Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Again?

Is it really Spring, as the calendar insists, or have we reverted back to Thanksgiving? Here in our part of the Midwest, we had a very funky weather day. It started out raining a really cold, nasty rain, then it turned to ice pellets that covered the roads and trees, then some huge feather size snowflakes that stuck, then it literally snowed slush. We stayed right at freezing temps all day long so some stuff stuck. I think we ended up with 3 inches and it's been a cold mess.

By the time my dog, Domino, went out, his little body was half covered in snow and he wasn't very happy.

We hung out at home most of the day in front of the fireplace and I had a craving for turkey. We bought a big Butterball turkey and cooked it for hours late in the afternoon and into the evening. It made the whole house smell scrumptious. I think we're going to stay home tomorrow too and have a lazy pajama day. Our lunch will be a Thanksgiving menu - turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberries and green beans. Don't worry, mine will be the low cal version - turkey with salad and just a taste of cranberries.

At any rate, it's been a fun "snug as a bug in a rug" kind of weekend, knitting, reading, cooking and nesting at home with my family. Hopefully spring is just around the corner, because we're all getting REALLY anxious for some bright cheery spring weather. Before this storm hit, the grass was green, trees budding and you could almost smell fresh cut grass in the air. Ah well, patience, Spring WILL come.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shawl We Make One?

It's spring. Time for Shawls. And it dawned on me that of all the shawls I've made these past couple of years, I've only kept one for myself. Figured it was time for me to make a few shawls for my lacklucker spring wardrobe.

On one of my blessedly wonderful vacation days last week (did I mention the weather was sunny and PERFECT?), I wandered into Yarn Shop and More and saw a very cute casual shawlette on display designed by one of the talented employees named Carol Eddington. It was love at first sight.

I immediately bought the pattern. Bought the yarn, it's the Feza Alp Lite, in a beautiful colorway of purples, greens and navy called Forest Adventure. The yarn is a DK weight Novelty yarn, similar to the Magic Yarn balls we used to make several years ago, when novelty yarns were really hot. It got me in the mood, in fact, to make my own magic ball yarn again. There's a wonderful short article on making Magic Ball Yarn by Clara Parks over on Knitter's Review. "Tips and Tricks: Magic Ball Knitting." I may be doing that soon, who knows? It's sure a good way to use scrap yarn and would be fantastic for making prayer shawls.

I don't care what anyone else says, call me gawdy, whatever, but I still LOVE novelty yarns. Not fun fur. Yuck. But I like glitzy showy type yarn - bring on the sparkles, the glimmery and the textured yarns in amazing colors. This shawl displays those types of yarns in a darling little shawlette that is only 53 rows total from start to finish. You can get the pattern from the Yarn Shop and More store or website, or contact the designer at

If you've been afraid to tackle lace, this is an ideal beginner's shawl or a mindless knit for those who just want to stave off spring breezes or summer air conditioning chills.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Giving Up the Big Pants

Okay, here's a mid-week spring break report of what I've done so far.

My taxes. Check. Thank goodness those are finally out of the way.

We're working on the bathroom - making big progress there, but I'd say that accomplishment goes on Bob's list, not mine, since all I've done is standby and admire his handiwork.

Cleaning out and organizing my clothes closets (yes 2 of them). Big accomplishment. Even bigger (pun intended) is the fact that I finally had the courage to round up all of my "fat clothes" and donate them to a charitable organization.

Why is this such a BIG deal? Always in the past, I've kept a full range of clothes from size 6-14. Haven't kept many of the 6's because I long ago gave up on the idea of ever wearing those. But the larger range - especially from 12-14, I've hung onto like paste on old wallpaper. Not giving them up HUH UH!!! Why? Because no matter what diet or exercise plan I have been on, I've always feared that I getting fat again is just inevitable. So I finally had the courage to give them away. I am going to trust enough in myself that I won't regret giving up those old favorite and comfy clothes, no matter what. I'm finding replacements that fit the new size and self-image that I'm slowly building.

Changing from a "fat old frump" mentality into a "fit and attractive" mentality is a HUGE step, and one I'm still working on day by day. But this is the year where I'm changing that mindset by putting my priorities on doing whatever it takes to exercise daily, eat healthy and keep my mindset on inching toward my fitness goals.

Okay - yesterday I also took in an afternoon matinee with my husband. Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. I'm not usually a Clint E fan, and I went to see this movie mainly to please Bob, but let me tell you, it is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, and I watch lots of movies. It is MUCH better than most of the movies that won Academy Award prizes. I absolutely loved this touching story of an old gruff Korean war vet who befriends his young Hmong neighbor after the kid tries to steal his beloved 1972 Gran Torino. Wow, what a movie. It will probably make the list of my personal top 10 all-time favorites. Seriously.

So if you haven't seen Gran Torino yet, please run not walk to the theater and take in this wonderful picture this weekend.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Yay for Spring Break!

The whole family has been working really hard lately and we've been extremely stressed. So we decided to take off Spring Break together and spend some family time at home. We aren't planning on going anywhere, just staying home and maybe doing some bathroom renovation.

It doesn't sound very restful, but my husband is the handyman and will probably do most of the work. Emily and I will maybe help paint a bit, pick out some fixtures, and stuff like that, but mainly act as cheerleaders because he's very exacting in his handyman work and we tend to get in the way more than help when we step into that small room.

We also want to get other stuff done - if the weather is nice, we may get outside and do some yardwork - cleaning away weeds and old leaves. If the weather is rainy, then hopefully we'll move inside and do some straightening and organization. Maybe not full-blown spring cleaning, but at least spring straightening and clearing out? (I hope).

See, my plans are all grandeous!!! But we also want to relax. I swear. I want to knit. To read. To veg. To sit outside on the porch. To visit the art museum.

And I'm making plans to cast on a Spring shawl for ME. I've been doing mainly prayer shawls lately for others, and it's time I have a new shawl entirely for ME.

I want Spring to arrive so darn bad I can taste it. Wonder if it's almost time to get in the storage shed and break out the hammock for the backyard? Too early to grill burgers? Not sure. Let's wish for Spring. Yay!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taffy Pull-On (Shrug)

When I went to The Studio Retreat last month, I met a really fun, creative knitter there named Emily. I've seen her around The Studio before and she's one of those people who just LOOKS interesting, even from a distance. But I never talked to her before at length until the retreat.

Well, Emily, also known as Taffyyarn over on Ravelry, got me enthralled with her Taffy Yarn. She also has written some patterns using her t-shirt yarn - which she makes herself - she cuts, dyes and hand-ties the material to make lovely and UNIQUE garments. She has a pattern for the shrug, as well as a Taffy Wrap and some other designs as well. It's well worth going to her site and checking out her taffy.

I made this cute little shrug in less than a week, and that was with very little knitting time devoted to it. I am a slow knitter, but even I, using Size 17 needles, can whip out a finished garment pretty fast. You could probably do it even faster if you're so inclined. This would be a perfect shrug to keep the spring breezes from chilling your arms, or later in summer, to keep the air conditioning gremlins at bay.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Overcoming the Plateau

Okay, I've been on the Jenny Craig program since November 18th, that's 14 weeks. In that time, I've lost 21 pounds, and I feel much better and healthier. Yay!!!! I've made what feels like a major lifestyle change.

I would still like to lose another 10 or 15 pounds if possible. I don't want to be skinny by any means, but for my small stature (5'3") and small bones, I don't feel I'm quite finished yet.

But for the past 3-4 weeks, I've been on a "plateau" meaning that I'm just kind of stuck at one place. I'm not losing or gaining - just hanging out in the same spot. I must admit, it's a bit annoying.

I'm not cheating on the diet, I've really stuck with it rather well. I've kept a food journal, etc. So I reevaluated the three prongs of this lifestyle, 1) Food; 2) Exercise and 3) Mindset. I think it's obvious with me what is needing more attention - EXERCISE.

Since winter and long work hours have set in, I have cut back on the only form of exercise I've been doing, which is the Treadmill. I used to do it 3 times a week, but in recent weeks, I've been lucky if I get in 1 day a week and I've kind of slacked off of wearing my pedometer. I am supposed to get in 10,000 steps per day. That has fallen to around 5,300 on an average day, and that's just not enough.

So I'm kicking my own ass, strapping on the pedometer and so far this week, I've worked out every day - Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I'm also going to try some resistence work on a balance ball a couple of times a week and Emily and I are signed up for a once per week yoga class at the fitness center. I start that Thursday night.

Remember my word for the year? Priorities!!! Well, I'm determined that Exercise will be my new highest daily priority. We'll see if I can push myself over this plateau. I've worked long and hard, every day for 14 weeks to look and feel better. I'm thinner, but I also want to be TONED.

Instead of getting discouraged, I'm getting more determined. It's a good feeling. And by the way, the exercise really DOES help reduce stress. In the past 3 days of doing the exercise, I feel more energetic all day long.