Tuesday, 30 December 2008

My Own Little Unorthodox Yom Kippur - In A Manner of Speaking

I participated in several celebratory events that involved food over the past couple of weeks - 3 pot luck events, Christmas dinner and a couple of post Christmas leftover turkey dinners with leftover cranberries and leftover scalloped potatoes. Does it count that I added 1/2 cup of peas? Anyway I am now atoning for my gastronomic sins.

Now, I know Yom Kippur is a 'day' of atonement but I'm going to take a whole week. My method involves going to the gym every day starting last Saturday. I've done 2 Zumba classes and one weight-lifting class since then and have the achy muscles to show for it. I have 2 more Zumba classes on the roster for this week and at least one more weight-lifting class and possibly another aerobic class of some type. My other motivation is a little card which, when initialled 28 times by class instructors, entitles me to win a cheap, plastic luggage tag. Hey, turn something into a competition and I'm there. This is where I am on this card.

I had another card with 17 stars initialled but I LOST IT!!! So I started this card at the beginning of December in an attempt to catch up before the deadline of Sunday 4 January.

The Zumba instructor in Bowmanville gave me bonus initials because I sing during our class. :-)

Here are my loved ones at our little Christmas dinner. We are small in number but mighty in enthusiasm.

On the stitching front, I completed two little stockings which hang on the wreaths on our front doors.

I stitched the mitten back in the 90s.

I also finished stitching the Victoria Sampler Christmas bellpull.

Yesterday I finished the first Noro Silk Garden 4 x 1 ribbed, toe-up sock. I used a loose tubular bind off (Knit One, Purl One) and got a fairly stretchy top. I kept weighing the ever-diminishing-in-size skein until I had exactly half the yarn left. I will start the 2nd sock sometime soon - when I'm not sweating my arse off at the gym, that is. Vickie reminded me that I could have done an afterthought heel which would have made things a bit easier. Maybe next time.

Ollie got his Christmas mousie and really seemed to like it.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

"And To All A Good Night"

We wish you a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah or anything else you care to celebrate during this holiday season.

We enjoyed our Christmas Eve at Norm and Lena's. Luke, the cat, enjoyed the catnip mousie - so much that by the time we left, he had ripped a hole in it and had almost yanked out the catnip sac.

And now.... to bed.

"... Not Even a Mousie"

I finished a second mousie today. The green one is for my Ollie for Christmas. The pinker one is a gift for Lena's cats. They are stuffed with homegrown catnip. The pattern is from the Catwarming set found in Stitch 'n Bitch Nation using scraps of Noro Kureyon yarn and 3.5mm needles.
The only modification was that instead of breaking the yarn after finishing the body, I p2tog a row and made i-cord with the remaining three stitches. Ollie tore the tail off the first one I made him so this way, the tail is firmly attached.

"Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful"

We got another big dump of snow last night. It is our third accumulation of snow in about a week. Here is Skip clearing the driveway. It is very heavy, wet snow as the temperature is above freezing so it took the three of us to do the clearing.

If you click on the photo and look at the snow by Skip's boot, you can see how much we got last night.

And here's our neighbour from across the street, Bill.

I don't remember having this much snow in December - ever. The big piles of snow by the driveways won't be gone until at least late March - maybe longer. Only 34 days 'til we head south.

Just When I Thought I'd Heard Everything

I went into The Big City today (Tues., Dec. 23) to meet Lorna and Nancy for lunch and then head to the Danforth to a lingerie shop where I had ordered some new 'underthings' as my old 'underthings' no longer support me in the way I have become accustomed due to my weight loss. I finished reading Ann Hood's "The Knitting Circle" on the way in on the GO train and can now return it to the library. It was a good read although pretty predictable with a bit of far-fetchedness thrown in.

After finishing up on the Danforth, I took the subway to the Main station in order to walk the 1/2 block to the Danforth GO train station to await my eastward train. I got there in time to hear that the 3:24 train was delayed by 20 minutes. A couple of minutes later we were told it would be 30 minutes late as it was stopped west of downtown because IT HAD RUN OUT OF GAS! Say what? Huh? I've never heard such a thing. Sure enough, at 3:54 the train pulled into the station and on we got. Good grief. On the way into the city this morning we were delayed for 4 minutes because someone wishing to get off at the Scarborough station got on the wrong car and had to walk through the train at the station in order to get to a car where the doors would open as the doors on west half the train don't open due to station construction. The driver/announcer sounded really ticked off as he explained our delay while the person was making her way to the correct car and then after she got off and we were underway again. Crabby, crabby.

Fortunately, I had my Noro Silk Garden toe-up sock with me to work on. For the cost of the yarn, I'm not impressed with the two knots I've encountered nor the fact that although the ball band says 100g there are only 92g. Harumph. However, I am liking how it is knitting up. I'm using smaller needles (2.75mm) than recommended and am getting a nice dense fabric which will be very warm on my feet. I'm on the home stretch with the first sock as I've turned the heel and will knit the leg until I have a little more than 46g of yarn left on the ball (92g/2 socks = 46g each). That should ensure a nice long leg and not much yarn left over after finishing sock number 2.

These colours are pretty true.

A couple of nights ago I knit another coffee cup sleeve in some leftover Noro Kureyon yarn.

And although it won't be done for THIS Christmas, I've continued to work on the Victoria Sampler Christmas bell pull hardanger project .

Scooter is with us until Christmas Day after dinner. We decided to go to the movies this evening and the consensus was that we see Disney's 'Bolt' in 3D. It was $2 more per person but very cute and lots of fun. The 3D glasses have improved from the previous cardboard ones with red and blue acetate gels. Ours tonight were plastic horn-rims - nerdy, yet, high tech. And there was a bin at the exit for recycling them. I don't remember hearing a lot about Bolt when it came out but it's a good family movie. Although there was some dramatic tension, there weren't any terrifying moments so even really small children would enjoy it.

Tomorrow we will spend Christmas Eve the way we have for the last 13 years - with Skip's former neighbours in the West Rouge, Norm and Lena. Lena puts on an amazing Swedish spread with dried ham, Swedish meatballs, Mr. Jannson's temptation, rödbetssallad (beetroot salad), wonderful cheeses, rice pudding, little sticky toffees called knäck, and glögg. I have decided that, although I won't go 'hog wild' during the holidays, I plan to enjoy all elements of our Christmas dinners and may even partake in some glögg at Lena's and some wine with our turkey dinner. To atone for any gastronomic sins, I plan to go to 4 Zumba classes next week as there are two extras on the schedule; one on Dec. 31 at 9:30 in Oshawa and one on Jan. 1 at 9:30 in Bowmanville.

Friday, 19 December 2008


We got a big dump of snow today - probably 8" - 10" with high winds. Skip and I blew out the driveway at about 3pm. It was a good workout. Environment Canada called it Snow-mageddon but I preferred calling it Storm-A-Palooza.

So today was a really good day to stay inside and knit. I finished the Mille Colori Slouchy Mittens - a modification of Vickie and Martina's Slouchy Hand Warmers. In order to have enough yarn to complete a mitten I only did 5 slouches at the cuff and extended the ribbing to the tips of my fingers. Then I k2tog the two knits and p2tog the two purls for one round. Then I k2tog for one round. Then I had 5 stitches on each of the back and front needles so I grafted them. When I finished the thumb, I k2tog the 2 knits and p2tog the 2 purls for the round, then k2tog the next round. Then I pulled the yarn through the remaining stitches and closed the end and wove in the yarn. I bought three more skeins last night to make either a hat or a scarf and decided today to make a scarf as I really don't wear hats.

Last night at the Kniterary pot luck event I purchased a lovely Victoria Sampler hardanger/cross-stitch pattern at Hedgehog Stitchery (Durham Region's finest stitchery shop) called 'Christmas Hearts' and the accessory pack. I look forward to starting it soon.

This evening I did a quick knit for Lorna for Christmas - a coffee cup sleeve from the Canadian Living website. I knit a few extra rows of stocking stitch and then stitched the word 'café' on it for a bit of pizazz. I did a cable cast-on and the Knit One-Purl One bind off as outlined on the Knitting Help website under Casting Off - about 3/4 of the way down the page.

I'm hoping to make it to my Zumba class in Bowmanville tomorrow morning. I hope the 401 is well cleaned off. I missed the Wednesday class because of the embroidery guild pot luck so I really want to get there tomorrow.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas Is Coming...

I have been derelict in my blogging duties - mostly because I've been planning and executing a few things.

All last week I prepared for Skip's birthday party. There were lots of lists to make, lots of groceries to buy, lots of food to make, lots of tidying, cleaning and last-minute things to do.
I procrastinated about ordering the cake. When I finally went to A & P and looked through their catalogue of cakes, I flipped through the Barbie, Spiderman, Dora and Simpsons cakes and happened upon a 'golfer' cake. Score!!!

And here's the birthday boy with his cake:

Another cool thing I did was finally make some window coverings for our front window in the living room. I painted the room 2 1/2 years ago and never did get anything on the windows. I thought, 'why not get something festive for the holiday season' and found some inexpensive sheer nylon fabric silkscreened with gold stars. After a $17 Cdn. investment and sewing a few straight lines, I had festive sheers.

(click on the photo for a close up view)

That is Skip's little tree adorned with bird ornaments and ornaments Scooter made and displayed as a small child.

Since the party, which was a big success, I've been doing some Christmas baking. Yesterday I made my sister-in-law's Chocolate Macaroon recipe (this one is pretty close) and also a bunch of Rolo Pretzel Turtles. I've also made devilled eggs for 3 events in the last two weeks. It's actually like an egg salad filling for the egg halves. The tortilla rollups I made were also very popular. To make them healthier, I used whole wheat tortillas and low-fat cream cheese. Also, last week made phyllo cheese and artichoke triangles. Unfortunately, I forgot to serve them at the party so we fed them to Skip's brother and his wife the next day when they dropped by with Skip's birthday card. They were yummy, if I do say so myself.

I love having parties because it forces us to get the house tidied and cleaned up. Over several days, I managed to get everything done (and all the detritus shoved into my office upstairs).

Last night was the pot luck event and ornament exchange for our Trillium Embroidery Guild. I contributed a hardanger ornament which Vickie picked.

Here it is before I cut around the buttonhole stitch and added the hanger.

Here are all the ornaments that were exchanged taken on my cell phone, hence the crappy shot.

The one I received was the lovely, fancy one on the left created by Amy who coincidentally happens to be a Sarnia native. The one I stitched is on the right in the middle above the long, thin one (Vickie's blackwork book mark).

After I got home, I started a toe-up sock using Judy's Magic Cast-On which made much more sense to me after watching Cat Bordhi's YouTube video. I'm using Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn and am enjoying how cozy the sock feels as I try it on at various times in progress.

Today I'm pretty much having a pyjama day. That is, until I have to clean myself up and get ready for the pot luck festivities at Kniterary this evening. After that, I may head to downtown Oshawa to hear one of my former students entertaining on the piano at Izabella's Cafe.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Happy Birthday, Scooter!

Today is Scooter's 15th birthday. They sure grow up fast. He was going to be having a bunch of friends over at his mother's place. I'm sure they had a great time.

Here he is at 1 1/2 years old - the summer I first met him and started dating his father.

We still have those little sandals. (♥ sigh)

And here he is now:

They sure grow up fast.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Crisis Averted

Our cat, Ollie, is a people's cat.
He isn't aloof like a lot of cats. Unless he's having his 4-hour midday nap, he likes to be in the same room as either Skip or me. When we go away for a couple of days, a neighbour comes in and feeds him. But if we're away a week or more, he really needs to go to a place where he can be with people. Last year when Skip and I spent a month in Texas, Ollie stayed with Skip's niece, Michelle and her two kids, Amber and Elliott. Unfortunately this year her living situation has changed and she can't look after him.

This sent me into a total panic today when one of my friends who thought she could take him told me she couldn't after all. I certainly understand that looking after someone else's cat for 70 days is a big committment, but it looked like the alternative was a kennel where he would be exposed to lots of kitties (and their diseases), not to mention the small fortune it would have cost.

So this afternoon I panicked and started e-mailing people and sending my 'friends' Facebook messages in hopes someone would be able to help me out. My friend, Francey, in Georgia even offered to look after him if we dropped him off at her place on our way to Texas.

Finally at about 6pm, Lee-Ann, one of the secretaries who used to work at my former school sent me a cheery Facebook message: I would love to...I'm all over it....let me know...But I of course will...I love kitty's.

Man, was I ever relieved. The weight of the world suddenly lifted off my shoulders. Since then, two other wonderful people have offered to help me out so I will certainly keep them in mind for future trips.

Last night I blocked Elaine's shawl. It took up the entire queen sized bed in Scooter's room.

Of course, I forgot to take it to her this evening at our Sit 'n Knit so will drop it off tomorrow morning after Skip and I go out for breakfast and go to the library. I love blocking lace. I think she's going to really like how it turned out. That's also the first quilt I ever made- the 'Forever Green Quilt' from the January 1993 Canadian Living magazine. I haven't made too many since then but I'd like to make another one of these.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Slouchy Christmas Tree

Martina Munroe, the very talented proprietor of Kniterary, my local yarn shop, has designed a very cute knitted Christmas tree. Vickie Hartog's Slouchy Hand Warmers are the inspiration for Martina's Slouchy Christmas Tree. Both patterns can be purchased at Kniterary. I was fortunate enough to obtain the pattern and knit my Slouchy Christmas Tree using two strands specialty sock yarn I purchased at Belfast Mini-Mills in Prince Edward Island this summer.

I haven't put the decorations (buttons) on it yet but have considered decorating it with my earrings.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

More Hardanger

I finished another hardanger ornament. I had to switch out the bugle beads. It called for cream-coloured bugle beads but they were not to be found in the usual places so I used green bugle beads.

I also finished stitching my name tag for the Embroidery Guild. I'll have to figure out how to finish it before next week's potluck dinner/meeting.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Then and Now

I've been working on losing weight since the summer. Starting at the beginning of June, I power-walked 30 - 40 min. per day for three solid weeks with no change on the scales. I started with a personal trainer on July 23 and spent 6 weeks working with her on the weight machines three times a week followed by 20 min. of work on the treadmill. This program included a very proscribed, low fat, low cal eating plan. After the 6 weeks I had lost 8.2 lb. of fat and gained 1.4 lb. of lean muscle mass. I also had lost 9 3/4 inches off my bust, waist and hips. I have continued to follow the healthy, nutritious, balanced meal plan and have been going to Zumba classes 2 - 3 times a week plus working in a weight-training class every week. Today, 3 months after finishing with the personal trainer, I have lost a total of 23.3 lb of fat and gained 6.6 lb of lean muscle mass for a net loss of 16.7 lb. I have literally worked my butt off as evidenced by my reduced pants size.

It has been a gradual process and happily, not too painful. I have learned how to eat properly and have actually been cooking meals on a regular basis for the first time in my life. Not only has eating at home more been good on our food budget, I've had total control of what's been going in my mouth. I really haven't felt deprived at all. The best thing is that I'm now more fit and healthy than I ever have been in my life. My blood pressure last week was 110/70 - down 10 points in both numbers.

This time, things just seemed to 'click' for me where I had always floundered before. The motivator was when I saw a very unflattering picture taken of me. Yikes! I could no longer deny that I had allowed my eating to get out of control. Also, a couple of my friends had recently shed a significant amount of weight and I wanted to be a 'copycat'. I also have diabetes and colon cancer in my family history and decided that I wanted as good a quality of life as I could possibly create for myself. I want to be able to get on and off a toilet unassisted, climb stairs, walk for an extended period of time and not have sore hip and knee joints from carrying around too much weight. I want to enjoy my retirement to the fullest. I had to admit I needed help and shelling out the cash for a personal trainer made me accountable really quickly.

My sister, Valerie, created side by side photos of me taken then (May 15) and a couple of weeks ago (Nov. 23?). See any difference? I'm minus at least one chin.

Only 5 lb. 'til I get to my next goal weight and then 6 more after that to my ultimate goal. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Multi-tasking ---> FOs and UFOs

I'm happy with the gaiter I knit modifying the pattern from Leigh Radford's "One Skein". I did knit it longer than the pattern calls for so it can either be worn standing up like a Sir Walter Raleigh collar

or folded over for double the warmth like a turtleneck.

I finally took a shot of the NOEL hardanger project as a fait accompli.

I continue to putter away on three different scarf projects. The Lacy Leaf scarf,

the Boku striped, ribbed scarf,

and the Lily of the Valley Scarf from Nancy Bush's "Knitted Lace of Estonia". This will look MUCH better once completed and severely blocked.

I also started another hardanger project on sand-coloured linen with ecru floss. It will have lots of beads.