A Little Chaotic

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These past few weeks have been barely controlled chaos for our families. Heart surgery in one, broken pelvis in another, then I’m having trouble with double vision. Just a lot of medical stuff. Some of it is still up in the air, but I’m confident that we’ll get it figured out.


Sewing

I wrapped up sewing classes a couple weeks ago. My final project was doing a quilted bag with a zipper.

Quilted Zipper Bag
Outside of the zippered bag
Inside Quilted Bag
Interior of the bag

I had finally finished my four training courses. I feel like I can learn to do a lot of things, and I’ve asked the really sweet sewing teacher if we might get together some, and do informal classes. I feel very grateful to someone who has taught me a life skill. Sure I paid a class fee, but you can’t ignore a wonderful personality with a giving spirit. She called to check on me after I told her I was having some double vision. The girl that was taking classes with me had to leave early for work the week before, and the instructor wanted to know if I’d like to come work. I told her that I really wasn’t supposed to drive alone, and that I wouldn’t have a ride in on time.

At my final official sewing class I earned my own pair of scissors that I got to pick out. Earned ScissorsIt’s kind of hard to tell in the picture, but it’s basically pink and white flowers.

I also got this cute paper:Sewing Machine LicenseIf anyone in the Huntsville metro area is interested in taking classes thru her, let me know. I highly recommend her, and her price really isn’t bad at all for what you are getting out of the class. I look forward to getting together with her and sewing on our own projects.

At home I had originally decided to sell my dining room furniture that is never used, and get rid of a piece of a red sectional couch that we had as an intact piece at one time until my dog named Cisco tore it with his toenails a few years ago. BJ said he thought it would be better if I had my sewing studio in the basement. We hardly ever use the basement for anything other than tornado warnings and to store things. I have some items that I can sell, so I intend to do that.

We have a plastic folding table that I will be using which is long enough for me to put my little countertop ironing board on.

Iron
This is a Black and Decker “Classic” iron. I saw it advertised as one of the highest recommended for new sewers.

I had BJ buy some white pegboard from work. He hung it above my sewing station where I would have the best way to reach everything on it. I ordered some pegs, and after they arrived I decided I could hang my thread from the pegs. A tiny curtain rod balanced between two pegs holds my scissors, and will hold another of my rotary cutters. I bought a little lamp off of Craigslist, and got an LED lightbulb for it. It’s going to work out just fine. We’re still working out the details of how fabric is going to be stored, but we’ve got a couple of ideas.Sewing Room Progress 2

 

I have gotten a few adult coloring books, and as I was flipping thru one I happened to see a sewing machine shaped sort of like the old Singer brand machines. I decided to get out my colored pencils and make a little art work for my studio.

All my things are ready, now I just have to get some ideas of what I’d like to try to sew.


Dinner Date With My Hubby

BJ and I love to go to fun new places, especially local ones. There is a new general store/game room/restaurant/bar downtown. It is near Washington Square, which has a neat vibe about it.Washington Square

There was even a neat mural in this alleyway.IMG_2445 2

BJ and I went into a couple of boutique stores around the corner from where we parked, and then we went in the the White’s Mercantile which houses an arcade and this bar. Pints and Pixels is the name of it.IMG_2444 2

BJ was in hog heaven when we went in. There were 80’s and 90’s era video games all over the place. Music from the 80’s is being played, and on their television screens are the videos from those songs. IMG_2452The restaurant housed here is another location of a place BJ and I have been to many times over the past few years. The table decor was plastic bead “sculptures” of the flowers that come up out of the pipes in the Super Mario Brothers game. IMG_2448The waitress gave us each 3 coins to play games with. I went first. I picked out Donkey Kong, Mortal Kombat, and Pac Man.

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After our black bean burgers, BJ and I got up to leave, but he wanted to play NBA Jam. I indulged him, and played a little. He had fun. BJ Playing

After eating we went downstairs to the Mercantile store and looked around. They had some neat, but expensive things there. I did get silly, and try on a hat, but we didn’t buy anything.

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The Garden

My straw bales are doing very well, and before we know it, we’ll have zucchini and summer squash. Luckily if we can’t eat it all, I’m going to learn how to can it. I also have several tomatoes coming up. I put some crushed eggshells on them the other day for calcium, and I have some more to put on there today. IMG_2465

IMG_2468My poor herbs just don’t seem to be doing too well. I’m going to have to figure out a plan B on some things. Summer has sneaked upon us. I can’t wait for my first homegrown tomato sandwich. Now that’s good eating!

Parkway SunsetAs I say good evening to you, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

 

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Week in Review

Crafting in My Blood

I’ve always enjoyed doing crafts. I’ve bounced around doing different things over the years from cross stitch, plastic canvas, and a little scrapbooking. I must say though, now that I’m learning to sew, I’m finding it to be as enjoyable as my loom knitting. I’m still going to work on learning to crochet, but slow and steady wins the race. I’m in no hurry, and I know there will be a lot of imperfection before I get to a level that I like. I guess I’m sort of an instant gratification type person. I want to be able to do it right now, and do it flawlessly. In the real world, we all know, this doesn’t work. So I am practicing.

This week in my sewing class we learned how to make buttonholes with the machine and how to use the machine to sew buttons on. I accidentally left my power cord to my sewing machine at the house, so I had to use one of her machines. It is a Singer like mine, but it’s much more sophisticated. My machine is really meant for the beginner.

I brought a smaller square pillow to class I’d gotten at the thrift store for the day’s class. I learned how to make a cover for the pillow that can be changed seasonally. I turned out ok, but I think I’m going to add another buttonhole and button to it.

Pillow Cover

I love buttons, and I’ve loved them since childhood. My grandmother had a metal box with a lid that she kept all her old buttons in. They fascinated me endlessly. I stayed with her many summer days over my childhood and very frequently I would get that box, and dump its contents out onto the floor and look at all the cool buttons.

A few years ago I went into an antique store, and saw a jar of old buttons. I couldn’t help myself, and ended up buying it. More for sentimental reasons than anything else. I couldn’t sew at the time, but I still wanted those buttons. They’re stored in this cool old glass jar. I’d like to find a lot more vintage/antique buttons to put on things I make as I go along.

Jar of Old Buttons


Grow, Garden, Grow

Our straw bales finally have seeds that have been planted, and little seedlings are starting to come up. This thrills me to no end, because I couldn’t get to the garden last year.

StrawBalesEarlyGrowth1StrawBalesEarlyGrowth2It’s looking better every day.

I planted some herbs in my cinder block bed, but so far I haven’t seen any growth. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will turn out well.


The Generosity of Others

I never cease to be amazed at the kind generosity of others who are strangers to you. In this world, we so often hear the negativity spewing from every direction. In the past few weeks I’ve had three acts of generosity given to me. First there was the lady who gave me a large supply of nice fabric.

This week I posted on a Freecycle page on Facebook that I was looking for small jars. My intention is to sort different colored buttons in them. I got a message from a lady who said she had 14 baby food jars that she was going to use for a project, but never got around to. I had BJ go and pick it up off her porch after work.

Then I’m a member of another group on Facebook that I was an admin for for a short period of time. I decided it was a little too much responsibility to monitor a group. I’m still a member of the group. It’s a worldwide group called Buy Nothing Project. It is targeted for “hyperlocal” giving. It is encouraged to be more friendly and open than most freebie sites. The group I’m in only includes people in two zip codes of my town. I placed a request for jars there as well. I wrote a lady whom I had talked to previously about getting yarn, but we never got the details worked out. She wrote me, and said that she had a ton of jars that I was welcome to come get, and that she would give me some yarn as well. BJ drove me over to her house, where she invited me in. She gave me a box and started filling it with jars that had once contained food. In the end I wound up with two full boxes of jars and lids. Then she walked into another room and gathered some yarn up for me. It was so cool of her to not only give me the stuff, but to freely invite me into her home.


What’s Next?

I’m going to be learning yet another skill this summer, and that is canning. I have always wanted to can vegetables for my garden to enjoy year round. I have a glass top stove, and had always been told I couldn’t use a canner on it. I finally decided to contact Whirlpool to see if my particular oven was safe to can on. The emailed me back in a couple of days, and said that I could can on it. The only precautions were to make sure the stove eye I used to can on got a chance to cool down before doing anything else, only one canner on the stove at a time, and that the pan should be no more than 1/2″ over the diameter of the largest stove eye.

This means that I can now learn how to can my vegetables. I already own a water bath canner. I also have my grandmother’s older pressure canner, but I think it needs some replacement parts. Now the search will be on for finding good deals on canning jars and supplies. We’ll see how it goes.

Keeping Busy

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, but things have been a bit crazy around here. We’ve had some family and personal health issues. Things are slowly improving in that area, so fingers crossed that it will continue to get better.

New Hobby

I started sewing lessons a couple of weeks ago. I am learning from a wonderful woman named Becky. She is very patient, and makes it seem so much easier than I thought it would be. There is another student taking class at the same time as me. We’re enjoying learning.

First Sewing Project

This is my first sewing project. It is a rice filled bag that can be put in the microwave to heat it up, or put in the freezer to cool it down. I picked out the fabric, and made sections which I filled with rice that I’d added lavender essential oil to. I was so proud of this first project. I made a second pack while I was still in class. I filled it with orange essential oil.

Rice Pack

I made this smaller size rice pack at home later in the week. I gave it to my friend Rachel who just gave birth to a beautiful little girl.

Drawsting Bag 2I made this drawstring bag last week in class. I picked out the fabric and the ribbon. I’m not sure what I’ll carry in it, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it.

Me Sewing

Becky sent me this picture of myself from my class. I’m always so excited about learning when I go to class.

I have really gone crazy trying to come up with sewing supplies. I get my mind set on a new task, and I get a little OCD. I found a few deals in thrift stores. I went to garage sales and estate sales looking for things. I’ve found some great fabric and a few different things. I posted on a Facebook group that I was looking for sewing supplies. A lady who lives a couple towns over met me one evening, and the amount of fabric was amazing. She just gave me a huge plastic tub and a garbage bag full of different kinds of fabric. Then she also gave me a bag full of accents to go on projects. I’m always in awe at the generosity of people.

Sunday afternoon I decided to try my hand at another bag, but a small one this time. I found some pretty gray fabric and decided to use some light purple ribbon for my straps. The fabric was a thrift store find, and the ribbon was from the Dollar Tree.Small Bag

At the beginning of the week I decided to use some of the fabric I received free to make a slightly larger bag. I’m having some trouble sewing in a straight line, but I know that comes with practice. Yellow Gray Bag

Yesterday our sewing class was about using the sewing machine to sew on buttons, and making buttonholes. I accidentally forgot the power cord to my machine, so I used one of Becky’s machines.

I had gotten a pillow from a thrift store. The pillow was decorative with lines of colorful thread going in straight lines across it. I took the stitches out, and it left me with a clean slate. I washed the pillow, and it was ready for class.

In class I watched in awe as the machine I was using made a button hole with hardly any effort from me. It was a little tricky learning to machine sew the buttons on fabric. It’s more of an issue of moving the button just a little to get everything lined up and then it’s super easy. I mostly finished my pillow cover, but I may still add a button.Pillow Cover


Garden

BJ and I are starting to get some growth in our straw bale garden. I’m so excited to be participating this year, because of foot surgery last year I couldn’t get downstairs to get to my garden. I had to view it from our deck.

We have planted a few things in our 8 straw bales including zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, lots of tomatoes, different kinds of peppers. I also planted some of the herbs in the big flower bed. I haven’t gotten any growth in the holes of the cinder blocks yet.

I won’t go photo overboard, but here is some of the early growth in the garden.

I plan on planting some more things in buckets like kale, collards, spinach, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, and garlic. Maybe a few more things. I’ll hopefully get the center of the flowerbed planted with flowers. I have so many flower seeds, it would be a shame to not use them.

I contacted the manufacturer of my stove to see if I could can some of the produce from my garden. They wrote me back and told me that I could as long as I didn’t do marathon canning, used a pot that’s too big for the stove eye, or tried to can in two pots at the same time. I’ve never canned in my life, but I have quiet a few of the supplies to get me started.


Life Skills

I hope to learn as many old school life skills as possible. I don’t want to become Amish and sew all my own clothes or anything, but there are too many skills that over time have been forgotten. I enjoy learning, so I intend to spend my time learning as many things as I can. In the end, it will lead to a simpler and hopefully more budget friendly life.

Miscellany

The Beauty of Nature

Relaxing
Relaxing at Madison County Nature Trail

BJ and I have been making treks up Green Mountain to the Madison County Nature Trail for many years. It is a wonderful spot to view nature and relax. Once you enter the park, you really don’t have any cell phone signal, although I have seen some people using their phones there. There is a 1.5 mile nature trail that you can walk along. I am not in good enough shape yet to do it, but I have walked it in the past. I hope to be able to do it again this year as I build up my stamina.

If you go during the day in the middle of the week, you will find it almost empty. You will sometimes see cars, but no one at the entrance and pavilion of the park. A lot of people go there to walk the trail. I like to sit at the pavilion in a wooden rocking chair, looking out over the manmade lake and seeing the covered walking bridge.

This week, BJ and I decided to make a trip up there on a Friday afternoon after he got off work. There were a few people milling around. There was a large family having a picnic and doing some fishing in the lake, there were some people dressed in prom dresses and tuxes having their pictures taken. Overall the park was quiet, and the weather was gorgeous. Sunny, and not too hot with a slight breeze. We decided to walk along the trail to the covered bridge.

MCNT
Water feature near the start of the trail.

BJ was of course fascinated by the lake and the fish he could see in it. I was busy looking at the plant life, and there is plenty of it to be seen. I’m including some pictures of some of the plants we saw. My mom helped me identify some of these.

Yellow Wild Azaleas
Yellow Wild Azalea Tree
Pink Wild Azaleas
Pink Wild Azalea Tree

We walked across the covered bridge while BJ looked out every window opening to catch glimpses of the fish below in the lake. We walked back toward the entrance, and BJ almost stepped on a poisonous snake.

Wild Red Magnolia
Wild Red Magnolia

It was an Earth Day treat to go visit the trail.


Weight Loss and Exercise

A major issue for most of my life has been my weight. I have yo-yo’d up and down over the years. I got a gastric bypass in 2008, and because I wasn’t truly ready for the surgery, I gained the 90lbs that I lost back over the course of several years. I’ve never been really good at sticking with exercise. I have joined a couple of gyms in the past. I joined a gym at the local Wellness Center back in 2014. I decided to hit the gym hard, and work as fast and as hard as I could. In the end, I ended up injuring my left foot badly enough that in June of 2015 I had to have foot surgery.

I felt discouraged, but I’ve never given up hope that I can get to a healthy weight. In January of 2015 I joined Weight Watchers to start the process of losing weight. As of today I am down 74 pounds. I stopped WW a few months ago, because $20/mo was just too much to pay for something I already know how to do. I downloaded the app “MyFitnessPal” on my iPhone, and I’ve been tracking calories ever since.

I’ve recently started exercising again. I’m starting out slow with walking and doing some yoga. I am keeping a record of my steps on my phone.

Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup
Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup with mashed baked potatoes.

Although I don’t always eat healthy, I do try to most of the time. It is possible to be a vegetarian, and still not eat as healthy as you are supposed to.

Life at Home

Whos Up There
Whatcha doin up there?

Garden

It’s getting closer every day to the time when I can plant all the seeds I’ve acquired. We’re in the process of fertilizing the straw bale gardens. It has about 5 days left until we can put our soil on the top. You can technically plant transplants or plants that are already growing into the straw bale. You just make a bit of a hole in the soil and straw. I prefer to start with seeds, because they are cheaper to start with. If you would like to learn more about straw bale gardening, I recommend Straw Bale Gardening by Joel Karsten. Amazon has an updated version of the book that was published in February 2015. I have an older version, but it is still relevant. In the book you follow a 12 day process of alternating amounts of fertilizer on one day, and then watering another day. I’m hoping they do really well this year. Dirt In Flowerbed We finally were able to get fill dirt to add to our flower/herb garden. BJ went to get a pickup truck bed full of the dirt. He brought his truck into the backyard, and we shoveled dirt out of the truck into the middle of the flowerbed. Yesterday, BJ added compost and vermiculite to the dirt. It is supposed to rain soon, but as soon as the dirt is a little dryer I’ll start putting dirt into the holes of the cinder blocks. It won’t be long before I’m able to start planting all my seeds. I’m so excited. Now if I could just deal with that pesky pollen!

BJ’s “Honey Do” list keeps growing, poor guy! I decided I’d like a bench to sit outside and enjoy the yard. He can get pallets basically for free from work, so I’m looking up plans of different benches and chairs made from pallets. I’ve already told him that I’d like a greenhouse in the back yard, and he wants to build a small storage building to store the mowers and garden implements in.

Denver Stretching


 

Reading

I have a ridiculous amount of books to read, but I always seem to be acquiring more. I found a larger local used bookstore that has a pretty good selection, but their prices are a little higher than I’d like to pay. My favorite spot to get used books is the “Friends of the Public Library” bookstore. They have a lot of cool books in a small space, and the prices are amazing. I also buy a ton of ebooks on Amazon for my Kindle app. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever be able to read all the books that I’ve downloaded. I have a bunch of different wish lists on Amazon, but I have a physical book list, and a Kindle book list.

Due to the migraines I had been having, I was having a very hard time with concentration. The headaches are almost gone now, so I’m able to focus much more easily. I found a book at the library bookstore that was on my Kindle wish list. Online it is $20 for a new book, and the digital addition is $13.49. I found this book for the outrageous price of $1.00. I have started reading it, and I’m enjoying it so far.

The book is called Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes, if you’d like to check it out on Amazon just click here. So far the book seems to focus not on homemaking as a duty of non-working women staying home and slaving away in servitude of a husband. This book highlights that homemaking is something for everyone single, married, male, female, young, or old. The main idea is that over the last couple generations, we have lost many of the essential skills to be as self-sufficiency. As I read thru the book I will update on my feelings of what I’m reading.

Book

The book is inspiring me to work harder at having a self-sufficient lifestyle. It’s amazing how much money BJ and I have wasted on non-essential items. I want to maximize our savings budget, and learn things that are useful. I’m seriously considering taking a beginner’s sewing class. I have been wanting to learn to sew for years.


 

My Self-sufficient Trials and Errors

When teaching ourselves new tasks realizing there is a high probably of failure is something that I’ve struggled with. I’m working to learn more and more every day. I absolutely love to learn, and there’s so many chances to learn every single day.

I had a trial and error with baking some bread this week. I bought a dry grinding container for my blender that breaks down wheat berries. I had gotten a bag of both hard red wheat berries, and hard white wheat berries. I had been hesitant to take the plunge to grind the wheat and make bread with it. The blender ground up the hard red wheat berries beautifully, my only problem is I didn’t feel how ground up it was until I had already started using it. I think next time I’ll make sure it’s ground finer.

Grinding Flour I let the yeast rest in hot sugar water for 15 minutes, and then I poured in half of the flour. My second mistake was that I didn’t allow the flour to be incorporated enough. Next time I’ll mix it longer. Then I put in the other half of the wheat in the mixer. It never seemed to have the consistency of my prior bread doughs. Perhaps the gluten wasn’t being properly stretched. I probably should have let that mix longer as well. I turned it out onto a floured board and kneaded it a little. I let it rise for an hour in an oiled bowl. I could actually hear it making a crackling sound as it was rising. At the end of the rise I was supposed to punch down the dough, knead it a little and turn it out onto a floured board. I cut the dough in half, and put each loaf in my silicone bread pans. I let them rise for another 30 minutes, and then I stuck them in the oven. I always cut a slice off the end off one of the loaves to test it out. It was just ok, it didn’t taste as good and didn’t seem to be too dense.

Bread Dough
Bread Rising

I’m ok with there being some trial and error as long as I’m learning.

As I try to master the art of homemaking, I will be updating here.

 

 

I Haven’t Forgotten

 

Rose
Rose from our front flowerbed

I really haven’t forgotten about the blog. I’ve just neglected it. We’ve had a whirlwind of activity around here in the past few weeks. There have been many changes in our family’s lives in both scary and exciting ways. My father-in-law had a massive heart attack, and after several scary days of waiting, his body healed enough for the doctors to put a stent in an artery that was 99% occluded. He is on the mend, but he has two more arteries that need stents. Those will be done after more healing occurs.


 

Princess

Princess2

When I was 18-years old, I moved into BJ’s parent’s home. I lived in the basement. One Saturday I came home, and there was a little fluffball of a puppy. BJ had gotten this sweet little dog for me from the local flea market. We named her Princess, and she was so much fun. She slept in the bed with me at night while she was little. When BJ and I moved into an apartment in 2000, I had to leave Princess with BJ’s parents. Before long they moved further out into the country and Princess had plenty of room to run and play. She was so fast and smart. She was part border collie, and part jack russell. She would run beside your car as you drove up the long driveway, and she could keep up with us while we were going as fast as 25mph. She lived a very long and happy life. She always recognized us when we came to visit my in-laws, and would try to “talk” to us with little noises. As she aged she finally lost her sight to cataracts and appeared to have lost her hearing. A couple weeks ago we went to my in-law’s house, and I noticed I didn’t see her sitting in her normal spot by the kitchen door. My mother-in-law didn’t want me to know, but Princess was missing. Apparently she wandered off, perhaps to cross the rainbow bridge on her own. It is so hard to believe after so many years that I won’t see that sweet pup when I go to my in-law’s. She was one of the first major gifts BJ got for me, and it was like the end of a chapter or our lives to realize she is now gone forever. We searched for her in the dark, and the family had searched the day before. She will forever hold a piece of my heart as my Princess, the thing BJ calls me each night as we say goodnight.

Princess
Princess a few months ago with a coat my mother-in-law got her.

 

Plants and Spring

Bluebells
Bluebell flowers BJ got me.

Spring has now made it’s appearance after a rather mild winter. All the seeds I’ve been looking at for months, are close to being ready to plant. We should be getting a truck bed full of dirt soon to fill the large cinderblock flowerbed. That will be filled with different flower seeds. I’m ready to fill the holes of the cinder blocks with herbs. We have started this year’s straw bales. You prepare them for 12 days before putting down a layer of soil on top, and then you are ready to plant your vegetable seeds. I had originally wanted to do 10 bales, but the bales are slightly expensive so we decided on 8. To prevent the avalanche of straw during the middle of the growing season like last year, BJ cut up some wooden pallets, and held them in place with pieces of rebar.

Straw Bales 2016

There will be T-posts on each end, and several levels of wire strung across to each T-post to use as a trellis. We’re also planning on putting something on the ends of the straw bales. Side of Straw Bales

I will be growing some things in buckets too. This past weekend I planted dahlia bulbs in medium size flower pots. I stuck them on either side of the patio paver walkway near the main flowerbed. I repotted some plants I had in the kitchen. BJ had gotten me a couple of beautiful pots that I used.

I put my jade an aloe in the pots, and I had another pot with an overgrown mother-in-law tongue that had a lot of dead leaves. I dumped it out, and sorted out the green growth, and then centered it in the pot.


Moving Forward

As long as I can remember in my life I have always looked towards the future, and what my plans and goals are. It catapulted me thru college so quickly that I had a master’s degree in nursing by the time I was 23. Many things in my life have changed over the years, just like they do in everyone’s lives. I am looking at life in a different way than what I had planned for years. Although things will be very different than what I had envisioned before, I’m still hopeful. On April 4th, BJ and I celebrated the 18th anniversary of us becoming a couple. It has been wonderful having him in my life, and the vision of us spending our lives together remains the same. Our ability to grow and change together as time goes on keeps us strong.

My thoughts about my personal future is that I’ll be taking time to learn many things and devoting time to my health. I will be studying things that will improve our self-sufficiency like gardening, sewing, herbalism, homemaking, and maximizing our finances. There are many things I am interested in, and of course there isn’t time for everything, but I’m dedicated to doing the most that I can. Like the quote in my craft room says, “Bloom where you are planted”. I want to make the most of each day ahead of BJ and I both.

 

Visiting

Thursday morning I was packing, and getting ready to go to my mom’s house. She has a hurt foot, and my stepdad was going on a fishing trip, so I wanted to help her out.

While drinking my morning coffee I visited with BJ for a little bit, because he was going into work late. I finished packing up the car, and we left the house at about the same time.

I drove over to another town to meet my dear friend Rachel. She had her 2 year old daughter and her mother-in-law with her. We met at Moe’s, and my diet went off the rails for that meal. I had a yummy bowl with rice, black beans, tofu, mushrooms, onions, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, and a little shredded cheese. I also ate chips and their tomatillo salsa. It was so great to see them. Rachel is about to give birth to her second daughter. I originally met Rachel through the church we used to attend. She moved closer to where she grew up, and I don’t get to see her very often anymore. She’s a busy RN at the hospital and a mom, so life is pretty busy. Her mother-in-law is so sweet, and it was a pleasure to visit with her as well.

After eating, I gassed up the car and hit the road. It took me about an hour to get to my mom’s house. My stepdad was there to help me unload my stuff. I must’ve looked like I was moving in. I had a heavy computer bag with several things in it, a suitcase, a bag full of food, and a huge storage bin filled with my yarn and all the components needed to work on both my knitting looms, and for my mom to teach me to crochet. I had kiwi and frozen steamed vegetables for dinner. After dinner I spent time with my mom visiting, and working on my loom. I have been very slowly been working on making hats for the homeless. I finally finished one that night, and I couldn’t have been happier. I snapped a picture, and went to Facebook to share the picture with the couple who had donated that yarn to me.

FinishedHat2

I’ve got some more yarn in the same color to start another one. I got sleepy, and ended up going to the guest room about 8:40. I was going to do some reading before I went to bed, but I was just too sleepy.


 

I woke up off and on thru the night, and finally woke up about 5. I went downstairs and started some coffee. I sat and watched the news until my mom woke up about 6:30. By then the sun had started to shine, which was a vast improvement from the really hard rains from the day before. I had driven thru patches of rain so hard I had to slow down to about 25mph. I stepped out to get the newspaper and bring the garbage bin back down to the house. It was much cooler than it had been the day before.

I cooked scrambled eggs for us, and got the food ready to put in the crockpot for our lunch. We ate our breakfast, and then we sat in their recliners in the middle of the living room. While my mom was out of the room taking her vitamins I started on a basic chain stitch for crochet. I learned to do a basic chain when I was much younger, and wasn’t even sure if I’d remember it, but I did. I had never really learned how to do any actual crochet.

We spent a little time watching television and I got online for a little while. I started getting a migraine. I had one the day before, but I assumed it was from the cold front coming thru. When I get a migraine concentration is hard for me.

For lunch we had a soup made from quinoa, great Northern beans, diced tomatoes, kale, onion, vegetable broth, and some spices. It had cooked about 4 hours on high, and I put the kale in to wilt for the last 15 minutes. I brewed some black currant tea, and soon I got the table ready. We enjoyed the meal, and I’m going to keep making it at home because it really is that good. You can find the recipe for this soup at this blog. I have tried several meals from this blog, and so far they’ve all been great.

After lunch my mom started showing me how to crochet. I had this gigantic plastic crochet hook, and some #6 bulky yarn. I seemed to have gotten the hang of it. I’ll just need lots of practice. So far, I’m really pleased with how I did.

First crochet

I will use Youtube videos to help me learn some of the other stitches. It’s something else I can do besides just working on my loom, but I still have a lot of other things I’d like to try on my looms.

I started loading my car. I got the leftovers of the soup, and my mom gave me some free-range eggs which thrilled me greatly. I left about 5:30 to start my trip home. I do not see very well in the dark and prefer not to drive out in it, so I wanted to give myself ample time to get home in time.

I arrived home, and BJ helped me unload the car. He had gotten me a Subway sandwich to eat, so I sat down for dinner. I was feeling very drained from the headaches, so I went to bed about 8:30.

 

Beginning of the Week

The beginning of the week definitely started on a high note. Monday mornings are when I weigh-in each week. I had lost 3.5lbs last week, bringing me to a total lost since January of last week to 70 pounds.

70

I couldn’t be more thrilled! It’s truly been thru eating better, because I haven’t started exercising yet. My plan is to start exercising by walking in my neighborhood on the nice days, and also doing yoga.

Also my headaches are almost totally gone. Since I started the acupuncture, it’s been nothing short of miraculous. The strict diet given to me by the acupuncturist has helped me lose weight as well, but has been very difficult to follow. I think that eating a diet that has been very low in fats, sugars, and processed food has helped my brain begin to heal. I went to get my acupuncture in the afternoon.

After my acupuncture, I met BJ at Jason’s Deli for some dinner. I tried honey mustard dressing on a salad for the first time, and really liked it.

Monday was a rather quiet day overall. It was a nice start to the week.


 

Tuesday started out as quietly as Monday was. I watched my favorite tv show, and then headed to the sanctuary of my craft room.

Lap Joey

I was treated to Joey visiting with me while I sat in my comfy chair in the craft room. I read some, and worked on some product reviews. I am always on the search for different review opportunities.

I ended up falling asleep in my chair, I was awakened by a phone call. I was supposed to meet with someone for an appointment, and I mistakenly thought it was for Wednesday instead. I rescheduled for the next day.

I went for my acupuncture, and BJ got home not long after I got there. We didn’t want to watch the news, because it is just too depressing. Ever the fisherman, BJ suggested we get out of the house.

We headed to Madison County Lake, which is a peaceful manmade lake out in the country. BJ’s stress relieving, soul soothing activity is fishing. Somewhere, anywhere. Just fishing. A lady that works for him made this funny shirt for him.

Fishing Shirt

This shirt is so appropriate for him. It cracks me up.

BJFishing

Madison County Lake is state owned, so you have to buy a permit to go fishing. We’ve been coming here for fishing and picnics for about 7 1/2 years now. You really don’t have any cell phone signal, so it’s truly a getaway.

Lake 1The lake is surrounded by some beautiful mountains. All kinds of neat birds can be seen there including kingfishers and bald eagles. It’s such a delight to watch nature. I still wish I would’ve brought a book to read or something. BJ fished and fished, until before we knew it, it was getting dark.

 

Lake2

The lake closes at dusk, so they were ready to come run us off. BJ caught two fish, and decided he’d better go.


Wednesday I woke up rather early. I enjoyed some coffee and spent some time with BJ. We left about the same time, with him going to work, and I going to get acupuncture.

I have only had a few mild headaches over the past week. My acupuncturist started to work on my weight. He place mini-acupuncture needles into my abdomen. They don’t hurt, and if he thinks it’ll help me lose weight then I’ll try it.

After acupuncture I went to Hobby Lobby. I browsed the yarn aisle and got this.

Chunky Yarn

This yarn will be used on my Zippy Loom more than likely to make something interesting like a scarf. I also bought some beautiful buttons that are wooden and printed with beautiful things on them. I’m not sure what I want to use them in, but i thought I’d start a button box like my grandmother had when I was a child. I used to get the black metal box filled with buttons from a shelf over the refrigerator. I would go thru those buttons all the time as I was growing up.

After Hobby Lobby I went to Hancock Fabric where I found a few things on sale. I bought a pair of earrings, and I found a couple more buttons I wanted. Here is my favorite.

Pretty Button

I went to an appointment after shopping, and then I went to Garden Cove produce store. I found some yummy strawberries, and a few other goodies. Then I headed home.

BJ was working a closing shift so it was just me and the doggies. I spent some time doing a little work on a loom knit hat, and looking at some seed catalogs. I also got my new walking shoes in the mail.

New Walking Shoes

When it was time to feed Denver, I took his water and food with me along with some salmon oil that I squirt on top of the food. I also put a beef tendon in my pocket. He was ready to scarf down the food until I held the beef tendon up. He stared wide-eyed at it, and when I gave it to him, he ran out into the yard and wouldn’t even look back at me. He was totally focused. I went to bed about 9. A good start to the week.

 

Look Back at the Weekend

Joey Stick
Joey with a “Bully Stick” that I’m product testing.

Friday was a quiet day at home. I didn’t have any acupuncture visit, but I think I am starting to see the benefits of it. I only had a mild headache for part of the day. I spent time doing some loom knitting, and a little light housework. I made a pot of black eyed peas for our supper. When BJ got home from work, we got out of the house for a little while. We went to Ditto Landing where BJ could do some fishing. It was pretty much dark by the time we got there, but there are a lot of lights around so he could still see.


Saturday morning I woke up early to start some food in the crockpot so that we could have lunch together before BJ had to go to work. I got the recipe off the internet. It was quinoa, kale, great northern beans, and diced tomatoes. It also had vegetable broth and a few spices. It turned out really great even though I accidentally used the tomatoes with chilis in them. It was a little spicy, but we both enjoyed it. BJ had enough to take with him for his lunch at work.

I spent the evening mostly in my craft room. I listened to some music and worke on various projects. When I got the mail, I received a couple of product test items. One was the “Bully Stick” and beef tendon mix for the doggies. Joey chewed on his for a little bit, and then gave up on it. I brought Denver in the basement for the evening since it was supposed to get chilly. He absolutely loves rawhides and any kind of treat like that. You could hear him all the way upstairs gnawing on his.

Denver ChewsI headed off to bed before BJ even got off work. I have been getting sleepy earlier and earlier.


Sunday morning I woke up way before BJ, because he didn’t get home until after midnight. I’ve been doing really well on the plan to eat fruit before each meal. I had some honeydew before eating my scrambled eggs.

Later after BJ was up and about we went to Whole Foods and ate a little brunch. I am in love with their mock chicken salad. I could eat that every day, really. They had some great rosemary potatoes and pasta salad. I’m not supposed to be eating any processed food right now, so I sort of didn’t do too good with that. We picked up some more fruit there, and then headed to Ditto for BJ to fish some. He tried  to fish, but wasn’t out there very long. It was just too windy and cold.

For a late lunch we went to one of our favorite local restaurants. I had vegetarian chili and cornbread (I know, I know, it’s processed), and BJ had a black bean patty burger.

After eating we went to find some shoes for me to try on. I am about to start walking in my neighborhood, and I don’t have the best feet. I had researched some of the best shoes to buy for my feet. One of the most affordable choices was Sketchers Go Walk 3. I found some in Shoe Carnival, and they fit fine. I’m buying them online, because they’re cheaper that way. I should have my shoes by the middle of the week.

All in all the weekend was pretty quiet and uneventful. I’m looking forward to working on some projects this week.

 

 

Week in Review

Joey begging for real

Monday was an interesting day. I woke up early, and did my normal routine. I have been having migraines every single day in some form for about a year now. I’ve tried medication, massage, a chiropractor, and finally Botox. None of them giving me lasting relief. After seeing the bill for two Botox treatments, I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to continue those. I decided I was going to try something different. I looked up acupuncturists in my area. I found a guy named Dr. Ly who has been practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for decades. I made an appointment with him, and on Monday afternoon I went to see him. I took a list of all the medications, vitamins, and supplements I take. They put me in a room and I waited to see him. He is a very nice man, and said that migraines are one of the main things he treats. He pushes on certain points along your body, and asks which is the most tender. He places a acupuncture needle in a spot, and then pushes on that tender spot again. Every time he pushed on a spot after the needle had beeen inserted, I didn’t feel any tenderness in that spot anymore. After I had all the needles in place I rested on the table for about 10 minutes. I was given Chinese herbs to take before and after meals. Then there is a specific diet I must follow for a little while. It is basically a “clean eating” diet. I am supposed to eat a piece of fruit before every meal, no processed food, no sugar, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and no oils. I’ve been a vegetarian now for about 3 1/2 years, and it’s still going to be difficult to follow a diet like this.

After my session, BJ and I went to Whole Foods to eat some dinner. They have sort of a buffet at one end of the store where you can get different things to eat. I did the best I could, but there was a quinoa salad that still had some oil on it. While I finished eating, BJ went to the produce section to buy some fresh fruits for me. He picked apples, tangerines, and strawberries.

After we got home I prepared to cook a meal to take to my mom’s house the next day. I decided to make one of BJ’s favorites Quinoa Enchilada Casserole. It’s very easy to make, and tastes delicious.


Tuesday morning I woke up around 4:30 to get ready to go to my mom’s house. I ate some cantaloupe for breakfast, and stopped along the way and got a plain biscuit. I know that’s not on the diet, but I was really hungry. I arrived at my mom’s house, and we sat and worked on our craft projects. I was working on a hat, and she had started a scarf. She had a hat made for me out of some yarn she had made a scarf for me earlier in the winter with.

I also brought my wristlets that she had made me, and had her sew on the buttons I bought last week. They turned out beautifully. Wristlets with ButtonsI ate steamed vegetables for lunch while my mom and stepfather ate the casserole I made. I really wanted to eat some of it, but I’m not supposed to have the cheese.

After lunch, I worked on my hat that I’ve been very slowly loom knitting for a couple weeks. I was almost finished with it, and was pulling the yarn tightly to cinch the top of the hat, and the yarn broke. I’ve never had that happen before, and I didn’t know what to do. Mama looked at it, and really couldn’t think of what to do either. So I turned it inside out, and stitched up the bottom part of it as best I could. It looks like a little handbag, and I will probably just store little things in it. That particular yarn is hard to work with anyway.

I left my mom’s a little early because I had to get back to another acupuncture appointment. I got to the office early, and was able to get right back. This time they taped 3 seeds on the inside of my ear. They are on acupressure points, and I’m supposed to squeeze each one for 30 seconds before eating. I also got a shot of B complex in my leg.


I had to go back for more acupuncture on Wednesday morning. I ate some cantaloupe before I went. I was having a bit of a headache as I woke up. During the acupuncture I felt not too bad. I got another B complex shot in my leg. After I left I went to Panera Bread and had an egg white, spinach, avocado, and whole grain sandwich. It had some cheese on it, so it wasn’t perfect.

After eating there, I did some shopping. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a 16×20″ frame for a picture that will be featured on the back wall of my craft room. The more I shopped, the worse my head began to feel. I slowly started heading to eat lunch with BJ. I stopped in a vintage/thrift store, and browsed around for a while. I ended up finding a cute little bracelet that I liked. I keep wanting to buy this little dog planter that I saw last time I was there, but I didn’t. I also saw a teacup I’d like to buy to plant a succulent in, but I didn’t buy that either.

I stopped at UPS to drop off a package, and there was a restaurant called Atlanta Bread Company a couple doors down. I wanted some coffee, so I ran over there. I slowly enjoyed a latte while passing the time.

Latte

I drove to wait on BJ to come eat lunch. I was feeling worse by the minute. We went to eat lunch at an Asian restaurant called Bento Box. It has some really good steamed vegetables, including something called lily flower. It is so good! I had steamed cabbage, steamed broccoli, and lily flower. I really wanted a spring roll, but that wouldn’t be on my diet, so I just stuck with what I had. I was hurting so badly that I really just ate the broccoli and a little of the rest of it. I took the rest home with me.

After lunch I had an appointment, and it was in a new location. Thanks to m phone I found it rather easily. We did some guided meditation/breathing exercises to help ease my headache. It did help a good bit.

After my appointment I did a little more shopping. I went to a thrift store, and didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without. I do think it will be a good source for more picture frames for my craft room, once I get pictures printed and BJ makes more of the photo ledges.

Close to home I decided to go into a little antique store that I’ve noticed for years, but have never been in. I immediately found this cute little fish bead for $1, and I had to buy it. I don’t know what I’ll use it for. It’ll be in some sort of craft project I know, or it will be used to make a piece of jewelry.

Fish Bead

After I went there, I decided to go home. My head was still hurting, so I took a nap. I ate leftovers from lunch for my dinner.

I got my African violet repotted into a pot made specifically for those plants that my mom gave to me. It will live in our bathroom where it will get filtered light and humidity. Potted African Violets

 


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I do have some Irish blood running thru my veins, and I love St. Patrick’s Day. The hat in the picture is one my mom made for me, and has a beautiful scarf to go with it. It was cool outside, but I chose not to wear the scarf.

I had acupuncture early in the day, and then came home for a little while to visit with BJ before he went to work. After he left I had an appointment to weigh at one of my doctor’s offices at noon. I went in a little early, and they got me back fairly quickly. Of course the weight on their scales never goes with what my scales at home say, but the important thing is that I’ve lost weight. I had lost 3 pounds by their scale. Since last year I’ve lost 66 pounds so far. I was doing Weight Watchers, and then I thought I might be able to do it without counting the points. Right now I’m using an app on my iPhone called MyFitnessPal. I’ve been doing pretty well with it so far.

After being weighed I went to Juice Bar nearby. I was hoping to get some fruit and a salad. They didn’t have any fruit cups, so I hoped my juice with pineapple in it would be enough to count as my fruit. I had a salad with kale, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, sesame seeds, and olive oil/vinegar dressing. I souldn’t have had the dressing, but I’m continuing to find this diet very hard to do. The pineapple juice also had various vegetables in it. I’m going to be honest, I didn’t like it at all. I had to force myself to drink it, and it wasn’t cheap. I’d rather have had a smoothie with some different things in it.

The big news of the day is that I had almost no headache at all. I came home from eating and took a long nap. For dinner I started with a kiwi, and then ate some frozen corn. I sat in my craft room, and worked on a new hat. I listened to music on a little bluetooth speaker, streaming it from my phone. Every day my craft room becomes better and better. BJ hung up our picture on the back wall. The rest of this wall will be covered in pictures of my family including lots of pictures of my ancestors who came before me. I’m going to get BJ to build some more photo ledges right away. Picture on the Wall