Thursday, February 25, 2010

thoughts + actions = results

I've gotten to thinking about the repercussions of not only our actions, but our thoughts as well.  Was reading this page of this interesting blog and it got me to thinking. I know people that are unerringly positive, no matter what life throws at them. i also know people that can find the negative in every situation, no matter how trivial i might think it is. Most people, I'm sure, fall somewhere in the middle.  i know that recently i have been finding myself in a rut, psychologically and emotionally speaking.  The same negative thoughts and emotions seem to loop and repeat unless i force myself to stop and realize what I'm doing (no, I'm not going to give intimate details of my personal problems. This just isn't that kind of blog)

Generally speaking, though, i'm finding that being a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers living in a semi-isolated situation has over time drained me of my physical, psychological and emotional energy, and i am not having an easy go of trying to regain a balance on any of those fronts (hey, what is this balance thing? I'd be happy with a good night's sleep! )

I've been contemplating something that i can do/say to myself to create and reinforce positive thoughts and actions. I'm not sure what it'll be, but I'd be interested in others thoughts on the subject. I'm contemplating it being a meditation perhaps, something short that i can memorize and improvize on whenever i catch myself falling into an old rut.
I'm also thinking i'll do a working (read: a spell or magick) on the same general idea. might even dust off my tarot cards and start doing daily readings again to try to put things into some sort of new perspective

you never know what might happen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the long cold days, crochet, and clutter-busting

So. i look out my window this morning just as the sun is coming up (no, i'm not up at this time by choice). I see... not much. Looking again, i see.. fog? Oh, lovely.
I check the weather network online and see....yup. Fog. Ice fog, to be specific. and -15C to boot. whee...

and this is warm, and 'mild' for this time of year.

for those of you who might not live in such northern climes, this is a picture of part of my back yard, taken yesterday. see those two short pillars on the right side? those are the top of a 3-foot tall childrens 'castle' slide toy. yeah. lots of snow.
(the thing in the middle is a tripod for our living history group, used for cooking)
those drifts in the background against the brush are 5-6 feet tall.
that blown in path is just that.... a path towards our wood pile.

yay winter.

to keep myself from going insane, i've been spending lots of time with my hook and yarn


trying out a tapestry crochet un-pattern. .this is the beginning of a bowl/container of some sort. as you can see, i'm using two colors of worsted weight cotton, and a super-bulky acrylic hidden inside to provide bulk and stiffness.

this is the beginning of a tea towel pattern i'm trying. i like the way the fans look in the pattern.
and this

is a super-warm fast and easy pair of slippers.
the pattern is heavily adapted from a toddler slipper pattern. The original pattern is here.  It makes a great kids slipper, but when i made a pair adapted for myself, i found it too 'ridgy' using double crochet. Here is the pattern i ended up making that is more comfortable, and nice and stretchy to boot!

simple slippers
materials: acrylic worsted weight yarn (i used red heart  super saver)
              4mm crochet hook

note on gauge: i didn't test gauge for this pattern, but i tend to crochet close to most pattern gauge, so if you tend to crochet loosely or tightly, you may have to adjust your hook.

sizing: this pattern is designed to fit an average size 9 mens, or size 11 women's foot. (that'd be me)
i included one possible adjustment if you have very large/wide feet. this pattern was tested on four adults, ranging from size 8-10 mens, and fit all of them without adapting.

stitches used: 
ch - chain
hdc - half double crochet
ss - slip stitch
hdc2tog - hdc two together
st - stitch

working in rounds:
round 1: ch3. ss into first stitch to form a loop. ch2, then hdc 9 into the loop, joining with ss to 2nd ch of ch-2.
round 2: ch2. turn. hdc in same stitch. 2hdc in next stitch, 1hdc in next, *(2hdc in next hdc) twice, 1hdc in next hdc. repeat from * once, then 2hdc in last hdc, ss to join.
round 3: ch2, turn. 1hdc in each of next 3 st. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in each of next 6 hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 3hdc, join.
round4: ch2, turn.  1hdc in next 4hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 8hdc, (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 4hdc. join.
round 5: ch2, turn. 1hdc in next 5hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 10hdc, (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 5 hdc. join.
round 6: ch2, turn. 1hdc in next 6hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 12 hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 5hdc. join
(( bonus round for big feet: ch2, turn. 1hdc in next 7hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 14 hdc. (2hdc in next hdc) twice. 1hdc in next 6hdc. join ))
round 7-18:  ch2, turn. 1hdc in each hdc around. join.

the joining point will be the top center of the slipper. 
from this point, work in ROWS, not rounds.

row 19-28: ch2, turn. 1hdc in each hdc across.
row 29: ch2, turn. hdc in next 13hdc. hdc2tog in next hdc. hdc in next hdc. hdc2tog in next st. hdc in next 14 hdc.
row 30:  ch2, turn. hdc in next 12hdc. hdc2tog. hdc in next hdc. hdc2tog. hdc in next 13 hdc. fasten off, leaving long tail for sewing.

finishing:  fold the last row in half, creating the heel. stitch along this to close up the heel. weave in ends.

decorating:  if you are so inclined, feel free to decorate with flowers, ankle pom-poms, or any other frou-frou bits you desire. i left mine plain as i like to be able to slip on my clogs while still wearing them.

this pattern was written down as i made it, but hasn't been tested by a separate set of eyes. if you find errors, or have problems, please let me know!

and in the on-going war against clutter and grime: clutter and grime are still winning. they have more warriors. However, i am waging battle with clutter by thinning the herd on my over-flowing bookshelves, and trying to re-organize them at least a touch. so far about 50 books have hit the bag. i actually have almost ALL my books on shelves now! crazy. Now to get those bags to a thrift shop..... that might be the tough bit.

for all my fellow winter-persevering folk, i raise a mug of hot chocolate to you, and hope you all keep warm.

And remember to bundle up, it's cold outside.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recipe and work in progress

here we are at the end of the week... update time!

works in progress..... well, i 'completed' the summer top i was working on... it's a pattern from lion brand. NOT pleased with the results... the model was an A cup. i am a D cup. and evidently my breasts are in a different location from hers, as my top did not fit as pictured.... too low, and very low on the sides even when adjusted. going to try to do some alterations to get it wearable... mostly adjusting the straps and adding a few rows to the sides under the armpit. will post a pic if i get it usable.

made myself a nice pair of slippers. fit really well. i will post the pattern, and a picture, when i get back home (i'm currently visiting my parents this weekend)

started a pattern for a crocheted cotton dish towel. it's a nice pattern, so we'll see how it looks when i finish it.

spending 'quality time' with my family is difficult these days, as it's either "TV" time.. and not quality time at all... or involves two preschoolers running around/over/through everything while screaming and shrieking at the top of their lungs.
not much a lovey-dovey valentines in this household, let me tell you. but it's okay... eventually the kids will get older... more mature..... maybe by the time they're twenty, if i'm lucky!

here's a great recipe from my mom's black box  (again, this is not attempting to be an obscure reference... she uses a black recipe box  too!)

mom says, " if you want to serve the sauce on rice or veggies, make sure to double the recipe" (everything but the chicken)

origin of this recipe is unknown. mom may have found it in a recipe book somewhere.

Soya Chicken Wings
1/2 cup liquid honey (if yours is solid or creamed, that's fine too)
1/2 cup soya sauce
2 tablespoons catsup (or ketchup, if you spell it that way!)
1 clove of garlic, or more to taste.
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
12 chicken wings, whole or seperated

combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. place wings in a shallow baking dish. pour sauce over wings. bake at 375 F for 1 hour. baste and turn wings once to ensure coverage.

this recipe goes great with whole grain rice and steamed veggies. the chicken turns very dark from the sauce, nearly black! it makes a very sticky, finger-licking great sauce!

also noted in the recipe: may substitute spare ribs for wings

that's all for now folks. hope all you lovebirds got some extra snuggle time with your special people, and that you remember to call those family members and friends you love, but haven't seen in a while. 
take care! 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

small kids - how do you butt-cover?

this is solely a personal opinion post. my way will not necssarily be right for you, but it's right for me.

when i was first pregnant, my husband and i discussed diapering solutions. i was totally opposed to going with mainstream disposables, so we decided to get cloth diapers. we spent time going to second hand shops and collecting diapers from friends with older kids. then we purchased a few prefolds in various sizes from a local retailer, and got our plastic pants from a local mega-store. i also used paper liners once the baby was started on solids to reduce the scraping necessary to remove feces.

i did some  consulting with previous users, and determined how i was going to care for them. I decided to use a dry pail, and machine wash and dry them. i am not anal about stains, particularly as i lived on a farm with iron-rich water, so whites eventually grayed no matter what. and you know what, while not pristine white, they are a nice 'ivory' tone and don't LOOK stained, with few exceptions.

it worked wonderfully. with only a few extra loads of laundry a week, i was doing my part to reduce my carbon footprint. we hardly used any disposable diapers for baby #1

baby#2 has been a bit different, mostly due to circumstance. we've moved farther from our extended families, and therefore are on the road a lot, visiting. while it is possible to cloth diaper on the road, it requires a fair bit of extra effort, and extra space to pack.

i feel guilty every time i buy a package of disposables, but i think i can justify the use, because it's either that, or put my sanity just that wee bit closer to the edge.

that said, i still LOVE my prefold diapers, plastic pants and snapppis! i use them as much as i can, and will  likely have diapered my 2 children for less than $500 including the disposables and training pants!

i'm always interested in others opinions and such though, so feel free to let me know what you do/did for Your kids!

Monday, February 8, 2010

long days with simians and tired of the snow

Okay. so my kids aren't actually monkeys. It just seems that way some times. Particularly on those long cold stuck-in-the-house kind of days where they feed off each others energy, and seem to go from running around screaming with glee to running around just screaming in about 3 seconds flat. Just trying to do those normal everyday household chores (cooking, laundry, etc) seem nigh-on-impossible. *sigh*

It may come as no surprise that i haven't gotten much done on my Works in Progress lately. i've now got a half-finished crochet top, and a bag of strips of fabric waiting to turn into a rug (eventually)

while i haven't actually done any 'deep cleaning' i have made progress in organizing my basement (which is pretty much a mess of boxes because we're living in an undersized rental) and trying to get some stuff ready to go to thrift.

and no, i haven't done any good things for my spiritual self yet either... i have _thought_ about what i want to do... but that's pretty much the same as complete inaction.

i'm getting a bit tired of the cold whiteness outside too... so to bring a little green energy into my post, here's a pic of some of the plants from my window garden this summer

these are rainbow peppers, an edible ornamental hot pepper

some of my bounty of peppers 
(sweet medusa peppers and hot rainbow and purple peppers)

now... just think some warm thoughts

and don't look out the window

Friday, February 5, 2010

Free recipe friday - scalloped potato casserole

 - this may or may not be a recurring event, but i thought i'd post a few of my 'black box' recipes (i use a black box for my recipe cards, this is not intended as an obscure reference)
i'm going to try to write the recipes simple enough that even an inexperienced cook can follow them. wish me luck!

please note: recipes i post will NOT be 'diet', 'low-cal', 'lite' or low in sugar or fat. i like sugar and fat. if your health requires a lower calorie or healthier version, i suggest eating  the following recipe with either a large salad or a bowl of vegetable soup.

Scalloped Potato Casserole

this recipe is quick, cheap and convenient. it's for those "i'm not even thinking about supper until 4pm" kind of days where you still need to feed the kids a decent healthy meal.

materials needed:
large casserole dish or medium roasting pan, with lid.
knife, cutting board

 8-12 potatoes, sliced into 1/4" or thinner slices (i use red skinned medium ones, but this is your choice)
1 can ham, diced into 3/4" cubes
1 onion, sliced thinly into rings or strips
1-2 cups frozen or raw vegetables (a package of frozen spinach works, so does 2 cups of mixed vegetables)
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
pam or oil
1 can condensed milk
1 can condensed mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheese

preheat oven to 350 degrees F
spray/oil the inside of the pan lightly
layer the ingredients as follows:
1/4 of the potatoes
1/2 the onions and meat
1/4 of the potatoes
all the veggies
1/4 of the potatoes
the remaining onions and meat
the mushrooms
the remaining potatoes

in a seperate bowl, mix the condensed milk and soup mix. Pour this mix over the casserole layers. Sprinkle on the cheeze.
Bake covered for 45 minutes.
uncover, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the casserole is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
let casserole sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: an easy way to test this casserole is to poke at one of the potatoes right in the middle on the top with a fork. if it is soft and cooked through, the casserole is likely done. You can also test it by poking a knife right into the center of the casserole. wait one minute, then pull the knife out. if the blade is VERY hot, the casserole is cooked.

Serves: 3-6 (or an average family of four with young children)

i plan on posting a picture after the next time i make this.

in other news, we're currently preparing to visit a local school as 'the Vikings'
wait, what?

hubby the viking 

myself, my husband, our kids, plus a smattering of other family members and friends all do Living History. We recreate the Viking era and use our hobby to educate others.
So what do we do?
Well, at our biggest events, we set up era (that is, viking) tents, work on skills and crafts of the day, and put on combat demonstrations using live steel and even archery!
(please note that we have extensive safety precautions, including blunted weapons and relatively extensive training)

Our next event will be very small, and is just going  to be family members. we're going into a grade school to educate some grade 5's on the Life and Times of the average Viking.
it should be lots of fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

imbolc, spring cleaning, and going green

happy belated Imbolc / candlemas / groundhog day to all!

you may have noticed that i'm a nature worshiper in my profile. well, to be more specific, i'm essentially a non-practicing wiccan. a what? yeah. non-practicing. i'm afraid i've pretty much let my religious side slide badly since my kids have been born. i intend to do.... well, things... rituals and the like... but i quite simply don't have then energy for it. (couldn't have anything to do with the 13 mo old sucking the life ... er.. milk.. out of me, could it?!?!)

so this spring, my intent is to  increase the energy i put towards my religious/ faith-based self, and begin making an effort to practice with my pendulum and possibly start doing some energy-work again on at least a weekly basis.
i had hoped to do something for imbolc, but again, a lack of energy prevented more than the thought. i think i'm going to put one thing on my 'to do' table, though, and make myself a bratach brid, or healing blanket, to be blessed next imbolc (for more info, and pronunciation help, try this link for lots of imbolc traditions )

as for spring cleaning? well... i'm not a neat, tidy person. i never have been. and my darling hubby is worse than i, which makes it HARD to make progress in the mess... but i will be trying to make headway in making my home more friendly and mess-free. hopefully in part by sending bags full of stuff to a local thrift shop. that might help a bit!

as part of my cleaning, i'm hoping to begin switching to more 'green' and 'eco-friendly' products..  for me,. this is a 'baby steps' kind of thing. i'm not going to go out and spend a huge chunk of change on a crate of cleaning products that either work poorly, or aren't quite as green as they proclaim to be. i change one thing at a time, and test to see if it works.

so yes, happy thoughts of a waning winter and groundhog-sized shadows to all!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Works in progress

well, i actually got some things done over the past few days!
i completed my scarf project (YAY!)
this is a poor picture, i'll admit, but the scarf looks great peeking out of a winter coat  (i know, it's a gift, but i had to try it on!)
2-tone ruffled scarf
materials: 2 balls sport weight yarn, red
1 ball sport weight yarn, ivory
4mm hook, or as desired

row 1: ch203. Dc in 3rd chain from hook. Dc across. turn.
rows 2-6 : ch3, (Dc in next st, 2dc in next st) across. turn
row 7: finish off red, join in white, work as per rows 2-6. finish off. weave in ends.

note: i reserve no rights for this pattern, as ruffled scarf patterns are widely available. i simply provide the pattern in case you like this one in particular, and want to make one the same/similar.

also, i made a gift for a little boy. i hope he likes it.
isn't it cute?

and look, he fits inside!
the baby hedgehog is a slight adaptation of a pattern from the book Amigurumi World, and the Mushroom pattern is found here. (i used the larger adaptation of the instructions)

my next project is going to be for ME! i know... greedy, ain't i? i plan on making a lovely summery top to wear once it warms up!

i'm also slowly working towards getting ready to make a rug. i've been searching my house for scrap fabric, sheets and the like to make into yarn. not ready to actually start MAKING the rug yet, it's going to be a while until i have sufficient material stockpiled.

oh, and i was thrift shopping earlier in the week... picked up some nice finds, including a hemp blend shirt (gotta love hemp!) and a Woman's Day book on crochet patterns, published in the 80's. man, some of them are FUGLY! however, i think i might actually try a few of the salvageable ones, just to see how they turn out. time will tell.

Happy Imbolc everyone!