Monday, November 14, 2011

Tumbling headfirst into the paleo diet -one tiny baby step at a time

So, as a result of general malaise, chronic sugar addiction/cravings, and slow but steady weight gain, i've decided to try a different approach  (generic 'moderation' and 'resist temptation' dieting not making any headway)

I'm always of the opinion that any diet you adopt should be a lifestyle, not something you take up for a few months merely to lose some pounds.

One of my relatives has been interested (though not precisely following) the paleo/primal diets for some time. I believe that the science behind them are fairly sound, if for no other reason than that high grain and refined carb. intakes can cause significant health problems over time. No, i'm not going to go into ANY science, because frankly, it's been done, by people MUCH more knowledgeable than me.

(one example is in the Paleo Solution, by Robb Wolf )

Thus I made the drastic decision a couple of weeks ago to *gasp* remove grains from my diet entirely!

Okay, not quite entirely, yet. I've removed all the obvious grain foods (bread, pasta, muffins, etc), and replaced them with more vegetables. I'm not yet worrying about trace amounts of grains in foods, or about legumes, or sweet corn.

Or, quite frankly, too much about the rest of the diet. Yet.

My focus right now is to eliminate grain, and drastically reduce refined sugars (not eliminate entirely as, well, i'm a bit of an addict, and cold turkey is a surefire way for me to fail!). Also, I am working on beefing up my intake of various veggies, from all points in the color spectrum.

There are some aspects of the diet i can't quite embrace yet.
no dairy? um... i'm at fairly high risk of osteoporosis. i think i'll stick to having milk products, thanks.

no sweet corn or potatoes? well, i'm gonna keep these for now. i know, they're not ideal foods, but i don't eat corn every day, and potatoes are my 'replacement' for family meals (the rest of my family are not yet on the band wagon)

coconut and palm oil okay, but lard/tallow not? I disagree completely about palm oil, but agree with caveats to both coconut and lard. Coconut oil is a fine choice, IF it's not highly processed or hydrogenated (as the types in candy and the like often are!) Lard is OK though, if (and this is a big one) it's from a grass-fed animal, as it will have much healthier trace vitamins and components than grain-fed, and even that is better than the scary stuff they sell in the stores. Never goes bad? Doesn't need refrigerating?  I think i'll pass.

Frankly, i LOVE using animal fats for cooking. give me some lard, tallow, or bacon grease any day, and i'll pan fry you some thing delicious  ;)

so far? well, i haven't lost any weight. but i wasn't expecting to, in the short term. i'm expecting losses to begin in another week or two, and progress slowly, as i'm only about 30 pounds over my ideal (and the closer to ideal, the slower things generally go!)

Hopefully, i'll keep y'all updated a little more frequently.

oh look. some lovely smooshy roving. that i dyed. yay! then i found out the dyes are not colorfast. boo. completely unrelated to the post, but i wanted to put SOME sort of picture in here  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

crochet pattern: ribbed neckwarmer

worked up a nice light button-up neckwarmer last week. it turned out nice enough i thought i'd share.

*note: this hasn't been tested, just written up as i made it. if you try it and find errors, please let me know!

Ribbed Neckwarmer

You will need:
2 - 50g skeins or balls of worsted weight wool (or fiber of your choice)
2 buttons, approx 2cm or 3/4 " across (or slightly larger)
5.5mm crochet hook

stitches used:
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
DC or dc = double crochet
FPDC or fpdc = front post double crochet
BPDC or bpdc = back post double crochet
ridge stitches = the vertical line of stitches being created by alternate fpdc and bpdc

NOTE:  turning chain does not count as a stitch

ch17, turn.
row 1: sc in second ch, sc across (16sc)
row 2: ch 1, turn. sc across (16sc)
repeat above row 17 more times, or until approximately square. continue to row A.

Row A: ch3, turn. DC across (16 dc)
Row B: ch3, turn. (FPDC in first stitch, dc in next stitch.)  repeat across.  note: this is your front side

Row C: ch3, turn. (BPDC in last rows fpdc, dc in same stitch, dc in next dc. ) repeat across, ending with BPDC in last fpdc, Dc in turning chain. (8 fp/bp ridges, each with 2dc between,  1 turning-ch/dc at each end)

row D: ch3, turn. Fpdc in ridge stitches, dc in dc across.
row E: ch3, turn. bpdc in (sunken) ridge stitches, dc in dc across.

Repeat rows D and E until ridged section is 15 1/2" long from row A to your working edge (adjust as necessary, but please finish on row E) If you have a very thick neck or like a very loose neckwarmer, work two extra rows at this point.

row F: ch3, turn. (FPDC in ridged stitch, dc2tog) repeat across, ending with fpdc in last ridged stitch, dc in previous turning chain.

row G: ch3, turn. (BPDC in ridged stitch, dc in dc) repeat across, (ending with dc in previous turning ch.)

row H: ch3, turn. (fpdc in ridged stitch, dc in dc) repeat across.

row I: ch1, turn. sc across.

repeat row I 3 more times

Row J: ch1, turn. sc in next 2 sc, ch 3 , skip next 3 sc, sc in next 4 sc, ch3, skip next 3sc, sc in last 3 sts. (two buttonholes made)

Repeat row I, working into chain stitches when necessary for 4 more rows.
Finish off, working in ends where necessary.

test-fit to determine button placement. stitch on buttons as desired.
as the sc portions tend to curl at the edge,  a gentle wet blocking is suggested.

good luck everyone!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

photoblog 4 - spinning whirling twirling

i just wanted to show off my 'new' tool

new to me spinning wheel :) needs just a little love and it'll be spinning wonderfully!

mother of all and tension adjustment

the 'working end'. orifice and maiden

bobbin, flyer etc (before i took the mucky old yarn off it!) also, temporary cotton tensioner.

Now, with any luck, i'll be able to spin the lovely super-fine alpaca yarn i'm wanting to make (and then make soft wonderful stuff like shawls with)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Adventures in homeschooling

Homeschooling is something i've always wanted to do (well, okay, wanted to do since i was adult enough to think about it). I had pretty crumby experiences in school, and knew that if my kids were in a similar school situation, they'd be just as likely as I was to come out of it scarred, rather than stronger.  Thinking of all the quirky friends i know - and yes, that includes most of you! - i've come to realize that school specific situations (bullying, high stress levels, social competition, forced competitive sports etc) seem to be at least one of the major sources of their unhappiness (or psychological issues, or social problem). Now i know that's kindof sweeping, and it certainly isn't true in all cases, but it is what it is.

Following that, i've just officially enrolled my darling daughter in her  first year of 'real' homeschooling. Last year we did Kindergarten curriculum, but i decided not to officially enroll her until we could see if homeschooling was going to work for her. It did, which makes me very happy.

This week, when most kids are trudging to their new classes to meet their new teachers, learning all those things they'd forgotten over the summer, and dealing with all those less-than-nice kids at the back of the bus.

My kids, however, spent all of today drawing, playing with blocks, doing string crafts, and playing outside.

Just as every parent is different, every homeschooling setup is different. My current setup (which is working, yay!) is this:

days 1-3: 3 pages of written work in a workbook, or equivalent: reading out loud, practicing spelling, etc. all count as a page. After, free to play or do alternative learning depending on the day.
day 4: free and clear of written work, only "play-ducation" all day - so cooking, learning about nature, making music, science experiments and all that 'other' stuff fits here.

that's it. a 4 day rotation. We throw in lots of extra 'time off' days, as suits our schedule, and sometimes take our learning on the road if need be.

Our province allows for a child-centric curriculum, which allows us to do as much or as little 'traditional' schooling as we desire, as well as as putting in as much 'other stuff' as we want, without feeling the need to cram it in after-hours.

not a recent picture, but you get the idea

Sunday, July 10, 2011

photoblog 3 - Mary mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

quite poorly, actually. something about multiple hail storms and record breaking rain, added to late planting and you get a poor garden.

the perennials are looking lovely though

hope you all have lovely sunny days!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

photoblog 2 - old mcdonald had a ...

chicken? how about a whole bunch of 'em!

some of the chicken dinners in the making!

the colored gals will be (mostly) laying birds

feeding frenzy! that's what a handful of dandelion greens'll get you!




Inca Gold



the alpacas are a bit scruffy, but this is the first time we've done shearing on the farm.

In preparation for some soapmaking experiments next month, i made some rosewater.
fresh rose petals

weight down into distilled water

more petals to add. didn't think it was strong enough yet.

the petals fade almost instantly in the hot water
finished. not much left of the petals after straining. (left)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

photoblog 1- yarn love

 just pics, folks. i'll caption them, but that's about all i've got time for at this exact moment...

our newest family member

my first attempt at edible-food coloring dying. the white is wool, the brown is alpaca, and the mesh bag holds angora.

the setup. used 2 sets of dye, just the green, blue and pink tablets. as the two sets were different brands, the colors were slightly different, leading to interesting color variations later.
all the dye has been added, and the yarn pressed into the dye. had to add some water to bring the level up to an acceptable point.
my drying rack full of dyed batts

a re-carded batt containing an odd  bit of dyed wool and the dyed alpaca  (the two skinny bits on the left of the photo above) plus some white wool. yes, i know it's a horrible looking batt. but as i'm planning on using it all myself, i don't worry about the slubs too much.

the batt above, spun fine.

the finished yarn, chain-plied into about 50 yards of tweedy gently-shading yarn.
two of the three matching batts i dyed, pulled into rovings

some of the same wool, spun up

the finished yarn, plied 1-dyed, 1-plain white wool. about 400 yards total, and should stripe wide stripes of color.
color is a bit off on some of these, but the best i can do what with the never-ending rain around here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

are you ready for the end of times?

okay. This isn't going to be a  super-serious 'the sky is falling' kindof post. I figure you all are smart enough to make your own decisions as to whether  it's just an acorn falling, or something more serious.

via this page

A quiz - How ready are you for the zombie apocalypse?

You might be accepting of the idea of bad things happening soon, you might be in denial, you might even think they’re already happening. Whatever your perception, eventually the gods/ lady luck/ karma are going to end up flattening the thus-far rather lucky human race.   Is it going to be zombies, or wild weather, or Government breakdown, or nuclear war, or even just a massive stock market crash? Who knows. On the assumption that it IS coming though, how ready are you for when it happens?

*disclaimer: this is not scientifically designed. It is for entertainment purposes only. And to make you think.*

This is old school quiz style. Grab a pencil and paper, or a notepad file, and write down the question numbers and the *most applicable* answer  (one answer per question, unless noted, and pick the one that is closest to the truth for you)

1. Lets start with an easy one: food.  How prepared are you food-wise for an emergency situation?
    A. I only eat fresh produce, and shop at the grocery or market at least three times a week.
    B. I have at least 3 months of canned and dried goods stocked in my cupboards.
    C. I eat out at restaurants most of the time, my fridge is used for holding beverages and ketchup.
    D. I have 3 years worth of MRE’s once my six months of canned goods and freezer full of food are used up.
    E. I’ve got a few bulk staples, but I’d run out of food in a couple of weeks.
    F. I’ll just go to my mom’s. She makes good food.

2. Okay. Let’s say there’s no electricity, or you’re stranded for some reason out of doors. How are your survival skills?
    A. that’s what a cell phone is for, right?
    B. I can start a fire with matches, own at least one pocket knife, and know what poison ivy looks like.
    C. I live in a city, but I’m prepared. I’ve got a generator, candles, and a solar-powered radio.
    D. I’ve done extensive wilderness camping, and love going out in the forest for a week with nothing but what I’ve got in my pockets
    E. I’ve got a book on survival skills, and I’ve read it.
    F. I know how to create a shelter, start a fire without matches or a lighter, and find water for survival.

3. Water. The stuff of life. Do you got some?
    A. I’ve got a six pack of coke and a dozen beer. I’ll be fine.
    B. I know a local above-water source or low-tech well, and have a decontamination system/plan in place for when my in-house water is used up.
    C. I have a water cooler and at least 2 - 3.5gal jugs.
    D. I have a large storage tote or set of containers of drinkable water that I change at least once a year, when I cycle out my old canned goods from my emergency stash
    E. I’ve got some iodine tablets in with my camping gear. I hear they make the water taste horrible though. Oh, And I’ve heard you can drink the water from your toilet tank too. Eew.

4. This zombie madness is lasting longer than you expected. Your food has run out. What do you do now?
    A. I pull out my foraging manual, and start figuring out what plants I can find to eat.
    B. It shouldn’t run out, because I’ll be gardening and hunting/farming to keep augmenting it. I’ll have my larder stocked full come fall.
    C. I’ll  seriously start considering cannibalism…eventually. After all, if the Donner party could do it, so can i.
    D. I’ll barter one of my skills to a local surviving farmer for food.
    E. I’ll go out into the country and steal some. After all farms have lots of food, that’s where food is made,
    F. I run to the grocery store. Duh.

5. How reliant are you on medicine/drugs/alcohol for your daily physical or mental well-being?
    A. I’m on a lot of different medications prescribed by my doctor.
    B. I’ve got a drug/alcohol/cigarette  habit. But I can kick it any time.
    C. My body is a temple. I don’t use any habit forming or unhealthy products, and only ingest homegrown food and clean water.
    D. Sure I’ve got a habit, but I grow/brew my own. So piss off. No, you can’t have any.
    E. I’m on some sort of regular medication that I take all the time.
    F. I’m an occasional user of either meds or drugs/alcohol. I don’t use anything all the time though.

6. Oh dear. Someone has been seriously injured. Can you help them?
    A. I’ve got basic first aid knowledge, but not much past that.
    B. I’m a doctor or nurse, and I regularly do things like set bones and suture wounds
    C. I tend to faint every time I see blood
    D. I’ve got a book around here somewhere on medicine. I’ll just look up their symptoms and see what it says to do.
    E. I’ve got basic knowledge of first aid and emergency training, but for anything tough I’ll likely have to rely on either someone else, or on a book to figure it out.
    F. I would perform CPR on them. Or the Heimlich maneuver. I’m also pretty good with bandaids.

7. Gee, Fluffy, your Pekinese puppy has run out of food. What do you do?
    A. get out a sharp knife, say a prayer, then butcher him. No way are we going to waste valuable protein.
    B. I‘ll let him have some of my food. That way we can starve together.
    C. I let him outside, so he can fend for himself. He’s a wild animal. He’ll be fine.
    D. I’ll give him to the nice lady across the street. She’s got a bunch of pets…. Though  I haven’t seen any of them lately…
    E. I’ll go and find a store-house with more dogfood. I’m sure no-one’s thought to raid them yet.
    F. I’ll put him down and we’ll bury him. No sense being cruel and letting him starve.

8. Slavering zombies have showed up in your yard, demanding brains, as well as your TV and valuables. How prepared are you to protect your own?
    A. I have a gun and I've taken it to a hunting range a few times.
    B. I’ve got a buncha kitchen knives. That’s gotta slow them down.
    C. I have been in the army. I have the skills I need, if I have to protect myself and my family..
    D. I go hunting regularly, and am proficient with both a blade and firearm.
    E. I’ve got mad ninja skillz I learned from a game on my X-box.
    F. I can use  both blades as well as firearms/bows with skill, but in a pinch, I can go without.  With skill and training, almost _anything_ can be used as a weapon. Particularly against un-skilled zombies.

9. Damn. This zombie madness seems to be unending. What skills do you have that you can use for long term survival?
* for this question mark down each letter that applies to you*

    A. I know how to make things out of wood or metal using low-tech means.
    B. I can make fabric from raw materials, and/or make clothing and other useful items from fabric or animal skins. Or I can tan animal hides.
    C. I'm really good with a computer, but I have no non-electric skills. Guess I’ll just have to steal or kill for what I want.
    D. I’m not very skilled yet, but I’m willing to learn, even if it means I’m the guy doing the boring jobs for a long time. At least I’ll be surviving!
    E. I am a proficient gardener, and know at least 3 ways of preserving food without electricity.
    F. I am good with animals and have experience caring for livestock OR I can hunt without using a gun, successfully. And have.
    G. I can (and have) brewed and/or distilled alcohol. And it tastes good
    H. I’ve got lots of books and files on my computer with how-to manuals. I’m sure I can figure something out.
    I. I have medical training, and sufficient skills to use it.
    J. those who can’t…. yeah. I can teach. I can teach the 3 R’s to children, so they can be smart enough to get out of this mess eventually!
    K. I’m good at scavenging and making do, and can MacGyver stuff together fairly efficiently.


Overall, questions are scored 0-5 points, 5 points indicating the highest preparation, 0 points indicating little or no preparation.

Note: for question 9, points are additive, not one answer only!

1. A-1   B-4   C-0   D-5   E-2   F-1
2. A-0   B-3   C-1   D-5   E-1   F4

3. A-0   B-5   C-2   D-4   E-1
4. A-3   B-5   C-2   D-4   E-1   F-0

5. A-0   B-1   C-5   D-5   E-1   F-4
6. A-3   B-5   C-0   D-1   E-4   F-2

7. A-2   B-1   C-1   D-3   E-0   F-4
8. A-2   B-1   C-4   D-4   E-0   F-5


9. A-3   B-3   C-0   D-2   E-3   F-3   G-3   H-1   I-3   J-2   K-3

If you scored:

You have a lot of work ahead of you. Perhaps this just isn’t something you’ve thought of before, or you purposefully decided to hide your head in the sand. Taking a first aid course, a gardening class or a handgun training course might be a good idea.  Think about small steps you can make now, like buying some foods with long shelf-life, and getting a jug of water to put away in case of an emergency. Every small step in the right direction counts!

Well you’ve got some skills, but you have a lot to learn. You maybe have more ‘book learning’ than hands-on, and that’s something you can concentrate on fixing. Perhaps you don’t have a lot of useful skills. Ask your local woodworker/blacksmith/weaver to teach you some basics. Get your mother or grandmother to teach you how to do some canning.  You might even find you like it!

You’ve spent a fair bit of time preparing and learning skills. You have a good idea what you’ll do when the zombies come, and have probably talked about it with your family. Now is the time to look with an objective eye and see what areas you’re still weak in, then focus your energies there.

51 and up
You are pretty prepared. You have the skills, the stores, and the knowledge to allow you to last during a catastrophic event. Just don’t let your skills get rusty! Keep thinking, planning and helping others with their own learning and planning!

As a note, I scored  myself at 44. Still got a ways to go before I feel _really _ prepared.

Monday, February 28, 2011

of goings on in wintertime

I'm sitting here watching my plants slowly die (it's end of season for my peppers and tomatoes, and they're going down fast!) and thinking about what to plant for the new season. I decided to list all the seeds i had saved here and there around the house, and figure out what i actually wanted to plant.  Plus, i also need to amalgamate plans with mom, as we're sharing the garden. I'm pretty sure i'll be planting: white carrots, zucchini, pumpkins, and at least two types of tomatoes (likely more). must. do . more. planning....   :D

I got a swap gift in the mail today (and yes, i did a girly little happy dance as i started to open it!).
above is the first unwrapping (a postcard, and gift in bag)

next layer in, some toffee and the gift itself... this was a magic yarn ball swap, and my swap partner had it wrapped up beautifully!

partway through unwinding the yarn ball inside... so. much. yarn. woohoo!
you can't really tell, but it's a lovely variegated green. i think it will work into something crocheted (or loom knit) beautifully!

and finally, all the goodies that were inside. You see, a Magic yarn ball is a bunch of treats/goodies/things wrapped together in yarn, and the recipient gets to re-roll the yarn and find all the surprises inside!

in other news, my Strawberry mead is smelling WONDERFUL!... just about time to move it to the carboy, i think.

i`ve been crocheting a fair bit, and my spinning is currently on hold and will likely be so for a while, because March is National Crochet Month. Because of this, I plan on crocheting every day for the next month, no breaks (which of course means that i`ll be doing less spinning/loomknitting as a result)

i'm definitely ready for some warmer weather... maybe some rain.... melting snow.... anything?? yeah. soon, i hope.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Of winter, and fleece, and all things indoors

hey folks.  Guess i'm not feeling very blog motivated these days. Sorry.

However, i have been keeping myself busy (of course!)

my daughter is doing better everyday with her home education. she's beginning to sound words out fairly accurately, when prompted, and is starting to learn about telling  time.

strawberry mead,  brewing right now! yum!!

my first knit sock. no, really! i'm using a sock loom. it's slow, but very interesting!

I've recently purchased some icelandic fleece, and have washed a pound of it...

Yup, that's what a pound of fleece looks like.
It washed really really easily, and i'm very happy with the result. i also washed an 'extra' bit the seller threw in. unfortunately, the grease had hardened, and i was unable to completely clean it. I will be trying to comb and spin it, but don't expect fantastic results.

Icelandic fleece is much different than your 'average' white wooly sheep's fleece. it has two different parts of the hair, a long coarse hair, and a much shorter, very fine hair.

this fleece is grey, however you may notice that the skinny ends are dark grey, while the fluffy thick bits are light grey.
I decided to test-separate some of the fleece, because as far as i can tell, they did that historically (the coarse hairs had one set of uses, the fine another set. makes sense to me. dual purpose fibers.

as you can see, the fibers are very different in color once separated. The fine hairs were actually nearly perfectly white if i take all the coarse hairs out!  However, i'm only going to pull the longest and coarsest, leaving a bit of grey in the softer fibers.
some yarn i've spun, drip drying after being washed and set.

a little yarn porn  ;)  my most recently finished yarn. it's 50/50 alpaca and wool

and this is my currently-being blocked super-crazy colorwork crochet project. (in case you're wondering, it's a row of running feegles, a la Terry Pratchett)

hope everyone is staying warm, and planning your gardens!