Waffle Iron Inspiration

When it comes to cooking at home, I have been really uninspired for a while. Meal planning has not been successful. Grocery shopping has been off the chore list. Our diet has been crap.

So I bought some recipe magazines filled with things I’ll actually make. My mom visited and is great at setting the house to right, so we can actually see surfaces again. My oldest loves doing dishes. All perfect for getting back on track.

Tonight I made waffle iron omelettes. While I cooked bacon in the oven, I mixed pre-made potato hash with oil and seasoning and heated some spinach on the stove. Then I layered the potatoes, egg mix, spinach, cheddar cheese, bacon, and topped it with more potatoes in the waffle iron and ta dah!

Those magazines gave me some great ideas. I got a good meal plan put together and some real grocery shopping done. Maybe I’ll even get into a more consistent workout schedule too.

Starting Over

This turned out to be the rough draft. It’s going to be a nice, loose fitting, sort of T-shirt style Spring sweater. I’m having a lot of fun with the stitches and figuring it out as I go.

These are stitches I’ve never done before. Mesh and dropstitch, but they’re not completely foreign concepts. The mesh just took me a few rounds to get used to and, now that I’ve gotten a good look at the dropstitch pattern I was using, I can write it out the way I’d prefer to do it.

I also got a good look at the size this was and, wow. That was going to be a lot bigger than I was aiming for. So, as frustrating as it can be to start over, it was clearly the right choice. The hours spent knitting this were totally worth it. Now, to begin again.

Spring Break

The kids are off of school for a week and I am off of work, as well. With the way life has been, we’re taking this time to sit back and do nothing. I was hoping for lots of hikes and bike rides, but the temperature dropped (yet again), with gusting rain, so indoors we stay.

Naturally, this means I’m knitting as much as I can. My oldest’s cardigan in Claret acrylic yarn has officially been started. These cables are such a joy to knit and I am so glad I spent all that time writing everything out! It makes for some very relaxing knit sessions.

Even so, I still get pretty restless. I’ve tried to be a monogamous knitter. I’ve tried to even stick to just two projects with maybe a third as back-up. So, while I have a project at work ‘just in case’ (which has come in handy), a scarf that I’ve had to keep ripping out because I only have one skein of it and don’t want to mix it with anything so have to keep rethinking my design, this cabled adventure, and a couple unmentionables, I started another sweater for myself.

I bought these yarns a year or so ago when I was getting really into shawls. But what I really want is a loose and light sweater for cool, warm days. My hyperactive brain set about finding all the pieces from magazines and books and wrote out an outline from those. I cast on and here we go.

It’s currently just my oldest and me at home. She’s on a cleaning spree and I’m feeling my yarn calling. Now, if only I could find something to watch…

Bridgerton and Then Dinosaurs

After watching the second season of Bridgerton I read The Duke and I. I definitely prefer the book to the show, but I do love the show! The colors, the sets, the costumes, the music! They tell so much of the story without saying a word. I love that it’s grounded in historical society, but with elements that give the tale it’s own reality.

The book binding is bent in many places. It traveled with me everywhere, just in case I had a few moments somewhere. I’m grateful to have seen the show first so I could use those images while I read and keep track of all the characters. Although, there are fewer main characters in the book.

The author’s personal story at the end was fun too. I totally forgot about the Sweet Dreams series, which I definitely read a few of in my youth. Oh, the comfort of a happy ending romance.

Now, I’m diving into Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. So far, I’m really enjoying it. The great interconnectedness of the universe. The play of the cosmos that is happening all around us. I never thought of myself as much of a science nerd, but I’m exactly that. I’m an oddball who is achingly curious about the world around me. I want to understand both the big picture and the fine details of it all. The more I find out I don’t know, the more excited I get exploring.

Truth is, I’ve never much enjoyed science enthusiasts talking about science. What I was exposed to was often dull and tedious. Scratching the surface was fun. Bill Nye, and kids books on everything, classroom experiments,… Those were wonderful introductions to ideas and disciplines, but whenever I tried to dig deeper, the obstacles became many. It may have been due to being a scatterbrained female growing up during the token woman era. I wasn’t masculine enough for science, nor was I female enough. And I had too many other interests consuming my time and energy to get too hung up on it.

So this title caught my eye about a year ago and I started reading the introduction. This, I thought, this is the kind of enthusiasm I’m talking about. The kind I saw glimmers of in my high school teachers when they covered their favorite topics. The sort of giddiness my college friends exuded when talking about their studies, or when getting ready for an experiment they designed. (Come to think of it, pretty much all of my friends in college were science majors, while I was literature/linguistics and sociology). The same enthusiasm I find with colleagues when we talk about the overlapping elements of science and metaphysics in touch healing (massage therapy and energy work).

So I’m tickled with delight by the multidimensional concepts of this book. Lisa Randall has put her joy and curiosity into it and emphasizes all the different, seemingly unrelated, events and people that came before and came together to lead to this book.

One For My Oldest

As I’m knitting myself a new slouch hat, I’m mapping out a sweater for my oldest. It’s going to be the same as my freshly finished plum one, but with cables she chose, and slightly smaller. At eleven, she’s almost as tall as me and likes things baggy/loose, so I’m sure this will fit her. I am also positive I have enough yarn.

I wrote down the ones she liked and then figured out which ones would work together. Figured out where they would all sit and then applied it to the sweater pattern. Then I began to hand write the pattern so everything is all in one place.

I’m currently working my way through writing out the increase rows. It makes it easier to knit when all the hard work is done ahead. For almost three days now, I’ve been flipping through the pages of the book, using an index card for a symbol key and a chart guide. Once all the increases are done being written out and the sleeve sectioning happens, I’ll write each chart in my shorthand into the same notebook and use the master guide for reference. And of course a master tally sheet, so each cable is kept track of.

Top-Down Knit Sweaters by Corrina Ferguson. Her patterns are well written and I have been able to easily adapt different stitch patterns to suit my tastes. Great book!

My master guide. I often stack the rows to easily see each garment section, and even darken the m’s that mark these breaks so I don’t mix them up with the m’s for the cable sections. I will also be using white markers for the yoke sections, and green and purple for the cables. Maybe blue, too.

Plum Sweater Done!

It’s done! Almost a year in the making. It’s so cozy and I’m so glad I added pockets!

The right pocket is a bit wonky. The left came out pretty good. I’ll make sure to use the after-thought pocket method next time. No sewing!

I used small buttons for the collar so I can keep my neck warm. Then I used larger ones for the rest. I love these wood buttons and I really love the decoratively cut one.

I forgot why I made it so long. I like long jackets, but I would have made it an inch or two shorter. I remembered that I had to add a different knot to the front to keep it even with the back. Then I remembered the cables on the back determined the length!

And, of course, now that this is done, I’m making a matching hat and fingerless mittens to go with it. I’m going to keep them simple.

I’m also writing up a similar jacket for my oldest. She picked some cables and I’m patching it all together on paper.

Happy knitting!

Enjoying the Rain

We have had yet another set back. My husband got the news he was being laid off with less than a dozen others this week. This is the second time in two years he’s been laid off because he was the last hired when the chops came. He’s got a back-up job, but it’s just an income. Not a career. Not his career.

So we went for a hike. A walk in the woods, really. As we drove, the rain sort of drizzled down and we began to wonder if we would be rained out. We parked at a trail and got our sweatshirts on. The girls seemed excited to get wet.

I love the colors of rainy days. I love navigating the root systems beneath our feet. I love watching our girls walking together, looking out for each other. Making up games together.

These woods seem to have a lot of trees that begin their journey together and form a strong base. They grow up and away from each other, but are always connected by their roots; their base.

It made me think about the kind of roots my kids will have. That they do have. How they are each so unique and yet, obviously, family. We may be going a little crazy these days. Too much time together. But I’m trying to soak up every moment. I can see their paths branching away from us soon. These moments won’t happen as often in a few more years. And I am grateful for these ‘roots’ moments.

Sweater Pockets

This is it. The last stretch of this epic adventure and I’m terrified. Sewing is not one of my skills. I’m capable enough, but am severely lacking in practice. I want to get this right.

This sweater and I have been through a lot together. Buying a house. Moving. Kidney stones. Hectic life. No more plum yarn anywhere. Changing gears and making many mistakes in my eagerness. Now I’m just sitting here staring at it, frozen.

I mean, I thought I was done when I sewed the last button hole. But when I put it on, my hands kept searching for pockets. Knitting them up was a delight. And I’m really happy with the mix of cables I chose. I just hope my sewing is strong enough to hold up and straight enough to look even.

Ok. Deep breath. I can do this.

Long Story: About Discovering a Good Book

It’s funny how you can forget what you like. As if the years of becoming push out what was. Only fragments remain, fluttering in the breeze of all the empty space.

I was always an avid reader. Even before I learned to read, books called to me. In elementary school I was the kid in the library corner reading everything in sight. At home I was curled up on the couch with a stack. Or in bed straining my eyes using the dim hallway light to read one more chapter.

I read in the car, on the bus, at church, between assignments at school. I never went anywhere without a book. The fear of being caught with nothing to read was ever present.

People gifted me books or gift cards for books. My mom even let me take, and keep, her treasured Nancy Drew books because of my passion. Those books are still in really good shape and have a place of honor on a shelf in my home.

Then life got busier. I got married and a few years later, we started our family. I couldn’t read a book to save my life. I missed it. So my mom started giving me magazines. Women’s Day, Good Housekeeping, AARP,… I started buying fitness magazines, knitting and crochet magazines, clean eating and recipe magazines. I consumed them with the same veraciousness I had with books. It went on this way through three babies and their toddler years.

One day, I came across a unique reading list. I had been dabbling with reading books again and this list illuminated something in me I’d almost forgotten. A challenge to read 24 books in 12 months. A book with a number in the title, a book you read for school, one written by someone who is not a writer, a memoir, … Some were a challenge to find, others fell into my lap. Books sitting untouched on my shelves got to come down and breathe life back into me. This list brought me back home.

This list also broadened my genre choices. I was enjoying subjects I had once thought dull. Deliberately choosing things out of my comfort zone. I only made it to 22 books, but it was such a rewarding challenge. And with three kids, at least one still in diapers at the time, I am impressed with getting to 22!

It has been several years since then. I read in fits and spurts, now. Some books really capture me and others get drawn out over weeks or months. What I’ve been learning about myself is that my memory of what I read as a kid had been dimmed for a long time. My young adult life was dominated by dark fantasy series. Anita Blake, Sookie Stackhouse, Harry Dresden, Twilight (yes, I’m a big fan). Easy, quick reading. Intelligent enough to keep me challenged, but slightly predictable and comforting. I, somehow, used this phase to overshadow what I read before high school, college, and several years beyond.

That’s not to say I didn’t read a lot of horror and fantasy as a kid. I did. But I also read mysteries, historical fiction, adventure, classics, brand new science-fiction, books from my parents’ youth, … I read almost anything and everything. Then I narrowed down because I just wanted an escape. My type of relaxing read settled into a comfy spot and stayed for a while. Well, there’s only so many of those authors that I actually enjoy.

Between trying the books on display at the local library, and at Barnes and Noble, I have rediscovered some lost loves. Murder Mysteries can be a lot of fun! As I find the ones I like, I have started remembering fragments of the mystery books I read as a kid. I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew, but there was Encyclopedia Brown, and a host of others I can’t quite remember.

My books on neuroscience, behavioral science, and sociology are piling up. History books about our stories as humans. Some of that is also inspired by my work. I’m fascinated by the brain-body connection. Influencing the nervous system to allow the body to relax, in order to get the brain relaxed, so the body can stay relaxed.

I used to read a lot of thrillers too. It took me a long time to distinguish between thriller and horror. I like thrillers, but I seem to be really picky, or hard to please. Or I’m just bad at finding good ones. Recently, I’ve felt the need to try again. I can’t watch anything really suspenseful anymore. A lot of story lines are off the table for me. Especially since I’ve had kids, there’s so much more I refuse to expose myself to. But I’ve wanted a good thrill. A darker mystery. So, I picked up The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse. It’s been about two days of reading and I can’t put it down. Ok, so, obviously I can physically put it down, but this seems to be what I was looking for and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. There’s enough information being given that my unhealthy anxiety isn’t being disturbed, but there are still so many questions that I’m spurred to keep going, taking in all the clues. It’s the kind of details that put you in the story instead of feeling like an onlooker.

The short version. The Sanatorium, by Sarah Pearse is a page turner. I’m only halfway in, but I’m hopeful I’ll be satisfied at the end. It feels good to remember I’m a multifaceted person who hasn’t lost herself. In fact, I am still becoming while remembering who I have always been. What a journey I have had!

Color Therapy

The kids colored on the back at some point and tore the page a bit. Oh well.

Everyone has been a bit frayed lately. This has been a rather gloomy winter after some really difficult years. Stress fatigue is setting in hard. So I pulled out my coloring book and picked up where I left off on this page.

The yellow bothers me a bit. Need to find a gold pencil.

I’ve been ping ponging between feeling really grounded and centered, and almost completely disconnected. Playing with color in a pre-set pattern is rather soothing.

I was trying to get my kids to join me. I don’t color often and thought it would be a relaxing activity. No dice. So I sat and finished the page after they all retired for the evening. I think I need some more pencils.