Friday, April 29, 2016

Home Cooked - Anya Fernald

When I first opened this book I was struck by the 'un-pretty' look of the pictures.  And reading the introduction and where Anya Fernald is coming from, I had my doubts as whether or not this would be a cookbook I would like and use.

Right now there are at least two dozen sticky notes sticking out of the pages on recipes I want to try.  

The food is more 'rustic Italian' or 'peasant food' and not beautiful presentations to delight the eyes and not the mouth.

I can't wait to make my own 'bone broth', but will probably not make my own lard.

The recipes are simple and easy.  Fernald does give a couple of 'make-ahead' ingredients to add to which you can store in the fridge or freezer.  

Think I'll go give the biscuit recipe a try....

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mandala Monday

Enough said!  This has to be one of my favorites in a long time.  This might have to be printed off and hung on my bedroom wall.  The colors would blend nicely.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week in Review - April 17 - 23

Spring has sprung, whether Montana is really ready for it or not!

On my way to work I pass by little patches of spring color.

And the weather has been alternating between 70's for a few days and then back into the 50's and rainy.  But since we can use all the moisture we can get, I'm not going to complain....much.

Lilacs (my personal favorite) will soon be in bloom.  Wait! No! Peonies are my favorites!  And I am posed like a buzzard awaiting a meal over my friend's, CS, peonies.  When her's get up a bit more, I have been promised a peony or two to put in my yard.

Even a good Southern favorite can make it in Montana!

So besides taking pictures of spring blooms, I did manage to get the following accomplished this past week...
  • Worked at Tizer on Tuesday in the greenhouse and brought home some of the 'babies' I planted about 6 weeks ago which are huge!
  • Sewed up my RSC16 blocks for April
  • Started on "Harley" and have the top finished
  • Knitted 4 rows on my Knit and Swirl Sweater (that's about 2400 stitches)
  • Finished three books
  • Walked 48,962 steps or 70% of goal
  • Wrote 7 posts

  • Created the cards and posters for the Staff Picks display at the library  Need more books on it though.
  • Received a letter from a new pen pal in France

So for the coming week...

  • Send out my Big Stitch 2 swap gift
  • Send letter to my pen pal
  • A couple of days at Tizer Gardens for Volunteer Days to get it ready for opening
  • Make up more Staff Pick cards
  • Start on Texter's birthday present
  • Work on "Harley"
  • Lots of reading.  Have a couple of major reviews I need to get out in the next few weeks.
  • Repot seedlings into cups
  • Working on weeding my community garden spot

So now, someone (Lady K) is announcing she is hungry and wants toast!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


I love getting snail mail and have for, well, decades.  

In the late 70's, early 80's, I had penpals in Australia, England and the Soviet Union.

Now I mainly just participate with Postcrossing.  Very non-commital.  Postcard out, postcard in.

Sunday, I sat down and caught up on some special requests from Postcrossing members for Montana postcards.

First, I had to clean off my desk of all the 'stuff' which had been piled there.  I sorted through piles and stacks and did some 'chores' and got the desk down to a manageable and usable status.

I sorted out the postcards I had to send and the ones I have received over the past few weeks.

This postcrossing member went overboard and I got 5 postcards.  I had to chuckle over the Tupperware postcard.  They are everywhere!

Sometimes, the journey isn't always smooth for the postcard, as seen by a huge chunk (the stamps it seems) off the card.  But I get everything from famous paintings and city scenes to humorous ones.

I also recently participate in Liberate Your Art.  You create six postcards and send them in.  Over a few week period, you get six postcards back, all with original artwork on them.  I sent out a postcard with one of my mandalas on it.  I went through to get them printed and think I will be making more to send out.  Often, with postcrossing, I get requests for 'art' postcards, rather than tourist-style postcards.

Three of the postcards were created with photography and some manipulation in Photoshop (or something similar).  Three more were artwork created by hand.

All my postcards I receive are taped to the back of my bedroom door and the front of the bathroom door.  Then at the end of the year, I'll take them all down and put them in a box and start over again with the new year.  Already, my doors are getting a bit full.

Sunday, my assistant had to create her own postcard to mail.  So loaded with stickers and 'colors', there will be a postcard sent to her grandfather and step-grandmother.  She loves looking at the postcards as they come in.  I have a future snail-mail-participant.

But the 'mailing' item is now off my to-do list for the month.  Now I need to get a list of all the counties in the world and a list of states, so I can check off where I have cards from.  Guess I will start the 'postcard-from-every-state-and-country' challenge.  The hard one is already achieved as I have a postcard sent from Antarctica.

Now to finish up a letter to a friend back in North Carolina and wait for my 'new' penpal's letter from France.

Note:  For anyone with children interested in Postcrossing, I can highly recommend it.  I have been a member for years and never had a problem with it.  Great way for kids to learn about the world.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Non-Mandala Monday - The Little Paris Bookshop

I will start my review of The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George with a warning.  As you near the end of the book, find your favorite chair or reading nook.  The one where you can snuggle down, the warmth of the late afternoon sun on the pages.  A place where as your throat begins to close up and tears water your eyes, you can stop and sniffle in peace.

I first picked up this book because it was one of the library's book group picks for the spring.  It had several positives in just the title - bookshop, Paris - so I jumped in.  

At first, it reminded me of the The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauemeister.  Jean Perdu, the owner of the literary barge anchored in the Seine, dispenses books like medicine, prescribing remedies for what ails the reader.  However, at 50, Perdu's life is less than ideal and circumstances force him to take another look at the past 20 years of mourning for the departure of his lost love, Manon.

With a traveling cast of characters, Perdu becomes unmoored, literally, and travels the canals and rivers of France, searching for the meaning to his life, both past and present.

And luckily this is my copy of the book, so I can turn down pages of passages which hit home with me.  One I can share without it being is spoiler, is from one of the traveler's, an Italian and his worldview.

"One: eat well. No junk food, because it only makes you unhappy, lazy and fat. Two: sleep through the night (thanks to more exercise, less alcohol and positive thoughts). Three: spend time with people who are friendly and seek to understand you in their own way."

Another character, Samy, added a fourth rule, "Four: have more sex."

I was happy to note at the end of the book is a list of the books mentioned and their 'cure'.  Some of them I will be happy to give a try.  After all, if Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy can be a remedy for sense of humor failure, then the other books must work too.

There is also a listing on some of the recipes in the book.  There are two lavender ice cream recipes which will be given a go-around here in the near future.

Nina George has managed to take me on a magical cruise through the warm air of Southern France.  One I really don't want to leave.  One where I want to travel to and find Jean Perdu and his bookshop. 

NOTE: "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."


Week In Review - April 10 - 16

This is how I want to be feeling, all warm and growing and productive.  Instead, this is how things have been going...

All cold and yucky.  

Actually, our 'snow event' wasn't all that bad here on the 'farm'.  We did get a blanket of wet snow for a bit, but it melted as the day went on.  Just a couple of cold, rainy/snowy days.  Days I had to get out and go to work instead of burrowing into warm blankets and reading.

Otherwise, this week I...
  • replanted some seeds which I managed to kill the seedlings on
  • read a book to Lady K's class
  • doctor visit for head and finger - different nasal spray to hopefully get rid of this stuff in my head and a future visit for a shot of steroids in my trigger finger
  • worked at the library on Friday with our computers down for public use - it was very quiet!
  • finished 3 books (and a couple of reviews to come)
  • walked only 59% of my goal, 41,031 steps
  • wrote 3 posts
  • cleaned house and caught up on most of the laundry

The above is my list for 'to-do's' this weekend.  I have managed to actually cross a nice chunk off by Saturday evening.  This is despite having a litter of 9 week old Brittany Spaniels over for a visit on Saturday.

I realized part of my 'yucky' feeling lately (other than my head and throat) is I haven't been working my planner like I should.  I get so much more accomplished and really feel better when I do.  So it's back on track now.  

Today will be a desk day.  I can work on several projects which involve clearing things off my desk and still keep an eye on Lady K while Texter is doing homework.

But first, blueberry muffins for breakfast (and another cup of coffee!)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Mandala Monday

I 'discovered' Cara Cara Oranges at Costco the past couple of weeks.

They look like oranges on the outside, but like pink grapefruit on the inside and are very juicy and really good. 

Our household is addicted to orangeade.  Addicted to the point that when Savvy took the pitcher of orangeade and finished it off without Texter getting any....well, it wasn't pretty. 

I know it would be better if we actually ATE them, but pouring a glass on a warm day, over ice, is really, really good.  I'm going to cry when they are no longer in season (at Costco).

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week In Review - April 3 - 9

Lots of bits and pieces going on this week, but really feeling like nothing getting accomplished. 

On the plant front, will have to replant my dwarf tomatoes as I very successfully (in my zeal) managed to kill them off, except for a couple.  However, my lemon tree is putting on new growth and some of the lemons are growing right along.

I was warned some of the lemons already on there might fall off due to the shock of transporting, etc. And a few did, but the majority are still on there.  

I also have several bunches of blooms.  I just wish I wasn't so congested due to allergies so I could smell them better.  George, the banana, is going along well, but I need to move him into a bit bigger container.  Hopefully, next week.

My knitting bag overflows.  I have my sari yarn scarf almost finished.  And the bit of purple in the upper left side is my Honeycomb cowl I am repurposing yarn for.  The middle is the start of my Knit and Swirl Coat of Many Colors sweater.

Right now it looks like a twisted mess.  But it's actually all nice and straight and perfectly aligned.  There is only about 600 stitches on the needle and I'm knitting in the round.  This is about three 'welts' and I only have about 14 to do before I start getting 'creative' with the knitting.  So far it's not a real mind boggler, but it takes about 30 minutes or so to do a complete round.  And five rounds to a welt.  You do the math!  It's a good TV marathon watching project so far.

And if that wasn't enough knitting, Texter gifted me with this nice little bundle of yarn.  It's enough for a hat and I have a fairly simple pattern picked out already to use the three colors on.  But need to knock out one of the other projects before starting this one.

While picking up backing for the mini-quilt I am making (which I just need the binding on), I also picked up this panel.  Very colorful and will go well on our walls.

We, as in Lady K, is now the proud owner of a 'sand turtle'.  And boy, does she love it.  Even when Aunt Savvy joins in the fun.  It's right outside my desk window, so we can run in and still keep and eye on her.  There will be a lot of outdoor time this summer with a little wading pool, the sand turtle and a bit of a yard.  Luckily, our wi-fi extends outside, so Texter can sit and keep an eye on her and still do her 'computer stuff'.

Otherwise, this week I managed to:
  • Lead a book discussion group in conjunction with the Montana Historical Society
  • Finish 10 books 
  • Write 2 posts
  • Submitted my first chapter of Seedcrone to Miscon for the Writer's Workshop consideration
  • And even with my fitbit off for a little over 24 hours, I still managed to walk 54,956 steps or 79% of goal
  • Gifted a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts by a friend who was coming back home from Missoula, the home of the closet Krispy Kreme
  • Finished piecing and quilted the mini-quilt for the Big Stitch Swap 2

Today it's clean up the desk day (hopefully) and also need to do the following this week:
  • Binding and sleeve for hanging the mini-quilt on and in the mail
  • Piece my mini-quilt 
  • Stretch two fabric panels and hang
  • Create my block for the Bee Hive Swap (and I have NO yellow in my stash!)
  • Do my RSC16 blocks (9) in orange and brown along with two color wedges in brown and orange
  • Sew on Harley Quinn costume
  • Try and get and few more welts knitted on K&S
  • Grid out my community garden plot
  • Attend an art opening on Friday
  • More writing, much more writing hopefully
  • Work with planner more and set better weekly goals to get back into the flow

So off for another cup of coffee and to peruse a couple of seed catalogs...

Monday, April 04, 2016

Mandala Monday and Monthly Goals

Overall, once I started going over my list of goals for March, I realized I had done pretty good.  Much better than I thought.
  • Prep for Camp NaNoWriMo in April - sort of
  • Hot springs visit end of the month during Texter's spring break  cancelled due to Lady K having the flu
  • Do my March Bee Hive block and get it out on time
  • Complete the Mystery Quilt
  • Complete the blocks released in March for Modern HST and RSC16 Challenge - did the RSC16, still need to catch up on the Modern HST
  • Get Handmade Swap out 
  • Work on Big Stitch Swap present - almost finished
  • Play with the serger and make a top using it - not yet
  • Get the rest of the Harley Quinn materials and work on it-have everything but grommets and it's cut out
  • Tizer Gardens and greenhouse 'work' - did once, but then illness has kept me away
  • Pick up yarn and start Knit/Swirl sweater
  • Start getting materials for yard and container gardening
  • Keep my journal(s) up-to-date in a more timely manner - nope!
  • Organize basement some
  • Attend Sleep Yoga class and put some the ideas into action for a better night's sleep

For April, am going to try and shorten my list and aim for even a higher completion rate.

  • Send of sample of novel for Miscon Critique
  • See if any rooms still left for Miscon or if we are 'commuting' again (affordably is a big factor too)
  • Start planting at my community garden spot
  • Lead a book discussion for the library at the Historical Society
  • Catch up on the RSC16 and Modern HST samplers
  • Get my April Bee Hive square out on time
  • Finish sewing on Harley Quinn cosplay 
  • Start a cosplay for myself for Miscon
  • Meet my walking goal each week
  • Work 'with' my planner
  • Writing for Camp NaNoWriMo
  • Set up family tree folders
  • Gather 'orphan' blocks into one box
  • Help out at Tizer more days
  • Celebrate CJ's birthday
Here's to a great April!

Linking up with .... 

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Week In Review - March 27 - April 2

It's been a real up and down week, mainly in terms of weather and illness.  The week didn't go as 'planned', but overall it worked out just fine.
  • A nice, long hike on Sunday
  • Lady K with "influenza A"
  • Texter on spring break
  • Monitoring cats for a friend while they were at Disneyland (seems a little unfair, but the revenge of the cats for a week without their minions will be punishment enough)
  • Picked up a 'sand turtle' for Lady K as a belated birthday present (and a return of warmer weather)
  • Trip to Great Falls to get the rest of my yarn for my Knit and Swirl sweater and managed to have 2 of the 40-something 'welts' knitted
  • Massive amount of yard work on Saturday
    • shelving off the porch
    • set up a 4 shelf 'greenhouse' on the porch for seedlings
    • set up and filled a 4 X 8 raised bed
    • planted 4 rose bushes
    • planted the raised bed with snow peas, radishes, carrots, broccoli, kale, onions, garlic and lettuce
  • Finished 5 books
  • Wrote 4 posts
  • 92% of my step goal reached - 64,429 steps or 29.7 miles
  • Some nice breakfasts made over the week
  • Basement semi-cleaned and organized.  One big corner still left to hit.
The coming week - 
  • Grid out my garden plot at the community garden
  • Catch up on things at my desk
  • Finish up book for book group
  • Lead a book discussion at the Historical Society
  • Write!
  • Update calendar and figure out my next few months with my planner

I have discovered a source of my 'discontent' over the past few weeks.  I haven't been using my planner and lists like I normally do.  Being sick myself, and Lady K under the weather also, I just haven't used it like I should.  And I can tell, both mentally and physically.  But it's back to the book, so to speak.  April ends the months I have in my current planner/journal combo and I need to decide if I am going to keep one combined book or separate it into two separate items.

But off to fix breakfast and try and figure out how to clean up my disaster of a kitchen before I head to work today (paybacks are hell!)