Sunday, September 7, 2014

10 Day Challenge Report

So, I know that a couple of people (mostly my sister) have been waiting impatiently for me to get around to this, so I'm going to try and give the full report now.

We decided (on a whim) to take the 100 Days of Real Food blog's 10 Day Pledge. Our first day was the 27th, and we were super unorganized. But after a bit of a scramble, we got straightened out (sort of), and we were off.

I've been asked what we ate exactly for this real food challenge, and so I figured I would just throw up a quick summary of our dinner menus for the 10 days. (Whenever possible, all produce was organic. Actually, now that I take another look, I think the only ones that maybe weren't were the black-eyed peas. I'm not sure about those...)

1- green beans and potatoes and whole grain cornbread (which was super great! My husband has threatened to never make any other kind of cornbread ever again.)

2- whole wheat biscuits, locally grown sausage and gravy

3- stuffed poblano peppers, rice, and quesadillas (with homemade tortillas)

4- pizza night, whole wheat crusts, organic everything else

5- leftovers- clean out the fridge night

As you can see, the first several nights were heavily weighted towards things we knew the girls (well, the older one, anyway. The little one eats almost anything) would eat without too much argument. Or, at least, that's what we thought. We still had tantrums nearly every night over something being wrong. The first night, the tantrum was because the cornbread was the wrong color. (The whole wheat flour was from red wheat. The next bag we bought was white wheat, to try to avoid some of that. It sort of worked. Almost.) Another night, she threw a fit over the quesadillas. That lasted about 30 minutes before she finally told us there wasn't supposed to be anything but cheese on hers. (There wasn't. We know better.) She finally ate it.

After that, we had to work a bit harder. And we had a meal plan that kept changing all week long. This is what we finally ended up with:

6- my husband's big cook-out: local pork barbeque, rye rolls, coleslaw, and watermelon, baked beans, and grilled chicken

7-whole wheat pasta with homemade tomato sauce

8-broccoli quiche

9- hoppin' john (a recipe from my daughter's princess cookbook- mostly rice and black-eyed peas)

10- black bean and beef burritos, homemade tortillas, of course.

Our breakfasts were pretty hectic, what with school every day (something I still am not adjusted to). We went back and forth between eggs and pancakes for most of the week, with the girls occasionally requesting toast or leftover biscuits for a few mornings.

School lunches and snacks really didn't change too much. She usually takes pretty healthy foods as a rule. The only changes I really made were to not add any little tastes of candy once in a while (which really only happens maybe once every couple of weeks anyway), and to switch out the usual crackers for a version that met our new rules. (Which turns out to be Triscuits. Only 3 ingredients. And very nearly the only packaged food in the whole grocery store that does meet those rules, seemingly. Man, grocery shopping was difficult and time-consuming!) Lunch for the rest of us was leftovers of whatever we had in the fridge.

Food was nearly all we did this past several days, it seemed like. I suppose, if we did this every single day, I would eventually get a bit more efficient. Especially with navigating the grocery stores. I hope. Having to read every single label for everything you picked up took so much time! And you couldn't not read the labels, either. That just leads to trouble. Turns out, there are gross additives to almost everything in the store. Stupid things that shouldn't need any preservatives. Like salt. All this time, I thought the only thing in my salt was, well, salt. And iodine. Nope. They added preservatives and some sort of anti-caking powder to it. And grated cheese is not just grated cheese. It also has anti-caking stuff thrown into it. Which sort of just makes me go EWWW. (I think I was a lot happier before I started reading all these labels. Just saying.)

And, another thing Lisa wasn't kidding about: the amount of dishwashing involved in all this real food! I think we were running the dishwasher three times a day. Maybe four. And then the stupid thing died! (It had been limping along for a while. My husband had been doctoring it for two weeks before it finally just quit.) Luckily, a new one has come to live with us. And today is another leftovers day, so we might finally get caught up on our dishes. Maybe. ;)

So, I guess the question to ask is: What did we learn?  And then, maybe: Was it all worth it?

Well, let's see...

The biggest thing we learned was how much effort it takes to eat this way. Some of the effort is in the cooking, but most of it seems to be in the shopping. Grocery stores are filled with junk foods and things that in no way fit the rules of this challenge. Even the farmer's market wasn't a sure bet, because we don't have a grower's only market in the area. A lot of the produce there is still trucked in from surrounding states and not necessarily chemical free. We had to spend a lot of time just reading labels, and so shopping ate up a lot of our time.

On the plus side, we finally found a new local source for meat. The farm/shop we had been buying it from apparently went out of business earlier this year. We've been looking for a new one ever since. It's farther away than the other one was, but after seeing the farm and some of the animals there, I think it's a good choice for us. We'll be riding over every couple of months, I suppose, for re-stocking.

Is all the trouble worth it? Maybe. We all agree that real food, home cooked tastes better. We've been making our own bread for a while now, and everyone likes it better than the fluff they call bread down at the grocery store. We don't seem to have any problems with the idea of it. The only problem will be in getting organized and learning how to get things done in a reasonable amount of time. I guess my work is cut out for me, huh? Especially since my husband is going back to work in a few days and I'll be on my own for a while.

Another thing we've learned is that the kids aren't going to let us just make a drastic (permanent) cold-turkey type change like this. We're going to have to go slowly and make one change at a time. Which is okay, because even though he's been reading the labels and saying "yuck!", my husband is still refusing to throw out (or donate) any foods that we already have in the house that don't fit the rules. So, we will be continuing the same routine we've been concentrating on all year- use up those foods we already have in the house, and not buying any more of them again. (I've been trying to wean the kids off of several of them for months now, but I haven't quite got to the point where I can get out of the store without another box every single time. Yet. I hope that time is not far in the future.)

As for what we all thought of this:

My husband claims that he didn't change his eating habits much at all.

He is extremely proud of the fact that he found a way to keep on eating his accustomed amounts of meat during this challenge. ("I'm a carnivore. I need meat.")

And he claims that he didn't notice feeling any different at all for the entire challenge.

Neither of the girls has mentioned feeling any differently or learning anything, naturally. I think they're too young to be able to put such things into words yet. Maybe they didn't even notice. (Only one nightmare for the entire 10 days, though. That's a huge improvement over normal.)

I did learn that the baby seems to have food stashed everywhere. Seriously, she's part squirrel or something. Every time I turned around she had yet another cracker of some sort (that she wasn't supposed to be eating during the challenge). I'm still not sure I've found her entire stash. But, at least I haven't seen her with anything new in the last couple of days. Maybe she's used it all up by now.

I noticed that there were unreasonable amounts of milk consumed during this challenge. Which is the girls' normal response to being offered foods they think are "icky". Obviously, to make these changes a permanent thing, we will be required to go more slowly. It took me 8 days to figure out how to make yogurt palatable under these rules, and yogurt is one of their favorite foods. The baby never did agree to eat it.

As for me, I had a hard time with some of these rules. My sweet tooth is unreasonable anyway, and taking all my junk food away at once was awful!  The second day was especially killer! By the third day, my husband was trying to concoct some sort of mess that involved oats, cocoa, and a bit of honey. It sort of resembled a no-bake cookie, but it never did set up properly. I rationed things out and behaved, really I did. I only had just a couple of bites. And only for the next couple of days or so. But it helped me get over the worst of the cravings. (Not all of them, just the worst ones. I still craved sugar the entire time.)

My husband stole my scale months ago, so I didn't weigh in the beginning or anything. I can't tell you if we had any weight loss (although, I would doubt it, since it was only 10 days). What I did notice was that I slept better than usual after a few days. I usually have trouble sleeping soundly, and I won't pretend that I got more sleep than normal, but I did feel more rested most days.

Also, I have extremely dry skin on my hands. I thought it was something related to thyroid issues, but after a few days of this challenge, they weren't nearly as bad as usual. I don't think I drank any more water than normal, so the only change I can see is in the foods we ate. Now, after only a day and a half of not sticking to these strict rules, I can see my hands starting to dry out a little again. Which sort of sucks.

So, is it worth it? Probably. I don't think I can really tell with just the few days of effort that we've put into it. I do think it's worth it to take the time to make good, home cooked food. I don't think I want to spend all day every day doing it, though. I still haven't adjusted to all this school and extracurricular stuff that we have going on. I'm obviously going to need a better system if I'm going to be able to pull this off when my husband isn't here to help. I expect that to be a pretty steep learning curve headed my way. (I'm not really a very good cook, so it's gonna take a lot of work.)

It's definitely worth doing if I can manage to teach my kids better eating habits than I have, myself. I readily admit that, of all of us in the house, my food choices are the worst 90% of the time. (Don't try to blame my mom for that, either. I can clearly remember her putting in a lot of effort trying to teach us, and making pretty decent meals for us when we were little. I obviously just didn't pay as much attention to it as I should have. She tried. Sorry, Mom. You were right all along. But, you knew that.) So, there's that. Maybe these guidelines would help me learn to model better eating for them. Like I said, totally worth it. I've been trying all year, and I think I might have made more headway in the last 10 days than in all the eight months before it.

Will we keep it up? Not this strictly, immediately. Like I mentioned before, my husband says we have to eat what we already have, no matter how gross. And the kids need a much more gradual slide into it. Right now, I'm thinking we might start with the mini-pledges from the 100 Days blog. If we start there and add a new one every week or two (or three), we should make some decent progress. And it should give us plenty of time to get rid of whatever is still floating around the house. (I have a feeling it's mostly junk foods and snack type things. I think most of the rest of it is already gone. I've been working on that for months.)

This 10 Day Pledge wasn't exactly easy, but it wasn't too hard, all things considered. It took a lot of time, though. Especially in the grocery stores. I think I would encourage everyone to try it. It's only for 10 days, and you might learn something useful from it. If nothing else, it will force you to think a little more about the food you eat. (I do recommend going into it a little more organized and prepared than I was, though. Make your plan and your tentative menu first, and then jump in with both feet!)

Here's your link to sign up for the 10 Day Pledge.  (Okay, Sister mine- it's your turn! Don't let me down! I want a full report.)

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. :)