Friday, August 21, 2009

Starting Christmas Presents

I've started knitting my first Christmas present!

Yup, I intend to be prepared this year (finally). And so I've started this scarf using my very own handspun alpaca:

The problem is I have approximately 122 yards of the yarn. And I'm pretty sure that it's going to take over 700. *sigh* 
The color is not great but it's a view of the back side and my progress so far (about 5 days of occasional work).

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

By the glare of life.

I finally did another decent ride this past weekend. It’s quite sad but I’ve been suffering from severe lack of motivation and drive this summer. And cycling is one of those things that has been dramatically affected.

A good bit of it has to do with the fact that I’m completely on my own now really for any rides. Every time I ask Jo if she wants to do a ride, be it around town or a sponsored ride, it’s not worked out. Really quite a bummer.

However one of my father’s co-workers, who happens to be close to my own age, has taken up biking. And so she was kind enough to invite me to a ride earlier this summer and then to a second ride which was this weekend.

It was a metric century. So 100KM, or 62 miles. When I signed up for the ride I figured that I had plenty of time to go riding more and get back in shape. This never really happened. A week before the ride I was fairly desperate and pushed myself on two good rides totaling 50 miles. And then I started to feel more and more off. By Thursday I was downright sick. Go figure. Luckily really only hit me that one day and so despite large quantities of gunk in my head and trepidation about my ability to survive the course, I went anyways.

This ride is not a fundraising one in that I had to ask people for money, yay, but it is a fundraiser for the group because they get so many riders. It was rather crazy. Like traffic jam off of the highway to get to the event. That and I got up at like 5am to make it in time. And then waited for my riding buddies to show up.

We left the start at about 8:30. The weather was nice but promised to get hot. Which it did. It was ridiculously hot by the end. And the route is such that there’s barely any shade. It wasn’t particularly bad when we were moving. But when you stopped at a rest stop you felt completely encased in heat and could just feel the sweat building.

 This is actually from a previous ride, but same people and same area!

This was not so good for me with my complexion. I think because I pretty much never go outside during the day and especially not for long periods of time I half forgot how evil the sun is. Although I did have a little travel size one with me that I put some on my nose and back of neck and such at some rest stops. But I think the sun is just too evil because my nose is still a bit red. Then I also got burn in a few places where I either missed or didn't reapply enough like the side of my neck, thin bands on either side of my watch, and bands just below the shorts line. If I tanned I would most certainly have a distinct bike tan. Very annoying.

Stand out moments from the ride for me include: Sometime around mile 6 I think I must have zoned out going down a hill. But I was doing probably 20+ miles and I went off the road…oops. Somehow I managed to just continue down the hill on the field/rocks for probably 100 yards or so and then regained the hill. Whoa.

Also it is notable that I was mildly sick. Got some kind of a cold or allergies or something. It was at it's worst on Thursday when I actually left work early and slept. But I was blowing my nose through the ride. Maybe that's why my nose still burnt. And anyways I had just blown my nose (while riding, no easy feat) when I was informed that bee had flown into my pocket. This was a bit disconcerting because I didn’t want to be stung through my shirt (is that even possible). So after a bit of jiggling around I was informed that the bee was out of the pocket and then it proceeded to crawl around my back up near my shoulder then under my arm etc. And all of this narrated by my fellow bikers being as I have no way while riding of turning and seeing my own back. It was amusing.

It was 62 miles and I came in strong. I felt like I could have done more. And yet it's rather odd because I do still in my mind think it was a good ride, and yet when I think about it all of these painful things come to mind...ah well.

“He, in his developed manhood, stood, a little sunburnt by the glare of life.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't count your owls.

Occasionally I go blog hunting. I’ll pull up a search engine and try to find keywords for things that interest me. Quite a while back while hunting for “Scherenschnitte” I found Cindy’s blog which is appropriately named Scherenschnitte. Quickly I became a dedicated lurker.

As a paper cutter who fails at designing my own things I am absolutely amazed by her delightful designs.

Things got even more exciting when in February she introduced “Template Tuesday’s” with this amazing Queen of Hearts design. Firstly the design is awesome. Secondly I have personal ties to anything that can be Alice in Wonderland related.

I told myself a million times that I would cut one of her designs, but I just never got around to it….until now.

In tribute to the release of the most recent Harry Potter movie Cindy posted a H.P. themed paper cut. And I finally took the initiative and did up this quick easy and fun paper cut:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A string quartet without violins.

My garden this year is pretty awesome. In my humble opinion of course. Yesterday using homegrown tomatoes I made homemade tomato sauce.


The non-cooking type person that I am, and having grown up with busy parents who had to suffer from having two picky little girls to feed, I view tomato sauce as something which comes from a jar. Homemade is just much too advanced.

Last year however I helped J (former roommate, still landlord, friend, person whose description is as convoluted as everything else that I describe in my life) make ginormouse (that’s giant and enormous as one word) batches of tomato sauce from an old family recipe. So there was that. But I still didn’t view it as something that one does for any old meal.

Then I had a bunch of tomatoes from my garden and was determined to consume them somehow. First I used one in a recipe for avocado chicken salad (quite good but definitely scale back the scallions) that I found on Cheap Healthy Good. This left me with 5 tomatoes.

My entirely non-creative thought was, obviously, tomato sauce. I turned to Alton Brown because his show Good Eats with all of the sciency stuff involved is great. Then I did more or less whatever I wanted anyway using the recipe as a rough guide.

Really it was quite simple. I chopped the tomatoes, put a bunch of stuff on them, roasted them for like 2 hours, hunted down my foley mill, ran the tomatoes through, and voila I had tomato sauce!


"A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit.

Sometime last week or maybe this past weekend I finally finished the scarf I’ve been knitting. Seems like I’ve been working on it for just about ever, but looking at the calendar it was begun sometime mid-April. Ok, not forever, but still quite rather slow.

Here’s the finished product:

And here’s the scarf’s story:

One of my close h.s. friends’ families (well its all because of her mom specifically) has alpacas. Facts about alpacas: They, by necessity, are sheared every year. Alpaca fiber is considered an exotic fiber and is quite expensive.

Now these alpacas are pets and so their fiber isn’t necessary of the best quality or anything like that. But for Mrs. D it has particularly sentimental value. And so she’s kept all of the shearings from each year while on and off searching for something to be done with it.

At some point she somehow connected with someone the result of which was three skeins of yarn. This is progress, but no one in the D household is much of crafters. And then someone recalled little ‘ol crafty me.

I happily accepted the task, excited to use quality yarn (my normal is the cheapest non-yucky yarn I can find). And I set about trying to figure out what Mrs. D would like for me to make for her. At first the answer was “whatever”, but after a bit she picked out the scarf pattern.

Given the weight of the yarn (quite thin) my thought had been something lacey. The flaw was that I’ve never knit lace before. So when Mrs. D liked the cable pattern, I’ve cabled often before, I went for it.

I neglected to consider the relative volume of cabling involved in this pattern. And it wasn’t so simple that I ever managed to have it memorized. So I’ll blame that for my slowness. Although the associated revelation of spinning my own yarn plus everything else I’m doing lately ought to be included.

Now I have my eye on dozens of other knitting projects, so quick and easy to pick out awesome things, yet so slow to actually realize. Ah well. I’ve already started a glove (my first glove ever!), the intent being to at some point make a pair of gloves to match the scarf.

I think I must be a glutton for punishment.

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit, either.”

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grocery Shopping: It's fun.

Way back when....I started to blog, it was my intent to have a personal finance blog. This stems from my obsession with personal finance. Then I pretty much ignored this premesis and wrote about whatever I wanted, well at least when I wrote at all.

But with that in mind I wanted to post about my grocery trip yesterday. When J moved out probably a month or two ago now I was rather excited with regards to food. You see I was completely spoiled in that she did all of the shopping and cooking really. It was kind of ridiculous. But it was also no where near as frugal as I am with myself. Also probably not necessarily as healthy.

And so with that in mind I give you yesterday's groceries:

Cucumber: .50 - Easy to eat vegetable. Sold per cucumber so I looked for a good sized one.
2 Ears of White Corn: .50 - Half vegetable half starch. I was looking for medium sized ones because if they're too big they don't fit in my pot but they were all pretty large. I leave the husks on because I won't get to eating them for a few days.
Green Pepper: .46 - So I got this more or less because it was on sale and recipes keep calling for peppers. We'll see how long it lasts and if I use it or not.
Asparagus: 1.61 - A particularly tasty vegetable I've recently discovered.
Eggplant: 1.08 - This was an experiment. I've never really eaten egg plant but it was on sale so I went for it. I'd forgotten from my produce day's how huge the suckers are. Tonight I cut off two good slices. Gave them a bit of olive oil and salt then grilled them. Put a bit of parmesean cheese on after grilling and it was half decent. Now we'll see how the rest of the thing keeps now that it's cut.
2 Bartlett Pears: 1.71 - Fruit of the week it seems. Too bad these suckers weigh a good bit. Relatively expensive which is sad.
Orange Juice: 1.50 - Not quite sure how this will be as it's non name-brand. But for the price I'm sure I'll drink it anyways.
Pretzels: 2.50 - I take a calculator with me and I could see that I was doing quite well and I knew that I'd pretty much run out of snacks in the house so I splurged on these puppies.
Wheat Bread: .99 - Generally I don't get bread. It's difficult for one person to eat a whole loaf before it goes bad and I'm not a fan of the freezer/fridge idea. But I wanted bread for lunches this week and this turned out quite cheaper than budgeted. Yay. Maybe I'll freeze some anyways just because recently I'd think of something to eat and then realize I have bread. I did this for like so many different things. Kinda lame.
2 Powerades: 2.00 - For after biking purposes only. It seems that either these or gatorades (my norms) are always on sale 10/$10.
Tomato Soup: .97 - One of two items that was not on sale. But since I was under budget I figured this shall work well for when I can't figure out what to eat.
Pea Soup Mix: 1.00 - A complete random find. But I love pea soup and so far I've been too lazy to make it. If this turns out well the company has all kinds of different types of soups. I'm not quite sure when I'll make it however being as normally soup is a lunch thing for me and I'd already planned for chicken salad sandwitches all week. Ah well. It also happened to be on sale - w00t.
Brown Sugar: 1.39  - The second and final non-sale item. Randomly useful and I only have like 1/4 cup left.
Macaroni and Cheese: 1.25 - This was in fact a planned item. Mostly with the reasoning being that last week I kinda sucked at meals so I kept being at a loss for what to eat and this type of thing is useful in such situations. And in fact I already made it tonight. I also tried a random brand that had a nicer looking picture than most (yay marketing). It happened to be organic - weird. The result was mediocre at best.
Apple Juice: 1.25 - Being as I don't like water, I drink juice. Specifically this shall be for my lunches. Really it would be so much easier if I would just drink water. Ah well.
The grand total: 10.70
Just about everything was on sale. That's how I generate my shopping list, browsing the sales circular. The "bonuscard savings" on this trip were 7.14.
I go shopping basically once a week. With the only exception really being milk. The problem with the milk is that I seem to vary from week to week with my consumption so I can't figure if a gallon or half gallon is appropriate.
It's ridiculous, and it's awesome.