn't it?

62:365 Old and New


This is the top of the Water Tower against a condo building. The Water Tower was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

That's it . . .

I'm buying a 2-stage snow blower.

That is all.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Apparently, I AM a Baker :-D

Yesterday was the day - I made my first dough from the Artisan Bread book.  Here's how it went down . . .

I washed all the bits of the new KitchenAid, and then set about halving the Master Recipe from the book.  There was math involved.  Well, not really math - more arithmetic, which I was was always pretty good at.  Fractions!  Yay me!

I put it all in the mixer (which you saw yesterday)


and in about two minutes max, I had this:

Bread 02

I took another photo of it at quarter of 10:

Bread 03

 and then went on about my morning for a couple of hours.  I came back around quarter of noon and it looked like this:

Bread 04

 Wup!! Wup!!  The yeast was working!!  I left it out a little longer and then put it in the fridge.

This morning, I cut a small piece off and followed the directions (BTW:  whole wheat flour and Quaker Oats work just fine if you haven't got corn meal to keep it from sticking to the pizza peel :-) ).

Bread 07

I let it sit for the requisite 40 minutes, put it in the oven, and got this:


Yay Me!!!!  It's not perfect - well, the crust is pretty perfect, but the inside was a little gummy.  I'm reasonably sure this is because I made a very small loaf.  Since this is the size (or even smaller) that I will be making (no way do I ever need an entire loaf of bread in my home), I will be working on the timing in the coming loaves.  I put this one in at the 425 temp directed, but since it was so much smaller than an average loaf, I baked it for only 24 minutes instead of 30, which yielded a pretty good crust, but a slightly gummy interior.

Next time,  I'm going to go with 420 for the full 30 minutes and see how it goes.

Oh, and BTW, the slightly gummy interier did not detract in any way from the deliciousness of this bread, nearly cool with butter on it  (all WW points counted and well worth it :-D).

61:365 Yum!

My first little loaf of Artisan Bread. It was small loaf - the size I will be generally making - so I need to play a bit still with my oven temp and time. The crust was perfect but the inside was just a little gummy - I'll be experimenting in the days to come. Um . . . that gumminess? Didn't harm the taste in any way whatsoever ;-D

Saturday, March 2, 2013

61:365 Yeah, Baby!

Who knew that you could adore a small appliance?! My new KitchenAid mixed my first batch of bread dough in about two minutes. It was mesmerizing :-D

Friday, March 1, 2013

One Day at a Time . . .

"This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball . . . "

I was in New York once, and I was staying at The Plaza Hotel - because, you know, that's where Eloise lived, and if you never read Eloise, it's not too late.  She is - hands down - the best ever  :-) 

Anyway, it was the 90's, I was recently divorce, and I was on vacation in NYC and hey, I got a great a great rate because how else could you ever stay at The Plaza if you didn't?  And let me tell you, I was really happy to get to The Plaza, because the flight to NYC was the worst scariest flight I have ever been on (the worst flight was on Lufthansa, coming back from Egypt a few years ago, but that's another story).  Trying to land - multiple tryings to land - at LaGuardia in a harrowing storm, with millions of birds all over the runway - oh it was terrifying. 

I think I bruised the hand of the man sitting next to me - he was kind enough to hold my hand as I was saying The Lord's Prayer to myself over and over - I always say The Lord's Prayer every time I take off and every time I land.  I heard once that those are the most dangerous times on a plane, and if we're going to crash or explode at one of those times, I figure that having said The Lord's Prayer pretty much means I go straight to heaven.

I was praying in terror and white-knuckling it all the way on to the ground, so I was VERY glad to get in a cab, get to The Plaza, drink alcohol, and pretend I was wealthy.

I had two different rooms there - one was rawther (that's Eloise-speak) large and looked at an interior brick wall, and the other was weeny and looked over Central Park.  The reason I had two rooms was that part way through my week there, I had to check out for a night and go to New Jersey for a wedding and then come back.  It was too spendy to pay for a night in a room I wasn't actually sleeping in.

I had a really nice time at The Plaza. 

They have doormen at The Plaza - like they do at The Drake here in Chicagoland.  It has been my experience that doormen are always really nice.  As I was coming and going throughout my stay, one doorman said something to me - I'm not sure that he called me Ms. Franklin, but he intimated that he "knew who I was."  I remember saying to him that he must have me confused with someone else, and he just gave a knowing smile and said he was glad I was staying at The Plaza.

Come to find out that Bonnie Franklin - the actress who had played the mom, Ann Romano, in the what was groundbreaking for the mid-1970's drama/comedy One Day at a Time, was doing a show in NYC - something about tap-dancing if I recall correctly - and the doorman was sure that I was her. Nothing I said could dissuade him.  Never mind that Ms. Franklin stood all of 5'3" and I am a giant.  I guess it was my hair and the bob haircut I had back then, because I'm sure that the doorman was unaware that I used to be able to do a respectable single time step back in the day ;-)

I was reminded of all this today when I heard that Ms. Franklin had passed away from pancreatic cancer. 

Television in mid-70's was not like television today.  It was the heyday of the great Norman Lear, with shows like All in the Family, and Maude, and One Day at a Time - a show about a divorced mom raising two girls on her own.  Mr. Lear tackled social and political issues like no one else ever had.  I've often wondered if One Day at a Time resonated with me because I was raised by a single parent (my mom was a widow).  I watched it regularly.  I wanted to know what was happening with those characters - troubled Julie, perfect Barbara, handsome Schneider, and mom Ann, taking her life one day at a time.  A true child of television, I wanted them all to have happy endings. 

It was with sadness that I learned of Ms. Franklin's death today.  A piece of my young life gone.  I guess the older I get, the more this is going to happen.  Davy Jones last year, Bonnie Franklin today.

I  can still sing the theme song . . .


60:365 It's New!

I got a new purse. I like it. Alot :-)