Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Crocheting vs. Physics

If you're an older lady and you crochet, seriously, you're awesome. I'm 20 years old and my eyes are tired from all this stitch-counting and figuring out where to put my hook and such! But I must admit... I am in love.

When I was younger, my mom taught me to make chains with a crochet hook, and I could make those chains from sun-up to sun-down. Well. Not really. But I never realized how much more you could do with a crochet hook till a few years later! Over winter break, I made it my project to learn to crochet. For real. (First, I had to re-learn making a chain.) And now I'm addicted, and, as proof of the old lady I am turning into, I am procrastinating on doing my online physics homework right now by, you guessed it, crocheting. Leg-warmers, to be exact. I'm also calling all the local animal shelters and adopting every cat in the Tristate area.

Anyway, since this was a solo project and I learned everything I needed to know online, I thought it might be nice to post links to some of the great verbal and video tutorials I found for anyone else who might be trying to learn! (Also, selfishly, so that I can find them more easily when I need a refresher in the future!)

Rachel at Maybe Matilda has some GREAT tutorials from her Crochet Along, and that was the main resource I used (thank you, Rachel!!), as you'll see below!

2-part video tutorial for beginners that takes you from the yarn-buying to holding your hook to chaining, turning, all the important stitches, and crocheting in the round (very well explained!):

As for where to start, definitely start simple with a one- or two-stitch wonder. Something to let your fingers get the rhythm of crocheting before you launch into a pattern that throws a combination of stitches together into one big stitch! And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that it's worth it to take out your stitches, even if you've done rows and rows of them, if you realize you've made a noticeable mistake. Nice yarn is expensive, and your time is precious, so you want to make something you'll actually wear/use/give away, and not just hide on the top shelf of your closet!

Here's the pattern for the quite simple leg-warmers I'm making right now:
And here's my other project, the cowl they were working on in Rachel's Crochet Along:

If you have any questions about crocheting, at this point there is only a small chance of me being able to help you, but I will give it my best effort! Happy crocheting--I hope we can be old cat lady friends! :)

Here's the finished product of my leg-warmers! Finally finished my first real crocheting project!]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Never Call Anyone (Including Yourself) Fat

  1. Physiologically, fat is a nutritional compound. It is necessary for bodily function. We store it in our bodies as adipose tissue, and some of us store more than others. You can appear “skinny,” but if you don’t exercise or eat right, you may actually have more fat stores than if you appear overweight but actually have a healthier balance of muscle and fat. So, to summarize, we all have fat, but that doesn’t mean that we are fat.
  2. The word has become loaded with stereotypes and derogatory connotations. Whether or not you mean it that way, it is an insult. In our culture, people are expected to look a certain way (a way that very few of us really look without airbrushing), and the generally desired appearance is size XS for girls. When you call someone fat, you are comparing them to the cultural XS ideal and saying they don’t fit it, instead of using a term that can be meaningfully (physiologically) defined, such as overweight. (Be careful about this term as well, though, because it can be hard to know if someone is actually overweight without knowing their BMI... and even BMI is far from a perfect measurement.)
  3. What someone looks like outwardly has nothing to do with who they are inwardly. Labels based on appearance are poor descriptions of anything that a person truly is, and detract from self-worth and confidence in one’s ability to change. If someone is overweight and wants to reach a healthier weight, the first step to sustainable change is to believe in one’s ability to make that change. Saying, “I am fat,” can evolve quickly into “I will always be this way; this is just how I am, and I cannot change it.” That is a dangerous mentality for weight, for all aspects of health, and for life itself.
Just remember, the foremost concern is health every time, not subjective evaluations (we can argue the subjective nature of health on a different day)!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Butternut Soup

First, let me tell you my sob story. The building I live in had all the ovens removed because of some kind of fire code. I didn't learn this until after I'd applied to live here. It's torturous to love cooking and baking and have to spend a year without a stove or an oven! But then, one happy day, I found a gorgeous crock-pot on Amazon for $20, and now I have both that and the microwave in which to prepare food! Much as I might complain, I know that I really am blessed to have that much, plus the money to buy all the delicious produce my heart desires to experiment with cooking. 

I think crock-pot cooking is really quite fun, especially in the winter-time. Soups are lovely in fall and winter, and crock-pots make it so easy! I buy some assortment of veggies, beans, pasta, rice, or whatever and throw it all together with some spices before I leave for class in the morning and voila! a delicious dinner is waiting (I can smell it from the stairwell... my poor tortured housemates!) when I get home that night.

Tonight's soup was inspired by a recipe in the book "Wholefood" by Jude Bleareau. (Which I highly recommend, by the way.) She put sweet potato, winter squash, and garbanzo beans together in a recipe, and, well, first of all, I happened to have all those things, and second of all, it's 23 degrees outside and that just sounded amazing. 

So, here's my Winter Butternut Soup:

1 butternut squash (or other winter squash), peeled and roughly chopped
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 large onion, chopped small
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 can garbanzo beans
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups water

Now, here's the best part: throw it all into the crock-pot (potatoes and garbanzo beans will cook best closer to the bottom of the pot, but you can stir it up a bit anyway to mix the flavors), and let it cook on low for 8 hours. I started it later than I meant to today, and so was impatient and hungry and dug in at about hour 6 and a half, so the beans were still a little al dente (can you use that word to describe beans? anyways.) but it was still delicious! 

Had to take another picture from the side just to show off my new dinnerware. I got my first set of porcelain dishes yesterday ($11.25 for a set of 4!) and I just think they're so pretty!

Let me know what you think of this recipe--I'm not a very experienced cook, so I'd love to hear what changes you would make! Enjoy!