A Shining Triumph!

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Okay, before I start writing the actual blog post, I have to share my moment of shock and awe with you guys. I know I keep saying that two people read this blog, and one of them gave birth to me, and the other has to keep me happy if he wants to keep sharing my bed. But dudes? This blog now has FIFTY FOLLOWERS. I know that’s not a lot compared to say, Yarn Harlot standards, but for my humble little blog, that is HUGE. FIFTY of you read my posts regularly. I am stunned. And curious – what the heck do you all find so interesting here? Don’t get me wrong, I’m THRILLED you’re here, but I have to wonder why??? (Be forewarned, there is a tiny bit of knitting content at the end of the foodgasm – if that’s what you’re here for, scroll down.)

Anyway, as you know, (see, here I’d make a comment about the two of you who read the blog, but I can’t do that now. FIFTY!) I was flying to Chicago over the weekend to spend Passover with Rob and his family – and to prepare the Passover Seder. First Night Seder has always been hosted by Rob’s mother, in her home. This year was the first time the torch was passed on, because she doesn’t enjoy the immense amount of work it requires anymore, and she knows I love puttering in the kitchen and couldn’t wait to try my hand at it! So she cooked the brisket and provided the jars of Gefilte fish, and I did the rest. Our friends Steve and Beckie came over with their two children as well, and Beckie made the most amazing Apple Kugel. If she agrees to share the recipe with me, I will post it here a bit later.

The food-fest started out by cooking a pot of chili to fill Rob’s freezer with. I love him, but he does not cook much and certainly does not undertake endeavours like ADVANCE cooking. Once in a while, I’ll do a big batch of something and put several containers in his freezer to keep him well-fed and happy. I believe I’ve shared my chili recipe before. Anyway, after I did that, there was a lot of Passover cooking to be done. I’ll post this tiny disclaimer here – we do not keep kosher. We do avoid chametz during Passover, but that’s about as far as we go. If you’re looking for super kosher Passover fare, I’m afraid you’ll have to look somewhere else. I’ll apologize in advance for the lack of photos, but I was so frazzled by the time I got everything set out that I forgot to take pictures (bad blogger, I).

I started out by making applesauce for Marisa’s Apple Horseradish Conserve over at Food in Jars - reason being that I can’t eat traditional charoset (I react very badly to even the smallest amounts of alcohol). I had a bit of trouble with the recipe, in that she says to use 5-6 apples to get 6 cups of applesauce. I had seven very large MacIntosh apples (my favorite for just about everything), and ended up with 2 cups of sauce. I did not follow her directions for preparing the applesauce. She says, and I quote, “simmer 5-6 peeled and cored apples with a little water until tender and mashable.” Ladies and gentlemen, I cooked those apples down to NOTHING in the crockpot. And cooked. And mashed. And cooked some more. They were a very deep brown when I was done. That’s not applesauce, that’s apple butter. I goofed, but it was still delicious (fortunately, Rob had two jars of store-bought applesauce in the fridge). I also plumped the raisins in boiling water before adding them to the mix. And believe me when I say that if you’re using fresh horseradish (and you must, for this… don’t use prepared horseradish!), do it outside. The SMELL. I was breathing clearly by the end of it all. This recipe turned out so fantastic and delicious that half the leftovers went home with Steve and Beckie (who declared it addictive) and the rest will be enjoyed by Rob over the next few weeks. There wasn’t enough left to be canned! 

I did make some traditional charoset, using two apples, 1/2 cup of Manischewitz wine, about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, a drizzle of honey and about 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. If you make it the day ahead, the flavors have more time to combine and apparently it’s much tastier. (Wouldn’t know.) 

A few family members were concerned that there wouldn’t be much in the way of vegetables (HA! they don’t know me yet…). I did a pan of oven-roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and onions with garlic powder and thyme (just chop them up, toss in a large ziploc bag with 2 Tbsp olive oil and the spices to coat evenly, toss into a baking pan and bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes), some oven-roasted zucchini (trim, drizzle with olive oil, add the zest of 1 lemon to give it a nice flavor and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes), some Zucchini Parmesan Crisps, with the Parmesan omitted (I didn’t know at that point that dinner didn’t have to be kosher – I also used Matzo meal rather than bread crumbs) and a green bean casserole

For dessert, we had a dish of the requisite fruit jelly slices and macaroons and a HUGE bowl of fruit salad (I used Martha Stewart’s recipe and tossed in some strawberries for good measure). For the record, I don’t think I’ll ever put bananas in fruit salad again. They turn to mush, and they’re disgusting. All in all, everyone left the table stuffed and happy, and leftovers went home with just about everyone. I did learn how to do Gefilte fish from scratch in preparation for all this, but thankfully, my realistic side took over (FOR ONCE) and I decided NOT to undergo a very time-consuming and laborious process for something that half of us don’t like to eat in the first place. The surprise hit of the evening? The zucchini crisps! They were devoured and not a single one was left over! The good news is, I think they’ll let me come back next year! 

As for the knitting…. WELL. MIss Hannah (Steve and Beckie’s daughter) was in a very creative rendition of 101 Dalmatians that weekend, and we went to see the play (she was awesome!). Also in town to see the play were Steve’s brother Michael and his wife Chrissy, and their new daughter Lauren. Now anyone who knows me knows that I adore babies! I hadn’t knit anything for Miss Lauren at that point, since I wasn’t sure when I would get to see them again. They’re all very close, since Rob is pretty much the 5th Bergman Brother (or Steve is the 3rd Schwartz brother, however you want to look at it). I knew I wanted to bring something special for this VERY special baby (newest Bergman in quite a while, and Michael and Chrissy’s first!).

I don’t know if I mentioned the crocheted blanket squares I started making a few months ago, but I decided to choose a few of those to make a blanket out of. Sadly, I did not think to get a picture of the completed blanket, since I finished the border on the plane. I’ve asked Mike to take a photo for me. It turned out much better than the last “squares” blanket I made (back when I first learned to knit) and I”m quite pleased with it. I’ve had a growing pile of blanket squares sitting around for ages, because I was afraid they wouldn’t turn out right. I couldn’t have been more wrong! I do have a picture of the squares before I connected them and did the border: 

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I do hope they enjoy it, although I did warn them it was a bit warm for summer use – I was sweltering with the whole thing on my lap on the plane!

Passover approaches!

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It’s been so crazy  just RELAXING and taking time for myself that I’m exhausted! I skipped knit night on Friday because I was feeling a bit off, so home I came and started doing laundry. I sort of misplaced the baby blanket I started at Sylvie & Sarah’s place, and I was kind of jonesing for a baby blanket, so I cast on a new one. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea! So I pulled out some lovely (but sadly, discontinued) Rozetti Lollipop in a pale green colourway, and set to work. I cast on for the # 41 Blanket by Sarah Ann Thompson.  I don’t know if you can tell from the image below, but the yarn isn’t a solid color. It’s not variegated either. It’s a pale green sort of mottled with white and it’s lovely. I’m very sad it’s discontinued, because it’s SUCH an amazing acrylic to work with. I prefer acrylic for baby things because who wants to have to hand wash a blanket every time the baby spits up on it? It’s a lot less bother for Mum if she can just toss it in the wash and not worry. But this stuff is so soft and springy (both in texture AND colour!), I just love it.

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Rozetti Lollipop, colourway 1077

Ironically, the next day, I found the bag that had the other baby blanket (the Leaf Lace Blanket by E.J. Slayton in Cascade’s 60 Quick Baby Knits book, which I’m knitting from Bernat Softee Chunky in the Fern colourway). So now I have two baby blankets on the go. That should scratch the itch for a while. Still plugging away at Rob’s sock. I imagine I’ll be grafting the toe on the plane again. I want him to try the first one on before I cast on the second one, because if it doesn’t bloody fit, I’m not about to keep going! I’m sure everyone remembers the cursed sock, right? Right.

There hasn’t been much in the way of creative cooking going on, because I’ve been focused more on prepping simple things that are healthy, easy and tasty for work meals. Which is working quite well, and I’m learning a lot. For instance? Stay away from bananas. I had one as a snack this afternoon, and started feeling very strange an hour later. I thought that maybe my blood sugar was high, so I tested. 13.5!!!!! Yeah… apparently bananas have a very high glycemic index number. Who knew? (Okay, apparently almost everybody but me knew this. Lesson learned!)

There will be a LOT of cooking going on next weekend though. On Friday, I fly to Chicago to start preparing for Passover! I am THRILLED and can’t wait! We’re hosting Rob’s parents, his uncle and his best friend’s family. There should be ten of us at the table, all told, unless his brother can make it, in which case there will be twelve of us! YAY! I love cooking, and I love entertaining, and this will be the first time I’ve done it on such a large scale. I’m part terrified and part really excited. And I promise not to put jalapenos in ANYTHING. I nearly killed his brother last time, because I use jalapenos instead of bell peppers in my spaghetti sauce… apparently Rob and his brother are not huge fans of spicy food.

So far, I’m planning some roasted potatoes, deviled eggs, I may try doing gefilte fish from scratch, but we’ll have to see what my timeline is going to be like. I’m making matzo ball soup from scratch – I’ve tried it with storebought broth, and it’s just not the same. Rob’s mom is providing and cooking the brisket and gravy. There will be green bean casserole, which was new to me last Passover, but it’s tradition for his family, and since some of our guests are vegetarian, I’ll have to come up with some more veg dishes (that should NOT be a problem) and a good dessert. (maybe this one...)

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Incidentally, I’m sorry about all the images shunting over to the left – WordPress has changed the way you edit images, and I can’t figure out how to centre things anymore. 

Needless to say, I am very excited about this trip! I just hope I don’t screw anything up. We even have a lovely copper Seder plate that Rob’s uncle brought back from Israel for this first Seder he is hosting for his family. We are thrilled! (Even more thrilled that his uncle, who is not Jewish, is able to join us for this special evening!) There will be other stuff going on this weekend – we’re seeing his best friend’s daughter in a school production of 101 Dalmatians, and we want to go see the new Captain America movie, but the highlight is definitely going to be the Seder for me. 

I know that not many people following this blog are Jewish, but what are your plans for Passover this year? Are you hosting or visiting? I’ll be missing my Temple’s celebration since I’m out of town, but tell me all about yours! (We’ll deal with Easter when I get back, because Easter dinner is always at my Mom’s). And then? The SUGAR BUSH! We’re going late this year, but if you’ve gone already, I’d love to hear about it! If you have pictures, send them over and I’ll share them with everyone.

Fish Gumbo!

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I know, I promised this recipe last week… and even worse, I forgot to put the leftovers in the fridge one night, and what was left of my pot of soup went off. *sigh* Eventually I will learn. Of this, I am convinced. At least we got to enjoy it, and I was smart enough to put some aside for lunches (and a quart jar for my parents) before that happened. 

I’ve been sort of half-heartedly doing a row here and a row there on Rob’s socks. When I realized that there was no way I’d be able to present him with a completed pair by Passover, I kind of lost my desire. That, and it’s been REALLY HOT in my apartment the last week or so, and when my hands are sweaty, the last thing I feel like doing is knitting. But worse than that, I think I’ve lost the baby blanket I had started knitting last weekend!!! I was carrying it around in a paper bag, which seems to have gone missing since I got back from Sylvie & Sarah’s house. AAAAARRRGHHHHHHH. To be fair, my kids would not have known that the paper bag was full of knitting unless they peeked inside. I really hope that’s not what happened though, but if it did, I’m out a circular needle and a couple of stitch markers – easily replaceable. I have TONS of that yarn, so it’s not like I can’t start it over. It’s just really annoying to have to! I found Zachary’s sweater (another case of the kids moving my knitting around), so maybe I’ll get back to that instead :) 

There was no canning done this weekend, mainly due to the fact that the kids were home with me, and we spent our time trying to clean the house up a bit. I think the next few weekends are going to have to be stepped up as a more intense spring cleaning so I can walk around the house and not feel overwhelmed with STUFF. 

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Last night involved some food prep for the rest of the week’s lunches, and I was kind of proud of myself. I went to the produce store, and then to the fish market, and managed to get loads of healthy stuff for very little money, and prepped a bunch of food for the week. My lunch for the rest of the week is going to consist of sole filets with cumin and mint, baked squash and Jamaican sweet potato, and some bbq black beans. I bought wraps and sandwich meats for the kids’ lunches, and there was one lonely slice of roast beef left this morning, so I made myself one with a bit of cheese and a LOT of lettuce for breakfast. I’ve got a bunch of different types of veggies for dinners and snacks, and I’m motivated to start getting this extra bonus weight off (The stuff I gained after I went on diabetes meds). The doctor took me off Metformin, since I seemed to be having an adverse reaction to it, and five pounds dropped off immediately. Now I’m going to have to work for the rest :) 

Okay, I know you only came for the gumbo recipe ;) I’m getting to it!

Fish Gumbo

1 64-oz bottle extra spicy Clamato (or other tomato-clam cocktail) – I think it’s called PIcante in the US

1 lb of baby new potatoes, chopped, or 3 large potatoes, diced

3-4 large carrots, roughly chopped

3-4 stalks celery, roughly chopped

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 19-oz can diced tomatoes (I used a pint of my home-canned ones)

1 lb okra, roughly chopped

4-5 tilapia or sole filets, chopped

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Starting with Clamato, place all ingredients in a large stock pot. Fill Clamato bottle with water and add to soup. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, and reduce to medium. Allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables are cooked through. Serves 6-8. 

What I love about soup is that once you’ve got all the ingredients together, it’s dead simple. You just toss it all in the pot and go! If you find this too spicy, you can reduce the amount of cayenne and black pepper, or omit them completely (and use regular Clamato instead of the extra-spicy). Shrimp would be an excellent addition to this soup, but I didn’t have any on hand. 

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I WIN (today, at least)

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So today was my six-week appointment at the doctor’s office for the whole diabetes thing. It was not a happy morning. I haven’t been sleeping well, the scale keeps moving up, my joints all hurt like hell and I’ve had a headache for roughly six weeks (since I started the meds). The doctor seemed concerned about all that – last time she put me on Metformin, it made me feel like crap and I stopped taking it. This time, I kept it up. She figures it might be the Metformin doing all this to me, so she took me off it (but kept me on Glyburide) and referred me to an endocrinologist (basically, a diabetes specialist). In the meantime, I’m to start keeping track of my blood glucose levels, and keep working on the exercise and eating well :) 

Major victory for me today… I stuck myself with the lancet thingie for the first time – ALL BY MYSELF. You have to understand that I have a lifelong terror of needles that I have difficulty overcoming when having blood tests done by other people. The idea of sticking MYSELF? Yeah… I was light-headed just thinking about it. It took me about half an hour to psych myself up for it, and my post-dinner blood glucose was 8.3!!!! (That’s higher than the ideal normal of between 4 and 7, but pretty damn good for AFTER dinner, considering that when I was diagnosed, my fasting glucose level was 12.3.)

So I’ve gotten tired of watching the number on the scale climb and of my clothes being tight, etc. So tonight, before Rob got home for the evening, I hopped on the treadmill and queued up my Youtube playlist on the tablet. I managed to go 45 minutes (1.5 miles) and I feel fantastic (but slightly sore)! :D I’m surviving on Advil right now, since the extra weight I’ve put on in the six weeks since I started the meds are putting a lot more pressure on my joints, but that will get better as that weight drops off. 

Sadly, I have no knitting content to offer today. I did make the fish soup yesterday, but that will be a post perhaps for the weekend. (It’s SO YUMMY). I challenged myself to take a picture of myself post-workout. It is not pretty, and it certainly isn’t flattering, but here I am in all my sweat-soaked glory:

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Tell us in the comments what your small victory was today!

I swear, it was spring yesterday!!!

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I’m not sure what happened. Wait. That’s a lie. I know exactly what happened. It’s March. *sigh* But it was so nice and warm and lovely out yesterday. This morning, I woke up to sunshine and hoped it would be more of the same. And stepped out into -13C. Yuck. At least stuff was still melting! 

Last week was a bit hairy, what with our audit going on at work, but it finished early, and all seems to be in order, so yay me! I did a good job! This week is going to be pretty quiet, and I’m going to spend a good part of it packing up 2013 files and creating 2014 ones. Spring cleaning for the office, if you will :) The spring cleaning bug has struck at home, and I’ve been trying to limit myself to manageable jobs so I don’t burn out and quit half-way through. So far, so good… although I expect my neighbors may get annoyed with me filling up the dumpsters. 

I officially dropped my university class today. I feel horrible for quitting, and it was a very emotional conversation with my prof, but I was not doing well, I was not in a headspace to do well, and I needed a break. It’s an expensive break, to be sure (since it’s past the pull-out date), but it’s one I desperately needed. When your prof calls you and it takes you 30 seconds to start sobbing on the phone? Yeah… it’s time to cut and run. She was pretty encouraging though, and said that I wasn’t doing as badly as I thought I was and that half the class was struggling. She also said I could take the class again next fall and whatever grade I pulled then would replace the incomplete on my transcript. So. This summer, I will most likely be taking a French Grammar and Vocabulary class the university offers, to try to improve my writing skills a bit. I’m also going to start listening to French podcasts, listening to the radio and reading French newspapers and magazines. French is my first language, and I’m somewhat ashamed that I’m not proficient enough in it to feel comfortable in a university class.

As for knitting… well, I misplaced my knitting bag a few days ago and only came across it again yesterday, so not much got done. I did, however, cast on the Leaf Lace Blanket by E.J. Slayton from 60 Quick Baby Knits. I also went to knit night on Friday, for the first time in at least a month. I really wasn’t in the mood to go out, and wanted to spend the weekend being a hermit, as has become my usual routine. But I know I’ve been hiding out from my friends because I’ve been stressed, so I forced myself to go out. And I’m so happy I did!!! I got to hang out with several friends I haven’t seen in a while, including Elizabeth, who will be accompanying me to Maryland (hopefully with Sue and Kari in tow, but they’re not sure yet). That reminded me that Maryland Sheep and Wool is in less than SIX WEEKS, and got me all excited about that! I need to sort out a space for the spinning wheel before then so I can at least justify buying a tiny bit of fiber (maybe). I certainly don’t have space for any more yarn!

This weekend, some friends and I started what I hope will become a recurring event. My friends Sylvie and Sarah invited me to their apartment for a Sunday crafternoon. Normally, Sunday afternoons are spent at my mom’s house, but since my parents are in Cuba right now… :) It was awesome. We ordered some amazing Indian food, Sylvie finished a sewing project she’d been working on (an enormous patchwork denim bag) while Sarah and sat on the couch knitting. We spent the entire afternoon just crafting and watching “Run, Fatboy, Run“. If you haven’t seen that movie, I highly recommend it. I love British films, and I especially love Simon Pegg, and I was not disappointed. Sylvie has offered to teach me to sew, and she has also apparently taken up bobbin lace (which is INSANE – see pic below). I’m dying to learn to use my sewing machine – my mother bought it for me for Christmas one year because she’d bought my brother one (I’m not sure how that works out logically, but I would so love to sew things). 

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Oh, something else I need to share with all of you. I have recently started watching a series called Blackpool. It stars David Morrissey and Sarah Parish, but let’s be honest. The only reason I started watching it is because David Tennant is in it. If you haven’t heard of this series, it’s worth looking up… if only for this scene. I just about died laughing. I had tears streaming down my cheeks and was gasping for breath for about half an hour. Yes, this is a police serial MUSICAL. With DAVID TENNANT. What are you waiting for? Go find it and watch it!

I’m dying to start canning too, so I think the jam pot might come out at some point this week. I have plums, peaches, kiwi  and cranberries filling my freezer that are all destined to become something delicious very soon! Marisa over at Food in Jars has written a new cookbook called Preserving by the Pint, which I can’t WAIT to get my hands on. For right now, I’m off to make a pot of tomato-based fish chowder. There may or may not be a recipe shared later in the week. Who else is ready for spring to get serious? 

 

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Oops, jinxed it ;)

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If Amanda over at Soulemama jinxed spring by shearing her ladies and sewing herself some sun tops, then I definitely did my part by starting the spring cleaning and walking around outside in a tank top. (Hey, it was 7°C!!!!)

Today, there is an extra 4 inches of snow on the ground, and it’s -20°C. *le sigh*

That said, my philodendron is going nuts from all the extra sunlight, I’ve been DYING to start canning again – I’m not sure why I stopped over the winter. It’s not like I don’t have a freezer full of fruit to deal with. I have cranberries, apples, pears, kiwi, peaches, plums and a few other delights hiding out in the deep freeze. I *had* crabapples, but my daughter managed to bust the container open (accidentally) and they’re now scattered. I’ll have to defrost the freezer soon to get at them. There are a couple of things I really want to try out – Marisa at Food in Jars just came out with a new cookbook (which I haven’t bought yet, but will soon). I’m desperately wanting to try the apple horseradish conserve she came up with on the fly a few weeks ago (not in the new book) and I’ve been dying to try her spiced cranberry jam as well. I think my mom would like another batch of my ginger peach jam – her Florida cousins ask for it every time they visit! I also have some wild grapes and some concord grapes in the freezer, although they’re in much smaller quantity than any of the other fruits. Oh, and some raspberries are hanging out in there too. Maybe I’ll have enough peaches to try a peach raspberry this year. I got to try a few new things last summer, thanks to Hidden Harvest

I haven’t knit much since Monday, but Rob’s sock and Zachary’s Flax sweater are in the rotation until next weekend. I’m hoping to finish the pair of socks by Passover, since I’ll be flying to Chicago that weekend. I’d also like to put the crocheted baby blankets together soon, but I think spring cleaning needs to come first. We did a bit in the front hall this week, and once I’ve got a bit more done, it’ll be time to attack the books. I have way too many, some I’ll never read, and it’s time for those to go to other homes. A few years ago (okay, SEVEN years ago), a friend helped me purge my home of unwanted/unneeded stuff, and we ended up donating two carloads (back seat folded down, and stacked to the roof) of books to Value Village. St. Vincent de Paul then came by the house and picked up the equivalent of the front room’s space piled shoulder high of furniture, clothes and other stuff I didn’t want anymore. And somehow? Somehow my house is stuffed to the gills again, and I need another major purge. This time, I’m hitting the kids’ rooms as well. Because they’re packrats. My daughter actually cried the other day because I wanted to toss an empty cardboard box. I swear, I don’t understand that kid.

I’m still trying to wade out from under the mass of paper at work, but our audit starts Monday, so it’ll be over soon! (I hate being this disorganized, paper EVERYWHERE and trying to do 50 things at once). I’m looking forward to taking a break from school this summer. It’ll be nice!

Tell me your favorite thing about spring! We need to chase these winter blahs away and bring the warm weather back!

 

Spring has sprung!

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I don’t care what anybody says, and I don’t care if it was snowing when I went to bed last night. SPRING IS HERE. For a couple of weeks now, we’ve been seeing the thermometer poke up above the freezing mark, and for the last three days, we’ve had solid POSITIVE single digits! It’s slushy and gross and GLORIOUS! This means that everything will be covered in mud and things are going to start growing, and my least-favorite flower has already popped up. You know the one… it’s that ugly orange one that pops straight up out of the asphalt in the middle of the road. The construction cone. *sigh*

This morning, I headed off to work to discover that one bridge into the city was closed, and another was down to one lane in each direction. Not only that, but the only two routes I have to HEAD towards the bridges from my neighborhood were ALSO festooned in lovely orange flower-cones. So no matter which direction I choose, I’m guaranteed to pass through at least two construction zones. That wouldn’t be so bad if my commute wasn’t less than 4 miles from home. Oh well, not much I can do about it, although it is frustrating. Unfortunately, my pleas to the city to turn the Prince of Wales Bridge (a rail bridge connecting Hull & Ottawa) into a walking/cycling trail have fallen on deaf ears, so there’s no easy way for me to walk to work. It’d cut an entire mile off the walk, making it actually feasible (and safer than trying to brave traffic on the Chaudiere Bridge). 

I’ve been knitting a lot recently, although I haven’t gone to knit night in a month. Haven’t been much in the mood to be around people, and I’m still getting the hang of the diabetes meds, which means that by Friday evening, I usually feel tired and cruddy, and just want to go home. I’ve been doing better since Saturday though. I think I’ve gotten a bit better at balancing things so I’m not eating just veggies at one meal and just meat at another. Rather than following my cravings blindly – and when you have a desperate craving for kale and spinach, you know something’s up – I’ve been trying to follow the guidelines on the Canadian Diabetes Association’s website. AND I started taking my meds AFTER I’ve eaten rather than before. Causes fewer drastic drops. 

So Rob almost has an entire sock. This new pair? Has been FANTASTIC after the last one. These are navy blue instead of black, because I’m never going to knit black socks again. Cascade Heritage again, on 2.5mm. It’s a basic 3×2 rib that follow’s the Yarn Harlot‘s sock recipe from Knitting Rules. (I can’t knit socks from a pattern, they never fit right). I’ve also been working on Zachary’s sweater – the Flax pattern by tincanknits (aka Emily Wessel & Alexa Ludeman), and I’ve even pulled Totoro out for a few rounds. He’s my doctor’s office knit, because the ball sits inside the project, which at this point looks like a huge bowl. Self-contained! 

I’ve also been feeling a desperate desire to spring clean. Actually, more like spring purge. There is just SO MUCH STUFF in our house, we can hardly move around. That needs to change. Baby toys (my kids are 12 and 15), picture books, clothes that don’t fit, games we haven’t played in 10+ years? They all need to go. I’m almost tempted to pare down my yarn stash too, but let’s not get crazy… I will at some point, but I’m not ready to do that yet. 

School has been…. not good. I got my midterm back last night, and I was so upset by the grade, I started crying and went home. I had a really good feeling when I finished it a couple of weeks ago and handed it in. And to get it back with a C-? Yeah. That’s right. I got a C- on my midterm. I’ve had to face the fact that my writing skills in French are simply not strong enough for me to complete an entire Bachelors program. My English-language classes? A+ across the board. So the C- thing is really discouraging. I will be writing an entrance exam at a different school which teaches in French AND English (most of the classes being in English) and I think I will be more comfortable there. I’m tired of feeling stupid because I never learned to write properly in French. My vocabulary just isn’t as strong, and I really don’t understand the grammar (or the linguistic terminology) very well. I did take English grammar classes as an adult, so that might be why I have a better understanding. I will give the English university classes a shot before I give up entirely. I really REALLY want a BA, so I’m pretty discouraged right now, but at least I have a plan.

Fitness-wise, I’ve been wavering. The numbers on the scale have gotten more and more depressing. I know it’s the meds. I know it’s the meds. I know it’s the meds. But that doesn’t make a 12 pound weight gain any more acceptable to me. Yeah, that’s right. I started taking the meds. I was fine for a few days, and then, BOOM. Twelve pounds within three days. And it hasn’t budged. I’ve been increasing the intensity of my workouts, adding in yoga, weights, whatever. NOTHING. NO result. Well, that’s not true. My calves have gained a lot more muscle definition and my thighs are getting pretty muscly too. But my clothes are still tight and I feel bloated and gross, and nothing I’ve tried has changed it. I’m due to see the doctor in another 2 1/2 weeks. I went through a week or two of really wonky blood sugar, crashing regularly (sometimes more than once a day) and having digestive issues. I’m starting to feel like I’m finally back on an even keel, so hopefully the scale will start moving downward again. I’ve been trying to stay on track with food, to the point that we had a beef rib feast at my mom’s the other night, and I had two of the smaller ribs and half a baked potato. I did have a brownie cookie for dessert, but it was way too sweet, and I didn’t enjoy it much.

It’s audit time at work (an annual occurrence – those of you who work in finance will understand), so it’s a bit insane and kind of hectic. It’s not too bad though, because our office is really laid back and my boss is pretty awesome. He figures the audit gets done when it gets done. I’ve done a lot more to prep for it this year – you know, now that I know what to expect! Last year was a nightmare I never, ever want to repeat. Kind of looking forward to it this time around! 

Who else is ready for some major spring cleaning? 

I know… I know…

Sorry it’s been so long (to the 2 people who read this – hi mom!). A few days after my last blog post, my doctor’s office called me. I had mistakenly thought I was in the clear, because it had been nearly two months since my blood sugar test, and nobody had called me. Stupid me, I should have called them before getting all excited and believing I was okay. Yup. Diabetes. 

So she started me on Metformin and Glyburide. And I have felt like absolute crap ever since. I get shaky because I tend to forget to eat as often as I’m supposed to (last Sunday being a prime example… I had breakfast at 10:30 when I got up, forgot all about lunch, and then we had dinner at Mom’s around 6pm – no wonder I was shaky!). I feel nauseated for a few minutes every single time I eat anything. I’ve had a headache since the 2nd day on the meds. No kidding. Headache. Constant. 20 days. My digestive system is COMPLETELY out of whack (I was extremely regular before this). I also can’t fall asleep at night, which is decidedly odd for me. I’m one of those people who falls asleep the second their head hits the pillow. And now I’ll lie there for hours, just hoping I’ll fall asleep before the alarm.

About a week ago, I saw 273 on the scale. I earned that. I worked hard for that. I have been eating carefully and exercising EVERY day, and I’ve been upping the intensity of my workouts as well, adding some weights here and there, adding some incline on the treadmill for a few minutes at a time. And today? I am TEN POUNDS over that 273. In ONE WEEK. There is no way in hell that I have eaten enough to gain 10 lbs. I’m trying to up my water intake as well, because TEN POUNDS. 

And so.

I’ve been feeling like crap, I’ve been exhausted due to lack of sleep, I’ve been dehydrated, I’ve been bloated, and I am fed up. I don’t know how to fix this. My parents and my brother who are all diabetic as well, say that this too shall pass when my blood sugar starts to regulate. I’m not sure I can believe that. I actually sat at my desk this morning, sobbing, because what I saw on the scale this morning depressed me THAT much. It doesn’t seem to matter what I try. I eat well. I avoid processed starches and sugars. I exercise. And I just keep getting fatter. It’s kind of like being in an abusive relationship with myself. No matter what I try, I fail, so I get mad at myself, treat myself like shit, and then feel like shit both because I’ve been treated like shit and because I feel guilty for treating myself like shit. It’s like being BOTH PARTNERS in an abusive relationship with myself. And it sucks. 

And that’s why I haven’t blogged in a while.

Travel-weary, but happy :)

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This weekend was a big deal. I had a whirlwind trip to Chicago planned around one very special event. It was absolutely amazing!!! 

So what was so special about this trip? Well, as you all know, I’m converting to Judaism (a long and involved process). Rob was raised Jewish, but his mother wasn’t. She has lived a Jewish life and kept a Jewish home since she married his father in 1963 (her parents were Jewish but didn’t practice, I believe). She has been a Jew her entire adult life, but she had never become a Bat Mitzvah. Sixteen months ago, give or take, she started to take B’nai Mitzvah classes at her temple (B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim in Deerfield, IL) and on Saturday, February 1st, she became a Bat Mitzvah! 

First, this temple has an amazing music program and places a very heavy emphasis on music during services. If that wasn’t enough to draw me in, the clergy were so helpful and encouraging that the B’nai Mitzvah class sailed right through the ceremony. I know Rob’s mom was nervous, but they all banded together and helped each other through, and she was awesome. I think the one thing that fills me with dread is having to memorize my Torah portion for when it’s my turn, and she was amazing at it! I don’t have any photos, because I wasn’t sure of the appropriateness of bringing a camera into temple, and I haven’t yet asked her permission to post any, but if I managed to get one (with permission), I will share.

I’m so glad I was able to be there, and I was privileged to attend this fantastic event :) The trip home was a bit hairy. There was a fault with our plane, so I was pushed onto a later flight out of Chicago – and therefore a MUCH later connection out of Toronto. But I got lucky! When we arrived at Toronto, I got to the lounge just in time to hear the boarding call for an EARLIER connection back to Ottawa, so I ran over to the information desk and begged to be put on that flight. MADE IT! So I didn’t get home in the middle of the night, I was able to pick the kids up, get home, and hop on the treadmill for a few minutes (Rob had to coerce me, I was tired LOL).

In other news…. 

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Last week, Rob had some car trouble and needed to take his car in to the garage. Which necessitated driving the car down there and then walking to the train station (2 miles) to get to work. It’s been cold in Chicago this winter. A lot colder than they’re used to. So he froze his face. He asked me to knit him a scarf that would go with his black jacket, and with the brown bomber jacket he would like to eventually own. I started knitting a garter stitch scarf, and after a solid week of working on it, I had about 3 1/2 inches of scarf to show for it. This wasn’t going well. I decided to see how crochet would do instead. So when I got to the airport on Friday night, I took my 3.5mm hook and started crocheting. Simple rows of 25 HDC stitches, back and forth, back and forth. I got through the 1st ball of yarn on the first plane. Cast on the 2nd ball at the Toronto City Centre airport waiting for the 2nd plane, and I was nearly done THAT ball by the time we landed in Chicago. The third ball was done driving back and forth on Saturday and I was able to cast off and weave the ends in on Saturday night. 

This is a record for me. I crocheted a scarf in just about 26 hours! And it’s FINISHED, and he likes it! It’s made out of Queensland Collection Rustic Wool in Chocolate. The 3.5mm hook made a slightly denser fabric than I would have gotten if I used my favorite 4.5mm or 5mm hooks, and the brown and charcoal variegation made for some interesting wave patterns against the direction of the stitches! Most importantly, it’s wool, so he will be warm. It’s not an overly long scarf, but long enough to cover his face and tuck the ends in. 

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