Saturday, November 18, 2017

End of Season Tasks

Last week and this, Paul and I have been tidying up the garden in preparation for winter.  Paul took down our birdhouse for winter storage, we gathered up the tomato cages, and covered some of our perennials.  Paul will run the mulching lawnmower over the grass to collect up the leaves on Monday, when the weather is predicted to be "warm".  We also arranged for Sears to come do routine maintenance on our snowblower. 

Paul and I also went through our canned goods, purging any expired ones, cleaning and sorting.  This was not planned; the upper shelf of our Lazy Susan base cabinet shifted down, needing an adjustment, which Paul took care of.  But I have been meaning to go through it, so all was good.  The trick is to use up all of the duplicates I found and didn't realize I had - how much coconut milk can one person accumulate?!  I see Thai food in our future, maybe some Indian or Caribbean as well.  We are well stocked in vegetable soup for the winter.  It feels good to have that done. 

Sadly, there is a frost predicted for tonight.  So I went out and collected the last of the herbs before they are frozen.  Surprisingly, in spite of some pretty cold and awful weather in the past month, three herbs survived: rosemary, oregano, and parsley.  In keeping with my international cooking, I will also need to make some recipes that use parsley and oregano (Italian, anyone?!).  The rosemary I plan on using to make a rosemary hair rinse (link to holistichabits video/prep instructions here).  Rosemary is great for the hair, and has aromatherapy benefits as well, which apparently one will smell while prepping the hair rinse.

Left to right: rosemary, parsley, oregano

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Michaelmas Party and New Harp Inaugural (Part II - The Dress and The Party!)

There were many moving parts to this party.  Besides the sewing, there was music to be learned and practiced, a hairstyle to be gotten, and food and decorations.  Paul, was an angel, and helped me so much with party set up and as our butler!

I had a special braided style done by Crowning Glory Braiding.

The table beforehand.
This time I have the right dimensioned tablecloth!

The new baby - cherry wood, with a cherry blossom motif

Here I am with the new harp.  
(Excuse the wrinkles in my dress - 
photo taken after I played for the ladies.)

And here are the Tea Ladies!
We had a lovely time.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Michaelmas Party and New Harp Inaugural (Part I - Sewing)

A week ago, on September 29th, I had a Michaelmas Party at my house.  Michaelmas is the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel (one of my favorite saints, and I say the Saint Michael prayer often: see here).  I had often heard this holiday mentioned in Jane Austen movies, and never really knew what it was.  I was vaguely aware that it was near the end of September. I was wanting a theme for a dinner I was planning for my Tea Ladies.  It was going to be a special dinner, because I wanted to debut my new folk harp, a Dusty Strings FH36S, which was due to arrive at the beginning of September.

So I put together a Michaelmas Party with a Jane Austen/harp theme.  I decided to make a new gown.  I had a nice yellow fabric that I was actually intending for a test pattern that I am involved in evaluating, but I wanted to do something simpler, so I used La Mode Bagatelle's Regency Wardrobe Pattern which I have had in my stash.  I also needed a set of stays that I could wear and still play the harp in, so I bought a Short Stays pattern and the kit from Redthreaded.

The dress pattern: 
I used the crossover bodice with short sleeves

The Redthreaded kit:
I liked this kit, and the owner was very helpful with my questions!

The finished stays

The sewing was rather rushed; as usual I was running out of time, literally sewing up until a half hour before the party.  It is only by the Grace of God (and the fancy-schmancy invisible zipper foot I bought years ago, especially for my machine) that my invisible zipper went in without a hitch. (Yes, I was completely historically inaccurate and used a zipper.  This dress was meant to be a quick costume, not a faithful reproduction.)  The hem I put in is probably The Worst Hem Ever.  Machine sewn with a big basting stitch setting, and horrible on the inside, But it passed muster on the outside.  I will go back and re-do it in the future.  
Stay tuned for Part II - The Finished Dress and The Party!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Birdhouse

We found this gorgeous birdhouse on Etsy: A Country Way Shop.  It's really well made, and adds such a nice touch to the garden!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Pepper Mill

My sister Barbara gave me this awesome pepper mill, part of a gift she and Jack got me as thanks for helping out with my adorable great-nephews this year.  It works spectacularly.  Here I am seasoning some gnocchi before baking in the oven (another Meez Meals prepped dinner).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Workouts With Personal Trainer/Sugar Addiction

I was going to title this, "The Elephant in the Room", tongue-in-cheek, but I am trying to bring more positivity into my life, especially around body image.  It has recently dawned on me, in a BIG way (no pun intended) that I really need to take the difficult steps involved in promoting my own health.

My winter and spring consisted of: feeling unmotivated, not exercising, getting sick at least three times between November 2016 and now (some related to CIRS, but more on that later), and eating horribly, but with sporadic attempts to set myself right.  I would get on a good path, but then feel deflated and unmotivated.  Some of this may be due to feeling depressed.  I have been taking supplements to help this, but the whole exercise piece was missing.  So I stumbled along, knew I was gaining weight, knew I wasn't feeling well even when I wasn't officially sick.  And let's just say that my approach to sugar, ice cream, and candy bars is (and hopefully - was), like that of an addict.

I finally had the courage to step on the scale - shocking.  I know my clothes weren't fitting well, but, you know, tomorrow. I had been thinking of booking some sessions with a personal trainer months ago, but wanted to wait until after Portland.  Then I got super sick, and did nothing.  But eat.

Recently, I watched some YouTube videos on fitness and lifestyle.  I became motivated to try once again to get a handle on this.  In a stroke of luck, I received a free trainer session from the health club since it is my birthday month.  I signed up, was able to choose my trainer online (which was hard, but thankfully I picked one I match well with), and set up the first session.

The first session was mostly evaluation of my strength, flexibility, diet, etc.  Then she had me stand on this diagnostic fitness tool called "In Body":

The In Body told us my weight, which I already knew was up there, my total body fat percentage, my muscle mass, and some other stuff that I wasn't really tuned into (too focused on the first three).  In a nutshell, my fat percentage is too high, and my muscle mass is too low.  It was a lot worse than I thought it would be.  We talked about diet and sugar, and a lot of other stuff.  Ultimately in the end I signed up for a series of sessions.  

I have been exercising every day, even if it is just a walk throughout the neighborhood.  I figured out a .75 mile distance and do that when I don't go to the health club.  And I have stopped treats for now, with the exception of a little bit of nice, dark chocolate (Wei of Chocolate Dark Creamy, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar), and I had a little bit of Tyler's chocolate cake the other night at a restaurant.  I also had ordered some prepped meals from Meez Meals (Mise en Place).  That helped so much with cooking - most of the prep is all done.  I also saw a product on YouTube to add to my smoothies in the morning that seems to help with the cravings.  I am going to go through the fridge, freezer, and pantry over the next few days, and get all set up to promote proper diet. 

So I think I am on the right track.  My trainer worked me very hard today, but I felt great afterwards.  And it is easier to feel positive when one is doing positive things!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Vegan Substitute for Bone Broth

My posting has suffered due to illness.  I won't go into all of it, other than to say that I never fully recovered from a cold in March, and then was basically sidelined for two weeks recently, feeling awful, only meeting the barest of obligations.  But I am finally on the mend again (tired of being sick all the time - what an awful fall and winter I have had!)

I keep hearing about bone broth and how good it is for you.  The trouble is - we're vegetarians.  A while back, I found this recipe for a "Gut-Healing Broth".  The woman who wrote the post brings up some good points:
  • Nutrients and electrolytes in bone broth can be found in vegan-friendly sources
  • The body makes its own collagen 
  • Our bodies can’t even digest collagen whole; rather, we simply absorb the nutrients from our food which provides our bodies with the building blocks it needs to naturally create collagen
  • Eating collagen does not equal having more collagen
  • Healing the stomach lining can be done in other ways
  • The calcium, potassium and other minerals found in bone broth are more than easy to find in plant-based foods plus they contain much, much more goodness
I made this broth.  It had lots of ingredients.  It used coconut aminos instead of tamari or soy sauce, which was interesting (I found the coconut aminos at Whole Foods).  I added Himalayan salt to it (it needed it!).  It had a very strong taste.  I made a big batch and froze a lot of it, parceling out small doses each day of the small Ziploc bagful that I didn't freeze.  I haven't thawed any out since, but will this week.  I just saw an interesting talk on "leaky gut" which inspired me to be more cognizant of this.  

Ingredients all prepped and ready to go

Cooking, after which the brother would be strained.