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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. Always up to something!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lavender Love



You can grow all the lavender you want if you remember a couple of things. First, lavender must have full sun to be happy. Second, it wants very little water and will die if its feet are wet all the time. Third, don't be generous with the soil. Lavender doesn't want rich, loamy soil and prefers sharp, sandy, well-drained soil. If your foundation is dry and hot, living against warm brick or cement will be the perfect home for lavender. And a warm microclimate will keep your lavender cozier during cold, winter weather. Give your lavender a haircut in the spring to cut off dead branches. I didn't cut mine very much this year so I'll give it a good trim after its finished its first bloom. If you want to dry your lavender for sachets or culinary use, it's best to dry the buds just as they're beginning to open. Fully open, lavender is actually many tiny flowers with petals that will fall off instead of drying nicely in one piece. This plant was labeled "dwarf lavender" so I'm not certain it it's Munstead or Hidcote or Sarah (a somewhat smaller English lavender variety) but it tolerates the cold well. Either way, it's the best English Lavender I've grown and its compact form is lovely. When I lifted some branches from the path in the Spring there were several baby plants growing in the gravel underneath. Now I have a lavender nursery and hope to spread the lavender love to family and friends next year.






Friday, June 2, 2017

Telomeres & Meditation



I'm still reading The Telomere Effect, by Nobel Prize Winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD and Elissa Epel, PhD. I'm very aware that the excessive inflammation in my body, evidenced by a high CRP, causes shortened telomeres. My cardiologist advised me that this is due to the Multiple Sclerosis I've had for over 30 years. She agreed with the information I'd received from my naturopathic physician that MS patients tend to have more cardiovascular events. Shortened telomeres has been proven to cause premature aging, basically by physically disrupting DNA replication. Age alone will cause this to happen but it can also be caused by environmental conditions we can manipulate.
One of causes of shortened telomeres is stress and anxiety. Some of us (I'm raising my hand but you can't see me) ruminate. Cows ruminate when they chew their cud. I ruminate over big things but even little problems get into my head where I go over and over them. Rumination can then be translated as WORRY. Which then folds into general anxiety. Go ahead and try not to think about something. That will then be the only thing you CAN think about. One method of letting go is to meditate. Before you reply that you can't stop thinking so meditation doesn't work, think about this. I discovered a long time ago that the only way I can meditate is through guided meditation. I need to plug in my earbuds and sit alone and listen to a calm voice telling me exactly what to do. Focusing on my breathing. Watching thoughts float by. According to Blackburn and Epel, thought awareness can reduce rumination and automatic negative thinking. They advise not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That shorter periods of mindfulness can help us develop thought awareness and reduce the power of negative thought patterns. Many years ago I found a company called "Health Journeys" who describe their company as providing "resources for mind, body and spirit". I've used two of their products and believe I benefit from guided imagery. If you'd like to begin to meditate and don't know where to start, I highly recommend you check out their website.
I do not receive any monetary benefit from mentioning this book or this company. I am not a health care provider and do not claim to give any advice on health or otherwise.
I'm linking back to Share Your Style blog party.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Potting Up 2

Things are getting settled outside, bit by bit. The fig tree is out of the garage and leafing out well.  I can't seem to get enough bright flowering plants in pots this year. Maybe its all the rain we've had. Almost every day brings a downpour. The lawn has never looked better. There's so much intense green this Spring, I seem to want to balance it out with bright colors and I can't wait for Mother Nature. I'm giving her a nudge with wild colors everywhere. The colors aren't planned. I'm just grabbing bright neon colored flowers and popping them in pots and enjoying them. And that's what it's all about, right?

My fig tree came out its winter quarters - our unheated garage. I'd like to try to plant it outside.






Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Telomere Effect & Healthy Aging




I've just started reading a new book I borrowed from my local library called The Telomere Effect by Nobel Prize Winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD and Elissa Epel, PhD. Pronounced tee-low-mere, these little end caps on our DNA are greatly responsible for the quality of the lives we lead. We, in effect, wear down these caps, however long or short there are to begin with, with each day we live. They are necessary for cell division as they kind of hold things together when the DNA replicates itself when the cell divides. Our old cells die and are replaced constantly by new cells. Telomeres also contribute small pieces of themselves in the process to keep our DNA from becoming damaged. There are many things about the length of our telomeres that we can control. Some we cannot. "Genetics loads the gun, environmental factors pull the trigger". Scientists have discovered that we have more control over the way we look and feel than we thought.
There are ways we keep our telomeres stable and possibly build them back up.  First on my personal list is exercise. I'm making an effort to participate in water aerobics classes. I'm starting with twice a week with the goal of three one hour work-outs per week. With MS it can be difficult to get to the gym. In my 30's I squeezed an exercise bike into the bedroom of my small apartment. In my 40's and 50's  I worked out at a Curves salon. I believe it's the way I've been able to stay on my feet this long. I also work outside in my garden and even push the lawnmower around. I do my grocery shopping and carry heavy bags every week. I don't have a housekeeper and so far, nobody has volunteered to clean the bathtub.
This book does not reveal an instant fountain of youth but the status of our telomeres helps explain why some of us stay healthy into old age and some of us age more rapidly. More to come.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

I have many things in my home that belonged to my grandmother. When I take them out of closets, cabinets or drawers to use them I think about her and how much I miss her. I had Gram in my life until I was 47 years old...I will not know the joy of watching my grandchildren pass into middle age...I had Gram past the time when she even knew who I was. This little vase has "made in Japan" printed on the bottom which, to me, indicates that it was from the 1950's. I remember that she stored it in the mudroom that opened to the backyard in a cupboard with other items of no importance. Will anyone care about my little "dime store" vase when I've gone on to the big garden in the sky? I hope so.




Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Potting up Begins



 From left to right:

Angelonia -  "Serena White", Coleus - "Redhead", Superbells - "Dreamsicle", Cape Daisy - "Margarita Sunset" in a plastic planter I bought quite inexpensively from Home Depot. I cut drainage holes and put a layer of sand in the bottom. They all require or tolerate full sun. It's very cool in Connecticut today but it's time to get going. We'll see how they do.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Do you Love Springtime?

 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 





Ever consider it might be something other than the weather? I'm seeing yellow everywhere I look. I can't say I've ever loved the color. I might have even said I can't wear it. Can't live with it anywhere in the house - not on walls, furniture or even an accent pillow. But recently I've been obsessed with yellow since enjoying the dance scene from "Beauty and the Beast"....that yellow gown! Now I see it everywhere in nature and I'm looking for a way to add some sunny color to my life. Elderly, sick people and babies don't like it (too much actually makes babies cry!) Apparently, it's too stimulating and can be overpowering. However, yellow is considered an optimistic color. Ever notice how much yellow is in a perky "Get Well" arrangement? It's used for signage on streets and highways because it's more visible than white. It's been said to improve concentration - do you focus better when you use a yellow legal pad? That's probably why. One article I read states that it improves metabolism. I would have to see proof of that. Yellow icing on my cupcake so the color would negate some of the calories? Apparently, yellow is having its moment in home dec and the fashion industry - used with CAUTION! However, according to Zillow Digs, home with white painted kitchens sell for $1,400 less than homes with yellow kitchens. Something to keep in mind for the future.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ah, My Sweet!

I have a sweet tooth. I mean, it's bad. I'd love to buy jelly beans more than a day before Easter but I can't have them in the house. I love chocolate but I can control the urge to dig into a wrapped bar of dark chocolate. But the sugar in a jelly bean calls to me in my sleep. How anyone (President Reason, for a specific "one") can have a jar of fruity or spicy little bean-shaped deliciousness in front of them on a desk is beyond my ken. I've lost more than 10 pounds since last summer and would like to drop another 10 before the warm weather demands that I put the bulky sweaters away. I recently found a sweet that I can enjoy without guilt. And it doesn't elevate my blood sugar, inducing the desire for even more sugar. And I admit that I love pumpkin in any form, including coffee. So here's my sweet indulgence: It's called "One Point Pumpkin Pie". When you calculate the sp's it's officially 2 points on the current Weight Watcher's plan. I make one every week and have a slice with my afternoon coffee. I enjoy it and you might, as well. So here's the link: One Point Pumpkin Pie I hope you enjoy a bit of sweetness as much as I do! (Whipped cream extra...)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Resist the Cold!

When you just can't take one more day of cold, winter-like weather.....RESIST!



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Celebrate Spring!

Monday is the first day of Spring. The mounds of snow I peek around before pulling onto the main road more resemble the icy tundra of January. The grass was beginning to grow before the blizzard last week. I know it's still under there. The fig tree that has spent the last 4 months in my unheated garage knows it's Spring. It's beginning to unfurl the little leaf buds at the branch tips.


My youngest grandson turned five last week. Last year we took him out to lunch and for an afternoon at the playground on the beach. You never know what the season will bring. It's always a surprise. 



Turning 5 was a surprise for this one. The numbers sneak up on you. Ask me how I know.



At the Hartford Flower and Garden Show I bought a Spring potpourri jar with a pussy willow ring to bring a bit of hope inside,


made a couple of loaves of Ina Garten's Irish Soda Bread (here's the link to the recipe),


and kept on knitting my "Fireside Pullover" pattern by Jane Richmond. And my "Emiliana" shawl by Deborah Hannes,




                            
and remember to be thankful for the warmth of my home and family while we celebrate a 5th birthday tomorrow and the coming of the new season.


Somebody else will be glad for the warmer weather.







Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Knit, Read, Pray, Repeat...

What do you do when the snow keeps coming and you can feel the cold chill through your bones? I turned the heat up and it didn't help. I'm bundles in layers and still feel winter's fingers making the little hairs stand up on my arms like the little birds with their feathers all fluffed up trying to keep warm. I knit. And eat something warm. Drink coffee and knit some more. And wear my new garden Sloggers with socks and dream of Spring.

"How I Knit my Socks" pattern by Susan B. Anderson in " Goomy 50" French sock yarn, "Beige Print"



"Mercury Socks" - pattern by Kim McKenzie in hand-dyed Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend by KFrank Fiber Arts on Etsy (my daughter's started an Etsy shop)




"Fireside Pullover" pattern by Jane Richmond in Cascade Echo yarn - this is the shawl collar


My knitting is keeping my spirits up. I'm reading Stacey Schiff's "The Witches" and keep looking at photo's of the witches memorial I took when we were in Salem in October and thinking of the accused  how they and their families suffered. I'm on page 350 and would really love to put it down. But I believe that if we don't investigate and learn from the past, we repeat similar offenses again and again. So....Knit, Read, Pray. Repeat.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Working Girl


With the sad announcement of the death of Mary Tyler Moore this week, memories of my own entry into the workforce came flooding back. There were many pleasant memories but I also recalled things that happened that just wouldn't fly today. They might fly you into court but nowhere else. I was 20 years old when I began my first job search. It began with an appointment at a large, reputable employment agency in White Plains, New York. After completing the job application, I was ushered in for my interview. One of the questions on the application form asked for my weight. Pre-employment physicals were common back then so I answered honestly. My female interviewer told me she was making a note on the application that "I didn't look that heavy". I'm almost 6 feet tall so I suppose she had a lot to say about me on that form. When I told my dad how the interview had proceeded, he exclaimed that he didn't want me to use that agency as it seemed there were interviewing for call girls rather than secretaries. My dad was not the most enlightened guy when it came to feminism but that was even too obvious for his sensibilities. When I landed my first secretarial job, I was quickly informed that the job involved getting coffee for my boss. My boss liked me. He was an older, single man and didn't complain that it became clear that I didn't do coffee for anyone but myself. I think he was just happy that I was nice to him. When I later took a promotion to the Human Resource department at the same company, I was a bit shocked when my new boss (The Director of HR) remarked that I wore too many clothes. A navy blazer, tartan wool slacks and a pretty shirt with a vest was too "buttoned up" for his taste. I thought I looked cute and the offices in the old building were drafty. I was no more bundled up than the boss but that's the way it was. I fortunately never got backed into a corner but the guy (think John Hamm in Mad Men but not as cute) came up behind me and pushed his knee into the back of mine making my legs buckle. He was the Director of HR - who was I supposed to complain to? His boss was the president of the company. That kind of behavior was considered playful and funny. How things have changed - some of it thanks to Mary Richards - a real white collar rebel in in her own time.


company.