formats
Published on March 28, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

Triple ginger cookies

I like cookies. I like ginger. I like chewy ginger cookies with chocolate chips.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses — blackstrap is fine!
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (12 oz – measured via dip-and-scoop)
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of cayenne pepper or your red chile powder of choice (optional)
3 TBS fresh ginger, finely minced and/or crushed
4-6 oz crystallized ginger
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl add the molasses and the egg and vanilla until mixed well. Add the fresh ginger and mix until dispersed more or less evenly.

Combine remaining ingredients (except for crystallized ginger) in a small bowl and gradually fold them into the moist ingredients. Fold the crystallized ginger in by hand with a spatula, followed by the chocolate chips. Batter will be fairly moist. Cover bowl and refrigerate 2 hrs-overnight. If you’re in a hurry, 30 minutes in the freezer will speed up the process.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spoon batter out in tablespoonfuls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Be sure to space them at least 2″ apart, they spread like a western city during a housing boom. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

 
formats
Published on August 20, 2013, by in Knitting.

Dry Heat Preview

Dry Heat has been out for a week, and its release has taught me a few lessons.

1. Always, always, always check to see if a Big Name Designer is releasing a mystery knitalong, or an ebook, or a long awaited pattern. ALWAYS CHECK THE RAV RANKINGS.

2. Always check the knitting magazines to see if an impending pub date looming in the future.

3. Remember that fans of a free pattern aren’t necessarily going to translate into sales on a paid pattern. “Free” is a very seductive word, especially for an untested designer. Dry Heat did lure a lot of new knitters to Arroyo, which is awesome! Hi, new knitters!

4. Keep expectations low and ego out of it.

5. Trust in your friends. Even if they don’t buy the pattern, they will pimp the crap out of it, praise it and make the effort worth it.

 
 
formats
Published on May 7, 2013, by in Knitting.

Untitled

I was sorting through the basket of freshly laundered clothes this morning when I found the above. That is my Color Affection shawl, the first major selfish knitting project I started after having H-Bomb. Madelinetosh Tart, some Regia sock yarn, all of it from my stash. It was a three month project and yet, somewhere in the day-to-day, it fell in with the dirty laundry and wasn’t rescued in time. The colors bled, it snagged on something and ripped, and its trip through the dryer gave it a nice, fuzzy felt.

I’m heartbroken. That project was surprisingly difficult for being a bunch of garter stitch. H-Bomb learned how to respect Mama’s knitting after she pulled the needles out twice. There was the time the needle came out and she gleefully pulled, dropping a stitch down 18 rows. I should have taken it as a sign of impending doom and frogged, but I fixed it and finished it. Unconsciously, I had chosen the colors of my alma mater, UNM. The first time I wore it, UNM was playing Harvard in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. They lost. The next time I wore it, the head coach had announced he was ditching New Mexico for the greener pastures of UCLA. The next time I wore it, he refused to give back $1 million in earnest money from a contract. I was really considering calling the athletic director and offering him a deal: I’d burn the shawl in exchange for free tuition for my Ph.D.

But nope. The shawl met its mundane end in the washing machine.

Handknits are supposed to be used. Handknits are supposed to be worn. Sometimes, the worst happens. It’s just life.

Thanks, shawl.

 
formats

mighty

In two days, I’ve had two personal lifting records.

The first was a bench press of 115 pounds. My husband was acting as spot, the Kiddo hovering at the other end of the bench watching. It went down, it went up, it was racked. I felt mighty.

And then this morning, I hit my personal goal of breaking a 200 pound deadlift.

Breaking 200 pounds has been a life marker for me for months. To be real, it’s been on my list since I had my first successful deadlift. “This feels great! LET’S GO HIGHER.” I’m not a runner and I never will be. I’ll never get a cute 26.2 sticker to smack on the back of my car, but picking up 200 pounds seemed like a worthy goal, like my personal version of 13.1 miles. It was lofty, but doable.

Over the winter, I worked towards it, breaking 100 pounds, breaking 150. I upped my expectations to breaking 200 pounds by the time I rolled over my 35th birthday in April. With every five pound gain on the bar, I felt a little more smug, a little more certain that it was going to happen.

And I’ll be real, there was a component of magical thinking happening as the days ticked down to my birthday. I would visualize the lift, the events leading up to the lift, even the outfit I’d wear to do the lift. Nutty thinking, but in my heart I just knew my NASA t-shirt and my Batgirl underpants were totally going to help fight gravity, just like I knew my husband was going to be there, holding H-Bomb and shouting encouragement at me as I pulled that enormous weight up, up, up.

My birthday came and went, and I didn’t break 200 pounds. Another week came and went, no 200 pounds. I had my fantastic bench, but I could only manage 135 pounds — my usual working weight — and those 135 pounds felt so heavy. I was disappointed, but tried to keep focused on why I really lift — for myself, for my family, for the hell of it.

When it happened this morning, I wasn’t wearing my NASA shirt or my rainbow knee socks. Adam was upstairs working, and only H-Bomb was around to witness the lift. It wasn’t what I was expecting, it definitely wasn’t how I planned it, but I got it done. The bar went up, the bar went down. I felt mighty.

Bring on 300.

 
formats

likebear

I met Mollie last summer.

As I recall, Elizabeth Wurtzel had written another trolly article about motherhood for the Atlantic. I don’t remember the gist of the article, and like hell am I going to give her another page hit, but for a couple of days, the woman blew up the internet. Perfect timing. It was before the Olympics, the conventions hadn’t happened yet, and the news cycle was slow, so why not revisit the mommy wars? It was easy to imagine Ms. Wurtzel kicking back in front of her Google Alerts with a cocktail in hand, singing, “NAILED IT!”

For a few days, my little parenting message board was a tempest of indignant, self-righteous outrage. Posts were pounded out by very earnest, very lovely mothers and fathers who felt judged, nay, shamed by a professional troll for their life choices. In the eye of the storm was Mollie. She was laughing at the self-aggrandizing essay Wurtzel had written instead of rending her garments in agony for being what? A bad feminist? A tool of the patriarchy? Fuck that. There was a Prozac Nation/failed bar exam joke in there somewhere. I knew this chick was on my wavelength.

We became Twitter friends, and after several weeks, I noticed that almost every day, she’d post a link to her workout on Fitocracy.com. I was intrigued. I was also super heavy, at the very rock bottom of my postpartum depression and ready to try anything to fix my brain and my body. I asked for advice. Mollie suggested deadlifts. Go heavy. Do a few reps. See how you feel. And also, log it on Fito, because arbitrary internet points are addictive.

Six months later, and I’ve got a new oly bar sitting in my living room.

But it’s not just me. Mollie’s turned dozens of women onto the benefits and joys of fitness. She has been there in spirit for every heavy lift, every personal record, every setback and every rebound. She cheers on friends running marathons and friends who are just starting bodyweight lifts to see what it’s all about. She organized a massive online raffle to motivate people to move in April.

This is why I’m making her the first recipient of my Strong Like Bear award. She gets nothing but my eternal gratitude and the occasional gem from my yarn stash. So yeah, Mollie. You kept me going. Here’s my giant thank you, baby.

 
formats
Published on April 11, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

Toddler Help

Since posting my box of wonders, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my lifting philosophy. Like that one guy in college who reeked of patchouli, I borrow heavily from Thomas Hobbes.

Pink Weights are a Tool of the Patriarchy

First thing is to ditch the ladymag wisdom of using pink weights to tone one’s way into a designer strapless dress that cost more than tuition at a state school. I mean, c’mon, let’s get real. “Tone” is one of those words bastardized by the glossies to mean “sell more pink weights, fake foods and strapless dresses.” Second-rate DudeBro personal trainers use “tone” in their sales pitches. “Tone” is a manufactured lie, like Santa Claus, free energy or Zooey Deschanel.

Also, my 17-month-old slings around 2.5 pounds in each hand like it’s nothin’. After you watch a toddler tote around a fifth of her body weight for funsies, you’ll side-eye any adult who thinks they’re getting any benefit from waving a dumbbell that weighs less than a venti frappuchino.

Congruent to the pink weight patriarchy is the personal trainer who leads a lady over to a weight machine and gives her the low weight/high rep spiel. This is the KA-CHING! workout. The lady comes in week after week, not seeing any result, which makes her pay the gym and the trainer because maybe she’s not doing it right, or maybe she’s not being motivated enough. Now the club-affiliated trainer can sell cardio classes, supplements, more training sessions — none of which will move her to the end goal of being stronger. The only thing getting smaller is her bank balance.

Nasty, Brutish and Short

My mantra is “I can do ANYTHING for twenty-two minutes — so long as I have a sitcom streaming on Netflix.” (I like the company.) On lifting days, I pop on a random episode of 30 Rock, crack open the wonder box and get with it. Twenty-two minutes later, I’m drenched in sweat, feeling good and finished. 

Since the beginning, the heavy weights/low reps/compound lifts/toddler wrangling school of thought has kept me interested for six months and counting. When the bar is loaded with every weight I own, just counting to three can be a Zen exercise. The feeling of pulling something heavy away from the earth, of flipping the bird to that weak force of gravity is damn satisfying. “FUCK YOU, ISAAC NEWTON!” I shout, belying my working ignorance of physics, and startling bystanders. It’s a fine feeling.

Not having to do it more than twenty minutes is just the icing on the cake. Shorter time commitments mean more time knitting. It’s about priorities.

Keep it heavy, my friends. Just Hobbes it.

 
formats
Published on April 8, 2013, by in Uncategorized.

I’ve been pretty candid that I am a heavyset woman. If I was honest on the “what body shape are you?” quiz, I’d select “Paleolithic Fertility Idol.” Floppy boobs, big ol’ belly, tree trunk thighs, and hips made to populate the world — that’s me, the Share-a-Size Sarah. And boy howdy, I’m awesome.misslascaux

I should back up a little bit.

In the months that I’ve been getting into lifting, I’ve run into one really off-putting attitude. It goes, “I don’t want to look like you.” It’s usually said with a sneer by someone who would have to decamp to the couch and mainline straight HFCS for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a year to even scrape the edge of my size. It’s an attitude that walks hand-in-hand with “I don’t lift weights, because muscles are masculine.” When pressed, the person who doesn’t want to look like me explains that women who lift weights are either super fat and ugly because they’ve bulked up, or are scary orange and veiny, because they’re participating in body building competitions. Either way, lifting weight will result in a totally gross body.

It’s so cloyingly sweet the way ignorance cavorts with body shaming, isn’t it? Also, I love how some folks have no shame telling me to my face that looking like me would be the absolute lowest point of their lives.

Well, fuck you, I’m awesome.

Hey, I get it. I do. It’s an image-conscious, image-driven society. Every January, millions flock to health clubs and gyms with the goal of going from Before to After. Everyone knows that After is what it’s all about — because After gets tagged with “Happily Ever.” Who doesn’t want to be happy? So get with the program. Get on the elliptical. Eat fake food and do penance for not being pretty. Pay out the nose to have program after program fail because genetics plays a big damn roll in a gym perfect body. Suffer and never enjoy life and living until that goal weight has been achieved.

But here’s the thing: this is the happiest I’ve been in my life. I was telling the Captain the other day that it’s a pretty simple equation: Deadlifts + Adequate Sleep + Baby Snuggles = Joy. Who’s going to turn down joy?

There are so many benefits to the lifting besides the satisfaction of moving heavy weight up and down. I’m building a strong body so I can lug a toddler around town. I’m beating my family history of osteoporosis into submission. I’m impressing Target cashiers with my ability to tote the big box of cat litter with one hand. I’m giving DudeBros the side eye.

Yeah, I’m the Paleolithic Pin-up Girl living in the twenty-first century and loving it. Fuck the haters. I’m awesome.

 
formats
Published on April 5, 2013, by in Lifting.

The Weight Box

I have a box of wonders in my living room.

Seems pretty unassuming, doesn’t it? A box decorated with a rocket theme that I picked up at Target last summer for 40% off. It was probably designed for toy storage. Most people assume that’s what it is.

Oh, but looks are deceiving.

That box is my gym.

175 pounds of free weights, 50 pounds of fixed dumbbells, two adjustable dumbbells and a 10 pound barbell.

175 pounds of free weights, 50 pounds of fixed dumbbells, two adjustable dumbbells, a 10 pound barbell, and a 25 pound toddler.

I haven’t joined a real gym for so many reasons: the fees are too steep. I’m damn heavy and live in fear of being laughed at — or worse, being photographed from the neck down to either be mocked on Reddit or used as inspiration on Pintrest. The H-Bomb is not one of those sunny youngsters who immediately takes to strangers with a smile, so tossing her into a fitness club daycare three times a week is not going to happen. Gym clothes. Parking. I hate people.

Gyms are right out. And I hate running. And I hate workout videos. I like picking up heavy things, but our house doesn’t have a great space for a full weight setup.

Enter the box.

Over the last six months, I have pieced together a compact home gym using free weights purchased from a variety of sources. As of right now I have:

  • 4 – 25 pound plates,
  • 4 – 10 pound plates,
  • 4 – 5 pound plates,
  • 4 – 2.5 pound plates,
  • 2 adjustable dumbbells,
  • 1 barbell,
  • 1 approximately 25 pound toddler, who likes to be lifted.

Outside of using the fixed weight dumbbells to toddlerproof a couple of floor lamps and storing the bar in the laundry room, the whole setup is contained nicely in a 14″x14″x14″ box. A similar set can be had from Amazon for $125 with FREE! PRIME! SHIPPING! which is very exciting when you’re me.

Do I want a gym membership? Eh, maybe. Sometimes I feel like I’m stalling in my bid to deadlift 200 pounds and a gym/trainer setup might be the motivation I need to break that barrier. But really? More than anything, I want a house with space for full weight bench with an Oly bar and a squat rack. I do like working out at home.

 
formats
Published on April 3, 2013, by in Knitting.

RAINBOW SOCKS!

Man, the news that Sock Summit is cancelled is a total bummer. I cannot tell you how much I’d been looking forward to handing over the toddler to her father and assorted grandparents so I could spend three glorious days sleeping, knitting and blowing the remains of my 401(k) on sock yarn.

I’m serious. Sock Summit 2014 has acted as my beacon, my rock, my finish line. There have been times when the house was a mess and the baby was stuck on the “car alarm” setting that I’d make it through by telling myself to just hang in there, because in 20 months, I’d get to shoot up to Portland and see my friends.

Drat.

My friends have tossed out a few alternate ideas: Taos, Rhinebeck, Stitches West. Maybe just a weekend in a central city where we take over an anonymous Holiday Inn Express and go on a yarn crawl. These are all excellent ideas and I have zero doubt that we will get something together. But I admit it, I’m bummed that the summit is dead. I will always be a sock knitter at heart and I am sad that this convergence of like minded freaks won’t happen again in this permeation.

Bummer.