I have a confession to make and I’m not sure how to say it. I’ve been trying to figure out how to go through with this confession for some time now. So here goes….I’ve become a hooker. You heard me. I’m a hooker.
You see, sometimes a need arises and a girl has to do what a girl has to do. I had a friend in need, and this was my only option. She and I have been friends since we were 12. I couldn’t let her down. So that’s the way it is. You want to see a picture of me in action? Here goes…
Caught in the act
Hee hee…had you going there didn’t I? Well, get your minds out of the gutter…do you really think I’d become THAT kind of hooker?
Well, I’ve been a knitter for going on 9 years now, and so putting down the needles and picking up a hook and learning to crochet did feel like a bit of a betrayal to the craft that has kept me sane for nearly a decade now. And I was being honest, I did learn in order to make a sweet girlfriend a hat for her baby girl (which I was in such a hurry to send to her I didn’t even take a picture!). But never in a million years did I think it would become my new obsession! I’ve gone CROCHET CRAZY! As in I might have to change the name of this blog to Crochet Addictions (which does not have the same ring). You want to see how obsessed I’ve become? You should see all the projects I’ve completed since I learned to crochet in November!! Ok, I’ll show you:
Granny Stripe Blanket
I fell in love with this blanket from this sweet blog, Attic 24, and that was what really started things rolling. I immediately got out my stash of easy care yarn and got to stash busting.
I’ve mostly knitted sweaters in the last few years. I have knitted maybe a handful of blankets in my tenure, and had a really difficult time tolerating the monotony of them. Knitted blankets take SO long! Even baby blankets.
But this puppy worked up so fast, in less than a month I was able to completely finish it and have it packed up and mailed to my sister for Christmas. I was literally hooked! And because I was so used to knitting sweaters, which I often made in neutral or earth tones so they would fit nicely in any wardrobe, I just loved working with all the colors in this blanket. This was a major stash buster. I used various shades of Red Heart and TLC yarn which I had collected back in my early days of learning to knit and at various times when I thought I *might* knit blankets again, but never did. Some of the colors in this blanket I had in my stash for at least 8 years! But they worked up beautifully together.
And I didn’t stop there, oh no.
The baby who brought me into the world of crochet would need a blanket as well!
baby rippley goodness
Aren’t those colors beautiful?! The ripple pattern again came from Attic 24, here. I have to admit, I struggled with it at first since, hey, I knew how to make exactly one crochet stitch at this point! But with my handy dandy “learn to crochet” pamphlet, I mastered it eventually and I’m so glad I stuck with it, because I LOVED the end result.
L loved it too and was sad to see it go, so I’ve started another one for him.
"Please Mama make me a blankie!"
This one (and the one I’ve started for him as well) was made from Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Baby yarns. So lovely! I haven’t bought acrylic yarns for ages since I am a snob and would NEVER use them for a sweater, but for blankets, I’m all about softness and machine washability (is that a word? well it is now!). This yarn is luscious! The colors are beautiful and there is a sheen to the yarn that is so lovely. And SOFT! So soo soft. I love it! The blanket turned out about 44″x48″ and used every last scrap of all 8 balls of yarn with 4 stripes of each color except red with had 5 stripes. I think that it will hold up nicely and I hope it will be used for years to come. The icing on the cake??? Guess how long it took me to make this…guess…2 WEEKS! It would have taken me months to knit the same blanket and I probably would have enjoyed it less. Pretty awesome!
And while I was on a rippley roll…and since I’d given away all my crocheted items to date, I had to make one to keep:
I am so in love with this blanket it’s not even funny.
This was another stash buster…more of those icky Red Heart/TLC yarns, which felt like using shredded plastic bags after that loverly Vanna’s yarn, but I still LOVE the colors.
Stealthy eyes will notice that there are a couple of rogue stripes in there. I had to sneak some replacement colors in when I ran out of a few skeins. The problem with using yarn that’s been in your stash for years is that colors get discontinued in that time! But that’s ok. I love it, even with it’s mis-matched rows and imperfections. And that’s what true love is all about, no?
This is my favorite part of the blanket, where the color sequence was just like I wanted it…but alas, my favorite colors were, of course, the ones I ran out of.
my favorite part
This puppy is BIG too! 48″x64″ before it was washed. As you can see, if you were looking, in my very first picture of this post, it covers nearly the length of the back of my couch…and my couch is 84″ long! So I’d say this baby stretched to a good 72″ after washing. Joy
Whew…had enough of my hooking for one day? I have lots more to show you, but it’ll have to wait til next time.
The Happy Hooker
So I was looking back at my last post, from oh so many months ago and all I can say is: Quit your friggin whining already!
Ok, so maybe that’s a little harsh. But I think it goes to show how much has changed in the last seven months that I can even feel a bit flabbergasted with that mopey lady I was on that distant summer day.
What’s brought on this change? Well…a year ago I looked like this:
At my heaviest, March 2011
I was at least 50lbs overweight, almost completely sedentary and just plain miserable with myself. I had been carrying around all this extra weight for more than 10 years. But that winter, the scaled had tilted at my highest weight yet. I was floored. I moped around about this for the next 3 months, wondering what on earth to do, if I could do anything at all.
So….what did I do? Well, let’s talk numbers for a minute. I stepped on the scale one day, probably around the time that the above photo was taken, and I realized my weight had crept up to 188lbs! Clothes that I’d owned for 6 years no longer fit. To add insult to injury, I had had the rare experience of actually weighing LESS after my pregnancy with L than I had before it. I had bought a few nice outfits after he was born to wear for special events such as his baptism. Those outfits no longer fit. And that hurt. Because it meant that I had lost some weight and not only gained it back, but gained even more than ever. This was a huge alarm bell in my head. And I realized that if I wanted to be around for my family in the future, I had some serious work to do.
This was a really hard step for me. For 10 years I had been overweight–no, lets be honest, OBESE–thinking there wasn’t much I could do about it, believing that I had tried to control what I ate, tried to exercise and nothing ever worked. I had to take a really hard look at the truth of those statements. Had I really done all I could do? Had I really learned how to eat properly? Had I really given exercise a chance or did I just try to workout for a couple of weeks and then when I saw no immediate results did I just give up? Yep. I always gave up. My brain wanted instant gratification and when it didn’t happen, I gave in. Convinced that I just didn’t have the ability to change. I spent an awful lot of time and energy looking at myself in the mirror and tearing myself down. “Fat, stupid, lazy, disgusting, Jabba the Hut, repulsive, idiot, unlovable, undesirable, sick, revolting…” These are the words I used to describe myself. And not to be flippant (because at that time there certainly was nothing to be flippant about): Fat lot of good it did me!
On Saturday June 16, 2011, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. I made him a dvd slideshow of pictures of us while we were dating and from the 10 years of our marriage. After watching that with him, I promised him and myself that on Monday I would join Weight Watchers. I had gained all of my weight during the year that we were engaged, In that year I had gained more than 40 pounds and had held on to it for 10 years. I was not going to continue the next 10 years that way. I didn’t even want to spend the next ONE year that way!
So, true to my word, Monday, June 18, 2011, I joined Weight Watchers Online. I have never made a better decision in all my life (besides the obvious choices that lead to my having a wonderfully supportive husband and beautiful and brilliant child of course). Disclaimer:I am not employed by Weight Watchers, nor am I representative of the company in any way. I do not endorse their program or receive any compensation from them for anything I say or write about them. I only want to share my story and because whenever anyone starts a weight loss program or loses weight the next obvious question from others is “what are you doing to lose weight?” that is why I am sharing what worked for ME. What path I chose in my weight loss may not be the appropriate path for everyone and each person must decide what works for them. Moving on…
When I started WW, one of the things I often said to myself was “I don’t understand why I’m so fat, I don’t eat that badly.” Boy was I wrong! It was crash course in portion control from the get go! Holy crap! I couldn’t believe that I was eating portions twice or even triple the size I should have been consuming. And is it any wonder? In our society where we want more for our money, extremely large portions at restaurants are not only expected but demanded. We are taught to clean our plates as children. We want quick and easy meals, time is so often limited. Often those quick and easy meals are also high calorie, high fat, high sodium, high preservative foods. While fast, prepacked, frozen foods, and fast food restraurants provide us with convenience, they also deliver us obesity, heart disease, diabetes and unhappiness. The media then sells us a bill of goods in the form of crash diets, diet pills, shakes, drinks, etc and we are told these will do the work for you and you’ll practically lose weight over night! WRONG! I learned very quickly that there would be no quick fix. That the only person who could control my weight was me and that if I wanted to lose weight successfully and keep in off indefinitely, it was going to take a lot of work, a lot of education on what healthy eating meant and time…time….time….
If all that sounds unbearable, it really wasn’t. Let me show you…
August 5, 2011, -11 lbs!
Here’s me just 6 weeks after starting the program and I had already lost more than 10 lbs! You see, all it took was one week on my “diet” (which I prefer to call a “lifestyle change”) to see that I actually WAS capable of losing weight! AND I was capable of exercising. Even if it was only 20 minutes a day 3 or 4 times a week. The change in my attitude and my body was almost immediate. I felt so much better, I felt confident in my abilities and I actually looked forward to exercising because it made me feel so good! Before I knew it, the pounds were just falling away.
September 25, 2011 -20lbs
Now, none of this was done without a lot of work. And it wasn’t always done very gracefully. I’m sure B would tell you that there were plenty of days where I was whiny and irritating, grumbling at him for eating buffalo wings and drinking beer while I was eating a boring and unappetizing salad. I struggled for at least 6 weeks to just manage my hunger, and it took a very long time to learn what proper portions were, and to develop a habit of grabbing fruit or fresh veggies for a snack rather than chips or crackers or other junk food. It hasn’t been easy by any means. But once I had a few tools in my toolbox, I found it was far easier than I’d ever thought it would be.
But it wasn’t all done on diet alone. Exercise has been a huge part of the process. I started out just trying to get outside and play with my son more often. We took lots of walks and went to the park. And then I discovered Zumba. Oh man, did that ever change my life! It has to be, seriously, the most fun I’ve ever had exercising ever! I started out just doing an hour long basics Zumba dvd. The one where they break down the moves and teach them to you very slowly. I was very glad that I was doing this in the shelter of my own basement and NOT in a class in front of others as I totally felt like the hippo on roller skates from Fantasia! And it kicked my ass! As an almost totally sedentary person, just LEARNING the moves was exhausting! But before I knew it, I was doing the actual workouts and keeping up. And it made me feel like this:
November 2011, -27lbs
Happy, strong, empowered, confident. I felt like I could do anything. I still do! Suddenly I wasn’t looking in the mirror, saying all those horrible, things to myself. I wasn’t berating myself with loads of negative self talk. I felt awesome, strong, beautiful, fantastic for the first time in such a LONG time!!! Over time I increased the intensity of my workouts, I added kettlebells and free weights I have even started doing some of Jillian Michaels “shred it” workouts. And lived to tell about it! I’ve definitely come a long way from the tired, overweight woman who sat on the couch all day long.
This new journey in my life is the culmination of 3 long years of hard work. After I had my son, L, I was broken. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Illness, complications from labor, an unplanned and unexpected c-section and subsequent complications from surgery had left me completly broken down physically. Add to that post partum depression and years of untreated anxiety and I was a gigantic mess. I had spent 2 years trying to get my head on straight. A wonderful therapist and a supportive family and a crap load of hard work had gotten me to a place of inner peace and strength I never thought I could achieve. And this year, I chose to ice the cake, so to speak, by finally addressing the physical change. Losing weight, committing to exercise, was for me like reaching the summit of an extremely treacherous mountain. A lifetime of changes packed into 3 short years. And all resulting in this:
January 13, 2012 -34 lbs.
Who I am now. Someone who knows that change can, and does happen. Someone who will never again feel the oppression that depression, anxiety and obesity brings…or at least not for long. I have built and arsenal of knowledge that I can draw upon whenever life hands me a challenge. I know that I have tackled hardships in the past and will be able to again in the future. And I’m not done yet. I haven’t yet reached my weight loss goal of 148 pounds. When I set that goal for myself back in June, I never imagined that I would come anywhere near reaching it. As of writing this, I am 151.5lbs, 3.5 lbs from goal! So, what have I done, I’ve upped the ante and decided that I can reach 140 by my 11th anniversary in June. Shouldn’t be that hard, right? I’ve made it this far. I have a long way to go. It isn’t something that ever will really end. I will probably always have to struggle with depression, anxiety and controlling my weight. But I know I can do it. I know that for the first time in many long, hard years, I am looking down a path that doesn’t look dark and scary, but bright and brilliant. I’m strong enough to tackle whatever life has to throw at me. I’m so much happier, healthier and stronger, I have so much more to offer myself and my family.
It’s been a long road, and there’s a long road ahead. But I couldn’t be happier with Who I Am Now.
Me in a past life
I had exactly one hour of “me” time today and while it was like salve for the soul, it left me feeling a bit lonely and morose. It was a beautiful day, I was on my porch, enjoying the wind in the trees, the sun, some great tunes and a little knitting…but there was just too much quiet. Now I have alone time every day during L’s nap time, but I usually fill it up with laundry, housework, maybe a movie while knitting or more recently, exercise *gasp*. It’s been ages since I’ve taken the time to just SIT and BE and listen to music that doesn’t have anything in the lyrics about frogs or dragons or ladybugs or bumblebees. (Not that those things are bad…just sayin’).
I guess it just got me thinking about the “me” I used to be. Back when I was childless and had all the time I could spare to think, to create, to be in my own headspace. To think of myself before anyone else. To be selfish. So it wasn’t that being alone for a few hours was lonely, I was lonely for that girl I once was. The highschool girl, the college girl, even the newly married girl. I miss her sometimes. I miss having time to think of things beyond housework and laundry and meals and potty training and sleep schedules and to send to preschool or not to send to preschool…and all that jazz. I’ve been in Wife mode or Mama mode for a long time now. Wife mode offered me a lot more room to be just me, Mama leaves much less time for that.
Now don’t get me wrong, I would NEVER want to leave my boys… B and L make my life worth living. I love my hubby and baby more than anything in this world. It’s not even a question…I would NEVER trade the life I have now for the life I had then. It just amazed me how the grief of mourning that past life never quite goes away. It hit hard and fast today on what should have been a spectacularly peaceful afternoon. Which it was…with just a hint of sadness in it.
Apparently it’s just too dangerous to let me have too much time to think.
So on another note…this is my new favorite band. I luve them so…
Rise to me
Today I walked out of the laundry room and couldn’t find L who had been playing in the dining room. I found him in the living room kneeling on the couch, looking out the window.
Me: Hey Kiddo, whatcha doin?
L: I’m looking at the tree. (There’s a big crab apple right outside one of our LR windows)
Me: Oh, is it blowing in the wind?
(I sit next to him on the couch)
L: Yeah, it’s really pretty!
Me: aww…yeah, it is sweetie.
(We watch the tree for a moment, gently blowing in the breeze. I think, what a nice moment this is, put my arm around my baby, give him a little squeeze)
Me: What baby?
L: I got poo-poo pants.
Me: *heavy sigh*
Well, it was nice while it lasted!
Here at Chez Knitwit, we tend to be people of the carnivore variety. (I suppose we could technically be classified as omnivores, since we do in fact eat fruits and veggies, but meat is a huge staple round these parts). Especially during the long (seemingly never-ending) winters. All winter I crave comfort foods like roasts with potatoes and gravy, and my waistline is proof of this! But as the weather improves and the temperatures rise, a girls fancy turns to lighter fare. And I actually find myself craving veggies…all the time…I just have very little experience in creating meals based around veggies rather than meat. As I said, we’re carnivores!
In fact, I was just talking to my oldest and dearest school friend the other day about this very matter. She lives in the DC area now and her epicurean experiences have been colored by a boat ton of opportunities that she and I didn’t have access to growing up, as well as a lot of world travel which has brought new culinary experiences into her repertoire. So when we were chatting, she was telling me about some Midwestern house guests who will be staying with her andher husband for the foreseeable future. “Emma,” she wails, “they eat MEAT with every meal!” My reply, “Um…and..??” I could literally hear her rolling her eyes over the phone!
So this weekend I decided I would take a page out of my veggie friends cookbook and cook an all veggie meal. We’d just see if it really was better than eating meat! Cruising the blogosphere, I came across these amazing looking recipes, for black bean burgers and spicy sweet potatoes. Black beans are a well, loved staple food in our house and sweet potatoes are typically on hand here as well, so I thought, why not!
Warning!: if you attempt these recipes, be prepared for a fair amount of prep time. It took me 2 hours start to finish, though I do blame some of that on lack of proper equipment and the fact that I’d never made either recipe before. Secondly: if you do not have a food processor or a very good blender, DO NOT attempt the black bean burgers! I do not have a food processor, but this has never been a problem as I have always been able to accomplish what I needed to with my mixer or blender. This weekend, however, my blender decided to give up the ghost…while fully loaded with black bean burger mixture. *sigh*Talk about aggrivating! But I pressed on…all the while cursing the stupidity of not owning proper kitchen appliances as well as my own stupidity for trying something new and NOT doing my prepwork in the morning but saving it for 5pm when we needed to have dinner on the table at 6:30! Let’s just say the manta being uttered in my kitchen was “This crap better be good!”
And…late as dinner was…it was a HUGE succes! O.M.G.!!!
black bean burgers and spicy sweet potatoes
The hubby and I both agreed that the burgers, were awesome! The clencher being the lime and cilantro mayo. These suckers were to die for! And it’s absolutely essential to have all the toppings: avocado, tomato and the mayo as well as the cotijacheese. The flavors all blend so perfectly, it was like heaven…in a fat free, low cal, meatless burger! The potatoes got …meh…maybe 3 stars from Mr. Knitwit, but they were 5 star in my book! The perfect combo of sweet and spicy and as I like any fried potato crunchy, these delivered…crispy on the outside, andsoft on the inside. Yummy!!! One note: The recipe for the burgers says it yeilds 4 burgers. I don’t know if I added too much rice or what, but those 4 burgers: ENORMOUS! One must remember that they don’t contain the fat and water that beef does and thus do not cook down! The patties were the size of my palm and at least an inch thick. I was so stuffed after eating one that I was wishing I’d stopped at half! Very filling! But so good!
So, has this recipe brought me over to the Veggie Side? I would have to say no. I know that this is a FAR healthier alternative to standard beef burgers, and it was delicious, but budget wise andtime wise, beef wins hands down. When you figure with regular hamburgers, even using 90% lean ground beef andall the fixings, I can feed my entire family in 15 minutes for around $6.00 (and use only one pan as opposed to the overflowing sinkful of dishes that were the result of this dish)–sorry veggie friends, meat wins. But having said that, this will stay on my list of wonderful treats to have when meat feels too heavy in the summer or when I have veggie friends over who would like the alternative. I did make a double batch of the burgers, and froze half of it, which will of course, make cooking the 2ndtime around much faster and easier. Oh–and this meal was NOT kid approved, but my kid is a total oddball when it comes to food, so that means very little! Your kids may love it. Especially the potatoes.
Modifications: I made very few mods to these recipes, except to eliminate the jalepenos from the burgers and the chipotle seasoning from the potatoes. We are not huge fans of either so just didn’t include them. Otherwise, I followed the recipes exactly.
Ease of burger prep: one star
Ease of potato prep: 3 stars
Quality of recipes: 4 stars each
Quality of final products: 5 stars each!
So try it for yourself, and let me know what you think!!
Sidebar as to how I found these recipes. I originally found both on this blog, which is one of 4 blogs kept by Stephanie Nielson, a wife and mother of 4 who is recovering from severe burns to her entire body which she obtained in a plane crash she was in with her husband. Her main blog is found here. If you missed her story on 20/20 last Friday, watch it here.