Crochet Update

So one of my wishes for the 2017 New Year was to teach myself how to crochet. Being left-handed, I continually frustrated my mother and grandmother when they attempted to teach me. I can crochet a simple single crochet stitch, but anything more than that and I am at a loss. So my search for crochet tutorials led me to tons of websites and YouTube. Yes, YouTube is now my friend. One of the first videos that I watched was Bella Coco from the UK. Shout out to Sarah Jayne!!! You rock in teaching someone how to crochet. She has a lot of videos showing left handed crochet. Yea!!! She also has a website, which you can find here.

I dug through my sewing box and pulled out the crochet hooks that I already had and then hit up the local craft store. My hubby is always my biggest supporter, so while I took in the yarn aisles searching for yarn for my first attempt at crocheting, he was picking out some yarn for me to make him a scarf. I thought it would probably be finished in time for next winter, but I bought the yarn and several others, as well as a few more hooks. The first stitch I learned from Bella Coco was the left-handed waffle stitch. I took notes, bookmarked the video and wrote down specific times when she transitioned from one row to another and I was off.

The first scarf took about 4 days. It was done to match my winter coat. Once I realized that it looked normal and not misshapen, I started the one for my husband. I kept checking the length and told him to tell me when it was the length that he wanted. His took about a week. Of course it was finished and the temps were in the 50’s and 60’s. The temps finally dropped and he was able to wear it for the long walk from the parking lot to his office building. His report was “it was warm and toasty and people asked where I got it from.” Mine will have to wait until next winter to be worn. I park in a parking garage and walk about 30 feet into the building.

Next up was several cowl’s to wear with some of my sweaters at work. They were my response to the no v-neck sweater policy at work, so this helps me cover up the “V” while wearing something I made. I did those in a light weight yarn and learned another new stitch. I have also learned the basket weave stitch from her site as well. I picked up two pillow forms and plan to use them on the couch. I completed the bolster pillow, which was done in the waffle stitch pattern, and I used the basket weave stitch to cover the second pillow. For my first attempts at making pillows, they came out better than I thought they would.

I then started working on an afghan to keep warm on the cold winter nights. The only issue was that winter turned into spring and by summer the yarn was too warm to work with so I put it aside to finish in the fall. I did attempt to make a pair of baby booties for one of my coworkers who was expecting and I have to say, they turned out pretty good for my first attempt.

When the weather turned cool, I started working on the afghan again and realized I was only three rows from the end. I could have finished it a lot sooner. My husband requested one for when he and the pug sit in the recliner at night, so I started working on his. I have six more skeins of yarn to go and we are only 3 weeks into the official winter season, so I am hopeful it will be done in time for him to actually use it. The photo shows the afghan and the two pillows that I made. Now I just have to figure out what I want to make next.

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New Year Wishes

As another year closes, I can see the remnants of our latest snow event. I noticed how the weather forecasters have stopped referring to them as snow storms. This year they are events. We have had 4 events so far with snow totals close to 10 inches. We have spent most of the week with temperatures below freezing and that is expected to continue for another week before we might get above freezing again. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest of the season, so it will be an evening in with a fire and something warm and yummy to drink.

Looking back at my 2017 New Years Wish List, I think there were some successes. Some that are still a work in progress and one or two that I didn’t achieve. I have completed several crochet projects over the past year, including making an afghan, two pillows for the couch and several cowl like scarves to wear with sweaters. I am currently working on another afghan which will be for my husband. I just hope to finish it while it is still winter. I admit that I stopped crocheting in the summer, so this year I will look for projects that I can do during the summer. It really is relaxing. So crocheting would be a success.

I wished to be healthier. This is definitely a work in progress. I feel that I have made big improvements in cooking healthy meals. I have cooked more and we have eaten out less. It’s been easier in a way since two restaurants that we enjoyed going to closed during the past year, so fewer options mean less dining out and more home cooked meals. I am always searching for healthy meals that are also something we would eat, quick to put together and doesn’t take a professional chef to cook. Not every meal would pass the healthy test for some, but I would say we have had more healthy meals than non-healthy this year.

In terms of drinking more lemon water…I’ve failed. I just can’t do it. Neither warm or cold. I just can’t.

As for my wish to say no to Dunkin…well this was successful for a while. Then my husband discovered their Vanilla Bean Coolata for a yummy, summer treat and of course, I had to find something for me. That was their Butter Pecan Iced Coffee. Mmmm so good. Of course summer is gone and so is the butter pecan flavoring, but did I mention they now have a Winter White Chocolate? So Dunkin is in the failure category.

My wish for a new job didn’t happen in 2017. And things at work haven’t gotten better. I have applied for several internal jobs, but we are required to tell our manager that we are applying for other jobs, and it appears that we are being blocked in our attempt to move to another position. Management wants to keep us where we are. I am trying to decide how much longer I will stay. My husband wants me to quit and says I’m not the same person I was when I started. He’s right. I don’t like the person I have to be at work.

For 2018, I wish to keep working on trying to get healthier. I want to find things that motivate me to keep trying and not give up as easily as I have in the past. And I want to end each day with something positive.

For all of you who stop in here, I wish you and your loved ones have a year of love, laughter and good health!!

 

Happy Holidays

 

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday!!!

That’s a Wrap For Fall

With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool.  That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.

And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.

Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…

Rocks State Park, Maryland

Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland

Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower

One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges

All photos © lenalee

 

Thanksgiving Wishes

Wishing everyone a wonderful day spent with family and friends, great food and good health!!!

Happy Veterans Day

Crock Pot, Meal Prep, Sheet Pan…Oh My

So my hours at work changed and I am getting home later. This means that it is later when I put together dinner. One of the great things about cooler weather is that I am one step closer to pulling out the crock pot to cook soup and stews for dinner. It also means that I have been looking for meals that would allow me to save time cooking, but are also healthy and yummy too. One of the things I came across was a number of websites that were encouraging the idea of meal prep. The idea is that you get ingredients for several meals, usually 4-6, and cook them one day on the weekend, storing the meals into containers to be frozen to eat later or kept in the fridge to eat that week. Sounds good right? Hmmm, hold that thought.

I found a website that allowed you to sign up for a meal prep challenge. The blogger would put together meals, send out the shopping list of ingredients needed and even include how many containers and what types were needed to store each meal in. Sounds even better, right? It did until I received the email with the list of meals that were to be prepped. There was not one meal that we would eat as listed. Most contained exotic vegetables or seasonings that would be extremely hard to get in my local stores. Or they contained items that were just not something that we would eat (hello brussel sprouts). As someone who only recently discovered the yumminess of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts are not in my immediate plans.

So to prep meals in advance, I would have to substitute a lot of things, which would mean guessing at the amounts to buy. One of the nice ideas about meal prepping is that you are told how much of each item you need. To replace those meant I would now risk getting to much or too little and the prep would fail. I then came across several blogs where they discuss the idea that meal prep takes nutrients away from the food, so if you are trying to eat healthier like we are, losing nutrients would not be something that we want to do.

I then came across the idea of sheet pan meals. The concept here is that you cook the entire meal at once on a sheet pan from start to finish in 45 minutes or less. Take a protein, such as chicken, and add vegetables. Season or marinade the chicken and roast the vegetables.at the same time. There were even sheet pan ideas for breakfast and dessert. I have several recipes bookmarked and I tried my first sheet pan meal last week and it worked out great. I made Asiago chicken and roasted vegetables at the same time. We added a salad and the whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a week night meal. And of course you can make it as healthy as you want.

Now I just have to figure out what to try next? Any ideas?

Eagles at Conowingo Dam

My husband and I have made several trips to Conowingo Dam in Maryland to look for Bald Eagles. The dam is filled with fish which makes for a fertile feeding ground for the eagles and other birds that make the dam their home. Eagles are usually extremely territorial and live 1 ½ miles from another nest, but the eagles at Conowingo Dam do not follow that rule. There are literally hundreds of eagles living closely together and enjoying the bounty that the dam provides. I didn’t realize when I was taking pictures just how many eagles there were along the rocks.

Here are some of the pictures I’ve taken during our visits:

Eagle in a tree. (Photo © Lenalee)

 

Can you find all the eagles on the rocks? (Photo © Lenalee)

 

Bald eagles landing with lunch. The lower eagle has a fish in his talons. (Photo © Lenalee)

 

Eagle relaxing on the rocks. (Photo © Lenalee)

And if you want to see more, the short video below shows what the Conowingo Dam is like in November, when the dam opens the locks and fish flood into the water. If I were to visit in November, I think I would stay in the car. The video was entered on Nat Geo and finished in the top 4. The video is by Mike Lemery and can be seen here:

https://vimeo.com/152926627

 

 

Stay Safe…Wear Duck Tape

Now that the days are getting shorter, I am back to driving to work in the dark. Some mornings are darker than others, depending on the cloud cover. Although I only travel 6 miles from my house to my job, most of the roads I take are two lane with limited lighting. Driving in the dark means having to watch out for the various animals that are trying to get back home before dawn. It also means having to watch out for the deer that always seem to want to cross in front of my car. Note to the deer…stay where you are. It really isn’t better on the other side of the road.

If watching out for deer isn’t enough, we have to add the morning exerciser into the mix. While I salute those who actually have the energy to get out of bed and go for a walk or jog, doing so in all dark clothing is not a good idea. Why? Because we can’t see you! There are all sorts of fluorescent exercise clothing and shoes that have reflective things on them, so why can’t people actually wear them? They sell them for a reason. Companies don’t want you to get hit by a vehicle when you are out exercising.

But if you aren’t going to wear some bright neon shoes that light up with every step you take, could you maybe wear one of those lights that blink on and off? A light can be seen by someone in a car. If the light is too expensive, can you slap on some glow in the dark duck tape? I don’t care where you put it, but maybe a strip along your arm and leg that faces the street or wrap some around your running shoes….in other words, somewhere a driver can see it. That will help drivers and other exercising people see you and hopefully not run into you. Safety first!!!

 

 

Good Bye Summer…Hello Fall

Labor Day, also known as the unofficial end to summer has arrived and now begins the push into fall. The weather has actually been very fall like during the past week or so with temperatures mostly in the 70’s and even dropping into the 50’s at night. Of course it is supposed to get back into the 80’s today, so we will get a reminder that summer is still around. The last two days were also rainy as Maryland was visited by Harvey as the former hurricane exited the U.S. Next on the horizon is figuring out the path Hurricane Irma will take as it gets closer. For those of us along the Atlantic coast, we hope that the path stays well south and avoids the U.S. altogether. But, in case things don’t work out that way, and the path brings it up the eastern coast, we will get ready the best we can.

You can tell that the seasons are starting to change as the trees are beginning to thin out their leaves. Before long we will be able to see the homes behind us again. It is nice during the summer when you only see the green of the trees. Or in the case of our Japanese Maple, a beautiful red wine color. The cooler weather also caused some of the leaves to change from vibrant green to lighter green with yellow tones. So it won’t be long before we start seeing the oranges and reds as nature puts on its fall show.

Our maple in April

Our maple now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have started planning short day trips around the area now that the weather is more comfortable. We booked a fall foliage train ride in Pennsylvania in mid-October and are planning a longer trip in early November. We are taking a covered bridge driving tour and another that will tour barns, some which are hundreds of years old. I hope to get plenty of pictures.

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