Monday, July 21, 2014

Radio Silence

It has been over a week since my last post. Radio Silence. What a week it has been! I'm sure there was a week in my life that had more stress or more tasks or more emotion. There has to have been. Perhaps it was that week in 1996 when I had a benign lump removed from my breast 2 days before a hurricane blew through and we lost power while I was recovering. It could have been the week in 1999 when we moved to North Carolina from Texas. That was a long week with us loading up a moving truck and driving two different vehicles across half the country only to arrive at midnight to an empty house and a full week of rain. I don't know. The week I broke my leg and had surgery to repair it then had a party with 40 guests into my home was a bit crazy. Granted that was a pretty easy party all I did was direct traffic from my couch throne.

Last Saturday Kam was stung by a hornet. Her hand and arm swelled to twice the normal size and she ended up at the ER. She is fine now after a week on steroids to bring the swelling down. On The Fourth of July we started having car trouble. That same Saturday the mechanic said I needed to add Sea Foam (I'm sure it is spelled differently but in my mind all sea foam is greenish blue and blows down the beach when the wind is high) to the gas tank and drive it until the check engine light came on. I can tell you I was not interested in driving around aimlessly. I had knitting to do. Fortunately the engine was so unhappy the light came on with a few short errands. On Tuesday the car was fixed enough that we were told to drive it until the check engine light comes back on and then we can determine what might be happening now. Wednesday I went to Charlotte for a product training that was amazing and full of information on bone and joint health. Crazy sleep there though because the hotel room was noisy with the AC coming on and off. Not just my room but the AC from the room next door kept me up. Then the food was weird in the morning. I have learned over and over that I must bring breakfast for myself. I cannot count on finding "real" food. sigh  Thursday was a great day. Laughter and home and all was due to be perfect for the rest of the week. I planned a fun afternoon run for Friday and a relaxing weekend mixed with outdoor exercise and knitting. Friday morning it started raining. Then the battery light came on in the car. Weird thing was the charge dropped when the car was put in gear. Yeah. The car is down again. Waiting. Waiting for something. Not a new battery. That was replaced last winter when we experienced the insane cold. Apparently car batteries don't like being exposed to -10 windchill any more than humans. I resigned myself to the car not working and thought I'd catch up on some bookkeeping. I sat to the computer and the keyboard went out. Just the battery but very eerie when you think about what was going on with the car. When I replaced the batteries in the keyboard the whole computer shut itself down. Fortunately it came back on and posed no further trouble. Oh...I almost forgot...Tuesday Kam replaced the washer. She and our son Geoff went to pick up the new washer at 8 pm. They brought it home and hooked it up. It had a factory defect. Instead of putting water into the wash tub it put water onto the floor. They returned it and hooked up a new one on Wednesday. To get the magical new one though Kam had to spend over 30 minutes on the phone with customer service and speak to 5 different people.

Needless to say I was busy this past week. I was a bit stressed for creative thought. I was also in need of a break from interacting with the world. I knew I needed to get back to writing. I chose instead to continue my silence and extend it a bit. I unplugged myself completely from the internet. What a welcome relief. I'm not sure about my reentry. It is happening. It will have to be a slow one. I'm dipping my toe in, just bit by bit. I am ready to start sharing my meals again. I needed inspiration. I needed new display dishes. I want shopping! Who doesn't like a few new dishes to perk up the kitchen boredom?

My Sunday morning started a bit late. I slept in. With all the rain this weekend I found sleep just a bit too inviting and indulged in a Sunday morning rest. Breakfast wasn't easy in the house. No car for a few days meant no groceries. Fortunately (or not depending on how you view the situation) Kam had rented a car to attend her father's 86th birthday party on Saturday (Oh...did I forget to mention that detail?) and we still had use of it. We opted for breakfast out at Whole Foods before purchasing food for the week. I ate most of it before remembering to take a picture. What did I eat? A yummy frittata made with eggs, cheese, turkey bacon, bell peppers, and new potatoes on top of a bed of spinach. I had some fresh fruit on the side, just a few bites of pineapple and honeydew melon. Kam wanted me to share this picture.

Lunch was a bit of roast turkey. My master plan for protein this week was to roast a turkey so there was meat ready for every meal. By Sunday we were feeling the same way about turkey as you do in late November. We sauteed green beans in some garlic olive oil, steamed baby carrots, and made an oil and vinegar coleslaw from a baby cabbage to go along with the turkey. 

For my afternoon snack all I wanted was some fresh berries with nuts. Kam wasn't impressed. She made me eat more turkey first. I'll spare you the picture. It is about as uneventful as eating it was. 

Dinner was fabulous!! I roast a boneless lamb roast, sweet potato, and asparagus. We had more of the fresh coleslaw with it. The flavors were amazing!

Crafting in the week? Oh, YES! I have been quite productive! I finished 3 socks, have one just over an inch from complete, another ready for the heel gusset, and have spun up 3 ounces of wool and am working on plying it now. Productivity has been wonderful. I might really need to consider this as I move back into my internet world. 

The handspun merino is on the left. The cob web laceweight indie dye is on the right. The center is the two plied together or to be honest in process of being plied together. I should mention the spindle on the left broke today. I still have over an ounce of merino to spin. I dropped the silly thing. I've dropped them before. This one hasn't been used much. It bounced and the hook broke from the top. 

This pair was in process. I had one complete and was working on the next. I'm happy to say the pair is finished!

I started this sock on the Saturday when Kam was bit. It is a differently constructed sock. It starts at the toe and works sideways around the foot and up the leg. The pattern is Skew from It fits perfectly. I understand there are plenty of knitters who have trouble with it though. I have smallish ankles. I think that is why it fist so well. When I have the two knit I'll share a photo of the pair actually on feet. The heel construction is amazing!

I have the second of these socks almost ready for the ribbing on the cuff. They have been so much fun to knit!

And finally I started this pair on Thursday. Another faster than anticipated knit. The yarn really makes the stitches pop!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Breakfast, Lunch, Where is dinner?

It is pretty safe to say my Friday this week was tinged with some Monday highlights. WOW! I thought I'd get in some simple tasks, a few big meals, and some nice craftitng. What I ended up with was plenty of simple tasks, a few larger tasks, and some unexpected add on bonus events. Meals were small and I missed one somehow. Crafting? There was some of that cardio-knitting stuff and some evening catch up knitting on a pair of socks. The cardio-knitting progress was small. Not enough to see a big difference. Just a few rounds walking back and forth to the gym. The second sock however is quite obvious. I was 2 inches from the heel turn yesterday morning. I finished up the gusset, turned the heel and made it through an inch of the leg.

Breakfast was fast. I had errands to run before heading out to the gym. Grilled pattypan squash and chicken sausage. 

Morning snack was 1/8 of a fresh cantaloupe and 1/2 ounce of cheese. Lunch was late. Remember I had a few added tasks. I sauteed pattypan squash, roasted a chicken breast and had arugula salad with it. I decided to have some gluten free blue cheese dressing with it because the meal was lacking in healthy fats. 

And this is where the day fell apart. I needed to move forward and plan dinner. I needed to get on with meal prep instead of get caught up in miscellaneous stuff that didn't progress my day. There was an apple and a few nuts. Then at 9:30 I realized I was hungry. Not the kind of hungry that is really thirsty. No I realized I forgot about dinner. YIKES!! I really wanted a salad and a bit of protein. Yes. I am one of the weird people in the world that craves salad and can be happy with one for breakfast or for a late night snack. I didn't have salad. There is another story explaining why I had not purchased groceries. I'll save that one for tomorrow. What did I do? I had purchased shrimp from the coast. I steamed it up with Old Bay seasoning. We ate peel and eat shrimp at 10 pm. It tasted wonderful. It was lacking the cold beer that came with late night peel and eat shrimp in my early 30s. 

The moral here? Plan meals and eat meals. Be flexible in your day so you have food available when last minute or forgotten appointments change your meal plan. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Beautiful Yarn!

Oh the day that was Wednesday. Breakfast was creative. I had that black bean and corn salad still. I wanted hot food. I hadn't put any dressing on it so I decided to saute it up and have turkey bacon with it. Protein and veggies or sort of veggies anyway.

Lunch was roasted zucchini and pulled turkey. The apple was more a desert thing since I ate it after the meal.

Dinner was almost gone by the time I remembered I needed a picture! I sauteed the rest of the corn and black bean salad with a yellow squash. and added sliced chicken breast to it. I had it over a bed of arugula and topped it with pumpkin seeds.

Thursday morning I had a Bengi workout. I ate an apple and had a coffee. I took a meal into the gym to eat after the workout. I remembered the picture an hour later! What did I eat? I diced a sweet potato and sliced up a chicken andouille sausage. I put these on a lightly oiled pan and put it under the broiler for 15 minutes to cook the sweet potato. It was quite tasty. 

Lunch? A skillet meal of course! First I sauteed half an onion and half a pound of ground turkey in olive oil. Then I added one small diced sweet potato, one ear of fresh corn cut from the cob, one can of black beans drained and rinsed well. I have a spicy Mexican meat rub that I've been using for flavor lately. It is some obscure thing I found. I will do my best to start using seasonings that are replaceable. The base however is chili powder and cumin. I believe it has coffee in it. It sure smells like it. 

Dinner was spectacular! Sauteed pattypan squash! YUM!! I also had fresh tuna brought from the coast. I sear that. I coat with sea salt and cracked pepper before searing on a hot griddle for a few minutes each side. The salad? I have a kale salad I like to make. It goes through many incarnations based on the availability of ingredients. This one was dinosaur kale chopped fine, 2 tbs finely chopped scallion, 1/2 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, and an ounce of grated Romano cheese. The salad dressing was 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tbs white balsamic vinegar. It really is one of my favorite foods! The sliced pear was intended as garnish but added fabulous flavor!

Crafting? Oh yes! There has been spinning progress! I have been walking and knitting. First the sock. I'm not walking very far. Only enough to do a couple of rounds. I have thought I should start walking the long way and adding in 1/2 a mile. I would also have to leave earlier for work and it is rather warm in the afternoon. Maybe I'll just start plopping myself down on the bike more often and getting in some serious cardio knitting. 

Spinning though. I have completed 17 ounces of wool! I had an issue last night. My flyer (this is one of the vital parts of the spinning wheel) malfunctioned. That is to say it separated and spins where it should be still. I recently watched the Lego Movie. I know that Everything is Awesome in the world. This was not awesome. I thought that if Kragle worked so well on the Legos it might work on my flyer. Here it is being held down by two of my cast iron pans. It stayed this way overnight in hopes that setting the glue would work.

It did work. It worked long enough to finish the last ounce of spinning and the plying of the final yarn. Then it started spinning where it should be still again. The wheel is 44 years old. I'm feeling like it might be indicating this is its last yarn. I'll share the yarn a day early. You deserve it after that horror story. I now have 540 yards of yarn. I'm not sure what pattern I'll be using but I know I'll be knitting up a vest for Kam. It is her request. I like it when she requests my hand knit items!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Holy Sore Calves Batman!

Sunday's run left a lasting impression. Calves were sore until today (Wednesday) and I couldn't focus on anything until...well...I'm not sure I am focusing yet. Lesson there? More food and more street running to build up the endurance level. I've been running mostly trail. Trail running is much softer than street running. There is more technical skill and much more core involved but not nearly the pounding that the body takes from running on the pavement for 6+ miles.

Monday's food was interesting. I wasn't interested in much. That makes it tough. Breakfast was grilled zucchini and cabbage with bacon. It was fuel but weird breakfast food.

My mid-morning snack was caprese salad. That was tasty. I could have eaten twice this much. However this was a serving. 

Late lunch was fun. I slow roasted lamb shanks. How did I do it? I lined the bottom of a large casserole with vidalia onion. Then I put chunks of sweet potato and kohlrabi over it. I put the lamb shanks on top and added 8 ounces of broth. I scattered 1 tsp each of oregano, thyme, and rosemary over the whole thing. Then I baked it at 300 for two and a half hours. The veggies were tender and the meat was falling off the bone. I served it over a bed of baby spinach.

Afternoon snack? The standard!

After work I was hungry but not wanting to eat too late. I roasted chickpeas and reheated some of the leftover veggies. This I had over top of arugula.

Tuesday's breakfast was late. I did a workout so I started my day with a runner's breakfast of nuts and coffee before heading to the gym. After that I needed protein. I'm out of butter. Eggs done in olive oil are just not the same. I cooked onion and arugula in olive oil. Then I cracked two eggs on top and added 1/2 cup of water and covered to steam poach the eggs. I had it with turkey bacon to add more protein to the meal.

My afternoon snack was a piece of watermelon and some nuts. I know. Nuts don't really go with watermelon. I have to balance the meal with protein or fat so I went for the nuts.

Late lunch was leftover pulled turkey. I made that about a week ago and had put it into the freezer for later. I roasted more zucchini for my hot veggie. My cold salad was fresh corn, canned black beans, sliced scallions, topped with fresh salsa and a side of guacamole. The taste buds were quite happy!

After work I was not interested in cooking. We decided to go out to eat. What a fantastic plan! We started with salad. Field greens with walnuts and green apple.

I had the steak. I did say earlier in the day I was getting tired of eating red meat. I know that steak is red meat. It was the best gluten free option. The meal was not Rapid Results but it was Sure and Steady. Roasted potato salad (roasted baby potato wedges in an olive oil dressing with roasted peppers and onions), topped with roasted asparagus, and finally the steak on top of that. The fun little things on top? Fresh made potato sticks. The whole thing was drizzled with a wine reduction sauce and sprinkled with fresh blue cheese. So tasty!!

Crafting progress over the last few days? Spinning of course! I'm up to 450 yards! It is so pretty!! I'm still enjoying playing with the yarn and watching the colors blend. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sunday Runday!

Sunday is normally a long run day in my world. The last few Sundays however have not included a long run. Yesterday Kam and I went out for 6.5 miles through the neighborhoods. Our intention was to be running before 9 so we caught the last of the chilly morning air. Unfortunately we missed that mark by an hour. It was 10 when we headed out. By 11 the sun was really warm and I was not enjoying myself any longer. At the end of our run we stopped by the house and picked up the dogs for a nice walk around the block...another 3/4 of a mile around the block. They were happy and we were so hungry it was no longer funny.

What to eat before a 6 mile run? I usually have coffee and nuts if I am running in the morning. Eating and running are not a good combination for me. I had an ounce of walnuts, half a cup of fresh blueberries, and a cup of coffee. During the run I had a serving of Gu Chomps, Peach Tea is my favorite flavor. I had plenty of water. Hydration is important during a run. After the run though real food was priority. Breakfast was perfect! Eggs and bacon over top fresh spinach greens with a bit of pepper Gouda on top.

I spent a bit of time out in the front yard spinning yarn. It was so refreshing. I had my audio book going and a lovely iced coffee to sip. Before I knew it I had spent 2 hours out there. The yarn I spun was 110 yards long. It is starting to look promising!

Then I relocated to a friend's pool. Well, not her own pool but one that is on the property where her house is. I took knitting for the poolside entertainment. I even managed to get through most of the gusset on this sock! It was quite an afternoon of crafting in public.

After the pool we went to her deck for a snack. Guacamole and carrots. I would much prefer to have chips and guac but I'm not eating chips right now. Carrots are just as good a vehicle as chips for moving guac to the belly. They also have more fiber, more nutrients, and less processed carbs. So carrots win over chips right now. 

Dinner? Oh yeah. We had some of that too. Funny thing about running days, we are always at least one meal down. We burn extra calories and rarely find the time to replace them. Dinner was a version of Mexican salad. Spinach and arugula in the bowl first, then seasoned black beans, then seasoned browned ground turkey. I topped this with a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds. Then topped it all off with a tablespoon of fresh salsa, two table spoons of fresh guacamole, some green olives, and a slice of fresh mozzarella. It was quite satisfying! 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

How to Survive a National Holiday

Friday was Independence Day here in the United States. Traditionally this is not the healthiest food holiday. Hot dogs and hamburgers, chips and cupcakes are popular menu items. I think we can safely say I might now eat a hamburger on a green salad but the remainder are not on my list of consumable foods. With a large country family potluck in the plans for Friday Night Dinner I had to make some fast plans!

Breakfast was interesting. Turkey bacon for protein, roasted sweet potatoes for the veggie carb, fresh apple for the raw enzymes, and peanut butter for healthy fat. Covered all the bases but was a bit odd with the mixed tastes.

Lunch before we hit the road was fresh salad (baby kale), rotisserie chicken breast, grilled squash, and green olives. 

Then we hit the road for our close to 2 hour drive. I snapped a picture of the sock progress just before we left the driveway. 

We landed alongside a beautiful river. I sat and knit for hours. Here is a shot of the next sock. I finished the toe and started to surf left while riding. 


My total progress on the new sock? Huge!

My afternoon snack was simple. Just an apple with a bit of goat cheese.

Dinner was classic picnic. If by classic picnic you mean chicken salad on baby kale, chickpea and roasted eggplant salad, dilled yellow and zucchini squash, cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives. 

On the drive home we were a bit snackish. We had to stop for gas. Silly car was a bit hungry too. It is hard to find snacks on the road when you are eating a clean diet. Fortunately we live in the southeast. Roasted and salted peanuts are always available. I was sure to portion out a serving size and stick with it. How much is a serving size? About 3/4 of a cup.

Saturday was a bright new day! I woke with a great idea! I have some de-cluttering to get done. There is too much stuff in the house. It has been bothering me for quite some time. I woke with the idea that I could "shop" through the stuff and "buy" only what I wanted. Everything else needed to leave the house and go to one of three locations, a local thrift shop, a friend's home, or the garbage bin. What a fabulous idea! I started the day with a good breakfast (brunch really because I was super tired and slept late). Remember I'm not a huge fan of the classic eggs for breakfast. We had grilled steak, kale green salad, sauteed squash, and the healthy fat was a nice clean dressing for the salad. I was all fueled up and ready to tackle the day.

I spent three hours shopping in my crafting area. I packed up two boxes to mail out. I collected items for a third box. Kam and I sorted through the miscellaneous kitchen stuff that has been collecting on the back porch. We eliminated 2 boxes of kitchen items and two more boxes of clothing. We dropped it all off at one of the thrift stores and headed to the grocery store. When we returned we made ourselves lunch. Turkey burgers with melted pepper Gouda on top of baby spinach with fresh guacamole and slices of jicama. It was perfect! We had fresh blueberries with walnuts and cream for desert. 

Kam fixed dinner. It made me smile! She reheated the remaining steak and made a fresh caprese salad. She was very sweet and thought I would like sliced cabbage with gluten free blue cheese dressing on it. I think it is better with Italian dressing. I ate it anyway though. When you are making this many meals for yourself you will eat what someone makes for you and be happy with it. 

While I was shopping I came up with a plan. I found this amazing amount of fiber. The white is a fleece I washed and started carding myself. The dark blue is a braid I was given but was partially felted during the dyeing process and couldn't spin as it was so I had already carded it once. The light green is alpaca I purchased at the fiber festival a few years ago. It is not long staple but very pretty. The turquoise blue is coltswold I found that same year at the fiber festival. The green and yellow braid is one I purchased from a friend who no longer has an online store. That one is not wool but faux cashmere, nylon! My idea? To card up batts out of this for spinning.

The batts are beautiful. I have over a pound of fiber to spin up. I was fascinated by it as I spun!

The resulting yarn has a nice art quality to it. This is only the first skein. It is 100 yards. I am hoping for 4-500 yards for the total basket.