Monday, November 21, 2011

Random blogging topics to start the week: Fitness, Thanksgiving, cooking, crafts, gardening, shopping, gifts

I had my first workout at the new fitness center this morning. It was awesome! The pool was pretty much empty when we got there at 6:30, only one lady swimming laps in an outside lane. I got into the opposite outside lane, found a good depth (right between 4'6" and 5') and started to move. It's hard to describe what I do, when I do solo aquacize, but I make sure to keep both my legs and arms in motion at all times. I can be jogging in place while doing a weight lifting motion with a pair of foam aqua "barbells", or just suspending myself in the water and kicking my legs high while moving my arms back and forth. Aside from the specific stretches I do, it's just a matter of getting moving and staying moving. I did 45 minutes. I had gone in planning to do a half hour, and if I felt okay, then keep on for a full hour. But, Dear Husband had finished his workout and we needed to get home so he could start paperwork. Tomorrow we'll get there at six, so I have plenty of time and can do the full hour. It felt good to move my body like that. I've always loved going to the gym. This one has a really comfortable atmosphere and is very welcoming and low-key. The staff is all friendly, and the membership is made of people of all ages, shapes, sizes, physical abilities, and fitness levels. My mp3 player worked out great too. I made up an upbeat playlist of songs by Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Goldfrapp, Madonna, and Britney Spears. Not the kind of music I listen to when I want to just chill out, but it's great dance music to exercise to and has the kind of beat that keeps your energy up.

Thanksgiving this year is going to be a small gathering with the Inlaws and some of their friends who don't have family in the area. We're just having a scaled-back version of the traditional turkey dinner, and spending some time together visiting. I seriously doubt that I will be doing any Black Friday shopping. I already did all of my Christmas shopping, the little bit I had to do... and I hate the crowds. I have a little bit of cash left from my shopping budget, so maybe we'll go out over the weekend and do something fun. Dear Husband will be tinkering around with his van a bit, and I have gardening to do too. But not three days worth. Hell, he might have to work Friday, in which case, it's just another day for us. I want to put up the little bit of kitten-proof Christmas decorations that we have. I have a lot of decorations, but most of them aren't kitten-proof. So, just like with the Halloween decorations, the Christmas decorations will be seriously minimized. Not sure if we're even bothering with outside lights this year. D.H. really doesn't want to bother. All the lights we have are old and need replacing anyway. I don't think I want to spend the money this year. But. we'll see just what is useable, and what needs replacing. Maybe it won't be as much as I'm suspecting. In which case, we'll put at least some up.

My contribution to the Family Feast is going to be dessert. I figured for 7 people, two pies is more than plenty. A pumpkin pie for sure, but since not everybody likes pumpkin, a fudge-pecan pie too. And I was asked to make a small batch of apple kolaches for one of the friends of the family who has never had them before, so that they can have them for breakfast Friday and Saturday. I found a recipe that makes a third of my usual kolache recipe, and I'll be giving that a trial run tonight to see if the dough works out right. If so, we'll have some sausage rolls for breakfast the rest of the week. I might bring some cucumber salad, simply because my cucumber vines seem to have put out one last burst of cucumbers before it gets too cold. It's not the usual Thanksgiving fare, but they're ripe and ready and need to be used.

I finished up a crocheted scarf the other day. I need to take photos of some of my projects so I can post them here. But I had found some cheap acrylic yarn that looked (and felt) nicer than what it is. And the yarn is one of those self-patterning ones with different colors and effects. I liked the way it crocheted up, so I went back and bought enough to make a beret/tam hat, a pair of fingerless mitts/handwarmers, and a long fringed scarf. Everything is just double crochet, so simple as can be.  I've got one knitting project in the works right now. A pair of 2X2 ribbing fingerless mitts for Dear Husband in a charcoal gray color. I had made a pair for Dear Friend in hunter green and D.H. liked them so much, he asked for a pair of his own. Well, since the scarf and hat I already knitted for him are both charcoal gray, I figured might as well make these to match. He likes them better than gloves because it's easy to use his camera for work (he does insurance claim appraisals so he has to take a lot of photos of damaged cars and property) and he can use the touch screen on his phone too. I'm hoping to have those finished by the end of next week, for his birthday present. But if not, it'll be done in time for Christmas for sure. Over the weekend, I got a couple balls of sock yarn and a pair of tiny knitting needles to use with it because it was on sale and I figured it was a small enough investment to see if I could actually manage working on that small of a scale without my hands cramping up. I can do basic garter and stockinette just fine, so I am going to make a pair of mitts for myself and see how long it takes. If not too long, I might sign up for a sock class at a knitting store.

My garden is doing quite well. The beets are growing like mad. They're about an inch and a half across, and have nice glossy dark greens. I will probably pick half soon and let the others go just a little longer. They can't get too big because they're growing in trough-like window box containers, so not enough room to get really big.  But beet greens cooked like collards or mustard greens one night, roasted baby beets the next. Cucumbers did me proud, as did the green and burgundy bush beans. Broccoli is starting to really grow, and the kohlrabi is making bulbs finally. The first lettuce is doing really well, but the carrots are just piddling along slowly. Same with the chard. I guess too hot still? Zucchini showed a lot of promise, but then we had one hell of a cloudburster and I guess the water did bad things because they started to crap out on me. Oh well... I'll try again in Spring.

As I already wrote, I am most likely NOT doing any Black Friday shopping. Years ago, my friend and I would make a middle of the night run to Garden Ridge Pottery while they had their marathon sale, and there was usually nobody in the store after midnight. But, that was years ago, there isn't anything anywhere that makes me want to get out early or fight the crowds for. I like shopping just fine, but I can't tolerate the crowds like I used to. I'd rather go somewhere like a little independent shop that really needs the business, a craft show, or order offline.

Gifts this year are mostly handmade, but not all by me. I got a few items from artisans who are so good at what they do. I know what I do really well, and stuck to that for my personally handmade gifts. I'm of the opinion that handmade is awesome, but it really needs to be done well. Those people who really like the kinds of things I do well get handmade by me. Some others get handmade by somebody else. And a few get store-bought because they're just not handmade kinds of people. And that's okay.

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