Monday, November 21, 2011

Its beginning to look a lot like Giftmas...

Winter has finally hit Northern Wisconsin this week with a blanket of five inches of fresh-fallen snow.  It really is beautiful and I think its a nice way to even out the shortening days, by making everything sparkly and clean in the sun and moonlight. Lilj was SO excited for the snow and of course he wanted to make a snowman however, the snow wasn't quite right for that. Instead, we did some sledding and walking in the woods.  We had to wear our Blaze orange as its deer-gun-hunting season here in WI this week.  I think his favorite part is eating the snow.  I guess I can't blame him when it looks like the whole world has been frosted.

We have found another house and are hoping to rent until next summer with the intention to buy.  It is quite near us and has a gorgeous 40 acres of wooded land as well as a garage and a shop.  I've been staying up nights redecorating it in my head as it needs some cosmetic updates: painting, cupboard painting, and eventually new flooring.  We will be starting December 1st by emptying our storage unit into the garage and starting to clean carpets and paint.  I can't wait to have a space to call my own again as I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels here at Mom & Dad's.  I am looking forward to having some creative space for my yarn and fiber crafts as well as a homeschool preschool area for lilj.

Speaking of yarn and fibercrafts, I am steadily working on my Giftmas list and am finally on my last project: Dad's socks. I'm trying out a new pattern for these using an afterthought heel, which means you knit a tube sock and then add the heel as an afterthought.  They are moving along swimmingly but would have more progress if I hadn't recently sunk in the hole known as Pinterest. More on that later.

I've decided to make 2012 the year of selfish knitting and not knit for anyone but me! That's right, no birthdays, no giftmas, just me me me!  And, I am going to try to knit a few sweaters for me while I'm at it.  I figure if each one takes about three months I can knit four sweaters throughout the year. I have patterns in mind for all four so we shall see how that turns out. Of course I also have yarn and ideas for many small accessory type projects for myself: shawls, socks, mittens, hats.  I am just so much happier knitting for myself than for others. It does make me happy to give the gifts I've knit, but in progress I HATE it. So, other than sweater yarn, I'm going to try NOT to buy yarn or fiber and instead to knit up what I've got so there is room for new yarn by the end of 2012.  I also picked up a drop spindle at WI Sheep and Wool Festival so I would like to try to conquer that during 2012. What are your creative goals?

As I mentioned above, Pinterest has caught me and is giving a good fight. I'm happy we won't have any internet access at our new place as I spend way too much time online doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. There are so many cool ideas out there, but really when all you do is spend hours looking at them, you never get anything done!

You may wonder why I call this time of year Giftmas and so I'll try to explain it. I don't believe in God or Christ as a savior, I believe he probably was a pretty good guy back in the day.  I believe the Christians have rewritten all the traditional pagan holidays in order to get the pagans to fall into line.  Those who didn't were killed which is somehow Christian. I believe in celebrating the return of the light on December 21st or Winter Solstice and I think Santa is an ok belief for lilj. As far as exchanging gifts with others, well, I really do enjoy exchanging small heartfelt or homemade gifts, but that doesn't seem to be the norm.  The big hullabaloo at this time of year I think is a lot more related to Gifts than Christ and therefore, Giftmas.  But as a good raised-Christian girl, I think everyone should be free to believe what they want and we should still all get together and enjoy each other this time of year.

So, happy giftmas shopping!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

There is no excuse...

For those of you who aren't aware I'm not a petite person.  Recently, at a professional inservice I overheard another nurse speaking to a friend and coworker; she was talking about going to an inservice on Obesity in Pregnancy and said she was interested in learning about it because, "there is just no excuse for obesity." For some reason that comment stuck with me and it has been my mantra for the last week.  Every time I daydream of chocolate or lazying on the couch I tell myself, "Lea, there is no excuse for obesity." I'll never be thin but I work on it almost daily.  And I hope someday that lady has to work as hard on it as some of us obese.

It has been a busy couple of weeks driving all over Northern WI and MN for nursing inservices and training: Breastfeeding, Wound Care, Trauma Nursing. We are such well-rounded nurses here in Shell Lake! I am glad they are all over and I can stick around home for a couple of weeks.

As I've been cramming for my Trauma Nursing class I haven't allowed myself any knitting time but I am close to finished with lilj's Birthday sweater.  He even tried it on last week, and it fits!
I cast on BigJ's second sock so hopefully it will be done before Solstice or his birthday. He is a size 13 so on little tiny needles and little tiny yarn it takes FOREVER.  I hope he enjoys and cherishes these socks for many many years; yeah right!

On the home front: BigJ has been looking at other houses as it seems with the economy now days you can buy a lot more 'house' than building it. We're still thinking about building, but looking while we think about it.  

Newsflash: I found my camera, apparently I had asked my cousin to hold on to it while we were playing in Bayfield and she forgot to tell me she still had it. yippee! I feel so much better knowing I didn't loose it and I don't have to replace it.  It came home with about 120 pictures that she and her kids had taken that needed to be promptly deleted and my fun pics remained.

Fall is definitely here, we've had frost and rain, no snow yet.  Mom and I took lilj to the pumpkin patch, he just wanted to roll them all around.
We also took a daytrip to Bayfield and Madeline Island and *gasp* started Geocaching.  BigJ had not been to Madeline Island so it was fun exploring together. I though geocaching was really cool. It was like a scavenger hunt, although I couldn't find anything without BigJ and he just rolled his eyes and laughed at me. Fall is beautiful in WI.

I finally finished A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin and I'm really relieved since Game of Thrones is all I have been reading for months.  Now I'm listening to Dracula and Sleepy Hollow on CraftLit.  Gotta love the fall and Halloween Holiday reading... oooohhh spooooky!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

update on the update

Just a quick update on the update: we are not moving, the deal fell through on the farm we were moving to.  So, we're back to square one.  :*(

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The reason for the season

Summer is coming to an end, mornings and nights are cooler, trees are changing colors, and Halloween decorations are in the stores! I love the changing of the seasons and I really love the holidays it brings: Halloween, Leaves, Thanksgiving, Snow, Solstice, New Year's.  I get excited just typing them! The thing about holidays is that I'm not sure why I love them so.  Its not the material part/buying stuff, its not trick or treating, but it is decorating and celebrating with friends and family.  I can't wait to take Jameson to the pumpkin patch for his third year or dress him up in a costume he hates... again!  I'm even debating hosting a Halloween party for the neighborhood and our friends.  Children definitely take the holidays to a new level as you get to share your beliefs and family culture with them, but they also bring out the child in us all.  Happy Fall to you all and a Happy early Halloween!

Fiber-wise, September was a big month: Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival! I enjoyed a great day with my Aunt talking sheep and yarn and fiber.  I mentioned that we were interested in getting some wool-breed sheep when we move again and get settled.  Coincidentally my Uncle picked up a flock that weekend!  By next spring we'll be set to have our own sheep!  In that spirit, I bought some Shetland fleece and a drop spindle to try (again) at spinning yarn. This is a pretty low investment ($30) and I can learn at my own pace.  I also picked up some fabulous yarn from Sun Valley Farms its a single-ply in dark purple for a winter shawl for myself.  One of the other things I wanted to try is knitting from stretched silk cocoons so I bought enough for a lovely pair of mittens.  Silk is purportedly warmer than wool, we'll see!  I haven't made a lot of progress on my giftmas knitting... bigJ's socks are huge and taking forever, probably because I'm begrudging knitting them! I have a self-imposed rule that i can't knit for myself until after my holiday knitting is done and there is plenty still to knit--Aggghhh!

You may have noticed my eluding to settling again and yes, there is an end in site!  BigJ and I have pondered and pondered and decided that building just isn't necessary, so we'll be renting with the intention of buying.  The place is actually my great-grandparents' original farm and is only about 1 mile up the hill from my parents.  Its a 20 acre piece with a home that we both really like.  We can't wait to move in October 1st!  There are outbuildings galore and pastures for horses, sheep, cattle or whatever we decide to have.  So, wish us luck on another move.  We plan to live pretty simply and enjoy a peaceful farm in the country.

Disclaimer: I apologize that i don't have any pictures to share but I've lost my camera... bummer!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Win or Lose

So I started out this week with a new mantra, "every decision I make [regarding food and exercise] can mean a pound gained or lost". As I replayed this in my head throughout the last few days I realized it can be applied to a lot of things in life, each decision can be a winning decision or a losing decision. Our attitude can be gaining or losing. So, I have made the conscious decision to make winning decisions or "losing" decisions as much as possible.

It has worked as I'm down 5 pounds this week so far. Alas, the lifelong weight, exercise, healthy lifestyle battle. I just wonder why it is such a battle when we should be genetically programmed to live a healthy lifestyle because that would propagate a more healthy species.

In other news... in order to enjoy our northwoods more fully, BigJ bought he and I kayaks. We took them camping with us to Totagatic this weekend and had a great time even though it rained for hours straight. Lilj likes to ride with us and we enjoyed them Sunday at Leesome Lake as well. I really make an effort to enjoy our surroundings and integrate our lives into the outdoors. We may not do it BIG but we keep it simple and local and enjoy Northwestern Wisconsin.

Knitting-wise: I'm finished with clue #2 in the WestKnits knitalong and my little nugget of a shawl closely resembles clown barf. Yup, I said it. I took yarns out of my stash in order not to purchase new ones and the sock yarns I had that "go" together are BRIGHT pink, BRIGHT orange, and BRIGHT variegated which includes pink, orange, yellow, blue, green, and brown. The resulting shawl-bit is kind of colorblocked currently and is obnoxiously bright. It will make a perfect gift for a BRIGHT friend of mine, but that was not my intention. However, knitting socks in these obnoxious colors didn't appeal to me either.

I finished the "When I'm an old woman I shall wear purple socks" which are a giftmas present for my mom, she tried them on, they fit and they were promptly put away until December. Next I have to cast on for BigJ's giftmas socks as he is the only one in my immediate family who has not received a pair. His will be on Knit Picks Felici Sock Sportweight which I am very excited to knit again as it's delightfully soft and more of a heavier fingering.

I have been listening to a lot of knitting related podcasts and I am having a really hard time explaining podcasts to other people. Why do we listen? I think for me it is like having knitting friends. I have only a few close friends who are spread all over the country and many acquaintances but none are knitters. Sure, some have knit here and there or know how to knit, but none of the local-yokels are really INTO it like I am. Podcasts give me a chance to hear what's new in knitting and yarn and to share knitting experiences with other knitters without leaving home. It also appeals to my introverted side as I can listen without talking back and it is like having chatty friends on demand with no maintenance. I realize that looking at it from the outside it seems odd, but we all know I'm odd. New podcasts this week include Knit Knit Cafe and The Pagan Knitter. Also, my iTunes updated today and totally screwed up the podcast format... odd + annoying. BOooo Apple.

Things I'm excited about: I ordered a tee from Teefury that has Dr. Who fighting Harry Potter. Need I say more? AND Seriously considering Lasik.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is it really July?!

I cannot believe its been over 10 weeks since I last posted! I'd like to say I'm sorry, but really, who's listening? I've been keeping notes on things I would like to discuss so this will be lengthy to make up for the lack of venting.

For starters, my last weekend was the most
memorable in a long time as I was asked to be a gaymaid for some friends' wedding. It was
probably the most sentimental event I have ever been involved in and it was a true honor and privilege. The wedding was like a fairytale come true which was fitting for their "happily ever after" theme and we even got to visit DC cupcakes, jealous? They asked me months ago to be involved, but I haven't done much since I'm so far away, so it was great to be out there early to help prepare (cupcake tree). Everyone looked beautiful and I was able to catch up with old friends and make some new ones; I know, you're surprised i was social, but I WAS! So, thanks to e, t, and Trudy who did my very-last-minute alterations.

Prior to the wedding our big news is that we are selling our house in Shell Lake. Our goal when we bought our house was to live there for five years and then sell it and move on, either to a new location or to build in the country. So, June 1st was five years and Josh contacted a local realtor to inquire about putting our house up for sale. We were basically told we needed to do quite a bit of work and then it 'may' sell but not to count on it. Conveniently a friend of mine was looking for a house and decided our house was teh one for her! So, we had about 2 1/2 weeks to pack up and move back to my parent's where we'll be until we build next spring! Although everyone involved decided moving SUCKS, it was a good feeling to sort through all the stuff and start thinking about building! Before we left, all my flowers were blooming so I caught some pictures.

As you can see there hasn't been a lot of down time with getting settled back at home. Lilj has been talking more and more. He stopped calling me Mama and now calls me Mommy. It seems like some sort of milestone, like he's not a baby anymore. He has also become a lot more social and will walk up and talk to any stranger, especially kids. He calls all kids "my guys" or the "boys". He really loves to play with other kids. Papa & Lollie spoil him rotten and even got him a pony! His name is Peanut and he's a red roan--adorable! Lilj sat on his back today on the saddle, they are both getting used to each other gradually. We've enjoyed swimming out at Leesome Lake where Mom & Dad have their camper parked, it so refreshing after these hot days. Lilj is getting used to the water more and more every day and LOVES to play in the sand with his shovel or his tractors.

Moving back to my parent's and thinking about building a house has brought up a lot of feelings. We considered buying a house, but I really don't see anything I like on the market. I don't want just any house... I want THE house! I want a house that reflects our family and our beliefs. Therefore, I'm back to the alternative buildings that I studied ten years ago. I'm seriously considering a straw bale house, with post & beam skeleton. They just seem so warm and cozy which is so important in Wisconsin (although you wouldn't have known it this week). We've agreed on NO basement, concrete floors stained and stamped with infloor heat, 1 1/2 levels. However, that's about all we've decided on. BigJ honestly doesn't care as long as he has a place to cook, a place to sleep, and a bathroom. His main concern is building a shop so we've been tossing around ideas on that as well. Its all a lot of decisions and it seems so final, like we need to make these decisions and live with them FOREVER. I'm not sure how true that is, but it feels that way.

For now, I'm really enjoying living with Mom & Dad again. I think the rest of the world is on to something when they live with multiple generations. Why do we see it as successful to move away from our elders? Why do people see it as a failure if you make your home with multiple generations under one roof? Is America the only country where this is frowned upon? Its so nice to always have someone else around to talk to and to share meals and responsibilities. I'm not sure I want to build when I think of it that way, whats the point of building another big house, just across the way? I'm sure BigJ feels differently as they aren't HIS parents.

On to knitting, its been slow to say the least, with so much going on. I just finished my first Giftmas sock for Mom, she tried it on and it fit like a, well, like a sock. I have 2 1/2 more pairs of socks to knit before the Big day so I've got to get knitting as there are a few birthdays and such in between there. I'm also SUPER excited to be starting a knitalong August 1st by Mr. Stephen West an awesome designer. The way a knitalong works, you are emailed a pattern segment every week and knit on that along with lots of others until the next instruction is delivered. I've picked some really bright obnoxious yarn for this project so it will be a great time! I also enjoyed a trip to StevenBe Yarn Garage and Workshop. This was probably the most exciting yarn shop I've ever been in. I think Steven said he had over 1900 yarns. Its an old firehouse which also is dear to my heart! I picked a gorgeous skein of Three Irish Girls Glenhaven fingering in the Peacock special edition colorway which is EXACTLY the colors of a peacock feather and happens to be EXACTLY what I was looking for when I bought my shawl yarn for my birthday... oh well, a little too late, but I've got a shawl picked out and it will be delightful!

Shawls you ask, why are you suddenly making shawls? Well, I must confess, I thought they were a bunch of mularkey as well until I tried it. You know, "don't knock it until you've tried it." But the nice thing is that you can take a shawl anywhere (they wad up nicely), they take the chill off from AC or a breeze or Wisconsin in general, they dress up any plainjane outfit; they also use up sock yarn when you're looking for something else to do with one or two skeins. The best way I've had it explained is that they are the towel that they speak of in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. So, I knit one and yup, all of it is true... and I'll knit another and another and another. I don't know why I always try to buck the system when "everyone is doing it" its probably for a reason, duh!

Since I haven't been knitting so much I must have an excuse and I do. Its the Game of Thrones by George RR Martin and its mesmerizing. I'm actually on the fourth book and its more than I have read since before lilj was born. This is a fantasy series and I would recommend it to anyone into knights, swords, dragons, magic and the like! They have also made an HBO series from the books and I can't wait to watch that when it becomes available. I have really come to embrace my love for sci-fi and fantasy even though Bigj hates it... oh well. I'm hoping to get back to watching Dr. Who this winter but for now... it the Game!

Now the most painful subject or subjects, food and exercise. I've gained back some of the weight I loss and now need to buckle down again. Its totally the sweets that get me everytime. Its like I have the knowledge that i feel better when I eat better and exercise regularly, but i just can't make myself do it... C'mon Lea! So, here's to hoping I can pull it together and get back to a normal exercise routine and eating less sweets.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Month of Meanderings

We had a great trip to Savannah, GA to visit BigJ's family. The weather was mostly sunny (rain and stormy on our road trip both ways). We spent time downtown Savannah, on the beach on Tybee Island, on John's boat, and playing back at John's house. It was great to see everyone and to see lilJ get to know his Buckridge family. I think he went through a growth spurt in all that sun he seems a size bigger since we got home! Wisconsin welcomed us home with rain, sleet, and snow-how fitting for late April.

The biggest loser is over! The numbers are not in, but everyone who participated did awesome! It was a great way to encourage so many people all at once to embrace a healthy lifestyle. I really think that if we are going to overcome the obesity epidemic and make major changes to our country's junk food lifestyle we need to start at home: health care workers, children, families, hospitals, clinics. We need to be examples to others and push for changes in the system that is encouraging unhealthy lifestyle choices. I came out 5# ahead of my low. I was disappointed that I had gained some weight over vacation, but with all the eating and not a lot of regular exercise it was inevitable. I debated just skipping the weigh in and going with my pre-vacation low, but that's not really honest and I'm the one who couldn't say no to EVERYTHING while we were gone. I was actually pretty surprised it was only five pounds. I think that all the skiing and exercise I have built some lean muscle which helped burn through the junk food. I'm still hoping to stay active and get rid of another 10 pounds or so. I did notice that while we were gone on vacation and I was eating lots of sugar and other junk food I felt awful. It is so true that you are what you eat. I feel so much more energetic when I limit myself to sensible portions (no lunch coma) and less sugar and HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup). I have been trying to be much more cognisant of HFCS in my (and lilJ's) food choices as they seem to rev him up and make me eat and eat and eat.

Exercise-wise, I tried running. It has been a goal of mine since I was a teenager to run a 5k race. I have trained probably 5 different years and always have the same outcome: no race & sore feet. After working so hard on weight loss & exercise with the biggest loser I decided to give it one more go... I just ran and ran and ran, then I stopped and walked, then I felt a blister, then I walked home. The next few days I was sore and my knee swelled back up and I decided: my foot dr. is right--I'm not a runner. Instead, I started Jillian Michael's 30 day Shred, which Hana loaned me. Its funny because the workouts are pretty intense, but only 20 minutes. I like her style and its quick to get through in the am before lilJ and I get on the move. I ramped up to Level 2 today as I didn't think level 1 did the job Friday, we'll see how I feel tomorrow. I'm definitely feeling the burn!

I finished my Skew socks before we left for Savannah as was my goal. On the trip down, I cast-on a Traveling Woman shawl and a pair of plain vanilla socks. I'm not loving the shawl and I think I need to frog it (rip-it) and start on smaller needles or find a different project. The socks I LOVE! I finished one and have a good start on #2. I have officially reached my goal of three pairs of socks for me this year and have a half a pair beyond that! I made my list of birthday and giftmas knitting to start in July. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it but my self-made goal is to knit for myself Jan-June other than a few special birthdays and knit for others July-Dec except for maybe socks for me. I think I have most of the yarn I need for most of the July-Dec knitting so my stash should continue to shrink shrink shrink. My goal is to knit from my stash exclusively unless I have a specific project I need yarn for that I don't have in my stash AND its time to cast on that particular project. Exception: travel/souvenir yarn buying is ok. If I can loosely stick to this plan I can buy buy buy at WI sheep and wool festival in September. I'd like to get some blue sock yarn there for me as well as two sweaters' worth of yarn for ME!

I spent a week off work due to low census and day-care being on vacation. By the end of the week I was so sick of my house I decided that I needed to "character-ize" it. I feel that currently my house is "Northwoods Neutral" and I really want it to be "Peaceful, Minimalist, Eclectic" so my goal this summer is to paint the living room and find treasures that support this theme. I'm leaning toward earthy colors like mustard yellow and olive green. I also want to do some improvements in the kitchen and bathroom. I hope we'll be able to convert the front room (which is currently useless) into a three-season porch with large windows and a futon where I can watch the morning sun and drink my coffee. I'm feeling very cluttered... can't wait to clean it all out!

Reflections on working as a nurse: The balance of life is a fragile thing. As health care workers it seems that we are inherently working against the terminality of life; instead of working to enhance the quality of our days many people focus on the quantity. Its ultimately a job that we fail as all lives must come to an end. I hope that I can give my patients some sense of well-being and "quality" even in those last days, hours, moments.

This morning I heard the news about Osama Bin Laden's death. Since I can't word it any better, I'm quoting K.C. on this, "It seems so unnatural to celebrate the death of someone. Rather than focusing on revenge, lets remember this is about peace and unity." I was unpleasantly surprised how many of my facebook friends were so ecstatic about this assassination. Its interesting how the tables turn when we are the hunters instead of the hunted. I'll end with a favorite quote of mine, "War is not healthy for children and other living things!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Getting my mojo back (or Thank you Chocolate, I love you!)

After being a puddle last time I posted, I got my butt in gear and exercised that day and WALAAH! I felt way better. It was like a vicious cycle that I had not exercised in four days and it was like scraping crusted Lasagna out of a pan to get back to grooving! That was Tuesday and I've exercised each day since. Today I'm planning to go to a Zumba-thon with Mimi... who wouldn't want to go to a Zumba-thon????!!! I have not tried Zumba, but I'm looking to spice up my exercise routine as I've mostly been doing exercise videos and they are pretty boring, but at least they are private. Skiing is pretty dull right now... there is snow, but alas, no daycare and I have wax-tape on my skis which means I need crust... and the snow isn't crust, its STICKY.

Unfortunately because I binged hardcore last weekend, I was up in weight this week. Argh! Nothing crushes you like being a "gainer" whilst doing Biggest Loser. I cannot complain too much though as I was only up 0.8 pounds, which is not much, just the wrong direction. AND (see title) I have been craving chocolate HARD CORE this week. I'm not sure if this is "my time of the month" [sorry guys] or if its from last weekend's binge feeding a lifelong sugar-addiction. The good news is: I finished the bag of dark chocolate eggs I bought last weekend, so they will no longer be a temptation. I have not, however, finished the Oreos... but three cookies is a serving of 160 calories, together with 1/4c milk is an almost perfect UNHEALTHY but oh-so-satisfying snack.

Knitting wise, I've been less-than-inspired. I'm trying to finish my WIPs (works in progress) before starting new stuff so I'm working on a lime green single-ply 100% wool elephant named Florestine Eubaldine after my late grandmothers. Its just not fun. Every row I have to pay attention and count, ugh. All I have left is the underbody which shouldn't theoretically take long but here I sit Blogging. After that I need to knit another sock (singular) to finish out my pair of Skew and I'll be WIP-free. Then I'm knitting something simple and easy and quick... or not... we'll see.

On the techno front: while I was gone scrapbooking last weekend (aka binge & drunkfest with some girlfriends), little man felt the need to free my powerbook G4 of its letters... I got most of them back on, but x & e won't stick. I also have a couple of function keys which are not in place, but I'll get by. On a positive note: I got my new battery today. It was completely dead when I received it so I fully charged it and I'm planning to run in down completely before charging it. Its so great not having to be constantly plugged in. I had bought a new battery and it died after three months so I returned it, of course, that seller couldn't replace my battery so they refunded me and I ordered from another seller. The battery I've been using in the interim lasted all of about 10 seconds if not plugged in: might as well have a desktop.

In my techno-education, I have been sampling some knitting podcasts recently: Brass Needles, Knitmore Girls, StitchIt!, KnitPicks, KIPing it real, and Stash and Burn. I love listening to the different voices, accents, knitting plans... some are more technical, some are more chatty, some are just knitting, some include spinning, weaving, cooking, homesteading and more. It seems like most of the podcasters are a big social network. Every podcast I listen to, the caster talks about another podcaster so I have to look up another podcast etc. etc. Its a crazy vicious circle that I am LOVING! Its like anonymously having friends to chat with without having to dress or talk back!

One of the greatest side effects of the podcast sampling is that Brass Needles is a podcast that is about knitting combined with SCI-FI! I've dabbled in sci-fi for years as well as fantasy, I have always loved reading fantasy and I'm drawn to sci-fi on TV and in movies. I think part of it is that the drama of life continues no matter the race or time or universe. But somehow drama: love, murder, crime, violence is less detrimental to my psyche when its set in a fictional universe. The shows or books where people in my universe are involved in the drama (read love, murder, crime, violence) are just too close to home. There is too much negativity in the real world and I really like the separation between the real world and the sci-fi or fantasy world. In this vein, I've been watching the modern Dr. Who series via Netflix Instant Watch.

By the way, What did we do before Instant Netflix? As you may (or may not) know, J & I haven't had TV cable, antenna, or satelitte for about 3 years now and we agree that is best for us... there is a reason they call it Programming. However, now we have Netflix on Flo's computer and a 20" screen (thanks Randy) and its a whole new world (humming Aladdin theme song). My instant queue is never-ending, lilJ is wearing out Barney's instant queue and Josh is loving all the reality tv (American Pickers, fishing shows, ax men, etc). It seems like one of us is ALWAYS netflixing (is that a new word?).

I requested to be called-off work this week if we were low census since my daycare (aka Lolly & Papa) are off on a mission trip in Alabama. I had a backup scheduled, a good friend with a one-year old son, but it ended up that I only had to work Monday and was off Thursday & Friday! Woot Woot! This was the closest I will ever get to being a stay at home mom and its pretty great. Little J is so fun right now; his imaginative play is really taking flight. Today we had to "walk" to the hospital instead of driving (I know, I know, its 3 blocks each way) in the SNOW! As we're walking, he stopped and looked up at a huge tree covered in snow and said, "where are the monkeys?" I laughed out loud! On the way home, he said, "we have to find the elephants." The things they come up with!

Peace Out! Lea

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


That pretty much sums up how I feel today: a puddle.

I feel exhausted and have NO ambition to do ANYTHING.

I have put in a few loads of laundry, including the sheets which drastically needed it... other than that, I'm still in my PJs.

I've decided that I'm too old for no-sleep weekends... I just can't jump back like I used to...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Equinox

Today is the day that equals the night, halfway between summer & winter solstice. To honor spring equinox I am doing a bit of Spring Cleaning today mostly my most dreaded task: the floors. So far I've vacuumed the bedrooms and living room rug, swept and mopped the living room, kitchen and stairs. I rearranged the living room while I was at it and Jameson's room for good measure. I need to remop the kitchen as its atrociously dirty, then the bathroom floor.

I figure that today is a good day to evaluate how the year is going, as its a quarter of the way gone by the Wheel of the Year.
  • One of my goals was to celebrate the Wheel of the Year in some small way on each of the eight special days... I have to admit I failed miserably on Beltane which was supposed to honor motherhood. So I was really set on doing something today: Ta Da!
  • Pay off the credit card: well, I transferred the balance and it now has no interest so I'm thinking it will be paid off this year. Josh will be putting some of his profits on the balance so I'm not too concerned it is definitely doable as we are trying hard not to spend money frivolously. We have limited ourselves to a biweekly allowance and only going out to eat on payday (once every two weeks). We enjoyed a "date" going out last week to Spooner Market and Grill while Jameson stayed home with Lolly & Papa for pizza. It was a much-needed break and time to reconnect. Betsy, the chef at SMAG, even came out to see why we weren't chasing a little boy around.
  • Loose 25# and stay below 200#I'm happy to say that I am officially below 200# and have lost a total of 21 pounds since starting biggest loser. However, since I unofficially started after Christmas I've lost that 25 pounds afterall! Yeah mee!! I told myself I would buy a small gift for myself when I reached my goal but nothing comes to mind. The other thing is that Biggest Loser continues another 6 weeks! We're only halfway there so I have to continue this momentum and keep losing! My team: the Mom Squad is doing really well, we've been in the top few teams each week. The great thing is that so many people at the hospital and clinic are participating we've really improved the salad bar and healthy meal options as well as limiting snacks around the nurses' station. Overall everyone is doing really well which I think is a great inspiration to our small community: if WE can do it, so can you! It also shows that we are commited to the same healthy lifestyle that we promote to our clients and patients.
  • Knit myself 3 pairs of socks close... I have 2 1/2 pairs done and many more waiting in the wings! I finished the first sock of the third pair this morning and was so excited. It seemed to take forever as I had other projects to work on while it was in process. I was feeling very overwhelmed by so many projects. I only have one other project OTN (on the needles) which is Flo, a bright green elephant for Jameson. I plan to finish the knitting on this before I start sock #2 of this pair. Hopefully both projects will be done before heading to Savannah.
  • Go on one vacation together as a family. This kind of fell together as a fluke. Josh's mom and grandma are driving down to visit John & Zhenya for Easter and invited Josh as well so we're going! It will be a long drive = 22 hours each way, but we'll borrow a DVD player and I'll knit! We are also planning to go to Mexico in Feb '12 with Terry and Patrick, I think both trips will be great!

I have so many things planned as it warms up... my fitness goal is to bike a lot. I bought a used bike trailer for Jameson and Lucy to ride in last summer so I'm glad he can join me on my adventures--makes planning ahead less important. It also removes my excuse for NOT going. There are lots of places to go and things to do this spring and summer. We have trips planned to Savannah, Omaha, Michigan, as well as some local favorites including Minnesota Zoo, Pattison Park, Copper Falls, MREA Energy Fair, and Madison. Josh and I have decided Jameson is old enough to start camping so off we go!

This was the first year that I am sad to see winter go as it means no more skiing for now. I'm really looking forward to improving next year in my technique and stamina. I don't think more racing is in my future although I would consider the Book Across the Bay again if its not glare ice. I'm thinking Jameson will be ready to ski by next winter so I'll be keeping my eye out for a pair of beginner strap on skis.

How are you doing on your goals for the year?

Did you do anything special today for Spring Equinox?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Disappointment in the shadow of success

Things are still going well with the biggest loser contest. I've officially lost about 16 pounds and unofficially, since I started trying to loose after Christmas, I've lost about 20 all told. The funny thing is that I know that things are going ok in terms of losing weight but there are two major disappointments I've encountered.
  1. I can tell that I've lost weight in most areas of my body: boobs, back, belly, thighs (I sound like a chicken at the butcher) but there is just more FAT where that came from. I keep picturing those jello-mold fat samples jiggling about on my love handles and thinking jeez, I have dropped 20 of those things, how many more are there? Lots, lets just leave it at that. Will there ever really be a time when there isn't? Do skinny people still have flab? Well, I will never know the answer to that as I'll never be "skinny" but I thought I'd ask!
  2. I got my "skinnier" jeans on today that haven't been buttonable since last summer. Now, even then they weren't exactly wearable but thats another story. The problem: they look awful, they are totally not flattering in the least. Bummer!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Morning Motivation

I awoke this morning at 6:20

I didn't have to work at 6:00

Jameson slept until 7:30

I did try to go back to sleep but when that attempt failed I decided to brew up some coffee (thanks Alley Cats) and watch Letters to Juliet which I just got on Netflix. It was a nice hour of peace, joined by j a little later, but he was groggy and just sat and enjoyed Mama's movie without complaint. The shots of the Italian landscape reminded me of our trip there. The love story which unfolded reminded me of my childhood dream of Romeo and my knight on a white horse.

Although this was a pleasant reverie, why do we allow ourselves to be wrapped up in that romantic notion that life isn't about checkbook balances and student loans and diapers? Sorry to burst the bubble.

Big plans: Josh and I have decided to go on a little spring break to see his family. We'll be heading to Savannah for Easter with John, Zhenya, Pearl & Caroline. Its about a 22 hour drive; we're planning to take it easy and stop when we need to. We'll bring a DVD player and DVDs for j and I'll bring KNITTING.

Its kind of sad that instead of looking at it as quality family time I am instead making lists of what I can knit while trapped in a car for 44 hours! And yes, I have it all planned out. I have yarn and the pattern to make Jameson a Sleuthing Hoodie yarn for socks (I'll bring two sets with) and perhaps I'll also bring the stuff to make a Traveling Woman Shawl. It sounds like a lot, but it'll pack easily and I don't want to not have something to do... I also plan to bring two paperbacks.

Now for some discussion on shawls... wait, doesn't everyone write in their blog about the merits of shawls? OK, so anyone who is even remotely involved in the knitting or crocheting world will find that shawls are immensely popular. Problem is: WHY? in my research I have found that...
  • shawls can be knit large or small, long or round, one size fits any/all
  • shawls can be knit on anything from laceweight to worsted or probably even bulky (like for a prayer shawl)
  • knitting a shawl is quite portable if its on a lighter weight yarn (lots of yardage per skein)
  • shawls are multipurpose: they can be used as a blanket, sweater, nursing coverup, baby blanket, accessory
  • And last but not least, in the following selection from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy please replace the word towel with SHAWL and there you have it: The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
    A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
    More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
So really, how can I go on knitting without knitting myself a shawl? And the most fitting option seems to be the Traveling Woman... because where would a traveling woman be without her shawl?

Friday, February 25, 2011

I am now officially a racer... don't laugh

Last weekend I did my first ever race of any kind! I finished (successfully) the Book Across the Bay from Ashland to Washburn over the Chequamegon Bay. It was supposed to be a 10K race, but I think it ended up being closer to 8k. Oh well, I finished... I fell of course, but only once. The bruise on my butt is quite a prize!

Today was weigh-in day for Biggest Loser at IMC. I lost another 5 pounds! Bringing the grand total so far to 13.6 pounds since Feb. 7. I'm pretty impressed with myself. Thats about 6% of my body weight! I'm hoping I can keep up the loss throughout the challenge, but I don't know if that is realistic. Skiing really helps, its a great full-body workout and I really actually truly enjoy it! Its like the wonder of winter is accessible to me for the first time ever.

So, the tips that have really helped me: chewing each mouthful fully with fork down; lots of fruits, veggies, and water; portion control and paying attention to when I feel full/satisfied; fill 1/2 my plate with fruits/veggies. Oh, and ski or exercise at least 3 days a week.

I'm feeling really positive about this lifestyle... I have a lot of energy and seem to have a more positive outlook on things. I feel good about my progress and about myself. I may never be a supermodel, but at least I'll be a little healthier. If anyone is interested, Biggest Loser is doing auditions in Minneapolis!

Now the important stuff! I finished socks #2 in my goal to make 3 pair this year for MYSELF. These were a challenge as they were toe-up which was a new skill for me as well as short-row heel and a garter stitch cuff. All new techniques, easy, but new. I had to do a bit of frogging (ripping out)... surprise! Then as a reward to myself for unsurpassed biggest loser success, I ordered a butt-ton of self-striping yarn from KnitPicks... can't wait for it to arrive! The best part is that its in balls, not hanks so I can knit it immediately! I'm planning to knit it two at a time toe up from the knit picks pattern so I can make them calf/knee highs just for ME. Since my ball-winder is still MIA (MOM!) I decided to whip up a pair of duffers (slippers) for myself. They are an amazing 19 row pattern, which, when seamed turn into slippers! I hope to have enough yarn & initiative to make another pair for Sally as she bought the yarn I'm using. Her's will be two colors: walnut soles and natural tops (Cascade 22o). I'm also proud to announce that my mother finished her first felted project, a Lucy Bag, and she is appropriately proud of herself as this has been on her bucket list for a while!

For those of you who missed the first pair of socks, they are a bit more impressive. I love how the lace pattern crosses over the top of the foot. These are the "cloud of warmth" socks! Fingering weight, cuff down.

Now perhaps a little less fluff. A word on the political scene here in Wisconsin. I am so proud of my fellow Sconnies who have risen to challenge of Governor Walker. It is inspirational how many people are voicing their opinions in an organized, civil, peaceful way. This is the way democracy is supposed to work. Yes, we vote, Yes, Walker won, but that does not mean that he is King until his term is over. It is our duty to express our opinions to our representatives at all levels. I am not a public-sector employee, I am a private health care worker. I am not a part of a union, however, I see the benefits of unions. I took my history class, don't you all remember what the labor-force was like before unions were in place and the FIGHT to bring unions to all the workers? I don't know why Walker insists on abandoning Collective Bargaining instead of negotiating. I think he believes he can strong arm the workers of Wisconsin into paying off the debt. Why isn't he stopping his corporate tax cuts? It makes more sense to me to ask the bigger businesses in the state to contribute a share similar to the individual as the Supreme Court has deemed corporations "individuals" for the sake of other purposes. I do have to say that I think it is appropriate for public workers on all fronts to pay a median percentage for their benefits, that would be fair, but yes, it would affect my family's income as Josh is a county worker. All in all, I'm glad its not me who has to solve the financial problems of our great state after the economic recession, but I am so proud of my family & friends and the total strangers who are out there representing the opposition to Walker. Just because I am not there physically does not mean I am not here supporting you all!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The weigh loss battle: Think Thin

We are doing "Biggest Loser" at the hospital where I work so I've been thinking a lot about weight loss, dieting, and a healthy lifestyle. I've come to realize that "thinking thin" is really hard work, but do thin people put that much thought into it?

Mom and I made a trip to the cities this week for her HeartScan and I was amazed at the constant BARAGE of junk food... McDonald's was even in the hospital lobby! How do they expect people to chose a healthy lifestyle when you have to work so hard to make healthy choices? I guess when they are standing at the counter they can pick the apple slices over the Big Mac, Large Fries, and Large Coke, but who is really going to do that when you can see the mouth-watering pictures? If we really want to turn the health of our country around why not make it easy? Why not have a bowl of fruit in the waiting room instead of a vending machine or fast food restaurant.

It seems like every decision I make these days is healthy vs. yummy...

Yesterday I was eating lunch at work, trying hard to fully chew each mouthful with my fork at rest instead of shoveling it in between call lights like usual, when I came to the realization that savoring every bite of an Iceberg lettuce salad with no salad dressing is just not fulfilling. If it were dark chocolate or strawberries or a Big Mac... perhaps.

Why is it that way? Is it my wiring? or the defeatist way our culture is wired to be fat?

All I know is that its going to be a long road to thindom... if I ever get there... and I can't say its going to be enjoyable. No wonder America is so fat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh my Gosh Socks!

I finished my first pair of handknit socks this week, for ME! I had previously knit two pairs for Dad and a pair for Jameson. Let me tell you how blissful it was! I thought, whats the big fuss until I wore them. These particular socks are knit in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock which is Merino and Nylon. Of course the yarn is soft and quite loverly to knit, but when you wear them, its like a thin little cloud of warmth surrounding your feet. I've worn wool socks my entire life. From worsted weight handmade socks to smartwools and everything in between, but these socks are unreal! I can't wait to make more pairs, which is why I cast on a new pair today!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Challenges of Marriage

I guess I'm just feeling introspective this week, another post. I'm having a lot of trouble being happy with my husband... it always seems to be the same story: I feel like he's not contributing enough time & energy the our family & he feels like I don't give him enough physical attention. I've read The Five Love Languages and even though I've talked to Josh about it, he doesn't see or do anything to change the status quo. It really frustrates me that he just expects me to change my ways but doesn't see any room for change on his end. I guess I'm too stubborn to initiate change on my end because I'm sure it won't make a difference on his end.

I'm also feeling pretty unpassionate about my work after going to the EHDI meeting today...hmmm...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gay Maid

I realize that two posts in one day is a little over the top, but I have to share this news. I have only ever been in one wedding before my own, my bestie cousin Hana. I guess that is a flaw in the "few-friends" lifestyle I lead. No, I've never had to buy a creepy satin gown that I'll never wear again. Most likely this is because I am the girl who tells it like it is and not necessarily the girl you want with you when you turn bridezilla on the world. Not saying I would leave you at the altar if you, say, stuffed used kleenex in my cleavage, because I totally wouldn't/didn't.

So, imagine my surprise today when I got a phone call (we talk on the phone on average once a year in the last 12 years we've known each other) from my friend E. Imagine my immense super-duper surprise when she asked me to be her Gay Maid! First of all kudos to whomever coined that term, it is right up there with Best Women which is what I called my girls. Second of all, joy of all joys A WEDDING! I think my life may just be complete now that I can add Gay Maid to my resume. The story just kept getting better as E explained that the only place they could find the dresses they liked was in NYC. Oh boo hoo!! and Double-Yeah for this girl!

Well folks, it is on! I am going to be the most stunning, tell it like it is, Gay Maid you have seen yet! Diet and exercise will be my companions until the fateful day July 16th when I will stand at the side of my friend and mentor E.

Prodromal Blues

Well, I haven't done well on keeping the resolutions: I bought yarn. Although, I did sell some yarn in order to afford this yarn. NOW I have to stop buying more. I am going to order some things from Knit Picks I think, needles mostly to knit what I have, or maybe not.

I got some lovely Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage which is a delightful single ply Merino. I thought the color-way looked like a burnt orange when I bought it, which was aptly named Amber Trinket; imagine my surprise when I opened the package and its a fabulously rich purple with amazing burnt orange undertones. My plan is to use it double stranded to make an Anthropolgie capelet, I just hope I have enough yarn.

I've also got the sock bug bad. Even though I've only actually finished one sock for moi, I want to BUY BUY BUY sock yarn. I have 6 skeins right now with another on the way and I can't stop looking. I even looked at the Three Irish Girls Sock Yarnista Club, although I really can't justify the price. I'm thinking the three-month club would be a good reward if I get down to 200# although I don't know that that is practical. That would be another 15 pounds on Mom's scale.

I decided to save my money from the spinning wheel and yarn sales to buy a new iPhone. So far, I have about $100 and a $50 Visa gift card so I need another $50 in yarn sales before Feb.3 when Verizon customers can buy them.

I feel totally run down today, guessing I'm getting a cold bug from the Beckel's gotta love the prodromal!

I went skiing last night with Joni to the Timberland Lighted Trail. It was a nice little ski loop, but not really a "work out". I'm planning to go this afternoon after J's naptime. I'd like to do the Beaver Brook ski trail, the one I haven't done yet. Maybe if I loose down to 190# I can reward myself with a new pair of skis?