Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Recently I've had a couple of opportunities pop up to complete number 8 on my 30 Before 30 List.: Volunteer. 

Last Tuesday night, I attended a volunteer orientation for the Ohio Wildlife Center.  They are a non-profit wild animal rehabilitation and conservation center.  They treat and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wild animals.  They also provide non-lethal animal control and conservation and wildlife education.  I'm planning on training to work on the education side, to learn to handle the animal ambassadors and teaching and doing presentations with them.  The center has brought animals to my workplace several times, and I've wanted to get involved with them for a while now. 

I'm really excited to get to work with animals and help educate the public about our native species, but from what I've learned already, I need to remember a couple of things about the center.  First, these animals are wild animals, not pets.  They don't necessarily love you back like our domesticated animals.  Also, it is important to know exactly how to handle each one.  Especially when working with the raptors, they can hurt you pretty seriously if you're not careful.  It will definitely be an eye opening experience, but I'm looking forward to starting!

I also had the opportunity to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house here in Columbus, across from Nationwide Children's Hospital.  A group of us from work went to bake goodies for the families.  Between the 8 of us that went, we bagged up over 250 packets of treats!  We had brownies, rice crispy treats, iced cut-out cookies, chocolate chip cookies, S'mores on a stick, and candy Buckeyes!  We had a really good time and got to take a tour of the facility.  It really is an amazing place. 

They are a non-profit organization, operated almost completely on donations.  The house provides a place to stay for the families of seriously ill children.  There are 70 rooms, similar to hotel rooms with private bathrooms, and 10 suites, with a bedroom and separate living space with a kitchen and washer and dryer.  Almost all of the work is done by volunteers, including all of the cleaning, laundry and food preparation.  Supplies are provided by donation, including laundry soap, paper towels, toilet paper, food, toys, clothing, cleaning supplies and anything else you can imagine to run a home or a hotel.  If you have a Ronald McDonald House near you, I encourage you to volunteer or donate supplies, they are always in need!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Goodbye Hannah

Today we said goodbye to my Mother-In-Law's dog Hannah.  She was truly one of the sweetest, gentlest souls I've ever known.  She hated cats and other small mammals that ran from her, but loved pretty much every human.  My funniest memory is of her and our old dog Dexter eating apples they would pick right from the tree. 

Goodbye Hannah-Banana, we'll miss your tail-thumping.  Say hi to Dexter for us, we miss him too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Some Rambling and Some Pictures

I haven't written in a week.  Not, I haven't posted in a week, no, I haven't even been writing.  It feels a little strange after the binge I was on there for a while.  I've got to get back in the groove. 

It's not even that I've had writer's block or anything, I just haven't done it.  Not really out of laziness, or lack of motivation, just nothing. 

I have been working a little bit on the new blog.  I did complete the tasks I gave myself last week!  Yay!  I bought the domain name (not telling cause there's nothing there yet!) and got hosting up and running and downloaded WordPress.  So, getting somewhere.  I'm still a little hung up on themes though, not sure if I should suck it up and buy a paid one, or use a free one.  Also, logo design, need to do that. 

Sorry for the to-do list, I do that sometimes.

Just so this isn't a completely worthless (to you anyway!) post, here are a couple of underwater pictures from Roatan.  And have a great day!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In Which I Set a Goal For Myself

Obviously fate keeps kicking me in the behind, and I keep ignoring it. 

I keep coming across blog posts that should boost me into high gear, but I keep procrastinating.  And then I feel guilty.  And then I procrastinate some more.

I did finally figure out a name for my new blog, and I've written up a To-Do list for the startup.  But I haven't pulled the trigger to get myself started. 

Am I lazy?  Am I afraid?  Probably a little of both.  I'm just too easily de-motivated.

So tonight I'm going to do it.  I'm going to finally take those first steps; buy the domain name, download WordPress.  Baby steps.  But I've got to keep moving forward, and keep up the writing too. 

P.S. Here's the link to the most recent post that smacked me upside the head.  From "the middle finger project" blog: The Greatest Form of Suffering of All: Inaction.

P.P.S Read the rest of Ashley's stuff on there too, she's pretty awesome!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roatan: - Part 1 - The Surprise

It's about 4:45am, September 18, and Jeff is already chattering at me in bed, the alarm to get us up and out the door to the airport not due to go off for another 15 minutes or so.  I am not quite ready for his level of alertness.  Thankfully, we are already about 90% packed and loaded, but we know that the others may not be as low-stress as we are.

We're actually looking forward to the relatively easy flights and being in Roatan by early afternoon.  The last 2 trips have been 20+ and 30+ hours each way, 5 hours was going to be downright relaxing.  However, we also know that there are 4 others going on this trip that we have to worry about, and 3 of them have never been out of the country.

We get to the airport on time, there is some fumbling around, a little confusion, impatience, but overall, no biggies.  Flight takes off, lands in Atlanta, no hitches.  So far, so good.  Oh, there's a flight delay of an hour, eh, okay, so we get there an hour later than planned, all we have to do when we get there is go to the beach.

So, we have about an hour and a half to kill in ATL, we grab breakfast and coffee.  I see my dad start to fumble with his camera, we find out that he's got a full battery, but left the memory card at home.  He figures maybe he'd better go get one while he's still in the States, might be cheaper.  He takes off.

We're all just sitting there, hanging out.  I'm thinking about getting my Kindle out, and I hear "Hey, friend!", look up, and my best friend Dani is strolling casually up to me.
Wait, what?
I'm stunned into silence.  Speechless. 
"Yeah, we've been lying to you for months.  I didn't really go to England." (quick background on that: she'd supposedly been to London with her mom the week of Labor Day, and had been planning that trip for months before, which was why she couldn't come to Roatan for my birthday)
I think my responses are still just blinks, recognition has barely even set in yet.
Um, what?
Where did you come from?
What are you doing here?
Seriously, is this happening?
But this is all in my head, because my jaw is still on the floor and I'm not yet able to form words.

Obviously, the surprise that had been planned, was a success.
I look at Jeff, "Yeah, everybody knew about this but you, I've been talking to her since June."

Needless to say, I'm pretty shocked.  Apparently Jeff and Dani had been conspiring for months to get her booked on the trip.  And everybody knew about it, except for me of course!  I had no clue whatsoever.

I was thrilled!  All along, I just assumed that I would be the only girl on the trip, as with most diving related excursions, and now my best friend and Sherice, a friend of Dani's from Pennsylvania, were going too!  Pretty good surprise. 

Anyway, we land in Roatan, and make it to Anthony's Key Resort without incident.  All in all, a great start to the trip!

Up next, the diving, and then, another surprise!

And now for a few pictures:

Flying into Roatan

The view from our bungalows.

Looking across the water to Anthony's Key.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Regret and Change

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

I wanted to share this quote because it is one that I heard a long time ago and has always been inspiring to me.  I've always thought that you cannot regret the things you have done, because they have taught you something.  Only the things that you didn't do are regretable.  Thankfully, that is something you can change. 

Growing up, my dad always subscribed to National Geographic.  In fact, he still does.  He has always loved learning about different places and different cultures, but had never been out of the country.  I know that there are so many places that he would love to visit, but he's held back by the fear that it's new, and he's never done it before.  Last month, he joined us on our trip to Roatan.  It really opened his eyes to traveling, and the potentially life-altering consequences (in a good way!) of it.  I hope he catches the bug and joins us on our next trip, or even better, suggests a new place to visit.

I grew up with the idea that change is bad, scary.  Better to just go with the flow, stay safe.  The thing about the fear of change, is that in the long run, change is unavoidable.  No one is ever going to live their life, from beginning to end, without a couple of curve-balls thrown their way.  If you can't roll with the punches, you're going to be in big trouble!

I see this resistance to change at work all the time.  Since I work in a huge corporation that's been around for a while, I work with people who have been with the company for a long time.  Ones who have been in their positions for many years.  Anytime we try to introduce a new process, even if it makes their job easier and more efficient, it's like pulling teeth to try to get them to utilize it.  They're so stuck in the ways that it's "always been done" that they can't see that the new way is faster and easier.  It's terribly frustrating.

I never want to be that person who believes that change is bad.  It's not, it's just different.  I like different, it's way more interesting than the same.

P.S. Back to that quote at the top, thinking about incorporating that into the new and upcoming blog, what do you think?  "Throwing Off the Bowlines" maybe? 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So Who the Heck Am I?

So it appears the first step on this whole personal journey thing, is to figure out who I am, really. 
I've been reading and writing like crazy lately.  I'm completely unsettled.  I'm pretty sure that's a good thing.  Although it can be a little annoying that I can't slow my brain down, there's a part of me that hopes that it doesn't!

I know a few things:
  • I need a new home online - a new blog that represents my journey a little bit better.
  • I need to keep writing.
  • I need to stay motivated.
  • I need to love what I'm writing about, so I can do the last two
  • I need to figure out how to make at least a little money at it
  • I need a NAME!
A few things I don't know:
  • I love travel, diving, cooking, gardening, photography, living a simpler life, knitting - can I integrate all/most of these things without it being too much or all over the place?
  • A blog name!! 
  • Lots of other stuff
Well, I'm getting somewhere, I think.  The one I'm struggling with the most is that blog name one.  I know I need something more general than knit n' diver, because that puts it in too small of a niche, and I don't really talk that much about knitting anymore anyway.  But I don't want to use my real name, nobody will ever find it!  So that's where I'm stuck.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Drive to DO Something

Monday was a bad day.  Mentally and physically. 

I mentioned that I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately.  I've known for a long time that I'm not the type of person that is cut out for working in a cubicle day after day, plugging away for someone else, just for good pay and benefits.  I mean, that's what I've been doing for the past 12 years since I've been out of high school, but that doesn't mean that I've necessarily been happy about it.  I've done it because that's what I was told I was supposed to do.  Get good grades in school, go to college (preferably for something "worthwhile"), get a full-time job, get good benefits, go to work every day.  You're not supposed to like it, but that's what life is about.  Make more money, buy the bigger house, if you can't afford a nice one, get a fixer-upper and work on that for years at a time, sell it, do it all over again, only with a bigger and slightly more expensive house.  Oh yeah, you're supposed to get married and have kids while doing this too. 

This does not sound appealing to me.  I've rebelled a little against this so called "status quo", but without a whole lot of courage.  I went to college, but studied Fine Art instead of nursing or teaching or business, or whatever else I "should" have.  I got married but haven't had kids yet.  We bought the house, but haven't upgraded, even though we could technically afford something bigger and fancier.

I've always been afraid, it's the only way I've ever known, but lately, something inside me is cracking.  I'm not generally a person who gets depressed, but every day it gets just a little harder to get up and go in to do a job that I have no desire to do, no passion for.  Sure, I do a good job, but with no joy.  I have to do something else. Soon.

So what now?  Where do I go from here?  I've been obsessively reading blogs of passionate individuals, doing what they love to do, and while it inspires me, I'm still terrified. I can't just up and quit my job, we need the benefits, the money, the security.  My husband is self employed, it's stupid to think of not staying here, where I have a good job making good money (I just got another raise) with decent benefits.  I'm at a point where I don't know what I want to do, but I know it's not this.

My husband has always said, that the happiest people do more for others than they do for themselves.  I'll be the first to admit that we don't live by this enough.  But, every time we travel, it gives us more and more perspective on it.  The kindness and generosity of strangers and people who have a fraction of what we have (not just us, everyone) in this country, is incredibly overwhelming and emotional.  Every time we come back from vacation, it feels a little more wrong to keep doing the same thing.
I want to do more, I NEED to do more.  I just don't know where to start.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My 30 Before 30 List - The Wrap-Up

Well, technically since my 30th birthday was a little over a week ago, I'm calling this the wrap up, but I'm not calling it finished. For obvious reasons. They're still things I want to accomplish, soon, so maybe I'll stretch it out, and hopefully I can actually get 30 things on it!

1. Get my Mandarin fish tattoo - would love to get this, but still sort of undecided on the location of the tattoo, and it's expensive (and I'm a cheapskate).
2. Sew myself a wearable skirt - only laziness to blame for this if I'm being honest with myself, well, that and my irrational phobia of cutting into fabric.
3. Sell at least 1 of my photographs - I think I'm going to work through RedBubble for this, I'll have a link up soon to my portfolio.
4. Paint again (canvas, not walls) - just haven't felt inspired to pick up a paintbrush, the camera has been my biggest source of artistic expression lately.
5. Embroider a pillowcase - ooh, just got a fantastic book - Embroidery Companion: Classic Designs for Modern Living by Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy, I intend to work on this as the weather gets colder.
6. Preserve vegetables that I’ve grown in my garden - I actually did really well with this.  I froze several bags of green beans, at least 7 two-cup bags of shredded zucchini, some cherry tomatoes, red peppers and jalepenos.  I also ventured into pickling and pickled 3 jars of green cherry tomatoes. Which, by the way are excellent, here's the recipe I used.
7. Go to a stitch and bitch or knitting group - was too shy to do this yet.
8. Volunteer - I have recently talked to a person at the Ohio Wildlife Center to start volunteering with the wild animal rescue center there, and hopefully mentor with her and learn to handle the animals and teach.
9. Run a 5K - still want to do this, but nowhere near the fitness level I need to be.
10. Read at least 5 books on my bookshelves (preferably that I haven’t read before) - Getting there, but still have a little ways to go.  The intention was originally to read five books so that I can get rid of them, however, two of the books below are Kindle books. I'm still counting them as I'm glad to have actually been completing books. I still would like to get several more books out of my house though.
11. Invest some money for retirement (auto 401K with work does not count) - opened a Roth IRA on ShareBuilder, but haven't moved any money there yet.
12. Yarn Diet-knit down my stash - success! sort of, I haven't brought any new yarn into the house, but, I didn't do a whole lot of knitting this summer. For some reason, during the summer, I don't knit as much, I think there's just too much else going on outside. But, I did finish a couple of projects, and only started one, and it was with stash yarn.
13. Bake and frost a layer cake from scratch - talked about this and have pictures here.

14. Sell or give away 50 things that I currently own - success with this as well! Got rid of quite a few articles of clothing, shoes, makeup, books. Just as importantly, I didn't add much to replace them.
15. Paint the hutch in the dining room - no, but I got it cleaned out fairly well. I'm still up in the air as to what I want to do with it. I kind of want to get rid of it/sell it, because it takes up quite a bit of space, but, it also has a lot of storage, so, I'm torn.
16. Get into an exercise routine - I feel pretty good about this one, and am proud of the fact that I have been working out 3-4 times a week for the last three months. I really enjoy it now too!

All in all, I'm not completely satisfied with my progress, but I want to keep at it. Wish me luck! Anybody else have a list? Leave me a link in the comments, I'd love to see it!

**Disclaimer-the Amazon links are affiliate links, just FYI.**

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Seriously? October?

Wow, where did September get to? How is it October already? Apparently it was a busy month and I let it slip away from me, funny how that happens, huh? Am I really going to write every sentence as a question?

Nah, but Honduras pictures and recap are coming, along with a wrap up of the 30 Before 30 list, and maybe some changes around here if I can stop being such a procrastinator. I've been doing a lot of reading and soul searching lately. We'll see where that takes me, I'm nervous, but excited!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Knitting and/or Diving

Gee, there hasn't really been much content about either of these subjects on the blog lately.  In fact, it seems like several of my posts have been about why there haven't been many posts on here lately!  Well, I never said I was good at focusing...

So, knitting, I actually have been doing a little bit of that lately.  For some reason, during the summer, I tend to take a knitting hiatus, of sorts.  Not sure why, but it happens every year.  Then, sometime around my birthday usually, I pick it up again.  Maybe it's the change of season to cooler temperatures, but I get absolutely nothing accomplished knitting-wise in the summer. 

Like I said though, I've actually been working on a project; the Cinnamon Grace shawl by Katie Harris.  I'd link to my Ravelry project page, but there aren't any pictures there anyway, so you're not missing anything!  I did (finally!) finish my 1st Lace Shawl (Dane Shawl by Jane Tanner), but still haven't blocked it, so, no pictures there either, sorry about that...

And, as for diving, we've been doing a little bit.  My first student just received her PADI Open Water Certification card in the mail today!  She said she was so proud, she took it to work with her to show it off!  I am very proud of her as well.  It was a tough first couple of dives, but I knew she could do it! 

First, she had some difficulties with equalizing her ears in the pool.  Then, in the open water dives, she was nervous, had troubles equalizing again, kept getting frustrated and we ended up having to call the dive.  The second time out didn't go so well either, she didn't have any problems equalizing, but was extremely stressed about the mask clears.  Admittedly, the mask skills are the most mentally stressful for most people, but she was really having problems, and panicking.  I was really concerned that she wasn't going to get calmed down enough to do the mask skills, and if she couldn't, I couldn't certify her.  Finally, she worked it out in her head, calmed herself down, and nailed the first partial clear in shallow water.  Then a full mask clear.  Then the mask removal.  Then she did another full mask clear.  She had it!  We moved to the deeper platform at 20 feet, she did all of her mask skills flawlessly, and it was smooth sailing from then on!   She's a tough cookie, and stubborn too, she was going to get it!
On a related note, we leave for Honduras in a week and two days.  Not that I'm counting or anything...  Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Getting Serious On You

I know I don't usually touch on "serious issues", but I recently read a post by Sarah {The Student Knitter} about women and our weight issues, and it really hit home for me.  If you've been reading here for any length of time, I talk about working out and diets and my struggles occasionally, most recently, here.  Growing up, I was always the girl who could eat what I wanted and not worry about my weight.  I naturally had a fast metabolism, and just by luck, I had good genetics.  In the last year, it seems my metabolism slowed considerably, and I've put on 20 pounds. Yeah, I know, 20 pounds doesn't seem like much to a lot of people, but when you're only 5 foot tall, and take into account my prior weight, it's a 20% gain.  And it feels like a lot to me.  It probably shouldn't, but it does.  At first, when the weight started to creep on, it didn't bother me much, I joked about it.  But as it crept up to 20 pounds and stuck, and my clothes weren't fitting, it started to bother me more and more.  I would look in the mirror and really not like what I was seeing.  I would talk about dieting and working out, but, I'm not exactly known for my willpower, and the exercising would last maybe a couple of weeks, and the dieting, well, maybe a couple of days. 

It goes back to judging our worth or attractiveness by our pants size, or the number on the scale, and that sucks.  Why has it become more acceptable to complain about our weight and appearance than to be happy about it.  How many women do you know would say that they're fine with their appearance?  I don't think I know any.  What would you think if they did?  Would you be surprised?  Proud? Jealous? Think that they're lying? Or conceited?

Anyway, sorry to get all serious on you, but it just got me thinking.  Now I'm actually starting to enjoy working out, and I've stuck with it for almost 2 months now.  Even though I've only lost about a pound and a half, I feel better, stronger and healthier.  Maybe that number on the scale isn't so important.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Plans

I wanted to just drop in quickly, we're getting ready to head down to Conley Bottom at Lake Cumberland for the weekend.  My parents have a houseboat there and this is the first time Jeff and I have gotten down there this year.  We're looking forward to a weekend of boating and relaxing and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate! 

I'm sorry that I haven't been terribly active on here but I haven't been taking many pictures lately and I feel like a slacker if there aren't any pictures on the post!   Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 20, 2010


Love, love, love Sharon Montrose's animal prints!
 I think I want them all!  Look at the baby porcupine!
She makes even the "not-so-cute"* animals look great.
*This does not reference otters, because otters are totally cute! 

Have a great weekend!

Shoot Me Now, Or Why I Hate Shopping for Jeans

I finally found a couple pairs of jeans today, and I only had to try on about 10 pairs this time.  This is probably the 4th time that I've went shopping for jeans in the last 6 months and only the first time that I've been successful.

I'm only slightly exaggerating when I say I'd rather be shot than go shopping for jeans.  Maybe just with a paintball gun.  Something painful, but not actually dangerous.  Ugh.

I always say that I go to try on jeans until I either find a pair or become homicidal.  There's a reason I only have 2 pairs of jeans that fit me.

Also, while I'm complaining, I've been working out 3-4 times a week (that's the good part!) for the last 5 weeks and not lost 1 pound!  Not one!!  While I can tell that my muscles are firming up, the problem areas are not improving, and again, no weight loss whatsoever.  It's so frustrating.  I'm glad that at least I am physically feeling better, with more energy, or I'd have no motivation at all to keep at it. 

I thought 2 months would be a reasonable amount of time to at least look semi-presentable in a swimsuit when we go to Honduras.  The goal was only 5 pounds, 10 tops and firming up.  Doesn't look like I'm going to make it.  How annoying.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cat For Sale!

I'll cut you a great deal, even cover shipping!  She's got some lovely traits, such as:
-Playing in her dirty litter box!
-Not grooming herself!
-Biting people, repeatedly!
-Sleeping most of the day, well, until you are almost ready to go to bed, and then she's ready to play!
-Helping you while you're on the computer, by jumping on the keyboard.  She especially likes to turn on the Caps Lock key!
-Sharpening her claws on the cabinets!
-And many more!

Oh, I'm just joking, I'm not really going to sell (or even get rid of) Gil.  But doesn't she sound nice?  She's lucky she's cute, because she's about as rotten as they come. 

I know I haven't had a kitten in a long time, but man, I don't remember them being this crazy, and biting this much!  That's really what's making me the craziest.  She's a biter!  You should see my arms.  She'll just be laying in your lap in the chair and her ears go back and she attacks your arm. I'll grab her and drop her on the floor and she just keeps coming back over and over to bite you!  I just bought a spray bottle yesterday, to squirt her with when she does it, hopefully that will help.  Bad kitty...

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Redneck* Good Time

 *Disclaimer-I can describe this as redneck, as I am one.
The other night, Jeff and I were sitting on the couch, doing nothing, when he turns and asks me, "Hey, it's a nice night, why don't we take the 4-wheeler out to your grandparents?"  I tell him, "Only if I can take my camera, it's almost sunset." (sunset = great light)  So, we load 'er up, and head out.  We take it across the creek and I get off to start walking and take pictures, and he takes off to go fast.
I snap a couple of pictures in the amazing light.  He takes a couple of laps around the pasture, then comes back to trade places with me.  I take a quick cruise, and we both remember how much fun the 4-wheeler is.  It doesn't get out much anymore, so we tend to forget.  We've talked about selling it lately, but I think that will get pushed out again.
There's also a little sentimental value in the 4-wheeler.  4-wheeling is actually how Jeff and I started dating.  I ran into a friend from high school at another friend's baby shower and got invited to go hang out and ride 4-wheelers with her and her fiance and Jeff.  I wasn't doing anything else that evening and it sounded like fun, so off I went.  I ended up having a good time, and Jeff was fun to be around, but didn't think much about it.  Three weeks later, while I'm at work, I get a voice mail on my phone from Jeff, asking me out.  I was shocked!  Not in a bad way, but I hadn't given him my number, or gotten any kind of vibe from him that he was interested in me.  He had sought out my number himself and got up the nerve to ask me out.  So I got my nerve up to call him back and go out with him.  And nine years later, we're still together.

I'm a few days late, but the anniversary of that first date was August 3rd.  Happy Anniversary Jeff, I can't wait to have many more years of hillbilly fun with you!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hooked on Exercise? Me?!

When my mom called me a couple of weekends ago and said, "Hey, I saw this infomercial last night, it was some exercise tapes, can't remember what it was called, but I think it started with a Z.  Anyway, it looked really fun!", I admit, I was skeptical.

A little backstory; my mom will occasionally see something random on tv or a magazine, call me up, describe it extremely loosely, (so there's a good chance I have no idea what she's talking about), and say let's go do it!  How about tomorrow?!  Usually I'm the one doing a little bit more research to figure out the details and the when's and where's.  And thus, I discovered Zumba.

When I first looked at the website, I'd heard of it before, knew it to be like an aerobic class with dancing and Latin/R&B type music.  Thought it looked kind of fun, but I'm not really a fitness class type person.  I mean, I'm pretty good at laughing at myself, but still a little nervous about looking really stupid in front of people.  I also was a little surprised that my mom wanted to do this, she's not usually one for putting herself out there, way more shy than me.  But, she was just so darn enthusiastic about it, so I looked up local classes and we went the following Tuesday.  And dang it if it didn't turn out to be really fun!  Our first class was an hour of just straight dancing, which was fun, but we went to a different class the following week, and did some toning with the dance, and man, were we sore the next day! (and the day after that for that matter)  Went for the third time yesterday, and she made us do walking lunges.  A lot of them.  I fully expect to be sore for another day or so, but still intend to go back again next week!  I think I'm hooked on exercising... how did that happen?

Friday, July 23, 2010


While I love to look at photography to be inspired, this is the first time I've linked to any artists.  Hmmm... maybe I'll start...
Anyway, Nick Brandt's work is stunning, just indescribably emotional and moving.

Seriously, go look, I'm speechless.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writer's Block Again...

I've been picking at a couple of blog posts for the last several days and I just can't put together a cohesive post.  So here's a random list:

- I joined the gym again.  I've just been so tired lately, it's kind of the last thing I want to do, but I think that there's a good chance that it will make me feel better and give me some more energy.  Hopefully, it will lead to more motivation as well.
-I always forget how much I actually like running.  About a half hour after I finish running, I'm wanting to go again.
-I'm still trying to figure out what to do about selling my photos.  If Etsy is my best bet, or if I should set up an separate website like Mpix that will print and ship the pictures directly.
-Gil the cat is growing really fast.  She has probably doubled in size in the last 2 and a half weeks.  And she's mildly psychotic, I keep threatening to sell her to the circus if she doesn't stop being so crazy!  Any time I'm on the computer, reading, knitting, she has to "help".  Usually by jumping on the buttons or biting my needles or chewing on the end of the book.  That's when she's not biting me! 
-I know I've mentioned our next trip in passing, but we're heading to Roatan, Honduras, for the big 3-0 birthday in September!  I'm really excited to spend my birthday on the beach!  We'll be doing lots of diving, taking pictures, and relaxing.  We're staying at Anthony's Key Resort, and have some friends and family going, so it should be a really good time!

Nothing too exciting, but I'm trying to keep up on 2 or 3 posts a week!  Just gotta shake this writer's block!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is the Zucchini Bread recipe that Jeff started asking for as soon as I told him I was planting zucchini this year!   After my giant zucchini (pic below) was shredded, along with a couple other smaller ones, I now have enough to make 14 loaves of it!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cloves
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup nuts (optional) (I never use them)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 large (4 x 9) loaf pans.  Beat eggs, oil and sugar together.  Add zucchini and vanilla.  In separate bowl mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and cocoa powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mix only until combined.  Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using).  Bake for one hour.

That's it!  It's easy and so good.  It has the spices of standard zucchini bread, with the little bit of cocoa powder and the chocolate chips, but not too chocolaty.  I understand that you can freeze the bread, but it goes pretty fast in my house, and the second loaf never makes it to the freezer.

Sorry, no pictures of the bread, but check out the size of this zucchini! (sorry for the blurriness)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Garden Post

We've been so fortunate again this year with our garden.  I admit that I don't have much to do with its success.  I have very little technical knowledge when it comes to gardening, yet we still manage to get a surplus of produce and enjoy ourselves.  The only real work we put into it is using the compost I build up over the year, pulling weeds (not often enough!) and harvesting.
This year, we expanded our garden by doubling its size and adding zucchini and cucumber to the mix.  We also have green beans, onions, red bell peppers, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes and Early Girl tomatoes, and sugar snap peas.  Earlier, we had leaf lettuce, spinach and broccoli, but that's passed now. 

Here is one of our first big harvests from July 5th:
We've since pulled off dozens of cherry tomatoes, a couple of regular sized tomatoes, another couple handfuls of green beans, several jalapenos, a few onions and a zucchini that probably weighs 5-6 pounds!
I've got another batch of Chocolate Zucchini Bread in the oven now, and several batches of shredded zucchini in the freezer with more still coming.  Green beans are our favorites and we've eaten a few and I've frozen four bags, moving right along with my 30 Before 30 #6!
We both just really enjoy digging in the garden, and getting to eat the stuff that comes out of it makes it even more worthwhile.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Sloppy Joe Recipe

Wow, let another couple of days get by since my last post!  Whoops!  In my defense, had a couple health issues going on.  Here's a quick recipe to keep the blog moving, should be back either later today or tomorrow.

A couple of years ago, I came across a great Sloppy Joe recipe, way better than that canned stuff!  Since then, I've tweaked it a bit, added a couple things, and made it spicier.  Let me know if you try it!

1 lb. ground beef or 1.25 lb ground turkey (I usually use turkey)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1 (or 2!) jalapeno, diced fine
2 cloves garlic
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika (I love the smoked spanish type)
1 tsp. dried oregano
A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. white vinegar

Brown meat in large skillet, drain fat off if using beef.  Add onion, pepper and jalapeno.  Cook until onion and peppers are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste and water, stir and cook until paste is completely dissolved.  (Quick tip: if you don't have tomato paste, a 14 oz. can of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water is a good substitute, you just have to cook it down for a little longer) 
Add spices and rest of ingredients, let cook down till nice and saucy, 10-15 minutes.  Serve on buns with either shredded cheddar cheese or good old fashioned Kraft American cheese slices!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Requisite Update On My 30 By 30 List

Basically, not much to update:

1. Get my Mandarin fish tattoo - no progress, think I found a good place, but still need to schedule and scrounge up the money, it'll probably get pushed till after my birthday trip.*

2. Sew myself a wearable skirt - have the fabric, have the book, haven't touched the sewing machine...

3. Sell at least 1 of my photographs - working on a plan for an Etsy shop.

4. Paint again (canvas, not walls) - nope, nada

5. Embroider a pillowcase - have some of the materials...

6. Preserve vegetables that I’ve grown in my garden - ooh, worked on this last night!  Froze 4 bags of green beans from the garden.  I have plans to shred some zucchini to freeze and to cook down some of the zillion cherry tomatoes to freeze as well

7. Go to a stitch and bitch or knitting group - not yet

8. Volunteer - have some websites to look at, I would like to do something with animals if possible

9. Run a 5K - this is going to probably be taken off the list.  I just haven't been running.  Running outside makes my legs hurt, and I don't have room in my house for a treadmill or want to spend the money for a gym membership.  Maybe for the 40th birthday...

10. Read at least 5 books on my bookshelves (preferably that I haven’t read before) - I'm still plugging away at 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on my Kindle. I want to get that done before I start something else, but it is SLOW going!

11. Invest some money for retirement (auto 401K with work does not count)

12. Yarn Diet-knit down my stash - I'm actually doing really well on this one!  I haven't bought any yarn, and I've been finishing projects!  I also want to make a few dishcloths to get rid of some of that cotton yarn that's just sitting there.

13. Bake and frost a layer cake from scratch - done!

14. Sell or give away 50 things that I currently own - 34 down, 16 to go

15. Paint the hutch in the dining room - this I've been planning to do for years, but now I'm wondering if I want to even keep it.  It's soooo big for our tiny little house, but we need the storage...

*Have I mentioned my birthday trip

Anyway, not too exciting, but I'm going to crack down on it, I'm down to less than 3 months!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rustic Tomato Sauce with Zucchini and Sausage

I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago when I had a few fingerling zucchini to get rid of and wanted some spicy pasta.

Rustic Tomato Sauce with Zucchini and Sausage
1 lb. bulk sausage (I use spicy)
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 small or 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or minced
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, 1/2 inch dice
14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. sugar (to counteract some of the acidic, canned-tomato flavor)
10-12 leaves fresh basil chopped or 1 tbsp dried
1 lb. pasta of your choice cooked according to box directions

Brown sausage, drain off fat and set aside.

In large skillet, heat oil on medium.  Add onion, garlic and zucchini.  Cook until onion is translucent and zucchini starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes, sugar, oregano and basil (if using dried, if using fresh, wait till the end).

Start pasta water. 

While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook, bring sauce up to a simmer.  As the sauce cooks, break up the whole tomatoes with your spoon.  This keeps larger chunks of tomatoes and gives it a more chunky, rustic consistency.  If you have more time, you can add the sausage and let the sauce simmer on the stove for an hour or so to let all the flavors meld together.  If not, you can just throw in the sausage and fresh basil and serve as soon as your pasta is finished!

Serve with lots of grated parmesan cheese (fresh if you have it!) and a green salad.  Easy, delicious and filling!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Baby of the Family

As I mentioned yesterday, we have a new furry family member!  Internet, meet Gilboa (otherwise known as Gil):
 She is a teeny, tiny, 10 week old kitten that according to the vet, only weighs 1 pound, 5 ounces.  She is a sweet and wild little snuggle-bunny, and we just love her to death.  She's easy to lose though!  When she is running around the house, if you take your eyes off of her for a minute she's gone!  She likes to hide under the recliner, behind the tv, in the coat closet, and apparently, in the broiler.  That's where we found her last night.  She was going into the space between the refrigerator and stove, and since we have the cheapest stove you can buy, the broiler has some open space in the back.  So, we opened the broiler drawer to find her hanging out there!  Needless to say, the space is now blocked off.

You may be wondering where the name Gilboa came from; we snagged her from Gilboa Quarry, a place where we dive fairly frequently, including this past weekend (which is a story in itself, I'll tell that soon).  The owner, Mike, always has cats running around there and she was this tiny little thing that was always nearby and wanting attention.  And we had been talking about getting a kitten on and off lately, so, she came home with us!  Plus the name kinda suits her personality! 

Murphy wants desperately to be friends with her, but Gil isn't quite sure yet.  Gil is interested in Murphy, but still a little afraid of her. Who could blame her?  Murphy is almost 75 times her size!  I predict that they will be best buds within the next week or so.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Coming Soon To This Space:

Blogging.  Actual blogging!  I mean it this time!  I have so much to write about!  Recipes, a new furry family member, some diving, some knitting, some pictures and an upcoming trip.  I promise, July will have some posts.  See you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mother's Day Cake and Changes

As you can see, the blog has a new header and a new background color.  What do you think?  I'm going to try and change the header on a more regular basis, now that I'm starting to get Picasa figured out!  I'm also probably going to be investing in Photoshop Elements soon.  IPhoto does a pretty good job with my photo post production, but I'd really like to have PSE.  (Actually, I'd really like to have full Photoshop, but I'm not ready for that splurge!)

Also, number 13 checked off the 30 Before 30 list!  
This is the amazing Strawberry Shortcake Cake from the Pioneer Woman.  This was the dessert I chose to take to my MIL for Mother's Day.  I have to say that it wasn't hard to make and split, but icing it was a little tricky.  Okay, so I cheated a little bit, and Jeff helped.  He helped me split and ice it, but, I'm still counting it, because it broke the ice!  I won't be afraid to attempt a layer cake again!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy June!

Wow, didn't mean to let this much time get away from me without posting.  Been busy, but, not THAT busy!  Short update for now, I'm wanting to make some major changes to the blog so it doesn't jump around so much.  Maybe different sections for diving, knitting, photography, and "everything else"?  Still trying to decide what I want.  I just feel like "Knit N' Diver" doesn't cover everything, that I talk to much about other stuff, for the title to be appropriate.  I'm just not quite sure what to do.  I want to start promoting and selling my photos, but don't want it to be a promotional only website, but don't really have the time to maintain another one.  I'm thinking about opening an Etsy shop for that, but still working on a name for that as well.  Sorry for the rambling post, but just wanted to put it out there that I'm still around, just figuring out which direction to go.  Any suggestions are greatly welcomed!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pies and Drama

Ok, I have a confession to make.  I'm afraid of pie crusts.  Not eating them (for the most part, but man, I've had some BAD ones!), but making them.  This weekend for Mother's Day, I threw out the idea that I make some sort of baked good and buy a plant for Jeff's mom.  He agreed, but suggested a pie of some sort.  "But I've never made a pie crust!" I told him.
"So, just make one, it's easy," he tells me.
"No it's not! Have you ever made one?"
"Yeah, it wasn't that hard."
"When did you make a pie crust?"
"I don't know, I was still living at home and we didn't have any pie crusts, so I called my mom, and she said, 'Just make one', so I did."
"..." (this is my reaction of shock and disbelief)
"Um, nothing, I'm just surprised is all," I said.

So, I'm still not convince that pie is a good idea.  I'm not sure I like the idea of my first pie crust being for a person who makes excellent pie crusts.  Oh, I didn't mention that?  Yeah, my MIL makes probably the best homemade pie crusts that I've ever eaten.
Now, I know I'm a good cook, and my baking skills are improving, but I'm not sure I'm ready for a pie crust.  Maybe I can convince Jeff to do the crust, then if it goes wrong, I can blame him!  Is that wrong?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Fruits our Our Labor

I love having a garden.  This is our second year and we decided to double the size because we enjoyed it so much last year.  About a month ago I put in lettuce and spinach, and a whole bunch of onions.  There was also an "incident" involving 3 broccoli plants and a small rodent.  One plant disappeared, one was eaten all the way to the ground, and one was completely stripped of all of its leaves.  Thankfully, the one that got stripped, actually survived, so we're going to get a little broccoli this year.  Then this past weekend, we got 2 tomato plants, 1 bell pepper, 1 jalepeno, zucchini, cucumbers, green beans and sugar snap peas.  We also put some parsley, basil and "lime" thyme in a container.  The lime thyme smells fantastic, I can't wait to use it!  I've also thrown some fancy mint in one of my flower beds, since they're perennials, candy mint and chocolate mint, these will be great for teas!  We're also trying out a watermelon plant and some strawberries.  My husband picked out the watermelon, we'll see how that goes, it's supposed to grow 20 pound melons!  Knowing our luck, which, usually tends to be good when it comes to the garden, we'll have a dozen watermelons and not know what to do with them!!

We're already starting to get lettuce and spinach for salads.  There is just nothing better in a salad than fresh baby lettuces and spinach.  Look how pretty that is!
Just a simple salad with grape tomatoes and blue cheese, I could eat this every day!
I'm also about a week into trying to be more active and eating less.  I'm doing pretty well.  I've walked 3 times and we went diving this weekend, which counts for swimming.  I'm also trying to eat smaller portions.  I've tried eating better and eating less, but I don't have the willpower to do both, apparently.  I just don't do well with being hungry!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Pictures Finally

I was just looking back at the last couple of posts and there haven't been any pictures!  How boring!  So, to make up for that, here are a few shots I've taken recently.
This is Hayden, the neighbor's dog, and Murphy's best friend.
Action shot!
Jeff, taken with my new 50mm lens.
These next pics were taken yesterday on my grandparents' property.  I especially like the ones that look like a fairy's kingdom in the forest.
In the same vein, I just signed up for a 6 week photography class that starts on Monday.  I'm so excited!  Nervous too, though.  It's a second level class, so I hope I know enough!  I use my DSLR camera set on manual all the time, I know ISO and aperture and shutter speed.  I have 3 lenses and mostly feel like I know what I'm doing!  This class talks about macro and night photography, with field trips to the zoo and the Franklin Park Conservatory.  Hopefully I'm not the most inexperienced one there.  I guess I'll just try to soak up all the knowledge I can, and hopefully take some good pictures along the way!