Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Bit Errr . . . Distracted

I've been distracted lately . . . some might call it absent-minded. Blame it on missing the husband and daughter, I don't know!

It all started yesterday when I read Catherine's Sunday blog entry about her desire to get fit again and go walking with her dog, Murphy. It sounded so good to me. I've been wanting to exercise. And I was reading her entry on a perfectly lovely late Sunday afternoon with a cool crispness in the air, so I got motivated to get off my butt and go take my dog, Domino, on a walk. I put on his leash, left the house with a resounding "slam" in the front door. Then I realized, "Oh damn! My keys aren't in my pocket." Spent the next 60 minutes or so trying to get back in my house instead of walking. I finally got back in, but I felt so stupid and annoyed with myself!

Then that evening, Sunday night, I decided that I wanted to prepare all my food for a week's worth of lunches to take to work in a big sack so I'd eat healthier and stop spending so much money on lunch. I cut up veggies, made sandwiches, put frozen dinners in there. By the time I got done, that sack was heavy! After packing it away in the middle shelf of the fridge, I went to bed, woke up the next morning and grabbed that sack to take to work and sat it by the door so I wouldn't forget it, etc. Well, I took it to work with me, got to my desk and started unloading my "lunch". low and behold, instead of frozen dinners and cut up veggies, I opened the sack to find ---- a frozen turkey breast!!! I'd accidentally grabbed Tuesday night's dinner that was still unthawing in the same middle shelf of the fridge. Oh brother.

To top it all off, last night when I went out to my car, I'd left the trunk of my car open while I ate at a restaurant.

This has been a series of absent minded events! Wow, I think I'd better get my mind back on what I'm doing. Luckily, the family will be home today. Maybe I'm just missing them.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weekend to Unwind

Alas, some peace and quiet. By myself. Family has left for spring vacation visiting relatives in California and I am at home . . . to relax . . . well sort of.

My 92-year-old Grammy is in the hospital getting a pacemaker. She's been in since Tuesday, so it's been visits to the hospital every day. Fun week. Not really.

So my Mom had I have had a spring break detour of sorts.

Sweet blogger Elysbeth has spent me a wonderful care package of lovely green teas . . . I can't believe she did this in the midst of her move and not even being able to find stuff for herself, like tobasco sauce for her eggs. But to understand that you'd have to read her blog here.

Anyway, thank you so much Elysbeth! And actually caffeine green tea is preferable to me over regular tea. She sent me a sampling of her favorites, including: Melaleuca Herbal (G'Day), Numi Dry Desert Lime Teasan, Raspberry & White decaf tea, lemon & white decaf, Numi Simply Mint Moroccan Herbal Teasan, Orange Ginger Mint, Blackberry Sage decaf, Green Pineapple, Sleep tea, decaf green plum. Honey Vanilla Chamomile. And not to mention "True Lemon" for water and tea. Your kindness is touching. I can't wait to try these.

I read in PREVENTION magazine this week in Dr. Weil's coloumn, that Japanese researchers have found that the health benfits of green tea greatly outweighs that for coffee. Tea, especially green and whit etea, is the source of some of the most powerful antioxidants known. Japanese researchers have found, after an 11 year study, that women who drink at least 5 cups of green tea each day cut their risk of heart disease by about a third.

Another Sanity Saver that I just bought, purchased from Perfect Scents is a lovely Spa Comforts "Shoulder Wrap" (I think you can buy one from www.spacomforts.com) filled with peppermint and lavendar flowers. As this calming shoulder wrap rests on my shoulders and neck, I feel as if the weight of the world is lifted OFF my shoulders. Whew! Lovely.

I've been reading the book, "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. I know this is not a new book, it's been out a long time. I'm usually about 2 years behind the "in" book, movie, TV show, etc. But this is really good. In spite of the all controversy and hoopla on the fact that James embellished some things in this book, that doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book one bit. I'm on on page 79, just past his gruesome dental experience, but I'm really caught up in this compelling read. And now, darn it, I've left the book in my eye doctor's office and he's closed for the weekend, so I'll probably go buy it again.

Did I mention that I'm going to Stitches in August? Yah!!! I'm taking a Freeform knitting class from the creative master herself, Valentina Devine. Very exciting. I can't wait. As I've mentioned, I'm also taking a Sally Melville Class on Intarsia on April 15th. I'm looking forward to that too.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

There Are Signs of Spring

Not much time to blog this morning, what with getting ready for work and all . . . . but here is a view of hope:

What is this? You might ask. It's my 100-year-old lilac bush that I transplanted from my favorite home up in Iowa. It's alive. It once again survived another move. When we transplanted it here with this recent move, I wasn't sure whether or not it survived, but see it has! It's budding.

The other thing I long to do in spring is to knit lace. The last time I had this urge, two springs ago I think, I tried to knit, (over and over again) the Charlotte's Web Shawl. But alas, I was too impatient with myself to master that at the time. I've since incorporated a small bit of lace, such as these socks:

They were from the Summer 2006 issue of Interweave knits.

But usually when I have this strong urge for lace I read a book on lace. One of my most enjoyable lace reads has been this:

In the book on the left, byNancie Wiseman, she uncovers a treasure trove of lace patterns found in the attic of old house. She modernizes the instructions given in the old collection she found. I've never knit a thing from this book, but I enjoy reading it.

But this spring, on St. Patrick's Day in fact, I felt compelled to cast on my this shoulder lace shawl by Susan Lawrence (see links below for pattern and links to photos of completed shawls by her students).

My efforts look like this so far:

It's really easy and fun! I highly recommend it as a "first attempt at lace" project. Susan, you're a genius! I love this shawl so far. I'm making it in Collintte Jitterbug sock yarn in the color Toscany, size 8 needles.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Here's Too A More Upbeat, Playful Week Ahead

I've been burdening this blog with a lot of negativity, and I'm sorry about that - I'm a bundle of good and bad, positive and negative but the negative has been too much at the top of my mind lately. I've felt bogged down and now that it's Spring - a beatiful day - I need to release that a bit and let in a mental as well as physical breath of fresh air. Here's a photo of my girl having FUN a few days ago - just look at the sheer joy on her face! I have a lot of blessings, including this girl, and need to count my blessings more often.

Yesterday, I ran all kinds of errands, you know, the eye doctor, the grocery store, the dog groomer, the oil change . . . etc. But instead of feeling burdened by them, I had a lot of fun. Yes, it was a FUN day, even though I was by myself about half the day and with my Mom the other part. Mom and I met for lunch and a bit of shopping at Knitcraft and the Scandanavian shop. It was St. Patty's Day - I bought a new darling green purse with paisley design. (Green is one of my favorite colors of all time and paisley is my favorite design). Then last night Bob and Em and I went to see a dollar movie, we saw Aragon the fantasy/dragon movie. It was very entertaining.

Newly Cast on: Shoulder Shawl. When Mom and I were at Knitcraft yesterday, I bought some Jitterbug (Collinette) sock yarn in the color "Toscana," but I'm not making socks this time, I'm aspiring toward a shoulder shawl that I was inspired to knit by visiting Susan's blog called, "I'm Knitting as Fast As I Can." Take a look at her March 15th entry where she displays several completed shawls of her students. Inspired by her blog entry, this has become my newly cast-on proejct. It's an easy lace shawl. I need easy! And lace will be a challenge for me, but this pattern isn't too much of a challenge. The pattern is designed by Susan Lawrence, and you can find a link here. It's downloadable and it's a really great pattern because it's written out in either chart or word instructions, depending on your preference. Susan always has well-written patterns, in my opinion. I've been a blog reader of hers for some time. She's the designer who designed Knitty's ever-popular "Branching Out Scarf." It's an easy lace scarf.

Not to worry, I am still plugging along on socks as well as my favorite current project the Ocean Waves "Not a Poncho" by Jane Thornley. I am still in awe of this project. It's a freeform work, and I always feel so darned artistic when I work on Freeform. In fact, I feel like a "Fiber Artist" with capital F and A respectively. I know you're probably sick of these progress photos but I'm not sick of it yet, so bear with me. The NAP is now 36 inches wide and 19 inches in length. Pretty soon here, I'm going to join it together and start doing the shoulders. I think it's getting near being done. Not sure yet, since this is a blind knit-along, but I think the end is getting near?

Sanity Saver of the Week: CD edition of "Making Your Thoughts Work for You" by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Byron Katie. When I was doing the errands yesterday and driving in the car a lot, I took advantage of the drive time by listening to two of my favorite authors/inspiring teachers - that is Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and Byron Katie (Loving What Is). The CD set I was listening to is "Making Your Thoughts Work for You." Boy do I need that right now. It's really good.

I think doing The Work with Byron Katie right now is what I need to do to gain a new perspective on many of the things that are mentally bogging down and causing inner conflicts in myself. If you've never read Byron Katie, go get her first book "Loving What Is." It's a book you DO and not one that you read. In fact, I like her work on CD/tape so much better than just reading the book version. You can go to her website, too, now which has some video clips of her doing "The Work" with some audience participants.

Okay, I better go for now. My husband is urging me to get away from the computer and joining him in seeing the beautiful plants/trees that are budding in our backyard. Spring really is springing! Delightful.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Every Time I Set Good Intentions . . .

Every time I set good intentions and lofty goals, I mess up. Remember my holier-than-thou diet/exercise intentions of last week . . . well I did none of it and I'm not going to the Weight Watchers meeting today. I wore my pedometer a couple of times this week and since it was a big, bulky one it kept falling off. One time when I was taking the stairs up to a meeting at work, it fell off my pants and bounced violently down the steps right in front of the Director of my department who almost stepped on it. Shesh!

So I stopped wearing it after Day 2, but wore it long enough to figure out (if it's accurate) that on an average work day, I walk only 2400 steps instead of the 10,000 I need eventually aspire to.

I think I frustrated myself. It was a stressful week and I'm starting to wonder if I'm bound to always be dumpy and matronly in my advancing 40's. Sometimes dreaming of a size 8 (not to mention a size 6) body again seems like an unreachable pipedream. I know, I know!! I'm being negative again.

And while I'm on my negative bandwagon, has anyone seen the latest self-help book that Oprah is promoting? I can't say the name of it because it's a secret. But I flipped through it at the bookstore this week. This author seems to have marketed and repackaged a lot of Unity, Norman Vincent Peale and other positive-thinking and new age thinkers who were innovative. But it's strange that this book is becoming a runaway bestseller just because of its slick marketing campaign and promises of instant wealth, success, weight loss etc - all rolled into one - are more pallatable to folks than the original thought systems that inspired these ideas.

I've been a Unity participant since the early 1980's and because I'm a natural cynic, I'm torn between WANTING to believe their positive thinking and visualizing belief systems and then dismissing them as mere magical thinking. But at any rate, the original promoters of this type of thinking were REAL and unvarnished. Give me Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, Catherine Ponder, Norman Vincent Peale, Wayne Dyer and any of the originals over this slick, watered-down hype that is selling like hotcakes. Sometimes I really do think our society is like a herd of lemmings following one another off a cliff. Okay . . . enough of that. I'm a lemming, too, believe me, I know. In fact, all too often, I'm the first lemming running as fast as I can to catch some shiny object (or newly repackaged MUST HAVE) only to . . . . fall off and go "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" on my way down.

Speaking of fitness, this is a cute story. I adore my husband. He sticks by me in spite of all my foibles. Well, the other day, he was at a seminar at work and he's normally pretty low-key and quiet (computer nerd). The instructor started passing out little freebies. When he peeled open the wrapping and discovered that one of the freebies was a pedometer, he got really excited and burst out with a comment saying, "Oh, this is great!!! My wife has been wanting one of these!!" He knew that I hated my big, bulky pedometer. The one they handed him was a tiny, easy-to-use pedometer. Everyone in the room turned to look at him like he was crazy. And that's okay. I found that story so sweet because I could just SEE my sweet, quiet husband bursting out in enthuasiam over that. So now I have my very own cute, tiny, easy-to-use and non-bulky pedomater. Maybe I'll try it and see how it works . . . but I'm not making any promises this week, because that seems to be the kiss of failure toward my well-intentioned efforts.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Things Are Getting Better

Thanks for the nice, reassuring comments from my "feeling down" post the other day. I really am feeling better. Because my career is in sales, it's an emotional rollercoaster at times, you don't get deals that you KNOW you should get, and sometimes things fall into place even better than expected. That's what happened yesterday (Friday), I closed a big deal I've been working on for a couple of months. So I'm feeling a bit relieved! I've been ramping up to meet my monthly and quarterly sales quotas these past few months, and it's been really tense. But I think I'm starting to get some traction in my territory and building a client base. So hopefully that trend will continue. I just figure, at this point, whatever is meant to be will be.

Anyhow . . . . I keep reminding myself that while a sales career is stressful it ain't NOTHING compared to the headaches I used to have all those years I was a legal secretary. That's why I switched careers a few years ago and turned to sales. Even though sales can be stressful at times, it's really nothing compared to the "shit rolls downhill" reality that I lived through for years at the various law offices I worked at in the past. So life is better than it used to be, and as long as I can recall my past work life with a shudder -- those remembrances make me relieved to be where I'm at now. How's that for positive thinking by comparison?

Anyhow, I'm feeling better. I just have developed this "whatever will be WILL BE" attitude that is helping me conquer the negative little voice in my head that whispers doubt, fear, insecurity and failure when I let myself get swamped by those things. At times, I just have to do affirmations and mentally assert positive messages over the free-floating negatives ones that sometimes swamp me.

Yesterday, I went to Weight Watchers and the topic was - of all things - "Empowering Beliefs." My leader had a quiz for us to take in four different areas of weight loss success (1) Eating wisely, (2) attending meetings; (3) Belief systems to support weight loss; (4) Exercise. It really takes all four components to successfully lose weight and keep it off! I took the quiz and discovered that my commitment level is at: 65%. Our leader had this "belief level ladder" she put on the board and at 65%, I'm halfway between "I think I might" (be able to achieve this goal) to "I think I might not." Most of my lower scores came in the field of belief system and lack of exercise. That's what brought my scores down, and subsequently, according to this quiz, my level of success. Those are the two areas I need I most need to work on. The good news is that like everything else, a person can change and improve their belief system, and therefore their results! We talked about how we could strengthen the areas we're weak in.

One thing I know that increases my chance of success is planning by making meals and keeping snacks around that I can healthily eat, even when I come home from work hungry and stressed out. Also, the exercise thing - wow, that's the one that really challenges me!!!! I know intellectually that exercising would increase my energy level, raise my metabolism and has more benefits than practically anything else I could do, yet I tend to exercise only once or at most twice a week. Need to do better on that. This week, my goal is to excercise 3 times in one week. I also will start wearing that damned pedometer that I hate - it keeps falling off my pants and clattering to the floor, and it doesn't count my steps accurately. But wearing it is better than being sedantary, so I'll start that again and try to figure out a way to make it more accurate. First, I need to establish a baseline. So I'm going to wear that danged pedometer for ONE WEEK - just to see where I'm starting from. I'll wear it every day and record the steps. Then I'll figure out where I am at currently, then set a step goal that is realistic for next week.

Sanity Savers: Remember how we were all talking about tea drinking last week? Well, it was so weird, because one lady in our WW meeting asked how she could stop the after dinner snacking and eating. She said she feels like at the end of a hard day, she DESERVES a snack. Food is the way she's always rewarded herself. I think that's true of me as well. Anyway, several people in the group suggested a cut of HOT TEA (preferably without caffeine for late night consumption). They were talking about how satisfying a cup of tea can be to soothe your nerves and make you feel like you have a reward, without stuffing down lots of calories. So this week, I've bought several teas. I got lucky and found the Stash teas on sale at Price Chopper. The teas I bought were: decaf Chai spice tea; ginger peach green tea; decaf raspberry and white tea; and decaf chocolate hazelnut tea. Last night, I tried the decaf Chocolate Hazelnut tea and it was really delicious!!! It's a really satisfying dessert tea. Imagine, dessert without the calories, I love it!

Another tea I tried months ago (at Norma's suggestion) which I really like is The Republic of Tea's "Pink Rose Green Tea." I absolutely LOVE that tea but had kind of forgotten about it until this tea discussion. I got it out yesterday and started sipping on it again. Delish.

Saw the movie, "Marie Antoinette" on DVD. What a lovely movie!! Kirsten Dunst is in it. I was very impressed. Decided to watch it after reading a lovely article in Belle Armoire about the jewelry artist and collector, Amy Hanna. She was talking about how the costume and lovely jewelry pieces in this movie had really inspired her artistically. That movie is fantastic. Bob and I both really enjoyed it. The movie didn't focus much on the grisley or violent aspects of the French Revolution or of Marie Antoinette's death. You can read about her real life here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Oh Man Do I Hafta?

It seems like in my life, I take one step forward (last week on my diet etc) and then I take two steps BACKWARDS the next. This is one of those Bass Ackwards weeks. As good as I was last week, this week has been horrible. I've been eating everything that doesn't eat me first. And not the healthy stuff either. I'm stress eating, I know. What were my theme words again, oh yeah, "self restraint"? It seems like a dim memory - something I invented back in January that seems laughable this particular week.

I'm so tired. Tonight I came home at 5:30 after work, was so exhausted I could barely make it home through the long commute. Went to bed and fell sound asleep until 8:30 pm. Now I'm up and I wide awake and feel restless, miserable and grumpy. I think I'll stay up a while, maybe take a long hot bubble bath, and then maybe knit on my Ocean Waves Not a Poncho and drink some of that hot tea we were discussing earlier?

I don't know why the time at the bottom of this entry says 6:49 when it's really 8:39 in the evening, but oh well! My clock must be off like everything else that isn't working in my life. In the case of this clock, I'm not going to fix it because Daylight savings time starts this weekend and it will be thrown off even more.

I'm also starting another pair of socks. I miss socks. Haven't had a pair on the needles in a couple of months. I'm going to start a spring pair - using the Lorna's Shephard sock yarn in a lovely color called "Gold Hill" that is a mixture of muted pink, green and gold.

Sanity Saver - this probably doesn't count, because it's not a product, but it's a method of casting on for toe-up socks that I've found invaluable!!! It's called the Turkish Cast On, and is best described by Deb at "Fluffy Knitter." You can read about it here. I use this sock pattern by Chery. It's a toe-up pattern that works for any gauge of yarn, any foot size. You just knit a test gauge swatch and then use those numbers to plug into the pattern for a really well-fitting sock that is easy to make and fun to wear.

I wish you all a much better week than I've had so far - perhaps it will get better? If not, the weekend can't be far off, right? That is the true sanity saver. I live for the weekends, and they go all too fast. Sad state of affairs, but true. Now enough whining. I'm into the tub for a long soak.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Mixed Bag - Life, Knitting and Diet Info

Hi everyone! I've missed you. I miss the connection when I go a week without posting. Whew! It's been a busy, crazy and stress-producing week.

Knitting: As you can see, the Ocean Waves "Not A Poncho" is growing. It's now 22 inches wide and 14 inches in length. It's grown a bit in a week. I'm still getting used to doing the Intarsia thing. And don't worry, I won't bore you with photos of it every week.

Life Events Update: Anyway, back to the weekend and a kinder, gentler it's soon going to be SPRING reality. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to spring this year. Though I normally favor Fall and Winter, at about this time EVERY year I think "enough already," especially because March can be a cold, blustery month with a lot of wind, hail and weird tornado warnings, all of which we've had this past week! Since my "Baby Car" lives outside in our driveway, I actually tried to cover it with blankets one hail-filled night. Weird weather. And that blowing, cold, nasty wind gets on my nerves, but I guess March is a transition month, and transitions are growing times, which are not alway pleasant. Suffice it to say, the Baby Car did not get hail damage in spite of the fact that the blankets and tarps blew off from the wind and I ended up with a bunch of sopping wet blankets. Luckily the hail was only pea-sized so it did no major damage.

Fitness Report: On a happy, very satisified note, I've been on the Weight Watchers "Core" program for a week and I've lost 3.2 pounds - yay!!! And my Mom joined with me yesterday, so we're both going to be on Core Plan together and cheer one another on.

The Core Plan is wonderful and makes me feel so GOOD! Really good. I've been eating lots of veggies this week, lots of chicken and fish and not much red meat. Also lots of water. Agh, yeah that too. The WW Veggies soup recipe that is in Week One is a filling way to get in your veggies. Since this week has been so cold, I've kept a bowl of it at work and at home with me constantly. When I leave work to take the hour-long commute on the highway, I eat a small bowl of that Veggie soup before I get in my car. Instead of being famished when I get home that way, I am calm enough to eat what I planned to eat - the healthy stuff. The main thing is, I'm not allowing myself to eat emotionally, but only out of real hunger. That's a big thing for me!!!

Sanity Saver: I'm starting a new feature here called "Sanity Saver" where I share the tips, products and suggestions of things I've tried this week and have worked well for me. I won't share one of these EVERY time I blog, because I'm not always sane, sometimes no tool, no matter how great, saves my shredded mind. But today we have not one but TWO sanity saving items to share. One is: Diet Lipton Green Tea with Citrus. I use this as a reward to myself when I have finished downing the 64 oz of water per day that Weight Watchers requires.

Lynn and Elysbeth both shared really great tips with me just the other day under the Comments. To remind myself of it, and to see if you want to give it a whirl, I'm posting their comments again here (hope you ladies don't mind):

Lynn says: Figure out as many comfort things you can do for yourself, and substitute those. I love hot baths, but my biggest one is hot tea. If I have tea I feel spoiled and I am putting something into my mouth. Works for me, you'll find your own thing.

At 4:09 AM, Elysbeth said…
Seconding the hot tea tip. I treated myself to a wide variety of Republic of Tea bags, and it's like a little sanity treat. When I am at work you have to go the basement to get water for a cup of tea, so I go down, get it all in a little thermos, maybe with some lemon honey, and then walk up 3 or 4 flights of stairs, then back down to the first floor where I work. Moving like that relieves stress, tightens the fanny, revs the metabolism, takes 7 minutes (less than my smoking co-workers take on break), and I have tea perfectly ready when I get back to the lab. You can do it.

It's funny that their comments hit me at a time when I've been considering cutting back, way back, on coffee and seeing if tea will make me feel more serene. Coffee is one of the most enjoyable rituals in my life, but I'm thinking about changing it up a bit by substituting it with hot tea for a while. The reasons are many - and maybe I'll cover those in another blog entry. But the main thing is, I'm feeling pretty addicted to caffeine lately, especially coffee (I drink it black and consume MANY cups per day, throughout the entire day and night, yes, morning, afternoon and evening). I don't like feeling that addicted to anything. So perhaps hot tea is a good option for a while.

Question: Does anyone have any special hot teas I should try?

Home Front: It seems Ms. Em is growing up into a sophisicated young lady. Here she is looking chic:

But then again, she still has the little girl in her. You can tell from the clothes that I snapped these two versions of her personality in the same day!