New endeavors

Well, it's been a few weeks since I last posted. Ooopsie. I didn't mean to wait that long. But, it's been a busy few weeks. We finally started working on the house again. The first room we tackled was the library. It's the room that is open to the foyer below. We moved our office out of the front room, into the fireplace room, which was the living room. This makes for a quieter library area. We finished painting and then yesterday we hung the pictures. IMG_0456 IMG_0455 We love how it turned out. It's very tranquil in there. We still need to finish bringing in some books, but otherwise it is how we want it. I have also started working on inventory for an Etsy shop. I have been making chain mail bracelets. Here are the two samples I made that I'll be keeping. Untitled I have a copper bracelet done in a different weave that is sitting there in my little drawer I have for inventory. The goal is to get a bunch of stuff ready and then list it all. That will also mean making some more stitch markers. I have a bunch of charms that I purchased that will be making into stitch markers, and possibly necklaces. Today I released my first sock pattern for test knitting. They are called Winter Jonas Socks. I came up with the idea during the storm this past winter. All I was doing was sitting inside knitting and occasionally snow blowing, so I had lots of time to come up with ideas. I already have my second pattern planned out. Untitled Now we are moving on to other rooms in the house. We are trying to get things decluttered and rearranged and made useful. Next up is the guest room, because we bought a bed frame for in there that is still sitting in the entry way. We've had it for a couple months now. Slowly, but surely I will get from room to room. 🙂 Thankfully the guest room just needs the bed frame, bedding and a mirror set hung.

In Progress

I have been doing so many test knits lately, that I haven't had a chance to do an update on where I stand on some of my WIP's. This is of course not a full run down, because there are always WIP's that go into hiding that I find months later. First up, I have a sweater that is going to be a Christmas gift. It's the Herbst Rosina Jacket. This pattern is a bit of a challenge. I don't know if it's due to being translated, but some of the wording isn't clear as I go through the pattern. Knowing how to knit a sweater helps a lot, as you know how things should be working. I would say this is a bit more of an intermediate pattern. There are increases, decreases, lace patterns and cables. Even though it may be a bit complicated at times, the sweater is gorgeous. It really is so pretty. I chose Miss Babs yarn. This is Yowza! What a Skein, in the Cloak colorway. It is amazing to work with. It's not necessarily the softest yarn I have worked with, but my goodness is it squishy. It is absolutely perfect for any sweater that you want to just snuggle up into. It's also sturdy enough to hold up to a pattern. Just perfect yarn. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Next up with have my Afmaeli sweater. I have made this once before, but it met an...unfortunate end. It will get a new life as a pillow case. >.> This one is going to be a bright and cheerful variation. I think I finally managed to get a picture of the color that is pretty close to true. It's such a beautiful vibrant purple for the body. The yarn is Periwinkle Sheep Merino in Aran weight. I have the colorways of Plum Crumble, H.R.H., and Stones Dancing in the Fog. It's beautiful yarn. Like the Miss Babs it is very squishy, yet sturdy. I do love that this particular yarn is not a solid color. It has slight variations in it, which gives a great look to a stockinette sweater. Sometimes sweaters can look a bit plain in a solid color, but this yarn is fabulous for giving it some definition. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js This is a very new WIP. I started these only yesterday. They are Hermione's Everyday Socks. I am using Camelot Dyeworks Percival, in the Midnight Express colorway. First off, this is the first time doing the Hermione's socks. The pattern is so simple, and will give a great texture. However, it should not be used with such a bold variegated yarn as this. I can't see the pattern what so ever. I will probably just keep going, but I haven't decided. There is a good chance I will rip back to where the cuff ends and just do a vanilla sock. This yarn has so much detail already that a pattern just can not compete with it. The colorway is really pretty though. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js I also have Honey Badger socks on the go. These are the socks that just will not end. I don't know why. I love the pattern. I think it's probably the yarn. It is Schoppel-Wolle in the Kleckse colorway. But, I have to be honest. Even though this yarn is very pretty, it is so splitty! It just keeps giving me trouble as I knit it. So, I keep putting it aside. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js Last, but not least is a sock pattern that I am currently designing. I can't give many details, other than this sneak peek. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Finished projects and planning

I actually finished a couple more projects in the last couple weeks. One good thing about getting meds that work for me, and feeling better is that I have my knitting mojo back. I made another pair of socks for myself. I am really trying to get my sock drawer filled for the fall/winter. 🙂 Take Five Socks. This is a great go to pattern. I finished these socks in about 4 days. The pattern is super simple and I have it memorized, so I can work on it anywhere. They really are one of my favorite patterns. It adds just enough detail to be interesting, and can be used for women or men, since the pattern is very unisex. Untitled The other project I finished was a pair of fingerless mittens that have been sent off to a friend. This is another pattern that can be whipped up quickly. It's the second pair of these I have made to send to someone. They are called Sleekit Mitts. There is just a little bit of texture, which gives them a bit of extra stretch. And with that stretch they can fit a variety of sizes with no changes needed in the actual making of them. 🙂 Untitled Would you believe that I have already started my Christmas planning? I left it until almost September last year, and it was way too much of a rush. So, I have started early. I have mom's Christmas present on the go already. The goal is to send some stuff up to mom and dad in various packages to avoid any customs charges. If I send it all at once, the dollar value for a one time shipment is just too much. This year I'll do it over the course of a few months. That means mom will have to store them somewhere, but it'll still be a bit easier. Instead of making stuff in September, I'll start shipping in September. hehe My goals have been updated recently: 3 sweaters- #1: The Brick: finished 10 pairs of socks- #1: Osier Socks: finished. #2 Girl’s Best Friend: finished. #3 Lapsang Souchong: finished. #4 2luvcrew socks: finished. #5 My cup of tea Socks: finished. #6 Take Five socks: finished. #7 My cup of tea Socks: in progress 2 scarves (laceweight): Ostrich Plume Scarf: in progress 6 hats- #1: Herriot Hat: finished Beekeeper pieces (Thanks Moody for the reminder!) Fingerless mitts: Finished This will be my running tally spot as well. 🙂 eta: WIP’s to finish: Battle of Five Armies Shawl: finished Bay of Fundy Scarf Estonian Square Shawl Ortansia Wrapigan Girl’s Best Friend: finished Lapsang Souchong: finished 2luvcrew socks: finished Limberlost Trails Cherry Blossom and Diamond Shawl eta: starting yardage: 84,919 April 24 yardage: 72,419…used 12,500 yards so far. So, I am short on a couple things right now. I haven't completed any of the scarves, but I do have one on the go. I don't know if I will get all of these done in 2016, but I want to get a good dent in them. The socks won't be an issue, and neither will the sweaters. The beekeeper pieces are a long term thing. I'm using left over sock yarn to make these, and plan on making a king size comforter out of them. The WIP's are a working list, but some of these will take months and months. The Estonian Square shawl will take a long time. The finished dimensions are 52" X 52". It's huge. But, this gives me a way to keep focused on what I want to get done. 🙂

Time to Adjust

For the past number of years, I have known where I was headed. My knee was shot. I knew it was, but I also hoped I was wrong. Two weeks ago it popped and caused awful pain. I couldn't ignore it any longer. So, I called an orthopedists office, and they got me in this past Friday. I made it the two weeks well enough. It hurts, but I can tolerate it. I thought about cancelling the appointment, but J wouldn't let me, and I did know that it was necessary to go. They did a set of xrays when I got there to see what was going on. When the doctor walked in, went through a brief history that comprised of "you've been through a lot", and "I'm not going to sugar coat this". The original condition I had, which was osteochodritis dissecans is still there, but is pointless to even consider doing anything with. It's such a minor piece of the puzzle now, that we are just ignoring it. We found where the rheumatoid arthritis has been happily living. The doc also found osteoarthritis in that same knee. Double whammy with the degenerative conditions. He told me there is nothing we can do right now. The only treatment option is a knee replacement, but given my age, I am still too young. At this stage I would have the first at 40, second around 55, and then amputation by 70. No doctor wants to do that. So, we'll wait it out. He said I might have two years left, but we could be surprised and maybe I'll get 10 years out of it. So we'll begin to plan for all of this. Once I get to a point of having the replacement I'll be happy as a clam for a while. But, it's getting to that point that is going to be difficult. There are questions of how long do I wait this out. How do I extend the life of the knee as far as possible? Is there anything I can do to help it's life? The first step is exercising again. I haven't done much the last couple weeks because of the pain, but the doc gave me the all clear. And any exercise will be good for the knee. Other than that, who knows. So we know what I am dealing with, but we have no idea of time frames. In the meantime, I am still knitting and crafting. My craft room has been completed, and I have been decorating in there. 🙂 Music corner: Untitled Dress fabrication area and storage: Untitled Desk: Untitled Closet storage (this will have red curtains around it, as soon as I hem them): Untitled I have finished a lot of projects recently: Lots of socks: Lapsang Souchong. This was a test knit and I have finally finished the second sock. I loved the pattern. 😀 Untitled 2luvcrew socks. These ones took me a while to finish. I liked the pattern, but was not in love with the sock yarn or the fit at the time. It grew on me though, and they are comfortable. 🙂 Untitled My Cup of Tea socks. This is a favorite of mine, and I make them a lot. There is just a simple pattern that gives them just enough interest to make them go quickly. Untitled I have finished my oversized comfy sweater. This is Brick. It's too big, but super comfortable. 😀 Note to self. Don't make a sweater that is one size larger when you are trying to lose weight. It is very quickly two sizes larger. lol Untitled Then we have this bad boy. This is the Battle of Five Armies shawl. It is by the same designer as the Lapsang Souchong socks. It's huge, and amazing. It is the third in a series of shawls based on the Hobbit movies. It took me over a year to finish, because I was hopping from project to project and spent a good stretch of time not knitting at all in the last year. But, this is a gorgeous shawl. I have already worn it out once, and will wear it again and again. 😀 Untitled Untitled Last but not least is a large work in progress. These little guys are hexipuffs. They are only 2" across, and are knit in one piece like the toe of a sock. They get stuffed part way through and then sealed up. The goal is to get enough of these for a king size blanket. This means I need about 700 of these things. You'll see by the picture that I might have a little ways to go before I hit 700. Then I need about 30 or so half hexipuffs for the edge to make it all smooth. The reason I'm spending time on these is because A) it'll be super cute in our country theme bedroom, and B) it uses up my sock yarn scraps. 😀 So, this blanket will cost me nothing extra. It'll just clean up the scraps I have as I go forward making socks.  Lots of stuff updated this time. 😀 I should have some more projects finished in the next couple weeks. I have another pair of socks on the go that should be finished in a couple days, and then I have a small quick project to do. Then onto a scarf that has been in progress for far too long. Although I do have to do one more pair of socks for a gift for someone. 🙂 At least I am able to knit again! That has been a huge perk to the new meds we have added and the ones I had already been on. I can do a lot of things I wasn't able to do for a while. It really helps me feel a lot better.

Spring cleaning in February

We have begun the process of recovering our house. Not from damage, but because we've felt so awful the last year. We're both allergic to dust, and our dust bunnies have brought friends. So, you can imagine how much fan that is! I set up a chore list that has a list for each day of the week. We're slowly getting into the routine of it. I think it's set up with enough chores to keep on top of things, but not so much that it's not achievable. I'm implementing a few things for Lent. First is getting on top of chaos and clutter, both in the house and mentally. It will take weeks for us to get the house back in order. But, I have to say that it's improving quickly. I have our bedroom and the guest bedroom looking nearly normal and well kept. We've almost caught up on the dishes and kitchen tidying. I think we'll be caught in another few days. I have also altered my eating to make that cleaner as well. I have cut down significantly on the pop. I keep trying to cut back, but keep getting lazy or tired of drinking something else. At this stage I am drinking an iced tea lemonade. It's a powder mix, and is 1/3 the sugar. I just put the powder in a large mason jar (quart), then put in ice, then add my water. I can then put the lid on it and shake away. 😀 I get a very cold drink with a ton less sugar, and it gives me water instead of caramel flavoring. It's also real sugar, so no high fructose corn syrup. I'm trying to stay away from that, because it makes me feel awful. My sugar levels skyrocket and I get very sick to my stomach, and have GI issues. So, I should probably list my goals somewhere. There are many, and most of them are knitting based. But, first for me, I want to lose 50lbs. With that, I hope that I'll feel better physically and with the meds I'm hoping that will mean I'll get more weight off after that, and just feel able to go and do what I would like to do. With the weight loss, I'll feel more comfortable with getting my knee taken care of. I'll be going to an orthopedist soon to see what he wants to do going forward. Until then, here are my knitting goals: 3 sweaters- #1: The Brick: in progress 10 pairs of socks- #1: Osier Socks: finished. #2 Girl's Best Friend: finished. 2 scarves (laceweight) 6 hats- #1: Herriot Hat: finished Beekeeper pieces (Thanks Moody for the reminder!) Fingerless mitts for a friend WIP’s to finish: Battle of Five Armies Shawl Bay of Fundy Scarf Estonian Square Shawl Ortansia Wrapigan Girl’s Best Friend: finished The sweater I mentioned as in progress above, The Brick, is a bit under half done. I am at least half way through the body. Then I have to do the sleeves and the neck. I'm pushing to get this done next, and we have a wee bit of a cold snap coming, so I might make it. I have 3 days. hehe I might be a bit delusional, but you never know unless you try! Untitled Two pairs of socks and a sweater being finished by the middle of February is pretty good. I am also working on sewing a plaid shirt for myself. Just ignore the cat fur. Daisy has decided that it is the best bed ever! hehe Untitled And with that, it's time to go work on that sweater. It won't knit itself!

The other side

We made it through the storm! Unfortunately, not all the buildings in the area did. A local Catholic school had a roof collapse at the location of their music department. The snow drifted up in that area and they weren't able to clear it in time. It has already warmed up enough to melt a lot of the snow, and we've had some rain. Thankfully our area didn't flood, although there were flood warnings for the whole area. We did end up with about 30" on average around the area. That's a lot more snow than they are accustomed to here. It was cleaned up pretty fast in our area. In other areas, it didn't fare so well. Where we are, there are a lot of areas with trees and things where the snow can be pushed. Other areas are so built up that there is no where to put it. So, in the come with front end loaders and trucks to haul it away to fields. In that downtime I finished a pair of socks. These ones are Osier socks. They turned out cute, but they actually run a bit smaller than most of the patterns I have used recently. That being said, they are a fast knit and are very cute. The pattern is very easy to follow and was a pattern that I could take with me anywhere. I used Chroma yarn for them. The Chroma is nice and soft, but is very splity. And if you make a mistake, trying to tink back can be difficult. This means that they will really hold the pattern well over time. But, they do shrink easily, so just soak them to wash and don't agitate the water. I am worried about how the yarn will wear, but I'll find out soon. These bad boys are about to join my sock drawer. Untitled After I finished these, I was digging around for the pair of red socks I had started ages ago. I remembered them being too big and fiddly. But, I remember incorrectly. I thought I had to tear them out to start over. But, I had already ripped them out, started over, and had one sock completely finished. lol They are knee highs too, so this is something I probably should remember knitting. 🙂 But, I started these 3 years ago, so I can forgive myself a little. I also thought that the matching red yarn I have downstairs was needed for these socks. But, I guess it isn't. I have plenty in the wound cake that is connected to the partially finished second sock to more than finish this sock. I feel like I have some strange yarn vortex going on here because two knee high socks should take more than what appears to be a half of a skein of yarn. This pattern is called a Girl's Best Friend. It's a diamond pattern that is repeated on each side of the leg. The rest is just straight knit, so this is a wonderful pattern for just sitting back and relaxing with a nice cup of tea and just letting the brain relax. I had to knit two different sizes. One is the medium for my left leg and the other is the small for my right leg. Since my calves vary so much in size, this should work out perfectly. The medium is a perfect fit for my left leg. I did however make a slight modification. The ribbing is supposed to continue up to be a thigh high sock, but I stopped just below the knee. I find that socks that go over the knees and up onto the thighs annoy my skin. So, I just decreased a bit in the ribbing to tighten it up a bit and it worked great. I even remembered to make notes on the patter, which somehow I managed to find after three years and a move! What are the odds?! Untitled Now that February is here, and we're starting to relax a bit from Christmas and things, it's now time for getting organized. Spring is going to be here very soon, and nurseries are opening up in just over a week. So, garden planning was a must. Today I sat down and went through all the seeds we had and made a map of our garden space. I have everything planned out of where things are to go. Plus I made the purchase list for things we need to get, like some fresh soil, fertilizer, some marigold plans and peppermint plants for bug control, etc. In two weeks I have to plant the tomatoes and peppers in the started kits to get them going, and then they will be planted around the end of April, outside. Everything else is being planted the last week of March to the beginning of April. Hopefully I can get the amount of plants I would like to get. I'm not really sure if I'll get what I want. We'll find out when we start planting. We'll take our time this year and be very diligent on what is planted where, which is why I have it all drawn out. But, I want to make sure we don't have over crowding. I also just finished the chore chart. It's simply the days of the week, and certain chores for each day. Everything is usually in my head, so it's hard for Joe to just pick up something to do. Plus I get very frazzled because the "clean what is dirty" plan ends up with me needing to clean everything now. It will take a few weeks to get caught up, probably, but this has everything listed for us both to be able to look at. It's up on the pantry door where we can easily see it. I actually finished 3/4 of what is on the list for today, so yay me! I'm just not changing the bedding, because I haven't washed the other set of sheets yet. hehe Those are being washed now. So, I'll call it a win. I'll change the bedding another day and then wash the current set on the other laundry day. This should help get the house cleaning under control a bit, and not make me feel so overwhelmed. I like a clean and tidy house, and it's been tough to get it that way. Fingers crossed this does the trick. 😀 That's pretty much from our neck of the woods. Lots of things going on, and we're trying to keep afloat. It's hard to get everything done in the day and have time for the other stuff. Joe gets very little writing time right now, which needs to be remedied. Hopefully we'll get that figured out.

Snowy Weekend

It's pretty snowy out there right now. We are in the crosshairs of Winter Storm Jonas this weekend. And by crosshairs, I mean that when they show the map and they show the area that's to be walloped around DC, that's us. It's going to be a good weekend to just hang out at home, drink hot chocolate, read and knit. In preparation for the knitting, I have a bunch of projects on the go. I have three pairs of socks cast on, a sweater, a wrap, and who knows what else right now. haha I did have another pair of socks that I was working on, but the cast on was way too tight. So, I've ripped it back and I'm going to try again. I think if I use larger needles for the cast on and first couple rows it will make a big difference. I did finish a lot of projects recently though. First is a pair of fingerless mittens I made for a friend: Untitled I also made a hat, which is just in time for this weather: Untitled Some Christmas presents were actually completed this year. Cowl for my sister in law: Untitled Scarf for a friend: Untitled Hats for my parents: Untitled Untitled I finished a sweater for myself. We went to Detroit over Thanksgiving (end of November), and I was able to wear this while we were there. Untitled I am still keeping up with the rheumatologist. Unfortunately the doctor we were seeing moved away. Her mom was very sick and needed the extra care, so of course we completely understood. We are now seeing the nurse practitioner at the same office. She seems pretty good. When we talked about what was going on with my pain levels she did a thorough check of my joints and muscles. She came to the realization that I also have fibromyalgia. One of the issues is that my muscles don't release. They just won't relax. I also have nearly constant nerve signals. So, I tense up a lot and get a ton of nerve pain. I am doing massage therapy every couple weeks, which does help a little bit. But, now that the rheumatologist has found all this, I am going to start on a new medication. I just have to wait for insurance approval. It's one of these medications that can be used to treat 10 different things, so the insurance company wants to make sure that I am taking it for something that they have approved it for. We'll see how that goes. Otherwise we'll have to see if they will approve a different medication. Hopefully I'll find out about that next week. They say 2-3 days, but that is never the case. And it's now been 5 business days since the paperwork was sent in. In order to deal with all this, I have been making some diet changes. There hasn't been much needed, but the rheumy would like to see us on more of a Mediterranean diet. All that has meant for us is adding an extra 4-5 servings of vegetables and fruit, at least, per day, an extra serving of fish a week and an extra serving of lentils per week. Otherwise, we've been doing pretty good with our diet. I have cut out the potatoes, which I'm not happy about. But, it's okay. I'll treat myself from time to time. We are also making sure to limit our pasta to one time per week. The next thing to tackle is the white flour. I have to do some looking to see how I can change that out and how much I need to. I'm already feeling a bit better, though. My body enjoys the extra fruit and vegetables, so it's not complaining at all. The one issue that I have is my sugar levels. I am crashing a lot. This is going to require some tweaking to get my system to stabilize. We'll call it a work in progress. 😀

November already?!

The last couple months have just flown by. We've been both busy and sick. Let's start with September. We spent that month getting ready for a vacation. Yes, you read that right. A vacation. We went on a cruise! Now, it wasn't all about fun and games (but most of it really was). It was actually a writing retreat with the authors from our favorite writing podcast, Writing Excuses. We really had a fantastic time, but our brains were fried by the time we were home. There was so much great information. It was also nice to be around a group of people that understood other introverts. It was interesting to see so many people come together, and then people just come and go as they became too overwhelmed with the number of people there. And it was totally accepted. One just had to said, Sorry, but I need to go, or whatever and people understood. There were about 4 days of excursions as we were at shore. Since I'm still not feeling 100%, we made the choice to not do any. We pretty much just stayed on the ship. This had the nice added benefit of giving us time to rest and be able to keep up with the group, as well as being able to get the hot tub pretty much to ourselves. There was usually about 15 people in there, but during the excursion afternoons there was maybe 1 or 2 people. We spent lots of time in there and just refreshed our muscles. It was great. Here are some of the pictures of where we were docked. A beautiful day at sea: thumb_IMG_0761_1024 Haiti: thumb_IMG_0787_1024 thumb_IMG_0852_1024 Jamaica: thumb_IMG_0884_1024 thumb_IMG_0893_1024 Mexico: thumb_IMG_0979_1024 Yes, the water actually is this blue: thumb_IMG_1009_1024 The water colors were unbelievable. Some areas were that deep gorgeous blue, and others were a gorgeous green color. You see pictures of these places and thing that the colors must have been faked. And they really weren't. I actually had to amplify the colors as I edited the photos, because my raw pictures weren't able to pick up the natural colors. It really was amazing. We are planning on doing the writing cruise again. Next year is to a different location, so that will be exciting. I'm also hoping that I'll be up to doing more excursions next year. I really want to go snorkeling, but that will mean I would have to do swimming lessons before I can do that. Swimming is slightly required. 🙂 Now that we are back on dry land, we have been trying to get things organized within our life. We have been spending so much time just going from thing to thing that we really just haven't taken the time to let ourselves breathe. And it wasn't like it was big things, either. We just hadn't adjusted from being in emergency mode. We didn't realize how long it would take us to just let all that go. We've had to give ourselves permission to let ourselves get into and enjoy those things we want to do. For Joe that meant writing. Part of the reason for the cruise was to take away the painful memories that were associated with it, and replace it with positive ones. He had really stepped away from writing when we moved down here, and then the day he started to write again, and had gone upstairs to his office to really focus and dive in, was the day his mom passed away. It was the same day that I was going to get the craft room ready to start working on designs. I had the room half torn apart when the phone call came in. It took me until the summer to get down there to finish at least what I had started. It still sits empty. That's unfortunately because the washer flooded the laundry room, which poured into my craft room. We need to get the ceiling pulled down and one wall and get it fixed before I can go in there. So, most of my craft stuff is sitting in Joe's workshop. Good thing it's a big basement. At this stage, we are trying to get into things we enjoy. Now that it's November, that means it's time for NaNoWriMo (write 50,000 words in November). That has Joe back at it. I was fine for the first part of the month, then I got sick. I'm now fighting tonsillitis. Wee! Thankfully my dental work was completed yesterday, so I am able to get rehydrated and eat properly for the first time in a month. I'll be getting braces, probably in January. That will help with the dental care issues I'm having. Joe is also waiting for physio to start on December 9. It's a heck of a wait for this one. But, the guy he wants to see is the only one close to us that does the dry needling technique. Joe found out a couple weeks ago when he had a bad flare of his neck that the reason for it wasn't arthritis (although it's looking a bit rough in there), but was actually because he has no curve in his neck. Likely due to his military school time. It's from standing at attention. The neck is placed at an angle that is not normal, and over time you just get used to that, and it decreases the curve. Now he has none. And he has his 5th and 6th vertebrae trying to snuggle up, so there is very little gap there. Physio will start by helping the muscles relax. Because with all this, the muscles went nuts and are now actually pulling his spine to one side. But, get the muscles to relax and you can work on getting the spine aligned. But, you can't do one without the other. He has some things he can do to relax the muscles and keep the severe spasm from starting again, and he has muscle relaxers. Come December he'll start to feel much better. He has been adjusting his desks to move the computer screens higher to keep his head at a proper angle. Other than that, we're working towards Christmas. Then after that, I'll be getting a pattern out to test knitters. I just have to finish the pattern. Slowly, but surely, we'll get things on track to where we need them to be.

Rustic Pizza

I have been asked quite often lately how we make our pizza. We started making our own a few months ago, as we started to clean up our eating. We can't even order pizza from a pizza joint anymore. All but one place locally will make us sick. :S The one that we can eat does everything super fresh. Anyway, here is how we make ours. It takes us about 2 hours total, but that includes the hour to let the dough rise, so that really doesn't count. It's not like you have to sit there watching the air bubbles form. Step one: Get a dough recipe you like. I found that this recipe from Bobby Flay works great for me. Everything I do is in the mixer when it comes to dough, so this recipe is great for me, since it already accounts for that. There is no way I can sit there kneading dough anymore. I just slap on my dough hook and go for it. I do make some changes though. I begin as instructed, and mix the dry. The first change happens here. The oil I use isn't regular oil. I have flavored oil that I use, which we get at Olio. Last night the flavor was Italian Herb. It's important that the oil you substitute/use is good oil. It makes a big difference. We normally would use the Roasted Garlic flavor, which is amazing, but we needed a change of flavor. Then you just follow the recipe and let it rise. I don't substitute the flavored oil in the bowl when I let it rise. I just use regular oil. Now, I do add extra oil. He calls for two teaspoons, but I use more like a tablespoon or two. I want the dough to be very wet with oil when it comes out, for a very good reason that I'll get to in a bit. Also, for just the two of us, half of this recipe is fine. It will give us enough dough to make a thin crust pizza for each of us. It you want thicker crust, or have two or more people, you might need the full amount. When putting veggies on your pizza, there are a few things to consider. First, will they cook in 15 minutes? And two, how much liquid will leak out. I usually top my pizza with leaks, mushrooms (canned) and green peppers. The small amount of green pepper I use, normally doesn't pose a problem, but it definitely can. I want my leaks to have good flavor and be cooked, and since I don't use pizza sauce, the leaks become my sauce. I cut up about three good sized leaks. I end up with about 2 cups of chopped leaks. I put them in the frying pan with more flavored oil. Last night I used sun dried tomato with Parmesan. I add quite a bit of oil, probably about 2-3 tablespoons, since this will also be my sauce. I do this instead of an oil drizzle later on. Also be sure to salt your leaks. This is your big chance for flavor in your toppings. I also add pepper and garlic powder to my leaks. I cook these while the dough is rising, so they can cool a bit before going on the dough. Untitled If you are using onions on your pizza, you have a couple options. If you want the crispiness, then put them on raw. Use a white onion for this. If you want to use shallots, which is what J uses, it's best to either cook them first, sort of like cooking the leaks, but not with the same amount of oil and things if you are using a pasta sauce (that will just be a wet mess). The other option to not precooking them, is you cut them up, put them in a strainer over a bowl, and coat them in salt. You will have to do this a couple hours ahead of time, but it will leach out a fair bit of liquid without precooking your onions/shallots. You can also do that with your peppers. Then once you are ready, rinse your veggies to get all that salt off, and let them air dry a bit. Again, too much water means a soggy mess. After the dough is ready, I turn it out and cut it into even pieces...2 in our case. I turn it out in all it's oily glory onto a sheet pan. This means I am also oiling my sheet pan at the same time. So, I cut it in two, put one piece back in the bowl, and gently press my working piece out into an oval shape. Size matters here, because I'm actually going to precook my dough on a cast iron grill pan on the stove top. Untitled This gives a sturdy base for the toppings, and also gives nice grill marks and crispiness. The extra oil also means I don't have to add anything extra to the dough here. However, if you want more flavor, you can baste one side of your dough with the flavored oil again. And if you dough is looking a bit dry, you'll need to baste it again to get a proper char on it. When the dough is done, slide it back onto your sheet pan, and then repeat the whole process with pan/dough number two. I tend to keep the flame at around a medium for the grill. Too hot and it burns, too cool and you get no char marks. You'll have to baby this to get the right amount of char that you like. Untitled Untitled When it comes to toppings, less is more. I make the crust thin, so it can't hold up to a heavy meaty pizza. If you want something heavier, then you'll have to make your dough twice the thickness (and make a full dough recipe, if you want two pizzas), and then when you cook it on the grill pan, you will not get it to cook all the way through. But that's okay, because this is going in the oven for 15 minutes or so anyway. Untitled Untitled Once you have your pizza toppings on, simply put it into the oven on your sheet pan, at 350 degrees and cook until your cheese is gooey and browned. This tends to take about 18 minutes in our oven. I set the timer for 15 minutes to check on it, just to make sure it doesn't brown up too fast. Then I slice it and enjoy! Make sure to give it some time too cool though, otherwise you won't taste the rest of it. 🙂

Summer update

The last number of months have been filled with dealing with health issues, injuries, and knitting. Not the kind of summer I would have liked, but it's the kind I was given. We were able to start up our golf lessons again this summer. Unfortunately, the end of July into August has been too warm for us, and my breathing has been suffering. That has meant more time indoors for me. J has recovered well from his surgery. It was worse than the doc thought. He was able to save some cartilage, but only because he stopped digging. The meniscus tore quite a bit, and folded over on itself. That was all clipped away and repaired. He's feeling much better now. I've been on the biologics for about 5 months now. They are doing well, but I'm only at about 75%. The pain is significantly reduced, but not completely. I am also very very tired. When I go back in October, we'll talk about whether there is something secondary going on. Until then I will work at getting my strength back and getting everything stretched out. Here is a little bit about what we have been doing. We went to a Pentatonix concert. It was fantastic!! We really had a lot of fun. We even ran into friends that were also there. We were right up at the front of the pit area. 😀 Untitled I have been knitting (I see a theme here). The bottom blue socks were for a swap package a week ago. Thankfully the recipient loved them. The others were for me. Untitled Untitled thumb_IMG_0754_1024 Untitled Wildlife watching, while on the golf course: Untitled We had a deck garden this year. Three of these bad boys were going all summer. We have a fourth one now, and we'll be adding a raised bed on the ground around most of the back deck. Untitled Until our garden is big enough to supply us, we are getting a weekly vegetable delivery. Daisy is fond of the box that everything comes in. Untitled We did a lot of canning. Strawberries, tomatoes, peaches...all jarred and stored: Untitled Abby has been taking good care of me (notice how happy she is..she's drooling). hehe Untitled We have also finished painting the walls in the laundry room. We tore out the old shelf and bar system that was in there, and was taking up too much room. The new shelving is out of the way, and makes it much easier to get to the washer and dryer. It also holds more pantry items. The walls are a pretty lilac color. I still need to paint the trim and cabinets, but having the walls done meant getting the room put back together. And everything out of the dining room. 🙂 Untitled Hopefully I'll update more often going forward. Especially since the fall is approaching, and I have been actually able to do things. That has unfortunately meant less knitting time, but that's okay. At least I am able to knit and do other things.