Friday, December 28, 2018

Afraid Of Food

Last week I listened to and watched  couple of different doctors on Youtube. One was a chiropractor, and the other was a medical doctor and chemist. I found what they were saying about diet to be very distressing. It seems like they believe that just about everything that we eat is causing cancer, arthritis, and other diseases. My impression was that they just want us eating vegetables, seeds, and nuts. It doesn't  make sense to me. 

I thought about how in my own life, the only time that I've had negative reactions to a balanced diet was when I had bone on bone osteoarthritis. It felt like an infection to me. I was shocked at how painful and debilitating it was. I dreaded going to bed, because my legs would start to shake. If I tried to move them the pain would cut through me like a knife. I had no idea what was wrong, and suffered with these symptoms for years. I thought it was caused by diet. I tried cutting out the foods that supposedly caused inflammation. I felt better, but eating that way really bored and depressed me. Life felt so flat and empty. 

Once I had the hip replacement surgery, I noticed that I could eat whatever I wanted again. I no longer experienced the flares of inflammation. I felt more like I did as a child. Growing up we enjoyed meat, potatoes, salads, casseroles, and desserts. I devoured fruit, and loved the different varieties and flavors that were available.

Some seniors that I talk to are afraid to eat fruit. They tell me that their doctors have told them they are pre- diabetic and can't have it. I have always eaten several pieces of fruit a day, and find it very energizing and satisfying. Others have stopped eating gluten, because they feel it is causing their painful arthritis.  It puzzles me that so many women I know can't eat much of anything after age fifty without having a severe reaction. I found my answers last night. They are in an incredible book called Medical Medium, by Anthony William.  I can so relate to him! As a yoga teacher, I was constantly diagnosing my students without realizing it. I would just repeat what my intuition told me. They often seemed so shocked. "I went to the doctor, and he told me the exact same thing you did," they would say. "Maybe I should have been a doctor," I would think to myself. "I would have made a lot more money."   It was always just a natural ability that I had. I read countless books on energy healing, emotions, chakras, and yoga. It fascinated me then, and it still does.

My personal feeling is that our body chemistry is key. If we are in an abusive situation, the body is flooded with cortisol. I was in some dead end jobs and relationships, and I could feel how toxic  it felt in my bloodstream. Many of us stay in horrible situations because we need the money, or are afraid to make a change. It isn't worth it. The body knows when it feels safe and secure, and it knows when we are in danger. If my body hurts, I know that I'm on the wrong track. Sometimes just getting away from someone can make all of the symptoms disappear.

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Have A Holly Jolly Christmas...

Here's wishing all of you wonderful readers and bloggers a  delightful Christmas. I find that it can be a sad holiday, but  looking at old photographs from childhood helps. I found these shots from our younger days. This is my cousin from my mom's side of the family, Lindsey. What a sweetie. She looks like a little doll. I think I was about twenty years old  in this photograph.

My brothers and I on the night before Christmas. It looks like we all got new pajamas, (and me a nightgown,) for Christmas. My mom used to let us open one gift on Christmas Eve. I still love Lanz flannel nightgowns. My brothers look so cute.  We were all excited for Santa to come down our chimney...

I just got home from visiting my dad. He snapped a photo of me in my Carbeth sweater for you. You can see it much better than in the selfie that I posted. I wore it constantly! It was cold, and we had some lovely rain.  My youngest brother sent me a gift certificate for Webs, so I plan to make another one. I just love the comfort and simple lines of  Kate Davies' design.  Mine is not as cropped as the original version.  I wanted an over fifty, comfortable sweater. I'm wearing some new Boom make-up for older women by Cindy Joseph, and I really like it.  It's simple and natural. I find that if we aren't careful with make-up as seniors, we can look like clowns. (but I do like a little color.)

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Cabled Llama Socks

Knitting in the sunshine, out on the porch, with a cup of Christmas coffee

Today I started working on a pair of green cabled socks. I'm using some Llama Una yarn that I had in my stash. I purchased it last Christmas with a gift card from my brother. I had never knit socks out of worsted weight yarn until today. I absolutely love it!

I love my new cable needles and case

I received this sweet gift from a lady in my knitting group. It's a crocheted towel holder for dish towels, but I am using it to hold my curved cable needles. I needed a case for them, and am just wild about these colors. They speak to me.

Here come the cables! It's fun to watch them unfold.  My mother gave me those fairies.

The cable pattern on these is very simple. I love the effect. So often in art, less is more. You can find the  pattern here.  It's called Caron Cozy Knit Cabin Socks. Aren't the tweed ones  pretty?  There is also a video tutorial on the site that is very helpful. They come in all sorts of sizes, for children through adults. Who wants to make them with me?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Carbeth Completed

The stitches look so much smoother and more uniform after blocking

On Tuesday I finished my  Carbeth sweater. I wore it yesterday morning to Sprouts and Valley Produce. The two women behind the counter at Sprouts complimented me on it. When I thanked them and told them that I had made it, they went nuts. It was really sweet. They were so enthusiastic and impressed. It made my day.  This younger generation seems so passionate about fiber arts and the old fashioned ways.  It warms my heart.

The cashier asked me if I sell them. I do sell  sweaters and hand knits on Etsy. It takes a significant amount of time, energy, and yarn to make one, so they are expensive. The price for a raglan sweater like this one would be very high because the yarn is doubled. Sometimes you can find yarn on sale, though. It could also be knit in a single strand of a chunky yarn. I was so fortunate to be given such a large amount of this grey yarn; the hanks were huge!

Final fitting before blocking

After soaking the turtleneck in water for about an hour, I spun it dry in my Nina Spin Dryer. I then carefully laid it out on my Meyer Lemon Tree, avoiding the thorns.  I was amazed at how quickly it dried. It only took a few hours, out in the fresh air.  I was able to wear it to my knitting group that afternoon. I think this is my new favorite sweater. I've been living in it.  How are you? Is it cold where you live?  I hope you are staying warm and comfortable.

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the comments here, please share them.    

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Almost Finished With My Carbeth Sweater

I am nearly finished knitting Carbeth. It's such a soft and plush sweater. I love the way the shaping looks under the bust. I've been working on the rolled neck. I started off  using a circular needle, but just switched to dpn's. Mine are a bit short to hold nineteen stitches a piece, but if I'm careful, it works. I much prefer the feeling of straight needles to circulars, always have. There is something about the feeling of the wood in my hands that grounds me.

I can't wait to try it on and to see the turtleneck. I only have five more rows to go. I may do extra rows, depending on the fit. I have a long neck.  The designer is petite, and much shorter than I am. I am so glad that I still made a size small. I added more more inches to the body, rather than keeping it cropped at the waist.  I am long waisted. I also made the arms much longer. It's easy to adjust the fit so that it matches your shape perfectly.

Last night I stayed up until 11:00 p.m. I normally go to bed at 9:00 p.m.  I was so excited to keep knitting and reading about the other Carbeths that people have made. It's the kind of sweater that really comes to life once it's on your body.  The simple construction is very flattering and it has lovely diagonal lines. I have a feeling that I will be making another one of these, maybe in red.  How is your knitting going?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Finished The Christmas Socks!

Yesterday I finished the Christmas socks; I'm really pleased with the fit.  The ribbing makes them feel nice and spongy. I am getting more used to doing this style of heel and gusset now. I stuck to a short row heel for many years. I like both of them. The more you practice a technique, the easier and more natural it becomes.  The sock yarn is Austermann. It's hand dyed. I absolutely love it.

I spent quite a while this afternoon untangling my poor, neglected Carbeth sweater. It had slid off of the circular needles while sitting in my bag for the past month. It took me a couple of hours to backtrack, put all of the stitches back on the needles, and to find the join. I had actually been knitting in the wrong direction for a while. Unbelievable. Because there are two balls of yarn, it was more complicated to organize.

I was feeling very reluctant to continue with this project. I toyed with the idea of ripping it all out and starting over from the top. (Well from the bottom, since it's a bottom up pattern.)  I realized that doing so would have been crazy. I am so closed to being finished. I figured out why I was having trouble. I had used the safety pin style markers, instead of the small circles. I didn't do the decreases on each side of the sleeve, because I didn't see the markers right in front of me on the needles. I also misinterpreted the pattern.  I was distracted and yakking at one of my knitting groups.

I said a prayer for some help, and things went along swimmingly. The yarn feels incredibly luscious. It is so soft and warm. I think it must be hand spun.  (There is no label.)  It is going to be the most divine sweater. It should be finished with it in the next few days. It is cold, (well, cold for California,) and I can't wait to wear it! I will post photos.   

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

A Vintage Love Seat From The Salvation Army

On Saturday I felt like my deceased mother was whispering in my ear, urging me to go to the Salvation Army. It happened a few times, so I decided to just get in the car and go. It's located only a mile from my home. My mom was quite an enthusiastic  shopper and talented home decorator, so whenever I sense that she is on hand to help me, I listen closely and take her advice.

I walked in and didn't see much that appealed to me. You have to really look to find the quality items at our Sally Army, but sometimes they are there. I have snatched up some gorgeous antique lamps and pieces of vintage furniture in the past. You have to act quickly. Sometimes they transport items up from their store in Pasadena.  That's where the antiques are, and some of them are really spectacular.

I spotted this love seat and gasped. It didn't look like much among what they had in the store, but when I got it home, it brought my whole cottage to life. Antiques and vintage items do that in an older home. They go so well together. It was on sale at 50% off; so I got it for $45.00. There was a man there with a truck who agreed to move it here for me and to take my old one back for $20.00. I bought my last couch there, as well.  The upholstery on this one looks brand new. I could tell that whoever had donated it took the time to polish the wood carefully. It has really good energy;  I am thrilled. I have been looking for period couch for twenty years. It totally is my mom's taste.  

I was checking my bank balances this morning and saw a charge from The Wall Street Journal for $38.99. I had taken advantage of their "free trial" in September, and then did not cancel it in time. I was four days late. I spoke with a supervisor, but could not get a refund. I am just sick. I hate to waste money. Unfortunately, I agreed to their terms and conditions. It was an expensive lesson to make. What really bothers me is that I didn't even read any of the articles. I couldn't remember my password, and I got busy with my Etsy shop, Christmas preparations, and housework. I will not make this mistake again. Time seems to fly by so much more quickly as I get older.  It turns out I did write my password in my little notebook, but I didn't take the time to look it up and use the free trial. Lesson learned.     

Friday, December 7, 2018

Cracked Pepper Cheese Bread Recipe

2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive oil or cooking oil
1 cup shredded provolone or mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 tablespoon water

1. In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 cup of the flour, the yeast, pepper, and salt. Add warm water and olive oil. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.

2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total).   Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface of the dough. Cover; let rise in a warm place will nearly double in size (1 to 1 1/4 hours)

3. Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a large baking sheet.

4. Roll the dough into a 12x10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle provolone or mozzarella and Parmesan or Romano cheese on top of the dough. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Pinch ends and pull slightly to taper. Place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl combine egg white and water. Brush some of the egg white mixture over the top of the loaf. Cover loaf and let rise in a warm place will nearly double in size (about 45 minutes).

5. Using a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of the loaf. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Brush again with some of the egg white mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or till bread sounds hollow when you tap the top with your fingers. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf (16 servings). 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

How Long Does My Soap Need To Cure?

hot processed olive oil soap

I have received some questions about cure time in soapmaking, so I decided to write a post on it today. When making cold processed soap, we normally wait four to six weeks to use the soap. It's raw, and the lye will damage your skin. Soap needs that time to mellow and age. If you have ever used a soap that gives  you a stinging, prickly sensation that is from the soapmaker using too short of a cure time. You can't rush the process. It takes patience. The longer the soap cures, the milder it becomes. Three months or longer is ideal. 

When making soap, we  wear shoes, gloves, goggles, and long pants,  and long sleeves so that the lye water does not splatter on  our skin. You don't want to risk a chemical burn from the lye water mixture spilling accidentally. I mix mine in the kitchen sink, with the windows and front door open, and have the ceiling fans running.

With hot processed soap, the batter is safe to handle once it has gone completely through all of the stages. You can see it turning from a creamy mixture like cold processed soap to something completely different. Here are some photos to show you the transformation.

early stages 

 At this point, I had added half of the six ounces of coconut milk that I was using to make the batter more fluid. You can see how the oil is separating from the rest of the ingredients. It needs more cooking and stirring.

vaseline stage

 Now it's starting to shift.  At this point, I added 1 T sugar dissolved in 1 T hot water. It's important to have your measuring cups and ingredients warm, not cold. Temperature is critical in soapmaking.

applesauce stage
 Things move very quickly once the soap starts to thicken and come together. This is how it looks at applesauce stage. You are cooking off the lye. It's important not to breathe in the toxic fumes and to keep the room well ventilated.

Just before mashed potatoes stage
 Once the soap finishes cooking, it starts to stick together and pull off the sides of the crockpot. At this point you can turn the machine off, and add your extra ingredients. If you are scenting your soap and coloring it, now is the time. You want to heat the water and cup that you are using for your clay. I used 3 T yogurt at room temperature, and the second half of my warm coconut milk. I also added 1 T of fine seal salt dissolved in 1 T of hot water.

Using all of these additives felt counter-intuitive to me the first time. It seemed like so much extra liquid to add, as I am used to making cold processed soap. I was afraid that it would throw off the thickness and ruin the batch. Fluid hot processed is an entirely different technique. It's very effective, though. It helps to watch Youtube videos and to study the method. You can also make it without the additives, but it will be thick and gloppy.  You will have to plop it into the mold, and work very quickly. It hardens like candle wax when it hits the cold air.

You can sample a bar of this soap right away because it is no longer caustic. That is one of the reasons hot processed  appeals to so many soap makers. I let my hot processed bars cure for a couple of weeks, four weeks if I am going to sell them. It's fun to try out your latest soap immediately, and to enjoy the scent and the rich, creamy, bubbly lather. The fragrances don't fade and the bars really feel different, because they are cooked. I also enjoy the clean up, because you just have the crockpot, and you are not worried about touching raw soap with lye. For me, it makes me feel more relaxed. I still clean all of my utensils with boiling water. That's what they do in the labs. It's also a good idea to towel off your faucet handles and clean your counters with vinegar water.

When making cold processed milk soaps, (like goat's milk,) the bars need to cure for eight weeks. They require more time than a non milk soap. You can also make hot processed goat's milk soap, and it is safe to use right away. It's a bit trickier, though, because it separates during the cook time.   I hope that this answers some of your questions. Let me know if you try it. It's fabulous soap!  It is a lot of work, though. 

Thank you for your comments. They add so much energy and talent to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Rebatched Soap In The Crockpot

Last night I decided to make a batch of hot processed soap. It had been quite a while since I had made soap this way. I lost my confidence after having a loaf go crumbly the last time I tried it. The sea salt and sugar that I added didn't dissolve. It was a 100% coconut oil soap recipe. I think that may have been part of the problem, too high a percentage of hard oils.  I decided to use a recipe using olive oil, so I did a simple one with coconut oil, olive oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, and cranberry fragrance oil.

Things started out pretty well. I had purchased a used crockpot at The Church of Hope Thrift Shop down the street. It was marked at $5.00, and I got it at 50% off. This was my first time trying hot processed soap in a crockpot. I plan to use it  for  soapmaking only.

I watched the soap batter transform through the clear lid. It went through the different stages: bubbling up, looking like vaseline,  and moving into the applesauce stage. I tried working at a higher temperature this time. I melted the oils in the crockpot, and added the lye water right away, rather than letting it cool. I mixed in a tsp. of sugar that I had combined with a T of distilled water. It caused some clumps in the lye water, which made me nervous. I strained the lye water as I poured it into the crockpot.

After about 45 minutes, I added cranberry chutney fragrance oil and a tsp. of red Brazilian clay mixed into a T of distilled water. I heated the water before combining them. To my dismay, the soap started to separate. When I put it in the mold, the loaf looked like it was sitting in oil. I got a familiar feeling of dread and failure.

I placed it in the freezer, and took a hot bath. I removed it afterward, sliced  the oily soaps and cut them up into quarters. I put them back into the crockpot, and did a rebatch. The soap started to come together, and it looked much better. I mixed it together and pressed it into my silicone loaf mold.

This morning I removed it and sliced it into pieces. They smell divine, and I really am happy with the peachy shade of pink from the natural clay. I used a bar this morning in the shower, and fell in love. I had forgotten that rebatched soap is my absolute favorite to use. It's so mild. The lather is wonderful and bubbly. I have been finding several reasons to happily wash my hands.

These will make really nice Christmas gifts for  my friends, knitting ladies, and neighbors.  They are more simple and country looking than the molded cold processed soaps that I usually make. I like how old fashioned they seem and  feel.  They remind me of farmhouse soaps that women my grandmother's age made in  the fifties.  

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.        

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Sending Out Soaps For Christmas

Yesterday I received an order in my Etsy shop. It was from a dancer  friend who now lives in Pennsylvania. She wanted ten soaps; she plans to give them as Christmas gifts. This morning I wrapped each of them  in bubble wrap. taped it carefully, and then stuffed them inside small muslin drawstring bags. I wrote out the vintage Santa labels by hand , and wrapped and secured them around the soaps. After that, I printed out the packing slip and shipping label. I really enjoy getting holiday packages ready to ship.

Knowing which size to use for sending boxes can be tricky. In this case, the medium size flat rate box was the best deal. Sometimes I also use the Regional Box A size.  Small business owners in America can order special Priority Mail boxes in different sizes online through the US Postal Service. They are free of charge, and can be delivered to your business or home. I keep a stash with my packing supplies. I also recycle bubble wrap, newspaper, and popcorn, as long as it's clean.

After sending off that order, I had another waiting for me when I got home. This one is for six bars of soap. The customer is  a lady who plays bridge with my father. She gives them as gifts to her friends at the bridge club.  She's a very kind and friendly person. It's fun to connect with people annually and be part of their traditions. Each December, I always wish that I had made more soap. I plan to whip up a few batches this week to store for the future.

At this time of year, the hard work that I've done over the summer starts to pay off handsomely. There are oranges to pick, pumpkins and squash to harvest, and soaps to mail to customers, family,  and friends. It inspires me to continue to sow seeds for the future.  Do you plan to mail many packages this year?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.  

Monday, November 26, 2018

Knitting Teeny Tiny Socks From Winwick Mum

I have always wanted to knit these adorable miniature socks. They look difficult, so I was a bit intimidated. I decided to try Winwick Mum's pattern. It's listed under her patterns and printables.  She has fabulous tutorials, and explains everything so clearly.

I was pleased to discover that they are a quick and fairly easy knit! I was thrilled with how my leftover sock yarn turned out with this pattern. The little stripes are just adorable. They work perfectly for the size. I bought this yarn years ago and made a pair of alpaca gloves with it. I also knit a pair of small socks for one of my adult ballet students. She used to take care of my chicken for me, when I was out of town.

I'm also working on another pair of adult size socks. This is Winwick Mum's pattern for Easy Lace Socks.  The cable cast on give it a nice, stretchy edge.  I had the yarn in my stash. It was part of a grab bag of unknown colors by Austermann that I bought several years ago, online. I love it! I should be finishing up my sweater, but  have been distracted by socks. They are so addictive. It's fun to make the Christmas items now, too. It's really gotten me in the mood.

How is your knitting or crocheting going? Are you making any gifts this year? 

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them. 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Pink Cottage Is Decorated For Christmas!

Today I decided to do some Christmas decorating. I had planned to do it in stages, so that I wouldn't get too overwhelmed. I started with the indoor decorations. I hung up a beautiful garland that a friend in Europe made for me. It's so sweet. It has little hand stitched felt ornaments, and they smell like cloves.  It gives such a homespun European feel to my home. I love it.

I put out my favorite Christmas card from my friend Mark, in New York. It looks like a vintage stove, and has a tiny gingerbread man baking in the oven. I treasure it. It's so sweet and cozy looking.

I decided to hand the icicle lights around my porch. They were all still working, and it was quick and easy to do. I figured that I would finish doing the Christmas tree lights tomorrow. That involves using four strands of colored LED's, and climbing up on a ladder.

Surprise! I was on a roll. I went ahead and finished with all of the outdoor lights. I brought out the ladder and carefully hung two strands on each tree. I connected them to their extension cords, and the house is now fully decorated! It's so exciting. Have you started your decorating?  It's time to sing along with Christmas carols and eat some peppermint bark. (my favorite holiday treat.)  What's yours?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

delicate feverfew flowers in bloom right now

I hope that you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I stuffed a chicken with Mrs. Cubbinson's stuffing, just like my mom and I used to do. It was delicious. I prepared a simple version of the traditional meal: chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and orange cranberry sauce. It was delicious.  The homemade apple cranberry cobbler made a delightful dessert. I baked it a few days in advance. I roasted the stuffed chicken last night. I find it easier to do everything in stages. That way there is not an overwhelming amount of work to do on the big day.  The leftovers are divine!  I gave Lula the liver, onions, and neck meat from the giblets. That was her doggie treat for Thanksgiving.

today's freshly harvested zucchini and a pumpkin on the vine

I used fresh oranges in the cranberry sauce  from the Navel Orange tree in my backyard. We finally had some rain last night. It was such a relief. The garden looks so green and healthy today. I picked a couple of zucchinis this morning, and noted the progress of my pumpkins. They are small, but are steadily growing. Their color is still yellow. I hope that they make it to orange. They grow a lot faster when planted during the hot weather. They don't need as much water this time of year, though. It's been an interesting experiment. It's so exciting to grow vegetables from seed. Their transformation is like magic!

my Carbeth sweater

Yesterday I went to our  knitting group and worked on my sweater. I thought that I was almost finished, but then  realized that I had made another mistake. I should have done decreases before and after each sleeve. So, now I have to rip it back to the underarm join again. (sigh) Oh well. "Win a few, lose a few," as my Aunt Mary  used to say. It's going to be a fabulous sweater, though. I tried it on to check the fit.  It will be better once it has twice as many decreases, like it's supposed to have.  I am eager to get it done. How was your Thanksgiving?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.   

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kate Vanderliet's Obituary

Kate Vanderliet performing at The Lido in Paris

Here is the link to Kate Vanderliet's obituary in Dance Magazine. My editor said that the photos that I included were too small to use, unfortunately. I have posted them here. She was magnificent.

After she retired from The Lido, Kate taught Pilates. Many of her students remember how funny and outgoing she was. She gave so much of herself to others.

Kate had a smile that would light up a room. Her many friends all appreciated what a great listener she was.  She really made you feel important and understood. Au revoir Kate. Till we meet again...

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Christmas Crafts

I finished a couple sets of the Christmas pot holders. They still need to be blocked and listed on Etsy. They are so easy to crochet. I plan to use the leftover yarn to make a few simple drawstring soap bags that double as washcloths. I like having something easy to work on when I'm in a group.  The bag below is a yarn holder for a center pull ball of yarn. The pattern is called Handy Dandy Sock Yarn Bags. It's listed under with her free patterns, under Crochet. 

I have been busy filling Etsy orders. I need to print up some more Christmas labels for my soaps.

The mauve lace curtains arrived! I am very pleased with them. They look so old fashioned, and fit in beautifully with the vintage furniture and antiques. My mom would approve. They let the sunlight stream in, yet provide privacy during the day.  I will need to find something to put over them in the evenings. For now, I'm using the old balloon shades. They are a bit tattered, but I mended them. My German Shepherd, Carlie, had ripped through them during an anxiety attack. She used to be so frightened of storms. She would literally climb the walls. (and try to jump out of windows.) She finally settled on crouching in the bathtub. I miss her.

After hearing the news of my friend Kate's death, I felt like I was moving through mud.  I've been making an effort to cook quick, healthy meals. Last night that was pan fried filet mignon, (bought on sale,) brussells sprouts, and baked potatoes. Because of the grief,  the smallest tasks seemed to take so much effort. Today is much easier.  I have been writing about her, and that is helping. I even sat and watched a few psychic and medium shows on Youtube. It sounds funny, but it was comforting. I hope you are doing well. 

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I Lost A Dear Friend Last Night

I found out today that my sweet friend Kate Vanderliet passed away last night. She had ovarian cancer. She was so young...still in her fifties, I believe. We met in the show Hello Hollywood, Hello! starring Carol Channing. Kate was a principal dancer at MGM, and she especially shined in the number Top Hat.

We were roommates after we both returned to Reno for a second stint,  and also performed there in the show A Chorus Line together. She was a fantastic Val, belting out her song with confidence and gusto.  She loved to ski, and would often get up early and drive up to Lake Tahoe with our friend John Paul Reeves to spend the day skiing. They would make the two and a half hour trek back to Reno, and then perform two shows that night. She seemed to have unlimited energy and enthusiasm.

I am working on an obituary on her for Dance Magazine. This is the hardest one I have ever done, because  she was such a close friend.  I think the more we love a person, the deeper the grief cuts into our heart.

When I got the news I thought, "First the fires, and now Kate." Both were such a shock. She had mentioned to me in a message that she was dealing with a health issue, but didn't elaborate. When I answered back and asked her about it, she didn't answer. In show business, admitting to something like cancer usually means you will never work again. I still wish I had known, and could have done something. I am relieved that she is no longer suffering.

We both grew up in Northern California. She elected to stay in Paris until the end. She had become a big star at The Lido, and she had full medical coverage there. We are all grieving her loss.    

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

California Wildfires

vegetables and barley cooked in beef bone broth

As many of you know, California is experiencing some horrific wildfires. It's very sad to see the devastation that they have done, and to hear the personal stories of  loss and heartbreak.  I think what makes it really frightening is the gridlock. To know that if there is a fire in your area  that you can't get out quickly and  safely is terrifying. The thought of being in bumper to bumper traffic in that situation makes my heart drop.  You feel trapped.

Fifteen years ago we had a huge fire in this area.  What I did was to flee in five minutes. My intuition told me not to wait. I grabbed my dogs, important papers, a backpack with  a few clothing changes, and drove six hours to my parents' house.

I remember seeing the crawling traffic headed south on Interstate 5. I was headed north, and it was fine. Even back then, I realized that the people who were waiting to be evacuated would be in the greatest danger, because of all the cars.  I thought about how congested the freeways here become. I couldn't imagine jumping out of the car and running to escape the flames. They were moving so fast. We have twice as many people as we used to in LA.   You really need to plan where and when you drive.

Another thing that has made the fires worse is how dry and parched the land has become.  Because of the drought,  many people stopped watering their yards completely. I don't grow as much as I used to, but I keep everything around my house green. We are allowed to water fruits and vegetables, so that's what I have.  I mulch heavily, and the soil is healthy. If I didn't, it would be like a desert.  We get very intense Santa Ana winds and they just suck the moisture out  from the earth and soil. Your face feels parched this time of year.

I feel deeply for the people who have lost their homes, their lives,  and their  loved ones. I have been staying snug in my cottage  most of the time, just in case. I want to keep an eye on things, and be aware of what is happening. I'm glad that I bought an overabundance of groceries last week. My intuition was nudging me to buy extra produce and staples on sale,  so I did. Now I don't need to shop, and  don't really feel like it. I forgot to do my laundry today. Monday is washing day. I was kind of numbed by the news of how many had died in their automobiles, trying to escape to a safe place. Those images of the burned out cars and houses  really hits you. Then again, the beauty of the fire and sky is also compelling. It reminded me of the television footage of the fires in San Francisco, after the big earthquake. The whole city was lit up with flames.    

On a practical note, it's important to keep the gas tank filled, and to have plenty of cash on hand. I cooked some fresh zucchini from the garden, made a salad with greens from the lettuce patch, and worked on finishing my shawl. I took Lula for a walk, and brushed  out her glorious coat. I feel very thankful for the little things today. It could have been any of us here that had our homes burn to the ground. Unfortunately, that is one of the dangers of living in this area.     

Friday, November 9, 2018

Mending the Curtains Until the New Ones Arrive

I am spending all day today mending my living room  balloon curtains. I bought them at Target twenty years ago. They are starting to shred. They have been really wonderful, though. I wish I could find the same ones, but I don't see much in our local Target's  Shabby Chic line anymore. Instead, I ordered a hand made balloon shade from a seller on Etsy. Unfortunately, it didn't work out for me. I had trouble lifting it with the cords. The fabric was very heavy, and it was lined. When I put it up, it made my living room very dark. Mail order can be tricky.  It is beautifully made, though, and the seller was very kind and talented.  I will find a use for it. I love toile.

I searched online for lightweight curtains and exactly what I wanted at JC Penny. I was eligible for free shipping, and they were 50% off! I snatched up seven of them in pink right away. They are the balloon style that I love, and look sheer and breezy. I will save the fancy shade to use in my bedroom if I ever want to block out the light from the street lamp. I really like having the sunlight streaming in through the windows. We get sunshine year round here in California, and I enjoy the view from my windows of the garden, the alpacas, and the  towering pine trees. Bringing the outdoors in makes me feel happy. (especially in such a small cottage.)

In the meantime, I have been sewing up all of holes and rips in my curtains. I found a couple of vintage print pieces of fabric to hang in the bathroom and kitchen for now. They are simple, but they work. At least it gives me some privacy. I may sew these into simple shades and leave them.  I love the delicate prints on the fabric. I found them at a thrift shop, twenty years ago. The tiny flowers are so sweet. The vintage details really make a difference in an older home.  What do you have on your windows?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.       

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Importance of Preparing for Retiremement

The La La Simple Shawl in rose is almost finished
I have been hearing recently from dancer friends who are in dire straights in their old age. It is sad and unfortunate. The older we get, the faster time passes. It's so important that we plan for our "golden years" and have our ducks in a row. Professional dancers are particularly vulnerable in retirement if they don't have adequate income, savings, investments, and real estate. Many don't realize that our joints give out after a certain amount of time. Surgery and medical bills can send people into a financial tailspin. Living in an expensive city can also cause stress and worry.

Where you live has a huge effect on how much money you are able to save. I bought the smallest house on my California street, in a working class neighborhood. I canvassed the immediate area, keeping a log of the asking prices of homes,  what they sold for, and how long they were on the market.  When I found mine, I had a good idea what it should cost. I bought it in 1998 for $89.500, without an agent.  That  was one of the best financial decisions that I have ever made. My neighbor just sold her little house for $400,000. It's a two bedroom, but mine has more land. She waited a year for the right buyer to meet her asking price. I plan to stay in mine, because I feel it is the perfect retirement home. It's small, comfortable, one story, and close to public transportation.

I started "practicing for retirement" a few years ago. I stick to a budget for the year.  I save the flyers and buy the groceries that are on sale. This week that will be pineapples for $2.00, 10 lbs. of potatoes for $1.78, turkey for .35 a lb, navel oranges for .50 a lb, and gelato that is buy one, get one free. Sugar is also on sale very cheaply at our local Mexican market. I make my coffee and tea and home, and I don't eat out at restaurants. I save that money for travel. I also don't have t.v. I use a Jitterbug flip phone. It's $35.00 a month.

Taking the bus and riding my bicycle has helped me to reduce wear and tear on my car, lower my car insurance premiums, and to save money on gasoline. I also combine errands when I drive my car across town once a week. I like to use the car for scenic day trips and to visit my dad. By limiting how often I drive to the grocery store, for errands, etc. I have the miles I need budgeted for my trips. I used to cruise around LA kind of mindlessly when I was young, needing to refill my gas tank twice a week. Now I fill it up once a month. That ten gallons has to last me. Working from home really helps. Are you ready for retirement? How are you preparing?        

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Still Harvesting Zucchini

zucchini in November

This afternoon I found a large, green zucchini that I had missed. It's very satisfying to still be harvesting squash in November. I cooked it up with some cube steak for lunch. For dinner I had a large salad. The lettuce patch is producing really well. I'm thrilled. The chickens are enjoying it, too. It is a wonderful feeling to grow some of your own food, organically. The temperatures are perfect for gardening right now.

I read a frightening article today about a man in Australia who ate a slug on a dare, and then died. He was paralyzed for eight years. I found my first slug ever on the lettuce that I picked for my salad this evening. It was an eerie coincidence. I carefully removed it and threw it in the green waste bin, and then washed my hands. I'll never look at a slug the same way again. 

painted sky last night

I spent a few hours this afternoon trying to unravel some knots in the yarn that I'm using for my shawl. It was frustrating not to get any knitting done.  I am almost through all of the knots, though, This was a center pull ball of yarn. When will I learn that I should just work from the outside of the ball? I always have this problem when I work from the inside and the yarn starts to collapse. Invariably, I run into a huge mass of knots and tangles. It makes me so frustrated and depressed.  I shouldn't get that way, but struggling with  problems with  knitting can make you feel very negative, emotionally.  I think that's why I hated sewing as a teenager. I didn't have the patience or technique. Oh, well, I almost have the problem section all unraveled, and I didn't have to cut the yarn, thank goodness!  Hopefully I will be able to move forward with it tomorrow.

headed home on our walk

Last night after walking Lula, I did Pilates, the physical therapy hip exercises, and a short set of Kundalini Yoga. I really want to continue to stay in shape as I age. My body feels so much different now, since I'm not dancing professionally. I miss being in tip top condition. I feel very fortunate to be healthy and pain free, though. I am so thankful that I had that hip replacement surgery.  How are you doing?

Thank you for your comments. They add so much talent and energy to the blog. Please comment in English. I'm sorry, but comments with links will not be published. If you enjoy the posts here, please share them.