Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Theme for the Year - Reflecting On Many Possibilities

A friend is someone who supports you in growing and becoming even better. Phyllis and I are friends in the truest sense. We don't see one another often - very seldom in fact. But we are linked at the heart. She encourages and supports me in whatever aspirations I set for myself. She seldom offers advice, but she's one of the wisest women I know. She gently guides and supports me, but she challenges me too! Her humor is one of the sharpest, most intelligent and most "right on" of anyone I've met. Whenever I feel like driving off a bridge, her laughter and quick wit have me hysterically laughing and seeking solutions where I previously felt despair.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we often end up reading the same books! Several years ago, we both read a novel called THURSDAYS AT EIGHT by Debbie Macomber. You can read an excerpt of the first chaper by going to Macomber's website. One concept that we liked best about it was that one of the characters decided that instead of having a New Year's Resolution, a word/theme popped into her mind. The word was "faithful." Each major character in the book came up with a word to use as their mantra for the year. A word that represented something they wanted to guide that particular year. A word beacon.

Phyllis and I have done this for several years now. Instead of doing New Year's Resolutions, which seem too restrictive for us, we select a word. We start thinking about what this word will be and it's very significant for us. For myself, one year my word was "simpify", one time, "gratitude" another year it was "focus." Sometimes it's two words, such as "positive change" but it seems more poweerful to have something short and memorable rather than a whole phrase.

What's strange and amazing is how your year often reflects and meshes with the word chosen!!! So if you do this, choose your guiding word with real intent.

For the last few days, we've been contemplating our themes for 2007. I've considered several including: confidence, courage, persistence, unlimited, serenity, question, choice, and savor. When I asked Emily, the word she immediately came up with for me was "self-control."

At first I REACTED internally in a rebellious and even irritated way - i.e. "What ME need self-control, well by God . . . " GULP. Yeah, that reaction sort of cinched it. I don't like to think of myself, at 46, as someone lacking self-control, but if the reactions fits . . . then do something about it. Right?

Self-control it is. It will apply to many aspects of my life: my diet/exercise, my desire to get control of my finances and spending habits, my work which is very stressful and sometimes makes me feel out of control, especially in relationships. In having a teenager, I need to exercise much more self-conrol, especially in the things I say out of frustration. I live too much of my life out of frustration in fact, and I think that's a pretty counterproductive emotion.

So "self control" is the theme/concept I'm adopting for 2007. Maybe posting this in my blog will help me use it more often.

I love new years, new beginnings and a fresh look at possibilities. Self-control. Ah! I don't have to be perfect. I'm not the Master of the Universe, so I can't conrol reality, but I can control how I react to it - especially if that becomes my intent. So that's my sacred intent for this year, that I handle my reactions in a more positive productive way.

Monday, December 25, 2006

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation

It was only four days, four short days!!! But it felt like a million bucks, having several days off to rest (and knit).

There were a few stressful things that happened (we won't talk about plumbing gone awry, last minute Christmas shopping and computers locking up). But all in all, it was a really nice time off.

My plan was to knit on and hopefully finish my Plain Vanilla sweater, but alas, that didn't happen. Here's what DID happen. Shopping. Knitting. Relaxing. Thinking about my upcoming diet. Doing household chores. Cooking. Visiting with friends. Relaxing. Wishing I could be independently wealthy so I didn't have to work.

I spent Friday with my Mom, Bob and Emmy. We bought more WW candles, ate at the Cracker Barrel for lunch and bought some last minute gifts. Then my Mom and I trekked off to The Studio (knit shop) and fell in love with a scarf designed by Annie Modisett - her "Ruffled Roses Scarf." You can see one of the finished scarves by going to her web page at Annie. They had a sample made up in the shop and a lady shopping in the store had one on that she wore very attractively!!!

Note to readers: You can get this pattern only by going to your local yarn shop and telling them about it. They have to request it directly from Annie. The designer is offering this pattern for free, but only to the shops themselves, who can distribute them to customers. This to help shore up business for the local yarn stores so that they'll be there when we need them! I think that's a brilliant idea.

Back to the knitting drama: Mom decided that she really wanted one of those scarves. So she set about getting the yarn for it, and encouraging me to do the same. "It's just a little project" and "it will go so fast" and last but not least "You can help me figure it out."

The lady who proudly wore hers assured us that it only took 3 hours to make - but I think she was referring to another simple garter stitch scarf she had also recently completed and not this one. This one (the Ruffled Roses) has lace. Anywho, we both became DETERMINED to find the ingredients to the scarf because The Studio was sold completely out of the red color of the Online Linie Solo. We called every knit shop in town and out. Amazing enough, we found it in our own backyard. My Mom mutters, "I wonder if Knitcraft has it?" Guess what, they did! So we found red - the hotly sought after color for the bloom part of the Ruffled Roses scarf.

Now Mom and I are both knitting on this danged scarf (it's addictive) and I'm done with the bloom, finished with the lace (fun) part and am now working on the ribbing part of the first HALF of the scarf). I'm doing my scarf in red, grey, cream and black. Then I realized that I probably didn't buy enough of the cream and black, so I'll probably have to go back and get more later. And they're closed on Christmas, naturally. I'll have to return later this week and get more.

I will post a picture of this scarf once I get my computer back in enough working order that I can post - I'm having problems with it - and it may be Blogger, but more likey this time is my computer. You can see a photo of the scarf by going to Annie Modisett's website.

But that's how easily diverted I am!!! I now have several projects going (see updated Progress on right). I have the Plain Vanilla sweater (which I LOVE), it's getting nearly completed on the body part. I have only 5 more inches to go before I start binding off on that, and then I have the collar and sleeves to knit. I also am about half finished on a long-ago abandoned UFO Dr. Who scarf, and I have this newly-started Ruffled Roses scarf. Not to mention, I'm really getting antsy to get back to my Freeform vest that I started working on last summer. I am motivated to get back to that because we're going the the Studio retreat at the end of January and learning more about Freeform techniques. It would be so FUN to have that vest finished to wear for the retreat, but I doubt that will happen at the rate I'm going. Maybe I'll work on the vest at the conference as my project-in-process.

So I wish I had like a month off to do nothing but knit. I am divinely inspired, but alas, with all the plumbing, car and computer problems, not to mention run-of-the-mill debts, I must continue to work. Ah!!! (do you hear the squeaking violins?)

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Greatest Gift

Time off to be with my family and friends HAS to be, by far, the greatest gift of the holiday season. I'm not much for the material gift giving and the feeling of obligation to give something to everybody. But the gift of time together is truly priceless.

This morning, I went to Weight Watchers for the first time in ages. They are still doing the points plan or the CORE Plan, but they've repackaged it a lot and it seems workable, if you just take the time and attention to plan your meals and make healthier choices. That has to rank higher on my priority list, because I've been gorging lately out of stress and worry. I'm going to try doing CORE again immediately after Christmas.

It was really weird, because I was hesitating going to the meeting, especially since I know I won't actually be starting the new plan until the day after Christmas. (My Grammy is going to cook a calorie-dense Christmas dinner for us on Monday). But I figured I'd go there and get an idea of what the plan is like now, any changes in it so I'd be ready to start fresh on Tuesday.

The leader there, Roberta, is a really nice gal (and very inspiring). I've been to her meeting before. She is on the CORE plan herself and really loves it. She's kept her weight off for many years. The CORE plan is my plan of choice, because you get to eat until you are comfortably full of healthy food choices. On the points plan, I would only get 20 points per day, which isn't much! In the past, when I've been on that plan, I've felt deprived.

At any rate, Roberta's day at this particular center is Friday, but she told me that she does a Saturday meeting every week at a location not too far from my house, so I may very well be attending her meetings on Saturdays in the future. I think she would really inspire me and charge me up!!

One thing she did that was really neat was pass around some little gift cards that you normally put on Christmas or Hannukah gifts with the "to"/"from" on it. She wanted us to write to (our name) and from (our name). Then she had us flip the little tag over and on the back, write why we want to give OURSELVES the gift of losing weight. How would we benefit from it. On mine, I wrote "feeling of control, good health, nice appearance, more energetic, self-satisfied." So I'm writing it here on this blog as a reminder to myself to think of dieting in a NEW way. I'm not denying myself anything - I'm GIVING myself a gift of good health. How nice is that? I deserve to be healthy, but only I can give that gift to ME!!!!!

Now I turn this back to you, dear friends. What gift can you give yourself in 2007? The gift of peace? The gift of love? The gift of more time? I'm thinking that all of these things are tied together in a nice little gift package. When I get stressed-out and deny myself the gift of indulging in what I ultimately want, I find myself stealing those good feelings in other (more destructive) ways by compulsively eating/shopping/ etc. So how can I make myself feel good in healthy ways? Maybe by de-stressing in other ways. Meditating. Walking. Knitting.

I love it when I have a stream of days like this to reflect on my life. Having time is really really a precious thing. And something that I need to use better and more wisely so I can take the time to make healthier, more satisfying choices in weight loss and everything else.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yarn Diet? And Looking Forward to the Studio Retreat

Several of my yarn friends (Laura, Kay and perhaps Mary and Carol?) have threatened to go on a "yarn diet." It involves stop buying yarn for anywhere from 9 months-1 year!!! It involves knitting entirely from stash with a few exceptions such as: sock yarn counts/doesn't count (depends on who you ask); yarn on yarn crawl or purchased at retreats/yarn festivals is "legal." Yarn purchased for gifts for others at their request is okay so long as you don't already have a similar type of yarn in your stash? You are allowed to fall off the wagon once a year with a get out of jail free card.

Can I agree to this diet? Well . . . I'm definitely returning to a diet-diet (food related) in January. What would January be without a real diet? It just wouldn't. A food diet sounds almost excciting right now, because I've gained so much holiday weight that I feel positively glutonous. Even a financial diet (that Jim and I have both been focusing on lately) and getting my financial house in order is once again sounding appealing and very much needed. But when I comtemplate a yarn diet for some reason, it makes me feel very antsy and like this wouldn't be entirely a GOOD thing.

Yes, it would be good to discipline myself. Yes, it would be very good to whittle down some of my growing stash. Yes, it would help me clean out the "guest room" in my house that is slowly evolving into the Yarn Room. Yes, it would help the financial diet (see paragraph above). Yes, I have plenty of potential projects to keep me busy for the next year PLUS. Yes, the yarn I am planning on buying for Bob's zippered cardigan sweater would be exempt under the rules. But for some reason, having the "you shall not indulge in yarn" dictum hanging over my head would feel somehow Draconian. I don't know why, but it really bugs me.

In 2006, when I look at it in total, I really didn't buy much new yarn at all. Only the Alpaca Vest yarn. I bought some Smittens yarn for the Smittens class but took it back when the class was cancelled. I bought some sock yarn, but not much of that. I bought some yarn for Freeform knitting projects, but again not much. I bought dibs and dabs of yarn throughout this year - but no major projects. No big expenditures.

So why does the mere contemplation of being on a total yarn diet make hives erupt on my skin? Why? I don't know but it does. Even if I appended the RULES to allow for me to make yarn purchases for classes I sign up for, I still don't think even that would be okay. I think I'm not going to do the Yarn Diet. Sorry folks, but this girl would probably indulge LESS if not restricted. I'm afraid I'd simply rebel if I even attempted to put those rules over my head.

So no Yarn Diet for me. Nope.

On a lighter, happier note, I am definitely going to the Studio's knitting retreat at the end of January and I absolutely can't wait!!!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Riddle: How Do You Survive A Houseful of Teenagers?

Answer: With this:

WoodWick soy candles that Mary told me about. You can buy them at Cracker Barrell restaurants in the gift shop. They are the most delightful candles you will ever experience - they have a wood wick (and thus the name), they smell delightful, burn twice as long as a normal candle and give off a wood cracking sound that reminds you of a crackling fire. Speaking as a bonafide candle fanatic I can testify to the fact that these are the --- the best!!! Made even better by soaking in a big bubble bath at the same time as burning the candle. It would make a lovely and affordable Christmas gift for $15.99 if you haven't found a special gift for someone on your list.

And this:

My current sweater project, the Plain Vanilla sweater that Norma has written often about, using the Pure and Simple Neckdown Pullover for Women Pattern No. 9724 and Marr Haven yarn, I love that stuff!!! It feels like heaven. You can read a Knitter's Review about this yarn by going here. It's the Natural color - and it looks rich and classy, feels soft as butter in your hands, and I heard gets even softer after washing.

This weekend, the sweater grew quite a bit. Yeah! See the black line on it? That's a thread/lifeline where I took it off the needles and tried it on to make sure it fits. Fits beautifully.

I can't wait to finish this sweater, because I think it is one I will wear quite a bit. You start at the neck, knit it all in one piece, and then later will pick up those live stitches at the armhole to knit the sleeves. It's an ingenious, easy and fun pattern. Would make a good "first sweater" for anyone and knits up very fast so far.

And finally this!!! Frank Sinatra. He's always relaxing and classic. I wish I had even more Frank Sinatra CDs. You can never have too many of his albums!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sad Contrast and A Hand Over Scientists' Mouths?

Last weekend I went to see one of the most phenomenal movies I've seen in a long time. The fact is, I'm frugal in many ways - i.e. I buy all my clothes at thrift stores, buy generic brand labels, and most importantly in this case, only attend movies at the dollar movie house after they've LONG expired from "first run" status. However, I had to relent in this rigid first-run movie policy by attending the movie "Bobby" last weekend. Why? Because Bobby Kennedy has long been a hero of mine, also because I look on the late 60's - and the entire 70's period as a revolutionary, innovative and exciting time in our recent history, and it's especially sharp in my mind because I grew up as a liberal/polically aware kid during that time period.

We watched the Evening News every night when I was growing up. Even though I was young, I vividly remember the Vietnam war, as well as specific events such as Martin Luther King's assasination - and Bobby Kennedy running for office. My memory of JFK's assination is very hazy. All I remember of it was little John-John (who was my exact age of 3 at the time) seeing him salute his father's casket at the funeral. I saw that on TV.

But I digress (oh hell, when do I NOT digress?) It wouldn't be a Chelle story if I didn't.

The reason I'm blogging about this today is because I loved that Bobby movie. It brought back to me, on a very emotional level, the late 60's idealism and hope the sense of real HOPE that existed when Bobby Kennedy and his ilk had a chance of leading the country. One can't help but imagine, what might have been, had he not been killed so tragically. Would the world have been different? I dunno. But he had a sense of real vision and such bright, burning intelligence. I think he would have far exceeded the leadership ability of his brother, John.

And compare that to now . . . (shudder, shudder, shudder). I seldom write about politics on here, because frankly, I'm heartsick over it. I can't talk about it, write about it, or think too much about it. Plus, I don't want to turn this into a political bitching blog - that's boring.

But here's the latest astonishment coming from the Bush administration, and this I feel I MUST talk about because it involves coming "new rules" used by the Interior Department's scientific arm to ensure that release of scientific information is monitored and controlled by the administration. Considering who we have in office right now, I see a huge potential for a large governmental "thumb" to be held over scientists for political purposes. This is scary - extremely scary - to me.

According to the AP story, which you can read about directly by going HERE, the Bush administration is going to clamp down even MORE, to filter or screen all facts and interpretations, all scientific papers and other documents and information, before it is released to the public.

What can we do about this? I don't know yet. I don't know if this is something we can write to our Congressman and complain about even, because I don't think it involves legislation. Wow. I'm just flabbergasted by this.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Babes in Toyland

The daughter was phenomenal playing the toymaker's asst, Grumia, in "Babes In Toyland" over the weekend! She sang a solo and was a major character in Act II. The whole show was really good.

Did I say I'm proud of her. She loves acting and her singing - I don't know where she gets that voice, not from me!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Dr. Who Kick

Okay, I'm on a Dr. Who kick again. I've been wanting to watch reruns of the original old TV series that I watched during my childhood. My favorite Dr. Who is the fourth one, pictured here. And I love his scarf!

So about a year ago, I started the one in the Sally Melville book - and you see this is where I'm at on it. Guess it would be idea to get it back out again and finish it, right?

Here's a link for the "official" Dr. Who pattern (as Mary mentioned, I think there are probably many different versions). The scarf I am making is from Sally's book and it has brighter colors. Mine is a more garish version, but I like it. These are colors I would wear.

We rented what I THOUGHT was the original Dr. Who series from Netflix, but instead we got a new revamped series they started in 2005. It's pretty good for a revamp, but I nostagically crave the old TV version. So I'm still hunting for it.

On the Knitting front this week? I was going to take the Smittens class last Tuesday, but it was a weird day! (Almost weird in a Dr. Who/surrealistic kind of way). I was driving to work at my usual time, 6:20 AM when I got stalled into a total highway shutdown. A tractor trailor had turned over on the highway and traffic was totally at a crawl. During this time sitting on the bridge, I ran out of gasoline and had to pull over at the shoulder - luckily I found a shoulder. Then Bob came and rescued me - two hours later, with a can of gasoline. But during the tense wait, I luckily had this project to work on and it kept me relatively calm.

That night, driving to the yarn shop, there was another big wreck near the yarn shop, so I had to go around it - took forever, and when I got to the shop, I found out the class had been cancelled for lack of enough people.

So now I'm working pretty steadily on my Top Down Pure & Simple Plain Vanilla pullover sweater that I was working on during the traffic jam.

And I want to also pick up my Dr. Who scarf and finish that. How's that for a plan?

Christmas and Hannukah gifts - those are being purchased this year, definitely not knit. I am too stressed out for anything but purely selfish knitting right now.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weekend Project Finishing Spree!

Project: Plymouth Alpaca Grande Vest - Pattern No. 26
Needles: Size 11
Worked on: November 21 - December 2nd.
Knitting Level: Easy!
Satisfaction Level: 8

I love the vest and think this is something I will actually wear. It was extremely easy and fun to knit! I think it will get larger and cover more as it stretches - Alpaca stretches a lot.

Also: Alpaca sheds a lot. I noticed it shed a lot of red fuzz all over the cashmere off-white sweater I wore beneath it, but that doesn't bother me. If shedding bothers you, then perhaps reconsider this yarn and choose something else?

I took this in a class with 5 other knitters and it was so much fun! Hi Megan, Carol, Jenny, Debbie, Barbara! Hope you are completing your sweater vests as well and will show them off to me soon.

There is very little finishing to this vest, either. It just requires two short side seams and Voila!

Next on the finishing agenda this weekend was finishing the Trekking Socks I started last summer. Here they are, just in time for winter wearing:

Please pardon the ghostly white legs. But the socks are nice!

Started: June 18th
Finished: December 2nd

Size 0 Needles - 2 socks on 2 circs method
Yarn used: Trekking XXL Color 135 in orange, pink, blue, green, purple.

Pattern: Pure & Simple Fingering Weight Socks, Cuff Down No 216

I'm officially TIRED of knitting socks now.

Next up: Smittens in Mission Falls Wool (I'm making the Advika style with black and multi-colored stripes to match my black coat). Also will knit a black felted hat to go with it.

Also on the needles: am currently working on a Neckdown Pullover for Women in Vanilla color

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Ready for A Party Can Be Scary Sometimes

For several weeks, I've known that I had a Christmas party to attend at work and the big event was scheduled for last night. Bob had to rush over and get Emily to the Christmas play she was performing in, and then swing back at home to pick me up so we could both attend the office Christmas party at a schmantzy hotel ballroom - it's a big yearly event. Though we usually dress very casual at the office, this is a glamourous stepping out opportunity!

So last night, I rushed home from work, threw off my usual jeans and sweater to shower and switch into glamour mode. I knew exactly what I was going to wear - the same long black skirt and black/silver glittery overblouse that I wore to the Bar Mitzvah three weeks ago. No problem.

Not a problem until I tried to slip into the skirt. It. Wouldn't. Go. Past. My. Thighs. To my hips. Not to mention zipping. Forget about it! Not even close.

Uh-oh. I thought, "It must need to be unzipped." No, it was already unzipped. Damn, I must have gained a significant amount of weight from three short weeks ago when I last wore this dress. All kind of possibilities rans through my mind: I had been eating a lot during Thanksgiving (and after). I'd been wolfing down some holiday candy. And now I was bloated from PMS. But how could this damn skirt not even rise past my thighs? Was I ballooning like the Philsbury Dough girl or what?

"Okay, I'm a little bloated, that's all. So when in doubt, just wear your black 'fat pants' - the dress pants that are comfy and fit even at my most bloated." I reassured myself by putting on those pants. "I'll just wear the blouse over the pants, and since it's such a roomy blouse, it will cover up my stomach."

More bad news. When I put on the blouse, it was very tight as well! Although I could wear it, the blouse was hiking up very much higher up the waistline area than I remembered from before. When I desperately tried to pull it longer over my stomach, then it looked dangerously low cut and exposed more cleavage than I cared to show!

But right now, Bob arrived and said, "We're late, we've got to go. Now!" I turned to him at that point and felt near tears. "Do I look as fat as I feel? I feel like a stuffed sausage!"

He's been married long enough (and is smart enough) not to tell the truth. Instead, he said, "Wow, that blouse looks nice on you - sexy! It's lower cut that I remember, but it looks fine."

So we left the house, and all through the party, I felt uncomfortable, like it was too tight and too hiked up. I kept tugging at it and praying I wouldn't be chosen to walk up to the platform where they were announcing names of employee gift winners. Thank goodness, my name never got picked! But all the time, I kept angsting over my sudden weight gain and trying to figure out what caused it. Hormones? The cookies I've been eating? The lack of exercise? Metobolic catastrophe! What on earth could be wrong with me and my middle-age body spread?

Well, when we picked up my daughter later that night from her friend's house, she said, "Mom, how was the party? You look great! I love that blouse on you! It looks a lot like my Women's Choir Performance Blouse. Hey wait, it IS my women's choir performance blouse! Why are you wearing it and stretching it all out of shape?"

A wave of relief instantly washed over me. "You're kidding. Is this really yours? Is that why it's so small? A size . . . . "

"2" she promptly supplied, and the skirt is a 1. You didn't stetch it out too much did you Mom?"

I couldn't believe it. I went upstairs, where I dug around in the closet and found my size 10/12 evening overblouse and skirt. Very similar to the daughters, but not at all the same size.

Here's a picture of MY holiday blouse:

Whew! What a relief (sort of). I still need to lose weight, but . . . . apparently both outfits were hanging in my closet, and due to lack of preparation and sheer panic, I scared the shit out of myself for no good reason. And I suffered through a holiday party in a very tight blouse when all the time, I had a more comfy one hanging at home. In my defense the two blouses look sort of similar (though certainly different enough that I should have caught on, but didn't). And I am so stressed out at this time of year that I make myself and others insane with my antics.

The moral of the story? If you have a holiday party coming up and you don't have time to lose 20 pounds before the big event, you might want to do a beauty preview, with full makeup, hairdo and dress rehearsal PRIOR to the said event so that you don't have a fashion misshap like this one. Ho, Ho. Ho.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let it Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Ice? Hmmmm

The severe weather came in back-to-back storms, said Mike July of the National Weather Service in Kansas City. "We're going to get hit with a double-whammy," he said. The first storm rolled through Kansas on Wednesday afternoon, on the heels of near-record setting high temperatures earlier in the week. It dumped half an inch of ice on tree limbs and power lines in eastern Kansas, contributing to a fatal car accident on the Kansas Turnpike and raising concerns of power outages.

Suddenly, the Indian summer we've been enjoying - temps in the 60's and 70's have been replaced by winter. Yesterday's temps fell 40 degrees in one day! Then we had ice . . . now we have snow. It took me two hours both last night and tonight to get home from work. Normally, it's a 45 minute drive.

Lucky for me, I really like - well, let's face it LOVE winter!!!! I am a cold weather kind of gal. I'm not afraid of driving in it either. I just don't like to take 2 hours each way getting to and from work, makes an awfully long work day.

Anyway, winter is officially here now. Pictured is a view from the door of my house looking out at my snow-covered car. And that's the snow that had accumulated in the 2 short hours since I arrived home. It doesn't count the deep snow and ice I drove through on the WAY home. Yikes. Too bad I can't have an official snow day off work, but my company will stay open no matter what. They even have a generator on the premises.

How this snowy weather makes me yearn for more luscious stay-at-home and cuddle in front of the fireplace with my family and a hot cup of coffee.

By the way, Phyllis, thanks for calling to check on me. You are too cute!!! Worrying about me is so sweet.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Retrospective

I've had such a good, fun, relaxing 4 days off - this is Sunday, the final day of being OFFFFFFFFFF. Sure could use more 4 day breaks like this. Say I don't have to go back to work on Monday??? Say I can put my feet up for one more day. Say I still have ONE MORE DAY to enjoy. Yeah.

I love being off. I had a chance to spend some time with my family on Thanksgiving - and although there are only 5 of us now celebrating - the three of us and two grandmas, it still was a beautiful day. We are so thankful to still have my 91-year-old phenomenal Grandma with us and inspiring us. I remember my childhood Thanksgivings when the whole big clan got together, but sadly, that doesn't happen anymore. Our family is growing older, less kids, and those that still exist are fractured and living in different parts of the country. Ah well. It was still nice to have each other. And the food was delish as usual. I ate far too much. Way too many leftovers. Getting sick of said leftovers. Guess it's time to start freezing things.

I saw some delightful friends, including my old childhood friend, Pam. It was wonderful seeing her again! Our long-held friendship is precious, and she's gone a long way in keeping in touch with me through the years. We laughed over some warm childhood memories and gave one another parenting and middle age advice. Everytime we get together, we remember who we once were, and still are - and notice the many changes that life has brought our way. It's so good to have someone who has known you since you were five - it sort of anchors you.

I had a chance to speak with Phyllis by telephone. Phyllis, Phyllis, Phyllis. I can never get enough of you. I wish we lived closer so we could laugh together in person. But you make me laugh no matter WHAT is going on.

As a family, we went to Warrensburg for the day on Friday. We love going on daytrips and Warrensburg drew us this time. I was tempted to drop by and see Kay and her geo dome home, but I didn't have her address or phone number with me. Kay, wouldn't you just have LOVED a pop in visit? Ah, no, probably not! We ate at Players restaurant. Great salads and sandwiches there. Then we went to our favorite Antique mall/glorified thrift shop called Those Were the Days. The two girls, Emily and her friend, found two French style fancy phones that they snapped up.

One thing I picked up at the thrift store was a new/old coffee mug. Did I ever tell you that I collet coffee mugs as well as drink lots of coffee? Well, I do. And I like collecting old named brands of old such as "Ever-Fresh" that are no longer made. During the big move two months ago, one of my favorite Ever-Fresh mugs broke. The handle snapped off due to rough packing by me. So yesterday I found another Ever-Fresh mug at the thrift store. It's not a replacement, because I still love the old one. And in spite of everything, what I like best is a plain black cup of coffee with no added stuff. But I like brewed FLAVORED coffee the best - no extra calories, but loaded with flavor.

While I was sitting at YS&More Tuesday night during class, they were playing the most relaxing music!!! Even though I'd arrived that evening stressed out from work, after sitting there with that group of women and listening to this soothing music playing overhead, I felt settled in and so relaxed! We asked Tamra, the teacher, what was the source of this incredible music. She said it is Sirius radio, on the Coffeehouse channel 30. It's a mix of various artists, but all in acoustic guitar. It's very soft and not the same old top pop mix.

Suffice it to say that over the weekend, I did my homework on it, and we now have Coffeehouse at MY house. They have almost 200 channels for $12.95 per month - although you have to buy a car mounted receiver thing and a home docking port if you want that. But all in all, I am getting a $30 rebate on that, so for about $30 I have it in my car and I can listen online in the house. I will probably eventually get the home docking station too. Itr's much cheaper than buying CDs.

Music. Family. Friends. Knitting. Bubble baths. Reading. Sleeping late. Goofing around. A Jewish girl drinking and savoring Christmas coffee. Not necessarily in that order. Hope your Thanksgiving was the blessed too.

Thanksgiving Knitting

Met with the knitting group on Saturday and that was a blast as always. Everyone is working on great projects and Mary just finished the most beautiful man's sweater. It inspires me to work on more sweaters.

My husband is wanting a zippered cardigan from the Northampton Wools book -see photo at left. I can probably do the cardigan itself, but the zipper - ah, I may need to hire finishing help on that at the knitshop. I don't usually put zippers in sewed or knitted items. Zippers are not my friend.

As far as UFOs are concerned: I am still finishing up the socks I've been working on since summer! I'm on the second sock, and just have the toe left to do on the second sock. I hope to finish that up, maybe today?

My newest project is an Alpaca Grand Vest, the pattern is from Plymouth yarn Design Studio #26 - (see photo). It is a very simple and fun to make vest that feels as soft as heaven and knits up fast. Size 11 needles. You basically just knit up a big ribbed rectangle that cinches in during the middle part and flares out again. There are only two short side seams to stitch up. Easy and fun! And hopefully I'll end up with an amazingly soft, wearable garment. I love vests! They help make a large bust less conspicuous. In fact, a good vest hides a variety of figure imperfections.

I just started this on Tuesday during class at Yarn Shop & More and already, with not a lot of knitting, I'm quite a ways on it. Here's where I'm at:
The teacher tells us that this pattern is amazingly similar to an old 1940's vest design. Tamra collects vintage patterns, and she is going to try to bring the one from class that this is so similar to.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Grateful My Favorite Holiday Nears

At the office last week, we had our Holiday Feast where everyone brought in delicious food to share for an early Thanksgiving blowout. I love to cook, and here's the cranberry sauce I make in case anyone needs a quick Thanksgiving recipe:

Simply Delish Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 12 oz pkg fresh cranberries
2 small naval oranges, with the skin grated off and the oranges inside chopped up
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup chopped chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 chai spice tea bag from Stash
1 individual packaghe of Alpine (from Krusteaz) Original Apple Drnk Flavor Mix

In a med. saucepan, boil water and sugar with grated orange peel until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and add Chai Spice teabag, the dried package of apple cider, cranberries, chopped orange, apple, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook the fuit and spice mixture until the cranberries pop, about 5 minutes or so.

Add pecans and cool the sauce.

That's it - easy and delicious. Next time I might put my Mother's Mushroom crab appetizers up here.

Back to Gratitude, although many authors and self-help gurus have suggested it at various times in various ways, I believe it was Oprah Winfrey who insisted that whenever she was down, she fixed that by either: volunteering to work for the underprivileged in a soup kitchen. She also makes a regular habit of keeping a Gratitude Journal where she writes down five things daily that she's grateful for. This is a wonderful habit to get into.

A couple of years ago, I kept a gratitude journal and I challenged myself to think of 5 different things each day, with few repeats. Sometimes it was amazing that the things I most appreciated were the little things i.e. finding a missing SOMETHING that I really needed and had misplaced; someone letting me in a busy line of traffic; a clerk being kind and letting me return something when I'd lost the receipt, any number of small things that made me feel good about human nature.

I haven't been keeping a gratitude journal lately, but I really need to do it again. Now that Thanksgiving is nearly here, I'm grateful, DESPERATELY grateful and anticipating the paid days off to spend with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I Wanna Stay Home

I'm tired - just got home from a Bar Mitzvah for my nephew in St. Louis. I have a personal theory that there are three types of weekends: 1) the kind where you relax and recharge; 2) the kind that are fun and stimulating but busy; 3) the kind where you work around the house doing serious cleaning or working on a household project. This weekend we had a stimulating and busy weekend traveling to see the relatives on husband's side.

Susie and her family are loads of fun. Susie fulfills the role of "connector" for us - she and her mother Eve both do that. They keep us connected through their invitations and inclusion in family events. They always have family get togethers, parties and celebrate special events. This was her son Bryan's Bar Mitzvah and it was great. It was a whole series of events - including the temple service and a series of brunches and parties. We had a lovely dinner and dancing. Thank goodness I still fit into my black evening dress - the one special party dress I still own, so I didn't have to run out at the last minute and buy something new.

We had a chance to spend time with people we love but seldom see. Relatives and friends came in from several states. Emily had a chance to see her cousins. They are all growing up remarkably fast - and that makes us feel out of touch. In fact, some of the kids were so grown up, I literally didn't recognize them until we were introduced. We splurged and I mean SPLURGED on delicious food. Boy, I need to start that diet again!

I missed my knitting group today because we got home too late. Darn! I really love going to knitting with everyone. It recharges my emotional batteries. But I'll be there next week for sure.

We had a fun time. It made me realize that while I'm prone to wanting to spend my weekends doing the relaxing/recharging activities, my husband and daughter really enjoy the "get out there on the road and do fun things" kind of weekend. I should be more flexible sometimes in going away for some fresh experiences.

When you're a working woman, life just really feels like one big rat race and when you do take the weekend away - everything back at the house such as the avalanche of dirty laundry, the failure to go to the grocery store and other duties that I usually do on the weekends all pile up and populate the following work week. So now I'm having my post-weekend hangover. It's fun while you're out there, but when we come back, you're hit with all the stuff you didn't do while you were gone. I swear, I'm feeling that bluesy sense of "there's no time left for me in my life." I know, it's a pity party. But I'm craving a day - a weekend - a week all by myself. Wouldn't it be great to stay home, curl up in front of a fire? Read a book? Knit a little? Watch some movies? Light candles? Listen to music? And not leave the house for an entire day/weekend/week? Ahhhhh. Sheer bliss.

P.S. I didn't get to knit much this weekend because we were moving from one activity to the other and on the way home, I was so tired I slept the whole four hours while husband drove. Social events are fun, but they wear me out!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Yeah, yeah, it's my birthday. I'm getting older, but I'm still kick'n.

And I'm an election baby - born on Kennedy's election day so many years ago. That's proven prophetic for my political leanings.

And the election day yesterday - perfect! I enjoyed savoring it today.

Not many birthdays this satisfying. When I'm feeling more technically inclined, I'll try to scan in the photo I found of my teenage self.

Regardless of how you voted, I think we can all agree that we're sick of the political ads and it's time to move on. Ready for some unification and healing in this country. Whew! I'm certainly ready for that.

Peace and love, everyone - let's hope for that.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sweater Weather - Let's Talk About Sweaters

It's November, and even though we've been having a brief burst of Indian Summer, the late Fall air is beginning to get a wee bit brisk, the beautiful red leaves outside my front window are falling. There's frost on my car windows in the morning, because I still can't get my car into our crowded-with-boxes garage. And it's time to think about winter, and comfy sweaters to keep warm!

The one really good thing about my current job is that we get to "dress casual" every day. This means I get to wear my handknit socks and sweaters to the office every day with jeans if I want. Isn't that great? The weird thing is, although I've knit lots of socks, scarves, a few hats, several purses I don't carry and many fingerless gloves - I haven't made many sweaters - only two in fact! One was an Einstein coat for Em when she was in fourth grade and the other was the Reynolds Smile Sweater I made for myself early last Spring.

So my thoughts have turned to sweaters, and what I could make that I would really enjoy and wear. I love wearing both vests and sweaters. I am planning on making a vest, too, in Pymouth's Baby Grand Alpaca - but that's a whole different topic for another blog entry. I'm starting on that in a couple of weeks when I take it in a class at Yarn Shop and More. I'll share that info with you later.

Back to sweater talk. For over a year now, ever since I found Norma's blog, I've been wanting to make her Plain Vanilla Sweater. Here's the pattern photo of it, it's made off the Knitting Pure & Simple Neckdown Pullover pattern #9724 shown here:

And I even bought the yarn for it - last January! It's Marr Haven's Merino and Rambouillet all natural 2 ply yarn, cleaned without chemicals/all natural in the color NATURAL. But I haven't made it yet. So I'm going to get started, hopefully today, I'll make a gauge swatch and get started this afternoon. The only problem is, the pattern calls for using both size 9 and size 6 in both a 16" and 24" needle size - so I need 4 needles that I don't have a lot of. I have scads of needles in every other side, but I may actually have to dig up some of these sizes. I can't find my Denise needle set since the big move. I will do a gauge swatch because in all likihood, I will need to go down to a size 7 or 8 and a 4 or 5 on the smaller needle. I knit loose. But at any rate, if I can get the needles together, I may start swatching on that today.

Did you read what happened to Norma's Plain Vanilla sweater? (See my sidebar for a link to her blog and to read the whole story). She spilled something on it. Coffee? Merlot? I'm not sure, but she ended up dying it into the most beautiful shade of red! I love red! It looks beautiful on her, too. But I haven't ventured into dying just yet. I'll be happy if I can just end up with a wearable casual sweater that will go with anything.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween 2006 - The Scariest Thing Was My Chili

I usually am a pretty good cook. I specialize in spaghetti, chili, beef strogonoff, tuna casserole, macaroni and cheese, crockpot chicken and noodles, the usual cheap, calorie-ridden American eating fare. I usually make these foods rather tasty. I've been cooking them from boxes and cans since I was ten or eleven years old. But somehow, in my efforts to make chili tonight for Halloween, the dish really bombed big-time. It was nasty. Dark, bland and greasy. Yuck!!!

I think baked chicken that was my standard low-cal diet staple is starting to look better and better now that I have that greasy, nasty chili sitting in my stomach like lead.

Happy Halloween everyone! Don't tell Emmy she's too old for trick or treating. She's still happily dressing up.

We didn't have many trick or treaters this year as usual. Maybe because it was so cold? I was disappointed by the turnout, but the kids were cute as always and I had a fun time passing out candy. I tried to give them generous candy portions so I won't worsen my expanding-waistline problem!!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Fitness Efforts - Need to Regroup

Okay, a few weeks ago I was on here bragging about losing 8 lbs. on a well-known and expensive weight loss program that I don't want to repeat the name of because I am no longer as happy with them. I followed the program religiously from 9-27 until last week - so I was on it 4 weeks but I after the initial weight loss, which was during their "prep phase" - after when I was on their extremely low calorie restricted diet and very limited selections of food - I slowly started regaining several pounds of the weight I'd initially lost.

They wanted me to take bitter orange - a form appetite suppressant that I wasn't sure was safe to take, especially after researching it. So I refused to take it - and they said that voided my "weight loss guarantee." Plus I have some perimenopause/hormonal issues that makes dieting and losing weight even more of a challenge with weight fluctation etc. I'm going to return to a more sane, doable eating plan.

I've been depressed this week, stressed from work etc and admit that this week I've really fallen off the wagon BIG TIME. I'm talking bingeing - getting into the Halloween candy and drowning my worries in ravenous hormonal cravings for chocolate. I think my week-long pity party probably resulted in the gaining of several pounds. I'm going to find out today what I weigh - ah face the scales again. Grrrr.

The lesson learned is: there's no magic way to lose weight. It's slow. It takes constant viligence and throwing a lot of money at the problem won't make it any easier. You have to drink lots of water. Eat low lean proteins. Lot of veggies. A little fruit. No sugar, chocolate or other emtpy calories. Lots of regular exercise.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. Maybe I'll return to the Weight Watchers program, which seems to work best for me, especially the Core Program - it's basically a natural foods low carb/healthy eating list of foods that I can eat, similar to South Beach. I'm going to go shopping for the ingredients later this afternoon.

Plus I have been starting to exercise again - I was depressed yesterday so I skipped Hot Yoga on Saturday morning and spent the day with my Honey instead. But I intend to do yoga this week.

Also, my friend Mary turned me onto Zumba, a form of aerobics with Salsa and other dance moves mixed in. We had a LOT of fun there, didn't we Mary? The only downside was that I started craving Mexican food and Marguritas afterwards. But I had burned 500 calories doing the workout, so I made myself go home and drink water with lemon instead. Not as satisfying, but less calories. I could always have salsa on my veggies . . . . yeah, that's the ticket.

If you want to see how Zumba looks here's another link that demonstrates it: Zumba live.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Crazy Together - A Matched Set

I know that many of you read and enjoy, as I do, the blog CRAZY AUNT PURL. Who could NOT love Laurie and her zany sense of humor? The thing I love best about her is that she's a loveably flawed human being, like all of us, who isn't afraid to share her most vulnerable quirks to the world. Amazingly enough, what she says often reasonates so deeply with her readers. You're laughing insanely one minute, spitting your coffee on the screen, and the next minute, your heart is touched so profoundly and you ache for her. She's a lovely mix of beauty, smarts, vulnerability and Southern-grown and LA planted craziness - and she writes so compellingly that whether you're laughing or crying for her, you're WITH her all the way. She's amassed a large group of really witty and smart commenters too. So whenever I read Purl I have to read all the comments too, because they're a blast.

Now she's recently hit the "two year anniversary" of her ex-jerk-husband up and leaving her because of an insane need to "find himself" and be a superficial mystery man who nevertheless "found himself" immediately with another woman. Her heart was broken, but over the past two years, we've seen her grow and survive the heartache.

Well the other day, I think it was her October 26th entry perhaps? She's talked about a new man in her life who she's keeping pretty much on the "down low" because it's a newly developing relationship and she doesn't want to advertise it too much just yet. But she mentioned that she had him over for dinner the other night, and he picked a newspaper lying on her table and she had a disturbing flashback to her ex doing the same thing - except it was DIFFERENT because this man was really WITH her and not using the paper to ignore her and go within himself etc. Sorry, I'm sitting here rehashing the whole column, when you can/should just go there yourself and read both the essay and the comments - all 76 of them or whatever!!! It's amazing the insight Laurie has about this event, as well as the different perspectives that folks bring to it. The way they interpret it.

The readers tend to generally agree that we're all crazy in some way, both women and men, but we're not crazy in the same way. We all have "baggage" to bring from our past relationships into our current one. One commenter pointed out that in a relationship that works, you can both have baggage, but it should ideally be a matching set!!!

All this rehashing is leading me to a brief reflection on my own special relationship with my husband. He's truly a gem - a rare find and definitely a "keeper." Yes, he's crazy and I'm CERTAINLY crazy. We have habits and quirks that annoy the hell out of one another, but we've been successfully together for 21 years and I still love him all the more deeply today than I did when we were stumbling through our own relationship, trying to figure out if we could survive one another's newly-discovered craziness and baggage. I knew I liked him immediately and we just had chemistry - and I found his faults loveable as well as annoying. Through a lot of shared life experiences, including parenthood, growing through our problems and pain, we've come to share a relationship that is deeper than any other I've shared with anyone. Nothing else even comes CLOSE to the zany bond I feel with him. I think a shared life view and most of all SENSE OF HUMOR has held us together through everything.

Here's a brief story - our lovely daughter was in a big chorale event at school and she had a lovely black evening gown that the girls each wore and the dress required matching black dressy shoes which in my working-woman haste, I had totally forgotten to buy. We'd been shopping several times on weekends, but never found exactly the right shoes, and somehow down to the wire, I totally kept putting daughter off and not buying them. Well, this week, on Tuesday - it was performance night. I totally forgot again and had my cell phone abandoned in my car all day because work has been crazy. Well, the girl (who doesn't drive) frantically called her Father at work and said, "Daddy, I HAVE to have a pair of black shoes before 5 p.m. tonight. Can you buy me some black dress shoes in size 7?"

Being the wonderful man he is, he spent his lunch break frantically going to a shoe store and picking out what he thought would "look nice" for her. He got the size right. 7. The shoes fit just fine. But they were . . . . very ugly black clodhopper loafers that looked like something even my 93-year-old grandmother wouldn't wear!!! He said, "Honey, are they okay?" She didn't want to hurt his feelings so she quietly went into my closet and dug around until she found my one and ONLY pair of black party/dress shoes in a size 6 1/2. She squeezed into them and made do. When husband noticed that she didn't have on HIS shoes he'd selected, he asked her why and said, "Ah, Dad, I love you, but you bought a pair of Pilgram shoes. I can't wear those!"

My husband told me this story right before the concert started. I know it probably won't sound that funny to most people, but one of Bob's loveable quirks is his total lack of fashion sense - for men or women!!! He's the type of guy who is a total nerd and wears white socks with black pants. So knowing that he tried so hard, and his own ability to laugh at himself had us giggling all night. We'd just look at each other and whisper, "Pilgram shoes!" and we'd start laughing all over again.

I'm really glad my husband and I are a matched set. I love the luggage - especially the scuff marks. And the Pilgram shoes!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Unfinished August in October

This is the lovely autumn view of the tree outside my front window. Yes, it's October, my favorite month of the year!!! But ever since we started getting ready to move, last July, my knitting projects have pretty much been in limbo. Until this weekend, when we cleared out and closed our second . . . . drumroll . . . storage locker, I couldn't even FIND most of my knitting needles, projects and paraphenalia. However, Chelle's a much happier girl now that we're getting some things put away and in place. So, since it's been 3 months of dishevel, I feel like I'm beginning to go "back in time" 3 months and pick up on projects I started way back then.

In August, I was going to participate in Jeanie's Unfinished Object Month, but I only finished one project before having to put all knitting away in the name of household moving behaviors. Now that's this place is finally starting to feel like home (and it's a much more open floor plan), I no longer have all the nooks and crannies to store stuff into, so I must streamline my clutter. Including knitting. Yes, I know knitting is not clutter in the true sense (perish the thought!) but let's face it, a Crayon Box jacket done in pastel shades that I started 3 years ago and I'll never, ever, ever EVER finish not to mention actually WEAR has finally gotta give up the ghost. So I'm donating all that yarn to Grammy's charity yarn knitting stash. She will make much better use of it than I will.

I also finished another object, one of which I really like a lot. Both fingerless gloves of that Knitty pattern I can't remember the name of. What is it? Oh shesh, it's the one everybody in my knitting group is making that is in the summer issue of Knitty. I finshed them last weekend, just in time for the nippy morning drives to the office.

And then here's the purse I also started in August but finished and felted today. The colors may not show through well, but it's a cranberry shoulder bag with streaks of green. I love cranberry and green together!!

I'm going to buy probably a jade decorative button or clasp to put on the flap as a closure. The purse is knit double-stranded throughout. Pattern is in Ee Wiechmann's PURSEALITY PLUS: 20 FELTED BAGS on page 46 and 47 (I think I mine is much prettier than the one in the book). I also plan on sewing a cloth lining inside to make it even more usable. Yarn used was: was Cascade color 2401 and Lumpy Bumpy "Autumn" shade by Farmhouse Yarns. The thing that is unusual (and particularly nifty) about this bag is that the shoulder straps are THICK, not those thin little icord handles that are on many felted bags, and also, they are knitted into the bag from the beginning. You start with the handle side of the purse and make it like a big buttonhole technique. So the handles are knit intergrally into the purse and not added on later as an afterthought. Once I get this bag more "finished" from a lining/button perspective, I will display the bag in it's full finished glory later.

Also, look for more upcoming objects to be finished throughout the Fall. Since the weather is getting colder, I'm having a STRONG hankering to start a new sweater, and I'm going to. Next time, I'll show you the 3 sweaters I'm considering making. 2 are old favorites that I already have yarn for. A third and fourth are brand new temptations that I DON'T yet have yarn for!!!! Ah oh!!! More yarn pillaging ahead?

But in the coming month or two, I also hope to finish a few lingering projects that have been sitting around for a while. I will show you those too as they reappear from the old yarn closet and take on renewed life in the midst of falling red and gold leaves around here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Rediscovering Yoga - I Love It!

I was so busy last weekend and throughout most of this week that I didn't have time to rave on here about the Hot Yoga class I took last Saturday. It was a busy errand day and I barely made it there. I seriously considered skipping the class I'd signed up for altogether.

However, I decided to bite the bullet and take the class. Boy am I ever glad I did.

When I was a young teenage girl, I started watching a PBS show called, "Lilias, Yoga and You." It featured this beautiful tall thin brunette young woman who was in amazingly good shape. She did Yoga, which I'd never heard of before, but tried to emulate her poses from my living room floor as I watched, spellbound, and wondered if I really was doing The Dog or The Lion in correct posture. I even went out and bought her book with my hard-earned babysitting money! But it was hard holding those pages down while trying to copy the contorted poses to the best of my ability. Even then, I wasn't very flexible or agile. I admired not only the physical exercise involved, but even more, the serenity that Lilias demonstrated. I, too, wanted to be that calm (I've always been high-strung).

After that brief soujourn into Yoga, I put away my Yoga mat but have remained fascinated with it (from afar) ever since. I've been hearing about this Hot Yoga craze, so I decided to try it with the class last week. It was a one-time only class that said, "Stretching postures and breathing exercises are taught in a safe environment of a heated room so that deep penetration can relieve one's body resistence without risking injury. By gently stretching muscles and joints as well as massaging the various organs, yoga ensures the optimum blood supply to various parts of the body, helping to flush out toxins. By the end of class, each person will have worked every muscle tendon, joint, ligament and glance, while moving fresh oxegeneated blood to 100% of the body. Bring Yoga mat, water and towels to class." The class was 90 minutes long.

Guess what? When I came into a dimly litted room that was very warm (about 100 degrees) and it had scented air (lavendar) with a very calm, soothing and relaxing Eastern music, I instantly loved the atmosphere. They started by instructing us on correct breathing, then the teachers led us into a gentle but sweat-drenching series of poses that flowed gently, from one to the other. When you were in the wrong posture, there were helpers there who came up to you and silently and gently guided your body into the correct posture. By the time I did 90 minutes of the most soothing, calming and spiritual workout I've ever done, I was so relaxed and serene I felted like I didn't even HAVE a body. Lilias type serenity, here I come! (By the way, I see from the Internet, that Lilias is now 64 years old, but looks wonderful and still teaches Yoga). Although Lilias' long dark braid has been replaced by a short, perky hairstyle, and she's obviously aged over the past 30+ years, she still looks fantastic.

I thought I couldn't possibly do ANY exercise for 90 minutes, but I did. The instructors showed us how alter the poses for beginners, which made everything doable without injury. We ended with a peaceful meditation. I want to do it all again!!!

Luckily there's a new yoga shop just opened up near my house. I'm going in there Saturday and signing up. I've found my perfect workout. Days later, I could pleasantly FEEL all those muscles and tendons I'd stretched. I wasn't sore, but just aware that I'd had a great workout. I'm going back for more.

I left that Yoga session more relaxed than after the full body massage my family gave me for my birthday last year. This gentle workout was WAY more relaxing and serenity-inducing than even that.

By the way, the room was scented with lavendar oil and the peaceful music they played during the session is called "Oriental Sunrise" by Riley Lee.

New Chi - Worthy of High Hair Praise

This is silly, I know, but after a week, I finally realized that my new hairdo is harder to style without a little help from the hot iron my stylist uses. So I now own my very pink Chi hair iron. Here it is:

With the help of my new fancy styling iron, I am able to style my own hair (sort of). It still takes more practice, but I'm getting there!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guess Where I'm Going in January


Read Entry below to find out!!!

Somewhere In Time - Knitting Retreat - I'm SO THERE

Remember the delicious time travel movie called Somewhere In Time? It's one of my all-time very favorite movies (and I love movies, but this is one of my top 3). Well, there's a hotel near here called The Elms that Bob and I have visited, stayed at, and loved. I went there and talked about it several weeks ago on this blog. The reason I bring it up is because the Elms really reminds me strongly of the hotel shown in Somewhere in Time. It has that same "other century" and maybe even ghostly feel to it. Woooooooooooooooo!!!! The combination of other time/romance/mystery and a slower pace that is simply delicious to my soul.

Here's a photo I took of the porch of the Elms when we were there last time:

Why, you might ask, do I bring it up now? Because the Studio yarn shop, one of the best in the Midwest, is hosting a winter retreat at where else? The Elms!!!! Yes!!! Not only that, folks, but they are having wonderful workshops such as "Cable Purse" "Gloves" "Lace Scarf" and "Free Form" -- guess which one I'm taking? If you guessed Freeform,you would be right on target. The owner, Allie, is teaching that class and I've take a shortened version of this class once before and it turned me onto the whole possibility of Freeform and it's charms. I can't WAIT to have two days of Freeform instruction. Not to mention being with my friends at the Elms.

Let me tell you, the owners and staff of The Studio cannot be beat on their pure CLASS. When I went to Stitches Midwest 3 years ago, they treated their customers (including my Mom and I) like gold. They held a luncheon for us, they gave prizes and goody bags. They are simply amazing. And their yarn is great too. So you can't imagine how thrilled I am at the prospect of attending this retreat. I am on CLOUD 9. And I so NEED this retreat, it's the weekend of January 26th, 2007. I am so THERE.

What's better than a winter weekend of knitting, friendship, girl talk, and Freeforming? Ain't nothing better than that.

I can't wait. I'm going over to The Studio this morning and signing myself up!! It's an early birthday present to myself. Even though we're still broke, going to this retreat is extremely impt to me. I hope everyone in my knitting group can tag along. I know Laura is planning on going, and my Mom. I don't know who else is signing up yet. Mary, you going? Hope to see everyone there.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fingerless Glove - One Down and On the Second

This pattern is from the Knitty website. You can make a glove in one evening. Easy. Fast and warm. The cable on the wrist doesn't show up much in this dark charcoal color. I wouldn't do the picot bindoff near the fingers next time.

Here is a photo of Emmy and Aunt Eve - these two have such fun together.

And finally, it's Fall. I LOVE October. Here's my Fall table setting (what I love best is that I bought this dish set and glasses as well as matching mugs at the Dollar Tree for $1 each! The bargain hunter in me was well pleased):

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New DO

Well, last time, remember I got the "Uncut" - this time, I had Emily's stylist and she did an actual new style. Here is the old style:

Here's the new (much shorter) do:

Now that's what I call a REAL haircut. I'm still getting used to styling it, but I think I like the change, if for no other reason than it's different. Whenever I'm wanting a change in my external life, I go for the outside manifestations first!!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Village - Hauntingly Like Our Reality

In the wake of the terrible shootings of school girls this week in Pennsylvania, I am newly amazed by the violence and depravity our society seems to be reeling into. We caught the news of this story as it unfolded last Monday. My daughter and I were driving in the car when the news was announced on the radio. It's about the third school shooting story in the past 2 weeks, and they are all horrendous. In West Nickel, Pennsylvania, a man had entered a one-room schoolhouse of an Amish community of school children, made all the boys leave the building and systematically lined the girls up in front of the chalkboard and gunned them down executions style before killing himself. It's mind numbing. After hearing the news, my daughter turned to me and asked, "Mom, why did this happen? Did stuff this bad happen when you were growing up?"

I grew up in the 70s. Yes, there were murders then. One of my cousin's childhood friends was kidnapped from her grandmother's hotel - she simply disappeared and her body was found many years later buried nearby. There were killings. But it was an outrage. We were deeply upset as a society when it happened. And somehow, I just don't recall the constant stream of violence, cruelty, total depravity almost being commonplace like it is today. I am stunned.

And I'm wondering why we, as a society, don't feel more outraged. Have we grown numb to it? I don't know what we can do about it. Maybe it's that feeling of powerlessness that overtakes us individually and collectively. Maybe it's the insanely hectic pace of our lives that sweeps us away in our own concerns and daily rat race. I don't know, but it's really sad - and it somehow feels much different than the time when I grew up. What's different? I don't know. How are we creating such crazies in our society to do such things? I don't know.

So how does this relate to The Village? Well, our friend Patricia came to dinner last night and we watched. This is a movie by M. Night Shalyman, who produced and directed Sixth Sense (one of my all-time favorite movies). While The Village doesn't have the twist ending of Sixth Sense, in fact it's not a plot-driven movie at all. It's a romance, a suspense that has horror elements. It's an oddly haunting, 1800's period piece ironically set WHERE ELSE? Pennsylvania. Don't worry, I won't reveal the plot, but I'll just say that the movie portrays a society of innocence, very similar to the type of community where these real-life serial murders took place. The movie is about a village who have tried to shut themselves off from general society, to shelter themselves from the violence, dangers and lures of modern life. Then it's about the events that unfold as a result of that. I won't tell you more plotwise - just watch it.

The theme though is a resounding, Love drives everything important in life - and we must overcome our fears of bad things, monsters and the unknown. Because love is so strong, it's worth the risk of overcoming our fears and stepping outside the safe and innocent zone into society at large. It's also about, in my opinion, the sweet beauty of innocence and the trade-off that must be made when we venture outside the safe zone.

I hope others of you will see it and let me know if you see other angles of the story that I may have missed - or if you interpret the theme differently. The thing I liked best is that The Village is the kind of movie that makes you think - it keeps popping into my head over and over again, and that's why I will see it again today. And it's theme helps me cope with my own fears as a parent, knowing that I can't ultimately protect those I love most, yet must pray that they somehow stay safe in spite of the risks.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Oh Yeah, I've Lost 8 Pounds!

Did I mention that after going to certain big-name weight loss center I've lost 8 pounds? Yep, I'm feeling really good so far. I'm eating smaller portions. Very little salt. Lean meats. Vegetables. A couple of fruits a day. There are strict rules.

Like Elysbeth pointed out, though, the reason it's expensive is that you pay in advance for all your weeks of weight loss, stabilization and maintenance. This is added motivation for me to keep coming back and sticking to the program. Since I've paid for a whole year in advance, and have 3X weekly check-ins, it's pretty hard to "cheat". And I'm really motiviated to make this plan work.

I really need the 3 X per week weigh-in/check in with the counselor. It keeps me accountable.

Next comes exercise. I have started walking some on my lunch break but need to do lots more and want some toning exercises as well. I signed up for HOT YOGA at the community center the other day. It starts the second week of October and it's one a week. You work out for 90 minutes - 90 HOT minutes!!! We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, I'm really happy I'm finally doing something to make me feel more in control of something - my weight if nothing else.


Getting the Mental Lead Out

Since this move, I've been SO disorganized and having trouble finding things I need. So much is stashed away in the storage locker that I can't easily get to. I'm resisting the urge to go out and re-buy things I know I have. Like my curling iron. Like my journal. Like the little cable that lets me download pictures from my digital camera onto this blog. That's one reason I haven't blogged much, because there's lot of stuff I'd like to show you, but no way of transmitting it (yet).

On a pleasant note, Aunt Eve (picture to follow later) has been in town this weekend and she's done a lot to reduce the tension around here and help us appreciate our new home. Frankly, this house has been more of a hassle than a pleasure so far, and I'm not sure how worth it the move has been. I'm not being very positive right now!!! But her sunny, fun personality has helped me see that perhaps I'm just experiencing a huge wave of change and I may need a few more weeks to mentally "settle in." Her career was interior design, so she's given us some ideas for decorating. She's also given me a mental push to just GET RID OF even more stuff to make way for a more roomy existence instead of just collecting and bringing more clutter in here from our storage locker.

My friend Patricia has also encouraged me to do that. She has been reading a Feng Shu book, called, "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui" and it says that the clutter you keep in your life, especially that stuff from your long ago past, is literally holding past memories and "shit" into your current life. As hard as it is, you sometimes just need to release and let go. I tend to hold onto things - possessions, sentimental objects, things I MIGHT use someday (but probably seldom if ever will). I also hold onto past pain, hurt, resentment -- and when too much of that emotional crap gets built up, it just makes me snappy, bitchy and overreactive about everything. Like a case of terminal PMS, and I think that's what I'm mentally and emotionally in right now. The least little thing is setting me off.

I really need to emotionally cleanse myself and get the YUCK out of my mind and heart. Whatever you focus on in life really does increase and expand, so I need to focus on what I want to see MORE OF in my life.

The blurb for this books says, "Drawing on the success of her first book, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston has met popular demand by expanding on the indispensable activity of clearing clutter. There is very little of actual Feng Shui here, and certainly nothing you can't get elsewhere, but the clutter problem gets full and complete treatment. Kingston reminds us that clutter is stuck energy that keeps you stuck in undesirable life patterns. Therefore, you can "sort out your life by sorting out your junk." Kingston covers the reasons we keep things as well as the amazing stories of people who have cleared their clutter away. More than just junk, clutter is all those things that have negative symbology and that collect stagnant energy. This latter can also apply to bodily, emotional, and spiritual clutter, all of which Kingston describes with characteristic passion. In an age of accumulation, it's good to see a book that frees up life again.

I am going out today and buying that book!!!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Whew! Finally Back Again

When I predicted, a month ago, that my life would be a rollercoaster I sure wasn't kidding! Little did I know how many ups and downs I'd be "riding" during this time.

I finally found my digital camera yesterday while unpacking some boxes. There are still many things that are left to unpack. And did I mention we have not one but TWO storage lockers full of stuff we're still trying to either place or get rid of? Yeah! It's true.

Also, I started going to Slim4Life on Saturday. I have been stress eating and gaining WAY too much weight, more than I ever have weighed before. I can't keep this up. So I joined Slim4Life. It's expensive, because you have to pay for a whole year's worth of membership/weigh-in fees in advance. And you have to buy some diet food they have, like special supplements and snacks through them, but I really am getting desperate to stop gaining. In the past year, I've gained 10 lbs over my last all-time highest weight and I'm in danger of going into another size, one that I know is FAT for my petite body frame and would involve a major clothes buying session into a larger size which I am NOT going to do. I'm 5'3" so even an extra 10 lbs on me is very noticeable. I want to lose 30 lbs and am committed to doing it.

Weight Watchers just flat isn't working for me anymore. There's not enough accountability on it, and the points structure makes it too darn easy for me to cheat. On Slim4Life, you weigh in 3 times per week and you meet individually with a counselor. You are constantly accountable - which is what I need right now to ensure my success.

Initially, they have a 3-day "prep diet" where your food selections are extremely limited low-carb type choices. It's similar to Atkins. But starting on the 4th day of the diet, you go into different food selections. I have my Nutrition class tomorrow night to learn the eating rules etc.

So far, I've lost 4 lbs. It's probably mostly water weight, but who cares, it's 4 lbs off. Now I have 25 or 26 more to go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Are We Here Yet? Sort Of

This move has been the hardest of any we've ever done! Gosh, it just feels so disorganized. We got the furniture moved in on Friday, but we still don't have much in place. We still have 2 storage lockers full of stuff to sort and place somewhere in this house. Although the house is larger, I don't know that it has a lot more usable space.

We're still unpacking - and our muscles ache so much, you'd think we didn't have movers! It feels like I moved the sofa on my back. Ugh.

I hope to get to knitting group this week. I miss my gang!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Did I Mention We're Moving?

Yeah. Remind me never to move again, okay?

Additional note to self and whoever will listen: Don't accumulate so much "stuff" at the new house. I'm discovering, especially as we do the basement and garage that many things I THOUGHT were treasures years ago really aren't. I could have lived without them. And I should have gone through them and pitched them years ago at my leisure, instead of now during duress.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oh Thank Goodness It's Friday

TGIF was never so true as this week (and last). We're in the final throes of packing and getting ready to move our belongings. The move actually occurs next week - but this is our final weekend of packing and getting ready.

Since we haven't moved in many years, this is a particularly stressful move - and hopefully our last. I'm getting too old for relocating, let me tell ya!! What would have once been an exciting adventure when I was in my twenties or thirties is now drudgery - and we have aches and pains just from packing boxes? What's up with that?

I told Mary I would try to pop into knitting group for a bit this week, but doubt I can stay very long and knit unless the packing goes better than expected. I also want to get back on my physical fitness program again when the dust settles.

There are no photos this week, because my digital camera is packed away, but I have progressed a little on the fingerless gloves. I may check in briefly with the knitting group after all, because I do have a question about the gloves. They are fun to make so far! And I know fingerless mitts are something I always use. In fact, the three things I consistently wear that I knit are fingerless gloves, scarves, and socks, definitely SOCKS.

Next weekend, we have UNPACKING to look forward to. But I think we're all getting really excited about the new house. I can't wait to have a weekend to enjoy the new place with some actual knitting in my lap.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Love the Socks a Lotta

Well, much to my delight, I have finally finished BOTH of the Simply Lovely Lace socks. And gee, it only took me two months. I've been busy doing everything BUT knitting. So it was while we were driving around yesterday that I was able to finish the toe of this second one.

Let me tell you, these babies are a real gift to myself right now. I love them! They are sock-a-lishous. They fit perfect and it was chilly enough that I wore them to sleep last night. Once I finally got the hang of that pattern, I really liked it. These won't be my only pair. After we move and get unpacked, there's a Burgandy pair in my knitting future. How bout that for Sock Love? I don't often do a project twice, but these are lovely enough to redo. That's quite a testiment to their sock goodliness.

I also started these "Fetching" fingerless gloves in a charcoal color:

The pattern is found here on Knitty. Even though it calls for a size 6 DP set of needles, I went down to a size 5 because I knit loose.

Deciding I didn't need to knit a gauge swatch, I started knitting away a couple of inches down the cable section before realizing that these gloves would still be too large, even on a size 5. Normally I'd just switch down to a size 4 or 3 and start over, but my DP needles are now safely packed away somewhere in a box - who knows which one. Grrr!

Now most the darned stores will be closed because it's Labor Day, so I'll probably have to wait till after the holiday to buy some DP needles, unless I can find a Michaels or somewhere that is open. I really shouldn't be knitting anyway, we have so much packing to do. But I love these gloves and with the night temps falling, there's been a hint of Fall in the air that is making me want to knit warm things and cook Chili.

Today - we'll have chili and continue to pack. My desk and computer will probably be next, so if you don't hear from me for a couple of weeks, you'll know why.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

September Morning - Ah!

Stay for just a while
Stay, and let me look at you
It's been so long, I hardly knew you
Standing in the door
Stay with me a while
I only want to talk to you
We've traveled halfway 'round the world
To find ourselves again
September morn
Neil Diamond "September Morn"

Is it really September already? After having a turbulent, busy and life-changing summer, I'm really ready for my favorite season, Fall, to arrive!

You'll notice I'm practicing diversion here - delivering a snippet of Neil Diamond and thoughts of the beginning of Fall because, I don't have knitting done. I've been focused on my new job, the start of school, and the house buying and selling process. My nerves are still on end, REALLY on end over everything.

My goal for August was to finish some unfinished objects, especially my Simply Lace socks. That wasn't done. I hardly touched my knitting all through August. So I'm not going to make any knitting-related goals for September. In fact, in general, I'm going to place a lot less stress on myself about knitting period!!! Frankly, I've got way too many other fish to fry. Knitting is supposed to be FUN, not productive, but sometimes I forget that, because I have a very driven personality.

Though I hope to do a bit of knitting over this 3-day weekend, I won't do much because I need to get in gear and really start packing.

This week I've felt weird - emotional, teary, frustrated and just plain cranky. My confidence in myself has just taken a nosedive and I'm not quite sure why - well, I think I know why, it's a whole bunch of things. For some reason, that old children's movie, NEVERENDING STORY keeps coming to mind, the part where the old man tells Atrayu "You've got to have confidence in yourself, move forward. You have to BELIVE IN YOURSELF or they'll destroy you."

I started researching confidence on the Internet last night and I found this fantastic (and short) article called, "Proof Positive: Power Ahead With a Winning Attitude." Since my anxieties and fears have really playing up this week - I'm going to do as the article suggests and name each one of them "Can't" "Second Guess" "Fear" "Not Enough" "What If" and "Oh No!" - I'm going to gently lead them out of my mind and take them all out for a beer - or maybe wine, simply because I prefer it.