Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review and an Update

As mentioned earlier, my family has been participating in the 10 Day Pledge from the blog 100 Days of Real Food for several days now. Actually, if my counting is correct, we are halfway through. Even though I had considered it months ago, we didn't jump in headfirst until her cookbook was released last week. After reading it (both versions, actually), and making several of the recipes, I've come to a decision: I like it.





I originally pre-ordered the ebook version of 100 Days of Real Food and after reading it, I bought the real actual dead tree version of it. I did this for a couple of reasons. First, because all of the sidebars and charts are much more legible in the larger printed format, with the tables presented in a manner that is much easier to read. There's no back and forth through columns on a too small digital screen, which I love. (That's my least favorite thing about my ereader. Sometimes it's really hard to read charts, tables, and maps.) Also, with the print version, we find it much more convenient for actual cooking. I prefer my cookbooks to be real and not virtual, apparently. (My husband already has our copy well stained and dusted with flour.)

A lot of the recipes and information in the book can probably be found on her blog, if you were motivated to do so. Some people would complain about that, I'm sure, feeling like they shouldn't have to buy a book full of things that are free online. (I've heard complaints of that nature in other book reviews.) Personally, I don't mind that. Searching her blog (which is full of great information and recipes, and which I love and will continue to visit) is a bit more complicated than just opening this book and flipping to the correct page. I find it much more convenient to just grab a book and start cooking (or reading) than to have to search through years of posts or pages, no matter how interesting or informative. Maybe that's just me, but I feel this book is worth the price, simply to have the basics of the information right at my fingertips, right when I want it.

As for the recipes, so far so good. We haven't by any stretch of the imagination tried them all -yet- or even most, but we have been steadily trying new recipes every day or so. (We've also snatched a couple off of her blog's recipe index.) I've been worried about my extremely picky eater, with some justification, but even she scarfed down the Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes without complaint. She did request strawberry slices added (sure!), but she gobbled them up and went for seconds. We've also tried, so far: Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits, Whole Wheat Pizza, Whole Wheat Tortillas, and Everyday Whole Wheat Bread. (Mostly staples and things that appear high up on my super picky Little Miss' list of favorite foods. She's been the least cooperative in this endeavor.)Today I think my husband is using the recipe for the Sweet and Tangy BBQ Sauce (book), and the Asian Coleslaw (blog). No promises that he follows the recipe exactly, but the outcome should be similar. I'm looking forward to it.

Over all, I'm excited to keep using this book in future. The recipes we have tried this week have been delicious. And I have no reason to suspect that all of the recipes won't be every bit as yummy. I have several more planned to try over the next few days. And I'll be back (probably Friday night) with a summary of our completed 10 Day Pledge.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Camp Loopy Challenge Results

It's finally finished! The Loopy Ewe's Camp Loopy Challenge 3 project is done.

 I didn't think I was going to make it, honestly. I thought I was so far behind that there was no hope.

I was making pretty good progress in the beginning. You might remember this picture:

This was taken when there were approximately 55ish rows finished. I was very happy with progress and with the look of it. And then...

Well, a couple of days later, I realized that it was nowhere near big enough. I was at row 78 or so, and hadn't even made it much more than a quarter of the way through the required amount of yarn... Not good.

That's when I had to frog it.

I spent the next week or so just getting back to the same place I was before. No progress whatsoever. Bummer, right?

The good news is that the larger needles worked much better. And once I finally got back to my previous starting point, I was pretty sure there would be plenty of time to finish up. Even though what I had only looked like this:

I think this was about 75 rows or so.

Then things slowed down quite a bit. I got distracted by that spindle, and I got busy with all the other non-crafty things going on. As a result, this project slowed down a lot. Like, to a complete standstill for a few days. (I did manage to get Baby Girl's Christmas socks done during all of the running around, so that's a plus. But still.)


Then, last week, I looked at the calendar and panicked. And then I locked myself in my bedroom and ignored everybody for a few hours. Several times.

This morning, I finally finished weaving in the ends. All ten million of them. This afternoon, it blocked on my bed. It filled the entire top of the (king sized) bed. This surprised me. I suppose it's because I couldn't tell what this whole mess would look like when it was all scrunched up on the circular needles. (Which is the main reason I am not fond of circulars.)

My sweetie helped me take pictures of it this evening. I guess you want to see some of them? Here you go. (Please forgive a couple of these. I tried to take them myself, but I am super bad at that sort of thing. His are much better.):









So, there it is. I kinda love it a little bit. Not sure when or where I will ever have occasion to wear it. But I love it.

For my first attempt at a real lace pattern, I'm happy with it. I can see a lot of little tiny goofs, and one pretty major one. (I won't point them out to anyone else, though. Just in case nobody else notices...) But I think it turned out pretty awesome. I might even make another one. Someday. And only without a deadline.

Now, I just have to keep myself away from that spindle often enough to get the rest of my Christmas projects finished and I'm home free...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 1- In Which I Am an Idiot

An impulsive idiot, apparently. Which seems really unlike me. (The impulsive part. Not necessarily the idiot part.) I don't usually just do things like this with abandon... Except this time, I guess.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to find an unexpected email receipt for a book I apparently pre-ordered and then forgot about wanting. So, I opened it up and started reading it. And it reminded me that I had cruised this blog a while back and considered this 10 day challenge.

My sister pointed me to this blog. I think. Or, maybe I found it on pinterest and then found out that she reads it? I can't remember. But, since the subject ties in so well with my other reading this year, I spent several days reading the challenge and related posts. Often with the certainty that she would never survive it without breaking the rules they had agreed on. (Especially during the budget version of her blogging.) I briefly flirted with the idea of doing the challenge, but chickened out when I started trying to come up with suitable foods that the kids would actually eat. It seemed so impossible. (Still sorta does, really.)

 I guess that must have been when I ordered the book.

Then I went away and forgot all about it.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I started reading the book, of course, since it was already on my reader (as mentioned above). And I remembered that I had briefly considered this challenge. And given it up as a bad idea. But for some reason, it stuck in my brain.

All day long, the idea of doing the challenge kept popping up, and every time it did, I fussed at myself for being ridiculous. Then I made the mistake of mentioning it to my husband. For some crazy reason, he didn't seem to think it was completely insane and impossible. He was actually willing to give it a try- on the condition that we don't actually give away or throw away any of the food we already have that is not allowed by the rules. I think he plans on eating it in about 9 days...

I fought down the urge to sign up once more and went on about my business...

Then the subject came up briefly over dinner with friends, and I told my husband that if he really wanted to try it, I would have to go to the grocery store before morning to have appropriate breakfast and school lunch selections for Little Miss. (She's even pickier than me, if anyone can bring themselves to believe that. And, oh, how I hope she outgrows that ASAP.) He still had no opinion.

We got back home and did the bedtime for babies thing, and settled in for a few minutes before we collapsed ourselves. And suddenly, there was that crazy stinkin' idea again! And I guess I had a moment of temporary insanity or something, because there I was- sitting at the computer, officially signing us up for the challenge.

And that's how I ended up at the grocery store last night trying to buy a few veggies at 10 pm... (A very few, and thank goodness it wasn't a full on shopping spree. It took 15 minutes for them to figure out how to ring up my stuff. And I still sent some of it back because she couldn't figure it out...)

So, our first day is nearly over. We got off to a very shaky start. My husband and I had eggs for breakfast (which is fine. I have no idea how to get fresher, more local eggs than that). But he flat out refused to abandon his toast. It was homemade bread, but it still doesn't fit the rules. (You can see an explanation of the rules here.) It is plain old yummy white bread with no nutritional value or whole grains whatsoever. Bummer. I'm hoping he'll do better tomorrow. Little Miss had fruit, no problem and no complaints. Yay!

Then, it was off to school for her and off on errands for us (including the farmer's market and grocery store for some whole grains to get us through the next few days). Lunch was snacky, with lots of various fruits and veggies. And his farmer's market salsa (which he pretty much filled the fridge with when he heard it fits the criteria of the challenge). Of course, one of the things we had to buy was something appropriate for him to dip into it. So, even though it technically follows the rules to the best of my ability to determine, he still bought a pile of junk food on our first day out. :(

I'm hoping that tomorrow will be better.

I'm also hoping to get Little Miss to eat a couple bites of egg. (She recently announced that she only likes them deviled or boiled in pretty shapes. Not scrambled. Or in "bacon pie.") We'll see how it goes over. She wasn't thrilled with our cornbread recipe this evening. Everyone else loved it. To the point that my husband has announced that this recipe will be the only one he ever uses anymore. Luckily, she ate her green beans and potatoes.

This evening has so far seen meltdowns over everything from the food not being exactly what she wanted to being asked to put her milk away on her way past the fridge. I know kindergarten is exhausting. I'm tired, and I don't even have to sit in class all day. And I know that my Little Miss Picky is going to hate the new rules and foods for the next week and a half. But, most of the food we plan so far is high up on her favorites list. There are only a couple of modifications necessary. So, hopefully she'll come around soon.

As for me, I'm okay. For now. I can do anything for one day. The soda withdrawal will kick in tomorrow, though. Most likely closely followed by the sugar/chocolate withdrawal... I think it is a severe understatement to say that I am not looking forward to any of that. At all. I'm totally okay with most of the other changes. They seem to mostly be changes I've been trying to make and stick to all year. (I haven't had much success, sadly.)

I predict that the next 9 days are only going to get harder for everyone...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Random Stuff

A quick summary of our week. (So far.)

School stuff:
  • Little Miss went back to school on Monday. She seems to be over whatever that was. Thank goodness!
  • Her little boyfriend was very worried about her while she was out sick.
  • Her teacher had to tell me about the boyfriend. Little Miss briefly mentioned a boy that had told her she was the best girl he ever knew, but the teacher had to tell me that he stole a kiss in the hallway last week. Apparently, he had to mention it to the teacher. She didn't know until then either. :)
  • She has another little boyfriend that she sat with during a video the other day. She actually knows this one's name, at least.
  • The teacher and I are debating whether or not Little Miss can read already. Neither of us are completely certain, but we sort of suspect it. Little Miss has not yet slipped up and given us any sure proof. But her teacher says that she should be ready to take some sort of little reading test soon.
  • So far, Little Miss is not putting up any fights or complaints about doing her homework. This is awesome. I hope it lasts. It might only be because homework has only consisted of one worksheet which requires favorite artistic techniques such as coloring and cutting/pasting, along with a tiny bit of writing practice. We'll see how it goes in a few months.
  • Mornings come way too soon around here. Especially when a certain Baby Girl insists on waking up at 5am. :(
  • I really, really hate mornings.
  • That afternoon pickup routine is a mess. Or, at least, it was on Monday. Yesterday was better. Slightly. We'll see if that continues. I hope so.
  • Either way, it still takes sitting there for a full 40 minutes to get the kid in the car and get back out on the road...
  • I have a feeling Baby Girl is going to hate doing that every day.
  • I get to find out exactly how she feels about it this afternoon. Yay.(Updated: Baby Girl did reasonably okay with the waiting. Thank goodness. Let's hope that keeps up.)
  • They're already sending home things for the kids to sell door-to-door. :( I hate that. (Also, if you'd like to buy candy bars or cookie dough, let me know.)
Crafty stuff:

  • The Camp Loopy challenge shawl is still not finished. But some small progress is being made.
 
  • I'm hoping to get a post done soon to go into a bit more detail, but it hasn't happened just yet.
  • I have ten days to get it finished, washed & blocked, photographed and uploaded.
  • I'm not sure I'm gonna make it.
  • My niddy-noddy came. I rewound my tiny little skein into something a little neater.
        
 
  • It's still very, very tiny.
  • I don't know exactly how tiny. My best guess is about 20 yards. Maybe.
  • I should have gotten the larger niddy-noddy.
  • My Box of Fun came on Monday. It had lots of pretty fluff in it:
                                    
                                                                  Cayenne and Spruce
                                                                    by Sweet Georgia
 
                                                                 Wood Elves Gradient
                                                           by  Fibernymph Dye Works

                                                           Leprechaun Socks Gradient
                                                           by  Fibernymph Dye Works


Fruit Loops Gradient
                                                            by Fibernymph Dye Works

                                                                  Shawn Spencer
                                                           by Woolen Mill St. Yarns
  • All of those are BFL, except the last one. (The last one is Corriedale roving.)
  • BFL apparently stands for Blue-Faced  Leicester . (That's a type of sheep.)
  • I have no idea what most of those will look like when they're all spun up. It will be a complete surprise.
  • I really hope they're pretty when I get them spun and that I don't manage to completely ruin them...
  • I can't actually use any of my pretty new fluff yet. I only have one spindle and it's full.
  • I'm trying to correct that. (It's my waiting-in-the-car-for-Little-Miss-after-school project.) (Updated: I fibbed. I finished up that yarn during naptime, because I couldn't stand it. But my problem still isn't fixed because I only had a blue roving with me during the car wait. I couldn't hold out. I needed something to pass the time. I started it. The pretties will have to wait another day or so...)
  • I think I need a couple more spindles, so as to avoid the problem mentioned above...
  • My second ever attempt at making yarn is currently hanging up to dry. I like it. I think it's a bit better than the last.
  • My third attempt is currently on the spindle. (It's an almost navy blue.)
  • I finished the first of Baby Girl's socks the other day.
  • I turned the heel of the second sock yesterday afternoon. (While waiting in the school line.)
  • I'm gonna need lots of waiting-in-the-parking-lot projects to get me through this year.
  • On the plus side, hopefully, I'll get quite a bit of stuff finished this school year? I hope...

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's a Kind of Magic

And I am completely enchanted by it. (Also, I now have that song by Queen stuck in my head. But I guess that's my own fault, huh?)

Here's what's been going on:

First I took something resembling this (except it was a weird dark purple color that Little Miss loves)



And then, I grabbed this (which has been sitting around here in a box for years and I'm really glad I grabbed it- finally- because, wow)


And finally, I threw in a little of this

which you got a glimpse of a while back (buried underneath the other book). Then I added a dash of youtube. The lady who wrote that book has a couple of very helpful videos that demonstrate what she was trying to explain in her book.


And now, several days later- Presto change-o! Like magic!

I MADE YARN!! (Sorry for yelling. I couldn't help it. I'll try to get a grip. Might take a few days, though. I nearly drove my sweetie crazy last night, what with all the dancing around and giggling to myself...) I'm so unreasonably thrilled about that. It's just the neatest thing.


                                    
First, I spun the roving into a single ply yarn. (This is the purple, shown very close to actual color, thanks to my sweetie, who is much, much better with the camera than I am.) It basically sucks, as far as yarn goes. It's very overspun (because she said it was better to have too much than too little, and I took her at her word). It has thick and thin spots hidden in all the kinks. It is very far from perfect. But I love it anyway.


The book says that plying helps to even out yarns, so, of course, I plied. Here's my two-ply yarn on the spindle.

                                    
Plying was awesome. It's even more fun than the spinning, and so very much faster. It took hours and hours to spin the singles. Plying it all took less than an hour total. It's still a very thick-and-thin yarn, but the plying does seem to have helped it.

Then I had to get it off the spindle. I used my crappy, cheap, in-need-of-an-upgrade swift, which worked fine. I guess. I've never wound yarn up on it before, only used it to hold yarn while I wind it up into balls. It seemed a little bit awkward. I have a niddy-noddy somewhere in the mail. It should be here in a few days, and then I hope to make this skein look a little better. I think it will at least be easier than using the swift.

 And finally, a quick bath. This is supposed to set the twist and make it real yarn forever and always.
 


 
And now, the hard part. Patiently waiting for it to dry. That patience thing isn't working out so well for me. (As usual.) Luckily, I have things to distract me. And I'm cheating.

The yarn has to hang to dry. I left it un-weighted this first time, just to see what it turned out like. But, when I woke up this morning and found out that it was still wet, well...


I had to move it. Now it is hanging right under my ceiling fan (in the only room of the house where I can be reasonably sure no one will mess with it too much), which is going full speed. Hopefully, it will be dry pretty soon and I can pet it and maybe get a guess as to how much of it there is... I'm not sure if I plan to do anything with it for now. It might just sit around for a few months (or years) so I can occasionally measure my new yarns against it to see if I'm getting any better.

My brand new, very-first-ever, made-it-myself yarn is still kinky and overspun (which I'll probably try to improve on the next go), but it is bouncy and springy and I think it isn't a completely terrible first effort. (I've seen professional yarns for sale that are very similar.) I'm pretty happy with it, and I can't wait to try it again. This is most likely going to make me want a spinning wheel even more than ever, but for now, I just want a few more spindles and some more roving. (My box of fun should be here in just a few days with the roving. Yay!)

I wonder if I can talk my husband into getting me a couple of those sweet little miniature sheep now?  Hmm...  ;)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Worst First Week of School EVER!

So far, at least. I'll admit that we still have a great many years in front of us yet. But I truly hope that this is the worst we will ever have...


My sweet little girl was excited to start her new school. She bounced out of bed and jumped into her new clothes and off we went. Everything was going well. There was the expected amount of nervous- from both of us. It's a big, scary thing for a little one to have to walk through an entire huge school, past all of the big kids. (It will be even worse when she has to do it alone. Which they want asap.) And a new teacher and all new classmates is a little scary, too. That's understandable, and I was a little nervous that there would be tears. But, as far as I could tell (and no one has mentioned differently), there were none. She wilted a bit when I left her, but she was brave and she made it through her half day of school. (Remember that. It was a half day. They were only there for four hours. This will be important to our story in a minute.)

She hasn't been very talkative about her first day. We've slowly managed to piece together a very few details about it:
1- Her new teacher passed out some pencils and glue sticks for the pencil boxes. And the table has a neat "tiny" cubby underneath just the right size to hold the aforementioned pencil boxes. (She seems to think this was the neatest part of the day- that the tables have a place to keep a pencil box.)
2- They didn't get to play outside because of "the mean old rain".
3- They read a story about the first day of school jitters and made something called "jitter juice"(which seems to be very similar to the punch my family makes. She said it had rainbow ice cream and two different kinds of Sierra Mist. She also said she didn't like it). *As an aside, I would very much like them to stop sending me little notes and lectures about proper nutrition now. They gave them soda and ice cream on the first day of class and the "nutritious" snacks that they prefer I buy her (from them) instead of packing from home apparently consist of cookies and popsicles. They have zero room to be lecturing me on what I should be feeding my kids if this is their definition of nutritious... Just sayin'.*
4- When I picked her up from school, I asked her if she had a good day. Her reaction was not overly positive. I believe her exact words were "not very good." But by the time we got home and her daddy asked her the same thing, she told him "yes." Make of that what you will.

This is the sum total we have managed to pry out of her.

This was a strange week, with only 3 half days (four hours each, remember), and she was only supposed to attend on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

So, on Wednesday, Little Miss was quite a bit harder to drag up and get moving. I chalked it up to nerves and off we went...

(Here's where the four hours/day becomes relevant.)
The school nurse called around 11 and told us to come get her. She had puked. (And has continued to do so.) The nurse says it's a stomach bug and that several other kindergarteners have it as well. Little Miss can return to school 24 hours after she stops puking.

I would just like to restate, for the record: FOUR HOURS! That's how long it took for that cesspit known as public school to make people sick. We're doomed. Doomed, I tell you! I hate schools. They're full of germs. I didn't realize it would only take four hours to doom us all, but apparently, that's all it took.

And, so, her first week of school comes abruptly to a close. Surely, she'll be fit to return on Monday. Please? (I love her dearly, but there's only so much puking I can handle. Pretty sure I've reached my limits here. And I hate seeing her so miserable.)

Worst first week of school ever.


PS. Camp Loopy 3 isn't making me super happy right now, either. But, I'll complain about that in a few days. (Probably in detail. Sorry about that in advance.)

PPS. On a positive note, they called my husband about work. Unless some sort of (very expensive for them) emergency arises, he gets to stay home until after my birthday! I'm super happy about that. The one really good thing that's happened so far this week. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Climbing Back Up On That Wagon...

... is a whole lot harder than falling off of it is.

I suppose, if you want to be exceptionally accurate about it (and, please, let us not confuse the issue with facts), I didn't so much fall off the wagon as jump enthusiastically at the first available opportunity.

You see, I have what I consider to be a legitimate addiction. My husband insists that it's just all in my head (isn't that what an addiction is? -basically just your brain screaming at you that you need this??) He claims that I could stop if I truly wanted to. If I wanted it badly enough, I could just walk away and never think of such things again. Theoretically, that may be true. Unfortunately, even though I keep stating very, very clearly that I am not going to go near that stuff ever again... I always end up with it.

And, no, this time we aren't talking about something wonderful and amazing that "normal" people just don't get. (Such as fabrics or yarns, for example.) This time we are, in fact, talking about something very bad for me. It isn't illegal or anything. In fact, most of the time, people seem to be shoving it at you. I get strange looks from people when they find out that I don't let my kids have it, because everybody (and their kids) uses the stuff constantly. (It isn't that I actively deprive my kids of it. It's that they will not touch the stuff. At all. Their choice. I swear it. I really can't be bothered to mind that they don't want it. I wish I didn't want it.)

I'm talking about soda. Or pop, depending on which part of the world you come from. (I seem to remember calling it pop, or possibly soda-pop, when I was smaller.) Specifically, colas (Dr. Pepper, by preference)- the more caffeine, the better. I've finally gotten away from the diet sodas- thank goodness!- but I still cannot quit longing for them.

I go cold turkey every time I try to quit permanently. There is no possible way for me to "just have one once in a while." Tried it. It fails miserably. Every. Single. Time. One turns into two, which turns into three, and before I know it that's all I seem to drink. Meanwhile, my virtuous, non-addicted kid is fussing at me like she was the mom, telling me how bad it is for me (which I know) and how it isn't nutritious (which is one of her favorite words)...

I was doing really well this last time. I was. I hadn't had a single soda in weeks, and I was nearly to the point where I could almost fool myself into thinking I didn't want them (LIAR!!) And then...

I don't actually know what went wrong. I just found myself drinking one. Maybe I was sleep deprived. That happens a lot- you would not believe how often that happens! (Okay. If you have very young children, you probably believe. If your kids are older, you might already be blessed with that lovely self imposed amnesia that our brains are programmed to provide us with as a self-defense, species survival mechanism.) Or, maybe, I forgot to pack a water with me/drank all my water and just needed a drink. That might have been the only decent option available.

Or maybe, just maybe, my husband is wrong. Maybe that headline I saw (somewhere or other) that claims that sugar is more addictive than most drugs is actually on to something. That would explain a lot.

And so, here we go again. I'm climbing back up on the wagon. And I will try once again to stay there.

And, if they would like to help me stay there, I would offer this advice to my children- especially the little one:

If I am not able to drink soda, my dears, then the only possible source of caffeine left to me is the one you must allow me to have. It is hot. You cannot climb on me/steal it out of my hands/ hang off of my legs while I'm trying to lift it. You must get over whatever unreasonable objections you seem to have to this beverage that will (hopefully) be able to get us all through our days with my sanity as intact as it is possible to still be. In short, you must let me drink my tea!!!

Seriously, what do you have against tea??!?