Thursday, April 29, 2010

February Lady Sweater

Ah, the February Lady...I cast on for this over a year ago.  Then I stopped because the color I was using was truly nauseating.  Don't knit a sweater that you know you will never wear.  Even if, like me, you may have two cones of "apple green" cotton yarn--that actually looked nice and apple-y at the Peaches and Cream website but in real life is more acid-electric-neon green.  Save those 1600 yards of cotton for dishcloths.

So I tried again.  This time, in a lovely Robin's Egg Blue. 

I cast on on March 28.  Bound off on April 26.  I pretty much only worked on this during the evenings.  It kept me company at a couple of dance classes, but I really didn't work on it obsessively. 

I think the sleeves are a little longer than I would have liked, but that's okay.  I do love the color. 

I'm glad I finally made this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happiness and Calcium

Are you scratching your heads at that title?  It makes sense over here...Let me start at the beginning.

I first heard about this book, The Happiness Project, over at Salt and Chocolate.  Thanks to my awesome library, I picked it up last week.  It was a quick read, very entertaining and it gave me lots to think about.  The author spent one year working on ways to be happy.  Each month she focused on a different aspect of her life (i.e. vitality, marriage, work, parenthood). 

So it got me to thinking.  I mean, I'm pretty happy and content.  I am very blessed--I have a family I love and who loves me back, I don't really want for anything, but, much like the author felt, I feel like I could be actively doing more to promote my own happiness.  Perhaps a Happiness Project of my own is in order?  I brainstormed yesterday.  I used Gretchen's categories as a starting point, and I identified six of her categories that I want to work on in my own life.  If I start in May, I will be wrapping up my project in November--when I turn 40.  This seems to be a perfect way to conclude my thirties, and a wonderful beginning to the next decade of my life.

We're getting to the calcium, I promise!

In the first month of her happiness project, Gretchen focused on vitality--her goal was to boost energy.  She observed that it's easier to feel happier when she feels good; when she was tired, it was all too easy to become cranky and negative.  I wholeheartedly agree with this observation. 

I decided that boosting energy and feeling good would be a great place for me to start my own project, but I felt strongly that some parts of this should be started right away--why wait another eight days?  One of my goals for May (and now) is to find ways to bring my PMS symptoms under control.  I feel like my PMS has gotten more severe over the last few years.  It's no longer craving some chocolate and feeling a little snippy.  I spend at least one day a month--and very often two or three--unable to tolerate anyone.  I just blow up at everyone--husband, kids, it doesn't matter.  I start my days on edge and every tiny thing pushes me over.  I feel awful on the inside; I know that I shouldn't be so nasty--I even hear the little voice in my head telling me that I'm being irrational--and yet I can't stop the tide of nastiness.  And then I feel guilty on top of it.  It's not pretty.  It's time to take action.

I learned a while back that calcium and magnesium are supposed to help with PMS symptoms.  I even bought a giant bottle of calcium supplements last year.  And occasionally, when I'm in the throes of hormonal misery, I will take one.  I mentioned this to my doctor at my last visit, and she told me that the key to the calcium is to take it throughout your cycle--you need it before you need it, so to speak.  And then she mentioned something about mega-doses being effective.  And I went home and continued to sporadically take the calcium.

Yesterday, I went in search of the latest news on this issue.  According to the articles I read, I'm not even close to getting enough calcium and vitamin D.  My supplement contains 600mg of calcium and 400 I.U. of vitamin D.   One article recommends 1000mg of calcium and 1000-2000 I.U. of vitamin D!

One study dating back to 2005 gave women 1200mg of calcium per day, and they reported some symptom relief.  Now, I'm not really a pill-happy person.  I prefer to get my vitamins and minerals through the food I eat, but I don't think there are enough hours in the day for me to drink all the milk and eat all the cheese and ice cream I 'd have to to achieve the numbers I need to achieve.  Plus, I have this gigantic bottle of pills that is going to expire this summer, and I don't want them to go to waste.  If I take two supplements per day, I will be taking in 1200 mg of calcium and 800 I.U. of Vitamin D.  So, the first resolution of my happiness project is to take two calcium supplements per day. 

In the 2005 study, the women took the supplements for three months, and I believe it took a couple of months before they reported any relief, so I'm not going into this expecting to be all sunshine right from the start.  But, just knowing that I can take some action to try to feel better does make me feel better.  And now, when my Dad asks me whether I'm lifting weights or taking calcium to stave off osteoporosis (really, it's a conversation we've had!), I can tell him that I am taking my calcium.

So there you have it, the unofficial beginning to my Happiness Project.  If the calcium works, we're all going to be happier!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Textured Circle Shrug

Back in late January, Larissa and I began a knitalong.  The pattern: the textured circle shrug.  The yarn: Paton's classic merino in wisteria.  I had two skeins in my stash, and I was able to pick up two more skeins from the same dye lot.  I probably still have most of the fourth skein left.

We decided to add the k1, p1 ribbing to the end of the sleeves; I may have added some additional length to the sleeves as well (I can't find my notes right now).  The actual knitting was pretty easy--there was a LOT of k1, p1--both as ribbing and again in the 22 rows of seed stitch.  Ah, but I do love the way seed stitch feels.  This project took so long to complete because I put it away a couple of times to knit birthday sweaters, etc.  It was ready for me to wear on Easter Sunday, so I was happy.

The fit?  Well, it doesn't look as body-hugging on me as it does on the model in the pattern.  After wearing it for a couple of hours I became aware of the sleeves kinda bunching up and giving that "Michelin Man" look.  And since it's a shrug, it did occasionally feel like it was going to fall off my shoulders.  But the large collar is pretty--maybe if I had a pin to close it it would look more like the model.  (On Easter I was wearing a ruffled shirt, and I didn't want to cover the ruffles.)  I do think this will get lots of wear from me.  It's a nice grab-something-to-cover-the-shoulders type of covering, and I love this color.

My favorite part of the knitalong?  Getting to know Larissa a little better.  She and I exchanged frequent emails during our knitting.  Her comments are always thoughtful and kind and never fail to bring a smile to my face.  I like to think that all those good friendly vibes were knit into the sweater--a happy thing, don't you think? 

And I'm already knitting another sweater--this time it's the February Lady Sweater for myself (again). 

But if anyone is considering knitting a shawl...

Last year I actually knit two small ones as Mother's Day gifts for my mom and my mother-in-law.  It was a learning experience, to put it mildly.  I think now I'm ready to try again.  I will be purchasing lace needles, because working with lace-weight yarn on blunt bamboo needles nearly put me over the edge.  I hope to tackle the fancier version of Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi Shawl.    I don't have yarn or needles yet, so it's not like I'm starting this tomorrow.  (Webs is having a sale right now...just in case you didn't know.)  Wow, am I enabling, or what?

So let me know...and let's go bug Larissa to show us her beautiful textured circle shrug!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughts for a Tuesday

I'm still here...trying to dig out from the mess that is Spring Break when the kids are home. 

I need and want to Spring Clean, but can't seem to motivate myself to actually start.

The six-year-old Coach's Pitch season begins tonight--if we don't get a rainout.

The next eight Saturdays have something on the schedule--mostly baseball.  Which I totally love.

I just spent $65 yesterday for the doctor to tell me that the strange "rash" on Caroline's scalp was indeed the paint that she had spray painted on her head at the spring fair.  Three weeks ago.  I haven't told Rob yet.  That one is going to be embarrassing.

(Of course I have washed her hair since the fair...but you all knew that.)

How in the world did we get to the last reporting period of the school year?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Monday

Easter Sunday was beautiful--at home and at the Sea Bright public beach!

The girls go back to school on Thursday; Bobby has the whole week off.  Normal blogging probably won't resume until next week.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy April

Hello, again.  It seems that time keeps getting away from me, and the next thing I know, another week has gone by since my most recent post.  What have I been doing?

Coming up with more ideas of things to do or make than there are hours in the day;

failing miserably at any sort of menu planning (pasta again?);

sewing little projects that I can't seem to get out of my mind;

finishing big projects; (I'll share more on this one in a separate post, I promise!)

sewing a skirt for Easter;
or, more accurately, sewing a skirt for Easter, discovering that the style looks just horrible on me, cutting up that skirt plus the leftover fabric to make a different pattern--and being very thankful that I had enough leftover fabric to do so;

taking field trips to a screen-print shop with my Brownie and coming home with a souvenir t-shirt;

wondering where I can unload the dozen-or-so "paranormal vampire/witch romance" novels that I won in a basket at the school fair; (seriously, of the 20 or so books in this basket, there are maybe four that I will read)

joining the Food Revolution;

calling my computer-savvy neighbor when our mouse just up and died; adding "new mouse" to the shopping list;

discovering free podcasts and dusting off the ipod to upload more podcasts than I can ever listen to;


heading out to the garden to start the broccoli and other vegetables!

The kids are off tomorrow and the next few days; Bobby is off all next week.  Our spring-like weather has finally returned, so we're going to be enjoying the sunshine.