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.

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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.)

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.   

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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. 

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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.  

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