What’s For Dinner?

Ah, breakfast. It’s my favorite meal any time of day. Naturally, scrambled eggs are one of my go to’s, but I do enjoy pancakes. I just hate cooking them one at a time, or a couple of small ones a batch. Then keeping them warm in the oven, while starting the next round. So I thought, maybe I could bake them in the oven. Sure enough, it’s possible. Just mix, pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 20 minutes. Barely a fuss and almost no mess!

The first time around, I made my usual cinnamon pancakes. A few days later, I made chocolate ones with cocoa powder, cinnamon, and brown sugar, which were topped with powdered sugar. Definitely a recipe to repeat.

I also love casseroles for dinner. I throw a bunch of stuff together and it bakes while I can go about my business with only a minimal amount of attention from me. Egg noodle chicken casserole is one I often make. Dry egg noodles, canned chicken, frozen vegetables, chicken broth, and cream of broccoli or potato soup. I let that all cook up, then I mix it and add cheese and bake a little longer. This last time I got all the portions right and the spices. It was my best version yet.

This casserole was me scrapping the bottom of the barrel in our pantry. A bag of bread crumbs for stuffing. Canned green beans, chicken, and yams. And a whole lot of chicken broth. I just kept mixing and adding broth every 10-20 minutes for about an hour. Something to think about for Thanksgiving leftovers, which is exactly what my daughter said it tasted like. I honestly had no idea if it was going to be any good and was delighted to find it quite a delicious surprise.

Puzzles

When I was a kid we almost always had a puzzle set up somewhere for us all to work on. Some puzzles would take weeks or months for us to finish. One year, when my parents were still together, they gave me a box set of Thomas Kincaid jigsaw puzzles. I was pretty excited and I love Thomas Kincaid’s work. However, I never seemed to find the time or the space for them.

Recently, puzzles came up during a homework session and I thought, now would be a good time to pull them out. My kids are finally old enough I’m not afraid of losing pieces, or that they would get too frustrated. We made our way through a couple of small puzzles and then things got harder. These paintings are tough to put back together.

Thanks to my stepdad we have boards for the puzzles and can leave them set up and tucked away. It has brought back some really comforting memories and I love making new ones with my kids now.

Shopping without Panicking

The idea of listening to music while shopping is interesting to me. Music is often helpful in balancing my mood, but I apparently have sensory overload issues, which when I think about it, has been pretty obvious for most of my life.

Part of my issue is that I can’t exist outside of my surroundings. That is, I have to be hyper aware of my surroundings to give myself as much time as possible to prepare any necessary responses; especially social ones.

My upcoming shopping trip has got me trying to figure out how to get through it without a panic attack. This will be a long trip and possibly two stores. Even worse for my anxiety. So it got me thinking about my friend who listens to music to get through the chore.

I couldn’t do it. If I can’t hear my surroundings, things would catch me off guard. I would feel cut off and begin to panic. If I kept it quiet enough to also hear everything else, it would cause a sensory overload, and so panic attack.

Maybe if I just focus on grabbing a bit of what I need at both places and treat myself to some yarn and coffee and music on the way home, that might make the task more bearable.

Sister Shawls: the Story Continues

Whenever I get tired of knitting the same hat again, I have started pulling out those ‘Sister Shawls’ I’ve been working on.

I had developed a color pattern and a design pattern. I started with an all-over pattern and then a cable pattern and have continued in this way for the shawls. For this latest section I pulled out my Viking pattern book (to give a nod to our Celtic/Viking heritage) and began to flip through looking for the perfect cables for the cable section. It took me a while to land on the two I wanted to use, but I was excited to begin. I had to learn a couple new stitches and remained firm on not looking until I had gotten through enough repeats to really see the pattern. It is beautiful. I’m proud of the results and am looking forward to working on them for both shawls.

It felt good to work on something for myself again. The larger needles, the changing stitches, the anticipation of being able to wear mine and give my sister the other. It is the perfect reprieve from the usual and I’m able to work on a few more hats again.

Testing the Waters

One of the reasons I’ve been choosing knitting over chores or keeping up with my blog is that I finally took a small step into selling some of my knit ware. During the beginning of reopening at the massage studio I work at, I came up with a few ideas for hats. The studio is named Artemis for the Greek goddess and I have been really inspired by her.

I began to design a female archer much like the figures and images in the studio. She took a lot of revisions and several attempts at knitting. I have kept the first two hats. After that, I had it figured out. Then I mapped out a large bow and arrow. That was pretty straightforward and only took me a little reworking to get it right. There were no trial hats for this pattern.

Then I began trying to figure out the right design for a stag. My first couple of attempts were a bit cartoony and just didn’t feel right. So I changed the angle and it all came together.

I was designing these hats when my husband was not working due to the stroke. When I’m sketching designs on graph paper, he really has a knack for seeing what I can’t. So I was sitting with him, trying to get my archer right and struggling with how her legs should be shaped so she looked like she was wearing a dress type garment, and how her hair should be shaped so it was clearly a ponytail, when he started sketching something out on the paper.

He just got rid of her lower half, eliminating my leg problem, and altered the bow so that she was shooting at an upward angle. It was brilliant! And there I had four designs. I figured two would be brown and two would be green. The studio is done in mostly green and brown. The owner also has a plastic stag bust hanging in the waiting area that’s white. For some reason I kept wanting to use red or some other dark colors for the figure on the hats, but finally went with the white everyone kept telling me to use. Between that bust and a white, crescent moon being this goddess’s symbol, it made sense.

I’m pretty jazzed (yes, jazzed) that the owner likes them enough to sell them. It’s the only thing I’m selling right now and what is at the studio is what there is. I bring more in as I make them and as people buy them. I’m trying to get ahead a bit here, so I can work on some Christmas/holiday presents, while not allowing myself to begin hating the hats. I figure I’ll try two more designs for the hats, using the current brims and figures, but adding some cabling for a bit more warmth. I also have ideas for fingerless mitts and scarves, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself.

I’m also really excited that people like them. I have sold a few so far and it feels pretty good taking baby steps into doing more with my knitting. With all the crazy this year has brought, it has also brought some nice clarity and drive to achieve those silent goals that have been waiting for their moment.

I Chose Knitting

It’s been a tough couple of months, and that’s saying something considering the kind of year we are all having. Things were getting better and life during Covid and under this administration were looking pretty manageable. Then my husband had a stroke at work and I watched him have a second one in the hospital. After a couple days stay, and after lots of tests and waiting, they figured it all out and we had a plan. Then some more waiting. This seems to be the way with HHT. Emergency, waiting, surgery, waiting, emergency,… For his safety, the surgery had to wait until his system had cleared all the dyes and recovered from all the trauma enough to be able to have lung surgery. They found a couple avm’s (those capillary clusters) in his left lung and those were what had caused the stroke.

My husband has been through so much with this. So has both of our families. Me, the kids. It’s been rough. I’ve gotten really good at living in crisis mode, but there is only so much our systems can take and mine is beginning to crack. The good news is that he finally had his surgery and he is healed up and back to work.

And during all of this, I have thrown myself into my knitting and managed to keep the household running well enough. We definitely have not managed on our own. I don’t know what I would do without my mother. Between her visits, where she cleans, cooks, shops, and helps with the kids, and the phone calls for me, or for the kids, it has all helped us tremendously. I am so grateful to my step-dad as well. He has been so patient and kind and has the best sense of humor. He has such a big heart and has really helped us through some tough times. Including the major disasters of the last couple years. I’ve been really reconnecting with my father as well and I cherish my visits with him. We’ve had a rocky relationship, but, since I’ve become braver with my truths, we have worked through a lot. His support for both me and my husband has been important to me and has lent me strength when I thought I was running out.

Then there are my friends who have taken my call even when they are in the middle of their own crisis; and called me in their time of need. My friends who count on me as much as I count on them. The ones who pay extra attention to my kids and the ones who pay extra attention to me. There are a few who know my husband almost as well as I do, which makes talking about our life so much easier. There are those who only know me really well, which makes me seek ways to speak the truth more accurately. And I really love that my friends remind me of all the things they admire about me during a time when I question my own abilities. And all the things in them that I am inspired by.

His family has been a mixed bag. His mother has helped us with taking care of the kids, but added stress because of her own problems. She is beginning to work on those (but after 14 years my patience is thin) and she is important to our kids and to my husband, so we keep trying. I do love her and want her well, but I don’t have it in me to carry anyone else. His one brother and his wife have been supportive. They have their own crazy life and his HHT to deal with, so being able to hang out with them and chat has been a relief.

So the past couple years have been challenging to say the least. Occasionally I hibernate and tune out as much as I can because there is only so much I can process. During these times I am faced with the choice between the long list of to-do’s, or knitting. I’ve been choosing knitting. (Sometimes crochet). But I think I might be ready for a bit more variety. At least for a little while.

Got Through My Day with the Help of Some Trees

It was depression’s turn to take the lead today. I woke up feeling weighted down. I wanted nothing more than to stay home and relax with my kids. It was a physical ache to leave them.

I have come to use my drive as a time to let myself ride whatever I’m feeling. To give myself the space to fall apart-emotionally. I take back roads where I can take it easy and enjoy the views. Farms, trees, streams, cows, horses, goats, and all kinds of Nature to help soothe my soul. As I get closer to town and work, I begin to calm and focus on preparing for what I will be doing that day. I shift my focus to the task ahead. It’s been helpful.

I had been getting myself ready for a long day with a sinking, sucking, pit feeling in my gut, tensing and stiffening my muscles. I made it through my first appointment (every client always gets my best every time, no matter what’s going on with me. If I don’t think I can do that, I reschedule) and looked to see that my next appointment had canceled. I took that opportunity to check out this park nearby that I have been meaning to scope out for a while. It was exactly what I needed. I stood by the stream and walked up and down the path next to it while knitting a hat. It was wonderful.

I do my very best to make time to take care of my mental health on a regular basis. It almost isn’t even a second thought. I’ve built rituals and habits into my daily life that help me keep myself on track. But even with all that effort, these episodes will sneak up. And sometimes life sees that struggle, despite all my best efforts, and cuts me a break. Gives me some time to breathe in the trees, feel my hands creating something from nothing, and just be.

By the time I got back to work I was ready for the rest of my day and my return home was that much sweeter.

Fall Wall Decor

I finished them! I actually spent the entire day that I started working on them to finish them. I get a bit single minded when I start these kinds of projects. They are all patterns I have found for free online. The purple/red ones are from memory. I’ve made a lot of leaves over the years.

The apple is another free one online. Just search for ‘crochet apple coaster’. The acorn and the pear I made up myself. The pear kept me up for hours. I refused to quit until I got it right and it took several tries. These hang on either side of the leaves, so I have two of each.

And I put my Halloween wreath up. The girls have been pestering me to put up more decorations, so it’s going to start looking a lot like Halloween around here.

More Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been in need of an apron and what better time to get one than the season that brings out the Kitchen Witch in me. Of course I had to get oven mitts to match.

Belle really is turning into quite the little helper. She was great at making the salad with me. I heated up some canned chicken and dumpling soup with some added canned chicken and toasted some seedy bread to make a complete meal. Definitely another favorite in this house!

This was my first time making acorn squash. I’m so glad my mom told me to bake them for a bit to make it easier to cut them in half. I cooked the ground beef while the squash baked. I used one of my usual spice blends and added some fresh basil from my new plant I’ve managed to keep alive for a few weeks now. (We’ll see how long it survives in my care.) Once the ground beef was done I sautéed some yellow squash, zucchini, and frozen corn. When the squash was ready, I filled them with layers of veggies and ground beef and topped them with shredded cheddar cheese. It was amazing. The kids, however, were a little less thrilled about it. Maybe they’ll like it better next time.

I also made dessert/bedtime snack while making dinner. I used the Jiffy mix and added ground flax seed and apple butter. There was enough left for them to have one in their school lunches. These, unlike the squash, were a hit.

One of my favorite meals, meatloaf. This is mini turkey meat loaves with roasted carrots, radishes, and purple sweet potato.

I put the vegetables in to roast with olive oil and spices. The ground turkey was mixed with oats, an egg, spices, and more of that basil plant (which is currently thriving, yay!). I also mixed in some BBQ sauce. I love all the different colors with the vegetables. And while the meatloaf is ugly in the mini-loaf tray, it was pretty on the plate where I let them rest for a minute.

Granny Squares for Daughter Number Three

I decided to start working on my youngest’s granny squares. I’m having fun with these colors too and decided to make six centers of every color as I came to them. I also started balling up each color as I needed, so I could get to the next shade. I’m thinking hoodies.

It really is so much fun to switch up which round I’m doing and figure out how best to mix up the colors. It’s also nice to be crocheting again. With all the knitting I’ve been doing lately, it definitely helps keep my muscles loose and my creative drive going.

The plan is to get a few more of these squares done and then switch back to the ones for my oldest. Hopefully I can finish them up and keep them tucked away for Christmas. I often get too excited to save what I’ve made them.