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February 2010

January 2010

It's Friday! Round'em Up!

Ahhh.  Friday at last. 

And the last Friday in January, at that!  Doesn't January just seem to . . . creep along?  So dark.  So cold.  So . . . long.  But it's almost February.  And all I can say is. . .

Candy 001 

Somebody - STOP ME!

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If you (or your kids) are Facebook users, you really ought to take a look at this article from the NY Times.   There are 3 very simple (and very quick) steps you can take to adjust your Facebook settings to protect your privacy.  (It took me less than 3 minutes to follow the directions.)

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I will miss Ping on Project Runway. . . but I think Amy was robbed last night!

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And, as far as Mind Candy goes this week, well, this one is for my niece.  Hang in there, Jes!

Life comes back 

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Have a wonderful weekend!


Downright Sassy

Next week. . . it's the one year anniversary of my final chemo treatment.  Which also means. . . it's the one year anniversary of my Hair Re-Growth!

As my hair grew in, it got curlier and curlier and curlier.  Here's a photo from last summer -- when my hair reached the monumental 2-inch mark:

6 mos out 005 

And here it was a couple of months later:

Curly back 

Curly.  Curly.  Curly.  Like. . . can you say "Grandma Perm?"

My doctor told me that "chemo curls" don't usually last longer than a year or so, and she expected that - eventually - my hair would calm down a bit.

Well.  I got a haircut last week (my fourth since August!), and . . . she was right!  The curls are on the way out!  Emily the Wonder Stylist concurs -- my hair is losing its curl.

Here's my new 'do from the back:

January 24 random 001 

Much straighter -- but still some curl.

January 24 random 002 

Emily says I'm looking "downright sassy!"  Sassy or not. . . I'm just happy to have hair to mess with again.


Writing Them Down: Everything Else

"Map out your future, but do it in pencil."  -- Jon Bon Jovi

Earlier this month, I decided to write down my goals for the new year -- in my blog.  I really do think there's something . . . magical. . . about writing your goals down.  And sometimes I think it helps to share them in a public way.  Built-in accountability, you know?  (But I do think it's okay to use a pencil!)

So.  Since it's already the end of January, I decided I better get this goal-setting wrapped up.

"When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves."  -- Anthony J. D'Angelo

Garden June 17 09 012 

My personal gardening goals for 2010 are:

  1. Renovate the big bed in the side yard near my driveway.  (Now that I've finally admitted that my long-wished-for "cottage garden" just isn't going to work in that location, I need to find the plants that will!)
  2. Incorporate more vegetables and herbs into the existing beds -- and add containers.
  3. Expand the pond (but only slightly. . . don't worry, Tom.  Not much digging!)
  4. Add a swing to the pergola and get some new patio furniture.
  5. Thin out some of the overgrown plants and participate in plant trades with other gardeners.
  6. Start thinking about renovating the shade garden; gather ideas.
  7. Begin worm composting!

"Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion.  You must set yourself on fire."  -- Arnold H. Glasow

January 27 random 001 

My personal health and fitness goals for 2010 are:

  1. Stay the course.  I've developed a good fitness regimen -- I need to maintain the program.
  2. Up my swimming mileage to 2 miles/per week by June.
  3. Drink more water!
  4. Focus on mindfulness - living in the moment.
  5. Practice meditation.
  6. Continue taking Jenny for a walk every day -- regardless of the weather.

"Of course I'm ambitious.  What's wrong with that?  Otherwise you sleep all day."  -- Ringo Starr

Book monster 

My personal reading goals for 2010 are:

  1. Always have a novel going!
  2. Read a "classic" at least every 3rd book.  (On the list for this year: "The Awakening" and "Dracula", for sure.  Quite possibly "Anna Karenina."  And definitely something by Dickens.)
  3. Read at least one of Charles Dickens' novels ("Great Expectations"?  "David Copperfield"?) because I never have, and I want to give it a try.
  4. Read at least two non-fiction books (other than gardening or knitting books).

"The question isn't who is going to let me;  it's who is going to stop me!"  -- Ayn Rand

Echinops 

My personal miscellaneous goals for 2010 are:

  1. Do something with my photographs (like framing. . . or notecards. . .).
  2. Put together a great scrapbook for Brian as he graduates from high school.
  3. Paint and organize the mudroom and laundry room.
  4. Use things up before replacing; repair when possible.
  5. Take Jenny to the "advanced" obedience training class and continue to work with her.
  6. Think twice (or three times) before making purchases; limit impulsive buying.
  7. Do whatever I can to reduce my "carbon footprint."

Okay.  That's it.  They're written down.  In pencil!

"Don't say you don't have enough time.  You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. "  -- Life's Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.


A Remarkable Study in Contrast

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the hospital emergency room with Brian.  Nothing serious.

January 25 random 003 

While working with his fellow Science Olympiad team members on their Rube Goldberg project, Brian sliced his finger open with some steel wool.  You know, we have never had to make a visit to the emergency room because of hockey.  The irony does not escape me. . . that it was the calm-and-cerebral Science Olympiad - and not violent-and-brutal hockey - that sent us to the ER!

While at the hospital, Brian and I marveled at the smooth flow of events.  Even though it took a long time (as visits to the ER tend to do), we were treated courteously; we were comfortable; everything was neat and clean and well-stocked.  They were ready for us!  The doctors and nurses, though busy (especially when dealing with a screaming toddler who had something. . . big . . . wedged in a nostril) were pleasant, helpful, and in good humor.  Everyone was confident - and competent.  The equipment was shiny and plentiful.  We were impressed with the portable x-ray machine that they brought right in to Brian's room to take x-rays of his finger (they needed to make sure there weren't any steel wool fragments in the wound), and even more impressed when the doctor called the images up on his computer screen only moments later.  Brian was pleased to leave the ER without stitches (they "glued" his wound shut with Dermabond instead) - although he wasn't happy with the Tetanus shot.

Our visit to the hospital was an unwelcome diversion -- but quick, convenient, easy, not-quite-painless, and very. . . dependable.

Fast forward to this afternoon.  I sat down at my computer with my cup of tea and a little mid-afternoon snack.  Time to check my email, read some blogs, maybe catch up on some computer work.

January 25 random 004 

I followed a link on an email from one of my friends to this video. . . showing the Doctors Without Borders inflatable hospital being set up in Haiti.


The contrast between my own experience at the ER with Brian yesterday. . . and the medical situation in Haiti today. . . is stunning.  Our shiny, accessible, friendly ER experience . . . contrasted with the very basic, very real, and very poignant needs in Haiti is almost unfathomable to me.

I know that many of you have already supported the relief efforts in Haiti.  But now that the crisis is beginning to fade from the coverage on our news channels here in the US, we need to be reminded that  the needs there are great -- and still growing.  If you haven't already, I hope you'll consider the needs in Haiti --- especially in contrast to how fortunate most of us are here in the US -- and help support aid efforts there.

If you're wondering how to help, you could start by checking out the Doctors Without Borders website.  For additional ideas, the New York Times blog has published an extensive list of agencies involved in Haiti relief efforts.  And if you are a knitter, there are some special ways for you to show your support.  Ravelry has a group devoted to promoting information about Haiti relief efforts and opportunities; many designers are offering a portion of pattern sales proceeds back to Haitian relief efforts (click here for Help for Haiti pattern offerings on Ravelry), and there is the Yarn Harlot's ongoing support of Doctors Without Borders/Medecins San Frontieres (if you do make a contribution to Doctors Without Borders, please let Stephanie know, so she can update her knitters-give total -- which is now over $1,000,000).

If all of this weren't enough incentive to help our neighbors in Haiti, the IRS has given us all one more reason to jump on this.  Click here to read more about a special tax relief provision -- enacted just yesterday -- allowing people who make cash contributions to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti to claim these donations on their 2009 tax returns.  (Please make sure to read all the details of this provision.  I'm not giving tax advice here -- just letting you know about this new rule.)

As I sit here, drinking my tea in my comfortable home with my healthy family nearby, I am grateful -- and aware.  The contrast is remarkable.


Little Ship of Dreams

Time for a soundtrack. . . Hit it, girls!


(Love this version of Dreamboat Annie. . . but the hair on the guy on keyboard?  Oh, my!  Just a bit distracting.)

Yes, what else but a song by Heart to commemorate the completion of my Psychic Heart mittens!

Dreamboat annie 016 

I've done enough whining and complaining about this particular project, so I'll keep it to a minimum today.  In the end, let's just say that . . . I like the mittens (Ravelry link) a little better than I had expected.  Everything looked a bit better after a good blocking.  The yarn "plumped up" a bit, the uneven stranding . . .evened out, and the colors just look better together.  Oh, and they fit.  (That's always a good thing.)

Dreamboat annie 001 

This is the first pair of mittens I've made without a thumb gusset.  It was fun to try something new, but I think I prefer mittens with a thumb gusset.  The mitten pulls across the palm a bit, although after a while, you get used to it.  It's not bad. . . it's just different.

Dreamboat annie 011 

I've been wearing these out-and-about today, and I've had several positive comments.  No one (yet) has pointed out that my color choices could have been better. . . or that it was unwise to throw that yellow into the mix. (Even though both of those things are true.)

These mittens are bright and cheerful.  They make me happy and keep me warm.  Good things. . . in January. . . when the temperature is dropping. . . and snowflakes are in the air.

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1,000

Earlier this morning, Sharon (no blog) made the 1,000th comment on my blog!  I'm really excited -- because Sharon made the original suggestion to offer a minion as a prize for a blog-contest.  Congratulations, Sharon!  And thanks to all of you for reading, and commenting, and supporting me.


Another Friday RoundUp

I had fun with my Friday RoundUp last week, so I'm doing it again. . .

On the Needles

Not much knitting news this week.  I'm plugging away on my Psychic Heart Mittens.  One is done.  One is not.  Blocking is sorely needed.

Random stuff 012210 002 

I really don't like the yellow.  It looks like it will play so nicely with the other colors. . . just sitting there in the skein.  Once it gets out in the open, though.  Yikes!  So bright!  It screams at the other colors!  I also discovered that I'm not really liking the "Latvian" shape of the the top of the mitten (which you can't see in this photo) -- but it comes to a point.  I much prefer a rounded shape on my mittens.  These mittens will be. . . fine. . . when they're finished.  They need a good blocking, and they do look better on my hand than just laying there.  All in all, it's been good to get back into color work -- and I've learned some important color lessons.

Because these mittens are futzy (although the pattern is easy to memorize), I have a simple project going for tv-watching and phone-talking. 

Random stuff 012210 006 

Yet another Noro-stripe-scarf (without the Noro).  Apparently, I will never tire of watching the colors change and blend together.  

I also took some time to sit back with a cup of tea and some new knitting magazines yesterday.  Knitting magazines seem to be totally hit or miss with me.  Either I hate every design, or I like a bunch of them.  I don't know why that is. . . but I rarely just like one design!  Yesterday, I was completely charmed by these---

Random stuff 012210 003

The top sweater is in knitsimple (Winter 09/10), and the bottom one is in Verena Knitting (Winter 2010).  This one, though, (also from Verena) is the one that's really calling to me ---

Random stuff 012210 004 

The collar, though???  What is it doing?  I really can't tell from the photo or the schematic in the directions.  I would need to see the collar before ever committing to making this!


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In the Ears

Here's what I'm listening to right now.

Random stuff 012210 015 

I love Louise Erdrich's work.  I'm not sure how I missed reading this one when it first came out, but I did.  I'm listening now, though.  I'm listening while I do my household chores. . . while I walk the dog. . .  while I knit. . .while Brian tries to talk to me.  How did I manage before my favorite-of-all-combinations -- iPod and Audible -- came to be?

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My Favorite Things

When I was a little girl, I loved The Sound of Music.  I knew every song by heart.  Although it wasn't my favorite song from the movie, I always liked the concept behind "My Favorite Things."  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. . . bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. . . brown paper packages tied up with string. . .  What I always liked about the song was that the "favorite things" were such minor, little things.  I think, as an 8-year-old, I was totally taken with the notion that things didn't need to be "fancy" or "big" to be "favorite."  I've always found that comforting.

And, I'm always discovering my own "favorite things."  Simple little things that make me smile.  Things like . . .my new teapot!

Stump pot 001 

It's just the most perfect little teapot!  It's bright and cheerful, AND it brews two cups of tea -- with a little infuser insert (so it's really simple to use loose leaf tea).

Stump pot 003 

Definitely one of my new "favorite things!"

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Make it Work!

I used to be a big Project Runway fan.  It was a perfect show for me --- I like fashion; I like to sew.  I was always impressed by the things the designers could produce from odd and limited materials over such a short, pressure-filled time period.  I thought it was completely fun.  Until last season, that is, which was a total snooze-fest.

Well.  So glad I decided to give it one more try and watch the new season.  Last night, the designers had to make their models "look good in a potato sack!"  They went from this. . .

Project+Runway+Season+7+Episode+2+3.bmp 

To this. . .

Project+Runway+Season+7+Episode+2+Jay+Nicolas+Sario+Runway+Look+1

So far, WAY more entertaining!

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  And, Some Mind Candy

Ice cream

Have a great weekend -- full of ice cream or any other treats you may desire!


 


Special Day Times Two

Bet'cha might have missed this one.  Today, January 21, is National Squirrel Appreciation Day.  I'm not kidding.  Squirrels have a day of their own, and today's the day.

To commemorate this most special event, I got Jenny a new toy!

Jenny and the squirrels 002

This is a hide-the-squirrel toy.  There are three little squirrels (with squeakers) that you hide in the "tree."  Then, the dog has fun finding and "retrieving" the squirrels. . . and you start all over again.

I had a hard time taking photographs of the new squirrel toy.  Because Jenny LOVES the new squirrel toy.

Jenny and the squirrels 001 

And she WANTS the new squirrel toy.

Jenny and the squirrels 003 

I know this toy will get lots of love and attention from Jenny.  Because she's had one before.  In fact, she loved it so much, and she gave it so much attention, that this is all that's left of the first one!

Old squirrel 001 

Yep.  Just a sad, nearly disintegrated little squirrel face!  (She still digs it out of her toy basket and flings it around once in awhile. . . just to make sure it's still . . . dead.)

Jenny is thrilled to be celebrating National Squirrel Appreciation Day.

Jenny and the squirrels 012 

But this is a special day for another reason, too!

It's my sister's 48th birthday!

Cheyenne Trip 2009 011 (2) 

Happy Birthday, Di! 

You know, I would never mistake YOU for a squirrel. . . although, I do remember some, well, squirrel-ly things you may have done.   Hope your day is great!

Wishes come true


January People

"Motivation is what gets you started.  Habit is what keeps you going."       -- Jim Ryun

I have a lot of habits.  Some good; some not so good.  One of the best, though, is my fitness habit.  I was active as a kid -- swimming, dancing, gymnastics, skiing, pretty much any sport-without-a-ball -- and I remain active now, as a grown-up -- swimming, dancing, pilates, yoga. (Still avoiding sports-involving-a-ball, though).  I belong to a gym. . . a really nice gym, actually. . . and I use it nearly every day.

Randomstuff 002

But I hate January.

Right after the start of the new year, every year without fail, the January People arrive at the gym.  They are Motivated.  They are Ready.  They are Bursting with Resolve. 

And I want to support them.  I really do.  I love being fit -- and I want to share the Gospel of Fitness with everyone.  I know how hard it is to move from Motivation . . . to Habit . . . especially when it comes to fitness.  I want to be their cheerleader.  I want to be supportive, and smile, and say "you-can-do-it."  I do.  But.  Sometimes it's hard in January.

Because, suddenly the parking lot is overflowing.  And my "usual" February-through-December locker is being used.  And I can't find a spot for my yoga mat on the floor.  And the track looks like an obstacle course.  And all the cardio machines are full.

I try to keep a good attitude.  I try to be happy that so many January People are stepping out on their personal fitness journeys.  And, besides, I know it's temporary.  They're January People, after all.

But really, what I want to do is give advice.  I want to say. . . find the fitness activity that makes you happy; the thing that makes you want to come back and do it again.  I'd like to pull January People off to the side and tell them. . .

Maybe lap swimming isn't your thing --- since you obviously don't want to get your hair wet, and you can't swim half a length of the pool without grabbing the lane rope to "rest" awhile.  Maybe you would feel better trying the gentle water fitness class?

Randomstuff 008 

Or. . .maybe you like to dance -- but the 60-minute high-impact aerobics class might not be the best place for you to start. . . especially since you haven't exercised in several years.  Sure, Kathe-the-Killer is a great teacher, and she can teach ANYone to dance, BUT the pace of this class is intense.  For 60 solid minutes.  And, frankly, I'm worried that you will be injured if you keep bending down to tie your shoes (again and again), or if you keep going left. . . when the rest of us are going right.  Maybe you wouldn't have to tie your shoes quite so often in the low impact cardio burst class?

Randomstuff 005 

Or. . .maybe you've heard all about the calming, soothing benefits of yoga -- but, trust me, bursting out into fits of giggles whenever the instructor says "downward dog" is not relaxing for any of us.  In fact, when she suggests that you "sink into child's pose" whenever the practice becomes too challenging for you, she is, in fact, talking to you.  It's very distracting to the rest of us when your arms are windmilling about. . . and you're moaning "whoaaaaaaaaa" through all of the balance poses.  Maybe the gentle stretch class would help you get your bearings.

You see, I'm not really a Snarky Gym Person.  It actually warms my heart whenever one of the January People become one of the February-through-December People.  I just hate the filtering process.  It's painful for all of us. 

My real message here - for all January People - is to hang in there.  It's so easy to give up on fitness -- especially if you start off in the wrong place.  Find the class or piece of equipment or technique that works for you - preferably one you really enjoy - and start slowly.  If you have fun and feel good about your fitness activities, you're much more likely to turn that Motivation . . . into Habit.  There are programs for every level of fitness.  Start easy.  Work your way up.  Challenge yourself -- and succeed.

It's almost February. . .


Writing Them Down: Cooking

"I was 32 when I started cooking: Up until then, I just ate."  -- Julia Child

A couple of weeks ago, I started sharing my personal goals for the new year.  But then I got distracted -- by mittens and hockey and minions and comments.  But here I am today.  Back on track.  

Bread jan 17 005

I really like to cook.  It hasn't always been like that, though.  I used to consider it . . . just another chore.  BUT.  The potential for Liking to Cook was always there.  You see, I've always entertained the notion of cooking as something fun and creative to do.  Looking through food magazines.  Reading cookbooks.  Organizing old recipes.  I've even been - at various times in my earlier life -- an Adventurous Cook. (C'mon, Tom.  What can we consider "Frank Fiesta" . . . 30 years ago. . . if not "adventurous"?)  Over the last few years, though, I've really started to LIKE cooking.  (As opposed to baking. . . which I've always been pretty good at.)

Caramel Pecan Rolls Jan 2010 009 

So.  Here are my Cooking Goals for 2010:

  1. Support local growers/producers as much as possible.
  2. Make bread on the weekends during the cold months.
  3. Make at least one new dish/recipe each week.
  4. Become adept at cooking fish -- by putting fish on the menu at least once a week.
  5. Expand vegetarian repertoire -- by preparing at least one vegetarian meal per week.  (Sorry, Brian.)

I'm off to a grand start! 

Bread jan 17 001

Bread jan 17 002 

Bread jan 17 006 

Bread jan 17 008 

Vegetarian AND bread! 



Things That Matter

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

I try to listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech every year on MLK Day.  It never fails to inspire me; to ground me; to open my eyes. 

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."  -- Martin Luther King, Jr.