Tuesday, November 29, 2011

little hiatus

My short hiatus got pretty long. The sore throat/cold thing turned into double ear infections, sinus infection and strep throat. Which PC got too. The week of Thanksgiving. So, our Thanksgiving week was, let's say "interesting." I had some unexpected time out of the office (which is never good because my office is pretty unforgiving when you use the time off they give you. More about this later.)  and it resulted in very little knitting. Last Tuesday, I slept for 19 hours. No knitting there.

Thanksgiving was pretty good, but I still can't hear out of my left ear. I've got to see if I can get into the doctor on Saturday.

The 10 on Tuesday is  "ten favorite musicals." Hmm.. i've never been a HUGE fan of them.

1. Legally Blonde, the Musical. I saw this a few weeks ago for a Girls' Night Out and it was great!
2. Christmas Carol, but ONLY by the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, MA. Anything else is just not good. (David Coffee as Scrooge is BRILLIANT)

3. The Who's Tommy. I remember liking that one, but the crack-whore scared me.
4. Wizard of Oz... is this a musical? Or a movie with songs?
5. Lion King--- PC took me one year and it was pretty awesome.

6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreancoat

7. Hair
8. Rent
9. Sweeney Todd
10. Le Cage

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Blogging cop out

Head cold. Sore throat. Send lozenges and tea.

Be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Un-Diet

I've been un-dieting for about 3 months now and it's finally clicking. Yes, I'm still watching my carb intake,but that's going to be a life long process, so it's now become a habit. The act of flipping over every product in the grocery to see the carb/serving grams has led me to this: people, we eat a TON of sugar.

My un-diet is very much mental. I'm not feeling deprived, my cravings are lower and I'm feeling better (and sleeping more!) each day. I can go to a restaurant. Or eat a fiber festival. Or work a conference (thank you, Whole Foods Whey protein & shaker bottles). Nothing is off-limits. NOTHING. I can eat cake. I can eat cookies. I can eat meat. (though, I've reduced my meat-based protein intake to once per day)

Today, I'm sharing with you a few things that are getting me on-board with the diet. As you know, this blog is my dumping ground for my life...we'll get back to knitting tomorrow.

1. My nutritionist. Honestly, if you had told me a year ago that I would look forward to hauling up 3 flights of stairs to see Paula (at MetroWest Nutrition in Newton) every few weeks, I would have called you a crack monkey. Every experience I've ever had with a nutritionist has been "this is a small apple. This is a medium apple. They are different." Seriously? I've been on Weight Watchers, TOPS, jenny craig, nutrisystem, Atkins, South Beach and  you think I don't know a small apple? I've never NOT weighed my food.  

Paula's different. She's encouraging, full of ideas and really wants you to succeed. And she doesn't let you get away with anything. Don't like broccoli? Find something else. Set limits. Be strong. She talks about having a "bank of self control" and to identify who's trying to rob the bank! Like the well-meaning co-worker who offers to pick up take-out. Every. Day.  Or the relative who pushes the chocolate pie toward you after you've said no.  (Or the wretched people at Stop & Shop who comment on our produce-laden grocery cart and tell me all about Nutrisystem and packaged foods. Okay, maybe that's just b/c I hate people who try to publicly humiliate me.) We're working through some of my food issues and she's helped me be more aware of me, my body and my health. Thanks, Paula!!!

2. My endocrinologist. Dude, he's awesome. Every lb gone gets a high-five. Every minute decrease in hA1C gets a "way to go." And, he hates the treadmill too, but he does it. Every night. And he tells you : he hates it, but he does it and he has to work at eating healthy and staying in shape. He's a great doctor, has helped me truly believe that I can and WILL beat PCOS.  He's current on all the research, loves the ideas my nutrionist has and is dedicated to working with me, not against me.
www.myfitnesspal.com or download the app 

3. MyFitnessPal. A kick-ass app for my android phone that is also a website. I can scan the barcodes of food to enter them. The database is extensive and my nutritionist can log in to see my diary.  You can learn more at their site, but wow... has this made tracking and eating so.much.easier.
See? Kicking things!

4. Steve, from BlackBelt Fitness. Steve's a fairly non-traditional trainer... more like a nicer weekly version of the trainers from Biggest Loser. We do a lot of martial-arts based workouts and I get to kick him. Well, the pads, but seriously? How good does it feel to kick something after work on Thursday? Amazing! Lots of stretching, weight stuff and cardio... it doesn't get boring and I've never had to run on the treadmill.  A weekly personal trainer? Well, someone must be made of money right? Nope. Steve's reasonable and you can buy packages that reduce the cost as well. Both PC and I see him and we agree: Steve's pretty great.
Siggi's is the lowest carb, fewest ingredient yogurt I can find. No HFCS, no aspartame..just milk, agave,  vegetable rennet and  good "bugs"

5. New foods. New food choices are keeping me going. Last week, I roasted brussels sprouts. I never liked them, now I love them! And tonight, we're having seared endive with our dinner.  We're boosting our options at home, getting creative and embracing new recipes. PC's been grilling up a storm too... which is nice because grilling reduces the oil that we use for our foods.

So, keep an eye on the weight loss ticker in the corner there. It's going to be moving and I hope to hear you cheering me on!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cranberry Heaven

depending on where you live, this is what you think of when you think "cranberry"
Massachusetts is a HUGE cranberry producer (2nd only to Wisconsin). Growing up here, cranberries (fresh ones) are so common in the grocery store that I was amazed when a friend (who grew up in France) went bananas over them in the produce department 6 years ago.  "imagine," she said," Fresh cranberries!" And until PC's grampa passed away, he had a cousin (Cousin Richard) who lived next to a cranberry bog and "liberated" cranberries and sent them up in a giant box. If you wanted cranberries, you just grabbed a scoop at Grampa's.  Just one more reason to miss him very much (he was pretty damn awesome).
But, here in MA, this is what we think of!Industry! Jobs! Bogs...
(Raise your hand if you have ever taken a school bus to a cranberry bog...)

So what to do with all those riches?
1. Make cranberry sauce. Every Massachusetts elementary schooler knows how to do this (you learn at Plimoth Plantation after you go see the very unimpressive Plymoth Rock): water, sugar, berries: boil, cool and squish.
2. Cranberry muffins. Take you favorite blueberry muffin mix, add cranberries instead.
3. Cranberry-Onion relish. PC's aunt makes a good one... so good, I beg for leftovers at Thanksgiving. And eat about 2 cups of it on my mashed potatoes that day. :)
4. Cranberry pancakes. I had these one weekend in Maine while at the NETA Spa, Sit and Spin event. Delish.
5. Cranberry cocktail. I buy it in the store and I dilute it with sparkling water. Not only does it taste great, cranberries are great for your kidneys and bladder. And will quickly stave off a UTI.
6. Cranberry ginger ale. Add some crushed cranberries to a glass of ginger ale. Yum. Add some gin and you have an adult beverage. Leave out the gin and the kids table looks pretty darn fancy.
7. Cranberry scones. I don't make these, I just get them at the Celtic Corner bakery in West Newton. To.die.for.
8. Fight cancer. Tons of antioxidants are in these wee, bitter and sour berries... so, adding them to your diet can help you prevent cancer.
9. Put it on your face. Cranberry oil is supposed to be good for your skin.
10. best of all... in the can, with ring "impressions" and all... as a yummy low-calorie snack.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A knitter's delight

Is three little girls running around a kitchen yelling meow! Meow!  All the while, wearing their handknit cat hats! And hearing that a certain tres chic 14 year old still carries the first purse you knit her. When she was 2. She keeps it in her purse, filled with her essentials.  Yup, love my family.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blog fail

I missed yesterday. Whoops. Two blog updates today to make up for it.

First, its darn cold here today, so warm socks are a must! And, I have noticed that I'm down to a few precious pair.

Tell me: what is your favorite sock pattern?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin gone too far

I'm a sparkling water addict. Since Ive recently tried to really cut out the soda, seltzer and sparkling water are my new bff. And we know I love all things pumpkin, right? Not this.

Pumpkin spice and egg nog water? Gross. The granny smith flavor was pretty awesome, but egg nog????

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Twins' hats are under way. One purple, one pink. Mitten mice are awaiting pink noses and tails (mitten strings).

Using helloyarn's tortoro pattern as the base and converting to a cat.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Tuesday's 10

Carole proposed a timely subject as we enter the holiday (or as I say: germ swapping) season: Ten Ways to Care for a Cold.

the common cold virus; quite pretty, considering

  1. Advil Cold & Sinus. The good stuff. The pseudoephedrine loaded cold medicine. 
  2. Good tissues. With aloe. Your nose is so nice to you the rest of the year, it deserves an upgrade to the good tissues.
  3. Slow down. Ha! PC is killing himself laughing right now, because I don't slow down when i'm sick. I should, but I don't. But I do think you should.
  4. Tea. Lots of tea.
  5. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Peanut butter & Fluff on Saltines alongside Campbell's chicken and rice soup. Scientifically proven to make you feel better. 
  6. Nyquil. The nighttime-sniffling-sneezing-stuffyhead-medicine-that-helps-you-sleep. 'nuff said. 
  7. Water. Water. Water. Colds love a dehydrated body...so, fill up on cool water. 
  8. Quilts. Get on the couch and grab one. Snuggle. Add cat if needed. 
  9. Pajama pants. When you have a cold, there is no reason to wear real pants. Get up and shower , but change into clean pajama pants.
  10. Steam shower... nothing like the feeling of the steam working its way through your nasal passages.
and one more ... Elderberry tincture. Once someone near me at work starts to sneeze, I make myself some elderberry tea here at work and grab the lysol. :) 

Monday, November 07, 2011

In which Pumpkin speaks her mind

Hello, Pumpkin here. I have to blog for the Lady Who Carries Me ( let's call her Momma today because she has.something called jury duty. She says its a pain the ass, so I think it's like going to the vet. Very pokey.

I wanted to show you that I, too, love sheep. Not only for their delicious yarns, but for their ability to keep me warm. Take the yarn. Momma brought more home this weekend even though she's not done playing with the ones she has. You know she's done when it's wet.

My sheep is a very warm sheep. She is a little shy, and doesn't sat much, but momma and the Man Who Feeds Me must heat up her food, because she comes back from the Food Place and is all warm. My food is never warm. 

Sometimes momma needs to snuggle the sheep, but I am sure glad I am NOT that sheep, because she squishes her! sheep never complains, but I'm glad momma doesn't squish me. The hugs are bad enough.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Alpacas, Sheep, Goats and... a whole lotta people

On Saturday, after a night of birthday debauchary at a co-worker's 50th birthday bash, I headed off to pick up my friend Dora in Hudson. Switching to her car, nursing some dehydration (beer, laughing and dancing can really make you dry), we headed to Springfield, MA. 
One end of the market
 What's in Springfield? Besides the Basketball Hall of Fame? New England Fiber Festival. Started last year (or was it two years ago?), this little indoor festival has greatly expanded... so much so that it takes up one of the Big E (Eastern States Exposition-- kind of like a state fair,but our N.E. states are kinda small, so we group them all together) fairgrounds.

Aisle after aisle of vendors, all hawking yarn, fiber, spinning wheels, spindles, and much much more. We saw at least 8 kinds of spinning wheels, more spindles than you can shake a stick at (mostly at Amy- Spunky Eclectic's booth) and oodles of sock yarn. If you are a sock yarn ho, this is where you need to be. MILES of it.

After catching up with friends and chatting while walking, we had a yummy and relatively healthy lunch (grilled chicken wrap with blue cheese, crumbles, cranberries and pecans) with a questionably
healthy snack (cheese fries), we headed back to finish off the shopping. I started to feel like this:

the other end of the market
It's a LOT of people.

I left with enough sock yarn from Dorchester Farms for two pair, and a shawl kit from Judy's booth. And a few patterns. Not much more. I've been pretty underwhelmed with what I see in the booths, mostly because I know how much I have in my stash at home.

All in all, a great day with great friends. This is a festival I can see myself going back to, but i'll be honest, I miss the "outside"-ness of an actual sheep fair. And it was a nice trip to Springfield. In my part of the state, the Snowtober storm didn't really impact us ---some crappy slush is all we got. But, my friends to the west? Hammered. So many trees down, so many STILL without power, but what great stories of compassion and fellowship: neighbor helping neighbor. Say a little prayer of thanks for the hard working line crews and tree trimmers. We saw them still hard at work on Saturday, clearing the roads to make them safe and passable.

Mouse mittens will be appearing here soon. Pattern is being written for them soon.

G'night. :)


Serious dedication to your craft. My first thought? I hope it's superwash.

More on the New England Fiber Fest tomorrow, including the goodies.

Friday, November 04, 2011

College and Snowflakes

Saint Anselm College, Mancheseter NH- winter

I went here (see above) for college. It's a good college;  I received an excellent education and I don't regret for a moment that I  went there. I made some great friends, learned more about myself and my abilities than I thought possible and found my faith there. It was not cheap. It was not free. And it did not let everyone in. I received a scholarship for some of my tuition because throughout high school, I was a hard worker and knew that I wanted to go to college. As the youngest of three, college was not a given. Paying for it was certainly going to come down to me (mom & dad helped, alot. More than they should have, realistically), and I'm still paying it. I wore the same jeans for 4 years, I had the meal plan, cigarettes and a keg party ($3 for a cup) were my budgeted items. I saved all summer for book money. I walked and bummed rides to my jobs when I couldn't swing gas. I had jobs. 

Where is this conversation going? I was in Boston earlier in the week for work and drove past the Occupy Boston movement and saw the following scene: a student, with a bullhorn, in $100 sneakers (PC's a sneaker junkie-- i know these were not cheapo kicks, definitely a Bodega buy), a $200 NorthFace jacket, D&G sunglasses ... yelling "College is a RIGHT, not for the rich and white." Note: I think this young man was white. 

I get it. I do. College costs a small fortune today. So does rent, milk, bread, gasoline and haircuts. But, college is not a right. College is a privilege; if you are smart, capable and interested in learning, you should be in college. How many of my fellow students did I see that were partying away their parents money? Too many. Did I think they deserved to be there? No. My college roomie, Mandi, had a great sign in our room: $20,000. It was a daily reminder to us about why we were there and the price we were paying.  

Also, what happened to skilled labor and learning a trade? PC started college and left, knowing that his interest level (and capacity at the time to stay in school) was a waste of his money and his parents'. So he left. He worked a lot of jobs, but he made ends meet, he lived on his own and now, he's "skilled labor" and a supervisor. Why did we make it a bad thing if Susie wants to be a hairdresser and Bobby wants to be a plumber? 

It all comes down to each child being a "special snowflake." I don't want to seem harsh (and I'm not a parent, so feel free to come down on my non-mommyness, you wouldn't be the first), but not everyone should go to college. Our society needs people to mow lawns, fix plumbing, build houses, cut hair, pave roads, drive buses, and carry the mail. We need to recognize the good, honest hard work that goes into working a trade. 

My message to our friend at Occupy Boston? You are not the special snowflake your mom told you that you are. And google the Bill of Rights. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

...with the knitting

In the famous words of Oz (and PC): ignore the man behind the curtain.  

That's PC, holding up Livvie's new hat. It's the Temple Cats pattern, gifted to me by a friend, in Cascade 220 Superwash (Sue: toss right into the washer and dryer, but it'd prefer to lie flat to dry). It's hot pink and baby pink and it's perfect for that 4 year old in your life who loves cats.

I have to admit, the braided band makes me giggle. I love it, but braids are one of those things that are 0% intuitive to me when knitting. They never look like they are supposed to until after you've knit a bit beyond them. This is unfortunate because if you don't like the look, it's ripping out good knitting to get to bad.

The yarn. Cascade 220 Superwash gives me fits. I *love* it, but it's not the same gauge as regular Cascade 220, I don't care what they tell me. I knit this hat on US7 and it needs a good blocking over a vase or bowl to even out the colorwork a bit, but I would highly suggest a US6.

So much of my holiday life is 'knitting' but not this year. A few special hats for a few special kids, some non-holiday mittens (hang on, Jack--- I'm perfecting the dino hat and dino mittens for you this year!), and everything else is coming from a shop. Nice shops, but shops nonetheless. It's not that I don't think people will appreciate them (seriously: my SIL's reaction to handknits needs to make youtube... it makes any knitter proud), but the time. Some of the fam & friends will get handknits but some will not.

More tomorrow... I'm thinking we'll discuss something a little lighthearted and something a little politico-- like something I like to call the Snowflake People. :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

...in which I wow you...

...with my ability to blog every.single.blasted.day of November. Yup, it's gonna get "real" around here! And, on the subject of change... be aware that I have purchased a website, am investigating a move to wordpress and have no bloody idea of what I am doing. Like my mom said, 3 hours into getting us lost on a routine trip home from camp... "it'll be fine. Think of it as an adventure. And don't tell your father." 

Today, well, today I am going to tell you that I was damn near late for work because I was listening to Tom Brokaw on the radio. He's pitching his new book and I'm heading to B&N asap to grab it. His new book touches on some rather unpopular ideas and I'm surprised at just how conservative Mr. Brokaw is, but I like it. 

On the knitting & sewing front: ugh. Bags are yet to be completed. The concussion has led to 4 days of non-stop headaches and I've just been unable to deal with the noise that the sewing machine generates. But, tonight... tonight I sew. 

Knitting: continues... Olivia's hat & mittens are done, off to make some for Tori & Brooke, Olivia's little sisters (twins!). I guess the famous cat hat (pattern to be listed on the side bar for download by Thanksgiving) and mouse mittens (also to be a download) have caused a bit of girl-on-girl fighting at my cousin's house, so to each sister goes a cat-hat. I'm hand delivering these because then I get a smooch from Olivia, who gives the best hugs, and I get to see my favorite cousin, Sue. 

Photos tomorrow, if I can catch the light in the morning. 

NaBloPoMo--- yup, one post a day for a month. Be sure to let me know when you get sick of me.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Tell me about yourself..."

Top 10 Interview Questions.

As someone who has had *ahem* jobs, and therefore a LOT of interviews, I consider myself an expert in this, actually. And I have helped coach a few friends through the interview process. 3rd career calling?

The usual suspects:
1. Tell me about yourself. It's not really a question, but a directive, and it's usually what everyone screws up. This is the point in the interview that you let everything fly out that they aren't allowed to ask you: I'm Sally, married, 3 kids, etc... Nope this should be your "elevator pitch": I'm a hard working, diligent widget maker, with a proven track record of applying continual improvement processes in widget making for 15 years.
2. What are your strengths/weaknesses? Has anyone ever said "I'm lazy and take really long lunch breaks" when asked this one? I work too hard and love my job too much. I'm pretty terrible at time management, so I tend to be honest and tell them time management is something that I continually work to improve (note: i don't tell them the starting point, do I?)
3. Describe how you got here in 10 steps or less. Okay, so this gets to a particular type of interview that I normally encounter: logic and reasoning. This actually tells you a lot about how someone thinks and if they can break down their thought process into constituent steps. Good for scientists, not really needed for dock workers.
4. What motivates you? Money. What motivates you?

And now a few of my faves from interviews I've been on....
5. If you could be a small kitchen appliance, which would you be?
...Kitchen Aid mixer b/c I like to stir things up?
6. What quality do you most admire about your pet?
... her ability to sleep 20 hours a day?
7. Can you name the hierarchy of our R&D team?
2nd question... hadn't met anyone yet!
8. We may require that you work overnight, weekends, or holidays without notice... how flexible are you?
umm... well... no notice? None at all?
9. Explain why you should replace me in this position?
1.5 hours into the interview, I found out she had been let go and was staying on for two weeks to find her replacement.
10. Create a fictional product within our product line and pitch it to me.
last question from a start-up company that interviewed me at Starbucks. No product line. No business plan.