The Garden Shoes are Out

My gardening shoes are out and this makes me incredibly happy. I am starting this year with bright eyes, high hopes, and the understanding that in a few weeks I will most likely be swearing at something. The something will most likely be one of the three most unwanted in my yard: bull thistles, goutweed, and violets.

VI14

All three are already coming up, unphased by the recent temperature plummets and snow, and are taunting me. I know I just need to get my weeder, my red squishy-sided handled bucket, and my blue foam kneeler and get out there.

Knowing I need to get out there and actually getting out there are two completely different things. I get lazy. I get distracted. I get delusional that if I just wait until the next weekend everything will be ok. Ok then becomes relative. Ok as in the weeds are ok, ok as in “OK! now I have extra work”

So my goal this year is to get out and complete a major attack as early as possible. While working on a garden bed under the shade of a patio umbrella stuck in the dirt is possible and has been done in the past, actually enjoying the yard while sitting ON the patio under the umbrella actually IN the table is a better plan.

Add an iced tea and some knitting and it would be even better.

 

The Saga Continues: The Clone Wars & The Ten Stitch Blanket

SWCW_10SB_H

Darth Husband and I have been sharing the dinner making duties again lately so that means I have more time to sit and knit and not be reminding myself that after the current row I’d have to check on something… or the row after that… or the row when the timer is yelling at me like an angry droid from the kitchen.

I am happy with the progression of the Ten Stitch Blanket. I’ve gotten a better feel for the correct tension so no longer cringe when it is time to work on a corner. I am no longer worried that “High Noon,” the yellow gradient yarn will be too bright with the other colors. Darth Husband actually believes I will be using up yarn from the giant box, though he did suggest taking “what I needed for the blanket” and donating the rest.

PAH! BAHAHAHAHAH! Non-knitting spouses are so cute.The yarn is not being donated.

My battles with Frankie that I had dubbed “cat vs knitting” on Instagram continue. I know that a default cat wanting attention method is sitting on whatever has the person’s attention but I still find it amusing. It also makes me think that Frankie has decided that it is officially a blanket since both cats love knitted afghans.

So as I battle the cat and knit away, I’ve been watching cartoon battles: The Clone Wars on Netflix.  I knew of the series but never started watching it back when we had cable. It was on the maybe someday list for awhile and then I had forgotten about it, somewhat dismissing it as a kid show. Then it showed up on Netflix.

Even with Netflix’s more recent addition of “Are you still watching….” slowing us a teeny tiny bit, we’ve been tearing though the seasons and have reached Season 6 now. Season 6 is the one that is Netflix exclusive and therefore, the end of the series and makes me a bit sad. Yes, I am getting sad over a fictional story that is set in a cartoon… sorry, animated series.  I know I can always just restart it especially this project and fifty potential skeins of yarn for it.

Yes,  FIFTY skeins. That isn’t an exaggeration. There are actually that many skeins I can and might use for this project.

I have a lot of rows to go and lots of cat vs knitting battles.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Skinny Beef Casserole

I had purchased ground beef while planning for a totally different dinner. What I didn’t do was make sure I had all the ingredients for that recipe. After grumbling about my shopping fail, I didn’t want to do something on auto-pilot and found this recipe on Pinterest: Skinny Beef Casserole from Skinny Mom. I think it was meant to be since I had everything on hand except for the tomato sauce. The can of creamed corn that has been shuffled around the back of the pantry would finally be used too.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping:  Easy – I “shopped” my pantry. Since we didn’t have tomato sauce, I substituted diced tomatoes.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy – The hardest part was transferring everything from the saucepan to the baking dish.
  • Make it again: Yes. I had seconds. I really liked that the sauce wasn’t heavy since it was a mix of the creamed corn and diced tomatoes.
  • Modify it: Yes. Though swapping the tomato sauce for the diced tomatoes was more of a necessity to actually make this recipe this time, I can see myself adding different vegetables to the mix. Both Darth Husband and I added a bit of salt and pepper. I added some shredded cheese.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes  - This ended up being a lot of food. If I make the full recipe next time, and aren’t planning dinner for a group, I plan to either freeze some or give it away.

 

 

Come to the Craft Side…. We Have Yarn.

Obviously, I have yarn. I just love the opportunity for a pun on a pun using Star Wars dialogue, or would it be a cookie joke pun?

Sure, whatever.

Right now there is a pretty good chance there is yarn in every room in the house other than the downstairs bathroom. I know there is none in that bathroom since I removed the skein that was hanging out with the beach towels and the two boxes that were in the bathtub over six months ago. Yes, I am serious about the bathtub.  It was temporarily out-of-order and the boxes needed a place to go. In the knitter portion of my brain, it made perfect sense. In the rest, it didn’t and agreed with 100% of Darth Husband’s brain that I was crazy.

So even if it might only be a bit of yarn here and there, like the bit on the laundry room shelf or in the back of one the roller drawers in the upstairs bathroom, it is everywhere. Darth Husband has slowly gotten used to it or has just gotten less outwardly grumbly about it. Since my last yarn purchase was sometime around November, I think that helps as well… for now.

I know I suffer from the same affliction as other knitters, and most likely crocheters as well though I only knit, that makes it hard to walk away from the fibrous siren song of a local yarn store or a larger craft store. There have been too many times to count where I say I am just looking and then don’t leave empty-handed. Then there are the times that have good plans but lack of fruition.

Sock yarn is so pretty… and small… and I don’t knit socks.

The bathtub boxes migrated to a spare bedroom after repairs were made and before Jess arrived for her week-long vacation last summer. This was also when I decided to get more serious on a project I had started back in November 2012: Ten Stitch Blanket by Frankie Brown. (Fellow Ravelry members, you can find it here.)

Right now, there is a knitter nodding and a non-knitter thinking “TWO THOUSAND TWELVE?!?!”  I never just have one work in progress, or WIP, at a time. Some get set aside for another, because I was just sick of working on it, or because it wasn’t working out how I had hoped. For a long time, I was knitting for other people and my personal projects took a back burner. I wasn’t getting paid nor was there a deadline so my projects could wait. Things have changed and I’ve been a selfish knitter lately.

It is all about me… and a giant batch of retro yarn.

I like using “retro yarn” rather than “old yarn” since the colorways scream 70s/80s. Think burnt orange, mustard yellow, avocado green, and muddy tan. There are some lighter and somewhat pastel at time colors as well but the bulk more the former than the latter. When it is done, It is going to be hideously awesome.

Life with a Fitbit: Finding the Right One for Me

Forget a monster in my pocket, I have a robot on my wrist and I’ve been wearing it for a month now. A Fitbit is a gadget and so it fits into my extremely vague robot category. It doesn’t have a mind of its own… or does it? It has been telling me what to do but I don’t mind and  this has actually been a good thing.

Let us start at the beginning…

I have the Fitbit Flex which is the wireless activity + sleep wristband that Darth Husband got me as a late Christmas present. He knew I had been wanting some sort of fitness tracker, as I call them, and had been researching various brands. The one that kept sticking in my mind was the Fitbit but I wasn’t sure which Fitbit. I’d read and think I had come to a decision and then only rethink, read more, and be unsure.

I broke it down into reasons why I was wanting with the first two being the most obvious:

  • Track my steps

  • Track my sleep

That omitted the Fitbit Zip since it is only an activity tracker.

One option down, three to go.

Then it came to the next factor: wearability.

I have owned several old school pedometers over the years and quite possibly still own one. The “quite possibly” is key here. I might still have one but I have no idea where it is. My best guess is in a box in the attic. Being in a box does me no good and clearly means I am not using it. I didn’t want this to be the case with the Fitbit. I wasn’t ready to spend a good amount of money for something I didn’t use or just used occasionally. Darth Husband and I have an older Garmin, ok I have one but we both use it, but I’d use it if I was actually out running or he would attach it to his bike when he would go out for a ride. It works quite well for that but I wanted something less bulky and bit less sporty looking.

Since the One is pretty small, it could easily be hidden if need be and the Flex and  Force look like a bracelet or a slim watch from a far. That didn’t help me decide since then all three would work and I didn’t think any of them were ugly. The deciding factor of clip-on vs band came when I asked a REI clerk for input. He said that customers liked them all which didn’t help. However right as I started to think I’d be stuck on the fence for a while, he mentioned that a few people said that the One fell off for them, that rang like a giant bell. Think Looney Tunes cartoon-sized, teeth-rattling, giant bell that knocked me off that fence since I’d be the minority that would somehow have it fall off and then I’d be upset.  While this could possibly never be the case, it was a worry of mine. I had no desire to be fishing it out of or from under who knows what.

And then there were two.

The Flex and the Force bands look similar with the Force being a bit wider but that didn’t make too much impact. The difference is slightly noticeable if they were right next to each other as was the case with the display. The question was if I need the bells and whistles of the Force actually showing me numbers and whatnot or if the line of dot lights on the Flex would work just as well. I could either see my stats whenever I wanted or when I made a specific point to check on them. In this case, more info all the time was too much info. I could see my stats either way online so having them visible on demand on my wrist didn’t warrant spending the extra money. I rarely wear a wristwatch so having the time didn’t matter that much either.

I made my decision and the Flex was then waiting for me up at the register. Since that day, I’ve been happy with my decision and I’ll be back with my thoughts of using it in the future.


Disclaimer: This Fitbit was a gift from Darth Husband and was paid for out of his own pocket. We received no free product, discount, or compensation for mention in the post.

Trying a New Pinterest Recipe: Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

I found Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom’s Creamy Chicken and Asparagus Pasta recipe on Pinterest. It didn’t take long for me to decide to add it to the to-make list. This recipe included ingredients that we regularly, if not always, have in the house: pasta, chicken, and asparagus. The spice cabinet (yes it is a small cabinet) already contained what was needed. I would just need to pick up a few dairy items and make sure we had chicken broth.

Here is my breakdown of this recipe.

  • Ingredients shopping: Easy – No expensive or hard to find items.
  • Prep: Easy – Basic cutting and measuring
  • Cooking: Easy – The hardest step was making sure the asparagus didn’t overcook and my timer helped me with that.
  • Make it again: Yes. The flavor combo of the chicken, cheese and asparagus worked well.
  • Modify it: Yes. I would use less basil and oregano.
  • Works for leftovers: Yes and No. The first night the dish was super creamy but reheating it make it lose that creaminess. The actual taste stayed the same.

Food, Glorious Food… and Meal Planning.

Though I have slowing started loving cooking, when Darth Husband and I first got married he was the “King of the Kitchen”. Ok, he pretty much stayed “King of the Kitchen” but I did cook more. I had been used to either cooking for one or cooking for a group so cooking for two ended up not quite enough or way too much in the leftovers neighborhood.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a better handle of cooking for us as well as having the proper amount of leftovers. We are a leftovers house and every time I hear about others that refuse I always make the “Whaaaa?” face. Somethings work really well the next day like chili.

For the last few months, there has been a shift in weekly dinners with me making them instead of Darth Husband. This means I’d be making the dinner when I’d usually be changing into comfy clothes and feeding the furrball herd while Darth Husband was finishing up the cooking. At first, I thought jumping into full throttle mode would work. Oh silly me! It didn’t which I should have known ahead of time. The excitement of cooking slowly wore off with me staring at the fridge with disdain and considering microwave popcorn for dinner. It never got to actually having popcorn for dinner since we needed leftovers for the next day lunches. It did make me rethink food shopping, meal planning, and exactly how much effort it will take cooking on certain nights.

Food shopping before was done several times a week. We shop at three or four places, both local and chain, depending on what kind of food items we need. Darth Husband would stop somewhere a few times during the week and I would go places during the weekend with an occasional weekday trip. It was working well before but not as well now. This was especially annoying if I was missing one basic thing like an onion and I really wasn’t going out for one thing. The obnoxiously ridiculous winter weather didn’t help either.

Food shopping became weekend only and list heavy. We’ve always shopped with some sort of a list. I prefer a paper list and though I often would forget it somewhere in the kitchen. I’ve switched it to post-its so now I can stick it to the shopping cart as well. Darth Husband likes phone based lists but I’ve learned that if I’m in a grocery store and starting at the phone I shop more slowly. I know it is partially due to my fear that the phone will get knocked out of my hand and that multi-tasking while moving with the phone in my hand just slows me down overall. I am one of those people who will step to the side and stop. As long as I’m not blocking people or lured by items in an end cap, it is fine.

So my lists got modified too since I became more serious with four to five day meal planning. Before, we would plan a day or two ahead. If things changed, it wasn’t a big deal. Now with longer spans, I can just stick with the plan rather than being sleepy, frazzled and hungry. I’ve been using a combination of our general meal ideas, recipes from books, and recipes from online. The general meal idea are default ones that I don’t really fully include on the lists. They are often shorthand since it includes the items we keep as staples.  It is the cookbook or online recipes that I really need to write down. One thing can make something fall short and fail quickly like the time I forgot cottage cheese for a lasagna, and make me scramble to think of something else.

The ingredients of the cookbook and online based meals also makes me plot out the week in general. I hate wasting food and especially produce. It makes no sense to buy something that is only used in part for one recipe and so one week might be a bit heavy of something like spinach and another of zucchini. It makes me look up item specific recipes too on Pinterest. I’ve used Pinterest for quite some time now and now I’m actually using some ideas I pinned.

My goal is to make at least one new recipe a week that is not my own creation. I do like winging it in the kitchen but I’m keeping that to the weekends.  I most likely won’t be posting photos anywhere but Instagram of what I make since my food photography needs serious work and the IG filters kill the blah lighting we have in our kitchen. However, I do plan to share some hits and misses here starting next month.

If I forget, you can always remind me on Twitter.

Fitbit Flex: Go Go New Gadget!

This past weekend, a good friend of mine got married to a great guy. After the beautiful ceremony was the fun-filled reception. I cannot remember the last time I danced that much! Now if I only had gotten my new gadget beforehand!

Super excited mode means iPhone photo taken with happy shaking hands

Super excited mode means meh iPhone photo taken with happy shaking hands

I have been talking about wanting a Fitbit for awhile now and both Darth Husband and I were reading about the various versions.  I decided on the Flex. A big reason I decided on it was because I wore old school pedometers in the past and was always knocking it off and/or dropping it. Having it strapped to my wrist means less potential destruction or me just plain losing it.

Right now, I’m reading up on all the bells and whistles as well as getting used to wearing it. I’m wearing it on my left wrist where I’d usually wear a watch though I haven’t worn a watch in ages. (Blame the cellphone!) So far it doesn’t seem awkward so that is a good thing.

Now I just have to see how awkward my stats end up but I see this as a fun challenge and will update you all about wearing the Fitbit and getting my butt in gear (and off the couch) in the future.


Disclaimer: This Fitbit was a gift from Darth Husband and was paid for out of his own pocket.  We received no free product or discount for a mention in the post.