Friday, February 25, 2011

Dare I Say It?

My friend Elysbeth and I were just talking the other day about how, we are both truly supstitious about revealing possible good news until it is a "done deal." Inevitably talking about a positive possiblity jinxes it. But as many of you know, my husband has been out of work for several months. Last time I bragged about him getting a job, it a short-lived contract job that lasted only a few months, so I'm hesitant to mention this for fear of jinxing it.

But shesh - I am so happy about it I am about to pop. Bob got a job, yeah! Granted it's a contract job that may only last 6 months. But considering how desperate and worried we were, it's such a relief. He's been looking for so long. When I say he's been LOOKING for a job, I don't mean casually, I mean with his whole heart and soul and constant effort. He had a really rough time. This job came about because he kept calling and following up with every single possibility. Just when his hopes had been dashed on one possibility, he heard that he had an interview with this new one. And they moved fast to interview and hire him. Yay!

Hip hip horray!!! (Now I'm still keeping my fingers crossed). Thanks to all of you who were supportive, sympathetic and said prayers or sent some good vibes our way.

This is a much needed piece of good news. Whew!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Resolution Roundup

Remember I made some resolutions in January? Well I decided that I should periodically, maybe once a month or so, check back on myself and see how I'm doing with those so they don't fall by the wayside.

So I'm going to brief recap what they were and how I'm doing:

De-junking and decluttering: This is going pretty well. So far I've managed to begin organizing and removing a lot of extra boxes and old items from my basement. Also have gotten my knitting/guest room into organized enough shape that Luann was able to stay there recently. I still have more I could do in there to make it better, but it's a start. Also started on the kitchen. Still a long ways to go in kitchen, baths and closets. Have been good following my rule about removing an item of clothing from my closet for every new item brought in. That works really well!

Artist's Way is the Way - write Morning Pages to start journaling again on paper. More importantly, once a week, go on an "Artist's Date" where I explore new activities that are fun, creative and unique - that spark my soul. Did I forget about this or what? I haven't done much with this. I like the idea of journaling/doing Morning Pages every day, but so far, this hasn't worked well into my life. I have done a few "artists dates" where I do some fun activity that stimulates my creativity - and that part I'll keep doing because it really seems to keep me somewhat sane during a tough time. Bob still doesn't have a job, so times are depressing and worrisome. Maybe some journaling would help?

Become a Mentor for my daughter and move out of the Parent with a capital "P" mode. I've started working on this. We've made some progress. This is a big one, but needs to be kept on the front burner. She's really grown up but there were some life skills that remain to be taught. If she learns from us, that's fine. If not, I need to continue stepping back and letting her live her own life and develop the skills - even if it means learning some things the hard way. It's tough, but I'm getting thicker skin.

Spend more time with people and less time online. Trying to do this. My biggest challenge on this remains Ravelry, but think I'm spending less time on it overall. I'm trying to arrange some "real life" get togethers with my friends and have started returning to the Saturday knit group to meet up with some people. also am going out with a coworker to a gym to exercise and do a bit of venting. Am still connected with my close online friends such as Elysbeth and Phyllis. Am doing some reaching out by phone. Talking.

Follow Weight Watchers new program, or whatever method works for me to get about 1,200 calories a day until I reach a healthy weight. This is going really well! I've been back on WW plan for nearly two weeks and have been doing good. Slow but steady wins the race. I've been writing down food and looking up the points. I've been concentrating on eating veggies, protein, fruits, healthy but limited carbs (whole grains). Feeling MUCH better. Trying to eat less frozen meals and cooking healthy foods. Trying new recipes is FUN. Will share some of those soon on this blog if anyone is interested.

Consistently exercise each and every day. This is for both physical and mental health. I have returned to doing the treadmill at home regularly and also joined a gym near my work. Have been working out with a friend of mine from work. She motivates me and it's more fun to exercise together. We've been going at lunch, and also occasionally go after work for longer sessions. This week I'm taking aqua arobics and a yoga class. Definitely lifts the mood and helps the body too.

Take a vacation - Bob and I took the Vegas anniversary trip in January. Really a blast. We are too tight on money to plan anything else yet - but when the weather really warms up, we hope to occasionally take some weekend trips by car, or if we're still broke and can't afford to stay overnight, we'll do daytrips. I got the daytrip book from the library.

Wear my pedometer every day. Aim to walk 10,000 steps per day. Yes.

Watch my language - speak less and act more. Avoid gossip, backstabbing and careless use of speech. Hurtful putdowns, sarcasm and bad tone of voice should be recognized for the poison that it is. Kind speech and thoughts lead to kind and gentle actions. Strive to be "soft centered." Ohhhhhhh. Hahum. This one has been the most difficult. Least focused on. I've recently said some pretty harsh words to the cable company - but now I'm out of that business relationship. (grin). Seriously, haven't worked on this much. Need to. Sometimes when my life is hard, I become hardish around the edges, and sometimes resentment leaks into my core. I don't like that in myself. Besides, being gentle and firm, and patient, lends better results than harsh anyway.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Friend and Fiber Filled Weekend

Last weekend my friend Luann came up to stay with me for the weekend and to hang out. We wanted to attend a nearby spinning guild meeting. So we had the perfect excuse for a friend and fiber fest.

On Friday night, we made dinner together and stayed up late talking, spinning, drinking coffee and getting our fiber ready for the spinning group.

We made more snow dyeing cakes also - taking advantage of the little bit of snow that was left on the ground. We made some really gorgeous green with a mixture of lemon lime Kool-Aide, dark green food coloring and some lemonaide Kool-Aide. We made a total of 3 batches of dyeing.

The spinners we went to see were having a Crazy Batt drum carding challenge. Luann brought her Louet drumcarder up for us to use. Saundra encouraged us to include all kinds of things in our batts, including cut up scraps of fiber and pretty scarves purchased from thrift stores, as well as our old yarn and roving scraps. We cut them up and included them in the batts.
We went to Yarn Barn to visit the store Luann had never been to. We had a good time and tried out all the wheels. When we got home, she showed me how to do a bit of frame weaving on her rectangle loom. The neat thing about this type of weaving is that you don't have to warp the loom. She left it with me to borrow so I could finish up the scarf we started together. Unfortunately I can't remember how to it! I'm going to try to figure it out again on my own, but if not, then she may have to give me a refresher course. In a couple of weeks, I'm taking a rigid heddle weaving class at Yarn Barn.
It was a really fun weekend.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

No, It's Not a Snow Cone

Last weekend, faced with nothing but cold and snow, and fighting the worst case of cabin fever, I decided to try my hand at "snow dyeing." My friend Luann had been doing this with success, and so I decided to try it. From my understanding, you can dye fiber, yarn and even cloth with this method and it's really easy and fun.

Using a 9 X 13" cakepan, I filled it with about 2 inches of snow. Then laid my fiber down in a thick layer. I used plain mill ends. Then I laid about 2-3 more inches of snow on top. Tried not to pack it down hard. Because this snow was light and powdery, it worked really well. Then I took about 10 packages of Kool Aid and lightly sprinkled the top of each pan - I had two panfuls of "snow cakes." 10 on each pan - so I used a total of 20 packages of Kool Aid for each 2 pan batch. I later realized that the yellow Kool Aid wasn't going to be dark enough for what I wanted, so I decided to turn it green by adding some blue food coloring.

I let this sit on the kitchen counter at room temperature for several hours. In fact, if you did this in the evening, you could let it sit out overnight. Just be sure there is a tablecloth, dropcloth or something underneath in case the pan spills over. (By the way, you can use other types of dye besides Kool Aid, I just happened to have those on hand and they were cheap, plus I wanted something non-toxic since I was planning on using the oven to bake in the dye).
After the snow has totally melted, I placed it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. I took it out of the oven, let the pans and the fiber cool to room temperature, then just rinsed them out and set the fiber to dry on a screen in my basement.

I like how the colors came out. I noticed that because I let them sit in the dye water as the snow melted, the roving was darker and more saturated on the underside then the top. That variation was fine with me and I liked it. Some people might prefer to use a pan with holes, like a colander, so that the dye water could drip down as it melted and escape the fiber pan. Like I said, this seemed like too much bother to me, and I liked the effect created by the method I used.

This was so fun! I like the spring like colors achieved with Kool Aid. But I'd also like to try this method sometime with acid dyes. It is a really cool method that allows the dye to seep slowly into the fiber.
Making snow dyed cakes gives me something to do with snow other than make snow ice cream. Goodness knows we've had enough snow for now . . . and maybe getting some more later tonight? Eeks. Better wash my cake pan and be prepared for the next round of snow cakes. If you try it, let me know how yours turn out.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Drum Carding Up a Box of Valentine Chocolates . . . Err Fiber That Is

Did something unusual last night. I had been thinking about entering this Fancy Kitty drum carding contest on Raverly for several weeks now. There were three categories: natural batts, colored/blended batts and finally art yarn batts.

The natural and blended contests were taking place in the middle and late January and with our vacation and during the throes of getting back in the swing at work, I didn't have time to enter those categories.

And I'd practically forgotten all about the final category contest until I stumbled upon it again in the early evening on Rav and decided on a whim, "What the heck, I'm going to enter this contest, just to do some more batt creation and aim for a specific thing this time - a Valentine's theme. So I threw caution to the wind, and along with it, some merino, hand-dyed mill ends, white angora, brown mill ends, lavendar merino silk blend and tons of sequin strings, pieces of ribbon as well and sprinkled in some angelina for some extra sparkle and glitz.

Finally much of that fiber I dyed up last summer, in the August heat, at last I found a use for all that red, pink, and peach fiber.

I managed to create, photograph and post my drum card art batt in time for the contest deadline at noon today. Yippee! There were several really lovely batts submitted, so who is to say what will happen, but I'm glad I put myself "out there" and definitely learned a lot by trying to create a specific themed batt. Lots of fun!

Now I can't wait to see what this batt will look like spun up. I don't have a project in mind yet, but will come up with something soon.

Edited to add: I didn't win - another lady did whose batt was called "Hunka Hunka Burn'n Love." I'm still glad I entered and I'm happy with the batt I made. Will be doing more with my drum carder now that I broke it out of the fiber closet.