Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ramblings by a Mad Knitter

I sat down last night and managed to knit two rows of Vlad.  I just find that I am losing patience with this project.  I want to start something else already.  I was asked to knit a throw or blanket for a family member.  ugh!  Do I really have to?  I am not one of those people who does those things.  I said no and sent her on her way to my MIL.  She will gladly do one for you.  I do not have the patience or the time for that.  You would have to peel me off of the ceiling for one of those.  Gary shook his head when I mentioned that tidbit.  He said "there is no way you could do it, you would be insane and I have to live with you."  Oh yeah, he knows me.  Quite well. 

Right now, I am trying to figure out postage to Nova Scotia for a customer.  American shipping is outrageously expensive to other countries and yet, other countries do not charge much at all to get their items to us. 

With that thought in mind...I am having a yarn sale.  Yep, if you want lace weight yarn, hit the shop, I lowered the prices to get ready for my fall paintings.  I am only carrying lace weight due to the high cost of sock yarn from the wholesaler.  I can't afford to purchase it right now since it is out of this world.  So, with this thought, I won't be carrying it until the prices come down.  I pass on my savings to my customers and honestly, charging someone $33 for 440 yards of yarn is too dear for me to deal with.  If you don't like lace weight yarn, sorry.  I am doing the best I can. 

It looks like my knitting stack is getting bigger.  I have to start the hat project as soon as I finish Vlad.  I promised and I also want to knit him a pair of mitts for the winter season.  I have the pattern I want to do and I just have to sit down and do it.  I want the hat and the mitts to match. 

Also in the planning stages, a stole pattern will be forthcoming from my needles.  I have my pattern, I just have to sit down and knit it.  I have the yarn to do it, just finding the time...that is the problem. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Yeah, I Know...

I was supposed to finish the Vlad shawl this weekend...so what happened?  I slept on the couch.  Yep, lazy the whole entire weekend.  I fell asleep sitting up watching some tv with the hubby.  I have no idea what happened, one minute we were talking and the next, I woke up a couple of hours later. 

We did our major grocery shopping on Friday night and then Saturday I was going to be good and finish the shawl, fell asleep.  Didn't even pick the thing up.  I did make homemade beef enchiladas...recipe as follows, simple and it is quite tasty. 

Beef Enchiladas...what you will need before you make them.  Package of corn tortillas, get a package big enough to feed your family and make sure that you get enough for everyone to have 3 or more, they won't be able to get enough of them.  Ground beef, I use ground sirloin, less fat.  Again get a package big enough to feed your family, ground chuck will work as well.  2 bottles of Pace Picante sauce, I have the huge jumbo bottle because it is a staple in my household but, if you can't find the huge one, then get two of the regular bottles, if you can't stand the heat from jalapenos, get the blue lid, if you can handle the heat, grab the mild green lid or if you want to vamp it up, by all means the yellow or red lid.  I use the mild for the most part, you never know who is going to come to dinner.  Gary and I love it spicy but, since family comes by every now and then we use the mild for just such occasions.  A huge tub of sour cream, not for the lactose intolerant, shredded cheese, I use the Mexican blend since it melts nicely.  I usually use 2 packages of this cheese.  One package of taco seasoning.  One baking pan big enough for your family. 

Turn your oven on to 350F.  Grease your baking pan with cooking spray.  Or if you use Temptations stoneware, you don't even need to add the cooking spray, you can just put the tortillas in and not worry about the extra calories. 

Get your cheese ready and stir your sour cream. 

Season and brown your ground beef, add the picante sauce, let it cook to let the sauce mix in quite nicely with your beef.  I usually turn it down to 4 on the stove and let it simmer for a bit.  Mix it so it won't burn.  Take your corn tortillas and put them in a sauce pan of hot water to soften them up so, they won't tear, do not leave them in for very long, they will turn to mush, do a dip in the hot water and then start the process of filling and rolling.  Before you work with each tortilla they will need a nice dip in the hot water bath.  Take your newly moist tortilla and place it in the pan, take a spoonful of your ground beef mixture and place in the tortilla, then add sour cream and cheese, roll it up and place the seam on the bottom of the pan.  Take another tortilla and give it a dip in the hot water, then start the process all over again, but, this time, as you place the seam side down, press the tortilla up against the first one and repeat the process all over until your enchiladas are sandwiched in the pan.  If you have any sour cream and cheese left over...sprinkle and liberally apply to the top of the enchiladas and if you have any of the beef mixture left over do the same.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes in your 350F oven. 

Let cool for about 10 minutes and then enjoy.  If you can't let them rest for 10 minutes, I understand completely, they are fabulous and quite yummy. 

That was Saturday night's meal and I was going to be good and grill chicken breasts for Sunday but, I fell asleep on the couch and woke up cranky and not willing to cook.  So, we headed out the door to a new Cuban restaurant in the area.  It was okay, we have a few more things that we want to try out to see if we will be going there more often than once in a while. 

I was bad and had more rice than I should have.  The guilt kicked in when I got home.  So, today I have to be good and yes, we are going to have the chicken breast tonight grilled with some fresh corn on the cob and a salad.  I am using a Trinidad lemon marinade from Penzy's spices.  It should be quite tasty. 

I also want to go swimming at some point since I have been out of the pool for 3 days but, I have a wicked rash from my pool right now.  Specifically the meds I am on are biguanides for the diabetes and my pool has a Nature 2 Express on it and it says do not use biguanides with it.  Well, it sucks but, my skin is covered in the rash from hell and so, I have had to stay out of the pool so it could heal.  If I swim in the morning, no problems but, in the afternoon with the sun beating down on me, rash...big time.  Lately, I have been swimming in the afternoons with my sister and niece.  Now that I know better, I need to fix the problem.  I coat myself down with zinc oxide ointment to protect all of my spots and hit the pool.  No, it isn't a wonderful thing but, I still am able to get in my exercise.  One great thing besides being a pre-diabetic is that I was able to lose one of my inhalers for my asthma.  Oh that is such a great feeling...this was the freaking expensive inhaler at $249 per pop.  Ouch, right.  I know. 

My goal is to lose enough weight and get the blood sugar so under control I can go back to being normal and off of the meds.  My doctor seems to think that in 3 months time if I keep up what I am doing, I will be back to normal and off of the meds.  Will I ever go back to sugar?  NO!  I was telling one of my nieces about what is happening and she asked what I was using...no sucralose for this girl...too many bad things associated with it.  I use xylitol.  Tastes like sugar, but none of the awful side effects with it.  Although, I do have to have a cup of yogurt every day since the sugar alcohols do mess with the good bacteria in the gut.  Good thing I like yogurt. 

One of my friends when she found out I was a diabetic told me I wouldn't be for long...she knows I am a fighter and not willing to go down without working out something to get myself better.  I refuse to let this damn disease win.  So, when I told her that I made it to pre-diabetes status...she was happy and asked how I did it.  Lots of changes, is the first thing and I know I am on the right track because those hamburger commercials no longer make me a drooling idiot when I see them, I am frankly quite disgusted with them.  They do nothing for me.  I was drooling in the produce department the other day...I noticed the fresh ears of corn on the cob and the green veggies and my mouth started to water.  The fruit also did the trick.  I knew I could mow through it and it wouldn't make me feel bloated and weighted down.  If you are ever diagnosed with diabetes, do not sit down and take it, go to a dietitian and then start a low glycemic low carb diet.  Get rid of all of the pasta and sugar loaded crap out of your life.  I gave all my bad foods away to my nieces.  I discovered that I actually love kale.  It makes wonderful soup and it works well with eggs in omelettes.  I refuse to give up my eggs, they are full of so many wonderful things.  I used to love bacon, not anymore. I have lost the taste for it.  I prefer turkey these days over ham.  I never thought I would not like bacon but, I really could care less if it is in the house or not.  I don't have to have it.  Invest in a fish pill...I have one that is a special order down at GNC.  It is lemon based and when you burp it, you don't get the attacks of the ick from the fish oils...nasty!  It is a nice lemon burst.  It does help with the bad triglycerides which is another item the diabetes likes to contribute.  It is a terrible disease.  It also contributes to heart disease and if you aren't willing to help yourself, there is vision loss, the possibility of losing your feet.  I love my feet and I am willing to fight for them.  I am not going down with out a fight.  Someone asked me why I was doing what I was doing...why not let the disease do it's thing...oh no..I don't want to be a statistic in this thing.  I am willing to research and see what I can find out about it. 

I will admit it...I am the food police.  I know my sister has been telling me this for a while.  I seem to be affecting everyone around me.  Sorry people, I know how much you love your breads and fat but, I am trying to be good.  I honestly do not want them to go through all the hell and issues I am dealing with.  If you had the chance to change your life with your diet being changed, would you do it?  I did.  It is amazing what I find to be less than tasty these days and what I used to think I couldn't live without.  I can live without it and I have. 

My biggest down fall used to be cake...don't even think about it much these days.  It doesn't thrill me the way it used to.  I would look at one and be salivating like crazy.  Not anymore.  I don't need it, nor do I want it.  I can't stand the sugar burn anymore.  It hits the back of my throat and it burns like crazy.  I bought some cola the other day to use in the laundry and my sister told me that I would be on it like a duck on a june bug.  Nope, haven't even opened a can yet.  It is sitting in my kitchen waiting for me to use it.  I read an article that it will help get grease stains out of clothes.  I am more than willing to try that out.  I guess we will see if it works or not.  The rest of the cans will be saved for our next swim party.  I know several kids will be after it.  They can have it. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rip It Rip It

I started the Vlad shawl with the wild berry yarn...ripped it off of the needles, couldn't see the pattern.  I grabbed a yarn out of the stash and tried it out.  So far, so good.  I am on the last chart of the shawl.  So can't wait to see the end of this beast.  This yarn is the Witching Hour and it is a Super wash merino and tencel blend that is killer to knit with.  Love this yarn.  It also has great yardage....450 yards of yarn.  I still have a big chunk of yarn left on my skein.  This is one of my yarns that I had painted last year or the year before.  I can't keep up anymore.  Too many things on my plate and so many things happening with my life. 
Here is the great news...had my blood work done and it came back with me at the pre-diabetic stage.  Oh yes, I am one happy camper!  I was told to keep up what I am doing and I should be diabetes free in three months.  I have to drop my cholesterol 100 points..still on the fish pills and I need to lose more weight.  I am done 32 pounds already.  Woot!  Woot! 

Today I fell off of the diet when I hit the local chicken place to have some of their spicy chicken strips with some red beans and rice and a 1/4 of a biscuit.  It was fantastic and I enjoyed every single bit of it.  I went grocery shopping with my sister afterwards and I was drooling in the produce department.  I was looking at the fresh corn on the cob and all the veggies.  Oh, I am a fiend for fruits and veggies now.  I look at a greasy burger and I am just sickened by it.  It just doesn't appeal anymore.  I have lost my taste for milk chocolate...these days it is the dark chocolate that does it for me since it isn't sweet at all.  Put an almond in it and we are talking.  That works for me. 

My sister calls me the food police.  Okay, I admit it, I tend to lecture on the bad foods these days but, I am trying to curb this attitude.  I am trying.  I have found if I go to a burger place, I get the kids portion and it works out fine for me.  I am full.  Those junior burgers are a great invention, not too much bread, not too much meat, just right. 

Tonight I made meatballs with bulgur and pasta sauce with cauliflower with cheese.  It was really good.  I don't eat pasta anymore, it isn't worth the heartache and spiked blood sugar.  The bulgur works out nicely and a little bit goes a long way.  I cook it in the rice cooker or on the stove but, it is so simple.  It takes 1/2 a cup with 1 cup of broth or water to cook it.  Add in a little pat of butter for a bit of flavor and it is tasty.  It is also low glycemic and when you are trying to watch what you eat, it is wonderful for filling you up without killing any beta cells.  That 1/2 cup of bulgur comes out at about 2 to 3 cups of bulgur in the end.  I usually put it in my storage container and stick it in the fridge to have it later in the week.  I also like quinoa and bulgur together.  I know it sounds funky but, when you are limited in your foods...you will find out what you like and don't like.  I can live without freekeh....tasteless and expensive...do not waste your time.  Bulgur can be found at the grocery store as well as the quinoa.  I did buy some chia seeds...those things aren't cheap but, man you don't need much to put on your salad.  They are funky things but, tasty. 

I also have been dealing with figs...my fig tree is out of control.  I have to go out and pick figs daily since this thing is producing like crazy.  I have been making jelly out of the things.  I have sugar jelly and I have xyla jelly for me.  The hubby has the sugar jelly.  I have been sharing my jars of fig jelly with family members and friends.  I even have a list of people who want a jar or two.  One of them is in Brazil right now and she said they will be back in January of 2013 and she will get her jelly then. 

I also made some tuna salad last night, I boiled some eggs and when I went to put the celery in...out of celery, dang!  So, I looked in the fridge for the relish...out of the too.  I mixed it up with what I had, the boiled eggs, the tuna, the mayo, and the spicy brown mustard.  Tonight I added in the relish and tomorrow I will be adding the celery.  I love the freshness of the celery in my tuna salad...mmm.  It tastes pretty good so far but, it needs the celery for that freshness.  I can't wait, that is lunch tomorrow. 
We tried those miracle noodles and that is one item I will never buy again...the texture nearly had me gagging.  I can't deal with it.  I like glass noodles and someone said that they were like glass noodles...LIARS!  Those things are nothing like glass noodles.  I can't even begin to describe how disgusting they are.  Avoid them like the plague.  Not worth the stink, either.  If you can't handle a rotten fishy smell avoid them.  I packed them off to my niece. 

I had to buy a new bathroom scale because the cheapy one I had was a piece of junk and gave different weights each time we stepped on it.  It was never right so, I bought a medium priced one...there are some that are out of this world in price...it needs to be able to clean the house if it is over $100.  My new one was $50, more than I would have normally spent but, it had all the bells and whistles I was looking for, another $10 would have gotten me one that had more bells and whistles than I thought I needed.  This one tells body fat percentage and water percentages along with weight.  The thing is just crazy.  I should have never bought the thing with the body fat percentage...it pisses me off every morning because one day it says less and the next day, it is more.  Nothing like a scale that tells you all the hard work you have done swimming hasn't garnered a damn thing.  GRRRR!!  It is just frustrating.  So, I find myself ignoring the body fat percentage now...it was driving my blood pressure up and I don't want to be on those damn pills like everyone else in my family.  I don't want high blood pressure but, I figure as long as I need to drop 100 more points on my bad triglycerides, it isn't going to be a good blood pressure reading at all.  I took it this morning and it was okay.  I can live with okay for right now. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Finishing up Projects and Starting New Ones

As a knitter, I always have something on my needles.  Well, I did it, I finished the strawberry margarita shawl but, it isn't blocked.  I started another shawl tonight, the Vlad shawl by Tammy Bailey.  The pattern is all charts so, if you haven't learned to knit by charts, this might be the perfect time for you to learn.  They are simple so, if you are scared to take that big step, consider trying it out with this shawl.  It is easy to follow and she gives concise directions on how to work each chart.  If you can knit a slip 1, k2tog, psso, then you are in business...in other words...slip 1 stitch, k two stitches together and pass the slipped stitch over the knit 2 together.  A double decrease has been formed by this one stitch.  Easy.  That is the most difficult stitch, in my opinion in the whole pattern and there is a double yarn over but, she does explain how to get past this. 
  The top photos show strawberry margarita in it's finished and unblocked state.  The bottom pics are of the start of Wild Berry Vlad.  The yarn is gothic looking.  I think it is appropriate for the project. 
  So far, I am on the second repeat of the body chart, it requires 7 repeats.  I hope to be able to work on it this weekend and then next week as well.  Then I have to decide which yarn I want to use to start the next project.  I have a stack of shawl patterns sitting on my kitchen table. 

Loads of Rain Means Lots of Knitting Time

We are currently under another flash flood watch.  It has been this way for several days but, I am not complaining because if you have ever been in a drought situation, you welcome rain no matter how much you get.  Okay so we have an over abundance right now but, I look at it this way...no watering and not having to fill the pool up because it is totally full, right to the rim. 

The shawl is almost done and I had to come up to my desk top to find new patterns to knit.  I found them and I am excited to get started on them. 

I was on KP the other day and noticed they are no longer a cheap yarn store, they are expensive.  Wow!  I will stick to my old stand bys should I need yarn which if you haven't noticed...I have way too much yarn and I am not buying any right now.  I am using stash yarn.  My desk is cluttered with it right now.  I have about 10 skeins sitting on my desk waiting for me to use it.  Most of it is sock yarn.  I am using the sock yarn for lace knitting.  It works out great.  I also have about 4 lace weights sitting on the desk waiting for me to use them. 

Today I am just beyond sleepy.  I think between the stress of a really horrible week and the hubby being out of town, it was too much for me.  It is just so hard to deal with it all these days.  I think the diabetes really complicates things for me.  If I am stressed, up goes the blood sugar.  It sucks. 

I am thankful that it is the weekend.  I have been waiting for this all week.  It means I can spend some much needed time with my hubby.  Even the dogs missed him, and the hound dog was pissed off at me while Gary was out of town.  When Gary came home, the dog was so happy.  He wanted to be my friend again.  He was a pouting dog for a while there.  Kids! 

I am going to finish off the strawberry margarita shawl and get it ready for the blocking board.  Then I am going to start the next one.  I can't decide which one to do next.  I am thinking Vlad by T. Bailey, I found it on Ravelry and it is a free one so, all the better.  I don't mind paying designers for their patterns but, face it, free is always better.  I am using my yarn, Wild Berry in Merino/silk sock yarn.  The patterns calls for 365 yards of the hated yarn.  It is the merino/cashmere/nylon stuff...it tangles like a bitch and I refuse to use it again.  I have one skein of it left in a plum color.  I look at it every now and then.  I have no idea what to do with it.  It is 500 yards of yarn.  It would be a shame to waste it.  Maybe I will use it.  One day when I am desperate for yarn, I will probably use it. 

This is wild berry and I think it will work out well with the gothic motif that Vlad has going for it.  I think it will be a very interesting knit.  It requires a 3.75 mm needle and it uses sock yarn so, I am hoping it will be fun.  If you want to knit along with me...go to Ravelry and find it in the patterns section under shawls/wraps.  You have to be able to read a knitting chart.  They are pretty easy if you know the icons for each stitch.  Get out your sticky notes to mark your place and charts are simple. 

Pictures of strawberry margarita will be on here when I finish blocking it.  It was a fun knit but, I am sick of it already.  It has been a long 3 weeks of knitting it. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Feeling Lost Right Now

I went to pay for something on line and that is when I realized, my credit card wallet was gone.  I freaked out!  I have lost my checkbook before and managed to find it but, now this was another matter.  So, I had to call all of my credit card companies to let them know all of the cards are gone.  Thankfully, no one has decided to charge anything on the cards.  That is one good thing. 

I have no idea where I lost the card wallet.  I am just sick over it.  Completely sick.  I will no longer be using a separate card wallet for my items.  I will stick them back into the wallet where I know they will be somewhat safe. 

On the knitting front, I am working diligently on the shawl, I have two more rows on the third lace chart and then I get to move on to the 4th chart of stockinette stitch.  I look forward to some boring bits for this shawl because it means I can sit and zone out.  I just have to knit a few increases and that is it. 

So far, the shawl is looking good.  I am excited about getting it finished so, I can do another summer flies in the larger cotton/wool yarn.  I have plans for that shawl.  :) 

Yesterday Gary and I made fig preserves.  We ended up with 12 half pints of the stuff.  The next batch is for xylitol fig preserves. 

Today I checked out my fig tree to see what was ripe and I only managed to get three off of the tree.  Tomorrow should yield more ripe fruit. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

New Stitch Markers

Now that the holiday has passed, I sat down today to work on new stitch markers for myself.  I always manage to lose the things.  This time around, I went bigger and hopefully easier to spot in my knitting bag.  I managed to find a holder for them as well. 

On another note...I was able to sit down finally last night and do some more work on the strawberry margarita shawl.  It is looking pretty wicked.  The hubby has said he loves the color combination that I had painted.  :)  Pictures will follow later when I have a chance to get more of it done.  I love the easy simplicity of this pattern.  It doesn't require much in the way of stitches, the most difficult one being the slip2, knit 1, pass the slip stitches over or sl2k1psso.  So easy.  It is self explanatory. 

After the strawberry margarita shawl is done, I have other items on the list to complete.  One more summer flies shawl.  By the way, the recipient loved hers.  She was ready to put that bad girl on.  I am so happy she loved it.  I hope she wears it on her vacation. 

It turned out really well and it was fun to knit.  I will gladly knit another one.  I would also do another Romanesque shawl.  I have the yarn picked out for it, too.  I have so much yarn around here that it isn't a problem at all. 

Starting today, my shop has one set of stitch markers.  If they sell, great, if not, then I won't be carrying them.  They are in the shop as a trial product.  I know a lot of other shops offer them but, they sell those crappy ring ones that snag work...that pisses me off so quickly along with those cheap cables that have that tool that twists onto the needles and it always drops off in the middle of a row, this is the number one reason why I buy the Addi turbo clicks.  I am a huge fan of those needles, they are worth every penny. 

Anyway, I make the wire loopy stitch markers, easy to make, and they work the best.  It makes knitting all that much quicker to flip them and slip them as I knit along.