Spring seems to be here!

In the next few days, I will begin taking some pictures of spring. 🙂 I want to get pictures of the buds as they are coming out on the trees. I do this nearly every year. It just makes me so happy to see the first signs of spring. Our snow is completely gone now, which is awesome. But, my family in friends up north are no where near being into spring yet. They were hammered with more snow today! The snow in many places is 6-8 feet high now. It's going to be months before they completely thaw, if the snow ever stops. I was actually able to finish a project yesterday, which was awesome. It's my Katie sweater. It's a red with a grey/oatmeal bottom. I absolutely love it! katie cropped 01b2a1f5e49d13c30cfc50fb8498b9d995f6a45614 01079acecc38d90a4bd7ffaa8eff84315ba5672048 It doesn't look that great over this tshirt, but it was done, so we took a quick picture. The ends are not woven in yet, either. They are now though! For the next three months, at least, we are starting on a full diet. We have been slowly getting stuff out of our diet and trying to get back to natural cooking, but it has been tough. It was also halted a bit when J hurt his knee. He tore the meniscus a few weeks ago, and is now waiting for surgery. That will be at the end of the month. So, the plan is to get meals prepared ahead of time and put into containers and into the freezer. We will also be doing this for J's dad, who really wants to get going on weight loss. This was also kicked into high gear because of my last rheumatology appointment. She wants me to try going gluten free. I'm not a fan of this, because my body really excels on carbs. But I do have foods in my diet that I have issues with, and have cut them out completely. That means nothing with high fructose corn syrup, no nuts, and no chicken or eggs unless it is organic. I have a terrible allergy to the antibiotics in the chicken feed. The same antibiotic is used in the sprays for fruits down here, so I have to go with organic fruits as well. I am already down 6 pounds and down an inch or two on the waist. Good bye bloating! I was starting to think all this pain was in my head, but the rheumatologist did another blood test last week. It's one that gives me a scale of how bad the disease activity is for the rheumatoid arthritis. She thought it would come back low, and that we would go to a neurologist to look for a secondary cause. The results came back yesterday, and I am in the moderate-severe category. That explains that! The doc was a bit surprised, since my other blood work showed that I was getting better. And maybe I have, and this is where I am now. That's a scary thought. I am doing one more month on my current medication to see if there is an improvement with the max dose. Then we'll talk about the next step, which is biologics. These really do worry me. It's like you are borrowing from your future for today. But, if I don't take them, I am doing the same thing, because in another 10 years or so, I won't be able to walk at all. It's almost lunch time, so I should get something good together for that, and then start the meal plans for the next couple weeks. With J's surgery coming up, I will need to premake things and get everything set up and ready. I can't guarantee that I'll be well enough to cook, so I need to prepare. 🙂

Starting Fresh

It has been a year since we moved, and just a few months since the passing of J's mom. It still feels like nothing has changed, but at the same time, that everything has changed. We are now working on getting settled in the house. Yes, we've been here almost a year, but up until now we have just been puttering and just living in the house. I have started making curtains and getting rid of the awful plastic blinds that were here when we moved in. It has kept eyes out, but it has felt sterile and lifeless. Curtains really do add a level of home to a house. It doesn't hurt that we have all new windows and doors going in tomorrow. Our shutters outside are blue, but our front door is red. That just didn't work. So, even without all the drafts, it needed to go. The new door will be blue, like our shutters. Hopefully the windows will make the temperature inside feel more steady and more comfortable. This is the start to both J and I doing a full revamp of our daily lives. It feels like the last year has been us just trying to survive. Our minds are scattered in so many directions. We're both exhausted beyond belief, and thanks to that our diet has gone out the window. That has made us feel even worse. So, yesterday was the start of the fixes. There were smoothies for us both, filled with fruits and yogurt. This was to help settle the stomachs as well as help with the arthritis symptoms that have been plaguing us both. The smoothies were pretty simple. I found an all natural juice at the grocery store. It was in the fridge section, had no preservatives and the only ingredients were fruits. One has blueberries and blackberries, and the other was raspberries and blackberries. Then I put in some organic vanilla yogurt, and a couple handfuls of dark cherries (frozen ones). They were cold and soothing. We also tried to focus on food when we went shopping. And I mean real food. Not boxed or whatever. We have been so tired, that takeout has been our fried...well sort of. Today is the start of keeping the take out away, as much as we can. That now raises the question of what is for dinner. And this is where I run into problems. I find I have been bored with food. I need to get some new recipes to try. I know we have many we haven't made yet, and the buffet cabinet is full of cookbooks. Time to start going through books to pick out some items to try this week. Cooking is really as much of a crafting item as knitting or sewing is. It's all about the creation and how things go together. Before we moved from Edmonton, I had started putting together a cookbook. I have a few recipes that are completely my own. Since I am allergic to red dye, I developed an orange cake recipe to be able to still make the Harvey Wallbanger cake that J and his family love so much. It is light and fluffy, and has a lot of orange flavor. It's just not the bright orange color that you see in the box mixes. On the craft front, I have been busy with charity knitting, which really needs to get to UPS and out the door. sigh I have made three hats that will go up to Nova Scotia to be put in as part of a charity event to raise money for my cousins friend. She was diagnosed with cancer, and they want to raise money for her family. This is a cute hat in cotton that will be a bit lighter on the head. It will be warm, but not overly bulky: Untitled I made two of these ones. They are a bulkier yarn, designed more for the middle of winter: Untitled I finished a couple shawls as well. One is going into the mail as well, but this one to a friend that lost her daughter. I can't show that one yet. But, this one is going to be mine: Untitled There is a third shawl in a gorgeous yarn from Woolfolk that is so soft and squishy that it should be illegal. It's amazing! I have to get that blocked still, so right now it just looks like a blue blob. It will have to wait until after the windows are finished, so I'm not in peoples way. This is a set I sent to a friend for her mom for Christmas. Her mom is dealing with cancer, and really needed something to help her keep warm: Untitled This is another hat that went to a friend in Nova Scotia. She was just starting chemo and was starting to deal with the effects of winter with no hair. Her daughter was struggling with things as well, so I made two hats that were identical for them.  And last, but not least, I made a pair of slippers for my cousin for Christmas. They were actually quite a pain in the butt. The top is made separately and then sewn on to the foot. This was not nearly as easy as I expected. My brain just wasn't capable of doing that at that point in time. After a few tries I was able to get them sewn together, and to have both slippers looking the same. Untitled That is everything from this neck of the woods. Hopefully I will have more regular items to put up here. I am hoping to start having some pattern designs to share with people. I have something in the works, but I just have to get to it. I have six more curtains to make, and then I can get back to the knitting.

Kitchen Renovation

We are so close to being finished our kitchen renovation. The main part is 99% done. We just need some caulking around the counter top/tile, and the inspections need to be finished. The baking station just needs some moldings, the double ovens connected, and the double oven doors put on. We are thrilled with how it has turned out. The changes have meant a good amount of extra space, and a much brighter space. Before: Untitled After: IMG_0647 The desk area we used to have has been torn out to make space for a baking station. The baking station is cabinets and a double wall oven. Before: image After: image We had a little fun with the tiled backsplash. The kitchen and living room are one large room, so we are carrying the paint scheme throughout. We decided to go with a Maritime theme, and have a bunch of different things from Nova Scotia and things that are very beachy. So, we decided to go with just a bit of the beach rock to make sure it wasn't too overbearing. We also chose a shiny sealer to give it the wet look, and to bring out all the colors and details in the rocks. IMG_0648 IMG_0649 We are really happy with how it turned out. We'll be even happier when the last bits are done, and we can just get back to using it. 🙂

The middle of August, already?!

I can't believe that it is the middle of August already. The summer went so fast! I'm kind of surprised it went so fast, considering everything that has been going on around here. It seemed like the type of summer that would just drag on and never end. I've lost count how many different rheumatoid arthritis meds I have been on over the past number of months. I think I'm up to about 7 or something. Last week I started a new one..actually two. sigh We went to the bigger guns, since the anti-inflammatories aren't doing enough. It brought my inflammation numbers down a bit, but still not into the normal range. Hopefully my next blood work will be better. I don't really want this new med to work though, because it's a doozy. It's a mild form of a chemo drug, and it scares the crap out of me. I only take the dosage once a week, which is good, but still...scary. I took my second dose last night. I'm actually not doing too bad today. Last week was a complete write off. I started to feel better just in time to take the next round of meds. Thankfully that meant I could get some things done yesterday. I was clear headed enough to make these: Untitled We bought medium sized t-shirts for our favorite teams. Then yesterday I sewed them up and stuffed them. They made for some very cute pillows. J ordered them, even though he wasn't quite sure of my vision. He loved them when he saw the finished product though. He thought I was going to cut out the logos and make small pillows, and instead was delighted to see big pillows that are snuggle worthy. They will be great on the new love seat/recliner that is coming on Tuesday. I can't wait for the love seat! It's two recliners joined together, with a table in the middle. The table has an arm rest with storage under it, and there are two cup holders. We put up a bunch of the wall hangings yesterday, and only have a couple things left to go up. I can't wait for the pictures of the finished room. It has to be finished this week, because we also need to pack up the kitchen. The renovation of the kitchen begins on the 25th! Then we have landscapers coming sometime around September 2 to work outside. We're getting all ready for the winter. Normally J and I would try to do a lot of this ourselves, but after this summer? Not a chance. J goes back to his doctor on the 2nd of September for test results. We discovered in the course of him going to the rheumatologist that he has Hemochromatosis. So, we have gone from an osteo arthritis to a blood disorder, and probably a genetic one. After the results come back, he will need an ultrasound of his liver to see if there is any damage. His iron levels need to be below 350 to be considered normal, and he was at 788. The treatment is simple, though. He just needs regular blood draws, based on how fast his body regenerates the iron. It could be once a year, or once a week. We won't know that for a while. But, that just means he is a great blood donor. Once the doc gives the word on what needs to be done, they will hopefully start the blood draws right away to keep from doing any more damage to his body. That was quite the shock to us though. I don't have any finished knitting projects at the moment, but I am finally feeling well enough to consider knitting again. I am test knitting a couple pairs of fingerless mittens for someone, and also working on the same sweater that I was working on last time. I am finished the back of the sweater and 1/4 of the front. I am looking forward to it being finished, and being able to wear it when the weather cools down.

Quick update

The last few weeks have really flown by. I have been under the care of a rheumatologist, which means new medications that were really causing stomach unrest to the point of my stomach nearly declaring a civil war on my intestines. It has gotten much better now, and a truce has been reached. Unfortunately, these meds aren't really doing much for the pain in my joints. It might be back to square one in a few weeks if my blood work still isn't where the doc wants it to be. We were able to watch some World Cup soccer the last few weeks, and since we were just sitting here watching it, I pulled out my spinning wheel. I was able to get quite a bit done, actually. Untitled The bobbin that on the wheel here is almost full now. I was trying to get it filled to ply this skein before Tour de Fleece started (it runs with Tour de France, where you spin as they bike). But, with the pain in my hands, that just isn't even remotely possible. Maybe next year. At least I was able to have some fun during the soccer games. I hope to pick it back up again soon. I have managed a bit of knitting. First up is my Ethereal tank top from Knitty. I love it. It's light and airy, and great for the hot days in these parts. The picture is side ways, but you get the idea. It has lace at the bottom and top, and also running up both sides. Untitled Next is a pair of socks that I finished for mom for Mother's day. This is my standby pattern Take Five Socks. I love this pattern. Untitled Next up is another pair of socks. These ones were a new pattern that I tried out. I absolutely loved it. The pattern was easy to follow and added just enough design to make them interesting. It's called Scylla. The yarn for these turned out to be amazing. It is called String Theory, and is the Dark Matter colourway. The people that make this yarn pride themselves on exact dying to get the perfect stripes in socks. Their effort was not in vain, because it is absolutely fantastic. I love these socks. I have two more skeins from them, and I am working on another pair of socks in the White Dwarf colourway, which is white, grey, and blue. It's gorgeous, and stripes just as beautifully. Untitled The last finished project is my Maple Leaf Shawl. It is gorgeous. The pattern is interesting as well, and has you stopping and starting a lot, which results in a bunch of ends to weave in. But, the effect is fantastic and it is well worth it. I finished this just in time for Canada Day, but just unblocked it today. Untitled Hopefully I'll be able to get some more knitting done over the next few weeks and be able to post some more finished items. 🙂

Allergies and finished objects

I have managed to finish a couple of things I was working on. I even have a standing case of finishitupitis! Yay! Unfortunately, it's because I'm sick. But, that's alright, I guess. Thanks to being in a new area, and the wonderful spring weather, the trees and flowers are all out. That means a lot of pollen. So, that gave me a bit of an allergy attack that grew into acute sinusitis and acute bronchitis. I have been to the doctor and have medications to make it much better. I slept pretty good last night, and took another nap today, so that has helped a great deal. While I have been sitting around, I have managed to finish two projects. The first is the knit-a-long shawl that I started back in February. It's based on the newest Hobbit movie and is called The Desolation of Smaug. It turned out fantastic! I decided to go with the recommended fingering weight yarn, so it seemed to go so much faster than a laceweight yarn. I still need to block it, and don't know how much it's going to grow, but right now it comes down about to the elbow and about half way down my back. I think that after I block it, it will come down almost my whole back. It seems like it's going to be pretty big. Untitled The other thing I finished was my Afmaeli sweater. It turned out fantastic, and fits perfectly. I am really happy with it. I added an extra colour, because I actually bought the yarn and picked a pattern afterwards. The lilac colour was actually meant to be the lighter blue. I like that the lilac gives an extra dimension to the design. Untitled  Now I am trying to get a few more things done before I get his with the overwhelming desire to start something new. That is creeping up on me quickly. I do really need to get some of these other projects finished though. 🙂

Attempting to finish something

My knitting endeavors have been quite limited lately, but I have been working to change that. Being laid up has helped with that. I badly sprained and strained all the tendons and ligaments and muscles in my right ankle, so walking hasn't been something I have been up to lately. That does lend itself to a lot of knitting time, and now that things are getting settled, I have been able to do more. In that attempt I developed a bit of startupitis. That means I have zero finished projects to show. But, I do have a bunch of things in progress. 😀 First, I am knitting away happily on a sweater. This one is Afmaeli. It will be a lopi style, with colourwork around the neck. Right now the body is in waiting, while I knit the sleeves. I might have to add some more length to the body, because I don't know that I am comfortable with where it is sitting. Since I have a long torso, sweaters need to be a few inches longer than the patterns call for, and since I have a larger bust, it sucks up some of the length as well. So, when they say 16" long, I tend to go 19". Untitled Next is a pair of socks I started. I managed to get up to the leg before I went back to the sweater above. It was cold and windy outside, so what else was I supposed to do? I needed a sweater. haha These socks are called Scylla. I absolutely love the pattern. It's simple, yet provides a lovely detail on the sock. I also love the yarn. I picked it up from Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virgina. It's String Theory in the Dark Matter colourway, and it's a dream to work with. The stripes are absolutely fantastic. They pride themselves on the stripe dying process, and for good reason. It is so worth it. And the colours are fantastic. I picked up 3 skeins of different colourways, and I am so happy I did. Untitled The last project is another sweater. I started this a while ago, and then put it down. There isn't much done on it. It's Skyline Tunic. This was designed by someone I know, and I can't really rate it right now because I am really not very far into it. Based on the picture, it looks adorable. I hope it translates well to a larger size, because the model in the picture is adorable. hehe Untitled That's most of what I have started, but believe me, there are a lot more things on my needles around the house. I have a mystery knit a long for a shawl that I'll post eventually. Also, I have a couple other shawls on the go. I'll get to everything eventually. I do enjoy working on shawls in the summer. They are nice and light and don't make me overly hot. And if we're lucky, summer will be here soon. It's been a long winter for everyone.

New House

Now that we are finally getting settled, I thought I would put up some pictures of our new place. We are really happy with how things are coming together. We have a living room with a fireplace: IMG_0167 I love how cozy that room feels. We haven't needed the fireplace, but we might next winter. At least we'll have a place to hang stockings next Christmas. And it's a great place to put some of Nova Scotia memorabilia. Then we have the breakfast area that we are using as our dining room: IMG_0168 Our kitchen, which we absolutely love (even with cat toys everywhere): IMG_0169 IMG_0170 Our formal dining room will eventually become our den/sports viewing area: IMG_0091 What should be the living room is our office. I don't have pictures of the finished office area yet, but this is how it started: IMG_0092 There is a room at the top of the stairs that is to be the reading area. There is a built in bookshelf that will be terrific: IMG_0095 My craft room is finished, too. It needs things hung on the walls, but I have to figure out what is being hung. Untitled Untitled And Joe's office is finished. Yay! Untitled Untitled And in with all that, I even have some finished items! Yay! First up is my Dragonfly Wings. I loved this. It was a quick knit, and it was my Ravellenic Games project (knitting during the time the Olympics are going on). Untitled I also finished a baby sweater for friends at church who adopted a baby girl. I don't remember what the pattern was at the moment, but it was really cute. I think it was a Drops pattern. The only problem was the yarn I chose was a bit too bulky for the small needles, and it was not only hard on the hands, but also took a very long time. Untitled

We almost have a home

We have now been here for 2 months. We have been really busy. We put an offer on a house, and then the house inspection went horribly, so we backed out. After searching resumed we found another house that we absolutely fell in love with. We give up a couple things, like having to now settle for an HOA, and having a smaller garage and smaller driveway, but the house is worth it. It's a traditional style colonial, which is exactly what I had wanted. There is no front porch, but we may remedy that someday. The HOA will allow it, providing it meets their requirements. And since other places have a front porch, it should be okay. Sunday is our walkthrough, and then we close Monday. We won't have our furniture for a couple weeks, but at least we'll have a place to put it. 🙂 We are really looking forward to having a space to settle into. The weather has been causing me a ton of problems. The changes in pressures really affect me a lot. My pain levels are really high today, but we have a rain storm tomorrow. There are flood warnings for the area, and there could be thunder boomers as well. That makes for uncomfortable times for me. I had been having some terrible issues adjusting to the pressure and things here, and then the arctic vortex thing came through, and I felt great. It must have been the Canadian air it brought along with it. haha! Everyone else was shivering, and J and I were fine. It didn't get that cold in these parts, though. It was about -15C, which wasn't nearly as bad as some other areas. My knitting has suffered over the past couple months. I have been working on things slowly, but I haven't accomplished much. I did however, finish a hat! Untitled This was mailed off yesterday to a friend for her mom. Her mom is fighting cancer, and I wanted to do something nice for them. My friend should receive it tomorrow or Monday. I have to say that I definitely prefer the US postal over Canada Post. It's much faster here, and cheaper. I also finished some things for mom and dad for Christmas that I haven't shown. First were mittens for dad: Untitled Dad also got this balaclava: Photo on 2013-10-02 at 12.18 PM And a couple of these little guys went to a friends boys: Untitled I made them into a keychain style to be able to be hooked onto their back packs. I have to make some more of these. So, going forward the plans are sort of simple. We need to get unpacked and settled, but we also have to get furniture. Some things will be made by us, others will be purchased, and some things will come from yard sales and refinished. It's a big house that needs furniture, but we don't want to break the bank to do it. I also need to get my shop fully operational. I need to get to work on making things to put up for sale. Also, J and I are planning to focus on our writing more, so that will also need to have some time devoted to it. The plan is to schedule the day like a traditional work day, splitting off our time with what we want to get done to be able to get to everything. We'll see how that goes, especially with everything else that needs to be done. It will be fun, though.

Getting Settled

After a very hectic few weeks, we are finally in VA and are slowly getting settled. Things all started on November 2. The movers arrived late, but not too bad, and then set to work. We had to watch them like hawks. They aren't the most competent group in the world, but they were the ones actually willing to show up. Things in some areas of western Canada are very sketchy for getting workers. But, they got us all packed up. It started to snow that afternoon, and went all night. The next morning it was a mess outside. The moving truck was almost 2 hours late to pick up all our furniture and boxes. The movers were once again incompetent. They broke things (like walls), damaged furniture, etc. They got at mad at me for telling them to not drag another piece of furniture across our floors because they were scratching them. I told them I didn't give a rats ass who did it, but don't do it again. Finally, they left at 3pm. We still had to clean the whole house and get the trash out. Trying to do all this by ourselves was overwhelming, to say the least. We were exhausted, and didn't get as much done as we had wanted. We packed the car and locked up and left at 7pm, giving up on whatever was left to do. The roads for the first couple hours were horrible. Apparently it was the worst that people have seen the roads out of Edmonton. It was a complete nightmare. After a nasty panic attack, and then a couple smaller ones, we made it through the first evening of driving. The next day wasn't as bad for driving, but we had to contend with the border. Thanks to Chrysler not being bothered with getting the certificate for the car, we ended up having to pay a third party to import our car. We weren't impressed. Thankfully the border agent had a list of people that could take care of us, and they were very quick. We were very happy with how they were able to get everything done. I don't think Chrysler will get any more of our business, other than the basic maintenance we have to do with this vehicle. The last few weeks has involved house hunting and catching up with people (and sleep hehe). We found a house we like and are currently negotiating a good price. I don't know how it'll end up, but we do have 2 other properties we like as well. If this one isn't meant to be, then we'll go to plan B. This one has everything I want, which is great, but sometimes the negotiations can go sour, and we are prepared to walk away if they decide to be a real pain in the butt. We'll let them sweat it out. If they find another buyer, fine, and if not, we'll let them come back to us. For now, we wait and keep trying to get some sleep. 🙂