Maine or bust!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Adventuring we go!

Saturday morning dawned sunny and clear (and early!) and I set out to pick up my friend Kim. Remember Kim? You've met her hands before here. Kim and I were going on a field trip. We stopped into a Shoppers to pick up the essentials (bottled water, caffeine for the driver, and breakfast) and then hit the road. Kelly at Just Knitting in Carleton Place was happy to see us arrive around 10am, and while Kim fondled all the pretties, I started poking around for a new book. I ended up getting this one from Interweave Press:

I was so excited!!! There are some patterns in this book that simply won't work with my body type (I carry all my excess weight around my hips and butt and lower abdomen), but there are so many that really REALLY will suit me! :) And they're so PRETTY!!! I'm happy. Kim got some yarn and a pattern for herself (a gorgeous eggplant-y purple, can't remember what it was though). For anyone in the area, Kelly is hosting Indigodragonfly's trunk show this coming Saturday, so stop by and say hello! (tell her I sent you!)

We headed back out onto the road and drove.... and drove.... and drove. As we came out the other side of Perth, it started snowing. By the time we hit Kaladar, it was REALLY snowing... um... the day started out like this:

That's the street in front of Kim's - I took this as I waited for her to come downstairs :) Click to make it bigger (I think) - it really was beautiful out. By the time we got to Log Cabin Yarns & Music, it looked like this:

That doesn't look bad, but trust me, on a road with as little traffic as Highway 41, it wasn't pretty. Thankfully, I'm ok with driving in snow, I just drive slower (Rob just choked on his own spit at that one).

Nancy was very happy to see us as well, especially since I don't visit nearly enough. There was a lady there with a chihuahua puppy (17 weeks old and the cutest thing EVER) who was so cuddly and friendly. Kim cuddled, I did not. (and I missed my opportunity to take a picture of the adorable little fella). Did you know that SRK boot sock (the DK sock yarn) was discontinued? Teresa had asked me to pick up a few balls for her, and that's when Nancy dropped that little bombshell.... so I bought it all. I have two balls each of these two colourways available if any of the Ottawa Area Ravellers want some:

The rest all belongs to Teresa, barring the ball Kim bought me (gas money). BWAHAHA. The photo is very accurate, colour-wise. Miss Nancy is having a birthday soon, and will be hosting a birthday party sale on February 11th, for anyone who cares to show up :) (I hope I'm not working so I can go!)

We left Log Cabin and headed back toward home, since it really was quite ugly out. We stopped for lunch in Perth at one of my favorite places to eat:

This lovely little restaurant is located in Code's Mill in downtown Perth and check this out:

The tables are made from the old treadles of the sewing machines from the mill!!! :D As if the place wasn't already awesome enough! We stopped at the little gift shop in the Mill (it's the only place I can find this tea (herbal) which is freaking awesome and from there, we headed home. All in all, it was a great day, and we had a blast.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Technology has let me down...

I emailed myself all these lovely pics over the weekend so that I could show you all what the big adventure was this weekend. Sadly, it appears that the photos were too large and my work inbox wouldn't accept them. So I have no pictures. In addition, although I finished the Baby Surprise Jacket (just now, on my lunch hour), my camera has an SD card but no cable to transfer the photos, and my office computer has no card reader, only USB ports. *sigh*

I finished Kimery's second mitten, so I now have a completed pair. I finished knitting the BSJ yesterday, but only seamed it up today. Now I have to find perfect buttons, because the jacket really is stunning in its dozens of colours. I am insanely proud of it. Everyone will please ooh and aah appropriately. (If you like, I'll wait until you've seen pictures.)

Of course, being the fantastic planner that I am, I brought absolutely nothing else to work on. *ahem* I guess this means I can get some reading done for school. Yay. (You may imagine that in a Ben Stein-esque monotone). Another way in which I have failed to plan is how I ate over the weekend. I gave myself Friday as a "free" day, forgetting entirely that I was going to spend the day on the road on Saturday... Well done, that. Back to the Beach today, and I've got to get cracking, since Rob will be here in four and a half weeks!

Have you ever had one of those weekends where you try to get a ton of stuff done and at the end of it all, feel as though you've accomplished precisely nothing? Yeah... that's the weekend I just came off of. At least I accomplished having a good time, which you will all see when I have the bloody photos. (Best part? I just bought myself a new flash drive... I could have put the bloody pictures on my 8 GIG flash drive, but no, I had to try to mail myself ten megs of photos... idiot.)

Now I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and hope that the rest of the day continues uneventfully and look forward to my class tonight :) Happy Monday!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Godspeed, Mother Nature...

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I hate winter. I loathe winter. I can handle cold. Cold is no problem. What I can't handle is the fact that at any given moment, if you lose your focus for one second (and sometimes even when you haven't), winter can pitch you on your ass, cause insult and injury, and sometimes even kill you. Last night, we got a couple of hours' worth of snow, then this morning it was raining when I left for work. It rained until about 1pm, and it's been snowing heavily since then. In short? Don't piss off Mother Nature. Bitch is MEAN.

I managed a bit of knitting on the Baby Surprise Jacket last night and this morning, and now the "flap" bit is done (I don't remember doing a "flap" the first time around, but I must have, because the pattern hasn't changed). Tonight is KNIT NIGHT, which means that a somewhat smaller horde than anticipated (weather, y'all) will descend on the Wellington Street Bridgehead and knit our little hearts out. I'm bringing the mitten, so I can finally finish the thumb (poor Kimery), I'm bringing the BSJ, and I'll be bringing the blue pretty so that I can have moral support while I rip the bloody thing back.

Weigh in this morning was a tense time... I was VERY good yesterday. So good, in fact, that it was a bit disgusting. I ate well, I yoga'd, I resisted. This morning, I got on the scale, and saw 267... I knew that couldn't be right, so I tried again. 274. That's a bit better, but let's give it a third try just for good measure: 274. YES. (Scale at work confirmed when I weighed in for Biggest Loser). I allowed myself a few carbs at breakfast (I had the two leftover eggrolls from the children's dinner last night), and then had a grilled salmon salad at lunch (Sir John A's... best pub on Elgin!). Dinner may not be entirely Beach-friendly, since I haven't decided where I'll be eating it, but I'll do my best.

Tomorrow is adventure time :D Here's a hint.....

I can't wait!!!! I may buy some Jacquard dyes to try my hand... who knows?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In which my ass is kicked by triangle pose...

The only knitting I got done last night, since the blue pretty is still in time out, was on the baby surprise jacket / baby blanket project (which I need to finish because everyone is breeding and I'm surrounded by new babies!). I cast on a dishcloth "square" for the blanket and finished it while watching Batman Begins. I hadn't watched it in years. Seriously good flick :) (and that's from someone who generally hates Christian Bale... don't ask me why, I think it has to do with American Psycho). I ... um... I forgot to take a picture, so.... SQUIRREL!

Thursdays are for yoga (I am unapologetically stealing the Yarn Harlot's "Tuesdays are for spinning" format). I trudged down to the community centre at lunch and put down three yoga mats - knees were in rough shape today. Our instructor Avril is particularly awesome and I love her :) I noticed when I got up this morning that my vision was a bit fuzzier than usual, but I attributed it to the almost headache I had for most of yesterday. It turns out my balance was also quite off. We finished the sun salutations and moved into the Warrior poses (transitioning from warrior I to warrior II, warrior III and then Triangle pose). Triangle looks like this:

It doesn't look hard, but when you've been in a lunge position for 15 minutes already and suddenly you have to keep your arm up in the air like that.... well, I just about fell over. My legs were vibrating, my arm was burning, and I was shaking all over the place. Apparently my balance is also off today. Anyway, I finished yoga, walked back to work and stopped at one of my favorite book stores along the way. I am so excited! Not only did I score the latest Jean Auel novel, I managed to find THIS.

It looks like an awesome read, and has so many different types of things in it... things like dry-stone walling, coppicing, beekeeping, sheep-shearing, hunting and fishing, plucking a fowl, brewing beer and cider-making, smoking, , making rag rugs, candle- and soap-making, stonemasonry, thatching, weelwrighting, tatting, carving, glass-blowing and sooooooo so many more (I picked and chose a few from the table of contents). There are no useless pages in this book, the information goes right up until the very last page (no blanks or publishing information at the end) and it's pretty small print. I am thrilled to have found it :)

Tonight after the kids go swimming, I'm going to keep working on the kitchen, and maybe some laundry. Both feet have been firmly planted on the Beach all day, and I aim to continue that. Dinner will likely be mixed seafood stir-fry with grilled eggplant and zucchini (since I have an eggplant and a zucchini in my fridge that need cooking). I see you making faces, Rob, and you don't have to eat it, so no complaints from you.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Betrayed by Mohair

I was so proud of the progress I made last night, and how invisible my join between two balls was. I was all set to take a picture with the tape measure to show how much progress I'd made. And then, I spotted this:

That, my friends, is far larger than any of the holes (and there are many) on this shawl are meant to be. That is betrayal, pure and simple. That, dear ones, is a dropped yarn over. ARGH. The blue pretty is in a time-out until Friday evening when I can go to knit night and rely on the confidence and quiet support of my knitty friends before I rip back the *SEVEN ROWS* to fix this. Teresa gave me a brilliant suggestion of using another circ to pick up all the stitches in the row beneath the one I'm ripping back to so that I can then just slide them right back on the needles. Did I mention Teresa's brilliant? I love Teresa!

The Beach is kicking my ass today, and I'm headachy and craving a dozen doughnuts. I did permit myself a 100-calorie Special K Fruit Crisp (20g of carbs, which is comprised of 7g of sugars and 13g starches and 100% stuff I'm not allowed to have on the Beach, but goddammit, I needed a snack that didn't resemble cheese, vegetables or lunch meat). Breakfast and lunch (and late afternoon snack) were all 100% on-plan, and dinner will be as well. And I'll be damned if that Fruit Crisp thing wasn't the tastiest thing I've eaten in a long time. I am ashamed of my dependence on carbs.

Tonight, the goal is to get the kitchen as close to perfect as I can get it (I have tomorrow to finish it off). I'm hoping to get one room done every week, and then maintain it. I also have a ton of school reading to get done. I was remarkably pleased tonight when I managed to find a butter bell (also known as a Breton butter dish - well, it's called "un beurrier Breton" in French...). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's one of these:

You fill the "bell" shaped bit in the lid with butter, and then place it on the base. The butter will stay fresh for a few months on the countertop without going rancid. No refrigeration, so it stays spreadable too :) They're awesome little gadgets. I was quite pleased to find one (and it was cheap!). Now I'll have to buy some butter (and not make the mistake of buying unsalted like I did last time).

Yes, I am probably the most random person on the planet. Knitting mishaps, South Beach, and butter bells ;)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bombs away!!!!

I Okay, so the only vote I got was for a whack of photos all at once, so here goes:

This was Kim untangling the black merino after my first ill-fated attempt at knitting Rob a hat. (you can see the brim of blue SuperSaver on her arm). I thought she was going to have a stroke watching me try to untangle it, so I handed it over like a good little girl LOL Good thing I have a fair bit of this yarn left, since my son wants a matching hat now.

This is Kimery's (different Kim... too many Kims!) finished mitten. It fits so well, I want to knit a pair for me now!

(and this is it's still-thumbless mate. I am ashamed.)

The top picture is the series of "dishcloths" I knit in order to use up some of the yarn for the Baby Surprise Jacket. The Jacket itself is the amorphous blob in the bottom picture.

This is the blue pretty. I love it. I love it so much that I can't wait until it's finished so I can try  my hand at blocking (yikes!). 

This *sigh*... this is what Rob's blanket looks like right now. A vast collection of squares and trailing ends. I have sewn in the ends on one series of the brown squares! Really! Um... honey? It might be finished for your 50th birthday..... 

Zachary and his cat wanted to pop in and say hi :)

So since I do have stats on this silly thing, and since the stats are puzzling me a bit, I have a challenge for all of you. I know that a couple of people read this blog regularly, but I don't know who you all are! I know Rob reads it (duh), but I'm not sure who all else is hanging around, and I'm curious :) Give a shout out in the comments to say hi! (yes, I'm shamelessly asking you to comment on my blog). Apparently one of the sites I get the most traffic from is Russian, which intrigues me to no end.

Spent the day on the "Beach" today (that's what Rob calls it when I stay on plan for the day). Mid-afternoon, I got ravenously hungry, and was craving carbs (any carbs) like nobody's business. Some cherry tomatoes and some spicy black bean dip took care of that! It's hard though. I've just had dinner, and I feel like I want nothing more than a piece of toast right now. Give me strength! (or a kick-ass metabolism... but I think it's too late for that one.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Can you see what I see?

No, of course you can't, because I'm a terrible blogger, and although I take pictures for the blog all the time, I rarely take the enormous amount of time and effort it takes to get them off my camera (say it with me: five-year-old laptop). I have pictures of the mittens (still minus one thumb - I got distracted by pretty mohair). I have pictures of the psychadelic BSJ-in-progress, I have pictures of all kinds of stuff. But none of it makes it to the blog. Would you (the two people who read my blog) like me to add them after-the-fact in the posts they belong to? Or would you like me to just divebomb a new post with a lot of photos?

So I mentioned that my head was turned by mohair...

I've never knit with mohair before, and strictly speaking, only 18% of the yarn I'm using is mohair (the rest is pretty sparkly nylon and some acrylic to hold it all together - see the sparkles in that yarn? *drool*). I'm using this stuff: Greenwich Village by Lily Chin. - it's the 5579 colourway, although the color card doesn't even come close to showing how vibrant and bright and deep this colour is, although the photo I took isn't too bad. 2012 is the year of knitting from stash, ostensibly so that it stops threatening the children's living space (me? I'll sleep on a bed of yarn. Sure I will!). I dug deep into my stash, found this lovely stuff that I had bought on a whim back in November 2009 (Log Cabin Yarns and Music in Northbrook, Ontario - check them out and say hey to John and Nancy for me!) and decided to knit this with it:

This is the Chastain Park Shawl designed by the very talented L. Mariana. She has some very lovely patterns available, and this one seemed the perfect simple pattern to showcase this complex and gorgeous yarn. There's just one hitch. The shawl calls for about 200 yards (thereabouts) of DK weight yarn. I have 414 yards of the blue lovely. Solution? Knit two of them ;) One will be a gift for an undisclosed recipient (who may or may not be one of the two people who actually reads this blog, I'm not sure). The other one I'm undecided about. I may make one bigger than the other, I may make them slightly different, I just don't know. I am modifying the shawl pattern slightly, according to the pattern notes I saw on someone's Ravelry project page (after a bunch of stockinette, do six rows of the open lacework, then ten rows of stockinette, lather, rinse, repeat). It's turning out SO beautiful that the second one might just stay with me.

I did so well with South Beach this weekend, I was insanely proud of myself. Then it all fell apart at dinner last night. Sundays are somewhat of a command performance at my parents' house. The children and I are expected to troop to my mother's house for dinner each Sunday, barring special circumstances - for instance, I worked a lot of Sunday evenings at the store just before Christmas. This is a family tradition. My mother (usually... sometimes my dad came too) used to bring me to my grandma's house every Sunday. I don't remember going as often after my brother was born, but my grandfather passing away and my brother being born happened in the same month (I'm not fond of March, 1980 for some reason) and we may have simply stopped going as often after that.

Anyway, as Rob says, to make a long story insufferably longer (there, see how I quote you in the blog?)... Sunday's dinner was chicken pot pie and corn, with about fifty different things for dessert afterward. I had pot pie, I had corn. I was virtuous and refused ice cream, but then ate 1/4 of an ENORMOUS red velvet cupcake. *sob* I am ashamed. The carbs really do set off cravings though, because this morning, I hoovered the raw vegetables I had brought for lunch, two plain chicken breasts, a bottle of diet coke and a bottle of crystal light before I managed to slow down and take stock. Bleh. Going to have to walk across campus a couple of times tonight to counteract that binge, even if it was healthy food. Gotta get my act together if I don't want to be the one paying up in Biggest Loser at work this Friday (the person who loses the least, or gains the most, has to pay $5 to the pot at the end of the week). That, and I have to beat 275 this week.

Oh, and I tend to carry my knitting (and everything else that I carry around all the time) in those reusable shopping totes. I have a little one that I'm particularly fond of. My aunt gave it to me at New Year's brunch to take leftovers home in (yay!) and it was falling apart. My mom - sick as a dog, WHILE making dinner - stitched it back together for me, by hand. Mom totally loves me best ;)

12 1/2 year old pic of my mom and my nearly 13-year-old.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's Friday... it's Friday... (oh shut up!)

So that means weigh-in day (yay! starting that up again). This morning, I was a bit apprehensive, because I went out for Chinese last night with the kids (sodium what now?) but I was good and only had steamed veggies and a spring roll. Then I had some sesame snax (they're addictive!). But I did drink a ridiculous amount of water yesterday, including a lovely cup of peppermint ginger tea (with lemongrass) later in the evening. I took three Tylenol Ultra before bed and was only a little bit sore this morning. I was, however, awakened by a wicked charlie horse some time around 3am.

Right... weigh in... quit babbling about other stuff, and get to it, woman! So this morning, I stepped on the scale and saw: 276.0 :) South Beach Diet FTW!

It's not a fabulous number, and I'm not super thrilled that I'm travelling over the same road I was going down several months ago, but I'm happy I'm down 4 lbs from Monday, and I'm happy I'm seeing results (even if I'm not, you know, physically seeing results yet - patience, grasshopper).

The fall, however, and resulting soreness last night mean that last night I knitted NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Not Kimery's second mitten, not the baby blanket or BSJ, not even weaving in ends on Rob's blanket squares.

I'm not really all that ashamed though (but I do love that picture), because tonight is Knit Night! :D Those poor saps at Bridgehead must groan when they see us coming, knitting in hand, to monopolize the middle of the cafe until closing time. But I love them :) I love the atmosphere, I love the company, and I love that I can be me with these ladies. They don't judge, and they don't bite (much) and they're a fantastic group of women (and occasionally men). I'll be bringing Kim's mitten with me, as well as the BSJ and perhaps even a new project (one for ME) if I find something I like on Rav in the meantime :)

Oh, and as for the title? I still haven't heard that song, and I'm kind of glad. From all I've heard, the person who WROTE the song should be shot. As for Ms. Black? Good for her :) She had the guts to do something I've only ever dreamed about. Yes, I sing, but I'm far too timid to do so in front of anyone. My family says I'm good, but they're my family. They have to.

There will be adventures this weekend. Adventures with pictures! I can't wait!

Update... Kimery's mitten currently has a cuff and the first half of the gusset knitted. It's amazing what I can accomplish during the 30 minutes I get for lunch ;) 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Move over, Robert Frost...

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

That's great... it's a classic poem.  I love Robert Frost, and to be honest, I like ice. Ice is strong.

Ice is fascinating.

Ice is amazingly beautiful.

Today, however, ice has kicked my ass. As I sit here with a damp bottom and various aches and pains, I do not like ice very much. Ice hurts. Especially when it causes both your feet to fly out from under you in the middle of Elgin Street and land flat on your back, cracking your head on the pavement. So kiss my ass, ice.

I did make it to yoga class (this happened on the way there), changed into my spare pants (which were also wet, since I dropped them in the slush when I did my acrobatics), survived an hour's worth of yoga after a couple of months without (downward dog HURTS when you haven't done it in a while), and came back to the office. I was very tempted to resort to chocolate to heal my boo-boos, but I didn't (Day two of South Beach - I remembered!). Yesterday went so well (3.5 lbs down this morning!) that I wasn't about to mess things up now. I will say, however, that I do not recommend doing yoga with a soggy wet butt. It's not fun.

I crocheted the last square (half-square) of Rob's blanket last night, and immediately turned my attention to something else. I had bought the needles yesterday, and I couldn't wait to get started - even though it was on DPNs. By the time I went to bed last night, I had completed: One mitten. Ends woven in, thumb knitted on and everything! I took a picture of it, but I haven't managed to get it off the camera yet *blush* I promise I will share once its mate has joined it. The cowl that's joining it will have to wait until I can find the right needles (as mentioned yesterday). 

I had stopped working on the baby surprise jacket because I left my iPad (and therefore the pattern and my row counter, which is an app) at my mother's house. Duh.... stupid me, the pattern (which is also on my home PC, and now my work PC since I emailed it to myself) has a stitch count at the end of each row. Like I couldn't have figured it out? I'm not sure what's coming to the kids' swimming class with me tonight, but it'll probably be reading. I have a couple of fairly reading-intense projects due mid-April, so I want to get my last night of pleasure reading in while it's convenient (and before I purchase the books I need for the projects!) I may or may not go to my Hull knit night tonight - it'll depend on how my butt feels (and if I can find clean, dry pants!).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Et tu, brute?

I did finish the two half-squares for Rob's blanket last night, and all was well... until I noticed a third skein hiding in the bag. WHAT??? So I counted carefully, and shore 'nuff, I was a half-square short. UGH. No casting on of anything new until I finish the last one. The two last night took me about an hour total, so not a huge deal. Besides, I didn't have the needles for the new project yet. I really need to buy a set. I'm thinking Knit-Picks Zephyrs... :)

So today at lunch, a knitty co-worker and I walked down to Knit Knackers Yarn Warehouse (which is my favorite LYS) and I picked up the steel size 10 dpns (ChiaoGoo) I needed for these:

These are a commission for a girl I work with at the craft store. I don't generally take commissions, but she's been really sweet to me, and I like her, so I'm knitting them for her. They didn't have the size 13 circs I needed for this:

but I'll forgive them :) It's a weird size, and I'm the only person I know who requires circs in such odd sizes on a regular basis. I was pretty sure I had a set of size 13, but I can't find them now (big surprise). I also picked up a lovely 16" circ (size 7) from Knit Picks - I love it, the needles are so SHORT! - for knitting hats, and the latest Creative Knitting. I'll continue hunting for the size 13 circ, although it won't be a big deal until I'm finished the mittens. K wants these done in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, and I'm all about the bulky when it comes to stuff I'm knitting for others! She bought the yarn, and it's currently sitting in a bag on my couch waiting to be turned into warm wooly goodness.

In other news, I feel like absolute crap. I woke up with a mild headache which, by the time I got to the office, became a raging migraine and my usual cocktail of diet coke and Tylenol Ultra isn't helping. I did manage to stay on track with day one of South Beach until mid-morning when I started feeling really nauseous. It's only gotten worse over time, so I'm skipping lunch in the hopes of not ending up in the bathroom all afternoon. (at the office - that would be so classy) I suppose I shouldn't be terribly surprised since the ten-year-old lost her dinner last night - I had attributed it to her eating too fast (which happens on occasion), but I suppose it's conceivable that it was some kind of bug. The other possibility is that this is one of those weird migraines that hangs around until I throw up (I hope not... I hate throwing up).

In the interests of full disclosure, I did a Very Bad Thing last night. After the kids had gone to bed, I went into the kitchen and cooked a steak. No idea why. We'd already had dinner. I wasn't hungry. But I wanted a steak. So I cooked one. Then I sat down at the computer with my plate, and I burst into tears. I looked at the steak and was reminded once again that I'm an evil saboteur and that I certainly didn't need a steak at 9:30 in the evening. The twelve-year-old is a far better child than I deserve, and he took the plate away so that I wouldn't be tempted to eat the steak after all was said and done. (yes, he got out of bed to do this) I felt so guilty and disgusted with myself that I phoned Rob in tears and then got on the treadmill. This morning, I had to scrape 1/4 inch of ice off my car (it took a while, this was very stubborn ice) so since last night, I've had a pretty thorough full-body workout.

I'm hoping the upset stomach passes soon, especially as I have yoga class tomorrow, and yoga is no time to have sore abdominal muscles.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Unreasonable expectations?

I was reminded recently (thanks Sarah!) that I haven't posted a weigh-in for a while. That's mainly because I'm lazy, but also largely because I've been fluctuating between 275 and 279 since the last time I posted. I just keep going back and forth, making no real progress, and generally feeling off. I had "IT" taken out in December (the evil IUD that made me have my period for 3 straight months). Since I had it taken out, I expected this liberated feeling, that my hormones would shortly be back to normal, and life would be skittles and beer. Now they're weirder than ever, I have this odd lump that needs to be checked out (before anybody panics, I'm pretty sure it's an abcess, but it's in a place no abcess should ever be found, and I'll leave it at that), and my emotional state is all over the map. (I cried during a Smashmouth song while driving to work this morning.)

As I mentioned, I've been feeling a bit off. A bit of nausea at random moments (and no discernable cause for it), random headaches inserted a bit more regularly into the schedule, and massive (and weird) undeniable food cravings. Ever craved something with gravy and chocolate at the same time? I have now! Ugh. So I stepped on the scale this morning, and then I saw it. 280. TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY. Remember how I said I'd never hit 280 again? 280 is my new 310 (which is my personal highest weight). I was so disgusted with myself when I saw 310 on the scale that I got motivated, got moving, and lost 30 lbs. I broke 280 and I was thrilled. I managed to briefly break 270 after a bout of stomach flu, but that's kind of cheating. And now I'm at 280 again.

This is about how I feel right now. The whale, not the woman standing next to it...

I've been a bit out of control with the eating. It's not so much the amounts, but the choices have been bad (a lot of fast food again, after I'd gotten out of the habit, and a lot of sugar - too much sugar). Until last night. Last night, I went to the grocery store and bought a couple of deli salads and some pancetta (uncooked smoked pork, for the uninitiated). I went to school, bought a book, since I'd forgotten my iPad at my mom's this weekend, and I ate the two deli salads and the pancetta. Now, for most people, one of the deli salads would have been satisfactory. I have no idea why I continued eating. I have no idea HOW I continued eating. But eat them both, I did, with a helping of fat-laden pork on top of it *sigh* It's about 20 hours later, and I still feel full and bloated.

I'm pretty much positive that I did this to myself as a result of signing up for Biggest Loser at work (again - when will I learn?). What I can't for the life of me figure out is WHY I do it. I sabotage myself every time, and I'm tired of it. I know that my body wants to hibernate and I've been in hibernation mode for a while now, but shouldn't what *I* want count for something???

It's time to bring out the big guns. I clearly cannot be trusted to control myself when left to my own devices. At least, not while my hormones are raging and my body is doing all kinds of weird things. It's time for South Beach, and not the prissy little half-baked South Beach I was doing a few months ago where I allowed myself to improvise at will. Nope. It's time for hard-core, stick-to-the-book, Phase One South Beach (anyone who's ever read the SB diet is groaning in sympathy right now... the two weeks of Phase One are not pleasant). Rob, children, consider this fair warning that I will be a raving maniac by Friday. Anyone who sees me coming within touching distance of starches for the next two weeks has permission to slap me.

On to knitting (much happier subject, YAY!). Since finishing Rob's hat, I've kind of been in a funk. I desperately want to cast on a new project, but the guilt over not finishing the blanket is starting to get to me. There is no earthly reason why I should not be able to finish the last two half-blocks of the blanket tonight (I'd like to start assembling it this weekend). If I manage to finish them both this evening, then I will allow myself to cast something new on tomorrow (so that I'll have something to knit at the kids' swimming class on Thursday!). I shall report back tomorrow. Happy knitting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

What I accomplished this weekend....

I had plans to get all the dishes done, clear off the kitchen table, wash the kitchen floor, do some laundry, get a bag of stuff ready for goodwill (or whoever it is that has a convenient dropbox).... I had all these lofty ideals and great plans, and it was going to be great. And then this happened:

I knit Rob a hat. I had started a hat for him last Wednesday, but it wasn't working out. I didn't like the Red Heart Super Saver I had chosen for the "blue" (who would?), and holding the Ella Rae Merino doubled was just wrong. I wasn't exaggerating when I said it felt like Kevlar. My friend Kim thought the hat was so wrong in so many ways, she unravelled it at our Friday Knit Night :) (pic to follow).

So I switched patterns, switched blue yarns (this is some leftover Bernat Softee Chunky) and got knitting. I'm a slow knitter. I think it took me five hours of knitting on Saturday and two on Sunday to finish it, but I now have a finished hat sitting on the foam head in the corner of my bedroom. Rob wanted a hat, he now has a hat. He just has to come 850 miles or so to get it :) I may consent to mailing it... it's been brutally cold the last few days. Because, y'know, I love him and stuff. I had to resist every fiber of my being telling me to cast something else on once it was done.


Then I went to my parents' for dinner last night and left my iPad (which has my baby surprise jacket pattern on it) and my textbook - class is tonight. UGH. Which means no knitting on the coat of many colours, and I've got nothing else that's really portable. Time to cast something on?

In other news, I have GOT to start planning a bit better when it comes to food. I ended up making rice and chicken for the kids' lunches, and having a noodle bowl for mine. No breakfast planned, no snacks, and now it's 3:30 and I'm starving *sigh* So tonight at some point, I'll have to figure out what the kids are getting for lunch tomorrow since someone bearing a striking resemblance to my twelve-year-old left the bread open and now it's hard as rock. I also forgot to take the glucosamine I'm trying out all weekend, so no word yet on whether it actually helps or not. I promise to take it religiously this week!

Stay tuned, yoga starts back up again on Thursday!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out...

Okay, so I have no idea what a Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out is (nor does anyone else who likes that song). But it was the only thing I could come up with to describe the absolute WHOPPING of snow we've gotten today. It's not as bad as the "24-inches-in-one-go" we had back in, what, 2009? But it's a lot of freaking snow. I wish I hadn't forgotten my camera, because this really is insane. I can hardly see the apartment buildings and hotel across the street from the office. It's big, fat, fluffy, Christmas snow, and it's showing NO signs of stopping (or even pausing to enjoy the scenery).

This is from the Parliament Hill webcam, just a few blocks from here:

Notice how there seem to be greyish splotches all over the image, and it's faded, like it's a really old picture? Those grey splotches are snowflakes. And the "faded" quality? That's how much snow is falling between the cam on Queen street and the Parliament building 100 metres from it (ok, Americans... metres, I know. It hurts. Lemme see if I can dig this out of my memory banks: 109 yards, give or take. Yes, I cheated. I have an app for that.) It's snowing. A lot. Environment Canada has actually issued a "snowfall advisory". What, like living in Ottawa didn't already give us a clue that we'd get a lot of snow during the winter? In other news, I'm wearing the tank top I knitted for Christmas. Yes, it's the snowpocalypse, and I'm wearing a tanktop. But the girls at knit night have been waiting to see this thing since it was finished. So see it they shall. (it's KNIT NIGHT tonight! Yes, I'm going anyway!)

So I have discovered this other blog. This blog that my knitting friends have been talking about for ages. It's the Yarn Harlot! Yes, I'm a bit slow on the uptake. No, I'm not sorry I waited, because now I'm appreciating it so much more. And yes, you all told me so. Stephanie, please forgive me, I haven't commented on anything yet, because I'm too busy reading all the archives. I'm in January 2005 right now, so it might take a while for me to become current. Be patient. Suffice to say that I love you, Joe and your children as if you were all part of my own family, and I want to be you when I grow up. (which is weird, because we're around the same age, but there we are.) So go visit Stephanie, say hi for me, and maybe point her back my way (not that there's a lot of knitting content here... getting pics off my camera with my antiquated laptop is painful at the best of times, so I don't post a lot of pics). HI STEPHANIE!!!!

I've been working on Rob's hat (ouch). The progress is so slow, it's maddening. I can only knit on it for so long before my hands cramp up and refuse to grip the needles. This hat is made with merino and love and pain. Possibly not in equal amounts. I do so love the Ella Rae though, and I'm glad I've decided to make his had with it, because it's gorgeous stuff, and I've been holding on to these five tiny skeins of it since I first learned to knit. I've cast on another "dishcloth" for the Baby Surprise Jacket project. (If Chelsea ever figures out where my blog lives, I'll be in trouble, but I think I'm safe for now). Rob's blanket is still watching me accusingly from the edge of the desk, and Rob even made a hilarious comment last night that if I finished his blanket, I'd have something to keep me warm until he comes back to get it in March. Ha! He's so funny. He doesn't understand about my deadline-panic-induced euphoria. You get me though, don't you Stephanie?

This is one of those days I'm so grateful I park indoors during the day ;)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Of ships and shoes and sealing wax...

... of cabbages and kings...

Today is a bit of a bittersweet day. A day that reminds me of my childhood, and that I'm growing older (middle-age - ugh) and that all things pass eventually. My nephew, Riley, would have been three years old today. He died from complications after a surgery to fix a deformed heart valve when he was nearly seven months old. And the pain and sadness is still as fresh today as it was the night we let him go. I try not to think about it too often (but fail miserably) because it's still such a crushing weight. My in-laws passed away a few years ago, and my grandmother died a couple of months before Riley did, so he's got a good group of people watching over him, but I'll always miss him. I hope they're taking good care of you, Riley bear.

And now I need to change the subject or I'm going to be a blubbering mess for the rest of the day.

So now on to more mundane things, I cast on a hat for Rob last night. I know, I know. I've got the blanket to finish yet, and the baby surprise jacket (and accompanying wee blanket), and the ten-stitch blanket, and the sampler blanket already on the needles. But Rob asked for a hat, and if you knew Rob, you'd know that's a pretty big deal. Rob simply does not wear "knitted stuff". This is the hat pattern I'm using, but not the same yarn (this is actually a hat I knitted for .. *ahem* the last guy I dated):

So Rob wants this hat to have a royal blue brim and the rest of the hat to be plain black. Oh lord... plain black stockinette stitch. The only royal blue I had was Red Heart Super Saver, and as the brim gets folded up on this hat, I figured that wouldn't matter (scratchy doesn't begin to describe Super Saver against your skin). The black, on the other hand... and this proves I love him. The black is Ella Rae Kamelsoft! Yeah, that's right. I love him, and there's proof! Trust me, Rob, right now all my knitting friends are going "oooooh! Kamelsoft!", so even though you have no idea why that's so special, you have to trust that it is.

The thing is, Super Saver is quite a bit thicker than Kamelsoft, even though they're both worsted - for new knitters, this is the bane of your existence. It's ALL WORSTED, but none of it is the same! So anyway, this means I've started knitting the black bit with the merino held double. (so he gets twice the kamelsoft! See how generous I am when the spirit moves me? Or when I have no other black yarn, and because I promised I wouldn't buy yarn this year, I have to use stash....? Let's go with the first one.) The fabric this is creating is, I swear, sturdier than Kevlar. And insanely difficult to knit. I had to put it down last night after my wrists and shoulders started using profane language to get my attention.

The blanket? It looks at me with resignation and despair every night when I sit down to work on the Baby Surprise Jacket, so I think I'll save that project for work, school and the kids' swimming lessons. The poor blanket, it's being neglected because I missed the first deadline, so now I figure I've got all the time in the world before Rob comes back for it on March 1st... and I'll be scrambling like a madwoman in a few weeks to finish it before that deadline too. Because that's just how I roll...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inexplicably sad, but hopeful.

I woke up this morning headachy and miserable. Stomach was wonky, and I was (and am) having difficulty focusing on details (writing is all blurry, which makes it an official migraine, and not just a "lack of sleep headache"). I went to all the effort yesterday of frying up some lean beef and chicken breasts to combine with steamed vegetables for my lunches this week, and this morning boiled some eggs for breakfast (and steamed the vegetables)... but I was feeling so gross when I got to work that I ended up having a leftover slice of pizza and a chocolate bar for breakfast (soooo healthy). UGH. On the plus side, I do have the lean steak and steamed veggies for lunch :)

Three hours post-Tylenol, the headache and blurry vision is stubbornly hanging on, and the pizza is trying to decide if it wants to escape or not, and after listening to a very depressing (but lovely) Adele song, I feel like this:

I emailed Rob whining for hugs, and he sent one, which is awesome. I officially have the bestest boyfriend ever - did I mention that he modified his original Swift design and made me another BETTER one for Christmas? Yeah, best boyfriend EVER. Pics and video of the new swift will follow at some point when I get off my lazy ass and get them off my camera (and find his video camera, wherever he left it in my apartment).

There has been knitting. My new prof, by the way, loves that I knit during his lectures :D YAY! I have been dilligently working on the Baby Surprise Jacket and matching "dishcloth" blanket I'm making for someone I've never met LOL Honestly, I've known this girl since she was about 16 (online, of course) but we've never met face to face. Over the years, I've watched her grow up, get married, and now she's become a mother. I couldn't NOT knit her baby something. (Now I feel guilty because one of my friends, whom I've known since college, has had not one, but TWO babies, for whom I've knit NOTHING... but that will be remedied shortly, Rakos, if you bother to read this - I has plans!) I also have to finish Rob's blanket, and I have plans for a pink poncho for Skye, a yellow/blue/brown one for me, and several baby and kid items for friends and family (and I have three charity blankets on the go, but they're "once in a while" knitting). Pics to follow.

I'm honestly shocked by how many people read this blog. I thought there were maybe two people reading this thing, and one of them has to because he sleeps with me. Turns out that people I've never heard of are reading and FOLLOWING. Neat :) (I've noticed that nobody comments though - c'mon people, throw me a bone here! I'm joking... mostly)

I've wrapped myself in my big grey shawl, which was the very first thing I selfishly knit for myself - and I love it! I am making myself a cup of rooibos and spiced plum tea, and I am contemplating my steak and steamed veggie lunch. And I suddenly feel a little bit better and a little bit happier. :)

(that's for Rob... thanks for the hug!)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dreaming of spring (again!)

So the entire city is covered with white crap (I think some of you lovingly call it "snow") and the sidewalks are ... how did I describe this to Rob the other night? Oh yeah... bacon grease on a sheet of glass. NOT the most pleasant stuff to walk on. I'm also not a huge fan of cold (especially since my landlord STILL hasn't fixed the broken window - bastard) and there's a two-inch gap at the bottom of the back door that lets in all kinds of wind and cold and such. I finally got the super to turn the heat back up when I showed him a picture of my thermostat pointing at 12°C. *sigh* I think this is going to be the year of getting the apartment into decent shape so I can move out LOL We'll see.

So long story insufferably longer (stolen from Rob, as he has a gift for that sort of thing), I got super excited the other day when I got home to find the Stokes Seed Catalogue in the mail :D

Now, most of you know I don't have a yard.... Heck, I don't even have a private balcony! There isn't a plant to be found anywhere in my house (with the possible exception of whatever may be growing in the twelve-year-old's closet, but we won't go there). I have never successfully grown anything in my life. A couple of years ago, I germinated some lovely pumpkin and butternut squash sprouts, but I came home one night to find that the cat had snacked on them *sigh* But I dream of growing things. I fantasize about having a vegetable garden that I can just go outside an hour before dinner and pick what I'd like to eat from what's ripe and ready. (I'm not kidding... I have major fantasies about this!)

I think I'm going to approach my landlord (who is basically a decent guy, just a bit slow about the whole "repairs" thing) and ask for permission to put window boxes around the edges of the shared balcony. My neighbor is all for it and is actually quite excited to teach her girls how stuff grows. If I can find a suitable planter, I may even try for a tomato plant or two (I don't want the hanging ones though. MESSY!) If I'm feeling particularly brave, I may ask for permission to plant some rhubarb in the "lawn" downstairs. :D

I am so freakishly excited about this plan that I can hardly wait until sowing season (mid-to-late MAY, for Pete's sake!). Instead of trying to start them from seed straight off, I may just buy small plants at the local nursery and see how those go, but I want SOMETHING edible growing SOMEWHERE this year. I waited too long to harvest the gooseberries that grow at the front door (they're sort of a half-assed hedge, but mmmm - berries!) and they went black (and were mostly stolen by birds and squirrels).

Now that I have a chest freezer (albeit a little one), I'd also like to hit a few pick-your-own places with the kids this year. I mean to do it every year, and then it's either a lack of space or money being tight, but something prevents it every year. NOT THIS YEAR. This is MY year. It feels like a very good year, and I think things will just be getting better and better this year :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Reboot...

Okay, so December was kind of sucky for me, and the holidays were so hectic I could hardly breathe, and now that January is here and I'm back at work, it's time to get my ducks in a row.

First off....

Happy New Year to everyone! Rob was here for ten days (longest visit we've ever had, previous record was nine when I ran away from home after my nephew's funeral, I think). It was awesome, but at the same time it kind of sucked because we didn't have five minutes alone together to relax. He arrived on December 23, and we then proceeded to spend 4 hours trying to get home (picking my car up at the garage, dropping it off downtown, and struggling to then get OUT of downtown, picking up the kids, dropping them at their dad's, etc.) Christmas Eve, we had dinner at my aunt Cécile's house (omg food!). This is a Christmas tradition spanning my lifetime - well, when I was little, we went to my grandma's, but that ended when my grandpa died, so we've been doing it this way as long as I can remember. I have GOT to learn to make some of the stuff that only she makes - she's in her 70s, and she's one of the most amazing cooks I've ever met :) I did finally approach her at New Year's brunch to ask her, and she said she'd be thrilled to teach me :D YAY! For Réveillon, we traditionally have turkey, but this year we skipped it (TOTALLY FINE, we're inundated with food anyway). She always does hors d'oeuvres in the livingroom, and then we had cold appetizers (her shrimp aspic is one of the things I want to learn), a hot entree (pâté du Lac St-Jean - another one of the things I want to learn) and dessert (raisin pie - YUM).

Christmas Day, we picked up the kids and trekked to my mom's so the kids could open presents, and we had Christmas dinner. OMG FOOD. Mom always makes "ragout de boulettes" which is a stew of pork meatballs and potatoes. Usually she does pork hocks too, but I hate those, so I didn't miss them much. We also had tourtière, of course, and more raisin pie (YUM). Generally, over Christmas, we only eat one meal a day LOL We can't handle more than that!

So we relaxed on the 26th (we actually ran around getting supplies for Rob to paint the bookshelf he's been building with the 12-year-old. The 10-year-old was away with her birth mom's family). On the 27th, I got a phone call from the store asking if I'd mind coming in to be the "yarn expert" for a few days. Stupid me, I said yes. Don't get me wrong, I love both my jobs, and I don't mind helping out, but if I'd said no, or at least not for the ENTIRE week, Rob and I would have had more time to hang out. I ended up working five hours the first day (27th) and then 8 hours every day after that. UGH.

On Friday, Rob's son flew into town to celebrate his dad's birthday (NYE). AWESOME. There were some hiccups with the flights, but we managed to sort it all out relatively painlessly :) That sort of thing is kind of normal when flying to/from Canada in winter.

Saturday, we went to my aunt Ginette's (OMG FOOD!!!!!!!!) for a New Year's Eve party. My poor uncle Robert had a bad reaction to the mussels my cousin had made as an appetizer (NO MORE FOR YOU!) and spent the rest of the evening miserable, but all in all, we had a good time and we ended up leaving around 3am (from ROCKLAND - ugh) - my aunt made Cinnabon Cheesecake... HOLY CRAP. It's a base of actual cinnabon buns covered in a few inches of cheesecake, with cinnabon icing on top. *DROOL* (there was also Tiramisu, which is freaking awesome). Got home around 4am, and fell into bed, exhausted LOL

On New Year's Day, we went to my aunt Nicky's place for brunch (OMG FOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!!). My cousin and his wife always go over on NYE to help her cook - I've sometimes attended as well, but I'm glad I didn't pass up dinenr at Ginette's the night before (I totally pigged out too!) Nicky tends to try to cook a bit healthier on New Year's day, and thank goodness for that, because I could barely move by this point. She made these awesome little muffin-shaped omelettes (broccoli, smoked salmon, and a few others I never got to try LOL), bacon, sausages, fruit salad, and my grandma's cookies (BLISS). I got to bring home some leftover cookies - I love my grandma's cookies (des crottes - literally translates to "turds"). They are so good, and only my aunt has the "recipe" to make them - my grandma never wrote down amounts or instructions, just the ingredients list (you kind of have to reverse engineer the cookies yourself).

So as you may have figured out, French Canadians (at least my family) tend to focus mostly on food for family celebrations ;) Poor Rob, I thought he was going to go into shock. I swore I had to have gained at least 10 lbs in a week, but when I weighed myself after Rob went home, I hadn't gained ANYTHING. (SWEET!) I guess there's an advantage to having spent 40 hours at the store during the week :)

Now that the holidays are over, I'm trying to get my house in order, literally and figuratively. Rob helped me get about 80% of the laundry in the house done, so I'm trying to get to the other 20%, fill a few bags to give to goodwill, get my kitchen sorted so I can actually find stuff, and purge a little bit everywhere in the house (we have wayyyyy too much stuff for such a small apartment). The kids go back to swimming lessons tomorrow night, and I go back to school Monday night, so I've got to get things to a point where maintenance isn't overwhelming :) I'm also trying to break the 12 year old of the habit of leaving dirty dishes and bits of food in his bedroom (found half a pizza pop last weekend - gross) and break the 10-year-old of the habit of hiding all her dirty laundry in boxes in her closet (so that I can't find things to wash them).

This also means streamlining the food contents of my house. I got rid of most of my canned goods during the office food drive before Christmas, so now there's just the fridge and freezer to clear out. I don't need stuff I bought two or three years ago and never used. It's time to let that stuff go. I don't need five different kinds of cereal on top of my fridge if the kids only eat one. I also want to be able to have the time and energy for exercise, which I don't have when I'm overwhelmed. Yoga starts again next week (YAY) and I'm looking to be able to do some at home as well.

2012 will also officially be the year of knitting from stash. I tried to do that as much as possible last year, but I allowed myself a few binges here and there. I now have more yarn than I know what to do with, and my goal is to reduce my stash considerably, so that I can dedicate some of my storage space to other things. Another goal for this year is to learn some basic scrapbooking so that I can use up the supplies I bought a few years ago and get rid of all that.

So even though I don't believe in making New Year's resolutions, I am determined to get myself organized (who cares what the calendar says) and make my life a bit easier to maintain :) Here's to 2012 being even better than 2011 was!