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September 2012
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November 2012

Setting the stage

Tomorrow, November 1st, marks the start of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month, the baby sister of NaNoWriMo/National Novel Writing Month). I have been a NaBloPoMo participant in the past (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), successful in daily posting for all but one or two of those days, and I shall give it another go for 2012!

I think I'll have enough to talk about... or to show. There's at least another post or two about food/diet that I'd like to share, there's some upcoming travel to talk about, there's a birthday and an election (all on the same day!), the Thanksgiving holiday, some knitting and dyeing, and the usual various general everyday run-of-the-mill blather...

Here's to the next 30 days!

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I snapped this pic of last night's sky while waiting for the light to change. I was on my way to the first of a two-night community ed class called "Vintage Collage." I have always loved collage, and timing was perfect to take it with a long-time friend; our birthdays are a week apart and we're viewing this as a gift to each other as well as to ourselves.

Snip, snip! The paper is flying and creative juices are flowing!

And I felt my first twinge of carpal tunnel-type discomfort in the middle of the night after an evening spent doing fine cutting -- it's been AGES since I've felt that! It hasn't been bothersome at all today, though, so that's good.

More tomorrow...

And the next day...

And the next day...




We have a winner! Angie left the 20,000th comment on this blog! I've known for a while, but kept it under my hat -- hard as that was (so excited!) -- because I also knew that Angie and I were planning a get together.

And that happened last night! We met at the coffee shop for dinner, lots of gabbing, and a little bit of knitting. Thanks to Ali for taking the photo, something we only manage to remember every 5th or 6th time we meet. Angie's holding her "prize" yarn -- Make.Do Realize Sport -- and you can also see the ball of Cascade 220 Heathers on the table that she was swatching/playing with. Gorgeous color!

I was knitting hexies. At sixes and sevens with every other project I have underway, it seems, hexies are the fall-back project. Also very portable.

I'll be running over to school tonight to pick up Maddy for the weekend. It's been a while since she's been home! School is going *very* well, she picked up a part-time job, and doesn't have her car there, so we're not seeing her very much.

I have a few things on the docket for the weekend, including some kitchen/food prep -- because planning is EVERYTHING and lack thereof was keenly felt this week. Also making "lupper" (like brunch, except it's a combo of lunch + supper) for all the kids + new future son-in-law on Sunday before Maddy goes back.

I'm looking forward to putzing at home, working in and warming up the kitchen -- all of a sudden, it's chilly again! Definitely fall.

Thank you to EVERYONE who reads and/or comments on this blog. I wouldn't be here without you. It's true.

Happy Weekend!


Ten on Tuesday: Sweet tooth

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Favorite Candies in My Trick-or-Treat Bag

The world might shift a bit next Wednesday if I make it through my first candy-free Halloween. I am highly motivated, having lost another 3 pounds last week, and even though a good candy bar is tempting... emphasis is on "good" and, well, Halloween just isn't special enough!

I was very surprised at the loss last week! Not that I did anything different, it's just that I'm waiting for a bump or to land on a plateau -- that's the way it's always been! This steady downward trajectory is kind of blowing my mind. I'm waiting for my body to say, "Whoa, it's been a fun ride, but we're just going to hold here for a bit a regroup!" We'll see.

So, ever since I was a kid, these have been my favorite things to find in my (or my siblings' or kids') Trick-or-Treat bags (though many of them were so much better back in the day... sort of disappointing in comparison).

1. Mounds

2. Almond Joy

3. Three Musketeers

4. Peanut Butter Cup

5. Milky Way

7. Snickers

8. Kit Kat

9. Smartees

10. Kisses

Did you used to spread out all the loot on the living room floor and trade with your sibs? Or beg your kids to share?


The ring

It's my grandmother's!

I used to wear it all.the.time when I was in high school... at least until my mother saw it and would make me go home and put it away. So pretty. So romantic. Grandma died when I was 8, and this was one of the most tangible things to evoke what few memories I had. It's such a teensy tiny yet very sparkly diamond, and the filigree setting is just beautiful.

In other news: What in the world am *I* going to wear?? Most mother-of-the-bride dresses make me want to barf. I want nice but not too dressy, and with a vintage flair? I have eight months...


Ali's getting married!

I've been accused on occasion of burying the lead, so there... I said it!

After a bit of a whirlwind romance with a guy she's technically known for.ever, he played his guitars at the coffee shop one night last week, closed by singing a song he'd written for her, and then popped the question!

It wasn't a complete surprise to me -- Ali told me that they were planning to get married (this just made it official) and I gave her/them my grandmother's ring -- but it's still somewhat... I don't  know... everything.

I've never seen her happier.

Save the date: June 15th.



I'm pretty sure I have the best blog friends in the history of blogging. They're encouraging and supportive and sure know how to make a girl feel good.

Thank you!

And to put a little frosting on that wonderful cake (that I won't be eating right now unless it's a very special occasion), I found a number that I *do* like, such as -20.6 as of this morning! That brings a little light to an otherwise dreary day!!


I walked down to the old Eagle Mill/proposed new library on Thursday night and the beautiful sky, above, was one of my rewards on the way home.

I made the best -- and easiest -- roast chicken ever last week. I had a nice little chicken from Trust Local Foods, and it turned out great. I don't know how (or if) that recipe would work with a larger bird.

My sister started a Rio blog last June and has finally made her second post -- with help from Mack. It's adorable, so you must.

No farmer market today -- we planned it that way and, what do you know, it's the only Saturday morning this whole season that I've awakened to rain!

Next week is the last of the season in our little 'hood and attendance will definitely depend on the weather, which could be anything from 30F to 70F (or even 90F!)... you just don't know at this time of year.

I've been adding to the listings of currently available Make.Do yarns -- Realize Sport, Be Fingering/Sock, and Compose Lace. The process(es) shall continue over the weekend as I continue to slowly ease into this little endeavor. So far, so good!


It may start with food...

*sigh* ...but it doesn't end there.

My doc wanted me to have a 6-mo follow-up glucose test and mammogram, and those happened yesterday. I wanted to do them both in one visit, so was up super early on my day off to make it happen!

Blood was drawn by 7 a.m. and I had an email around 8:00 alerting me that the results had been posted. I love that!!

What I didn't love were the results.

Now, in my personal, very humble and utterly non-medical opinion, my initial reading of 106, while technically in the prediabetes range, was not too far off the mark (the high end of "normal" being 100, the point of no return 126). I didn't think there was cause for freaking out, but I did start to watch what I ate -- at least be aware -- and, particularly, to be more aware of the hidden sugars in the foods I ate.

Eventually, as established, I implemented a huge change in my diet a couple of months ago wherein sugar, dairy, and all grains were banished... except for that drip of half & half and few grains of sugar in my coffee every morning, and a few sweet treats when we were on vacation. I also buy and cook "real," "whole" food and rarely buy anything processed. The only cans I've opened are sardines, salmon, olives, and artichoke hearts.

It may seem extreme to some, but I feel that I am thriving. I feel great and it's actually super easy -- I can just ignore about 90% of the grocery store every time I walk in. I've been making more use of a local food business that specializes in "local" -- I place an order for eggs, meats (everything from free-range chickens to elk and bison, to uncured bacon), seasonal produce, butter and pick it up a few days later. Phenomenal and I hope they grow and grow!

Anyway, I have seen some amazing changes in my body -- some big, some small, all huge:

  • Elimination of chronic edema. It was most visible in my ankles and feet, but I'm sure it was all over. Seeing my ankles again, day after day after day, after so long -- and pretty much thinking that I never would -- is just thrilling. Being able to wear my rings is wonderful.
  • Increased flexibility.
  • Fewer carpal tunnel problems.
  • Weight loss -- 19+ pounds, so far; though as I checked my medical record today, I see that the highest weight recorded at the doc's office 6 months ago was 8 pounds higher than my current benchmark... so, we could maybe even say 28 pounds lost in the last 6 months! Couldn't we?
  • SAY WHAT???
  • Watching the visceral fat disappear. My friend and coworker told me the other day that it seemed as if I was melting... it's not quite like that, but sort of! My bowl-full-of-jelly belly is still there, but it is definitely smaller; and the fat deposits on my upper arms that sort of bugged me are finally disappearing, the dreaded back rolls are going down.
  • I wake up in the morning and I just feel more lean; literally, like it does sometimes disappear overnight. I put my hands on my hips, on my leg, touch my face -- and I *feel* different. So good.
  • Improvements in my skin. Not just on my face, either. I've had chronic problems with dryness and scaling on my feet, probably even some form of athlete's foot, and I just noticed (now that it's sock weather and I "see" them more often) that my feet feel much smoother -- like, wow, are those mine?

I was looking forward to yesterday's re-test, fully expecting the results to be stellar -- gold-star worthy -- and so was pretty disappointed in 103. I don't know if the call from the nurse later in the day to follow-up was truly sanctimonious, or if that was just me... Whatever.

If there'd been chips in the house, I'd have eaten them... maybe. There's chocolate, and I unwrapped it, stared at a square of it for a few minutes, and then put it back. I've done better than ever so far this month, and just couldn't blow it -- not in anger and frustration. When I indulge in chocolate again, it's going to be for a good reason and I will enjoy it!

That, right there, says a lot about where I am and how far I've come.

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And, as I've been told, a reduction is a reduction. I've just got to keep at it... and now that the food part is getting easier, it's time to ramp up the physical activity.

Also, the results of the follow-up mammo were in my email box this morning and it's all good! There have been no changes and, well, yay!

* * * * *

FYI: We're coming alarmingly close to the 20,000th comment on this little blog! There'll likely be fireworks... or at least prizes.

Ten on Tuesday: Weekend Update

Ten on Tuesday: 10 Things I Did Last Weekend

1. Saturday is my unofficial weigh-in day. It's something I shouldn't actually be doing -- I can see and feel my progress in so many other ways -- but old habits die hard. At least I do it only once a week rather than daily. And did you hear a WOOHOO? As of last Saturday, -19.2 lbs! I wore my beautiful wedding ring all day on Sunday for the first time in YEARS, and it didn't feel like a tourniquet on my finger.

2. It was the coldest farmer market morning yet! It was windy, too, but thankfully mostly sunny and no rain; we've been extremely lucky in the precipitation department this year. The house felt like an inferno when I got home! I thought, MY.GOD, WHO TURNED UP THE HEAT SO HIGH? WHAT IS IT TURNED UP TO, ANYWAY? Haha, yeah, 66F... feels like an inferno after a windy 48F morning outside. It's possible that was our last market of the season.

3. While looking for an electrical adapter, I found a few boxes of old slides that I'd been resigned to having lost forever. They are slides of me, my sibs, and cousins from late '60s-early '70s, even a few through the late '80s, that my grandmother gave me some years ago. So happy to have found that treasure!!

4. I found the electrical adapter! You know, one of those 3-prong to 2- adapters that are indispensible to people who live in old houses. With it, I was able to plug in my flash in the location I desired...

5. ...and take pictures of yarn!

6. After processing those photos, I *finally* uploaded them to Make.Do so that, maybe, I could finally try and sell some -- sport- and lace-weight are currently listed, more to come!

7. I Skyped with my sister Annie in Brazil for the first time! I talked with Mack & Addy, too. Mack played a song on his recorder, and Addison read me a story (learning to read!!) and also sang a song in Portugese. We did Skype-y air kisses, and I can't wait to hug them again!!

8. Boy, did I sleep! A very early (for me) bedtime on Friday and a bit of a sleep-in on Sunday made for two nearly 10-hour sleeps in a row. I'm pretty sure I was fighting off a little something, and Saturday morning took more out of me than a normal market morning.

9. I knit (another FO soon!) and watched the football game with Mom on Sunday. It hasn't been a very fun year for Cheeseheads so far, and I hope we step it up soon. I've been having fun with my fantasy team, though my record there isn't very good, either.

10. On Sunday evening I was trying to print out some shipping labels and sent them to the networked printer in the other room, um, numerous times. Because, you know, if something doesn't print the first (or second or third) time, you just send it again and again! I finally emailed them to myself and printed them directly from that computer. Then I wanted to find a recipe online but my connection was broken. It turns out that my old router died -- not before a last gasp, when all those mailing labels I'd sent came forth. It was just past closing time for anyplace but a big box department store and I sure didn't want to break my streak and go to W... and couldn't remember if Target's electronics department went that deep. I took a drive over there, anyway. They do have routers but only wireless ones; it turns out that most of them work for wired connections, too, and the helpful clerk told me that I should go check my ports before plunking down my money. It turns out that old router was redundant (left in place mainly for convenience) and with just a little switching around I was back in business. SCORE!

It was a pretty fab weekend.

Different + Twisty

An FO:

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  • Project: Another One Different -- Different Lines by Veera Välimäki
  • Yarn: Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca, (2) skeins, green
  • Yarn: Garnstudio DROPS Kid-silk, (1.25) skeins, purple
  • Needle: US 6 (straights)
  • Start to Finish: September 10 - October 1, 2012

I believe this is the first of Veera's striped patterns that I've knit exactly as written. Oh, my, it is so cozy and soft. It's quite substantial and I haven't even blocked it yet. The yarn was a gift from Dixie for helping her out at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last month.

Straight into rotation (I've been carrying it with me everyday), I'm sure this one will see plenty of wear-time this winter.

* * * * *

Speaking of Dixie, she has featured my Make.Do Realize Sport yarn in her latest Yellow Dog Knitting Video Workshop for a one-skein project called Twisty Swirl -- a free pattern! It's perfect for fall and winter knitting, and, yes, for holiday knitting.

What!? You know the they're coming!!

Knit in the round -- with an intentional twist -- and featuring an easily memorized lace pattern, Twisty Swirl is a quick knit resulting in a warm and cozy cowl.

It's just the kick in the butt I needed to get some yarn photographed and uploaded, which I did over the weekend. I dropped some parcels off at the P.O. this morning (even though they probably won't go anywhere until tomorrow), but there are still a few one-of-a-kind hanks available. I will continually update these listings (and others), and more of this yarn base is on the way!



The knitting and the end

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There was a fair amount of knitting done during our vacation, but not a single stitch in the car! I completed the body of Low Tide, having made some modifications with short rows and shaping to the body -- not completely sure yet how that's all going to work out, but preliminaries are promising.

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Another mod I've made is to the bottom -- I'll be doing a sewn hem for the first time.

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I also worked quite a lot on Different Lines. It's finished now, in fact, but I'll just share a teaser here and save the bulk of it for a separate post.

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It's so lightweight, soft, and lovely!

On Thursday, we drove down to Lutsen and took Mountain Tram ride to the top of Moose Mountain.

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Web-2012-09-20 14.55.18
It was a pretty cool ride! The leaves were beautiful and the view was spectacular.

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Web-2012-09-20 14.46.22
Knitting- and yarn-related stops were relatively few on our trip. I had projects to keep me busy and have recently been feeling the weight of stash. Besides the stop in Bayfield, the only other stops were at Fabric Works in Superior, where I came away with a hank of Malabrigo Sock (what else is new?); at That Little Red House in Grand Marais, where I found a ball of Hundertwasser (what else is new?); and, on the way home, we stopped at Yellow Dog Knitting in Eau Claire to chat for a while with Dixie!

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Web-2012-09-20 16.11.16
We drove north a little ways on Thursday afternoon to do some more exploring. We never made it as far as Canada, though.

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Web-2012-09-20 16.11.16
That Little Red House has limited hours, and I'm so happy that we jived. The porch was full of knitters when I arrived, though the weather cooled some and they all moved inside while I was there. Very friendly and worth the stop if it's ever a possibility.

Both my Portico shawl and Fib saw regular action during our trip, particularly in the cooler late day/evening hours!

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Web-2012-09-21 10.48.03
Web-2012-09-21 10.48.03
On Friday, we visited one more local gallery, a museum, and then walked out to Artists' Point. Naturally, I had to take a photo of The Artist at Artists' Point! He'd been out there a day or two earlier and actually did a little painting.

We drove down to Solon Springs and stopped to visit with my Uncle Bob, whom I haven't seen in a number of years (we do correspond some by email). I went my senior year of high school and actually graduated there, but hadn't visited in 30+ years! Things have changed... though I recognized much more of Solon than I did of Superior, where I lived and worked for a year after graduation!

Then we made our way to my sister's and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS! I was so happy to watch my nephew play football. They shut out/trounced the competition and, as is tradition after a win, the whole team then gathered on the field to sing the school song, followed by a hand-slap line with fans gathered on the sideline -- team flag waving high and proud. It was one of my favorite things!

We are in agreement that this North Shore vacation shall not be our last.


To the end of the trail, no moose

After breakfast and some in-town doings on Wednesday morning, we drove up the Gunflint Trail. We went right to the very end -- Trail's End Cafe -- and being the end of the season, it was also slim pickin's on the menu but we shared a small celebratory dish of ice cream.

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Web-2012-09-19 14.54.18
It was a beautiful drive. We meandered a bit, stopping here and there to take in the view or go for a short hike. I still haven't resolved how I feel about the scenic overlook created in the '60s (as so many of them were) that was now completely obscured by a wall of evergreen trees; it was a killer view back in the day, but now there's nothing!

We could not resist stopping when I saw the "Moose Viewing Trail" sign, though I knew, advertised as such, there wasn't likely to be a moose within 100 miles! Still, we hiked to the "viewing platform," spotting first an amazing old Cadillac, slowly being reclaimed by the forest, and then our reward.

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Many many dated carvings on the platform railings from those who visited before us. Our favorite:

No moose but we saw Elvis and Bigfoot. 10-18-10. Steve & Sue.
The Loch Ness Monster just popped up!

There was laughing in the woods!!

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Web-2012-09-19 15.30.51
Web-2012-09-19 15.30.51
Looks like rain! It looked much worse than it was -- where we were, anyway -- we saw some fabulous clouds at the back end of a little thunderstorm that just missed us.

Let's talk about food a minute.

As of last Saturday I have lost 16 pounds (in approx. 8 weeks) by following "all-but" Whole30 guidelines (in a nutshell: real food; no sugar, no dairy, no grain). As you might imagine, being on vacation presented some challenges. Mainly, unless you're at a very fine dining establishment, you're not likely to find fresh vegetables on the menu, except for salads (and be sure to read the fine print -- man, they love to load those things up with other stuff).

We brought along a small cooler stocked with pb&j makings for Rusty, some lasagna leftovers (wheat & dairy, I know...), sardines, some fresh peaches and avocados, and we had picnic lunches on the road. We bought a huge bag of Cortland apples at an orchard in Bayfield.

Restaurants were a challenge, and not just in the vegetable department. Our B&B continental breakfast was all bakery/grain -- croissants, muffins, oatmeal, cobbler -- yummy, but all no-nos; I ended up with a little bit of fruit and a side order of bacon. I ordered things like "bacon-cheeseburger -- hold the cheese and the bun!" I found a salmon patty on the menu at one place, which was nice. Fresh fruit or cole slaw was better than fries, so I'd try to order that. I did the best I could and was most successful in avoiding grain -- except for the lasagna noodles and the pizza with wild rice on our last night in Grand Marais.

You know, there are things we grow up with and it's all we know so we just think that must be all there is... like herring. I only ever knew about "pickled herring" and have never seen it at a store any other way -- and never gave it a thought! Not so, people. Pan-fried herring was on the menu at a restaurant we'd visited and I gave it a brief thought (before ordering the salmon patty)... but we found it offered fresh at a local fish market, so we had to try it! It's caught by local fishermen right in Lake Superior, and we brought home a fillet for each of us -- along with salmon, which we knew we liked! We seasoned and fried them in a little butter -- no breading or anything (it's my favorite way to make whitefish these days). Herring has a rich flavor and I liked it. We had a little of the salmon left for Thursday.

(Also, sardines. I've become aware that people eat fresh sardines -- that they aren't born in a can! I'd like to try fresh sardines someday, too.)

I was on vacation, after all, and didn't want to feel deprived, so I had to allow myself some treats and I tried to choose carefully: half a muffin, a bit of chocolate, even an entire piece of flourless chocolate cake (which I demolished quite easily, thank you!), pizza, an ice cream sundae, a local beer, some wine. I think I did very well, considering, and have no regrets.

The last part of our time away proved the most challenging, or maybe I was weary of trying to navigate the dietary vacation waters... or just weak! While there was a great co-op on one side of our hotel, on the other was the "World's Greatest Donuts" shop! Thankfully, it was closed most of the time, but I stumbled through the open door on our last day and, while I intended to just get a plain yummy donut, somehow I ended up with one covered in chocolate!! Ha, I'm not perfect! Then my sister had our old stand-by family favorite CHEESE SOUP on the menu at her house. Yeah, we're gonna need a new family favorite!

More tomorrow... with KNITTING!