Category: Real Life (Page 1 of 26)

I Love Yarn

I like to think I’ve come a long way in the two years since I’ve taught myself to knit. When I first started I didn’t know anything about yarn, I didn’t know there was a difference in the type of yarn used, and I didn’t have a preference. My “collection” (if it could be called that) was mostly harsh acrylic stuff sold at Michaels or Wal-Mart because that’s what I could afford. As time went on and as I began knitting more, I discovered other sites. One I’ve used for a very long time has been Knit Picks. I love some of their yarns, but they also cater to the low budget crowd. Unfortunately I’ve found that over the years the quality has started to lack, or maybe it’s just that I become more and more in love with smaller dye companies.

In any case, once a year Knit Picks has an amazing sale, around the time of Black Friday in the US. I have only bought a small amount of yarn this year, so I saved up for it eagerly.

Turns out, I didn’t actually want that much. I did pick up a set of size 1 metal knitting needles so I can keep making my Christmas ornaments, and I picked up a size 1 set of wooden knitting needles to replace the two that I’ve snapped. I also picked up two skeins of hawthorne that were marked down to $5.50 because I absolutely love that yarn for socks, I’ve already knit a pair in the past, and I picked up two skeins of felici in a colour that I can’t remember. Neutral tones I think. I already have quite a bit of felici in my stash, but why not.

I love yarn. It brings me to a very happy place. I also participated in a yarn exchange on Instagram where you got to grant wishes for people and have one (or many, depending) of your own granted. I found a woman looking for some fiber so I sent her a few ounces of that, and for my wish I requested indie dyed yarn, which another kind soul offered to fulfill. Some companies even offered free shipping if you purchased yarn from them and specified that it was for the gifting which I thought was fantastic and a great way to promote your business. Sometimes, social media can be pretty neat.

I found a cute little sweater with whales I want to make for llama bean this winter before we move to the prairies, and of course I myself could use some mittens, and socks. A never ending supply of knit socks. Right now I haven’t had the time because llama bean has been going through a bit of a stage (I say as I type this one handed) but that won’t always be the case.

All in all I’m happy with my purchase and can’t wait for it to get here!

Star Wars Christmas Ball

I made a lovely practice ball first before attempting what I really wanted which was a Star Wars themed tree ornament. The pattern (found on Ravelry) called for fingering yarn, but I did it with sport, and size 1 double pointed needles. The problem is during the construction of the trial one I snapped my dpn when it came to closing up the ball. Doing those ktog were really difficult on the needles and involved a lot of bending.

I started a second one in fingering – and realized my gauge was way off. There was no way I was going to be able to close the ball up with that size, so I scrapped the entire project and started over, this time using red and green sport yarn. It went much better, but once again I snapped one of my wooden dpn.

If I want to continue to make these adorable little Christmas balls I’m going to either have to replace my wooden dpn with metal ones (and hope I don’t warp them too much) or start using magic loop (I know how to magic loop but I don’t enjoy it, my stitches seem to have long runs that way). I have 21 of the styrofoam balls, enough for a really nice collection of hand knit tree ornaments, themed or otherwise. This year I’m trying to have all my ornaments be hand made as a surprise for my husband when he comes home from depot for Christmas. Me and llama bean are going to be making some salt dough cookie ornaments for the tree this weekend. I haven’t made those since I was in elementary school so I hope they turn out.

I have been taking a bit of a break from knitting my shawl, I worked on it pretty regularly until I got to the feather / fan portion and then set it aside. That will be something I need to pick back up before too long. I just haven’t really felt like dealing with a pattern that I have to follow along with, and I needed a bit of a break. The yarn is an absolute dream to work with so I’m sure I’ll get back to it before too long.

Meal Prep Sunday

Sunday. A day I really just don’t like. I spend most of it cleaning and cooking, doing groceries and other chores that need to get done. By the time Monday rolls around though I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve gotten all of my meal cooking done on Sunday, even if it does make that one day stressful.

This week was pretty easy. I spent about $50 CAD total on groceries for me for the week (not including things that llama bean also eats / needed). The menu was simple, this time of year simple comfort food is what works best for me.

I made turkey meat pies with mashed potatoes and gravy (potato recipe, cooked in my instant pot). That would be dinner for the week.

Roast beef sandwich meat was on sale, one of my absolute favourites. I don’t normally like sandwiches, but combine it with buns (also on sale), chipotle mayo, some aged cheddar, and lettuce – and now we’re talking. Lunch is a roast beef sandwich with chipotle mayo, and egg bites (for lack of a better word). The instant pot crowd had been going absolutely bonkers for these egg bite things that you can buy at Starbucks, it’s apparently much cheaper to make them. I used this recipe. I did it wrong, but they still turned out, just not exactly as I expected. You’re supposed to blend everything up in a blender to make all the pieces tiny and the mixture light and fluffy. I did none of that, so I still have egg bites with ham and cheese but texture wise they’re not airy. No big deal, I only made enough for a few days to start so I’ll make sure I blend the second batch.

Snacks are another easy comfort food, smoked oysters were on sale, so I got a few packages of those along with some black bean garlic crackers that are just delicious. Honestly, there was very little actual cooking involved this week, and I think that’s OK. Meals are portioned out, and I know it’s food I won’t get bored of eating.

Health wise, I’m down to 191 pounds. My goal was to reach 190 before my husband came home last week but I was two pounds off. My next goal is to reach 180 by his graduation, January 29th. I’m hoping I can do this even with the holidays just around the corner. Still, 248 to 191 in a year is not too shabby.

For weight loss the key for me has really been all about pre-planning my meals, taking the stress out of what I’m going to eat, and portion control. I eat whatever I have a desire to eat, sometimes that’s pizza, sometimes it’s sandwhiches, other times it’s tacos. I don’t deny myself food, but I do go in knowing what I’m going to eat from Sunday-Saturday and I stick with it. Removing the stress from cooking a different meal every single day and having to decide what I’m going to eat every single day has helped my frame of mind when it comes to food and knowing that food is not bad. For me, it works. I know this isn’t the case for everyone. I’ve been doing this for 17 weeks now and I’ve gone from 215 to 191 in that 17 week period. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what works for you.

The People You Love

I never made any secret of the fact that when my husband went off for training 4 months ago I was going to be pretty lost. I was suffering from postpartum depression and I wasn’t in a good place. I was forced to either drown in those waves, or learn how to lean on myself. After having my soulmate by my side on paternity leave for 8 months he was going to be two provinces away. The first few weeks were the hardest. There were days I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it. Days I wanted to call him and beg him to come home and help me raise our son. Days I didn’t believe in myself.

There is a common saying that depot days get easier – this is not true, not in our case. They are the same difficulty all the way through.

Having him home for a three day visit was something that I looked forward to (as did he) and I just don’t have the words to express how thankful and blessed I felt the entire time. We went out for lunch together and had pho – it was his first experience with the soup. It was delicious. We laughed at jokes that only the two of us would understand. He ended up streaming for Extra Life and playing the Dream Daddy: A Dating Sim game. He even dressed up for the occasion.

I’m incredibly lucky to have this person in my life. He has seen me at my absolute lowest and stood by my side. He has also seen me at my highest points. He has changed, since he has been gone. As have I, as has our son. We all recognized how much stronger we are.

The point of this post is – if you have such a person in your life, remind them. Even if you think it’s silly. Remind them as often as you can just how amazing they are and how they have changed your life. The saying about you not realizing what you have until it’s gone is absolutely true. We took each other for granted and I realize that now.

We have three more very long months ahead of us, but Christmas will be the next time I see him and I’m excited about it already. Instead of focusing on the sadness I feel because he left today, I’m going to focus on the excitement of him coming home for the holidays. Whatever it takes to distract myself from the empty house and the silence.

Lets get back to some gaming posts next up!

The Importance of Quality

I bought a package of 7cm Styrofoam balls with the idea that I could knit custom made Christmas balls for my tree which is sorely lacking in the decoration department. They would be quick little knits that didn’t require a lot of technical finesse. Or so I thought.

I struggled for hours trying to complete the first ball. The yarn was dragging along my double pointed needles to the point where I was getting blisters from pushing the needles against my fingertips. After reaching the half way point I was tempted to throw the entire project in the garbage, but I kept on because the ornament was pretty cute.

Safe for kids and pets, they were personal to me and I really wanted to complete a test version before dedicating myself to an actual pattern.

By the time I completed the ornament I was completely fed up and doubting my knitting skills. Being self taught means I am constantly learning, and some projects are just beyond me. Then I took a closer look at the yarn I was using. It’s about 15 years old, ancient 2-ply yarn in acrylic.

The more I thought about it the more I was convinced that the problem didn’t actually lay with me at all, but my issues stemmed from using a poor quality product. The yarn was like trying to slide wax up and down the needles, and by the end my fingertips were bloody. It was horrible.

So the next day I bravely started a second Christmas ball, this time in the stash colours I wanted, using “good” yarn, or at least better. Still acrylic, but much newer.

It made a world of difference.

I’m on the colourwork portion already and the Christmas ball is just flying along. I’m not having any of the difficulties in doing my increases that I was previously. The yarn glides along the needle easily (as it should) and I’m not fighting with it. Of course that being said, I DID break a size 1 dpn because I was stressed out and gripping it too tight. Even our supplies have their breaking points (har) it seems. I’ll need to get  myself a new one before too long, I use them for socks. It was disappointing, but I was incredibly pleased that the knitting itself is going very well and as it turned out I was right. The problem wasn’t me, it was the quality of the materials I was using.

Just because you fail at something doesn’t mean you should completely give up. Sometimes, changing just a single aspect can yield a very different and far more enjoyable result.

People Deserve a Thank You

This week I am so grateful and thankful for the people in my life. I wanted to talk about a few of them and why.

David – who I’ve known since high school. He’s the one who set up the whole transfer of MmoQuests over to NomadicGamersEh – he did it painlessly and didn’t laugh when I asked silly questions. Plus he sped the whole site up and he wrote about what he did over on his own site here. Go give it a read. I’m thankful for people like this who have a skill set that I don’t have and I appreciate the time they put into these sort of projects.

Shai – A newer friend, but one I have already vented to on more than one occasion about life and she’s always there listening. People like this are rare and she makes me want to be a better person even though I’ve butchered her name a billion times on stream.

Speaking of streaming – Scopique and Girlvsmmo have been my personal cheerleaders ever since I got it into my head that I wanted affiliate on Twitch. They helped motivate me, inspire me, and were always there with a RT when I went live, and watching when they could. Advice on layouts, streaming gear, and everything in between – these are the folks I go to, and I’m proud to call them ‘my people’.

Ranni – This lady is one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. When life’s tough (and it does get tough) she’s still there and she keeps it real. She keeps me grounded, her stories are hilarious and honest. She probably doesn’t realize just how much I admire her, and may even find it a bit creepy (lol). Still, fantastic person.

Iz & Bex – We’ve all been going through our own personal crap lately but these two ladies are just fantastic. If I need to quickly vent about family, they are both there. We have our quiet moments but I still know I can go to either of them (or both) when I need to.

Neil – Lover of Christmas and purveyor of  Tinkerbell pictures, when things are crummy he still manages to find a good side. He’s one of those silent types that I’ve known for many years now (and helped introduce me to Wurm Online) and I just can’t thank enough for being around.

Anyway, I just wanted to put my thanks out there. There are many more people I’m thankful for, but today these folks are at the top of my list and they certainly deserve to hear it.

Back to gaming!

A Little Anime

Sometimes at the end of the day when I have two hours to myself I don’t actually feel like doing any gaming, or I just can’t narrow down what it is I want to do, so I’ll settle into my comfortable rocking chair with my knitting and watch some anime. I’m not a fan of the really heavy stuff or anything that’s too violent, or horror – but there’s so many other shows out there that I never lack for things to watch.

My most recent anime has been Fruits Basket. This is probably going to quickly become one of my top 5 anime, it’s adorable and there are so many quirky moments. It’s also got a lot of sadness within the show, and it’s pretty easy to relate to parts of it. It was recommended to me by a good friend, so it’s not really a surprise that I’m enjoying it this much. I highly suggest checking it out if you’ve never heard of it before.

Have an anime suggestion? What are you watching lately? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know below.

Sunday Meal Prep

I know it’s Monday now but yesterday was one of those crazy Sunday’s where you just don’t have enough time to get everything you want done. I did complete all the meal prep stuff I wanted to though (sort of) so that was nice. This week I’m having deconstructed chicken gyro with brown rice and homemade tzatziki sauce for lunch, and I’m having homemade chili with dinner rolls for supper. I also made apple crisp and put it at the bottom of some mason jars then filled the jars with homemade yogurt for breakfast. Unfortunately the instant pot was taken up making yogurt for most of the day, so my chili never finished cooking (I use dehydrated beans, they’re cheaper and just as tasty) so that will be on the block for today.

I don’t really have recipes to share because these are all comfort foods that I tend to just wing, but the dinner rolls pictured above are delicious and super easy to make, so I’ll share what I do.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 1 package of quick acting yeast
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • pinch of salt

Take 3/4 a cup of flour, mix in the sugar and yeast. In a separate bowl,  combine the warm water, milk, butter, and salt. Add the flour mixture that has the yeast, combine (it will be REALLY wet). Add the remaining flour until it’s not so wet, knead for about 10 minutes, add more flour if it’s still wet. Put it in a covered bowl in a draft free place until it has doubled in size (about an hour). Spray or grease a muffin tin. Divide the ball of dough into 12 portions, put each ball in the muffin tin. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let sit until those double in size (another 30 minutes). Put in the oven at 365F for 20 minutes. They should be a golden brown and when you tap the bottom they should sound hollow.

Not too exciting, but they taste delicious and go well with chili.

Meal prep has been the biggest reason I’ve lost 53lbs this year. I’ve got healthy home cooked meals already portioned out for the entire week, and while Sunday might be a long day because that’s when I do all my cooking, come Monday I’m very grateful. There’s no binge eating, there’s no eating poorly because I don’t feel like cooking, it’s all right there. If I want a little treat I don’t deny myself, but my meals are typically filling enough that I don’t spend much time eating anything else. I also ensure that whatever I do eat is something I have made myself (not processed or fast food). I haven’t started doing a lot of exercising yet (aside from taking care of my son, going for walks, that sort of stuff) but I hope to start doing that once I have a bit more free time. For now I’m happy with my progress.

What To Do With Left Over Pickle Juice

I love things pickled. One of my favourite things to eat pickled (besides, you know, pickles) is pickled eggs but they’re quite pricey. A small jar will typically run about $15 (Canadian). Turns out they’re really easy to make. I had an empty jar of extra garlic pickles (kept the brine) and some eggs and some vinegar.

That’s pretty much all you need, or you can make your own brine from scratch. I boiled the brine along with the extra vinegar, and added some extra spices for a bit of heat. I cooked the eggs in my instant pot (no fuss and they’re done in 5 minutes) peeled them, and put them into the pickle jar. I sealed the jar, let it sit out until it cooled down, and popped it into the fridge for a few days.

Yesterday was the first day I opened it up to see how they came out.

Fantastic.

The flavour is decidedly tart – but not so tart that it makes your mouth pucker, and not in an uncomfortable way. Sometimes you get such a heavy vinegar taste that it makes the food obnoxious to eat, but not in this case. All it cost was the $2.99 carton of eggs, and they’ll last in the fridge for a very long time.

So before you go tossing out that pickle juice – try some pickled eggs (or carrots). Yum.

Shawl Progress

I took a few days off from knitting. As much as I enjoy the cold fall weather, my hands have been giving me some pretty bad aches and pains, so I’ve been trying to get them feeling a bit better before I did very much more. My shawl is slowly coming along though. It’s worked in two sections, first you knit the center panel which is just plain knit stitch with a few knit-front-back and yarn overs that increase the size of it slowly and leave a really nice boarder along the wingspan, then after I’ll be doing some lace work, a fan pattern. Since I’m working with worsted yarn instead of lace or fingering it should be a nice good size, and since it’s an amazing 100% marino from Malabrigo it feels like I’m knitting with clouds in my fingers.

This is the first time I’ve knit with a “good” yarn, a fancy one. I’ve stuck to brands from Wal-Mart or Michaels or Knitpicks ever since I started knitting because that’s what I could afford. There’s nothing wrong with those yarns, you should knit within your budget – this stuff was an amazing gift from a friend and I had been looking for the perfect pattern to use it on. I’m hoping to be able to wrap myself up in this oversized shawl in my reading corner with a good book come winter. It will depend on when I actually finish knitting it though, of course. I think the longest part will be knitting the center as I’m doing now. I’m just over 50% of the way through. I am restricted to knitting nights and during naps because my son is in the “oh that’s fascinating!” stage of life where he wants to play with everything, including pulling and eating yarn. I know I’ll get there, it will just take some time. In the mean time, I can’t help but squish and play with this yarn and go on and on about it. It’s just that beautiful.

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