Jan 31
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Diet and Fitness | icon4 01 31st, 2012| icon34 Comments »

At Push, a trainer took me around to all of the weight machines and helped me set everything for my optimal use.  Then we adjusted the weights until they were where I should be starting and everything was written down on cards for my future use.  Then she showed me these “work-out” cards, each with a different and complete work out on them – just follow the instructions.  The instruction cards said to do each circuit 2-3 times with short cardio spurts in between.  Then at the end, you do 15-20 minutes of cardio.  I managed to do each circuit twice, but did end it with 20 minutes on the treadmill. All-in-all, it took me almost exactly one hour to complete.  Total steps for yesterday? 12,654!  No wonder I was tuckered when I got home last night.

Because I was too tired to do the week’s cooking last night, I got up at 3:15 this morning and got 95% of it all done.  All I lack is dividing up the BBQ chicken that is currently in the crockpot.  Scott will not go hungry this week, that’s for sure.

There are a couple of new items this week.  Starting the first of January, Scott and I decided to no longer eat wheat and wheat products.  After reading the book Wheat Belly by William Davis, we decided to see if what he said about how we would feel panned out for us.  I will say they have – big time!  I no longer have that mid-afternoon slump, nor am I foggy brained.  My workouts have been easier, too, since I’m not going into them so tired.  Scott has noticed a huge increase in his energy levels too, and his productivity at the art table has amazed both of us.

With this “no wheat” guideline, we have had to look for some alternative items for the foods we love, like breads, pastas and (I really hate to add this one, but…) cookies!  This morning, I cooked a pasta made from quinoa.  I tasted it before I added the cheese (yes, mac and cheese is on this week’s menu) and it wasn’t bad at all.  In fact, I really liked it!  Besides it being gluten-free, it has a lot more protein and fiber, which is good for both of us.

One thing we did try that no one liked (including my co-workers at the office) was Udi’s cookies.  They were really nasty.  Udi’s bread isn’t bad, though, just a little dry.  One thing we have tried that we really like is King Arthur’s gluten-free pancake mix.  Now that was better than the wheat pancakes we have had in the past.  In fact, we like them cold for a snack.  The first time I had them I added a bit of honey to them since I hate maple, but this last time I didn’t add anything and they were wonderful.  If they taste this good by themselves, then they’ll save me a few calories.

Do any of you eat gluten-free foods?  If so, I’d love to hear what brands or different items you like.  My MIL says Pamela’s brand is the best tasting to her, and I bought a bread mix to try out.  I still have some more experimenting to do.  Also, if you can think of other starch or grain-type of foods that would be a great addition to meals, I’m open for those, too.  So many things are made with wheat, so eliminating wheat from our diets can only open us up to more and different foods that will be better for us.

Jan 30
Current Work-in-Progress
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 01 30th, 2012| icon33 Comments »

I didn’t get to do as much creative stuff this weekend as I had wanted, but that was mostly my fault.  I did get to knit on the new sweater a bit, though, and here is where I am on that.

Because this yarn is so thick and I’m using size US6 needles, I can knit about 6-7 rows before I have to stop and take a break, especially now that I’m in the chevron part.  My right hand just isn’t what it used to be and my thumb starts aching.  But I am really loving how this sweater is coming out.  My only concern is the ribbing,  I dropped two needle sizes when I knit it, but I am still afraid that it might flair a bit because of the chevron stitch.  I am hoping that when I block the thing it will work itself out.  If not, I might have to do some reknitting on the ribbing.  We’ll see.

Since I only get to knit on my sock during lunch hours, it is coming along much slower.  I am ready to start the heel flap, but that won’t get started until tomorrow as I have to run errands today.  These will be very pretty socks when they are done, but not as cool looking as the Bordello socks would have been.  Still, I like socks that actually can be worn.

With us in the middle of a boring winter (we woke to snow Saturday morning, but it was melted before noon), I decided I needed something pretty and spring-like.  I’ve had the components of this necklace forever (in fact, I had made this necklace and discovered it was too short, had bought more beads but never fixed the problem), so decided that it was time to make them into something wearable.  I have the perfect sweater to wear with this necklace, plus I think it will go with a couple of spring blazers I have.

And that is all I have to show for now.  I’d like to be able to spend an hour each evening working on the sweater, but we’ll see.  This is going to be another busy week at work, and I may be too brain-tired to concentrate on it much by the time I get home.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, though.

Jan 26

I will admit right here and now that I am not a football fan.  Sandy is an uber football fan, though, and the Super Bowl coming to Indianapolis this year is starting 2012 out on fantastic footing for her.  For starters, she is one of the thousands of volunteers accepted to work the Super Bowl activities in the days leading up to the game.  She has her official Super Bowl volunteer T-shirt, jacket, hat, scarf, pin and tickets to the NFL Experience.  But she just felt there was something missing from all of this, so she took steps to remedy the problem.

A trip to the bead store combined with my jewelry making tools and Sandy could make what she wanted.

These earrings and bracelet will be proudly worn each of the days she will be working and she will have something special to remember this opportunity to be a part of the action.  In fact, if anyone would like a set just like it, she is selling them for $40 for the bracelent and $50 for the complete set as seen above.  Just email me at basicallybenita@yahoo.com and I’ll forward it on to her.

Now, if any of you have a spare ticket to the game itself and would like to take Sandy with you, then her Super Bowl experience would be complete.  And she’d throw in a bracelet and earrings as a thank you gift.

Jan 25

…and I am a container addict.  Unfortunately, I am surrounded by container addicts as well.  Few things catches the attention of us than a container in which one can hold things.

Over 20 years ago, my mother-in-law gave me a tan and brown Rolykit.  I have used this Rolykit for many things, although, in the past few years, it has held my jewelry making supplies and tools.

What is a Rolykit?  Well, it is a roll-up box.  Unfortunately, finding them here in the US is not easy. 

Sandy’s and my newest acquisitions came from ebay.  Mine is the green one with purple straps, and Sandy’s is the big blue one with black straps.

And here is what they look like unrolled.  Mine is used and someone has put in the dividers, but Sandy’s is new and the dividers are still in their plastic bags.  The tan and brown one I have at home is going to go to Scott once I transfer my jewelry stuff over to the green one this weekend.  Scott is going to use it as his painting “away” kit for his acrylic paints.

These are the handiest containers in the world!  Once you put in them what you want, you just roll them up and take them with you, or store them on a shelf until needed again.  I may have to go out and see what else is available – or is that addiction talk?

Jan 23

Yesterday, it was my intention to warp the Harrisville with the waffle-weave towel warp that I had ready and waiting.  After doing some quick calculations on how many heddles I needed per harness, it became apparent that I did not have enough heddles on this loom. 

I swear that each of the looms I have at home right now have heddles of different lengths.  I have loaned out looms, but they aren’t going to help me in this instance, even though I believe they have extra heddles on them I could have used.  So, before I can continue this project, I need to order more heddles, which I will do when I get home tonight.

I did have enough heddles on hand to get harnesses 3 and 4 ready, so I did that.  The one thing I like about the Harrisville loom and its floating harness system is the ease of removing the harnesses to work on them.  Just unhook the cables on each side that goes through the pulley system and you have a free harness.  (BTW, do you think it is about time I passed my 3 sizes too big, dye-covered sweatshirt on to someone else who dyes?  I hadn’t realized how too big this thing has gotten until I put it on yesterday.)

So close to being about to start the threading.  At 600 ends, it’s going to take a few hours getting this warp on and ready to weave.  Maybe next weekend.

Since I was thwarted from working on the loom (don’t you just love that word “thwarted’?), I settled down with the new sweater I am knitting.  I have 21 rows of 202 stitches of 1K-1P ribbing to do before I increase the stitches up to 226 and start the main part of the body.  Since ribbing is almost as boring to knit as stockingnet, I thought that if I could get past that part and onto the pattern part, it would be just as well.

It was very cold over the weekend, and we keep the house set at 60 degrees during the day to help keep the propane budget down to something livable, so Scott and I tend to wear layers and make judicious use of blankets and shawls while we work.  So, Scott thought it would be funny to take pictures of me all wrapped up and knitting on a wool sweater that I need to keep me warm.  As you can see, I didn’t even have the skein wound into a ball.  Sometimes you just want to start knitting and setting up the swift and ball winder is just too much trouble.

As of when I went to bed last night, I have only 4 more rows of ribbing to knit, so I almost made it.  Unfortunately, the kittens won’t let me knit, and I felt a bit guilty them having to be in time out while I knitted in the studio, so I didn’t get it finished.

Scott’s mom bought a year’s subscription to the streaming version of Netflix for us and I discovered Rosemary & Thyme yesterday afternoon.  That is a great show, and just reminds me all over again why I love the British people.  Seeing the country side and listening to them talk and watching them as they interacted with one another reminded me so much of our trip to England nearly 20 years ago.  And, unlike American television, British television doesn’t feel the need to present only beautiful young things in their shows.  It is so good to watch something with people who look normal.

This is going to be a busy week at work.  Tax season has begun.

Jan 20

Mom is having a needle biopsy done Monday morning at 8:30 (Texas time).  At that time they should find out the type of cancer she has as well as the stage it is at.

Currently, she is having some trouble breathing and the CT scans showed that the tumor on her aorta is pushing her wind pipe over 2″ and is collapsing it slightly.  So the sooner they can get her started on the chemo and get that tumor shrinking the better.

The one bit of upsetting news for her is that the doctors have told her that she will never get her voice back due to the tumor on her larnyx.  Currently her voice is forced and higher pitched and weaker than what she has always sounded like.  I think this was harder for her to take than the cancer news.

Again, I want to thank everyone for your prayers and good thoughts on Mom’s behalf.  If you can keep Daddy in your prayers, too, I know he’d appreciate it.  This is the second time he and Mom have gone through this with her, and Daddy is in remission from Leukemia, so they’ve dealt with this type of thing with him, too.  

I think I told you that Mom is 68.  I was wrong, she is only 66 and it is Daddy who is 68.  Their names are Clinton and Helen.

Jan 19
New Pattern(s) to Try!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 01 19th, 2012| icon32 Comments »

Yesterday, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee posted about her new mittens pattern, and I bought it.  Finally, a mitten pattern for me that I like and can’t wait to make. 

I have lots of left over worsted weight yarn from various other projects that can be used up on the cuffs of these.  Of course, they will be in line after the socks, but during the sweater.  The socks/mittens will be my evening knitting and the sweater my lunch-time knitting unless I can’t stand it and switch them around.  I am a woman, I am allowed to change my mind.

Last night , I visited my Sweater Wizard program to come up with the pattern for the sweater.  Definitely going with a V-neck, but the sleeves still were giving me issues.  Set-in?  Drop?  I wasn’t sure which way I wanted to go.  And should I continue the pattern on the sleeves or make them plain stockingnet?  In a way, I wish I had some of this yarn in the plain turquoise color for the sleeves, ribbing and facing on the neck, but I don’t.  I calculated the sleeves both ways but drop sleeves requires more yarn than I had, so I ended up going with the set-in sleeves.  This time, though, I opted to knit the sleeves from the top down, picking up the arm hole stitches and using short rows to shape the sleeve cap.  I have never done this before, so it will be an interesting challenge.

For those of you not familiar with Sweater Wizard, here is how the (old) version I have works.  I put in the guage and the needle size I used for the swatch, tell it the type of sweater (or vest or cardigan, or…), is it for a man, woman, child, doll or bear, top-down or bottom up, what type of neck, sleeve, finish, etc., and the size in inches.  And it does the calculations for the base pattern.  You have to add in the “pattern stitches” yourself.  Remember the sweater vests I did with my naturally dyed yarn?  After it spit out the base pattern, I had to do the hand work for the placement of the center cables.

With the current sweater pattern, I will still have to calculate the pattern so that I have the chevron stitch centered just exactly as I want it.  That will cause a little messing with the stitch count to make it be divisible by 13, but I can add those extra I need as plain knits at the side “seams”.  Also, I will have to decide on the exact way I want the V-neck to look.  I can do it exactly as written, or do some messing with it for a slightly different look.  I am pretty sure I know what I want, so we’ll see when I get there.

So, Sweater Wizard doesn’t do all the work for you, but it sure gives you a leg up on the hard part.

Jan 18

Like I said last week, I love the yarn I was trying to knit the Bordello sock pattern from, so I wanted to use it.  I cast on for a new pair of socks and am doing a simple K2P2 ribbing all the way down.  These socks will fit me for sure.

So, this young lady has been saved from the bordello and will now live life as a respectable and useful member of society.  She need not be ashamed of her past as she has risen above it.  The future is all that counts now.

But that chevron stitch in the bordello sock pattern is not going to be wasted.

I knitted a couple of inches using just a plain stockingnet stitch, then a couple of inches in the chevron stitch to see how my draw-in there would be.  A lot more than I had suspected.  Now to figure out how to count stitches that are slanting.

And take a close look at this area.  Doesn’t that look perfect for the center front on a V-neck sweater?  I am going to work it so that I can use this that way and when the V-neck starts, the slant of the stitches will work nicely.

I have had 10 skeins of this yarn (1650 yards) for a couple of years now just waiting for the right idea for a sweater to come along.  I think it finally has.  I knit this with a size 6 needle, which gives the swatch a nice feel, so this is the size of needles I am going to use on the sweater.  Most likely, I’ll knit it in the round.

Jan 17

Use to, I would get a couple of books, devour them, then go back to reading old books until I had the spare money to buy a couple more books.

With the Kindle and the wealth of free books out there, I just have to turn on the wireless, go out to the Kindle store and search for more free (or cheap) books.  Oh the horrors.  Instead of reading one book at a time, I can read multiple books, each depending on my mood.  So, currently on the read list, thanks to Kindle, are:

Emma by Jane Austen (I know I’ve read this before but it has been years!)- Free

Anam Cara: A book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find your Path Back to Health by William David, MD

Dangerous Ground, or The Rival Detectives byLawrence L. Lynch – Free

The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne – Free

Spinning Wheel Stories by Louisa May Alcott – Free

The Norwegian Fairy Book by Clara Stroebe – Free

Do you see my trouble?  I am being overwhelmed by good reading material.  This has never happened to me before and I am dangerously close to wanting to spend all my time reading.  I’ve not gotten a new e-reader – I’ve created an information monster!!!

It’s a good thing it can read to me as my hands are busy doing something else.  And, dear MIL of mine – I once again thank you for giving this wonderful tool to me.

Jan 16
Making a Hug
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Taking it Personally | icon4 01 16th, 2012| icon35 Comments »

Right now my mom is going through a very rough time of things.  She had cancer several years ago, and she has cancer again.  She lives in Texas and I live in Indiana.  We do talk on the phone, but visits are few and far between.  Dad is a bluegrass banjo (5-string) player and right now he’s playing 5 shows a week, so that keeps them tied to their area.

Since there is so much distance between us, I thought I’d send my mom a hug from me.  Mom loves turquoise and southwestern jewelry, so I thought I’d design and make a bracelet for her to wear that was reminscent of the style she loves.

This way, when she wears it, she will know that I am sending her all of the best thoughts and prayers and to think of me hugging her.  From the time I made it, until I got it out in the mail, I wore it.  This way, it will be from my wrist to hers, quite literally.  And a part of me will be with her to support her during this time.

I wasn’t going to mention it on here, but I decided that was being selfish.  She needs all the prayers and good thoughts being sent her way as possible, and if you could think of her and pray for her, I know she’d really appreciate it.  Her name is Helen.

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