Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sharing a blog post about M.E.

A young woman named Jaz has a nice blog here, and I wanted to mention it, as she talks about the almost unknown and unrecognised disease, Myalgic Encephalopathy, or M.E.  She also shares a short YouTube video about many people who are bed-bound because of this misunderstood illness.

I have a dear friend who has been dealing with M.E. for 50 or so years, and so I have heard of this disease.  She has had such a hard time trying to find a physician who knows enough about M.E. to help her, I certainly don't blame her for being frustrated.  It's quite vexing that so many doctors would/could be so ignorant about an illness that so many suffer from.  Perhaps sometime I'll ask my own doctor about her knowledge and opinions on the subject....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things are shifting...

It may seem like I spend (or comment on spending?) a lot of time contemplating and day-dreaming about my life, where it's headed, my creative pursuits, and the like.  Perhaps I do.  I guess I'm one for reflecting on the past and present, and consciously pondering changes for the future.  Some people don't sit still long enough to think about where they are going or where they've been, or how to improve their quality of life and happiness.  I do spend a lot of time in my head, especially when I have a relatively mindless creative activity (like the stockinette, in-the-round knitting of a sweater body or sleeve).

I'm also a day-dreamer; always have been.  I love to imagine things related to my life and possible future paths, and also those ideas completely fantastical and wild.  Stories usually come to me this way.

So why did I title this post "Things are shifting..."?  Because I feel the shifting of my creative focus deepening, running faster, moving me away from specific projects and further into others.  I am one of those kinds of people who don't, or can't, commit to a set career and stay there for life.  I dance from one passion to another, sometimes letting two or three overlap, but always moving.  I'm always keen to learn more about different subjects, once I've gleaned what I can from previous ones.  This may make me a "Jack of all trades, Master of none", but I enjoy the spark of pure energy as the idea hits, the rise of passion as creativity and learning drive me forward, and the "aha!" as the information settles on my skin like a newly knit wool sweater.

This may all seem somewhat cryptic and abstract, but I cannot at this point share more.  Things will be revealed as I am ready & able to do so.

Hope you are happily crafting in this late January weather (what is it like where you live?)!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Passing along a blog

One of the blogs I follow, In Among the Heather, shared a link from "The Bloggess", who blogged about mental illness and a great video put out by (as she says) "a blogger who decided to come out about his mental illness and document it in the hopes that others would know that it’s okay to ask for help, that it’s not shameful to be medicated, that depression tells you terrible lies and that you can’t fight those lies alone."

Since I am not personally affected by depression or any other mental issues, but know people who are, or have been, I wanted to pass this along, for those who might like to read the posts, see the video, and pass this all along too.


YouTube Goodies!

Every once in a while, people that I follow on Twitter will post a link to something great on YouTube.  I thought I'd share a couple of these with you that I've really enjoyed, and perhaps post others down the road as I find them. 

This is:
"Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic playing Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
for two cellos solo. Arranged by Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic."

And this video is a wonderful compilation (montage?) of movies made in 2010, with some great songs as soundtrack, all edited together by Genrocks.  This blows me away every time - I love it!

Do you have some great YouTube (or other) videos that you'd love to share with me and the Dyer In The Rough crowd?  Please post your drive-by linkies!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On and off the needles, January 16th, 2011

Wow! I can't believe how long it's been since I posted a knitting update - November 21st was the last time.  Now I have certainly been knitting since then, quite a lot actually.  Especially with being sick and needing down time, my hands have been kept busy.  So I have three FOs (finished objects) to show, and a few WIPs to mention.

The first finished project:

I started (Nov 28th) and completed (Dec 28th) a pullover turtleneck.  The pattern is called "Tang", by Wendy Bernard, in her Custom Knits book, which focuses on seamless, customizable knitting.  I really wanted a turtleneck, as my neck is often cold, both indoors and out, from about October to early May.  I knit it up with my own hand-dyed yarn, Mama Quilla Worsted, in the semi-solid stone-gray (with touches of pale sage green) "Anaxerate" colourway.  Previously I had only knit a small toque hat with this yarn, for my youngest son.  It is a real pleasure to knit with, spun up very like the single-ply Malabrigo Worsted, but, in my opinion, even softer.  I knit up the sweater with very little difficulty, and really, the only challenge was learning how to properly pick-up stitches (for the set-in sleeves and turtleneck collar), so that they looked nice and even.  By the way, the sides may look a bit odd on this sweater - billowing, then tucked in - I purposely did extra decreases in the waist to have a less boxy-looking sweater.  It fits me perfectly!

The second project:

This piece is the blue & green cardigan for my youngest son. He chose the yarn colours (from the two choices I offered him), and I knit it up.  The cardigan is a basic top-down, seamless, yoked piece.  The only change I made was making a garter stitch button-band, knit as I went, rather than picking up the stitches along the sides and knitting them after. I haven't blocked it yet, so the button-band is still curly, plus it still need some fun buttons.

The third FO:

My most recent completed project is the Damson shawl, from designer Ysolda Teague.  I decided on this simple shawl pattern to showcase the wonderful hand-dyed alpaca/silk/cashmere fingering yarn from All For The Love Of Yarn.  I think I showed this yarn off in a previous blog post.  I had been admiring and petting it for a while, so decided to actually do something with it.  Knitting with this fine fingering was like knitting with heavenly air - so light, and pleasant to work with.  Think I'll have to bring in a small amount from that supplier - lovely stuff (it's also available in a lace-weight too!).

And what have I brought out of hibernation to finish?  A garter-stitch shawl that I'm making up as I go, and the DK lace scarf (La Novia) that really needs to be finished (it's the scarf that never ends!, plus some socks that I started ages ago.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Recipes: Chili con Carne

As with many of my themed blog posts, my "Recipes" have fallen behind.  But this specific recipe needed to be posted, as it was a request from one of the lovely ladies in my knitting group (hi Judy!).

I think I have mentioned before in the blog that I don't often use recipes when making meals.  I do like using recipes, and do use them for trying new dishes, but have also built up a decent repertoire of my own creations (often variations of popular dishes).  My own do tend to vary a little every time, depending on what I have in the kitchen.  One of my own versions is the meat chili I make, a recipe I developed over a decade ago, likely before I met my husband (in 2000).   I don't measure spices or seasoning, so these are estimates.  Please taste/season as you go.

Chili con Carne
  • 2-3 cans of beans (I use a mix of chickpeas, kidney beans and one other - a navy or pinto bean. I also usually soak/cook my own. If you cook the beans for this recipe, use 1 cup of dried beans for each type you wish to cook.)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 12 or so mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper (I prefer red, yellow or orange)
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (I keep my ginger frozen in large pieces, so they last a long time, and just grate what I need while the ginger is still frozen)
  • olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1lb lean ground beef (I often used ground buffalo/bison. You could also use any other ground dark red meat, like ostrich, or venison, though these will lend their unique flavours to the chili. I used to use the Ives brand "faux ground round" when I was a vegetarian, and this sort of thing works really well - it can fool carnivore humans :-)
  • 3-4 drops of worcestershire sauce (to meat up your meat!)
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • 2 stalks celery and 2 carrots, diced (Optional.  Some people think celery and carrots don't belong in chili, just spaghetti sauce, but I do sometimes throw them in.)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
  • 1 tbsp each of the following spices: cumin, tumeric, paprika, oregano, basil. 
  • 1 tsp curry
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder (omit if you don't like any spice heat in your chili, or add more if you do)
How to:

- Brown meat with a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a Dutch oven pot (that holds 4-8litres).  Set beef aside in a bowl.  Saute mushrooms in that same pan, adding a bit of olive oil and a bit more salt and pepper, till lightly browned.  Add to beef in same bowl.
- Cut up all vegetables. Using that same pot, add a little more olive oil, then add the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrots (if using).  Saute for about 5 minutes, till vegetable are soft.
- Add garlic and ginger, and saute for 1 minute more.
- Add beans, diced tomatoes, beef and mushrooms.
- Add 1/2 cup water (if the chili seems to need more liquid later, add a little at a time to ensure a small moist bit of "broth" surround the food stuffs)
- Add all spices and herbs, plus the salt and pepper.
- Allow to simmer for 20 minutes minimum.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

 I like to grate a little sharp cheddar to my bowl.  Serve up to hungry friends and family.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Evenings with Netflix

For those of you in the U.S., many of you are likely already familiar with Netflix.  It's an online way to watch movies and many television programs.  Netflix has now come to Canada, and so I signed up.

After searching around, I wasn't seeing the programs that I wanted to see as "available".  I found this annoying.  However, after talking with a lovely gentleman in the Netflix customer service, I've learned that the licensing comes and goes on each one regularly, so things will be available at some point.  And after more time searching about, I've found a lot more programs that I either hadn't heard of but want to see, or those I've wanted to see but haven't yet.  This means I've been having fun catching up on many programs (both TV & film) from the last decade, much of it from the BBC.  This is both wonderful, and dangerous - I can end up watching quite a bit of the Netflix, 'cause it's so easy (and cheap)!

During December, especially in the quiet evening hours, and while I was sick (but not sleeping), I was spending time knitting and watching programs through Netflix.  I caught up on six of the seven seasons of Monarch of the Glen, a British comedy/drama based in Scotland, which was quite fun (I love all things Scottish, as some of you might know).  I found several BBC television series and period-piece movies that were right up my alley.  One of my new favourites was one I knew of, but hadn't watched from start to finish: North & South.  It's a four-part mini-series based on Elizabeth Gaskell's novel of the same name.  I may have to blog about this movie separately, because I am so in love!  It is a fabulous period-piece drama, with some great actors.  The soundtrack/score is lovely too.  I've ordered a copy on DVD for big screen viewing, to add to my wee collection of period-piece films.

I'm looking forward to what else I might discover through Netflix!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hi everyone!  My apologies for not blogging for a couple of weeks.  The Christmas/Yule season is usually pretty busy, and seeing as I was also sick, it's made things more challenging in the "wanting to blog" department.

Yes, sick at Christmas.  First it was a full body ache (thought a flu was on the way) for three days, then a sore throat that I was guessing was a prelude to a cold, but turned into a throat infection of some type (possibly strep) and needed anti-biotics.  I also needed to sleep a lot.

I'm feeling much better now, though the energy is still slow in coming back.  I think the anti-biotics might be partly to blame.

But aside from all that, I did still have some nice holiday time with my family, and received some lovely gift.

Now that we are in the new year, I'm contemplating what to focus on in the next few months.  Several bits in the Gaia's Colours business need tending, including updating some sections of the online store.  Finishing some WIPs and spinning.  I also need to come back to my screenplay, after the December absence, and really get the scenes set up so that I can start writing more of them.  Much to do!

Hope you are all well in this new year!