Thursday, August 31, 2017

Work Breeds Work

As the saying goes, "What you focus on, you attract." The other day my father commented to me, "You're business is going up," I thought for a minute. "Yes, it is," I answered. "Etsy gives me my stats, and they are moving in the right direction." My father has that kind of a mind. He is always totaling up the profit and loss of things. Thirty years ago, when we went to my close friend's wedding,  he was shocked that everyone was served prime rib. "Geez!" he exclaimed. "That's $30.00 a plate!" I chuckled, because it hadn't even dawned on me to think about the cost. My dad owned his own business, though. He kept careful records of his mileage, his customers, his sales, everything. He also had it all memorized. I find now that I am the same way. I tend to remember the details about my students and my customers. My father comes home and reviews all of his bridge hands. It must run in the family. Having that sort of memory came in handy when I was a professional dancer. You have to memorize numerous routines very quickly when you work in show business. The same goes for your music and your songs. It really works the mind to its full capacity.

Yesterday I woke up to another Etsy order for goat's milk soap. I finished breakfast, bagged the soaps, wrote out the labels, and then headed over to the library. Once I had printed out the shipping label, packing slip, and notepaper, I drove down the street to the post office. Orders of two soaps fit easily into a small priority mail box. This one was going to Staten Island, New York. I like this method, because it is very fast. Quite often people will have their soaps in two days, all the way from one coast to the other. Most people really appreciate fast shipping. I like to get my orders out first thing in the morning.

I'm nearly done with the alpaca throw that I've been knitting for my friend. I'm using the last ball of yarn. I love knitting these; they are so rewarding. It's nice to do something that's quick, easy, and luxurious. I just emailed him a photo of how it's looking,  and he's very happy with it. It sure is spectacular yarn. The quality of the wool makes all the difference. This is hand dyed, and it has received numerous compliments out in the community. People can really sense when something is valuable. Yarns have changed so much in the past fifty years. My parents marveled at the difference in the blankets that I knit them, as compared to some they had received from a friend. They didn't understand it. Finally I told them, "Well, the yarn alone was $20.00 a skein. It's  alpaca. It's like cashmere." "We didn't have yarn like this growing up," my parents replied. I think most people at that time bought yarn at Ben Franklin or Woolworths.  Even though my parents don't knit, they immediately felt, saw, and  sensed the difference. It made me giggle. My dad told me about a cashmere and cotton sweater that he has, and how much he loves it. I nodded. With proper care, these items will last a lifetime. I am wearing my mom's cashmere sweaters now. They still look like new, even though they are several years old. I wash them carefully by hand, and lay them flat to dry.

Once this blanket is done, I will block it, wrap it, and ship it off the NYC. Next on the list is the baby blanket. I also plan to make another batch of goat's milk soap. Last night my father asked me, "Are you making more soap?" "You probably should," he added. I laughed and answered, "Yes, even though it's 107 degrees."  Parents are always right.   

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Developing Your Own Style

One thing that happens over time with artists is that they develop their own style. The really great ones, the geniuses, have a stamp that's unmistakable. If you think of a painting by Picasso, or a costume by Bob Mackie, that's the kind of energy I mean. These are people who have spent hours and hours each day developing their craft. They put the time into learning, practicing, and expressing. It shows in their work. They continue this cycle, whether they are paid for it or not,  throughout their whole lives. They study, learn and grow. They have a strong work ethic.

As this happens, often others will copy them. We  see a breathtaking gown worn by a celebrity on the red carpet, and the next day, there are several knock offs in the shops. It doesn't look the same though, because the energy is different. So much of art and design is in the tiniest details. Knowing how to shift, alter, and shape something completely changes how it looks and feels. It's a subtle awareness that designers have. They know the nuances.

Often artists will try to copy a famous painting to learn the techniques. The thing is, much of art is unseen. What makes an artist shine is something inside of them, and in their teachers.  It's their talent, their spirit, and their touch. It's what comes through them. It's energy, pure and simple.

When I was seventeen, I was spending six hours a day at the dance studio, and I starting to find my own style. All of a sudden, my mother became obsessive about copying me. It was the strangest thing. If we were going out to dinner, she would study what I was wearing, run upstairs and change her clothes, and then come down  to the entryway, proudly dressed just like me. I never understood it, because my mother was quite beautiful and creative. Our home was gorgeous, thanks to her. She could really decorate, cook, and create beauty. For some reason, she wanted to look like me at that age, and it drove me nuts. She even went out and bought the same perfume that I was wearing. I had chosen it carefully, at Longs.  I had a hard time with it. It grated on my nerves. I moved out the same year, and she went back to being her own stylish self.

Now that I'm older, I've thought about what creates flair and individuality. In my case, I practice yoga and meditation, and study the best in their field. I love to watch the top choreographers, even though that is not an area where I shine. I analyze why their work is so excellent. Quite often I see that less is more, and that simplicity, combined with impeccable talent, creates something magical. It also takes hours and hours of sweat and hard work. You tinker with what you are doing. You add something here, and then subtract something there. You trust your intuition. You surround yourself with gifted, highly trained people. Repetition and constancy create improvement and something untouchable.

I follow the same steps with  knitting. I study photographs of projects, and why a certain artist jumps out at me. There is something about their work that is clear, focused, and dynamic. I have always loved the sculptures of Rodin and Camille Claudelle. What an incredible love story that was. I saw the French film in New York, and it was unforgettable. It really shows the sensuality of the creative process,  the transfer of energy, and the development of an artist.

One thing now is that many people want things instantly and easily. With the Internet and  sites like Ravelry, they can turn on their computer, look up a person's projects, and just copy their choices. This doesn't teach or train  you, though. Putting in the practice time and making your own decisions  has a different vibration. Classical musicians practice for hours and hours, and study with impeccable teachers for many years. There really are no shortcuts. In writing, we have to do a few drafts, edit, revise, and rework. That's the way we find a sense of individuality and personal rhythm in our work. It takes effort, concentration, and dedication. There are no shortcuts.            

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Looking Forward

Looking forward to upcoming events is a big part of being happy. Whether it's a trip, a class, a dinner with friends, or an activity, having a positive sense about the future changes how we feel.  For the past few weeks, I have been eagerly anticipating receiving the yarn I ordered to make an alpaca throw for a friend. It arrived in yesterday's mail, and I started working on it this morning. It's gorgeous! It's kind of fun to work on a new item when the customer has chosen the colors. I find that they always pick shades that I wouldn't have realized look so nice together. This yarn is a mixture of purples, earth tones, black, and burgundy. It's really knitting up into something special, especially for a man's apartment. My friend thought it would look nice coupled with his grey color scheme and furniture. I think so, too. He said that his mom had hers displayed  on the back of the couch. I love the way hand knits look when they are draped over the furniture. They add such a special touch of artistic energy.

I finished another set of the Knitted Knockers to donate to the breast cancer patients. I really enjoy doing this pattern. It's one that I can take to a knitting group, and it moves quickly, too. I've got two sets to give to them this month, one is a B cup, and the other is a C cup. I used the Bamboo Pop yarn for the blue/pastel ones, and some stashed leftover Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton yarn for the lavender set. I bought both yarns locally, at Creative Ewe in Santa Clarita.

I just   received another order for a baby blanket. I adore the pattern. It's one that I make all the time. This version will be in white, and it will have a border with a variegated yarn. The colors are a mixture of pink, lavender, tan, and white. I think it's going to be lovely. Once I finish the alpaca throw, I'll get started on the baby blanket. I don't like to have too many projects going at once, especially when I'm working on a deadline. It's nice to have these items to look forward to finishing. I also enjoy them because they are relaxing, repetitive, and elegant. As I get older, I'm learning that things don't have to be complicated to be beautiful. I thrive on knitting simple designs with technique, accuracy, and passion. How are your hobbies going?     

Monday, August 28, 2017

A Relaxing Weekend

It was another nice weekend. here in Southern California. I went for a morning hike yesterday,  following  a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. It was quite beautiful. It can be hiked from Mexico all the way across the United States to Canada! There are a couple of places near my home where it intersects. It's always enjoyable and scenic...

I spent a lot of time reading on Sunday, alternating between Cesar Milan's book, Cesar's Rules, and The Natural Soap Book, by Susan Miller Cavitch. Cesar's book made me feel very good about my dogs. He explains that he doesn't really train dogs, instead he guides the owners so that they have a balanced pet. One of the top recommendations on his list to keep a dog pleasant and friendly is exercise. Recently I've been giving both of my older dogs a lot more physical activity, and I can really see that they appreciate it. Lana and I have been taking a long walk each evening. I didn't think that she needed it, since she gets a quick run each morning, and a frisbee session in the early evening. Still, at ten years old, she absolutely loves it. Carlie is unenthusiastic about walking, yet turns into a canine champion as soon as I throw her a stick or frisbee. She is like two different dogs. I follow her enthusiasm, and give her a very short walk. She loves to go in the car, so I take her with me on errands when it's cool. Cesar explains that dogs need adventure, mental stimulation, and at least an hour of walking a day. That resonates with me. My dogs also really like to follow commands. It's rewarding to see how quickly they will do what you say. It took  a lot of time, patience, and training, but it was worth it. I remember my ex boyfriend at the time asking me about Lana, "How did you teach her to do exactly what you say? Our dogs do the opposite of what we say." That made me laugh. My mom was an excellent dog trainer, and I followed her lead. She believed that we were always training our dogs. She was with hers all day, and they were perfectly behaved. Dogs, like children, really respond to structure, routine, and consistency. My mother also taught me that children love discipline.I always agreed with, remembered that, as a dance teacher.

I realized that by following Cesar's advice for dogs, I was also feeling healthier and more balanced, emotionally. Walking really does affect the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It's a simple activity,  but it makes a huge difference when it's part of your daily routine. I'm usually more inclined to jump on my bike and zip around the neighborhood. I still enjoy that in the early morning, but the walks are relaxing and nurturing. We are all sleeping very well, and the dogs have a good, hearty appetite.

I unmolded the unscented batch of shea butter goat's milk soap. I came out nicely. It's drying on the racks. I am delivering an order in town tomorrow. This one is a variety pack of several different soaps. I plan to make another batch of soap tomorrow, with cocoa butter. I formulated a new recipe using that and the shea butter with the oils. I love the way cocoa butter smells, and I'm hoping that the chocolate aroma will stay in the soaps once they're cured. I think that it will, from what I've read. I've been having a lot of fun rereading this book on soapmaking. She interviews several soap makers about their lives, it's enjoyable to hear their perspectives. How was your weekend?             

Friday, August 25, 2017

Making Unscented Soap

Yesterday's soapmaking was very enjoyable. After weighing the oils and shea butter, I melted them together on the stove. I let them sit and cool in the bowl on the counter while I did some other housework and wrote my blog. After a couple of hours, I weighed the frozen goat's milk and lye. Soapmaking is chemistry, so it's important to weigh your ingredients. For years, I avoided it for that reason. I didn't have a kitchen scale, and I wasn't really sure how to use a digital scale. Now that I have one, I see how easy it is. For some reason, it intimidated me. I would read books on soapmaking and procrastinate. I kept hoping that I could find a recipe where I could just measure ingredients, like in cooking or baking. It doesn't work that way. Well, I did find one recipe on line that said you didn't need a scale, but I skipped it. Now that I'm comfortable, I like the accuracy I get with a scale.

After the oils had been sitting for a couple of hours, I slowly added the lye into the frozen goat's milk. I use a slotted spoon, and stir it into the bowl in small increments. I try to take about twenty minutes. You don't want the milk to scorch and turn brown. This time it turned yellow, which is fine.

After blending the lye milk into the oils with a stick blender, I poured the batter into the molds. I thought about how unscented soap is a great idea. The fragrance oils are very expensive. It never dawned on me that some people would prefer to have quality soaps without fragrance. Whenever I give someone a bar of soap, the first thing they do is hold it up to their nose and smell it. Most of the reviews I've gotten on Etsy mention that they love the scent. It's one of my favorite parts of using homemade soap. But, many people have sensitive skin, and they prefer unscented. It's easier to make.

It's kind of funny, because I used to spend hours on Brambleberry's website, researching the fragrance oils that didn't fade. I was getting discouraged that some of the soaps I made didn't seem to hold the scent after several months. The longer a bar cures, the gentler and milder it becomes. So, I ordered some oils that had the reputation for excellent staying power. I trusted the reviews from fellow soapmakers. It was kind of ironic that I spent all that time. Each person is different, though. A small batch of soap will require at least an ounce of fragrance oil, which is a lot. That's what I love about art, I am always learning and expanding my vision.  

I have never been really big into coloring my soaps, either. That can also get very expensive. There's something about seeing bright colors and black in soap that feels kind of wild to me. The multi colored ones look like art. They remind me of finger painting. I prefer the natural, milk colored soaps. I have never wanted to start committing myself to offering numerous colors and flavors of soap, either. I'm amazed at the shops that are able to do it. I'll stick to my simple bars, with fine ingredients. Quality olive oil, shea butter, and goat's milk cost money, but they are worth it.   I love the look that the decorative molds give the soaps. It's just enough,  for my taste. What kind of soaps do you like?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

A Letter From a Soap Customer

Yesterday I received a very nice message from a soap customer named Jill. With her permission, I am reprinting it here. As you will see, she is a beautiful writer.

"My soaps have arrived! Such quick service and what an elegant presentation!

They were there when I came back from a very long hot walk in the park with my dog. I jumped into the shower with the shea butter bar. It is a very cleansing and emollient soap, and just what I needed.

When I use these up, would you consider an order of  unscented soaps? I'm not sure how many bars are in a typical batch.

I am making one of the goat's milk bars into your recipe for liquid soap. You mentioned using it in the laundry with washing soda, borax and baking soda...what proportions do you normally use per load?

I found your soaps through your lovely blog and then it clicked and I realized that once upon a time I also read your dance articles! Such a coincidence."

I was so pleased to read this message. It really made my day. Many years ago, I worked as a  writer for a magazine called Dancer. I had a monthly column titled The Awakened Soul, and I also wrote regular cover and feature stories. When I started blogging, I was hoping to find some of the readers who used to receive that magazine. It was distributed for free to all of the dance studios in the USA. Serendipity!

Today I am making a batch of unscented She Butter Goat's Milk Soap. The oils are cooling right now. After I mix the lye with the frozen goat's milk, I will pour the mixture into the molds, and place them in the freezer. After 30 minutes, I'll switch them to the fridge, and then unmold them in a couple days.   


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Homemade Herbal Laundry Detergent Recipe

Today when I got home from knitting I had a message on Esty.  It was from the woman who ordered the goat's milk soap and shea butter goat's milk soap on Monday. I was thrilled to hear that she had already received her box, and had even showered with the soap! She is clear across the country, in New York! I guess that's why it costs what it does for Priority Mail shipping.  That is speedy!

She told me that she planned to grate one bar of soap to use for homemade laundry detergent, and asked me for the proportions. I used to use this recipe. Now I do a simpler version, but I'll give both to you.

4 oz. grated soap (1 bar)
2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda
essential oils

Use 1 T to 1/4 cup per load

I've now started to just use my liquid soap and some baking soda and Borax. I don't even measure it, to be honest. I just guesstimate it. My clothes aren't very dirty, unless I've been gardening. In that case, I use the stain stick from the coconut soap, and apply it on the affected area.

I find the coconut liquid soap is the one that's the most cleansing, although they all work. You can also let your clothes soak in the soapy water for a couple of hours, if there are any stains that need to be removed.

To make the liquid soap, grate one bar and simmer it with eight cups of water until the soap has melted. I like this consistency better than adding grated soap into the washing powder. I was finding that the bits of soap were sticking to the clothes, if it didn't dissolve. (like in a cold water wash.) There are also  lots of recipes on line for homemade laundry detergent. You can find what's best for you.     

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Benefits of Doing Regular Cardio Exercise

I've been making an effort to get in more cardio exercise recently, and  am really appreciating the results. It just puts me on a high. When I was a dancer, I took and taught dance classes every day. It was  part of my daily  routine. After having my hips replaced, I did  physical therapy exercises and walked.  Now that it's been two years, I feel like that isn't enough for me. I enjoy the yoga and pilates that I do at home, but I realized that I needed to up my game and get more physical to stay happy.

For the past couple of mornings I have been riding my bike and pushing myself. It really gets my heart rate up, and I like breaking a sweat and feeling challenged.  There's something about doing a little more than you think you can do, physically, that helps us mentally and emotionally. I also really enjoy seeing all of the animals in our neighborhood, as I whiz by them. We have horses, goats, chickens, alpacas, and roosters. I love hearing the sounds that they make,  and seeing how peaceful they are. It's very soothing. I've always loved that about living in the country. The farm animals add such a nice layer. They are so easygoing and relaxed. This is my chicken coop.

Yesterday I made a batch of body butter. It makes a nice face cream, as well. Now that the weather is getting cooler, I'll start using it on my body. During the summer, my homemade soaps keep my skin moisturized, and I don't need it. Once it gets colder, I change the routine. I made a large batch, and put it in a recycled container in the fridge.

I found some violet Cascade Ultra Pima yarn in my stash, and started another set of knitted knockers. They are a great project to do at knitting groups. As long as I use my colored tape to mark it, the pattern is easy to follow. They are also a quick and portable knit. I also did this swatch for the baby sweater. I'm going to use up the leftover alpaca, merino, bamboo yarn for that, since the swatch came out right on gauge. Knitting baby items is so much fun! How are you doing today?        

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Hike To Celebrate

On Saturday I took a six mile hike up Towsley Canyon to celebrate two years of having healthy,  replaced hips. I feel so fortunate that I can do this kind of physical activity again.  It's a gorgeous hike, but it's challenging. The first part goes up the mountain. There are several switchbacks. It really makes me out of breath, so I stopped to rest several times. I was glad that I had packed two bottles of water.

Once I got to this shady spot, I sat down on this log, and ate my lunch. The wood was so nice and smooth. The view was gorgeous. I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest, so I let myself relax and recharge. I ate some peanut butter and celery, leftover homemade Hungarian plum cake, and a peach. The last time I did this hike I didn't bring any food or water. I made a mental note not to do that again. It's too strenuous.  It was much nicer with a light backpack filled with  food and water. It felt completely different. I like being prepared.

After lunch, I started the descent down the mountain. I met some very nice, friendly hikers along the way. I stopped and talked with a couple of women who looked to be at least my age. I was surprised to see women over fifty doing such a difficult hike. I'm noticing that many people in my generation are still very into fitness. The ladies I met were very pretty and outgoing. We all enjoyed the scenery and took photos.

The last part of the trail was flat. Whenever I see this gate, I know that  I'm  entering the home stretch. The oak trees and the dappled shade were beautiful. It felt so good to spend time in nature. I came home and finished knitting the scarf I've been working on for my friend. I have one and a half skeins of yarn leftover. I feel like it's  been telling me that it wants to be knit into a baby sweater. I found a really sweet pattern on Ravelry. I'm so excited to get started on  it!

This morning I woke up to an Etsy order. I still get such a thrill when I make a sale. This one was from a new customer in New York. She wanted two goat's milk soaps, and two shea butter goat's milk soaps. I wrapped everything up, printed out the packing slip, shipping label, and vintage stationery, and mailed it off at the post office. I just love selling what I make  from home. It's so rewarding. I think I'm going to make another batch of goat's milk soap tomorrow. I have a feeling things will pick up with the holidays approaching. I am going to make three hundred bars of soap. I want to be able to fill every order, and soap takes time to cure. Wish me luck...           

Friday, August 18, 2017

Second Anniversary of Bilateral Hip Replacement Surgery

Today it has been exactly two years since I had both of my hips replaced. They were done at the same time, during a three hour operation.  The anterior method, which I had, is described as the ship in the bottle technique. I am still in awe of the results. The pain is completely gone. I can do most of the activities that I loved, but had to give up doing when I had osteoarthritis. It is such a pleasure to be  riding my bike each morning, walking the dogs,  going hiking, kayaking with friends, and doing yoga and pilates. People told me that I would get my life back if I did the surgery. It didn't seem possible back then, but they were right.

Most of the time, I don't even feel the new hips. They do such an excellent job. It probably sounds weird, but I really appreciate being able to do all of my chores again. The simplest things, (like gardening and picking up the dog poop,) used to be a struggle. This morning I drove to the carwash, and sat and knit while waiting for my car. I chatted with a man there who was using a walker. He had taken a fall, and now he has a bar in his femur. It made me see how fortunate I am that what I had was treatable. My legs are exactly the same length, (thanks to my surgeon, and having them done together,) and my gait is now perfect. People tell me I look like a completely different person.

After tipping the man who polished my car, I stopped at Costco and picked up a few items. I filled my gas tank with gas, and then bought a couple of other things from the drug store. I remember how painful it used to be to sit in a car, whether I was a passenger or a driver. Now that aching is completely gone. Both of my grandmothers had their hips replaced, too. They didn't fare so well. I am very fortunate. My thanks go to Dr. Matta, who is a master surgeon. What an artist. I couldn't have imagined such an excellent  outcome. How are you doing today?     

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Simple Ribbed Scarf Pattern

Yesterday I completed the second knitted knocker. Today I will block them. I'm very pleased with the finished product. I think whoever receives these  will enjoy them. They're practical, soft, and the colors are pleasant. I love pastels. There is enough yarn leftover to make another pair. I watched the Knitted Knockers video on line, and the woman in charge said that they are distributing a thousand sets of these per month! It's nice to know that they are being used and appreciated. I think they make a really nice gift for the breast cancer patients, too. (Especially if they don't knit.) I remember how much I appreciated the cards and gifts I received after having my hips replaced. It feels like an excellent cause to me.

Today I started working on a ribbed scarf. It's a birthday present for a close friend of mine in New York. He picked out the yarn, which is very bright and colorful. I decided to include the pattern in today's blog post. It's simple, but beautiful. I like uncomplicated patterns on high end yarn. To stay in budget, I have to find the wool on clearance.

Simple Ribbed Scarf

2 to 3 100 gram skeins of worsted weight yarn (I'm using Wildwood Yarns Baby Alpaca Merino Bamboo)

1 pair of size 11 needles ( I use vintage straight needles. Circulars would also work. You would still knit flat.)

I didn't set a gauge, because this yarn is thick and thin. You can make the width to your taste. I used larger needles than the sleeve of the yarn suggested. This way the scarf will be looser, softer, and have bigger stitches.  It's a different look. I think it's kind of Vogue.

Cast on 44 stitches with a long tail cast on.  Knit two and purl two all the way down the row. Turn and continue to knit in pattern until the scarf reaches your desired length. Note: If you want a border, you can knit a few rows  in garter stitch. You would need to mirror that for two rows before  binding off. I like the look of just ribbing, and this scarf is for a man, so I left it plain.

Bind off in pattern. Weave in the ends. Block and enjoy!

 One thing I notice about non knitters is that they LOVE the look of ribbing! I get so many compliments from people on the hand knits that I wear that have a ribbed cuff. So often my friends will point to the stitch and tell me, "I like that one." I always take note of it, because it's so simple. It does have a distinct and beautiful look. People recognize it. They know if from their sweaters, socks, and gloves. I just love it. How about you?        

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hungarian Plum Cake

Hungarian Plum Cake

1/2 cup butter                                 1/2 tsp. grated lemon rind

1/2 cup sugar                                  10 to 12 fresh or frozen plum halves (or more)
2 eggs                                             1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour                                       1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Beat eggs in well. Mix in dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. (except last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.) Spread in greased 7" x 11" pan. Press the plum halves into the batter slightly, skin side down, leaving 1/4" or so between them. Mix last 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

This is a simple and delicious dessert. It's quick and easy to make.

It reminds me of Europe. When I lived in Berlin, Germany, we would always order plum "kuchen". It was our favorite treat to have with a cup of coffee, before the show. We ate it down in the canteen, with the other performers. 

I had forgotten how much I love baking until I made this at lunch today. The cottage smelled delicious, and it really felt like home. This simple dessert tastes heavenly. The color from the plums is exquisite! I hope that you try it and enjoy it. Please share the post with your friends  if you would like... 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Unclogging the Shower Head

Last night when I went to turn on the shower, the water pressure dribbled. I had been having trouble with it for the last few days. I sighed, and called a plumber. After making an appointment for this morning, (to avoid paying overtime for a late call yesterday,) I googled the problem. Thank God for Google! From what I read, it sounded like it could  be an easy fix. We live in an area with very hard water. The mineral deposits can cause problems with the plumbing, and also clog your shower head. It sounded like I could just clean it or replace it, and screw it back on to the pipe.

I removed it, filled a bowl with white vinegar, and let it sit there overnight. I had just come in from playing frisbee with the dogs in the backyard.  I was hot, tired, and sweaty,  and  had been looking forward to cleaning myself up and soaking in the tub. I decided to try just using the bare pipe like a tap; it worked. I was thrilled. It felt so good to take a relaxing bath,  especially after thinking that I wasn't going to have any water. It really made me appreciate it. I took a sewing needle and poked it into all of the holes in the shower head. Some of them were blocked with a white substance that looked like salt.

This morning was the moment of truth. I screwed the shower head back into place, turned on the water, and voila! It worked perfectly. I was thrilled. What a relief. A house call from the plumber is very expensive. I had asked the woman last night if I could call her back and cancel if cleaning the head worked. She was very understanding, and added that they could come by and tell me if I needed a new shower head in the morning, free of charge. I thought that was very nice. It turns out that I don't! I called her this morning and canceled the appointment. I was elated. What a great feeling. That money can stay in the emergency fund.

Later this morning I worked on my knitted knocker for the breast cancer charity. I had a terrible time with it, and got very frustrated, but I persevered. I was dropping stitches off of the double pointed needles. Because the last two were knit two togethers, it was throwing off my stitch count. I backtracked and fixed my mistakes. Bunching up the stitches in the center of the needles did the trick. After a couple of exasperating hours, I finally finished the first knocker. Now I'm ready to knit the second one, and donate them. Phew! I guess today's theme  was  perseverance. It's time to enjoy some beef stew and relax. I love having meals all prepared in advance. All I have to do is heat it up on the stove.  Later on I'm going to bake a Hungarian plum cake.  I'm so happy that the weather is changing and that I can cook and bake again. How is your day going?     

Monday, August 14, 2017

Combining Errands

This morning I met with a fellow knitter for breakfast. I wanted to learn a new knitting stitch for a baby blanket. I'm really enjoying the baby items that I've been  crocheting. She's a knitting teacher, so I paid her for a short private lesson. I admired this stitch on a sample blanket that she had made a couple of years ago. It turns out that it's really easy. It looks so delicate and sweet. I don't have time to make one right now,  first I need to finish the sweater that  I'm knitting. I will knit up the alpaca blanket for my Etsy customer and friend as soon as the yarn arrives. It should be here any day.

I spent most of the weekend gardening. That's becoming my weekly routine. The days are getting shorter, so the nights are cool and relaxing. The citrus fruits are all getting larger. Soon they will start to change color. It's the colder temperatures at night that cause them to shift from green to yellow or orange. A few of the pomegranates are starting to blush. Their skin will change from green, to yellow, and sometimes red. (as long as I don't have to strip the tree.) I decided to eat a few of the small ones that had split. Even thought the seeds are small, they are still rose colored and sweet. I gave most of them to neighbors who have chickens and birds. They love them.

After breakfast, I stopped at a couple of grocery stores, and bought some produce on sale. I watch the flyers, and just buy what is $1.00 a pound, or less. I also picked up a  package of grass fed beef stew meat. I have all of the other ingredients, and I love beef stew! I try to only buy chicken and meat when they are on sale, and then freeze the extra packages to use later in the month. I've also started eating more eggs. They are inexpensive, healthy, and my hair looks much better when I eat them.  I don't quite understand it, but it gives it a much softer texture. It makes it shinier, too. It's funny how our diet really does affect our skin and hair, especially as we age.

Last night, as the sun went down,  I raked up some leaves and spread them under my citrus trees. It really makes a difference in this heat. That way the soil isn't so bare and exposed. Where we live, the ground can become rock hard at this time of year. The leaves or straw provide a layer of protection, and they also hold in moisture. It seems like the trees are much healthier when I continue to replace the mulch. How are things going in your neck of the woods?