Friday, January 9, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask

I just had my watch battery replaced - for the fourth time this year. This time I actually took it to a jeweler, but he couldn't find anything wrong with it, so the battery is replaced and working for now. I have heard before that some people can't wear watches because the electricity in their body is off and causes them to run down (I heard this from the watch-battery-replacer at Wal-Mart, and I am pretty sure that I had also heard it in a family-sitting-around-telling-weird-phenomena-stories context).

Anyway, so I am also currently reading a book about migraines, and it mentioned briefly that
migraineurs experience "abnormal electrical activity" in the brain. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure that my batteries started dieing a few months after I started getting headaches.

So I do some Google searches for "migraine and dead watch battery." I find one website written by a 16 yo girl who thinks she is psychic because of her migraines and electrical phenomena. Then, I find a Yahoo answers forum. The asker wants to know what's up with her friend whose watch batteries die and blows out light bulbs (I've blown out the bulb in the lamp in my office twice this semester, but I think its probably just a short). Anyway, the answers she got ranged from crazy to psycho. I don't know how to read these. Are people serious? Are they being sarcastic?

Here's one: "Your friends electro-magnetic fields are out of whack. What you need to do is on a daily basis pray for her, with her. Lay a hand on her shoulder or wrist and command her electromagnetic fields to line up and become normal in the name of Jesus. This may need to be done on a daily basis until she sees results and asks Jesus to come into her life."

Faith healing over dead watch batteries?! This can't be serious - "become normal in the name of Jesus"!

Then, there was this one: "I can't go into the specific reasons why, but for the safety of you and your friend it may not be wise to talk about this online. If the govermental agencies that are responsible for your friend's "abilities" aren't already monitoring her, they probably are now. Be safe, be discreet and remember: Tinfoil helps...a lot."

That's a joke...right?

Anyway, just a bit a fun...or maybe I am psychic and being monitored by the government.

Knitting Bits

I finished the first little bird bag – I think I’m going to add an outline of embroidery in white – the blue doesn’t show up as well as I would like – and I’ve started another using the same pattern. This time I’m using an ella rae yarn (100% wool) and it’s in a muted teal color that sometimes looks more gray. I love it. I’m not sure I’m a fan of the mohair. The last bag came out rather fuzzy, but still a success. I messed up the gusset, and the bottom is out of line with the top, but it still works, and is still giftable I think.

The next project will be a tote bag in Shetland lace (Brighton patter on It is knit in the round, something I haven’t mastered yet, and calls for linen yarn. I’m using elsebeth lavold in hempathy, a blend of hemp, cotton, and modal (what is modal? These textiles are tripping me up). The color is not exciting – a plain beige – but the pattern should be the real attraction. I’m sure the lady at the yarn shop was crazy because I would pick up one color and carry it around, and then switch it out for another. I hope I got enough, because I plan to make it a bit smaller than the pattern (which is very long and would come below my knees when I carried it).

The Meal Deal

Planning the meals for the week always takes me an inordinate amount of time – we’re talking hours. So in an effort to simplify things, I have assigned each night of the week and different type of dish – Sunday is slow cooker night (necessary because we come in from church starving and it is nice to have something already ready), Monday is new dish night, Tuesday is Mexican, Wednesday is Italian/Mediterranean, Thursday is Asian, Friday is fish, and Saturday is pizza. This is much simpler because I have several recipes for each category, and this way I can be sure not to fix the same thing every night of the week, or spend too much time racking my brain.

Last night was, of course, Asian, so I fixed stir-fry. Lately everything I fix has started with sautéed onions and garlic in olive oil. I added this to the stir fry, along with diced chicken, mushrooms, fresh minced ginger, a frozen vegetable mix that included edamame (sp?), the noodles, red pepper flakes, and an Asian Sesame dressing. Pretty good, and pretty easy.

I also got a new pan – the lovely red number in the picture. I need a bigger pan to do stir-frys and such so that everything can fit in it. The one I had before was a Teflon deal that got scratched, and since I am doing everything I can not to get cancer or send my kidneys into shut-down mode, out it went. This new one is great, because it has enough volume upwards, but the base is not so big that it is hanging out over the burner. Best of all, it’s a quality pan made with green materials, that only cost $13 at T.J. Maxx. Love that store. So any tips on how you simplify meal-planning? Anyone else have Asian Thursdays, or other standardized plans?

Home Made Bread

In stark contrast to my recent experience in gluten-free eating, I am now the proud owner of a bread machine. The new toy I got for Christmas is fun and easy. I made bread the old-fashioned way, and let me tell you, it is tough. Ingredients have to be the right temperature and mixed in certain orders and for long periods of time. Making one loaf of bread literally took all day, what with kneading and rising, and punching down and rising again, and then finally baking. The bread machine pretty much does all the work. You put the ingredients in (in the right order) turn it on, set it, and it churns away for a few hours and you come out with a loaf of bread. Take that Sara Lee. The whole wheat bread recipe that came with the machine turned out a little bland, but I think the next round will be better. The texture is great though, soft with a chewy crust. Although I think hand-made is still the ultimate in bread, the bread machine is a close second, and a whole lot more likely to happen.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year

I am one of those people who love New Years. I love new beginnings: a new month, a new school year, even a new week. I love that things are always fresh and unspoiled, but also that time passes in a spiral, we are always coming back to moments and traditions we have encountered before. I love the sense of everyone resolving to change, to improve, to get organized and do better, to be healthier or smarter or kinder. (I think this is related to my love of training montages in movies – upbeat music, cut scenes of the character working hard and getting their life together).

I am eternally optimistic about what I can do at the new year. I have not yet nailed down my specific resolutions; and while they will likely include things like less sugar, more yoga, what I really want is to become stronger, not physically, but spiritually.

This is the first year that my Christmas cactuses have bloomed since I have had them. When I was in college I wrote a poem about them for a class I was taking:

Green flats of puzzle pieces
Shoot linearly, up and out,
The new jigsaws
Lighter than the others,
The promise of blossoms
To appear on winter days.

These are the cuttings of
My mother’s cactuses
Which sit in regal pairs,
The cuttings of my grandmother’s
Cactuses, congregating on
Low sun-lit tables,
The cuttings of my great-grandmother’s
Cactuses, which must have
Brightened the old farm house.

A pair now sit in my
Northern window,
Full of the dignity of
Living heirlooms. ©

I have always loved the thought of the connection I have to my mother, her mother, her mother through these plants. And now they have bloomed for the first time for me. This seems to be a perfect symbol for this moment. Perched on the edge of a new year – a new beginning, but still part of the continuous cycle of time and renewal. My cactuses have bloomed. May I do so also.

Little Bird Bag

Now that I have finished the afghan for my brother-in-law, I am starting a new project. I found a very cute bag on ( and I am currently working on it. It shouldn’t take too long, despite my less than perfect knitting skills. Crochet is easier, but there are so many things you can do with knitting, I would like to be better at it. I also found a new store to buy yarn. Since I have given up on Wal-Mart, I found a store nearby that has a large variety of quality yarn – which means shelling out more for it, but, I think it’s worth it. The yarn is great, the selection is great, the lady who works in the store is very helpful, and its local, not an evil corporation. I like it. Yay for the Hillsborough Yarn Shop. For this project, I’m using Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride in Cranberry Swirl, a bright reddish pink with a slight variegation, 85% wool and 15% mohair (what is mohair, anyway? I need to look it up). Anyway, I will be making a foray into felting as well. This may end up as a Christmas gift, and if it works out, I may try another with gray yarn and red embroidery.

Dress Remix

Being small means that a lot of my clothes don’t fit when I buy them. And being financially limited means that I don’t take them to a tailor. I do a lot of alterations myself. My most recent was not necessarily a fit issue. I have had this dress for almost ten years, and only wore it once. I received a lot of compliments on it, but I felt that all the material was a little overwhelming, and looked rather sack-like on my frame. I needed a black dress for our choir’s Christmas cantata, so voila – I pulled this one out and hemmed it. Really hemmed it. I added a sash that I already owned to cinch the waist a bit, and it rather worked. Not a huge deal of work – just hack the bottom 12 inches off and sew a hem with the sewing machine, but I think it turned out well.