More Love/Hate

As a bit of an experiment, I’m going to continue my love/hate rant in a new post and see if Blogger lets me add more photos…Two hats And indeed it does. WTF, Blogger?

Anyway, back to the hats. The one on the right is the first hat I knit. I used some new yarn that I got at Michael’s, Patons SWS, a wool/soy blend. I’ve never knit with Southwest Trading Company’s Karaoke yarn, but I think it’s similar.

The first hat I knit is the one on the right. I used the recommended needle size, a US 9, and made a plain stockinette hat with a garter stitch brim following the pattern for Kim’s Hats in Last Minute Knitted Gifts. The fabric has a nice drape to it, but it did nothing to keep off the chill on a cool morning. Plus, it’s a bit “tall” for my head.

Hat #2 is much beefier. I used the same yarn, a US 7 needle, and a sturdier stitch pattern. Same garter stitch brim, but the stitch pattern is knit all sts on round 1, then K1, Sl 1 on round 2. This makes a much thicker fabric. (Thanks, Jamie, for the idea.) However, I made the hat too “short” and it rides up a bit, potentially exposing my ears. I think they will both be frogged.

I love these things totally…
Pedicure socksPedicure Socks, completed while I was sick. Hey, if you’re sitting around sick all day, it’s good to work on small projects. Finishing these up in a day did help me feel a bit better. Plus, I was able to get my pedicure, and walk out the salon lickity split, instead of smearing my new pedi while putting on socks and shoes.

Mighty Leaf’s Breakfast Americana tea. Ever since I tried my first cup of this tea, I loved it and craved it. But it only seemed to be available in assortment boxes in my local store. On the days that I’m at home, I drink tea in the morning (several cups of it), so I really wanted to get more than one or two bags in a box. Then I found that I could order it online. Today I received my shipment of 100 tea bags. Ahh….

OK, so I’m a tea snob! Psst…their Orange Dulce tea is also mighty fine. I only got one small box of that, though.

Love/Hate Situations

Sounds heavy, doesn’t it? Well, I’m going to spill my guts here about some deep intimate secrets, but this topic seems to keep popping up for me lately.

I love my kitty. I hate my kitty. Just look at her. What a cutie pie, right? So innocent looking. But then she does something that really flips my switches. I’ve taken to refering to her as “cockroach kitty” because she WILL get into whatever food you leave laying around, including the remains left on plates and bowls when you’re done with your meal.

I hear the tink sound of cutlery against the dishes and know that if I dashed into the kitchen I’d find her licking the remains of dinner off a plate Mark casually sat in the sink for washing up. I keep reminding Mark to rinse his dishes off right away or the “cockroach kitty” will get them. What’s worse is when she finds some sort of food (or even non-food) item on the counter and knocks it down to the floor. Sadie is happy to pick up from there to consume (or chew to bits) the item. I wonder what kind of kick backs Sadie is giving Fiona.

Today while I’m diligently working away in the office, I hear her messing with stuff in the bedroom. What’s she into this time? She’s figured out how to use the little drawer pulls on my jewelry box so she can open them up and mess around with the contents. I don’t have a lot of fancy jewelry in there, but I still don’t want it strewn around the bedroom. Especially since Sadie would be happy to chew it up. (See note above.)

Not only is my costume jewelry at risk, but so are my hair ties. See, I started stuffing them in there after she figured out how to get into the little container I’ve always kept them in. Fiona loves to play with and chew up my hair ties, and although this is cheap and relatively harmless toy, I do need to tie my hair back sometimes and need them for their intended purpose. Now they are back inside the old container, which is inside one of my dresser drawers. Let’s she her figure that out! She’s smart, that’s for sure, but this behavior still annoys me.

Oh, and I also no longer drink water from a glass because of her antics. Now I use one of those refillable sports bottles for my water (and I drink mostly water these days). Would you want to drink a glass of water that the cat just dipped her paw in? I don’t want litter-box flavored water.

And then…then she rubs up against me purring away in the morning when I get up, and I forget all of the annoyances.

I love my hat. I hate my hat. What’s so hard about knitting a hat? Why do I have so much trouble making a simple hat? When I made one for Mark in the spring, I recall having to cast on and frog it several times. When the weather started getting nippy, I realized that I didn’t have a “squishable” hat anymore. I had a polar fleece one for many years, but it finally was irretrievably lost in the early spring. I also have sheepskin hats that are very warm, but they aren’t the kind you can squish up and stuff in your pocket. So, I thought I’d whip up a quick hat for myself.

[OK, and here’s where I say, “I love Blogger. I hate Blogger.” Why, oh why, do you make it so f***ing difficult to post photos sometimes, Blogger? I guess this is it for posting today. Bite me, Blogger. I’m ready for a new blogging software now.]

Feed Me

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately. This is partly because I’ve been on a diet, partly because of the whole e. coli/spinach fiasco, and partly because of a fabulous book I recently finished: The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

When Omnivore’s Dilemma was released in April 2006, I snatched it up at the bookstore. I’ve read two other Michael Pollan books (including The Botany of Desire, probably my favorite non-fiction book) and knew that I’d want to read this one. It sat in a stack of “to-be-read” books for months, though.

I had planned to take it on a grand road trip vacation with my sister and mother last July, but the chance to go to India for work conflicted with the road trip idea, so the book and I didn’t travel together this summer. It’s a 1.5 lb hard cover book, so it’s not the kind of thing I take with me during my daily commute or during business trips, either. Finally, about 6 weeks ago I couldn’t wait any longer and started reading the book at home in the evenings. (This meant less knitting time, but so be it.)

Wow, it was just as fabulous as I thought it would be: intriguing, enlightening, and totally eye-opening.

The first section on the industrial scale prodution of our food — possible due to the heavily subsidized abundance of corn (Zea mays) — really floored me. I’ve always been one those shoppers that reads labels in the grocery store, but I never realized just how many of the ingredients in processed foods come from corn.

About a week into the book, the e.coli/spinach event happened. By that time, I’d already been reading the second section of the book that looks at organic and sustainable agricultural practices (sadly, they aren’t necessarily the same thing.) The timing was incredible and I found myself using the word “prescient” a lot when referring to the book and it’s writer, Michael Pollan. I wasn’t the only one making a connection to the book and the event. Michael Pollan was interviewed on NPR, Omnivore’s Dilemma was noted in several press articles, and the farmer whom is featured very prominantly in the second section, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, was interviewed on On Point (which you can find through iTunes, as well).

I can’t recommend enough that everyone read this book to get some much-needed perspective on our food system.

As for the dieting, I started on the Seattle Sutton plan about a month ago. I’ve thinking about doing this for nearly a year. I rarely can make the time to cook anymore, and had found that nearly every meal I ate was take out or a frozen dinner. I know that’s not very healthy. Over the summer, it seemed that I just suddenly gained weight. I found that in July I couldn’t comfortably wear any of the clothing that I had bought just 3 months before. Some if this had to do with the SSRI I was taking, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was also making poor food choices.

I don’t own a scale, so I can’t say how many pounds I’ve lost. But I can say that my clothes are fitting a bit more loosely, and I’m going to keep this up for a while.

I stopped the SSRI, too. I had received no warning from my doctor that one of the side effects is weight gain. This just pissed me off, frankly. Oh, just what you need when you’re feeling down: to get fat! I’m now taking 5HTP and getting started on some St. John’s Wort, too. Those supplements, the new diet, and doing more walking seem to be working just fine for my mood.

Full Stop

I’ve been forced to full stop by a nasty cold. Because I’m too sick to exert myself much, I’m not doing very much work and can catch up on my blogging.

I actually had planned to take most of this week off of work to get some personal organizational stuff done, but having the cold seals the deal. Since I’ve had to attend a conference call or two this week already, everyone at the office understands that I’m sick and can’t be expected to squeeze in work this week. I guess my body knows when it needs a break, eh?

Quite a bit has been going on, too, like…

Changes to my garden landscape.

Before… Walkway along the garage After… Walkway along the garage, transformed

There’s more. Like this:

Before…Front yard before transformation After…Front yard after landscaping

Isn’t this wonderful? It will have to grown more for the true design to be seen, but I think it’s wonderful. No more lawn to mow! I can’t understand why so many people in the city have a lawn in front of their houses. I mean, it isn’t large enough for kids to enjoy, and it’s a huge waste of water, fertilizer, fuel, etc. to keep the darn thing going.
A close up of the front yard Notice where the gutters are located? They’re directed into the rain garden, a nice little area to drain the water and filter it into the ground (where it belongs) and not the sewer.

Click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

I didn’t do any of this myself. I hired a great landscaper to work out the design and then to install it. There’s more to come in the spring, too. This was just Phase I of my grand plan for the front and back and of my house. Phase II comes in the spring.

There’s been a bit of knitting going on, too. I made some socks for Mark. And I’ve worked a bit on a lace shawl I’m test knitting for a fellow Windy City Knitting Guild member. [Blogger is being a pain again and not allowing me to upload more photos, so if you want to see any of these things be sure to follow the links.]

So, all in all I’ve been pretty productive, even if I haven’t been very communicative.