Sunday, March 09, 2014

Yum! Yum!

Let me start out by saying that having allergies is the pits. Nasal allergies keep me blowing my nose year round. But I have an even worse allergy. (No, I'm not talking about my allergy to housework!) I am allergic to nuts. The kind you eat, though I'm sure I'm allergic to crazy people as well. When I first discovered this allergy 14 years ago, the hardest thing for me was not being able to eat peanut butter. I have since found soynut butter which is a pretty good alternative. It's not quite the same, but it is very close in taste. I have used it to make everything, from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to peanut butter fudge.

That's all well and good, but having nut allergies doesn't just mean I have to avoid peanut butter. There are lots of things out there that are "made in a facility that also processes nuts" or "made on equipment that also processes nuts" and even "may contain peanuts or tree nuts." All which, must be avoided at all costs unless I want a trip to the ER and the possibility of losing my ability to breathe. So I, and Sir Lancelot, have become very strict about reading labels. A lot more companies are putting allergy warnings on their labels which is awesome, but seeing the warning that the product "may" contain nuts is disheartening. My selection of "healthier" snacks (and I'm talking about granola bars) becomes slim to none. Even if there are no nuts of any kind in the actual granola bar itself, there is that horrible warning. Plus, there are usually a few ingredients that you can't pronounce. And if I can't pronounce it, I don't want to eat it.

I got to thinking that since I am trying to simplify my life (and that includes the things that I eat), why not try to make my own granola bars. That way, I would now exactly what went into them and I could control sweetness, etc. Pinterest to the rescue! I found an easy recipe (no baking) that I doubled and tweaked to my liking. I whipped up a batch of these today, and I want to eat the whole pan they are so yummy! So I am sharing with you . . .

No-Bake Granola Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (you could also use real butter)
  • 1 cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 4 tsp natural peanut butter (I used soynut butter)
  • mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries) - optional


Over medium heat, melt coconut oil and honey. Stir to combine. Heat until bubbly, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is bubbly, let it continue cooking for 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Be careful not to let it go too long or you will be making candy.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the rolled oats, sunflower seeds and ground flax seed. Stir to coat.

Line a 13x9 pan with parchment paper, leaving extra paper to hang over the edges. Spoon out oat mixture into pan and press. Add the chocolate chips and/or dried fruit to the top and press into the mixture. Place in refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.

Once cool, use parchment paper to lift it out of the pan. Cut into bars or squares. Enjoy!


I love how I can control exactly what goes into these. They are simply delicious and even Sir Lancelot loves them! Oh, gotta run . . . the oven is beeping so the bread is ready to come out!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Seriously??

If you have read my last couple of posts, you know that I am trying to do things to simplify my life. This morning I got up and started the coffee. I then threw a load of laundry in and sprayed down the shower and squirted the bowl cleaner in the toilet. I figured I would let both of them sit while I had my coffee and a little breakfast. I also put coconut oil in my hair (more about this later). After finishing my breakfast and coffee, I went to put some water in my cup to let it soak in the sink . . . NO WATER! So here I sit with the coconut oil still in my hair, my bathroom that needs to be cleaned and 2 loads of laundry that need to be done. I also have to teach a class at the shop tonight. I hope we get our water back soon.

So you're wondering about the coconut oil in my hair. I have totally fallen in love with coconut oil! I am a Pinterest junkie. If you haven't checked out Pinterest yet, RUN! It is a highly addictive website. There is lots of inspiration there and I have tried lots of things I have found there . . . some worked and some didn't. Anyway, Pinterest is where I found out about coconut oil. At room temperature here in the U.S., coconut oil is solid. The first several times I used it on my hair, I just used a spoon to scrape it out then I melted it by rubbing my hands together and then put it on my hair. I usually leave it on for about 30 minutes with a shower cap on. Just go about doing things and then wash it out. You may need to wash your hair twice to get all the oil out. It leaves your hair really soft and shiny. I usually do it a couple times a month, but if your hair is quite damaged you may need to do it a couple times a week until your hair is no longer damaged.

Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer. Again, I was on Pinterest. Someone suggested that if you put the coconut oil in the bowl of your Kitchenaid and use the whisk, it will whip it up to be nice and soft and then it is much easier to use. By golly they were right! I whipped up a batch and added some lavender essential oil. I keep it in an air tight container and use it after washing my face. Yes, that's right, I put oil on my face. I decided that I wanted to cut out as many chemicals from my life as I could. Out went the chemical laden face wash and moisturizers. I now wash my face (and body) with Dr. Bronner's Castille soap. I then use the coconut oil on my face (and hands if they are particularly dry). My face has never felt better. My skin is soft and I am not having issues with acne.

And in case you think I haven't been knitting or crafting of any sort, here is what I've been working on. First up is my cross stitch. I am done with the stitching and am now doing the beading. I am loving it!

Lots of knitting going on as well. First up is my neverending cowl. It is the "That Nice Stitch Cowl" by Susan Ashcroft. It is a pretty mindless knit and I just need to buckle down and get it finished. I'm getting fairly close. I am using Dream in Color Perfectly Posh Sport in the January Dream club color. This picture does nothing for the color. It is perfectly yummy in real life!






I am also working on a couple of shawlettes. I started the Racing Raindrops scarf by Churchmouse Yarns. I have frogged my Brickless (I still want to knit it, but just in different yarn) and am using Ancient Arts sock yarn in the Mineral colorway.


The last shawl is the Hitchhiker. Even if I wasn't in love with this simple shawlette, I would probably knit it anyway just because of the name. A very awesome friend of mine that I met in college introduced me to Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guild to the Galaxy trilogy of four books. In fact, I just might have to drag them back out and read them again. Anyway, I cast this one on since it was simple and there were no beads for my cats to eat. It's rather hard to bead with cats around. I just picture confetti poo in the litter box. I'm using some Aisling Yarns fingering weight in the Being There colorway.

Now to go see if my water is back on. Cross your fingers!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

First Steps to Simplification

My plan to simplify my life has been put into action. Some things have been easier to implement than others. For example, I am getting much better about packaging up leftovers for my lunches. This simplifies the morning routine when I'm rushing out the door. Instead of eating fast food (not to mention spending lots of money on it) because I don't have time to put together a lunch, I am eating better food (because I can grab it and go) and saving money for things I will really enjoy (yarn!!). 

An old high school elementary school friend is doing a challenge called "40 Bags in 40 Days." The object is to get rid of one bag a day, either as trash, recycle or donation, for 40 days. I love this idea as it fits right in with my plan, except I don't have the time to do a bag a day. I did a major cleaning and reorganizing of my computer desk this afternoon and filled a garbage bag full of trash. Now my desk is not cluttered and hopefully I'll be able to find things. A couple of weeks ago, I went through my nightstand and 1 dresser drawer. As a result, I got rid of 2 bags! I plan to slowly get through the entire house this year and get rid of as much clutter as I can. I own way too much stuff and I'm suffocating! (Never fear! There will be some stash reducing but my fiber arts tools are safe!)

Speaking of fiber arts, I have been busy working on some things. My right wrist has really been hurting lately so my knitting has been minimal (no Ravellenic gold for me). I have, however, been doing some weaving and cross stitch. I am working a a really cute beaded cross stitch for tea. I have most of the regular stitching finished and then it's on to the beading. I have really enjoyed this change of pace.

I was asked to present a talk on weaving to the local knitters' guild last Monday evening. I spent last Monday working on finishing up some woven items that I had done so I would have things to show the group. Lot's of sewing going on at the machine, but due to awful weather the meeting was cancelled. I did get a lot of things sewn up and now I can use them. I need to get some pictures taken and uploaded.

While I was prepping for my presentation, I went out into our four-season room to look for a scarf I had woven. As I was crawling around on the floor looking through some boxes, I noticed that the carpet was wet. (Cue scene from Christmas Vacation - "Why is the carpet wet, Todd?" - "I don't know, Margo!") I started searching for a leak but could find none. Then I spied the cause of the squishy, wet carpet . . . 
We still haven't figured out how the water got in to form the iceberg. Our best guess is, that since the snow is waist deep in the backyard and we can't get out there to roof rake, there is an ice dam in the gutters and this is the result. We have melted the ice and are working on getting the carpet and pad dry. Of course it is smelling pretty bad right now. I hope we don't have to replace the carpet, but that is a possibility. This winter can't leave fast enough for me! And while this has done nothing to help simplify my life, it has given me the opportunity to simplify how I react and deal with some of life's curve balls. (Speaking of curve balls, the Tigers' first pre-season spring training game is this Tuesday. Spring is almost here! Play ball!)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Tis a Gift to Be Simple

Back in January, two wonderful friends introduced me to a book called One Word that will Change Your Life. It is a short book; less than 100 pages. But despite its brevity, it really packs a punch. The premise is that through careful thought and soul searching, you choose a word that exemplifies what you need in your life. (e.g. peace, love, forgiveness, order) and then you focus on that one word for the year, applying it to as many aspects of your life as possible. The book contains many stories about how focusing on just one word for an entire year has changed people's lives. I was immediately drawn to the idea.

I set about searching for my word. It didn't come quickly, but it didn't elude me for too long either. After much thought and consideration, I settled on the word simplicity. My life has been over complicated for a very long time and I feel that it is time to simplify. I had a few ideas about how to simplify things in my life and as I have embarked on this journey, I am constantly running across other areas that I need to simplify. I have a feeling that I have barely scratched the tip of the iceberg and I am very excited to see where this journey leads. I plan to apply this word to as many areas of my life as I can, including Knitamazoo Fiber Arts.

Over the course of this year I will be sharing with you my successes and failures on my way to simplifying my life. I hope that I will inspire some to look for their own word or even just join me in making their life much more simple. I also know that there may be no one who is reading my blog and that is okay. I intend this to be a journal of my personal journey and if someone else reads it and finds inspiration in it, all the better.

First up . . . The Purge . . .


Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year!

I can't believe that it is 2014 already! I'm still wondering if we'll ever have those flying cars they told us about when we were in grade school. Weren't we supposed to have them by the year 2000? Oh well . . . we have blankets with sleeves now. What more could we ask for?

This was a very busy holiday season for me. I knit 3 stockings for customers and completed 2 cross stitch pieces for a customer as well. Then there was all the preparation for my family's invasion visit over Christmas. We had a total of 6 adults and 2 children in the house. My cats may need some therapy.

The family has all left now and the decorations have been put away. I always hate the undecorating. The house just looks so plain and bare. I really miss the lights at night. There is just something about the glow of a Christmas tree that makes me feel all warm and happy.

Now it's time to go full steam ahead into 2014 and see what exciting, new things this year brings. I'm not one for resolutions as I usually end up not keeping them. So I am going to list out some goals for this year.

My Goals for 2014


  1. Get healthier - this involves eating better, exercising and losing weight. Sir Lancelot is with me on this, so hopefully it will be a reality.
  2. Spread kindness and generosity.
  3. Improve my teaching skills.
  4. Devote more time to fiber arts and crafty pursuits. (Especially weaving and spinning.)
  5. Build my blog and Knitamazoo Fiber Arts.
  6. Design more patterns.
  7. Have fun and not let depression get the best of me!
I think I will keep the spirit of Camp Get 'Er Done going all through this next year. I am hoping that each month I can complete at least one UFO. I keep finding all sorts of unfinished projects and I thinks it's high time I finished them or frogged them and repurpose the yarn.

So what are your goals for this coming year? Let's help keep each other motivated so we can all accomplish great things in 2014!



Happy New Year!!

Sunday, November 03, 2013

When did I turn into "Suzi Homemaker"??

Here it is, almost 2pm on a Sunday afternoon and I'm pooped!! Let me explain. Sometime in the last few days, I have either been abducted by aliens and replaced with an artificial lifeform or the Homemaking Fairy dumped a whole truckload of fairy dust on me. I have been going crazy with cooking and doing "home" type things.

We love our local farmer's market and usually go once a week. This week we bought leeks, salad turnips, sunchokes, celery, sweet carrots and salad greens. In order to make room in the fridge for the fresh veggies, I had to remove some of the "older" veggies. (What I love is that the fresh, organic stuff we get at market seems to last forever!) I had some carrots and celery that were on the verge of becoming rubber, along with the tops of the new carrots and salad turnips that I had trimmed. I also cut the tops off the leeks and washed them. So I started throwing all this stuff into a stock pot. I cut up an onion and several cloves of garlic as well and added some fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, parsley). I then covered this with water, added some salt and pepper, brought it to a boil and let it simmer for 1 hour. Voila! Homemade vegetable stock. I strained out the solid food stuffs and ended up with about 10 cups of stock.

So for dinner on Saturday, we whipped up some delicious potato and leek soup using the veggie stock we had made. This left me with 6 cups of stock leftover in the fridge to use later. Market potatoes and leeks, along with the fresh stock made an awesome soup! Plenty of leftovers too for later this week.

Today, I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I haven't made cookies in quite a long time and it was fun! We just finished up getting a pot roast in the oven, made with fresh market veggies and herbs, homemade veggie stock and an English roast fresh from the butcher. We will be enjoying this for dinner along with a salad full of market goodies.

But, cooking and baking are not all I have been doing. I have several old jar candles that are no longer burnable and I have been saving them because I want to use the jars for something else. They have been sitting around for a good while (several years, but who's counting?) and I have done nothing to get the leftover wax out of them. I was sitting at my computer earlier today and was perusing Pinterest (actually I was getting sucked deeper down the rabbit hole, but that's another story). I realized that I had pinned a link to instructions on how to remove the wax. I looked them up, read through them and thought, "This is simple. I wonder if it will work?" I put the tea kettle on the stove and boiled up some water. Then I poured the boiling water carefully into the candles and waited. It didn't take long and the wax started melting and heading to the surface. It was like watching miniature lava lamps! My candle jars are cooling and when they are completely cool, I will cut the wax in half and remove it from the jars. A good run through the dishwasher and I should be able to use them for other things. Hooray for Pinterest!

And lest you think I haven't been knitting, here are a few finished projects that came off the needles last week.

Market mitts for Sir Lancelot in Lorna's Laces Go Bears!

Sanibel Cowl for a shop model

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Naughty Kitty

Saturday night, Sir Lancelot and I were watching tv. I was reclining on the couch, knitting and Sasha was curled up on my lap. I'm knitting along when all of a sudden I come to an end of yarn and it's WET!! Sasha chewed right through my working yarn. Naughty, naughty kitty!!