Saturday, December 17, 2016

Atkilt Wot

After a full year of going through everything I own and only keeping what brings me joy, it's as good as finished. So currently I am going through my 38 year collection of recipes and cooking them one by one to see if it's a keeper or needs to go.

As I cook I enter each one into a recipe builder that calculates the calories per serving.

This one is a keeper. It's African Stew from some budget vegetarian cookbook I checked out of the library about 10 years ago. It's very cheap to make and delicious and, surprisingly, it turns out that whole plate is only 186 calories.

I always wondered about the name "African Stew". It's not stew and I didn't think it was African. 
That is until I went to Awaze, an Ethiopian restaurant downtown. Eating at Awaze was like being back in Africa. Exactly like being back in Africa. The restaurant opened half an hour later than posted, it took 40 minutes for our order to be taken, and an hour for the food to show up.

In Africa we had a family game of wondering what was happening back in the kitchen.
"Waiting for the hens to lay the egg?"
"Running to market to buy the lamb?"
"Harvesting.... no! Planting the carrots."
And that definitely applied to Awaza too. However, the food was the best I have ever tasted, maybe because I was eating lunch at 3pm, but it was amazing. And the best part? The Atkilt Wot we ordered is the same as my African Stew! 

I'm working on a sock yarn blanket. I had a few full skeins of gray and the scraps will be the pops of color. I thought about making the hexipuffs but chose Beryl Blanket because each hexagon is picked up and knit on without any seaming.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Baby, It's Cold Outside

The only thing anyone wants to do is lie in a pile of wool in front of the heating vent.
Galen and Sumi-e will brave their fear of running water and their distaste of each other to hang out in the only warm room in the house, the bathroom at bath time. I'm taking lots of long hot baths because I like to be warm too. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

First Snow

The first snow was on Wednesday with more today. There is nothing better than spinning on a snowy Saturday with a crock pot of tikka masala simmering in the kitchen. The whole house smells delicious. 

I finished a longstanding project of 958 yrds of dk weight spun from local fiber from deep deep stash. It's naturally colored Corriedale bought from a guild member in Manhattan KS way back in 1999. Ok, so local at the time. This beautiful fiber has moved with me across the country and back and is old enough to drive.

958 yrds will be enough for a vest or maybe a hat, mitten, scarf set to keep me warm in the snow.

In perfect timing for the snow I received a Christmas package from my mom of long underwear and fleece jammies. They are so cozy and warm and wonderful and too snugglely to take off. I love them.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Rain and Rainbows

Celebrating a year of owning my home. 

April showed the funny smell that wafted from my basement whenever it rained wasn't mildew from the damp or even Finn sneaking down to relieve himself on rainy days (sorry for thinking it was you Finn) but my sewer line. After a week of heavy rain it backed up into my basement and started a saga that ended with having it replaced. 2016 will be forever remembered as the year of the sewer line.

In July, Finn escaped from me a few minutes after I made him pose for this photo and was found hit by a car on the highway three days later. I miss you Finn.

I made an unwelcome lateral move in my company into a position that I don't enjoy that comes with no support and a pay cut. Financially the year was already hard, the sewer line drained my emergency fund, and this isn't something I've recovered from. I've given up trying.

A close friend is fighting cancer and it's grim. We all do what we can with everyday we have.

With all the rain there have been rainbows too.

 rainbow over stagnate pond found on a 7 mile walk at local nature preserve

A new puppy! It's refreshing having a blank slate with no baggage. It's almost worth the 4 months of potty training.  Almost.
Galen aka FinnJoeyGalen, has grown into a well behaved dog that doesn't touch my my yarn or chew books. (Ha! I wish)

But seriously, he is a good sport, always ready for any adventure, well trained, very smart, and loves showing off and learning a new tricks. His coat is very soft, he matches my floors, doesn't bark, but he does nibble on fingers like he is taste testing people. Over all, he's the perfect companion.

the best kind of rainbow
Supernatural Yarns. My favorite find of the year and local too. I've already started using them in my sock yarn blanket.

My day 200 photo. I'm tickled pink and quite pleased that I accomplished this. I'm smaller than....well....anytime is my adult life. As in I've never known myself to be this weight. Maybe 7th grade but we didn't have a scale at home so I'm guessing, but I'm smaller than I was at gym weigh in and rope climbing day in the 8th grade. Was it just me, or were those horrific for everyone?

rainbow over the school at sunset, found while running away from zombies 

While Galen needs just as much exercise as Finn, he is happier getting it from playing than running. This has allowed me time to join the high school's fitness center where I can go swimming whenever I want. I love it!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

100 Days

As I logged into my phone to enter my breakfast I received an alert that today is my 100th day. It's also the last week of the 'Amazing Race' fitness challenge so seemed a good day to do a check in.

Photos taken September 2015 when I realized I would be walking Finn 40+ minutes a day. I thought the increased activity would have to make a difference. Ha! Not even a little. It wasn't until I started tracking my eating in January 26th, 2016 that changes started happening.

March 1st I reached my high school graduation weight (my highest weight until recently)
April 8th and down to what I weighed in my 30s

Photos from April 16th when I reached what I weighed in 8th grade.

Today, May 4th, I'm down another 3 lbs and match my college weight.

Next goal is 3 lbs away and what I weighed the semester in college that I had mono, and the lowest I've been in my adult life. I can't imagine beyond that.

I'm amazed at how simple it has been (simple doesn't mean easy). I'm using the free app My Fitness Pal and it feels like a combination game and science research project. When my body tells me it's  hungry (I'm always hungry and always have been, all the time all my life) I can look at my day and go  "poor baby of course you're hungry. Let go eat right now"... or "you know, that is the right amount of food to fuel the day and breakfast is soon enough."...and even "the amount of food eaten today is reaching crazyville and enough to live off of for half a week! Stop being a jerk." I find it very powerful to know and not guess and seeing it on a graph makes me happy.

The best part or reaching the weight I was in my 20s is I feel like I'm 20. My knees have stopped hurting, I love going out to play, everything is just so much FUN! I wasn't expecting this. 

Friday, March 11, 2016


Being paid every other week is kicking my ass. This is not helped by Finn, who has seen the vet four times in the last two weeks.

However, my new vet is great. I really like him and the office staff. They are smart people that gush at how regale/beautiful/shiny/gorgeous he is and how I'm doing so great with his weight/coat/ears/teeth/nails ect ect. That's right, flattery will get you everything.

So for March I've hunkered down and committed to finding and doing free things. I've joined an "Amazing Race" style fitness challenge. I'm spending as much time outside in the gorgeous weather as possible. I'm spinning yarn.

I haven't spun much in the last few years and that's a shame. I love doing it. I've pulled my wheel out to the comfy chair so it's front and center again. I sorted my stash and pulled out a Rubbermaid bin worth that I want to spin up this year. When I'm done I'll have all this free new yarn and a bin that I can use to store other things.

Although, I don't know what. I'm doing a pretty good job of getting my home to just the things I love and use. At the moment I can't think of anything I store except yarn. Oh, right, yeah. I could fill it with yarn. That would be nice.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Best. Run. Ever.

OMG Today's Zombie, RUN! was knitting themed!!! That's right, the secret mission was to go loot a yarn store. I love it. My face hurts from all the laughing.

Nothing else to report toady. I went running a second day in a row because in a few seconds I'm heading out for a day of playing board games with friends. I like to get my 10,000 steps in and I can accomplish it in less time if some of it is running.

So, here is some more stupid fun. My play list. Every time I graduate to the next level I allow myself a few more songs. All of them are picked for the running beat and they make me laugh. Mostly because they are so cliche, after all, what else would would be used in a Zombie sound track?

Eye of the Tiger, Survivor
Dog Days Are Over, Florence and the Machine
Runnin' Down A Dream, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Thunderstruck, AC/DC
I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
We're Not Gonna Take it, Twisted Sister
Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees
I Won't Back Down, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Radioactive, Imagine Dragons
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
Pumped up Kicks, Foster The People
I Need a Hero, Bonnie Tyler
O Fortuna ~ Carmina Burana, Carl Orff
Zombie, The Cranberries
Sandstorm, Darude
Such Great Heights, The Postal Service
Don’t stop me now, Queen
Why Don´t You Get A Job, Offspring
Sunshine (Go Away Today), Jonathan Edwards

Sadly today's run was glitchy and it had a hard time switching from the story to the music and back so I think I will do it again tomorrow, if I don't hurt too much.

And I'm still knitting too. My current project is some long fingerless mitts from some of my oldest yarn. I spun it almost 16 years ago, a beautiful blend of angora and heathered wool.

Resource Management

The voice in my ear in Zombie, RUN!5K always tells me to take a day off after the easy runs and to take two days off when they are harder. Everything I know about exercising came from my three college exercise and health classes and they all said to work out 5-6 days a week.

I wondered about the days off and looked it up online. It took some searching but I came across a running site that gave the answer and also stated that the couch to 5k programs are horrible for loosing weight because running in burst makes people ravenous and they end up over eating. Yikes! I wasn't trying to lose weight but I sure didn't want to gain.

I quickly signed up for a free food diary calorie counting app on my phone. As I was setting it up it asked me if I wanted to gain weight, maintain, or lose. I thought "what the hell" and selected the lose option.

Now Zombie,RUN feeds a pedometer that counts my steps with the goal of 10,000 a day. That loads into Myfitnesspal where it calculates how much more I can eat that day. I enter the food, watch the numbers, macros, and the graphs and hoard calories for the weekend. Brilliant! And very satisfying.

3.5 weeks in and today my weight has fallen from obese to overweight on the old height/weight charts of my youth and from overweight to a healthy weight on the new.

In all the years that people tried to tempt me into upgrading my phone they would show me the games, dexterity games, puzzles, mind games, all fun but not anything that appealed to me enough to want it. Nobody told me it could be used to turn my life into a Euro Game.. And I've just lapped the board!

Running does not make me ravenous. Instead it makes me queasy and puts me off food for hours.

 Finn's update, since he is my personal trainer extraordinaire.
ebony antelope statue from when I liven in Africa
The flatten squirrels are gone now that warm weather is here and they have been replaced by a deer carcass at the Far park (Near park is across the street and Far park is almost two miles away). His only goal is get me to Far park so he can check on it. I feel like I'm living a combination of the epic quest of"Stand by Me" and the ick-fascinating "Bones"

Ending on a happier note, crocuses are in bloom today.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Every book on decluttering that I've read always make two points.

1. You are discarding the thing not the memory
2. Once the thing is gone you won't remember owning it

That second point is true and in all that I've gotten rid of I can only remember a handful of them. Because of that, I think the first point is a lie and it's the root of why getting rid of possessions is so very hard for me. Every time I look at something memories flood over me,

This stuff hedgehog is an example. It and a mate was to be a Christmas gift eleven years ago. This one turned out well but the other melted in the felting process and I didn't want to make a replacement. It was important to me for the gift to be a pair so I held onto this one once it had nowhere to go.

Every time I saw it I  would remember the walking to the yarn store on my lunch break and buying the yarn to make it. I would remember knitting it at the park in the cold April sunshine with Joey at my side watching the nesting geese attack joggers as they ran past. The feel of the yarn, the crinkling of the pattern in its plastic sleeve, and the way I struggled making the short rows with that crazy fun fur yarn all would come flooding back as if it was something I made just this morning. I would even remember the Chicago apartment with the washer and dryer set and the pink and rainbow hedgehog that failed to come into existence.  

None of those memories were bad or good but of a handful of average days. The kind of average days that a life is built out of and are so hard to remember. I didn't particularly want to keep the hedgehog but I couldn't imagine getting rid of it either, it, along with everything else I own, is my memory talisman. When Finn shredded it I had a pang and thought about repairing it before breathing deep and throwing it out.

And with that, I'm starting the process again. I just finished reading Marie Kondo new book on making a joy filled home. My Mom spent the weekend here and we went to IKEA so she could buy a chest of drawers. All of the silly cute display rooms are so inviting and fun and I want my house to be warm and inviting and filled with life and not weighted down with every single possession from the past. So I'm going to take a deep breath and start again. 


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Runner 5

I'm having an incredible amount of fun!

But first a little back story;

My work is doing a restructure from two paychecks a month to paying every other Friday.

I am not happy about this. Nobody is happy about this. Not only is it a 12% monthly pay cut that could be in my account now instead of waiting for July with the "extra" paycheck. Not only that, and that is enough, but not only that, this January the first pay check is for 6 days and the next one is for 10. I'm being paid for 16 days, and not 21, at at a 12% decrease. Not happy is too mild a term for what I am feeling about this.

So this January I'm laying siege. I'm not going anyplace, I'm not buying anything, I'm eating down everything in my freezer and cupboard to put off grocery shopping as long as possible. 19 days in and the only thing I've bought this month is cat food. Cat food and Zombies, RUN!

Zombies, RUN! is a running app that interrupts your music playlist with an audio story of a zombie invasion. It gives missions to follow complete with the zombie horde breathing down your neck. As a non runner I went with the couch to K5 version. I'm new to my phone and after two hours of trying to make it talk to my computer I gave up and purchased a few songs to build a playlist. I chose a handful of songs on theme, songs like Stayin' Alive by Bee Gees and Radioactive by Imagine Dragons. It all came in costing less a fast food meal.

And it is FUN. Amazing stupid fun. The most fun is the intro that comes from the regular version so I can't wait to graduate from K5 running camp and upgrade. Finn and I have been out "running" in the snow and in freezing weather. On days we would have done nothing we are out and having a blast. (I say "running" because Week 1 has a few 15 second busts and all the rest is walking.)

One week down and seven more to go. As soon as I finish my coffee with cinnamon and brown sugar (I'm out of cream, milk, and white sugar but turns out this coffee combination is a treat) Finn and I will hit the streets for today's training run.
Nothing to do with nothing; but we see so many dead squirrels smooshed flat on the sidewalks. Instead of posting photos of them I will be delicate and post one of Finn's favorite toys instead. A  replacement since I won't let him bring one of the real flat squirrels home. He tries. Oh, he tries. But so far I'm still winning the battle.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Out with the Old and in with the New

My phone.

This has been my phone for over nine years. I didn't start out with plans of not upgrading but it worked fine and I was keeping my expenses to a minimum and time slipped away.

Then about three years ago it became A THING at work. People would walk past my desk and go "Oh. My. God. Is that a phone?"

They started checking up on me every week to see it I had updated it. They would stop in front of my desk, pull out their phone, and make a lunch takeout order entering it on the touch screen. I got to say, I enjoyed the attention and the monthly rate couldn't be beat, so I made the pact to keep it until it died.

It died. So dead.

Finn saw to that and one last time it was the center of attention when everyone was called over at the Sprint store to look at the damage done. His teeth pierced the glass screen and the metal casing. It's mostly dented but in spots they went clear though.

My new phone doesn't even have buttons. The GPS driving directions are cool but they drop me off at the wrong place about as often I get myself lost, which is embarrassingly often. It does some other things very well. It excels as a walking buddy playing my favorite podcasts. The camera is pretty neat too, but really, the playing to podcasts is the best part.

It doesn't end there.

My favorite sweater for the past seven years and Suni-e chewed some holes in it. Bad Cat.

I had planned to repair it but I also started knitting a replacement because it fits perfectly. Once I realized the new sweater was just a darker shade of the old I decided it was too similar to have both in my wardrobe. I still have the old one but it's on it's way out.

The sweater is Cobblestone by Jared Flood. 

The pattern is wonderful! There is shaping to raise the back of the neck and lower the front so I don't have the choking feeling. And the neck opening is a trim neck sized instead of the huge flash-dance-falling-off-the-shoulders look that has been the thing in knitting patterns the last few years. Sadly, the look isn't intentional but there are just too many neck stitches.  

I took the techniques and applied them to another sweater. I started out following the Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters but changed everything to the point it's my own design. 

I have so many ideas for the next sweater. I foresee many more original sweaters this year.