Year end knits and the logistics of gifting a knitter


Let’s start this post by playing a little catch up.

In the time between my last post and Christmas I knit:

  • A Dede cardigan as a baby shower gift for my husband’s cousin’s baby shower
  • A fair isle hat for my daughter that is really a swatch for the Sister Snowflakes sweater I want to make her (and my stitch gauge was off by half an inch. Planning  on going up a needle size and making the pattern a size bigger so she can grow into it:


  • A Star Wars hat for my husband (pattern name on Ravelry is The Force Awakens):IMG_20151217_143752536_HDR.jpg
  • Made a few starts and stops on the Be Simple Variations shawl
  • Began swatching for the Olivia Petit pattern I was gifted at Christmas (!)

So for Christmas I was gifted with a half dozen patterns from my Ravelry wish list, which was so very awesome! Between my husband and mother in law I have enough knitting planned out to last until NEXT Christmas. But here’s the kicker: several beautiful patterns and not very much yarn. I mean, I’m really being a brat because the $50 KnitPicks gift card I also got for Christmas is also very nice but…fifty bucks buys just about enough yarn for one adult sized knitting pattern. I have SEVERAL patterns to knit (there was one baby pattern, the Olivia Petit, but I already have the yarn for that.) I thanked my husband and mother-in-law, then later explained to my husband that instead buying me five knitting patterns and the equivalent of a single project’s worth of yarn, he could for example buy me maybe two knitting patterns and give me the cash equivalent of three additional patterns to spend on materials. Or, he and anyone else he may advise on how to gift me can carry on and I will just have to purchase the yarn with my own means, quite possibly as a birthday gift to myself since January 2 is so darn close to December 25.

And that’s exactly what I did:

IMG_20160102_130927403_HDR.jpgIMG_20160102_131525966.jpgThe skeins in both pictures are for the same project, which I can’t wait to start. It will be the most technically challenging knitting I have done to date, and I can’t wait to reveal it here!

But before that I have to finish a cowl for my brother and either finish or hibernate the Be Simple Variations shawl I have sitting on my size 7 circulars (yes, I inconveniently have only one pair). Hopefully this weekend will see me swatching and blocking and perhaps buying more yarn…

Happy New Year, everyone!


2016 Knitting Resolutions


Isn’t it a little too early to make resolutions for the new year? You probably just thought something along those lines. In my case, it’s just in time because a) I have a list of things knitting related that I want to do for sure and b) there is enough on my knitting plate between now and Dec 31 that I won’t be able to get to any of it, and c) with the gift giving season coming up I can manipulate my wish list to accommodate the accomplishment of said things. So voilà! Instant new year knitting resolutions.

The list in no particular order:

  1. Knit a Eunny Jang design
  2. Knit a Connie Chang Chinchio joint (or three)
  3. Make another pair of Glenna C’s ribbed socks, but for myself
  4. Learn to knit socks two at a time on circulars
  5. Learn to knit toe up socks
  6. Pay a designer directly for a pattern (i.e. magazine purchases don’t count)
  7. Knit at least two things from my collection of knitting books/magazines
  8. Do some test knitting/get my tech editing on for someone else out of the goodness of my heart
  9. Visit a yarn shop I haven’t been to yet
  10. Knit myself some capsule pieces
  11. Knit something out of yarn i I recycle/upcycle myself
  12. Make my daughter a dress and matching hat (and maybe find a way to make myself coordinate)
  13. Knit my husband a (washable) sweater

Yup, a lot of these things can get knocked out simultaneously. Hurrah for efficiency!

Primal Blueprint Health Challenge – Days 4 – 6


You know, I kinda admire people who can take such great pictures of their food. They have much better cameras and lighting than me. They also have more patience. Really, I like to eat my food more than anything else. I have managed to take a few not-too-terrible pics for you of some of the things I have been eating in the last three days, though!

There are those fabulous bacon and guacamole sandwiches I talked about in the last post. I had six of these fabulously decadent little treats, using six strips of bacon total:

Guacamole sandwiched between bacon strips

Dr. Swank is rolling in his grave, God bless his soul.

It is kind of hard to OD on these things. They taste good. REALLY REALLY good. But they are so rich that they satiate you for the most part (and if nothing else, you feel like you should eat some fruit later just for balance).

Yesterday I took yet another recipe from Nom Nom Paleo, prosciutto-wrapped mini frittata muffins:

Ham wrapped egg frittata

So cute! So savory! So full of sulfur-rich veggies!

There was no prosciutto in the house (there rarely is), so I stole some of Hubby’s nitrate-free sliced ham. These babies are chock full of garlic, onion and some chopped chicken. I resisted the urge to completely cover them in halved cherry tomatoes and I am kind of glad I exercised that restraint. Earlier today I basically gorged on three handfuls of the cherry tomatoes that were left – moderation one day, full blown tomato-hedonism the next…

Instead of ravaging Hubby’s sandwich meat supply I only made four muffins with ham. The rest were baked sans wrapper, which didn’t turn out too bad but I think I will definitely want some from of wrapper for all of them the next time to avoid having some of the egg getting stuck to the muffin tin. I ate three of those ham-less muffins for breakfast this morning along with those cherry tomatoes, and then had this for lunch:

Kale and Sausage

Spicy. Fragrant. Kale and Sausage.

I know there are some Primals out there who don’t approve of store-bought smoked meats, but these sausages from Whole Foods are nitrate and preservative free. Also, I had them before I started the challenge and they are pretty pricey. So I am going to eat them, dammit! They can just go towards the 20% of the 80/20 rule the understanding Mark Sisson came up with.

The kale was a product of this modified recipe: I just excluded the cheese and used that narcotic mushroom and sage olive oil I have been loving so much. My. God. It was wonderful. I think I may have to prep some more kale like this tomorrow.

Friday and Saturday were my consecutive rest days. This morning I went on a 30 minute bike ride, which included some easy riding and two full out (and essential) sprints. When I got back home I managed 50 chair squats, 20 wall push ups, and Workout B.

Today Workout B looked like this:

3×5 bent over rows @ 45 lbs

3×5 standing military presses @ 35 lbs

400 foot farmers walk @ 15 lbs (I basically walk back and forth in my basement to do this)

I feel accomplished and full. Despite it being 99 degrees outside I am not being tormented by any MS-related heat intolerance. It will get into the triple digits later this week, however. I wish heat was tangible so I could punch it in the face.

Hope everyone else has had a good last couple of days!

Primal Blueprint Health Challenge – Days 1-3


ARGH. Blogging every day is SO hard. The past three days all I have wanted to do is come home, work out and then EAT.

My breath is all weird and kinda tasting funny. Not bad, just…funny. The Internet says this is a sign of ketosis. And I say, “I don’t care, I’m hungry NEED FOOD.

It’s not like I am starving. It’s just when it’s time for me to eat, it’s goddamn time to eat. So what have I been eating???

I can’t remember exactly what I ate for breakfast and lunch on Day One, but I SWEAR is/was paleo. By dinner, I thought enough to actually take some pictures.

Bott;e of mushroom sage olive oil

Words cannot even

This beautiful bottle pretty much made the night. There is a super fabulous spice purveyor several blocks down from the building I work in. They have a fabulous assortment of olive oils as well. I took a sample shot of this wild mushroom and sage blend during my last visit and my mind was completely blown. I knew I had to make SOMETHING with it.

Trader Joe's Baby Bella pre cuts

Trader Joe’s Baby Bella ‘shrooms

Look how creative I am, sautéing mushrooms with mushroom infused oil! I don’t have pictures of this plated because I basically ate them as soon as they were cooked (I’m telling you, I was HONGRY.) While the thought of watching pornography while having sex has never appealed to me (and I’ve never done it), I have to think that it is the closest abstract comparison I can make to eating these mushrooms. It’s just…mushrooms accented by mushrooms with the peppery kick of olive oil and the grassy bite of sage. Okay, nevermind. There’s no way porn paired with actual sex could be THIS good.

Pan seared stead

Pan-seared grass-fed yummy cow parts

The protein of the night was some pan seared flank steak. And no, I didn’t eat this all by myself! Hubby and I split it…for the most part. He had like, one bite left on his plate that he couldn’t finish so I downed it for him. The seasoning was pretty simple: the pieces were rubbed down with the mushroom and sage olive oil and liberally peppered and moderately salted. Yummy yum yum!

On to Day 2…

Scrambled eggs with peppers and carrots with guacamole

About 27 grams of protein, right here.

Here is the breakfast of champions: baby carrots with spicy guacamole and a four-egg omelet with mixed bell peppers. I pretty much ate this straight away at work. It seems that I can make it through a good part of the day on breakfast alone, but it definitely leaves me feeling famished by the time I get home and finish whatever workout I have planned for the day.

Trader Joe's Spicy Guacamole

Maybe the best hummus substitute evah.

This is the hummus I have been using. It is great for dipping the carrots into, and I am sure it is going to pair well with the cucumber I got the other day from one of my coworkers. Her garden is apparently threatening to take over her yard.

Later that night I made chili for me and Hubby, and had some leftovers for breakfast today on Day 3. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the next batch. When I got home I snacked on some carrots and tomato slices while making hubby pasta. Typically I bake and then chop up some bacon for the pasta when I got a bright idea…

I really wanted to try this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo So I did.

All I can say about Michelle Tam is, Mama knows her stuff. I have been bookmarking different posts from Nom Nom Paleo all day and plan to use them throughout the challenge (I like how I say that as if this thing might have a definite end…)

The workouts every other day have been modified so that I a going through some of the essential primal movements (squats and push ups) and combining them with some lifting (mostly deadlifts and overhead military presses). No pull ups because I have weak girl arms, and no bench presses because I don’t have a bench. Yes, yes…it’s the most bootleg workout ever. I’ll re-evaluate this weekend. On my off days I either walk for a few miles or I strip away the last vestiges of my humanity doing cardio on the Wii Fit. (Note to self: must write post about love/hate relationship with Wii Fit.)

The pictures will stop here for now, mostly because my phone just died and I can’t email them to myself anymore. The quality of the pics definitely need work, and I have realized that I need to really start cleaning my kitchen if I am going to take pictures in it. Those stove burners are BAD.

Challenging Multiple Sclerosis with Primal Blueprint Health


I have a confession to make.

For the better part of the last year, I have been sweating the concept of “going primal”. And I have spent the better part of the last year half-assing it.

It’s time to end the pretender madness, honey. Today…it begins. Today…is the start of my 21-day Primal Blueprint Total Body TRANSFORMATION.

Ayla from ChronoTrigger

For some reason, my hair looks blonde here.

My first encounter with the primal/paleo concept occurred shortly after my MS diagnosis in January 2012. I was hitting the internet hard for information about my “new” condition (although I experienced at least one relapse as far back as 2008 – no diagnosis was made then). I was desperate for an answer and some hope that this unpredictable and  seemingly inexplicable disease could be made to just “go away”.

And if it wasn’t going to go away, I was determined to just ignore it.

The relapse that led to my diagnosis seemed to deepen as a response to my resolve. Numbness and tingling led to severe urinary hesitation. I lost the ability to button my shirts and sweaters. I developed some stupidly frustrating aphasia and would say things like “months” when I meant “weeks”, “hours” instead of “minutes” and “wife” instead of “husband” (this last one elicited a rather interesting reaction from a new coworker).

I went into hyper “me” mode and pummeled the internet for more answers. There were several sources that claimed a paleo diet is effective in managing the progression of the disease. Some even claimed (and personally testified) that going paleo can send MS into complete remission. Granted, there were other diets out there making similar claims, and supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence. They all seemed to make sense, and I wasn’t sure which way to go.

About a month into my research I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Terry Wahls at one of her talks about her own experience with managing and then resolving her own secondary progressive MS. Dr. Wahls went paleo and recovered. Her story was riveting. And I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t feel like I had come face to face with a guardian angel when she took my hand in both of hers and said “Rachel, doctors don’t know what they are doing when it comes to MS. Trust yourself and your body. Healing comes from the right foods.”

An angel backed by sunlight.

Yes, it was that goddamn dramatic.

I was sold.

Right away I ordered Minding My Mitochondria and after identifying all of my food allergies (yes, I went to an actual allergist and didn’t just fucking deduce this shit) I revamped my diet. My husband and I went full on free-range and grass fed with our meat. Only organic for produce. Fridays were for wild caught fish. My mother bought me a Vitamix to help me down all of the greens I was eating. In accordance with the Swank diet and what most paleo-ites were encouraging, I restricted my saturated and unsaturated fat. The progression of new symptoms halted, but I was still plagued by a persistent, soul-crushing fatigue and heat intolerance and rendered me mostly useless by 3 p.m. The fatigue magically dissipated overnight after I finally convinced (two different) doctors to give me a B-12 shot. One of those doctors has “allowed” me get a shot once a month since then. (Don’t get me started on that B-12 shot drama…)

While I love Dr. Wahls and the work she is doing, her book leaves something to be desired as far as organization and readability goes. I went in search of information to supplement what she had provided. That is when I found Mark’s Daily Apple.

Mark Sisson is a damn good writer. He is a fine researcher. His website provides reams of good information on the dangers of the SAD and why we need to take it back to the old school. And interestingly, what he was encouraging wasn’t exactly paleo.

Long story short, Mark’s reasoning made complete sense to me. I bought The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and read it in two days. A happily embraced olive and coconut oils again. I regularly had four egg omelets for breakfast.

But I also cheated. A lot.

I refused to give up Trader Joe’s Three-Layer Hummus, had a big bowl of rice noodles swimming in chicken pho a couple of times a month, happily heaped rice on my dinner plate and snacked on carb-y gluten free snacks. Once a week the hubby and I split some gluten-free rice pasta with bacon and marinara sauce (at least there was bacon in it).

Despite my reluctance to skip the pasta this week, I think it is time to draw that line in the sand.

It is time for me to go full primal, children. It begins…today.

I’ll make an update every day on what I’m eating and doing for exercise. Today I lifted some weights and now…time for me to go pan sear some steak to go with my mushrooms.