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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Yikes, It's Sunday Afternoon!

So, you ever feel like you're running as fast and hard as you can, but you're not getting anywhere?!  Sigh, that's how my weekend has been so far.  I think I've gotten some cleaning and organizing done, but have I got that much to show for it?  Is mom's vest finished?  Is my paperwork done?  I'm sure you know where I'm going with this...

I keep telling myself "bite size pieces Phyllis", but I'm not always good at listening, even to myself ;-)  But, at least I've made it onto the internet to post and I'll see how productive I can be (while still running around and getting some laundry done).

I did want to tell you about an interesting site I came across  It's got really beautiful craft items, art, photography, just amazing things on it.  I don't think the pictures of my items are good enough yet for this site, but one can aspire :-)

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 37 -- The Whiter the Bread, the Sooner You'll be Dead.  Well, that's a downer, but the point is that white flour really isn't any different for you than sugar.  It lacks in fiber, any of the Vitamin B complexes, and healthy fats.  Eating whole grains is definitely the way to go.  How have we been implementing this rule?  We dusted off the bread machine that I got years ago when it was the rage and have fired it up, using our own natural ingredients.  Alternatively, we haven't bought bread that comes in a plastic bag in a long time -- we go straight to the bakery section in the grocery and pick out a freshly baked whole grain loaf.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Radio Show

I'm so excited -- I have been asked to be a guest on BlogTalkRadio!  My segment will be on Sunday, March 21st at 7 PM Eastern time (I think I have a 10-12 minute segment during the hour, then I can also participate in a roundtable discussion at the end).  Of course, I will send out the link and more information as we get closer, but I think it's going to be fun.

I guess that's been what I've been working on the last few days.  I think I've got my topic all worked out, but I need to do a little more research into a part of it.  It really made me face the fact that I've just got to do something about building my "Fan Page" on Facebook, so I actually signed up for a webinar that's supposed to walk you through how to properly set it up, etc.  I think the timing's all going to work out pretty well :-)  Whew!

So, I do have a confession -- Mom's Vest is still sitting there.  But, this weekend, I can feel that it's going to come together, and if I promise you all some pictures, then I had better follow through!!

Today's Thought:  I remember growing up that my mom always used Pyrex to store our leftovers and other foods in.  I'm so glad she did now that all this research and information is coming out about some of the bad effects of so much exposure to plastics.  So, I've gone old school and ordered a whole bunch of Pyrex recently from Amazon.  Their prices are great (almost half of what I was seeing in stores), and they arrived safely.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What a Week!

So, of course, this week was all about catching up on everything that didn't get done during the "Snowmaggedon".  Whew, I'm tired and think I need another chance at being trapped in with snow :-)

My exciting news for the week was that I've been invited to be a guest speaker on a craft blog talk radio show!  I'm in the process of picking a topic and date to be on the show and will provide all the details when they are firmed up.

I've hit 101 tips on the Crochet Guru website, yippee (though I'm not sure if it happened within the self-imposed deadline or not, but whatever).  Now, I need to concentrate though on adding more tips that can be part of the 101 tips booklet I want to put together.  Please, please leave me any questions or suggestions you might have for tips you'd like to see in the book.

Which brings me to Today's Thought, which I'm going to do a little differently today.  I was talking with an amazing woman last night.  She's a crafter and a reiki specialist (but that's for another post).  She wants to start her own business but just hasn't done it.  I think we all struggle with getting started on projects that we know we want to do, but just can't seem to get done.  I think the key is to set an Action Item for yourself.  Just pick one small piece or step in the project to do, putting all the other steps and obstacles out of your mind for now.  For example, I have not worked on Mom's Vest for 2 weeks :-(.  My action item for this weekend is to rework the back panel.  If I do more, great, but all I'm asking of myself is to just get done the back portion -- it's an achievable step for which I know what I need to do.  By telling you all about it (and promising to report back on my progress), I'm hopefully setting up support yet accountability with you all.  That's it, hope this tidbit helps you start something you've been wanting to do, but have not yet started!

Monday, February 15, 2010

First Yarn Club Shipment!

The first shipment for the Crocheters' Yarn Club is ready to go!  I love this month's yarn -- it's Shi Bui's Baby Alpaca DK yarn made of 100 percent baby alpaca.  The company is based in Portland, Oregon, and I liked the fact that "shi bui" in Japanese means "elegant with a touch of bitterness".  It works up into such a soft fabric with a nice light spring to it.  The color tones and variations in the Spruce are subtle, ranging from a dark blue to a slightly lighter dark blue.  The pattern I fashioned to take advantage of these qualities is a Rippled Beret with an accent flower (available separately in my Ravelry and Lulu shops for those not in the club). 

The other goodies in the shipment include a Bamboo crochet hook, some Japanese Cherry loose tea (sticking with the Japanese theme :-) and a MCG nylon project bag.

Ok, so stay tuned for what surprises will be in store for the April shipment!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 14 -- Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.  So, implementing this rule hasn't been too hard, it really just means eating as many raw fruits and vegetables as possible.  Last night, we made beet greens sauted with olive oil, garlic, ginger, and a little bit of harissa sauce. Mmm, mmm!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


So, I was posting today's promo link on Etsy for the Etsy Hookers (I know, I know, referring to crocheters as "hookers" is a whole topic of its own!) and came across some really interesting articles geared towards those creative people who want to sell their creative works.  One article's title really caught my eye:  "Free is Not a Marketing Tool."  It's a short, good read for anyone navigating the challenging waters of online presence and market establishment.  It highlights a message I've been trying to get out there regarding all facets of life:  don't ever do something you wouldn't otherwise do just because you're hoping to get something in return for it (unless that return you're expecting is making the other person happy for the sake of adding happiness and joy to the world).  Call it karma, call it whatever you want, but be pure and sincere in what you are doing, and believe me, your rewards will come!

Ok, enough philosophy for today :-)  I'm finishing up the pattern that will be included in this month's Yarn Club shipment!  Despite all the crazy weather, I'm thinking this month's shipment will still be relatively on time, and I will post all the details and pictures early next week.

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 19 -- If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.  So, how to live by this rule?  For starters, try going for a week, or even just a few days, without eating anything from a package.  It'll be come easier when the Farmers' Markets start opening again :-)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Baking Fever

So, yesterday, I just got the urge to bake a few things (that, and the fact that my husband was doing a lot of the urging :-).  My mom seems to have developed a gluten and wheat intolerance in the last few years, so I wanted to make something that she could enjoy as well.  I searched around for some gluten free, wheat free muffin recipes (I figured they would be the easiest thing to experiment with, before trying to make bread or other baked goods).  I found a great website, Elena's Pantry, that had a banana nut muffin recipe.  But, since I didn't have any walnuts and didn't want to use sugar, I decided to modify the recipe.  And, here's what I came up with:


2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 date, finely chopped
1/4 c grapeseed oil
1/4 c agave syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 to 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
a "pinch" of salt (about 1/4 tsp)
1/2 c all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 c brown rice flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium to large mixing bowl, mix together the bananas, apple, and date and mash some more with a potato masher.

Mix in the grapeseed oil, then the agave syrup, egg, and vanilla extract. 

Sprinkle the baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt over the mixture and mix together.

Add the flour, about 1/4 c at a time, gently mixing until all blended in.

Scoop about a Tbsp of mixture into each well of an oiled (with some more grapeseed oil) 24-miniature muffin tray.  Bake for about 15 minutes (until lightly browned; you can use the toothpick test too).

I have to say, they came out very tasty (even the husband approved, and he didn't know they were wheat and gluten free!).

I also pulled out the breadmaking machine that I bought years ago.  I hadn't realized that it had been so long since I had used it, but thankfully, I had cleaned and stored it properly because it was good to go.  When pouring in the ingredients to make an Herb Loaf, I realized I didn't have any dried milk and so I just added 2 Tbsps of liquid milk, but that seemed to do just fine.  Mmmm, mmmm, no suffering going on here during the Snowpocalyps II :-)

Today's Thought:  What is Xanthan Gum?  According to the packaging, it's made through fermentation of sucrose by the Xanthonomas campestris bacterium.  It's used in a lot of products (salad dressing, toothpaste, ice cream, even cosmetics) because it adds thickness and suspension to solid particles in liquids.  Xanthan gum is also used a lot in gluten-free baking as a substitute for the gluten found in wheat that must be omitted.  It gives dough or batter a "stickiness" that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten.  It can be a gastrointestinal irritant because it's so high in fiber, but if used in very small quantities (and a little does go a long way), it shouldn't be a problem.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rippled Heart

Whew, so with a few days to spare, I posted my Rippled Heart pattern on Ravelry last night.

It's a fun V-day project, and I was thinking, if you make 2 of them and sew/slip stitch them together, what a cute change purse it would make!

Other than that, I'm getting ready to venture out and try to go to the grocery store to get some additional provisions before the next storm hits!  The TV news folks are still saying 10 to 20 more inches, starting around 3 PM today and going until 7 PM tomorrow.  Although I am starting to really enjoy this new lifestyle of mine (get up, do an exercise video, change into clean sweatpants, and start crocheting while watching the soaps or a Gilmore Girls rerun...  oh, and lots of sorta healthy snacking!), I feel like real life is going to intrude soon enough, and I'll be too soft to return to it. Oh well, I guess I'll just milk it as long as I can, then face the music when the time comes :-)

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 4 -- Avoid food products containing high fructose corn syrup.  Mr. Pollan says that it's not because HFCS is any worse for you than sugar but because it is highly processed.  He also points out that we get a lot of it unknowingly because it is in a lot of foods that have not traditionally been sweetened, like breads, condiments, and snack foods.  Even if products say "no HFCS" or "real cane sugar", don't fall for it -- sugar is sugar, and we need to cut down on it.  So, how have I been implementing this rule?  I've cut out sodas almost exclusively from my diet.  It was tough at first, but by switching to real fruit juice with a splash of club soda or sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea, it hasn't been so bad.  I did break down and buy some of the Pepsi Throwback, which is made with real sugar.  Even though it's not any better than the soda with HFCS, at least it's not as processed and I think it tastes less sweet.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Or Snowmaggedon, or Snowpocalyps -- pick your preferred name, but any way you look at it, we've had A LOT of snow.  It definitely is different from the storm in December; this one is much denser, icier, just more, more, more.  Went walking around a bit, and it's getting colder too, which is definitely not going to help the icy parts.  But, it is all very beautiful...

It's been a good crochet day, Mom's Vest now has a back to it and one side.  I'm hoping to get the other side done tonight, then it's time for her to try it on again. 

I've also been doing a little bit of online shopping.  I have to chuckle when I think about how hesitant I was to shop at Amazon when they first got started, I mean, seriously, they were collecting information about me, how shocking.  Now, heck, I let them keep my credit card numbers on file so I can one-click order!  Besides a couple of new crochet books and some Pyrex glass containers (I'm really try to eliminate using plastic as much as possible), the really exciting purchase I made was a USB microphone that's supposed to be appropriate for podcasting -- I think I am going to take the plunge!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 26 - Drink the Spinach Water.  Mr. Pollan explains that the water in which fresh vegetables are cooked is rich in vitamins and other vegetable compounds, so you should keep that water to use in making soups and sauces.  So, I kept the water in which I cooked a bunch of beets and actually drank it straight!  I have to say, maybe it's psychological to an extent, but I always feel better after taking a swig or two of the beet water ;-)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let It SNOW!

Argh, I'm feeling like I'm back in upstate New York but without the clean-up!  We've had so much snow here in DC, and it's beautiful and all, but really, people around here can't handle it, and I'm starting to get cabin fever.  Another big snow is predicted for this weekend, so most likely, another weekend of postponing errands.  Well, the upside definitely has been the chance to snuggle up and crochet!  Full steam ahead with Mom's Vest, that project remains numero uno priority.  I've also got another heart pattern that I've been doublechecking and hopefully will have out in time for Valentine's Day; otherwise, I'll make you all wait til next year ;-)

Nothing on the techie front to report either, though I'm still determined to get my actual website up and running.  It has slid in priority, though, since I've been discovering ways to make the blog more interactive and have really been concentrating on developing the crochet tips content.  I'm still toying with getting a podcast going as well, but believe me, you don't want to hear my voice right now with the lingering congestion!  So, we'll see...  baby steps!!

Today's Thought:  Food Rule # 58 -- Do all of your eating at a table.  And, no, a desk doesn't count.  Mr. Pollan rightly points out that, when we eat while we're working or driving or watching TV, we tend to eat mindlessly and without attention.  So, we end up eating much more than if we were at the dining room table without distractions.  So, last night, dinner was served at the dining room table, with no TV or radio on in the background.  As a result, we had a nice meal and good conversation (we talked about how in the world humans ever discovered how to make bread!)