Hibernation time…

It’s -5° C outside, there’s snow and ice, and I’m going to bed and getting up at the same times as before, but now I feel like I’m dragging through the days. I hate Daylight Savings Time. I also hate abrupt season changes. It’s November 18th, and I feel like it’s the middle of winter. Fall, my favorite time of the year, is dead and gone. *sigh* For the next five months, we will be buried in frozen white crap and salt and dirt and cold. The houseplants I have at the office are starting to notice the seasons changing too – leaning farther toward the window, trying to catch a glimpse of sun without feeling the chill from the cold glass.

On a slightly more positive note, things are going well at work, and things are starting to get sorted out with organizing the house (a multi-year process at this point). I’m getting excited about pomegranates and clementine oranges being in season again, and I’m getting a handle on this adulting stuff.

There’s also been lots of knitting going on. I guess the cool weather arriving has sort of bonked me over the head. I joined NaKniSweMo (based on NaNoWriMo) – November is National Knit a Sweater Month, and you’re supposed to knit a sweater of minimum 50,000 stitches between November 1st and 30th. I made a strong start, and I’ve been making good progress… but I don’t think my sweater will top out anywhere near 50,000 stitches. So it doesn’t count for the competition, but I’m still going to try to finish it as quickly as possible. It’s the Flax Sweater by Tin Can Knits. I’ve also been working on a new pair of socks for Rob (first one’s finished). They’re plain vanilla socks based on Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s A Good, Plain Sock Recipe from Knitting Rules. Only modification is that I do the whole sock (except the sole) in a 3×2 rib.

The hexis are proceeding apace, although they’re not puffs. They’re hexiflats! Sue named them that for the podcast, and I like it, so that’s what they’re going to be known as from now on. I will add pictures to this post later tonight.

Anyway, trying to convince myself to go out in the cold so I can make my way home for the night. Who else wants to join me in hibernation?

Rhinebeck deconstructed…

Please pardon the photo quality… I forgot to bring the big camera and was stuck with my phone. This post is going to be somewhat photo-heavy, since I did actually take pictures this year.

I started a sock. Spud & Chloe Fine in Teal on 2.5mm needles. Plain 3x2 rib.

I started a sock. Spud & Chloe Fine in Teal on 2.5mm needles. Plain 3×2 rib.

I started a sock the night before we left for Rhinebeck. Rob mentioned that he really liked the cursed socks I made him (you remember the cursed socks, don’t you?) The background is the cash register lineup for the Miss Babs Booth (which is INSIDE the building!!!). I had a bit of knitting time while waiting for Krystal and Elizabeth to pay :)

This lady was, for some reason, dressed like a daffodil, and I thought she was fabulous!

This lady was, for some reason, dressed like a daffodil, and I thought she was fabulous!

A small part of the Ravelry/LSG meetup and the beginnings of the podcaster meetup. I knew no one. Sue, however, held court with her podcaster buddies :)

A small part of the Ravelry/LSG meetup and the beginnings of the podcaster meetup. I knew no one. Sue, however, held court with her podcaster buddies :)

Somehow I ended up rescuing Sue from this little guy (he had attached himself to her shawl). Zachary, this picture is solely for you.

Somehow I ended up rescuing Sue from this little guy (he had attached himself to her shawl). Zachary, this picture is solely for you.

More shots of fairground and people!

More shots of fairground and people!

If you ever want some inexpensive, but high-quality fiber, Go to Little Barn. His prices are AMAZING and he's awesome.

If you ever want some inexpensive, but high-quality fiber, Go to Little Barn. His prices are AMAZING and he’s awesome.

I couldn't even come close to capturing the glory of the clouds as we left the first afternoon.

I couldn’t even come close to capturing the glory of the clouds as we left the first afternoon.

My last "random" photo, and I didn't even realize my friend Amanda (whom we did NOT SEE while at Rhinebeck) was in the picture!!!!

My last “random” photo, and I didn’t even realize my friend Amanda (whom we did NOT SEE while at Rhinebeck) was in the picture!!!!

First half of my haul - this is the colourful part!

First half of my haul – this is the colourful part!

The second half of what I brought home. You can see why I separated them? Almost ALL of this came from Little Barn (the big pile of fluff on the left is the exception - that was from Foxfire Fibers and Design).

The second half of what I brought home. You can see why I separated them? Almost ALL of this came from Little Barn (the big pile of fluff on the left is the exception – that was from Foxfire Fibers and Design).

We had dinner at the fantastic Joshua's in Woodstock. If you can't find it, just look for the big lit-up oak tree with the bench around it!

We had dinner at the fantastic Joshua’s in Woodstock. If you can’t find it, just look for the big lit-up oak tree with the bench around it!

Four very tired and very satisfied knitters. From L-R, Sue, Elizabeth, Krystal and me! This was when we got in the car to head home.

Four very tired and very satisfied knitters. From L-R, Sue, Elizabeth, Krystal and me! This was when we got in the car to head home.

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend, we all brought home lots of goodies, although most of them were a bit more restrained than I was – I go for specific things, such as inexpensive spinning fiber. We now have a standing booking at our cabin (The Slide cabin at Simpler Times Cabins), so that’s likely where we’ll stay from now on. We also attended the Indie Trunk Show at a hotel in Kingston the night before the festival, but we were tired, and it was WAY over-crowded, and no pictures were taken.

Looking in…

*sigh* I swore I was going to blog more often, and then depression set in a bit more deeply. Binge eating followed, and a lot of knitting, and there we are. I’m heading off to Rhinebeck, NY for the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival on Friday, so I figured I’d pop my head in really quickly to say hello and update you all on some knitting content. I finished the college dorm blanket of doom, and on Monday evening, it made its way across several states – one step closer to actually being used! I also knit my dad a pair of socks, which I didn’t even manage to snag a picture of. Let me tell you why my dad will always deserve new socks:

One Sunday a few weeks ago, I finally had the finished socks with me when I went to my parents’ house for dinner. I tossed the balled-up socks at my dad. He immediately plonked himself down on the couch, took off his store-bought socks and pulled on the hand-knit ones, got up, and walked off, calling “Thank you!” as he left. Yeah. Dad will keep getting new socks :)

I also did a test-knit for a friend of mine. I met Emily when she worked at Knit Knackers Yarn Warehouse here in Ottawa. When the store moved to Smiths Falls, Em stayed here! She designs knitwear and is pretty all-around fabulous. She’s also a big Doctor Who fan. This new pattern? It’s called the Tardis Toque. It’s not available for purchase just yet, but will be soon (the link is to her project page). Here’s the one I knit (featuring the lovely Julianna – an ex co-worker and friend of Emily’s):

Knit on 3.75mm needles out of Cascade 220 in shades 814 and 817.

Knit on 3.75mm needles out of Cascade 220 in shades 814 and 817.

Over on the Two Tangled Skeins board, we’ve been having a knit-along for the Cool Clavicle Cover (by Megan Williams of Stockinette Zombies fame) and the Tan House Brook Shawl by Jennifer Lassonde. I finished my Cool Clavicle Cover a couple of weeks ago…

Knit on 5mm (US8) needles from Bittersweet Woolery's Guilty Pleasures sock base in the Pressed Petals colourway.

Knit on 5mm (US8) needles from Bittersweet Woolery’s Guilty Pleasures sock base in the Pressed Petals colourway.

And I’m currently working on the Tan House Brook Shawl (sorry, the only picture I have is a week old, and doesn’t show the MASSIVE progress I’ve made since!)

Knit on 4.5mm (US 7) needles out of Julianna's Fiber Lucid Dreams sock base in the Harvest colourway.

Knit on 4.5mm (US 7) needles out of Julianna’s Fiber Lucid Dreams sock base in the Harvest colourway.

I also located the Flax sweater, so that’s back in the rotation. A marketing company sent us some lovely Bijou Basin Ranch yarn (mine was the Lhasa Wilderness, which is a Yak/Bamboo blend, in the Skye colourway), so I found this fantastic pattern to knit up with it (Etoile Hat by Linda Irving-Bell). The hat took me all of four days to knit, and although I made it for my daughter (Skye), she decided she wanted the finished Tardis Toque, so off the Etoile went to my mom, who loves it! Sadly, I do not have a completed picture of the hat, only an in-progress picture:

Knit on 3.5mm (US4) needles out of Bijou Basin Ranch's Lhasa Wilderness in the Skye (#52) colourway.

Knit on 3.5mm (US4) needles out of Bijou Basin Ranch’s Lhasa Wilderness in the Skye (#52) colourway.

I’ve also re-started a linen stitch scarf out of scraps from other projects, I’ve been diligently working away at my non-stuffed Hexipuffs for the Beekeeper’s Quilt, and I cast on the Child’s Provence Cabled Pullover by Classic Elite Yarns out of Berroco Comfort DK solids in a faded denim blue. I don’t have any progress shots of that one, since I’ve only got about an inch on the needles :)

My goals at Rhinebeck are to find a wall-hung cable needle organizer, perhaps a woven basket to keep current projects in, maybe a Woolee Winder, yarn to make myself a Taliesin sweater (by Leeana Gardner) and some Bittersweet Woolery yarn (duh…) There are four of us going this time, and we rented the same cabin Rob and I stayed at with the kids last summer. I am very excited about it and can’t wait to leave :)

Sorry it’s been so long. The fog has been lifting slightly of late. Rob and I spent the entire long weekend reorganizing my bedroom, moving furniture, and sorting things out to make my bedroom the perfect little oasis, but I’ll share the details of that in a future post :) Thank goodness no “before” pictures exist!

Oh well….

I did promise I would tell you all about the super wonderful fantastic exciting thing that was happening. Except now it’s not happening, and that sucks.

I was trying to buy a house. Went to the bank, applied for a mortgage, the loan officer told me I was good to go. So I found a house, went to see it, confirmed with the bank that I was indeed good to go (I was told the proof of financing documents would be sent to me the next day), and I placed an offer. I was so damned excited, and the kids were psyched, and things were moving right along.

And then on Friday, late in the afternoon, the loan officer called me from the bank and said, “Sorry, no dice.” Um… what? I’ve placed an OFFER. I’ve got an INSPECTION scheduled. What do you mean, no dice??? Apparently, she had jumped the gun in telling me I was good to go, and I wasn’t good to go at all. Nowhere near good enough to go. I messaged a friend who happens to be a mortgage broker, and in about 20 minutes, he determined something the loan officer should have noticed straight off, before even submitting the application for the mortgage. I don’t have any established credit. No credit cards, no loans. I don’t owe anybody money, and I pay cash for whatever I buy. Apparently that’s a bad thing, but what can I do now other than retract my offer on the house and cancel the inspection?

So now we’re back to square one. I’ll be going back to my REGULAR bank. I had gone with a different bank because my office does business with them, and I’d developed a rapport with the loan officer from seeing her so often due to office banking. I’ve made an appointment with my regular bank to look into establishing credit and getting a bit of direction on what needs to happen if I want to try again in a year or two.

So it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for the last three weeks. SUPER excited about the first house, then horribly disappointed when that one turned out to be a dud (Gorgeous, but VERY OLD house that needed a LOT of TLC and was VERY far away). Super excited when the bank said I was okay and I found the second house. Crushing disappointment when the bank said they wouldn’t loan me the money. A bit of a ray of hope with the mortgage broker, but not too much. Slight disappointment when that didn’t pan out. And now I’ve just been wandering around in a fog for the last couple of days, not sleeping, eating too much, and on the edge of tears pretty much constantly.

I need to get out of this funk, go back to the gym and start moving again. I feel like my life kind of crumbled there for a while, but now I’ve got to start putting things back in order and get back to being an adult. The worst part, I think, was how disappointed the kids were when they found out we weren’t getting the house after all. They hadn’t even SEEN the house yet (well, only in pictures online), but they were so excited at getting our own little patch of dirt that I really felt like I failed them when the bank called. But, we’ve lived in our apartment for ten years now, and I’m sure we’ll all survive living in it for a couple more years. And in the meantime, we can put ourselves on more solid footing so we don’t get tossed overboard the next time we decide to venture out into the scary world of real estate.

Make me feel better. Tell me your real estate horror stories!

RAK – what does it mean?

The super-fantastic-exciting-wonderful news I’ve been waiting to share with all of you? Well, I can’t QUITE share it yet, but I will be able to VERY VERY SOON.

In other news, my daughter was meant to have her first day of Junior High today. That all got cancelled when some idiot shot a couple of people and barricaded himself inside his apartment less than a block from the school. *sigh*

What the hell is going on in the world right now? THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR, PEOPLE. This is not how a decent society operates. People don’t go around shooting each other. Watching the news has become way too depressing. Race riots in the US??? What the hell? Students invent nail polish that can detect date rape drugs??? Bombing and fighting is STILL going on in at least eight different places around the world???

I can’t tell you all how it discourages me. ANY time our local classic rock station posts something on their Facebook page that involves language, discrimination, or any kind of controversy, it gets really, really ugly. People will say that francophones should go back to Quebec (I come from a francophone family that settled in Ontario in the 1700s and has been there ever since – why should I be lumped into a province my family isn’t even from??) and call all French people ignorant. I hear similar comments from francophones in Quebec about anglos. It’s all xenophobic bullshit, and I’m tired of it.

I don’t care who you are or what your beliefs say. Just be freaking decent to each other. Is that so hard? Open a door for someone. Smile at the person next to you. Ask people if they’re okay. Introduce yourself to your neighbor. The world is becoming a very scary place. A sense of entitlement and anonymity has made being rude, hurtful or just plain mean more acceptable. That needs to stop. Imagine how awesome the world would be to live in if we all looked out for each other and genuinely cared about the people around us? Not just the people who are in your family or circle of friends, but EVERYBODY.

So the title. RAK – What does it mean? Well, RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness. This is a practice everyone should learn. Just randomly do nice things for people. Mow the lawn or shovel the walk for someone who lives alone. Bring a few cookies to a neighbor when you’ve been baking. Open a door for someone or give up your seat on the bus. Let the guy who’s been waiting to get out of the gas station on a busy road for five minutes go ahead of you. Just smile at someone as you pass them on the sidewalk. It doesn’t take much, and it’s not hard. And the rewards? They’re infinite! If we all start doing this, EVERYONE benefits.

Please help restore my faith in humanity and tell me about a random act of kindness you have witnessed recently :) And I promise I will share my OH-SO-AMAZING news soon :)

Missing in action…

I know I haven’t had much to say recently, but there’s a reason for it! There’s something pretty freaking huge and super, SUPER secret going on with me right now (HELL NO, I am not pregnant). I am very much looking forward to being able to tell everybody about it, but that time has not come quite yet. I’m hoping it will come very shortly!

I’m DYING to tell you all (well, show you, actually)…. please bear with me! Very soon, you will all know what the excitement and secrecy is about (I hope)!

Top-Secret2

Grey day…

I’ve been meaning to blog all week, and I’m only now getting around to it (notice a trend?). It’s grey and ugly and depressing outside. Normally, this is my weather, but this week it’s just been making me tired and bummed.

seagull_grey

I’m sitting here at my desk looking at the gorgeous roses Rob sent me for our anniversary (4 years last Sunday!!!). A stranger parked at the bottom of my parents’ driveway while we were getting dinner together. We thought it was a salesman or something, so we gleefully started plotting over who would deal with him. I was chasing my niece into another room when my mom called out and said, “It’s for you!” I thought I’d been elected to send the water heater salesman packing, but it was a delivery! A beautiful vase with four red roses (our tradition – one for each year)! I’m really spoiled!

10527498_10152340992908191_8717458645645828552_n

I’m also sitting here wincing in pain from my many, many muscle aches. And I’m proud of them! I haven’t taken any painkillers yet because I EARNED this pain, dammit! I have been going to the gym for the last 10 days or so – not every day, obviously, but on days when I can’t get to the gym, I’ve been walking or doing other exercise at home. Right now, I am sore because I upped my weight on a few machines yesterday, and spent longer on the bike than I’ve been able to for a while, and I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished! I had a reasonable dinner last night – salmon with sauteed onions and zucchini – and so far I’m on day 16 of the Whole 30, and haven’t cheated once! (well, okay, I had to use evaporated milk in my curry one night because my can of coconut milk mysteriously vanished). Fourteen days to go, and I feel pretty good :)

Right now, though, I’d happily go for a nap…

Raspberry picking

I was in despair when I got home from Chicago that I had missed the last of the raspberries, because the PYO place I drive by on the way to my parents’ house was closed last weekend. Oh foolish woman! My parents were in Edmonton this past weekend for a family wedding, so not having any clue what to do with my recalcitrant teenagers, I figured I’d drive out to the fruit farm and try my luck. The one we frequent is the Orleans Fruit Farm – what started out as a tiny little farm stand has become a pretty major operation in my parents’ town.

berry7773

We were in luck! Not only was the PYO open, but oh my, the raspberries! Of course, I left my phone in the car, so I couldn’t even snap a bad picture, but believe me when I say there were so many raspberries, the branches were weighed down. I left my oldest at home and only brought my daughter with me (she’s a bit more of a joiner when I have impromptu plans). We picked three baskets of the most juicy and delicious berries – it has been YEARS since I’ve been able to get my hands on raspberries other than the little overpriced tubs at the grocery store. Fresh-picked berries are always better. We also sweated like pigs and got eaten alive by mosquitoes – although the bugs only came out during the last ten-fifteen minutes we were out there. But HOT… I sweated in places where I didn’t know sweat glands existed! But we had a lot of fun :)

I figured we’d visit the produce store in the hopes of procuring some peaches so I could experiment a bit. That was a tiny bit of a mistake… I came home with apricots, yellow plums, peaches, pomegranates… I had to forbid myself from going farther into the store! I’ve been chopping and peeling and cutting and freezing. And I’m looking forward to slightly cooler weather so I can begin USING all this fantastic produce I’m putting away. I think I got into canning fever a bit late this summer due to the accidentally-unplugged freezer fiasco this spring. But it’s here now, and I can’t wait to get started! I made a conscious decision not to make cucumber pickles this year – I’m still trying to find a recipe I really like, and I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to get it done right now.

Sue and I are progressing apace on our French Cancan shawls… we had reached the same spot on Saturday, and sat down to do one pattern repeat on the border together. Then Sue went camping and got confused, and ripped out the whole border :( So her Cancan will wait until she’s back in town, and mine will progress slowly – I’m only about 6 pattern repeats in (out of about 40?). I’ve made some progress on my dad’s sock, but it’s a boring sock, so there’s nothing exciting to report there.

The Whole-30 is going well. I accidentally got a Caesar salad last night instead of a garden salad, and had to pick out the croutons and cheese before I could eat it LOL I would cut someone for a doughnut or a pizza bun or some ice cream! But I know it’s just because I’ve told myself I’m not allowed. I’m on day six right now, and doing pretty well – the kids were impressed with our Whole 30 dinner. A head of cauliflower, two onions and some chicken cooked in pasta sauce with hot sauce added in (and some cumin-mint seasoning). It was pretty damned delicious, if I do say so myself! Well, I’m going to go enjoy my lovely grapefruit sodastream and wind down for bed! I went to the gym tonight, and I imagine I will be quite sore tomorrow!!!

Waaaaaahhhhhh!

Chugging right along on the Whole 30, and I goofed. I have a major sweet tooth, and I figured, hey, dates are fruit, right? (Yeah… they’re also LOADED with natural sugar). So here I was, chowing down on my dates, when the horrible thought struck me that they probably weren’t allowed. So I checked with my Whole 30 posse on Ravelry, and sure enough, if you struggle with sugar addiction, they’re to be avoided. *sigh* Guess my mom’s getting a present this weekend. (She loves dates!) I had some truly awful store-bought guacamole yesterday, so I’ve pretty much determined that whatever I can make myself has to be better. Especially since I like spicy guac and this stuff was really oily and bland. Unnaturally oily. Even though there was no oil in the ingredients list. I am skeptical.

A weird bug passed through our house this week. I think my daughter picked it up at camp. It started with her having a headache, dizziness and and upset stomach on Tuesday. By Tuesday evening, my son had a headache and he was sick as a dog on Wednesday. Last night, I had a headache and basically passed out on the couch as soon as the kids were in bed. So there hasn’t been a whole lot of exercise going on. So as soon as I was feeling better (woke up with a headache today, but it was mostly gone by lunch), I picked my youngest up from camp and we took a 2-mile walk together in Little Italy!

I’ve been working on my French Cancan like a fiend, trying to get it to the border portion before Saturday. My friend Sue is also knitting one, and she’s been having a bit of trouble getting the border started, so my thought was that if we were both at the same point, we could start it together, and we could see where she’s going wrong – I went wrong SO MANY TIMES the first time I knit it, and then it just clicked. I’m hoping I can help her out, because I think everybody needs to knit at least a dozen of these things! (Right, Krystal? Krystal knit four of these WITHIN two months for her bridesmaids just before her wedding – then cast on another!) I haven’t dared touch anything else because I need to haul ass on the shawl :)

My friend Elizabeth has started a blog over here. Go say hi! (tell her I sent you!) She’s a much better writer than I am, and definitely a better photographer! And yes, this is the Elizabeth who has traveled to Maryland with us!

In canning news, I hope to be able to procure some Pomona’s and some raspberries from the Parkdale Market tomorrow! (the Pomona’s comes from a store, obviously, not the market). I’m lucky enough to work only four short blocks away, so I’ll walk over on my lunch break! Have a great weekend!

parkdale

A little bit about Whole 30…

Someone on a Ravelry group I frequent issued a challenge for folks to join her in a Whole 30, and I excitedly agreed! A Whole 30 is a 30-day period where you do away with all dairy, grains and legumes and eat whole foods for the duration. Meat, fish and seafood are allowed, tofu and soy products are not. Coconut milk is permitted, cow’s milk is not. No butter, but ghee is okay (clarified butter, for the uninitiated, used extensively in Asian cooking).

I’ve been having a bit more trouble with some food intolerance issues recently, and decided this would be a good way to isolate some of the things that were giving me indigestion. I know dairy is a big one for me, because while it gives me intestinal cramps, the discomfort has not been enough to make me stop eating it. But last week, I had several days of very intense joint and bone pain after consuming heroic quantities of dairy, and I started to wonder. It’s possible that it was just a bad arthritis day, but the pain struck very suddenly, and at the same time both days (about 2 hours after I’d consumed a lot of dairy for dinner). I know it all sounds very woo-woo, and my ex-husband is laughing at me, but I firmly believe that we can do ourselves harm or good with what we eat, and I’m willing to give this a try :)

Did my shopping today – some chicken breasts (bone-in and with the skin – I skinned and deboned them all tonight and portioned them out into ziploc baggies); cherries – meant to pit and freeze them (I’ve discovered a new love of frozen fruits as a snack – especially cherries and grapes!) but I couldn’t find my cherry pitter. That will be done tomorrow. Lots of fresh veggies – mushrooms (want to try making these Roasted Mushrooms), celery, Lebanese cucumbers, some lovely nectarines, one of the most beautiful cauliflowers I’ve ever seen, a bag of onoios, some sweet potatoes, etc. I am so psyched about this! Also a bit terrified.

In knitting news, I’ve been steadily working on my 2nd French Cancan, and I’m down to the heel flap on my dad’s first sock. I also picked up the 41 blanket again – Rob’s cousin sprogged last week (unexpectedly for us, since she wasn’t talking about it much on FB), and I’d like to get it out to her!

I’ll be keeping everyone apprised of progress with the Whole 30, and sharing a few recipe links here and there :) Right now, I need to go rescue my son’s cat from his bedroom before she pulls his door apart.

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