Monday, August 29, 2011

Thanks for the Paranoia

Driving my kid to school this morning, I turned out from my street onto one of the main roads.  There was a man, an older, yet still attractive, silver haired man walking up the hill towards me.  As I passed by him I smiled and lifted my fingers off of the steering wheel in a slight wave.  Instead of reciprocating my friendliness, he just shook his head like there was something seriously wrong with me.

Now, in the area that I live in, a suburb of a major city, it's not unusual to be ignored.  A wave and smile?  It's just not done around here.  So I wouldn't have been surprised at that reaction, but the shake of the head?  Hmm. 

I started getting really paranoid.  It's not a pleasant way to start out your day.  Was it because I was wearing sun glasses at 7:45 am?  The sun can be blinding at that time of the morning at this time of year.  Did he think I was driving too fast?  There was a policeman handing out safe driving awards just over the hill, but it couldn't have been that, I was driving the speed limit.   Was my hair standing up in all directions?  No.  Or well, not more than usual anyway.  Naturally curly hair just does that.  Like all the time.  Was he from someplace where it's not politically correct to be friendly at that time of morning? 

I wasn't putting on makeup.  I wasn't talking on the phone and flicking a cig out the window while turning corners like I saw one idiot doing last week.  So it couldn't have been those.   So what was this man's problem?  I'll never know, but gee thanks for the paranoia Mister.  What a great way to start off my morning.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Darth Small

Did everyone have a fun 4th of July?   I did.  After spending time with some friends setting off personal fireworks, we ended up standing in a cemetery at 9pm  in the pouring rain with lighting thundering over our heads while watching fireworks.  Macabre, but fun. 

And to add to the  fun, the Youngest did everything with his face painted like this:

Darth Maul has arrived

Darth Small loved the fireworks and really loved having people seeing him like this.  :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Father's Day Flag - the Beginning

My life has become an utter whirlwind lately.  Summer this year is the busiest that I've ever had to deal with.  There are swim lessons, trips to Six Flags White Water (which is 5 min from my house), trips to the lake, holidays to deal with, choir obligations, etc.  I've been flying from  one to the other with no thought to anything else, including crafting.  I did finish the final sleeve to Mystere, but haven't blocked it yet.

However, since there is one holiday coming up, Father's day, I did start one project.  The kids and I have put our heads together and come up with something for my Dad, whom they call PawPaw.  Since he lives at the lake and has two boats, we decided to make him a giant flag for his pontoon boat.

This is where I am right now on it.  This is nylon fabric purchased at JoAnn fabrics.  I bought one yard of the orange and 1 yard of navy blue.  I did not cut down the orange fabric, just used it like it was.   I've hemmed all four sides - first with straight stitch and then with zigzag to secure it.   

To the left of the flag, I plan to use grommets.  In order to make the flag stronger, I used a piece of cotton twill tape that was cut to the size of the flag, folded the seam completely  around it and then stitched it down.  Always doing the straight stitch first and then going over that with the zigzag stitch.  I will be inserting the grommets into this part of  the flag.

We plan on using the blue for the lettering.  I went to my trusty word program and put in the phrase "PawPaw's Yacht" and did this in a size 500 font.  I wanted the words to be huge.  I then traced these letters onto the blue fabric and cut them out.

I also traced the kids' hand prints onto the blue fabric and cut those out.  


The next step is getting everything onto the double sided fusible web and cutting it out.  Once I do that, I will adhere it to the nylon (on the coolest setting) and then applique it with my sewing machine.  This flag is going to take a beating.  I want to make sure that none of the lettering or hand prints flies off at the first sign of wind.

So that's where this project stands at the moment.  It will be Saturday before I can complete the darn thing.

Why?  Because of more summer craziness!  I'm off to another state for 2 days and then have to race back to help prepare for a week long boy scout camp and then on Monday I will be singing the National Anthem and Canadian National Anthem at the Atlanta Braves game with my choir.  So yeah, there's just a few crazy things going on in my life right now.  :)

How's your Summer going?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paint Makes A Difference

I've never really shown many pictures of my living room to you.  I've always been just a bit embarrassed to do so thanks to the walls and paint color choices of the previous owners of the house.  However, thanks to a fresh couple of coats of paint and a little rearranging of some furniture, that's going to change.

Here's a couple of before shots from two differents angles taken back in October:

In this shot you can see the wall color is a neutral brown, but it had a LOT of pink in it which just didn't go with anything that I owned.


And here you can see the unfortunate wallpaper:


And here is the transformation:

I need to get some window treatments up, but I haven't yet decided what I want to do with them.  
In this view, I had a Picture Bomber:


And yet one more angle:


At this time of day, the light is poor and the pics came out just a touch dark.    Can you see the little table to the right of the back door?  This is what it looks like up close:


The cabinet is filled with antique teacups.  At this point, the collection has outgrown it's cabinet, but until I find a better display for them, it will do.  The picture above the cabinet is a cross stitch project that I completed about 17 years ago.  The tea pot was acquired while on a trip to Scotland.

So, what do you think of the change?  There's still some tweaking to be done, but I love it already.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Super Mom

So when last we met, I had painted one 23.5 foot wall in my living room and it took me half a day to do that properly.  Since then, I've turned into Super Mom.

We decided that retrofitting our old trampoline with a new spring pad and enclosure was not cost effective.  It would have cost us more to do that than to buy a new one.  So we did.  Onto Craigslist it went and I managed to sell it for ten dollars more than I spent on it.  The lady said she was coming to get it and I met her and her two children and knew there was no possible way she was going to be able to take that thing apart by herself.  The two of us barely managed it.  We could really have used a man's muscles on that project.  But it's done and out of here.

The next morning I thought, what the heck, the Eldest and I can put the frame of the new one together and we again, barely managed it.  I am an official ten pound weakling.  After the husband came home it turned into this:
The Youngest in Mid Jump

Then, I tackled the living room and finished it in a day, by myself.   It's not all put back together, so I can't give you a good pic of it yet, but the transformation is amazing.

Since then I've been immersed in End of School activities.  It's been exhausting and I can't wait until school is out so that I can sleep late!

As far as knitting and crafty stuff?  I started the last sleeve of the Mystere Sweater, but it's slow going.  I've got second sleeve syndrome I'm afraid.  Other crafty stuff has been out the window.  I just haven't had time, but I'll get there...

Oh, and I'm learning to cut my own hair, but that's a story for another day.  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Rid Of The Stripes

After having an atrocious week last week, I decided to do something that's been bugging me for eight years.  See the wall in the pic taken at Halloween, the one with all the stripes?


Those stripes contain seafoam green, mauve, white and tan.  The people who lived in this house before us had hideous taste in decorating.  One wall was filled with this wall paper, the other three walls were painted a mauve/brown.  I've hated it since we moved in, but it was better than some of the other rooms, so I left it for a while.

So, since DIY is good for depression and anger, I tackled this project with gusto on Saturday.  First, I took a paint can lid that came from some paint that my parents had sitting around of a gorgeous gold that has green undertones.  It's amazing how this paint looks depending on the light in the room.  It really changes colors and has great depth to it.

The guy at Home Depot said, "Sure we can match that".   Well, the first batch that he "matched" wasn't even close to what I wanted.  It came out a more bamboo green.  Someone searching the oops bin is going to love it.  Me?  Not so much.  Another guy came up to help and they finally got it right.

You know what?  It looks awful next to the old paint:

It's just not a good combo.   Yuck!

Please excuse all the grainy pics today.  My camera battery died and I'm using my Ipod Touch and it's camera sucks.

Here's what the main wall looks like now:


Way better.  My couch, rug and accessories are much happier with this gold color than the nasty pinky brown.

This one wall took me a long time to paint (working alone).  It's 23.5 feet long and 8' high!  It's a seriously long living room.  It took one coat of tinted primer and two coats of paint to hide all those damn stripes, but hidden they are!

Unfortunately, now the wall looks bare.  I think I'm used to seeing really busy stuff on the wall and I'm just not used to it.  It's going to take some thought to figure out how I'm going to fill some of that bare space. 

I still have three walls to paint, but they won't take quite as long nor quite as many coats of paint and primer.  I can't wait to see it finished! 

Monday, May 09, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

This post may be a day late, but it's never to late to tell your Mom you love her.

I Love You Mom!  Thanks for all that you've done for me!

Mom & I circa 1969
Mom & Me

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

It's Paula Ya'll!

On Sunday I took my Mom to the The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Marietta, GA as an early Mother's Day present.  There were tons of vendors and I swear that each and every one of them had samples for you to try.  You could eat yourself silly and add on several extra pounds doing it.

We went to every single booth and decided to go get a cup of coffee while we waited to see Paula Deen.  There was tons of time and our feet were already hurting so we found a couple of comfy chairs and sipped our coffee and chatted with some other ladies who had the same idea.

While this was happening, guess who walked right by us, made eye contact and said with a big smile "Good Mornin' Ya'll!"  Yep, Paula Deen and her husband, Michael.  How cool was that?  I thought the old lady next to us was going to have a heart attack right there.  She was so cute.  She jumped up out of her seat in a hurry (and this woman had to have been at least eighty years old) and was grinning from ear to ear.  Probably the fastest she's moved in years!


Paula's show actually got off to a very bad start.  She apologized to the crowd for being "a little off" and with good reason.  The day before was the funeral for her nephew.  She was in tears before a huge crowd and before you knew it, we were all in tears.  Not a dry eye in the place.  How could there be?  Here is this nationally loved woman bearing her soul and her pain to a huge crowd of people she's never met, telling of her loss.  It was truly heart breaking. 

But then, she put on her game face, and started up.  It was a night and day difference.   Ya'll (I get to use ya'll here cause we're talking about Paula you know) this was one of the funniest shows ever.  She could do stand up comedy in her sleep.  She didn't cook, which ticked off the lady next to me who got up and left.  But really, you can watch Paula cook  at all hours of the day on cable television.  That's not why I was there.  I wanted to see her and I wanted to hear her speak.  However, there was some cooking going on, but it was her husband Michael and another chef doing it.

Let me warn you though, if you ever decide to just get up and walk out of one of Paula's appearances, get ready to take the consequences.  One couple tried it and she let them have it.  It was hysterical.  "Where ya'll going?" was yelled several times and they even pointed the cameras at the poor couple.  I'm so glad it wasn't me being singled out.  I don't know if the couple answered her or not, I couldn't hear it.

I also have a new appreciation for her husband, Michael.  I don't know if he normally goes on stage with her, but he did this time and was the perfect straight man for her.  He's also extremely funny in his own right.

It was a great show.  If you ever get the chance to see Paula live, go do it!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornados Caused Snowball At My Place

You know how when you do one teeny, tiny, little thing and it leads to having to do another thing and then it snowballs beyond all epic proportions?  Yeah, it happened to me in my pantry this week.

If you haven't been hiding under a rock the past week, you'll know that the South has been getting hammered by huge, nasty storms.  Well, we have no basement in this house and there were tornadoes all around us and headed our way.  The two sheltered places that we do have are in our hall coat closet and in our pantry.

So, the first snowball happened in the coat closet.  Besides coats, we have stored blankets and kid vhs tapes in there.  If there was anyway that I and the Youngest were going to shelter in there, it had to be emptied out.  I put all the tapes in two boxes and started a small snowball rolling there.  We had to rearrange a ton of stuff on shelves to make room for them.  Then all the blankets were moved to the laundry room for spring cleaning.  I'm still dealing with those today.  Finally, I found the bottom of the coat closet.

Next I headed for the pantry.  This is a small pantry.  It looks like an okay size in the pics, but it's not.  You have to turn sideways to walk into it and then hunch over because it was shoved up under the stairs and the ceiling is slanted and low.

Now, remember that there were tornadoes heading our way and we were panicking at this point.  I drug everything out from the floor of the pantry and slung it along the wall in my kitchen here:


Then, I started worrying.  The top shelf was filled with jars and cans.  What if a tornado came and started dropping those on top of the husband and The Eldest's heads while they were in there?  I mentioned it aloud and the husband went into the garage and came back with bike helmets, a crow bar, flash lights and a portable camping fan.  "We'll be fine", he said.  Uh huh.  I put some pillows and blankets in there anyway figuring they could put it over their heads.

I started thinking about getting trapped in that tiny coat closet with the Youngest.  He's hypoglycemic and gets evil when he doesn't have food.  I grabbed a huge box of raisins, bottled water and some rice crispy treats.  If you really want to know, I wasn't going to share the rice crispy treats with him.  :)  I considered putting some booze in there for Mommy medicinal purposes, but changed my mind at the last minute. 

This gets even funnier when you consider the devastation that these storms left in their wake.  Like our puny efforts would have done any good.  Have you seen the mere splinters that are left of some of those houses?

Anyway, all of this was done in about 10 minutes flat.  We were scrambling and not thinking very clearly, obviously.   Oh, and did I tell you that the power went out in the middle of all this? 

Luckily, the tornadoes went around us on both sides and left us safe.  But the mess I had to deal with the next day?  Not so much fun.

I hate to show you these pics, they're painful, but here goes.  This is what the pantry looked like sans camping gear the next day:


Now, notice the wire racks.  I hate these wire racks with an ever-loving passion.  Jars and cans won't sit straight on them and I've hated it for the past 8 years.  Since I already had stuff halfway out of the pantry anyway, I decided to do something about it.

Remember the Snowball that I mentioned?  This lead me to empty the shelves and it looked like my pantry had exploded everywhere:


Why so much stuff?  Obviously, I like a well stocked pantry.

Once this was done, I took off to Home Depot in search of plexi glass to cover the wire racks with.  I got a huge sticker shock though.  It was going to cost me upwards of 80 bucks to do this! For 3.25 freaking shelves.   No way, nuh-uh.  Quick change of plans and I purchased a 8 foot sheet of Eucalyptus Hardboard for $7.96 and had them cut to fit.  Got some contact paper and 3 rolling bins from Target and I was good to go.


This is what the finished product looks like.  Before the storm, there was no space to walk in.  Everything kept getting thrown on the floor and we just stepped over it.  I put all that crap into the three rolling bins and slid them up under the racks. So much better.  I wish I had a true before pic for you, but I was kinda in a hurry when I was cleaning it out.


The added benefit of the storm causing all this chaos?  I found stuff that I had forgotten we had!  And did I tell ya about the cans that had a 2007 expiration on them?  scary.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Wedding Shawl

It's finally over and the pressure is gone.  The wedding was held over the weekend and my gorgeous cousin totally rocked her shawl:


From the back:


Amber also danced with The Youngest (notice my other Joe Cool cousin in the background):


The Youngest cracked me up during the wedding.  He told me that he looked so good in his "fancy clothes" that everyone was going to think he was the Groomer.  :) 

During the ceremony he leaned over to me and said, "See the little girl behind you?"  I said that I had seen her.  Then he leaned in again and said "I look prettier than she does."  It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.    My little clothes horse likes his suits!

Here's the final pic of the shawl all laid out for you:


I'm so relieved this is over.  The stress of making a shawl for someone's big day is HUGE.  Before the bride opened her gift, I was in knots.  What if she didn't like it?  What if it didn't match the dress?  What if the look was all wrong?  Folks, I couldn't have matched up the color of the yarn better with the dress if I had seen  them both together before hand.  And the style of shawl was perfect with her dress too!  Yay!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Allergic to 'Poo

You guys are already familiar with all the major health problems that I've experienced over the past half year, but guess what?  I got a new one for you, but this one has actually been resolved.

For a while now (months) I've been contending with swollen lips, swollen eyelids, and rashes around both as well as excessively dry skin on my face and I was losing hand fulls of hair a day.  The eyelid stuff aged me about 10 years or so and I got to where I was hiding in my house because I looked so awful.  Makeup only made everything worse because it looked all cakey when applied over the rashes and dried skin.  Now, as a general rule, Southern women don't leave the house without makeup.  So, me?  Go without makeup?  Not happenin'.  I was looking hideous.  To make things worse, we have an incredibly high deductible on our health insurance, so I couldn't afford to go to a doc to find out what the heck was wrong with me.

About a week ago, I went to a meeting and a woman looked at me and said  "You have exactly what my sister had.  She's allergic to hair products."    Wow!  An actual lead to what might be affecting me.  I rushed home and dove into the internet.  I love me some internetz! 

I did tons of research on what the most common allergens are in hair products that affect people. Whoa.  While searching I found quite a few pics online that showed the kind of rashes that I was having.  

The culprit?  Cocamidopropyl Betaine.  What is this mouthful?  A surfactant used in 99.9% of shampoos on the market. It's also used in hand soaps, face washes, dishwashing liquids, hair color etc.  Basically, if you look at the ingredients list of any type of liquid soap, you're going to find it in the list. 

I went up to my bathroom and went through every product that I had been using.  Face wash with it?  check.  Shampoo?  check.  Hand soap? check.  Bubble bath? check.   Hair color?  check.  It gets worse.  You know that oh so "gentle" baby wash that my kids still use?  Yep.  In there as well.

So I went cold turkey on all these products to see if my hunch was correct.  I noticed a huge difference immediately.  My face rash started clearing up.  I noticed less hair falling out.  My scalp itched less. 

If I had any wonder about whether this was really the problem or not, I found out last weekend.  My husband bathed our dog at my parents house and used Dove shampoo to do it.  I didn't think anything about this until after I had played with the dog.  Within a few hours my face started getting itchy and red and by the next morning my eyes were almost swollen shut.

Now I and my family have to undergo a lifestyle change.  For me, the shampoo issue is not a big deal.  I have coarse, really curly hair that thrives on just conditioner, but for everyone else?  Now I have to find an alternative for them which means more endless hours on the net trying to find something that doesn't have that chemical in it.  Right now, I can't even help the little one take a bath nor can I kiss them good night after they've taken a bath.  Not acceptable.  Anyone have any suggestions for a replacement?

I replaced the dish soap with Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap and will be using this to replace all the hand soap in the house and to wash the dog with.  All Free & Clear Laundry detergent doesn't seem to be bothering me, but I'll be changing it soon anyway just to be safe. The only ingredient listed on that bottle?  Surfactants.  Gee, thanks for the info.

So, I saved myself about $6000 on allergy tests, which is wonderful, but now anything liquid and soapy can cause me severe problems.  I'm starting to wonder if this issue isn't what caused many of the health problems that I've been having for the past half year.  I haven't felt this well in oh so long.  I'm thrilled to have finally pegged at least one of my health problems down. 

You'd have laughed at me last night.  I put on gloves ( I even considered renting a hasmat suit) and walked around the house throwing away anything that had either the Cocamidopropyl Betaine in it or anything that had Coca in the ingredients list.  Overkill?  Not in my book.  It will be at least a month before my skin gets all the way back to normal, maybe longer.  I'm taking no more chances.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Welcome To My Nuppmare

Welcome to my Nuppmare.  Heh.  Now I have Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare rolling around in my head. 

In knitting, a Nupp (pronounced Noop) is basically a grouping of 1 knit stitch and 1 yarnover repeated for a certain number of times on one row.  On the second row, all of those stitches are purled together to make one stitch. 

Now, I chose to make my nupps in an easier fashion by using a crochet hook and doing everything on one row.   That method may be easier than the knit method, but it doesn't make it "easy".   You can see a great video of how to do it by this method here. 

So, What's a Nuppmare?  For me, a Nuppmare happens during (mostly) daylight hours and has several segments.  The size of my nupps is bugging me.  They're inconsistent.  Some larger, some smaller, but those are minor compared to what happened last night. 

I was purling a row after having done a row that has a gracious amount of nupps in it.  I got about midway through and noticed that I had left out a nupp.  The first thing I found was that I could not "fudge" it in order to fix it.  So, I tinked back, stitch after laborious stitch through the purl row and then the nupp row.  Before I go on, it must be noted that this shawl has gotten large enough and the nupps tedious enough that it's taking me almost an hour to get through each row. 

I reworked the entire nupp row and gave myself a big pat on the back and began purling the next row once more.  I again got about midway through the row purling and realized that I had done it AGAIN.  Not only that, but it was in almost the same place!  So, I tinked back, stitch after d@mn laborious  stitch through the purl row and then the nupp row.

I spent over two hours on two stinkin' rows of knitting!  By this time I was ready to toss the whole freaking project in the lake.  Which is where I am this week, at the lake.  All I am doing is knitting.  There are nine knitting days left before the wedding and panic has set in. 

Another piece of the nuppmare is the children.  My children.  It's spring break and we took off to the lake.  The lake is a quiet, serene place this time of year and my children, in my time of needing a quiet place to work, have decided to spend the entire time yelling, arguing, crying and being defiant towards all those in authority.  It is very jarring against the beautiful background scenery to be found here.   When you have to stop mid-nupp to referee a fight and that happens every two nupps, it would probably grate on anyone's nerves just a bit.  Of course, I could be just a tad bit sensitive right about now.  

Maybe after the wedding I'll escape to Tahiti and have an exotically handsome Cabana boy bring me Margaritas by the ocean and the only companion I'll bring is a good book.  Yeah, that sounds like a great answer to my nuppmare. 

Friday, April 01, 2011

Justin Bieber April Fools

I usually avoid April Fools' pranks.  In my mind, they're usually mean spirited and not much fun.  But this year, I just had to do it.

When the Eldest got off the bus this afternoon, I had the video camera ready and all the doors locked.  He got to the front door and was told to say "I love Justin Bieber" in order to be allowed in the house.  As expected, he refused and ran to the garage door.  It was locked as well.  So he ran to the back  of the house.  Locked.  He then had the brilliant idea to try and pick the lock with the handle of a lollipop. Um.  Yeah.  Didn't work.  :)

He finally caved and said it.  :)  I have it all recorded now for blackmail. 

Have a great weekend!  I'll be spending mine knitting.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Butter Thief

There's a butter thief in the house.    Here's how the thief did the job:


At approximately 6:45 am the butter was left on the counter in it's covered dish.  Between 6:45 and 7:00 am the thief shoved the lid out of the way and consumed a good amount of the butter she could get to.  At 7:01 the thief was remanded into custody and a mug shot was taken.


The thief showed no remorse to the judge and will be given the harshest of penalties.  Or at least as soon as the judge can figure an appropriate one out.  :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It Ought To Be A Sin

Giving in to the overwhelming desire to avoid knitting, I made a valance to go above my kitchen window today.  And ya know what?  Having so much fun with burlap, beaded trim and hot glue ought to be a sin.

Here it is laying out.  This is where I realized that I had hemmed it (with hot glue) all wrong.  Once again proving that every project I touch goes wrong somewhere.


The hem on the bottom was made my folding over the burlap about one inch and hot gluing it down.  The top was folded over on the opposite side and glued straight down with no hem.  The bottom edge of that was hidden with some more hot glue and the beaded trim.  So incredibly easy to do.   It was then hung on a simple cafe curtain rod. 

Here it is hanging in the window after the fixing of the hem:


And here's the side view so that you can see how it echos what was done in the bay window:


Another angle:


I'm still fiddling with how I want it to ruffle.  I can't seem to get it quite the way I want it, but it'll come.

This kitchen has come such a long way over the past two years.  I should have had this valance finished about a year ago, but life got in my way and it just wasn't a priority.  However, the sun is now streaming in the window in the late afternoon and it makes the kitchen unbearably hot and bright and I think this small valance is just what the doctor ordered, don't you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


A month ago, I had no idea what Kefir was.  I have just recently started researching and making my own kefir and thought I would share with you what I've been doing.  There are tons and tons of sites that talk about kefir and it's health benefits.  You can see one here and a really good one here.  Google has many more fantastic sites that can give you in-depth information on kefir.

Basically, kefir is a probiotic and a complete food.  Where most of the yogurt that you purchase in the store has 4 of the "good" bacteria, kefir (home made) has around 30.   Kefir is not a new "flash in the pan" product, it's been around for thousands of years.  It's a fermented milk product that in my opinion, is far superior to yogurt and is way easier to make at home.  It's reported healing properties are nothing short of miraculous as well.  It's especially good for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other stomach ailments, but beyond that it can help with allergies, skin and hair problems and has even been shown to help with problems related to cancer.  It can also help avoid the major stomach ailments that travelers get when they go to foreign countries.  Oh, and don't forget the weight loss!  It speeds up your metabolism and you can use it as a meal replacement since it's a complete food.  Don't take my word about all this, read up on it and you'll see.

So, since my little family deals with IBS on a daily basis, I thought (in true diy fashion) that I would try making my own.  As I said, this is so much easier to make than yogurt and so much better for you.

To start off you need to get some kefir grains.  You can get starter cultures from health food stores, but these won't last.  You'll just have to replace them over time.  I purchased my kefir grains from  I am not affiliated with this company, it's just where I decided to make my purchase.  You can find many more places online that sell the grains.  This is a one time purchase as kefir can last forever.  Literally.  As you use the grains to make kefir, over time they will grow larger and produce more. 

Kefir grains do not, in fact, look like grains at all.  They more closely resemble cauliflower.    Here's an example:

Looks gross doesn't it?  
Here's how simple it is to make.  Take a clean glass jar and put your kefir grains into it.  


At this point you must ignore the fact that it looks like baby spit-up and bravely forge on.  :)

Next add your milk.  You can use any type of milk, even soy milk products to make your kefir.  I have used both skim and 2% and  this summer plan on using heavy cream and using it to make ice cream with.  When I add my milk, I don't measure, I just fill up the whole jar.  I also add about 1 tsp of sugar to it, but it's probably not needed.  Then cover it with a coffee filter or a towel and let it sit overnight.

After the 24 hours (or less in my case) is up, your milk will have thickened considerably.  The picture below shows it in it's finished state, but the pic doesn't really capture the thickness.

 Once the milk has "kefir-ed" you need to strain out the grains and separate them from the kefir product.  Most people say not to use a metal strainer, but since that's all I have, that's what I use.  You know what?  It hasn't affected the grains or the final product one little bit.  So use what you have folks. 

Now the next big question is what the heck do you do with it once it's made?

In it's plain state, it looks like a cross between yogurt and buttermilk and tastes like it too.  BThe longer it sits on the counter, the more strong the sour taste.  Mine is a little sweeter because of the 1 tsp of sugar that I add at the beginning of the fermentation process.  It really tastes pretty good and can be consumed as is.  I prefer to turn it into smoothies myself though. 

You can use it in place of buttermilk or yogurt in recipes.  Smoothies, pancakes, ice cream, cheese, the possibilities are endless.  Heat will kill off the good bacteria that you need, so be aware of that. 

So is it working?  So far so good.  It's only been about two weeks and I think it will take more time to get into our systems to truly see a difference.  I'll have to let you know.  I figure that any step that I can take to make my family more healthy will be absolutely worth it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Frothy Knitting

The Echo Flower Shawl is coming along well so far.  I've been knitting like a mad woman, but I'm only getting about 1 repeat per day now, where at the beginning I was averaging two repeats.   I've finished nine of the thirteen repeats before the border and edging are applied.  It's growing exponentially now, but it's difficult to see it when you lay it out.  See?


It has a bubbly, frothy milk kind of look to it.  What's cool is when you spread out a few of the bubbles and see what they turn into:

Can you see the flowers now?  It's very difficult to stretch the knitting out and still take a picture.  My thumb distorted one of the flowers quite badly, didn't it?  

The magic of blocking will show off those flowers nicely.  However, I'm kind of scared to block it.  I'm having some major "What IF?" doubts.  What if I've screwed something up royally and just can't see it now?  What if I finish the shawl, block it and find HUGE unforgivable mistakes?  What if the Bride hates it?  

You know, those kind of What Ifs.  I'm not sure why I'm worried about it.  It's not like it has to be finished in about 2.5 weeks.  It's not like there's going to be time to fix any mistakes.  It's not like it's for an important occasion or anything, you know, like a WEDDING!  Jeez, why do I put myself into stressful situations?   

Monday, March 14, 2011

Can't You See I'm Counting?

I know for a fact that there's a mistake in here, but for the life of me I can't find it and to top it off, the stitch count on either side is correct.  Go figure.   No time to find it, moving on.


Everyone in my life is now forbidden to talk to me for the next three weeks.  Shush, Mommy's counting.  I said, hush, I'm counting.  For the love of Pete, SHUT UP, CAN'T YOU SEE I'M COUNTING HERE?  Unless you've knit lace, you can never really understand the humor in the above counting statements. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winding On

I'm exhausted.  I'm not exaggerating either.  I'm plum tuckered out.  This past week has been filled with clothes, toys, infant crap, etc.  I've been spending all my time co-chairing a huge children's consignment sale.  So if you've wondered (yet again) I'd wandered off to, there's your answer.

In knitting news, I finally started my cousin's wedding shawl.  I now have three weeks to get it finished.  Starting on Sunday, that's all I'll be doing for the foreseeable future.  I might take time out to eat and sleep, but we'll have to see about that.

When I start a new project, I always like take the hank and wind it into a nice tight little ball.  None of those fancy center pull balls for me, they always eventually collapse and turn into yarn barf.  So I started winding away while watching Top Gear the other night (the British version) while sitting in my favorite chair.  You really don't want to know how long it took me to wind that thousand yards of yarn.  You just don't.  I'll tell you anyway:  1.5 hours.  HOURS.  My hand was aching from holding that stupid ball. 


On the other hand, it was pure pleasure.  This may be the softest yarn I've ever worked with.  It's going to be incredible when all knit up.  Notice my confidence that I'm going to get this project finished in three weeks.  :)

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 04, 2011

To Each His Own

Sunbeam that is.


Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

My Upcoming Silk Project

There's a wedding in my future, not mine (been there, done that) but my cousin's.  It's in April, like next month.  A few years ago I made her sister a wedding shawl.  Guess what?  Now she needs one too.

So, her Mom and I picked out one that we thought would suit her and it's the Echo Flower Shawl by Jenny Johnson Johnen.  I'm making the shawl size and the yarn that I've picked out is this one:

It's from Woodland Woolworks and is a 20/2 silk lace weight and absolutely gorgeous and soft.  
My problem with making this shawl in less than a month is that next week I'm going to be up to my eyeballs in a children's consignment sale that I'm co-chairing.  There won't be any knitting time for me next week or this weekend for that matter as I'm starting to prepare for it.  God help me. 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

From Olives & Grapes you are ever in the Cocoa Beach, Florida, there's a shop you should take time to drop into.  It's called From Olives & Grapes and it's a very unique little place.  They specialize in flavored Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars.  Sound weird?  I thought so until I went in there. 


It's set up in a huge circular bar and there are little cups for tasting the oils and vinegars.  There are so many flavors!  You can check them out on their website.  I brought home Expresso Balsamic Vinegar and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar.  My brother had already given me some Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Olive Oil.

I played with the pomegranate one tonight by making a reduction.  I cooked 1 cup full in a small sauce pan on the stove until I had about 1/2 a cup and it had thickened up a bit.  Then, I put some chicken on the grill and glazed it with the reduction.  It was absolutely fantastic!  Just look how beautiful the chicken turned out:


That's not burned by the way.  The reduction was a very dark brown and it carmelized while on  the grill.  Oh so good!  By the way, I am not affiliated with this shop in any way, shape or fan, but I am now a big fan!

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Trip

Did you think that I fell off the face of the earth?  Almost, but not quite.  We took a quick trip to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.  Two 12 hour trips (there and back) with two kids in the car.  Oh boy.  Made for a long, long ride.  Thank goodness for portable dvd players and headphones!

It was me and the Eldest that actually went to the park, everyone else crashed at my brother's pad.  The Eldest has been desperate to go see the Harry Potter part of the park so we hit there first.  Unfortunately, the only camera I have was on my crappy phone.  It has a very poor excuse for a camera, but I did get a few fuzzy pics for ya.

Here's the Hogwart's train, the Eldest and two old folks we didn't know but were captured in our memory forever:


The Castle and a really odd smile from the Eldest:


The highlight of the Harry Potter stuff was in Ollivander's Wand Shop.  We stood in line for an hour to finally be ushered in the door with about 20 other people.  The shops are all tiny and you have to stand in line just to get into the gift shops.  It's utterly ridiculous.  I don't care if it's supposed to be true to the size of the shops in the books, it was poor planning for an amusement park.  Anyway, once in the shop, the kids were told to go to the front.  Ollivander came down the steps and welcomed the crowd and then began studying the children.  Only one child is chosen per group to be "measured" for a wand.  He made a beeline for the Eldest.  It was so much fun to watch.

He made him hold out his "wand arm" and the Eldest did so while the guy carried on teaching the crowd how a wand chooses it's owner.  Every time the Eldest's arm started to droop down the guy would stop what he was saying and just stare at the poor kid until the arm came back up.  It was so funny.  Then he gave the Eldest a wand and had him perform a spell to move a ladder.  Drawers opened instead.  Not the right wand.  He picked another for the Eldest to try.  This time he was supposed to make one bell ring.  Tons of bells rung.  The guy said, "Obviously not the right wand, but we're getting closer!"    When the Eldest took the last wand, light started streaming down on him and a chorus of angels started singing.  It was very well done and it totally made the kid's day.  The only drawback was they made us pay for the wand, but we can't have everything, can we?  :)

The Eldest was ready to leave the park right then.  I could have wrung his little neck.  We paid that much for tickets and he didn't want to see anything else?  Good thing I'm a mean Mommy or we wouldn't have got this pic:


Or this one:


Or this one:


It really was a lot of fun. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mystere Progress

I have finally completed the other side of the Mystere sweater:


I have already made a mod to the sleeves.  The way the pattern is currently written has the panel in the middle with no cable pattern.  I decided to add the cable pattern back into it so that it echos the panel that is on the main body.  On the main body, the pattern calls for you to K7, do the cable, K7.  On the sleeves, I have done K4, do the cable, K4.  Other than that, so far I'm doing the pattern as written.