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7 posts from July 2012

Addicted July 30, 2012

to green/brown milkshakes. And I don't mean chocolate. Or milk, for that matter. I was out of town for five days, and I missed this every single day. That's weird to admit, but true. 

Dear reader Lynn put me on to these, the Green Monsters, and I'm HOOKED. I tell you what, they are delicious (honest), do NOT taste like spinach, and they are so, so satisfying. You know how when you order a milkshake, hoping that it will be thick and creamy and heavy and perfect, but instead it's airy and thin and unsatisfying? This tastes like I've always wanted a milkshake to taste, only healthy. 

(See, I've been eating so well -- yay! I feel great! -- but I'm bored of thinking about cooking all the time. Eggs for breakfast, almonds/fruit for snack, this shake for insta-lunch, and THEN I'm happy to think about a nice, home-cooked dinner.) 

There are a ton of recipes on that page up there, but I thought I'd share the one I've been making with you. It's amazing. 

Rachael's Green Monster

(Add ingredients in order, so the spinach doesn't fly around)

2 cups fresh spinach (that's about two handfuls, in my estimation. I fill half our blender), 2 tbs almond butter or sunflower seed butter (tastes like a PB shake!), 1 banana, 1 cup coconut milk(the drinking kind, not the canned kind) (or almond, soy, rice, regular milk, apple juice -- I like coconut milk for the fat content and flavor, add more liquid if you want it thinner). Blend these for a while, then add about a cup of frozen berries (add frozen mango for even more sweetness, or pineapple for fun!). Blend a minute or two longer, and ENJOY. (Oh! I keep forgetting to add ginger. That would be good.) 

It looks funny. Yes, it does. But it tastes so good! And makes you feel great! I promise! 

Another New Dress!July 24, 2012

First things first: the winner of last post's draw was Louisa S! Congrats, and you've been notified by email. Thanks for playing, all! 

Second, I made a sewing area! We have a front porch that has been used for storage, and it was TRASHED. I realized that my dream of actually having a place to sew could be realized on the cheap. The machine table was nineteen bucks from Ikea, the chair fifteen, and I put our two card tables together to form a cutting area (the second table is up on blocks, decks of cards, to make it exactly the same height as the other table. It works. It's awesome. 

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And I just made a dress! The Rita dress that I was talking about! Pictures don't do this justice because it is as sparkly as a dress can be. It cost about eight dollars (sale fabric!), and it either looks VERY expensive or VERY tacky, and I'm not sure which is true. Don't care, though, 'cause I feel like a million bucks in it. 

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Adah, self-petting

Some sparkle, closer to what it looks like: 

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Except multiply the sparkle times a thousand. Oh, the fun! Whee! (Also, I'm knitting, I promise.) 

Book GiveawayJuly 20, 2012

Cobo

Storey Publishing does it again. Cast On Bind Off is a lovely little book by Leslie Ann Bestor, 215 pages of nothing but interesting (and useful!) cast ons and bind offs. 

Me? I use two cast ons: long-tail and crocheted (when it calls for a provisional cast on) and I use one bind off, the old fashioned kind, knit 2, slip one over. I've used more, but only when they're printed in the pattern, you know? I love Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bind-off for socks, but I always have to look it up. 

This cute little tome, though, now lives in my house, ready for reference. 

You can have a shot at owning one, too, by leaving a comment. Tell me your favorite method, or heck, if you're not sure, just tell me how your day is going! WINNER DRAWN!

More chances can be had by visiting the other blogs on her tour: 

7/9         Picnic Knits

7/10       Knit and Tonic

7/11       Zeneedle

7/12       Rambling Designs

7/13       Rambling Designs (pt. 2: Leslie Ann guest post)

7/14       Neo Knits

7/15       Knit & Nosh

7/16       Knitting at Large

7/17       Rebecca Danger

7/18       Lapdog Creations

7/19       Nutmeg Knitter

7/20       Yarnagogo

7/21       Weekend Knitter

7/22       knitgrrl

7/23       It's a Purl, Man

7/24       Whip Up

7/25       Knitspot

7/26       Under the Humble Moon

7/27       Knitting Daily

7/28       Knitting School Dropout

7/29       Hugs for Your Head

7/30       The Knit Girllls

 WINNER DRAWN! Thanks for playing. 

SewJuly 18, 2012

I swear this won't become a sewing blog, but I got a SERGER for my birthday from Lala. (What's a serger? It's an overlock sewing machine that cuts, sews, and finishes an edge all at once. If you look at the seams of a t-shirt or sweatshirt, that's what serging looks like. It's pretty awesome.)

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Digit, serger, and my new shirt, "My Cat is Famous on the Internet." Because he is, you know.

So, I got the serger for my birthday. It took me a full WEEK to find the bravery to take it out of the box. I was very excited and equally terrified. 

I've wanted a serger since I was about eighteen, when my best friend's mother used one for creating huge gorgeous hoop-skirted dresses for the Harvest Festival. She would curse and swear at it when it got tangled (which was often), and my fear was forever cemented, along with my awe. 

(I got this one. Doesn't it look terrifying? You should see the inside!)

I girded my loins. I read the whole book first. Then, when I was thoroughly confused, I sat down and tried to sew (it comes pre-threaded). However, two threads were tangled in the pre-threading, and I ended up with this disaster (that's a chaotic bloody tangle there, if you can't quite tell). I started swearing at the machine about two minutes after I first touched it. 

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Then I had to learn to thread it, damn it (there's a method where you tie on new threads and pull them through, so once it's threaded you don't have to do it again -- I didn't get that luxury). 

I learned. I threaded. I sewed. I squealed in glee. It's so FAST! (About 1600 st/minute as opposed to a normal machine's 400). It's so FUN! 

I immediately got out one of my favorite knit dresses which has had holes at the waist for a while because I can't be bothered to sew anything by hand. Zip zip! Fixed! And hey, it was such a great dress that I decided to copy it. (Copying clothes is my new favorite thing, yo. Just Google rub-off patterns -- it's EASY. Lay the dress down on paper, trace away, make a pattern, make a muslin, adjust for a while, Bob's your uncle. It's soooo much easier than following a standard pattern, and you're copying something you already know fits.) 

So I made a muslin (a mock-up) of the dress in a black rayon I got on sale at Stonemountain & Daughter, and I ended up with something Angelina Jolie would have blushed to wear to the Oscars. The vee was slit past my navel. I couldn't have worn it to the kitchen. 

But you know what? I just cut off the whole waist seam, rejiggered the bodice, and resewed it. Knit fabrics are so FORGIVING! I was getting closer. And when I added the sleeves and tried it on for the thirtieth time (sewing involves a lot of nudity, yo), it was actually wearable! 

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I made it in a couple of hours (!) and wore it to two parties that night (and yes, told anyone who would listen that I'd made it, with a twirl for effect). 

I've been working pretty much ever since (120 hours this week) but next week, starting on Sunday, I have eleven days off in a row (vacation! RWA National in LA!), and I'm going to sew the hell out of a couple of those days. There's a big fancy awards night function called the RITAs (the Oscars of the romance writing world) and attendees always dress to the nines. I have a fantasy of whipping up something pretty out of red sparkly fabric and wearing it to the big night along with fabulously high heels.

I'm no Angelina Jolie, but I'll strike a leg pose iffen I have to. 

My Favorite Bag(s)July 14, 2012

are made by Rickshaw in San Francisco. 

EDITED TO ADD - The bag is supposed to be for in-store purchase only. If you were looking at the deal, you probably noticed this. However, I know there's a workaround for non-locals. Shhhh. Don't tell. (But email Rickshaw and they'll make it work.) 

 

Some things: 

Names: The green one is the Medium Zero Messenger. The orange is the iPad bag. The houndstooth is the Commuter 2.0. 

Deal is HERE for the next 6 days (in-store purchase only, technically). If you miss the deal, their site is HERE

I customize all my bags and use the Performance Tweed because I love it--strong, sturdy, attractive. 

I forgot to mention: the Commuter 2.0 comes with a laptop sleeve! I don't use it because I have such a tiny computer. 

Someone asked me about knitting getting caught in the velcro -- that only happens if my yarn trails out and over the outer "clasp" velcro. It hasn't been a problem for me since the interior velcro is the grasper loops, not the grasping ones (there's probably a better way to say that, but you get it, right?). 

Verdict: Love, recommend, love. 

Sea ChangeJuly 11, 2012

I changed my diet recently, in an effort to figure out the allergies I was suffering (see the swollen face, below). I'm doing an anti-inflammation diet, which basically means I'm currently dairy, gluten, soy, corn, caffeine, and added-sugar-free. 

When I thought about doing it, my brain, in a panic, screamed, "What's left?" I usually eat toast or a muffin for breakfast, a sandwich at lunch, and often ice cream follows dinner. HEALTHY! Cheese was my go-to snack, and in a pinch, I could make a meal of two glasses of milk. 

But I was kind of getting desperate to figure out what the problem was, so I gave it a shot, and I gotta say: I like it. I like feeling more energetic. I like sleeping better. I like that my hayfever/allergies have basically gone away for the first time in years. I like that I've dropped fifteen pounds without trying to lose weight. (The answer to the "What's left" question is: organic meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables (minus the nightshades), and some grains/legumes. Thanks to Janine, I read It Starts With Food by the Hartwigs. Yes, they say no grains or legumes. I say just TRY to take lentils and oatmeal away from me.)

I do not like: thinking about what to eat all the time. I do not like cooking all the time. I mean, I like cooking, and I like it when I hit the ball out of the park and make something amazing. But I'm not one of those people who looks forward to chopping vegetables, and there are a LOT more vegetables in my life right now. You know how you find those wilting greens at the back of the fridge? We're not finding those in our fridge anymore. We're eating all of them. We started getting a CSA box, and come hell or high water, we've got to figure out what to do with zucchinis even though I hate them (hint: feed them to Lala). 

(OH GOD, IS THIS WHAT FORTY LOOKS LIKE? Really?) 

No, come on. THIS is what 40 looks like: 

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At my birthday party. SO fun. 

And, it turns out, they've figured out what was wrong with me. I have estrogen induced angioedema, which is rare, rare, rare indeed, so rare my allergist is actually excited to present his findings in a paper. I'm intolerant to any estrogen that's not my own, which means I had to go off the HRT immediately (since the swelling isn't treated by regular ER-given antihistamines and steroids), and now I can't supplement with anything like soy or black cohosh since the reaction in the body is the same. Gah. I haven't had a hot flash yet, but I'm nervous. 

Hey, it's not all bad. For a minute there I thought I was allergic to avocados, and I would MUCH rather be in sudden surgical menopause than have to give up those green goodies for the rest of my life.

I have my priorities, people. 

Bonus Recipe! 

Eggs and Greens

There's something wonderful about the soft-boiled egg, how the yolk runs into the greens, making everything rich and delicious. I've been eating this almost every day and I'm not even starting to get tired of it yet. 

Set a small pot of water to boil. While that heats, chops greens (kale, colllards, chard, or a yummy mix of all) and two cloves of garlic. Dice mushrooms if you have them, because that's just fun. When the water boils, use a slotted spoon to slide two eggs in their shells into the water. Set timer for seven minutes. Heat a glug of olive oil in a heavy pan, add garlic, cook till it's fragrant, then add the greens (and mushrooms or whatever else you like) and add some salt, pepper, and an optional dash of cayenne. Cover, cooking over medium heat until the greens are wilted to your liking, stirring occasionally. (This usually takes the full seven minutes of egg time for me.) When the timer goes off, pour cold water over your eggs and then peel, careful not to let the shell pierce the egg or yolk. Plate the greens, add the eggs on top, another sprinkle of salt, and YUM. Eat on the porch, if possible. 

Camping! July 1, 2012

We went camping in the teardrop trailer! It was awesome! 

The day didn't start well. I've been having angioedema, something I used to get maybe 15 years ago. It starts with part of my face swelling and doesn't slow down for a while until I'm almost unrecognizable. Click here for a good pop-up picture of Friday's alterno-Rachael. I'm thinking it's all a byproduct of last month's surgery, but it's scary (since last week my throat swelled) and I want to figure it out. I've been on an anti-inflammation diet for about a week now (no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine -- LE SIGH) and I'm feeling better physically although I still got the reaction (it seemed to come directly from stress -- awesome). 

Anyway. 

I talked my way out of the hospital four or five hours later (they never want to release me until the swelling is gone, but my swelling lasts up to three days -- NO CAN DO), and then we went camping. The day was not lost. 

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I made a camping dress out of some thrift store fabric. Rachael-as-Picnic-Table!

Dude. With the trailer, camping is so awesome. Lala had worked hard on pulling together the stuff we needed while I was in the ER (really, I just went in to get out of camping prep), so when I got home, we threw stuff in the station wagon, hooked up the trailer and got out of town. Well. Kind of. 

It was a trial run, at Chabot Campground, which is literally less than 5 miles from our house as the crow flies, close enough to be comfortable for someone having an allergic reaction, but far off enough in the woods that it felt like we were far, far from home. 

And you know how when you're camping, you get to your site and then you have to scramble around for an hour, putting up the tent (hopefully without fighting with your significant other about whether or not tent pegs are important), blowing up the air mattress (after finding replacement batteries for the pump), and making the bed? Afterward you're sweaty and tired and sick of camping already.

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Fire reflected in the bedroom window.

With a teardrop trailer? We pulled up, unhitched (a matter of about a minute), and we were done. The bed was already cozily made with flannel sheets and our down camping comforter. The kitchen was ready in the back of the camper. I lit the fire while Lala opened a beer and thought about steak. We played some music (the nearest campers were far enough away that the accordion didn't bother them, a small miracle in itself). Some friends actually happened to be camping there also, so they came over and we all laughed at my face and we drank wine into the late hours, until we crawled off to bed which was SO COMFORTABLE. 

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In the morning, while I laughed at my six-year-old face, Lala made steak and eggs for breakfast. Oh, YUM. 

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I admired the view: 

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and spied on our closest neighbors (seen in the distance here): 

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Clean-up was swift and easy -- we just threw our stuff in the camping boxes, and tossed them in the back of the car. We shut the doors on the trailer and hitched up and left. I can see us doing this a LOT this summer, and into the fall (when we have our best weather, in my opinion). Not a bad way to spend thirty bucks, I think.