Nov 14

You hear everywhere that you should feel gratitude for the blessings that come into your life. This is a very good guideline to follow, because feeling gratitude just pulls more blessings your way.

But I am going to go a step further. I believe that you should feel gratitude for other people’s blessings. If you have a friend who has lost weight, be joyful for their success. Do you know of someone who has been gifted a car, or who has won a scholarship for college? Be so gleeful for their blessings that you want to dance a wee jig on their behalf.

Jealousy is one of the seven deadly sins. Let’s look at what the Bible says about jealousy.

James 3:16 (ESV) For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

This is just one of many verses, but it gets the point across. Jealousy breeds hatred, both for the person receiving the blessing, and for the jealous person as it breeds self-loathing in their heart for not having received that blessing.

But I believe that one way to receive blessings oneself, is to be thankful for others’ blessings.

Ecclesiastes 5:19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.

I think jealousy is just another way of saying selfishness. To be unselfish is something I strive for each and every day. I love it when my friends, family, heck, even strangers, receive blessings in their lives. It makes me feel so good for them, and it is as if I received that blessing as well. I just want to clap them on the back, say congratulations, and help them celebrate their own joy. No one should every be made to feel guilty at having received a blessing.

So, my message today is to take joy, be grateful for the blessings of others, have an unselfish heart and help others learn to feel that same gratitude for the blessings of others as well.

Pslams 126: 2-3 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Nov 12

Hello, my name is Benita and I am addicted to making lists. Even if I don’t follow that list, it helps me organize my thoughts and priorities.

But, I try to follow the lists. If I didn’t make these lists, nothing would ever get completed at my house. I make them days in advance, and if something cones along to derail my plans, or if I don’t manage to complete the lists, then things get bumped to the next day. I even put rest time on my to-do list. If I don’t, I forget to take time for myself.

At this point in my life, I know about what I can complete in an evening after work. The list helps me put things in the proper order so that I don’t waste time. For example, my list for tonight includes the following, in the proper order:

  1. Begin hot washing 2nd half of Merino fleece
  2. Start laundry
  3. Box next set of fleece shipments and put in car
  4. Work on next hot bath for fleece
  5. Strip Scott’s bed and remake it
  6. Begin making 51 heddles for my inkle loom
  7. Work on last hot bath for fleece
  8. Pull out next fleece to wash
  9. Feed the fish and put load of laundry into dryer
  10. Continue making heddles
  11. Put fleece in first rinse water
  12. Finish making heddles
  13. Put fleece in second rinse water
  14. Get ready for bed.

It sounds like a lot to get done in one evening, but the fleece being washed and the laundry getting done is sort of in the background since most of it is just my waiting on it. Yes I have to change the fleece water a few times, but dumping a couple of totes and refilling them takes very little time. Boxing the next fleece shipments is a matter for 15-20 minutes, remaking Scott’s bed is another 15 minutes tops, and the rest is just 5-10 minutes except for making the heddles. That will take me an hour or so.

By prioritizing items in such an order, I can be doing multiple projects at the same time. People ask me how I managed to accomplish so much. Well, here’s how. Multi-tasking to a high degree.

Nov 11

Life has been rather good to the Story household lately. Yes, we have to deal with the whole single income thing, but that aside, it’s amazing how well things are going.

For starters, I mentioned how we are losing weight. Well, one of the best side effects of that is increased energy levels. Scott has the outside work 99% done (he cleaned the gutters and got the garage to the point where both vehicles can fit in it – more work to be done, but progress has been made). I have most of the laundry caught up, including washing curtains and blankets. In fact, the laundry room hasn’t been this empty in months.

Also, I worked on my studio. As Scott has been cleaning out the attic, anything that is mine has just been stuffed into an already overstuffed room. I worked on it most of Saturday and managed to get the cedar chest moved to its new home in the east dormer, the desk almost into its new home under the north-facing picture window, cleaned out the knitting yarn from its plastic shelving unit, removed said unit to the attic, cleaned out a deep bookcase, moved it to where the plastic shelving unit was and reorganized the yarn. Boy, do I have a lot of sweater quantities of yarn with which to make things. Some I will knit into sweaters, but some is going to go onto the loom.

On top of laundry and studio cleaning, I hot washed two lovely Icelandic fleeces.

This is a sweet, but small lamb fleece. I love the two-toned quality of it.
This is a very fluffy, lamb fleece from a ewe lamb named Sister. I look forward to carding and spinning this one.

Yesterday, I created the meal plan for the week, bought groceries, and spent most of the day cooking for the week. I still have two more things to cook, which I will do tonight. Also, I continued laundry and hot washed 1/2 a rather large Merino fleece for the second time. The first time just didn’t get it clean and it still had a lot of lanolin. I had it for sale, but decided to keep it, rewash it, and dye it later for processing into top. Right now I am thinking of dyeing it in quarters – red, orange, gold, yellow – and having the colors blended. I think it will be a nicer color with the four different colors together than just one solid color. I am hoping it will give a heathered look to the resulting yarn.

At the end of the cooking session, I took two chicken carcasses (one I had previously frozen) and added celery, carrots, onions, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil and set it to cooking in the slow cooker. After 4 hours, I reset it for 10 more hours and went to bed. While it made about 15 cups of a lovely, rich, golden-brown stock, smelling it all night was torture. It smelled so lovely!!!

And I completed the body of the sweater I am knitting for a co-worker’s Christmas gift. On to the first sleeve today! Woohoo!!

I love productive weekends. I love having the energy to be productive better.

Nov 8
I’m Losing It!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Diet and Fitness | icon4 11 8th, 2019| icon31 Comment »

Okay, so I’m losing it in a good way.

At my largest, I weighed 189. This was several years ago. I eventually lost down to the upper 160s to low 170s, bouncing back and forth between 168 and 172 on a semi regular basis. Once in a while, I would make the effort to lose and a couple of times actually saw me in the low 150s (152.2 was my lowest), but I always regained it back up the the 168-172 area.

Currently, due to my following the Keto way of eating pretty strictly, I am bouncing between 151 and 154. This time, I will not be regaining any of that weight back, and will continue Keto. I will continue this weight loss journey until I reach my goal weight of 125-130.

I will say that Keto is good eating. Yes, at first, it’s hard to get off the carbs, but, once you make the conversion from burning glucose to burning fat as your fuel, it’s pretty easy (Ketoade is a life saver!). And the food is delicious! My favorite place to get ideas and recipes is Keto Connect. Their recipes have been, for the most part, amazingly good. I haven’t tried everything (and won’t be because there are a lot of fish and curry-type-dishes that I just don’t like), but many of them have become staples for Scott and I.

Some of our favorites are:

High Fiber Muffins: I have been doing quite a bit of experiments with this one and banana (banana extract) and walnut is a winner, as is orange (orange extract) and pecan.

Easy Chicken Caprese: This paired with asparagus and mushrooms sauteed in ghee with garlic powder, onion powder, Himalayan pink salt and pepper is lovely!

Goat Cheese Tart: This is delicious cold and makes a great breakfast or late afternoon snack. I’ve used this during some intermittent fasting sessions as my last meal of the day at about 4PM. It keeps me satisfied for the rest of the day.

Keto Pot Pie: A quick and easy meal that is perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.

Fathead Dough Pizza: There are a couple of different crust recipes on here, but the fathead dough is simply amazing! I add sugar-free Italian sausage from Fresh Thyme, pepperoni, Fresh Thyme’s pizza sauce (again no sugar), black olives, oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, and more cheese to top it. It is better than any store-bought or restaurant pizza going. Seriously!

Keto Bread: This is perfect as a toast for breakfast, or just with cream cheese spread on it.

Cauliflower Hash Browns: The video they put out out about this said it tasted just like real potato hash browns. So I tested Scott on that. I did not tell him it was cauliflower, and his first comment was just like in the video: “I thought we couldn’t have potatoes on Keto.” Seriously, you can’t tell!!

Green Bean Casserole: With Thanksgiving coming up, having a low-carb version of some of our favorite foods is a must. This one is delicious – creamy with that crunchy topping you expect.

Besides these recipes, I have been experimenting with different recipes, and fat bombs are one I think I have perfected – at least the chocolate ones. Mine is this: 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted), 1/2 pecan butter, 1T unsweetened dark chocolate, 5-7 drops of orange oil inflused Stevia. Thoroughly mix (you want it to be runny, so you might need to nuke it 30 seconds), pour into silicone candy molds, and freeze. The size I use makes 30 fat bombs at about 97 calories each. Perfect for an after meal treat, and it doesn’t trip-out your blood sugar or increase insulin levels.

There are many other recipes that I will be sharing on The Fiber Pusher website and channel as soon as I get the time. As I experiment and create new recipes, I will let you in on them.

And, I will keep you up on the whole weight-loss journey. Scott is on this as well, and is down 26 pounds since the start of Keto in late September. I hope we keep on losing it!

Nov 7

There are several changes going on in the Story household – past, present and future. Let’s start with the past.

Back in July, Scott interviewed with General Truck Sales who was putting in a new showroom and repair center at our exit. I mean, this place is 5 minutes from our house. He passed the interview and drug tests for a position in the parts department, so he gave his 2-week notice to Menards and was set to begin his new job on the 29th. He was to report in to the Muncie branch for training with the promise that he’d move to the new center once it opened.

His first day was a disaster. They had him take test after test with no studying and no warning. They told him that he would be permanently at the Muncie branch (a 45-minute drive, each way). They told him that rather be in the parts department, he’d be working with hazardous materials and that any barrel or box that he labeled as hazardous waste would be his responsibility for the remaining existence of that container. If, months down the line, a semi with that container had an accident and that container was damage and the hazardous materials were spilled, Scott would be fined up to $50,000 and could spend 5 years in prison. All because he slapped a label on the container.

After 6 hours of dealing with the lies told to him in the interview process, Scott decided this job was not for him, and he quit. He immediately called Menards, since he had left on good terms, and reapplied for a position there. In order to do so, he had to go through the whole hire process just as someone who had never worked there before had. This included a drug test. Since he had passed the drug test at GTS, we had no worries about him passing one at Menards. He was rehired, worked a day and a half when he was called into the office and told that THC had been found in his urine and that he was not rehirable.

THC. He had been taking CBD oil to deal with the pain in his left foot from when a shelving unit fell on it while working at Menards. The foot never really healed properly and caused him a lot of pain and issues with swelling since he walked on concrete all day at work. He was taking 4 ibuprofen several times a day, which had us worried about the side effects of so much of it. I had heard of CBD oil and how well it managed pain. It was available at our grocery store, bought him the 10 mg capsules and had him start on it. Within a couple of weeks, his foot was no longer swelling up and he was able to walk all day with very little pain. Yay! Or so we thought.

I had read several reports on CBD oil online and all had said the CBD didn’t contain enough THC to show up on drug tests. Those reports were wrong. It does. And Scott lost his job because of trying to have a healthier way of dealing with pain management for an injury he sustained while at his job.

So, I took this as a sign that, maybe, just maybe, God wanted him to stay home and work on the house. I make enough money that we can survive on my income alone. We have to watch every penny, but we can survive. So, Scott became my “estate agent.”

We had money in savings, and have been using some of it judiciously to do home repairs. The front deck (4′ X 8′) was 25 years old and rotten enough to be dangerous. Scott tore it out, we sprayed the grass to kill it (1 gallon vinegar, 1 cup salt, 2T dish soap), laid the landscape fabric, and ordered pea gravel. Scott has spent the past month shoveling nearly 15 tons of stone; first into the area for the new deck (12′ X 10′), then in an area 3′ out from the house across the front of the house, around the deck and with an area to extend the downspout and move any rain water away from the foundation. We are using 1″ X 6″ boards as edging for this, but need to use 2″ X 6″ for the rest as the stone pushing against it is too much for the 1″ width.

And we have a new front deck. He interviewed contractors, he and I designed the deck and had the materials delivered, and he supervised the building of the new deck, although the man he hired really needed no supervision, just a couple of questions answered now and again.

Scott has cleaned out the garage (okay after I removed 120+ fleeces) and is in the process of organizing the many tools and supplies. I can park in the garage, now, which is something that hasn’t happened in years.

Scott has repainted the front door, inside and out, repaired the door frame, repaired the service door to the garage, replaced trim in the living room, sealed every entry point that a mouse might be able to use to gain entry into the house, patched holes in the 25-year-old vinyl siding, worked on the attic, reorganized his studio and the music equipment in the living room. He has kept the kitchen cleaned (and with all of the from-scratch cooking I am doing, that’s no mean feat). The myriad of things around the house that had gone for a long time neglected due to both of us having day jobs, my having Dyed in the Wool, his doing free-lance art (book covers mostly) and us being so busy on other things, are being done. He even lets me leave him a honey-do list each morning.

On top of this, he has been working on two written creative projects (one is nearly ready for the e-book publication), two art projects for long-term customers, and has been editing on my novel, which at nearly 130,000 words is a daunting task.

Now to the present. I love having him home. It has meant so many changes in our home, but all of them have been for the good. Funds, like I said, are tight. The savings we had has dwindled due to unforeseen things coming up (new dishwasher is to be delivered and set up today), as well as us way under budgeting another necessary repair to the house, but I am still happy with the situation. As long as we are wise with our spending, we should be just fine. My cooking everything and doing no eating out has helped. One meal eaten out can cost 20%-25% of our entire weekly food budget, so we just don’t eat out anymore. But that’s okay. It’s easier to stick with a healthy eating plan this way.

And, on top of all of this, Scott has dropped 24 pounds to date. He is healthier, has more energy, and is happier than I have seen him in many, many years. He is loving doing all of the work on our home. The skills he learned while working at Menards have come in very handy, and his confidence level at being able to tackle most jobs has grown. Just seeing him tired, but happy, at the end of the day is a blessing. I love coming home to a happy Scott.

And to the future. And there will be more changes coming. We have so much more to do on the house, and with the outside work 95% complete, we can now concentrate on the inside. We have a hardwood floor to finish installing (started years ago, but never completed), we have cabinets to redo to make them more useful, we have rooms to clean out and reorganize, we have so much that has just not been done. But he’s home and his “job” is seeing that they are checked off the list.

We already know what we want to accomplish next summer.

Change can be scary, especially when it comes to losing a job and having a reduced income. But change can be good if you are willing to see it as such and work within the parameters of that change. And sometimes change can be freeing. This one is all three – scary because our income has been reduced by a third, good because Scott is able to work on the house, and freeing for Scott to make our house a lovely, safe, and easier home in which to live.

I’m loving this change.

Nov 6
Long Time Coming
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Support Your Local... | icon4 11 6th, 2019| icon31 Comment »

Over the past nearly 10 years, I became busier and busier with Dyed in the Wool. There were farms to visit, fleeces to buy, fleeces to wash and send off for processing, inventory to keep and update, fiber festivals at which to vend, and books to keep. Last year, I started to feel a bit disgruntled at all of the time it was taking, and how, because of it, I was unable to find much time to do the things I enjoy. It was work all day at the office, and work each evening and on most weekends for Dyed in the Wool.

This spring, several lines began to come together into a point. That point being that it was time to close Dyed in the Wool and take my personal life back. It meant freeing up time for Scott and I to travel and spend time together. It meant not putting 20,000+ miles on my car each year. It meant digging out the dump that is my studio and seeing what I could create in it. It meant starting my new YouTube channel and website for experimentation, education, exploration, and evolution of all of the subjects that interest me.

As of today, the only thing remaining to close Dyed in the Wool by the end of the year are 18 unsold fleeces (working on that – keep an eye on a couple of groups on Facebook; Raw Fleece for Sale and Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em), I have 11 fleeces going out UPS tonight, 8 more going out tomorrow night. Also, there is still a bit of yarn and roving inventory in the shop, but very little. We are so close to wrapping things up. My goal is to have everything sold by December and use that month to complete the books and prepare for the final tax returns.

My new The Fiber Pusher channel and website are up and running, but, since I am still winding up Dyed in the Wool items, there hasn’t been as much content as I would like. I’m itching to get going on this and spend more of my free time working on this aspect of my life. It’s coming.

Tonight, I will be stopping by UPS and the post office shipping items out. When I get home, I will be boxing up the shipments going out tomorrow night before I can even fix supper. I am looking forward to being able to come home, fix a bite to eat and head up to my studio for a spot of weaving, or pull out some dyepots and see what color I can create using unusual dye materials.

Also, my novel is finished and Scott is doing the first editing (outside of me) on it. I have the cover design done, and just need to create the work of art that will be that cover. This, of course, means I need my studio organized and cleared out enough in which to work. It’s coming. Thanksgiving weekend. I cannot wait to dive in.

It’s all coming to me. 2020 will be a year of creativity that I haven’t been able to do for nearly 10 years. It’s coming, but, boy, I have waited a long time for it.l

Aug 4

Sandy and I started this business almost 10 years ago selling tie-dyed clothing and accessories, with the intent of moving into selling fiber from a wide variety of breeds and types. From the get-go, we wanted to help sheep owners with the problem of what to do with the fleeces that must be sheared from their flocks each year. Most had no idea how to get them out to a spinning public who really wanted them. And that’s where Sandy and I came in.

We became the connection from those flock owners to the public. We helped advise them on how to better their flock’s fleece quality and make those fleeces worth more. We learned all about the processing that it takes to make those raw, dirty fleeces into luscious roving, top and yarn for you, the end user. We spun, knitted and learned all we could about each breed and fiber type, educating ourselves as best we could so we could help makers choose the best fiber for their creations. And we have had the time of our lives doing so.

Because of these years working with wool, spinners, knitters, sheep breeders, etc., our knowledge base has increased 100 fold, and the people we have met and worked with along the way has been nothing short of amazing. Not for the world would we have missed this experience.

But, and you knew there was a but coming, times have changed, our personal situations aren’t the same, and Sandy and I, as much as we hate to admit it, have come to the conclusion that it is time to close Dyed in the Wool and move on to other things in our lives. For me, it has been the experimental and education videos on The Fiber Pusher. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, but the constant work behind Dyed in the Wool has prevented me from beginning this new venture.

Also, nearly all of our vacation days have been used vending at fiber festivals, and Scott and I now want to travel and do things together that have been put off for almost a decade. None of us are getting any younger and checking some things off all our bucket lists is becoming more and more of a priority.

Having said this, we have taken 40% off the costs of everything in the shop. When items sell out, they will not be restocked, so get them while you can. We will be vending at Michigan Fiber Festival on August 16 – 18, and all inventory will be 40% off there as well. Also, at Michigan Fiber Festival, we will be selling fixtures, out Patrick Green Big Batt Drum Carder, our blending board, and many more things we no longer will need for our business.

Thank you for making this last decade one of the most fun and fulfilling times in our lives. Sandy and I are humbly grateful for your support and we look forward to seeing you as fellow fiber artists rather than as a vendor.

Jun 25
Apr 29
The Secret is Out!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 The Fiber Pusher Podcast | icon4 04 29th, 2019| icon3No Comments »

There is a new YouTube Channel!  And it’s called The Fiber Pusher!

What?  So I already have a channel, you say?  Well this one is completely different.  Not a podcast, but a place to experiment, learn, practice, and play with all things gardening, natural fibers, natural dyeing, sewing, cooking, weaving, spinning, how things work, and so much more!

Come and join me through this journey of discovery – and subscribe so you get notified for all future installments.

Apr 2

What a change!

Kaala then and now

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