I’m sorry

First, I would like to apologize to you all in advance for probably lying to you over the past year.  I did it to preserve myself and I know now that if I would have told the truth about what was going on, that maybe you could have helped.  You all did help in all the ways that you could, given the sometimes sparse and incorrect information I was handing out.  I also want to thank you for being part of the rescue boat team that ended up saving my sinking ship.
 
Randomly:
 
1.  I am a walking example of ‘when you feel ready, you’ll do it’.  I’m pretty sure it was Tara that said ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing.  When you get tired of it, and you will, then you’ll start doing something else’ (loosely paraphrased because I’m too L to go and find it in the comments!).
And it’s my friend Kathleen that has always said ‘Just change one small thing at a time and then get used to it and then change the next small thing’.
Living with Pat saw me miserable and unhealthy!  We ate out all the time, I was made to feel guilty when I wanted to stay home and eat a bagel and cream cheese for dinner if what he wanted was ‘out’.  I stopped cooking because the kitchen lived in a constant state of ‘unuseableness’ (that is so a word!).  When he moved out, I knew I wanted to change, well… almost everything.  I stopped eating out entirely.  In the last two months I’ve eaten out now four times.  Twice with my sister at the pizza joint, once with my sister for breakfast and yesterday morning with Sam.  When I’m hungry, instead of thinking of the fastest thing, which would normally be ‘out’, I now go for something in my house.  Whether that’s a bagel with cheddar cheese or Thai rice with poached eggs or something more complex like stew or meatloaf.  I want to know exactly what is in my food, right down to the last sprinkle of seasoning and the only way to know that is to make it myself.  Now, that’s not to say that when I was first making this change I ate super healthy things.  I didn’t.  I ate whatever I wanted so long as it was made by my hand!
 
Now that I’m feeling more settled and comfortable, I decided it’s time to pick back up The Zone eating plan and tailor my ‘eat only at home’ plan with foods that are a bit more balanced.  I’m so ready to start paying attention to labels, quantities and how my body feels when I eat different items.  I wasn’t able to do that with my previous living situation because every nigth eating out was a crushing blow to any good decisions I’d made that day.  It was also difficult because if I (which I stopped doing) would buy the ingredients to make a certain number of zone lunches or breakfasts, that was always quickly consumed… anyway, basically my drive and ambition to eat healthy and take care of myself waned.  It’s back now and I’m on board!  Busted out the ol’ scale to make sure I was still ‘eyeballing’ correctly (turns out you don’t really forget those types of things), read the binder to remind myself of the hormonal properties of food and now I’m off!
 
2.  I made tofu last night.  I forgot it is made from Soy, which I actively try and avoid.  It was disgusting anyway… It had the texture of chewing on an old leather workboot and I really hate things that taste like nothing… I mean the sauce was good, but the actual tofu chunks don’t really have their own flavor… Unfortunately I have to eat it for lunch today… I might sub out most of the tofu and eat the left over Cottage Cheese that I have…
 
3.  I’m now on Pinterest and GoodReads.  I swear it’s like a full time job keeping up with all of these sites.  Besides the sites, I get about a dozen ‘junk’ emails a day… I mean, they’re not junk because I did sign up for them, but it’s overwhelming to wake up at 6am and have ten unread emails.  I usually just delete them on receipt because if I let it go for even a week (because I don’t have time to read them during the week), there would be at LEAST 60, not including emails from people I WANT to hear from and other ‘bonus’ emails.
 
4.  On the knitting front, I am on a roll with the plan to get things off the needles and finished.  I put five things on the thread on Rav that I wanted to get done.  The Blankie (check), The Purple (check), The Ribbing (check… I ripped that puppy out, which was the plan), The Bestee Pressie (check) and now I’m almost to the edging on the Alpaca Tarp.  And with that I even cast on, knit and finished a hat for Sam.  He wanted a Viking Hat, which for two years I refused to make… Then we came to a compromise about how ‘viking-esque’ it would be and I conceded to make it.  I think I’m in love with making Worsted weight hats!  It took me about five or six hours to do.  Not bad!  I’m going to use the leftover and make my dad one, since the hat he got last year is apparently not really wind resistant.  I think I’m going to make him the Christopher Hat by Jane Richmond, but I’m going to do with without a pattern… It’s a double thickness hat, which should keep his head much warmer!  I’m quite excited about it actually and want to go home RIGHT NOW to start it!
 
that’s about it for now… Here’s a picture of Sam’s new hat!

Twenty Year Plan

 
Now, I know SOME of you already have a vague recognition of the plan.  I assure you tho, this is no joke.
 
For those of you that don’t know, let me back up a bit.
 
I grew up (32 years ago) in a small town in Northern BC.  In 2006, the census says that there were 1113 people calling my hometown, home. I now live in a city that 579,000 people called home in 2006.  That’s an increase in over a half a MILLION people!  And that isn’t really accurate because the GVRD (which includes our suburbs, which are very impactful to the overall population.  That number is over 2.2 million people).
 
When I moved to Vancouver, I decided that I never wanted to call any other place home.  I love it here!  I love the proximity to both oceans and mountains (altho the mountains and I enjoy eachother from a distance).  I love the people for the most part, I love the fusion of so many different cultures and traditions and the overwhelming selection of amazing food.  I mean, to be honest, you can get anything here… there’s even an Egyptian restaurant!  Cool! 
 
I have spent many years here now… the house I moved in to when I moved to the city proper from the burbs (many years spent there too!) is the house I live in now.  February will be my 10th Vancouversary!  And I’ve loved every minute of it!
 
What I haven’t loved in the last few years is my seeming lack of direction.  Just knowing where you want to live isn’t usually enough to sustain an entire life.  What would I do for the rest of my life… dunno.  How would I support myself for the rest of my life… dunno.  I guess I could work at my existing job for the rest of my life… but what will I have to show for that in twenty years?  Do I even WANT to do this for the rest of my life?
 
When I was sad and lonely in the last couple years, I would get out of bed every day, wondering to what end I was repeating the same thing… day after day after day.  When does it end?  When do I get to do the fun stuff?  And I don’t mean retire… or vacation… but live in such a way that makes me feel fulfilled and content.  It’s possible I’ve not ever really been content… ponders… ya, no… not ever.
 
When I took up knitting (see, knitting is in there… it IS after all a ‘knitting’ blog), I started to really enjoy the interaction with nature… I started to prefer more natural fibres, more environmentally consious processes.  In my life I started to concentrate on my own impact on the environment… I started composting, taking transit and purchasing things with less toxins and less packaging.  Not huge impacts really, but I do believe if we can all do what we CAN do and not dwell on what we can’t do or what others are doing… more, better… then we’re better off in the long run.
 
So back to my twenty year plan.  I don’t know how other people’s ‘dreams’ start… one day you think something up and then you focus on it?  Does it evolve?  I mean, how does it really start?  I want to call my twenty year plan my dream, but it’s only been a definable dream for a short time.  It’s been a FEELING inside me for a long time… one that I didn’t know what it was, but have now matured and evolved myself enough to know that my new dream is only fueled by the fire that’s been inside me… not hampered or confused by it.
 
I’m sure you’re curious enough now, so I’ll just come out with it.
 
For the next twenty years, my focused life path will be to the following end:
 
I want to live on a farm with goats and chickens and barn kitties.  I want to wake up in the morning and put my gumboots on and milk my goats. I want to make chevre the likes of which have never been tasted by mere mortals.  I want to grow my own organic vegetables and take the excess to a farmers market. I want a studio in an outbuilding that has room for my fibre arts and I want a couple of Jacob sheep.  I want to sit on my porch and survey my land.  I want a warm and loving home that is inviting to all.
 
In order to make this work, the next twenty years will be dedicated to savings, debt repayment, learning and growing.  I will not retire at an old age from a job I don’t passionately love.  I will however grow old on my own terms, on my own land and in my own way. 
 
THAT is my dream.  THAT is what will keep me getting out of bed every morning and give me the answer to the question ‘What am I doing this for?’.  That will give my life direction… something to work toward.  Something big and beautiful and dreamy to caress and nurture.  To dream dreams about and to inspire the gloomy days.  Without this I’m just swishing around in the whirlpool of my life… not knowing which end is up or down… THIS… this dream is my anchor…
 
I’m. SO. EXCITED!

What’s up woman!

I’m about a day late and a dollar short on this one but it’s going to get me all riled up and I was in super chill mojo land on the weekend and didn’t want to get all aggravated…
I’m so sick and tired of all the competition between women lately!  I don’t understand all the judgement that is being bandied about lately!
There was an article on the Huffington Post  (I found it via a twitter link from Yarnharlot… I most certainly don’t spend my time looking for this stuff) that basically said that women that engage in ‘typical’ female behavior (such as knitting, gardening and cupcakes?!?) aren’t ‘tough enough’ to call themselves feminists.  That article in no time was ripped to shreds mostly by the knitting community.  My only thought (because I typically don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this… more on that later) was ‘isn’t the general movement behind ‘feminism’ an idea that we’re able to choose to do whatever the hell we want?’  And what does ‘tough’ have to do with anything?  Many of the commenters on that post (all 344 of them) spent a good amount of time defending their ‘toughness’. Many of them ‘shoot guns’ or ‘fix their own cars’.  What I want to know is why you have to justify your ‘toughness’ to someone that thinks that cartoon characters are better feminists than you. 
The reason I spend so little time thinking about this is maybe because I’m priviledged and sheltered, but maybe it’s because I just want to be seen as a woman.  I’m a female.  I’m not a feminist.  I’m not ‘tough’.  I’m not ‘girly’.  I’m me.  I’m a woman in 2011 and I feel no such need to justify myself to anyone.  Every day we are all given tests and trials that require a different part of us to be the star in order to get through it.  Sometimes we need the soft and gentle side, sometimes we need the ‘don’t mess with me side’.  And sometimes an equal combination of both is best.  That doesn’t make you any more or less female.
The other thing that is bothering me is this competition of ‘real women’.  What the fuck is a ‘real woman’?  What is a ‘fake’ woman?  And what is the scale on which one is judged in order to make it into the ‘real’ woman category.  From what I understand, it’s a ‘saying’ that was dreamt up by fat women to make themselves feel better.  Essentially saying that ‘skinny bitches’ aren’t real women.  Uh what?  What’s the poundage that one must be overweight by before they qualilfy as a ‘real’ woman?  And for those that are genetically predispositioned to be thin, or those with eating disorders, or those that have a chronic illness that has caused weightloss, what does that mean to them?  They’re no longer considered ‘real’? 
My opinion on this ‘competition’ between the BEST feminists and the REALEST women is the following:
We have been fighting the entire world since the existance of time to be equal.  To have our wages be equal and fair.  To not feel that we are in danger whenever we’re alone at night.  To be taken seriously in WHATEVER role we decide we want for our life.  And now, NOW at the time when it’s getting there… when women can be whatever they want… can go to school, can excel and can choose for their own lives, we’re fighting amongst ourselves over who’s BETTER?  Are you kidding me?
I agree that there will always be competition in the world… in the workplace.  You’re the BETTER doctor, she’s the BETTER chemist… he’s the better pilot… that’s quantifiable competition. 
The best feminist, the realest woman, the best mommy… all nonsense and all that does is tear apart the global team of women when really, were we to actually stick together and work together, we could see amazing change… but instead, we just seem to attack eachother.
Maybe we should all try being ‘women’ for a while and see what happens.

Enticing Photos of yesterday’s creation!

As pointed out to me by my good friend PJ, I forgot to post photos of my new recipe.  I’m very bad at remembering stuff like that but lucky for you, I have taken some photos.

This first photo is of my grocery list.  I didn’t put creamo, tinfoil, fruit or coffee beans in the dish.  Please also note that this list is not conculsive of the actual ingredient list.  I had some of the stuff needed at home.  Also, I forgot to buy coffee beans.

This is a picture of the French White casserole dish I baked most of the meatloaf in.  Please be aware that the mangoes are insanely huge… otherwise you might thing the casserole dish is tiny.  It is not.  Also, don’t you LOVE my faux granite laminate?  Me too!

And finally, the money shot!  This is three of the six packages of meatloaf that I froze.  They’re wrapped in tinfoil lined with waxed paper and then I used some packing tape to keep them packets shut because with the waxed paper in there, tinfoil isn’t as ‘secure’.  Beside it you’ll see a tiny snippet of what I believe are home baked buns and the packets are sitting atop Trader Joe’s Angus Beef Hamburgers.

So sorry for not including these photos in the recipe.  I’ll have to remember to put them all in the same post next time.  I hope this was helpful and has inspired you to make the Meatloaf for dinner tonight!

Darcy’s Cheeseburger Meatloaf (UPDATED)

You have my express written permission to try this TONIGHT!

2lbs ground beef
3 eggs
1 cup quick oats
half a bag of frozen peas
medium white onion, diced
1 can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes, slightly drained
1 can tomato paste
basil
mustard
dill pickes, sliced
2 cans of canned mushrooms
Salt and pepper
shredded cheddar cheese

Add first six ingredients in large bowl and mix together.

Pack into pan (I used a french white casserole and a loaf pan because my 9×13 is on an adventure, but you’re probably okay using a 9×13)
Spread tomato paste on meat
Squeeze mustard on top of tomato paste (however much you like…)
Sprinkle dried basil on mustard
Drain mushrooms and spread evenly
Spread dill pickles evenly (as many as you want… I put quite a few)
Top with shredded cheddar cheese
Grind fresh black pepper on top of cheddar cheese

NOTE:  I didn’t salt the meat at all… You can if you want, but I prefer to season per serving… it’s helpful if you’re feeding this to other people so everyone can have it the way they like 🙂

Bake in a 350F oven until done (I did 1h30min)!

Reviews and other nonsence

I’m on a total ‘doing stuff’ bend… When I first became a single woman again, I distracted myself by plowing through each day with a mission to fill it to the brim with anything I could get my hands/mind on.  Then I fell flat on my face in exhaustion and grief.  When I woke up again, in a somewhat more healed state of mind, I fliffled (yes it IS a word!) through each day with the intention to do only that which I wanted to and if that meant sitting on the sofa or taking a nap, I would do that.  And what that turned into was a ‘doing stuff’ state of mind.  Only stuff I want to do mind you.  In the last few weeks I’ve filled my freezer with single serving meals of chili (5), curry chicken (complete with serving of rice frozen right in!)(4), BrownSugar slow cooked chicken(5) and my all time favorite, Mushroom and Beef Burgundy made in my crockpot (a whopping six frozen meals and I ate two dinners and a lunch before it went in the freezer). That’s TWENTY meals!
I’m (as you may know) in love with my crockpot!  I love to fill it up with fresh ingredients and leave it for a day to come home and find something fantastic.  I love then to fill up reusable plastic containers full of whatever fantastic is and put them in the freezer so I can enjoy on a day when I’m feeling less than fantastic!
Today I had greek yogurt with a tablespoon of my dad’s home made jam.  It was divine!
I may have mentioned in the past that I’m a lover of Trader Joe’s.  We don’t have one up here in Vancouver, BC, but it’s about a one hour (including the border) trip to the one in Bellingham.  There, I purchased, among many things, the following, which I am about to review… (do you like the warning?)
Trader Joe’s Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil
    This stuff is great!  I find it smells kind of… unique, but then I remember that most cosmetics companies throw fragrance (which I HATE!) and sweeteners in… I like the fact that this smells natural.  I actually stumbled upon it by accident when the kind TJ’s employee was looking in the back for something, but I had my mind tuned to it’s existance by THIS POST on Can you Stay for Dinner?.  It’s still too early in the experiment to tell if it’s perfect for me, but since I’ve started a new ‘take care of me’ routine before bed, it’s a big part of that and I enjoy my time in front of the sink.  I think the one thing I would add, if the Trader Joe’s people were asking me for advice on the product, would be to put a foaming pump on it.  It’s just a thin liquid and I find that I waste some when it dribbles between my fingers before I can get it up to my face… but also, I really like those foaming things, so it might just be me!
One great tip that I got from the linked post is to wash your face twice… as in, wash it once to remove the makeup and then wash it again to wash the actual skin… something about similar to taking a shower with your clothes on… I think THAT little gem was in the comments.
Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley
    This is going to be hard to review because I haven’t exactly made and tasted it yet, but the internet says good things about it and it looks really yummy!  Also, it was insanely cheap at less than $3 if I recall correctly and it’s pretty unique.  It’s long grain brown rice, black barley and Diakon Radish Seeds.  I will cook in the next week and let you know how it turned out.
Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend. 
    Okay, I originally bought this thinking it was beans.  I’m not that smart.  It’s not beans, it’s more like very small grain pasta with split yellow peas and quinoa in it.  I made a half a bag of it yesterday to have with my stew and it was the perfect compliment.  I’m not usually one that will eat stew just straight out of a bowl.  In order to make food go farther, you put it (like chili, curry chicken, stew) on a bed of something… rice, mashed yams (yum!), pasta etc… I don’t find just a bowl of stew filling enough because I don’t believe it’s carb/fat/protien balanced, so I like to put it on something.  Also, the expensive part of your meal goes farther, so you, like me, can freeze leftovers!  Anyway, this particular product is fantastic!  I cooked mine in the left over beef broth from making the stew and put the tablespoon of butter in that it called for.  I wouldn’t do the butter again, but when trying new things, I like to go per instructions the first time.  Next time I make it, I will also find a way to pick the split yellow peas out.  Not that I don’t like them, they taste fine, it’s just I’m a big texture sort of person and they never cook like pasta so they’re crunchy in my warm, soft and smooshy stew… yuck!

Uh Oh!: UPDATED

Today Glenda and I embarked on a mojito and guacamole fuelled dyeing (not dying!) adventure!

I ended up with one gorgeous skein of purple/gray wool/silk/bamboo yarn (to make a hat) and Glenda ended up with some GORGEOUS (and as yet, not photographed well!) green Rowan Summer Tweed and some gorgeous teal dk and green/teal laceweight!

The only problem with mine, is that I wasn’t all that careful and now it’s a big tangled mess.  😦
 

I tried to fix the mess myself…. now it’s worse 😦

Oh, and for my own record: 2 muddlers of silver gray and one muddler of jet black in big measurers.  Small amount of Jet black in first, wait some, then rest of black and all of silver.