Cast of Wonders episode 299

Escape Artists started producing another podcast and they asked me to read for it, so I did.
You can find it here.

Cast of Wonders is more YA/kid focused as the audience so if you have someone on your life who is young but likes sci-fi/fantasy short stories, this might be a good podcast to pass on to said youngster.

Bullet Journaling – part 2, common parts of a bullet journal

There are a lot of common “Spreads” people have come up with. A “spread” is the term for the set of pages you have a particular thing on.

Spreads I don’t use

Mood trackers – No idea why these exist and are so prevalent in these journals. I’m not going to color code my moods and enter them each day. I’m certainly not going to draw 30/31 different leafs or cats or snowflakes to color in for mood. I already know my mood. Cranky. If I’m not cranky, I’m on vacation. That’s it, that’s all you get. You damn kids can get off my lawn.

Realistically, if you are fighting depression or anxiety, I totally see a need for these so you can talk to your docs about what’s going on, any meds, and how you feel each day. It’s better to record how you feel while you are in the soup so to speak instead of looking back and glossing over things that might be important. But that’s generally not what you see with these, and most of them are super arty and colorful and so the results would be arty but not I think useful in an actual clinical setting. It’s really hard to correlate patterns in random color coding that changes every month, and why bother tracking it if you aren’t going to use the data?


Gratitude
– Many folks do a page or a line every day for things they are thankful for. Much like mood tracking, I don’t see the need, but I get where it’s coming from. Maybe you are at a place in your life where you need to see the good things happening to you in writing because you can’t remember them without that. I was raised to be thankful at all times for a roof over my head and food on my table, and told everything else was luxury, so for my day to day life, I don’t see a need for this. Every time I piss and moan about life, I am quick to remind myself of how good I have it, and if I don’t, shmoo will certainly help out. That generally starts with “tell me how it felt to wake up in your dirt bed, take a dirt shower, and eat your dirt breakfast before going to work in the dirt fields today…” We’re pretty good at realizing we have a great life. If you need help with that, I’m guessing that’s what a gratitude log is for.

Brain Dumps – I’ll be honest, I am not sure if these are doodle/brainstorming pages, or for writing all your feels down or just all the shit running through your mind that isn’t things you actually need to remember, but I don’t get it. If you have thoughts that you don’t need anything done for, then those are thoughts, you thought them, now move on. I’m obviously not someone who needs to write everything I think or my blog posts would be more prolific, so maybe this is just something I don’t understand. I’m ok with that. Possibly you are someone who would find these types of pages useful.

All the Artwork – drawn, painted, taped in, or a shit ton of stickers, I’m not sure I get the point unless you are wanting to actually have an artist’s notebook that is also your journal. Yep, I use washi tapes for color and cheerfulness and a ruler to try and keep most of my lines straight. I have tons of markers and colored pencils, and I like color quite a bit. But I don’t really need fancy art with my color. Being useful is enough for me and colorful is just icing on the cake. I freely admit many of the journals with arty stuff are beautiful, I’m just not sure I’d find it useful. If it’s that pretty, why would I write on it?

Some people actually also journal in their bullet journals along with the tasks and such. I’ve never been a successful journal/diary keeper, and these tend to be the kinds of pages people don’t share on the internets so I can’t really advise you on them other than I know it happens for some, therefore if that’s what you needed, it could happen for you too.

Spreads I do use.

Future log
– I’ve seen a lot of people do variations of the original version for this, but the standard set in the basic bullet journaling video works for me. It’s space to dump an entry for that month into, and then I move on.

Monthly Spread with Tasks – I offset my Monthly list a bit and notate work items that impact my personal life, and vice versa with my work journal, and there’s a list of Tasks that don’t really have a time frame for but I want to do in that month. Some people don’t like this, and do a traditional box calendar, but those don’t work as well for me. If they did, I’d just have a printed calendar and that would solve everything. Here is an example of a Monthly spread for me:

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Weekly spreads – I only started doing Weekly spreads in October. However, I stumbled across something called Rolling Weeklies on Reddit, and they are really working for me. Except mine don’t roll. Basically I do a combo of weekly and daily spreads and I give it two pages to happen on. There is almost always leftover space for meal planning and grocery lists at the end of the week, or space for an upcoming thing I want to plan for (like thanksgiving cooking, as seen below). I arrived at this version by some trial and error, but it fits my life, so I’ve stuck with this iteration.

Expense tracking – I am fortunate enough to not have a strict budget, but I am working on being more aware of where I spend money and knowing exactly what I am spending on. I like to put a certain amount in savings each month, but had not been doing that regularly until I started expense tracking, because I was relying on my memory of “yeah I did that this month” and it wasn’t always this month I was remembering. Now it is because I wrote that shit down.

Habit tracking – If you take meds every day, you know, it kinda blurs together after a while. At least if does for me, so I use the “habit” trackers to make sure I’ve taken my meds, and if I don’t, well at least I have a log of what I have done to share with my doc. Then I use one or two other trackers to track things I want to improve on or pay attention to for the month. Like a new skin care routine, drinking enough fluids, or knitting/spinning every day. Something I want to do more regularly that I’m not doing now. It’s just self accountability really.

And that’s basically the most common parts of a bullet journal you’ll see. Next post will be changes I am making moving from this year’s journal to a new one for 2018.

Pseudopod Reading: Granite Requires

My latest voice work for Escape Artists has been published.

PseudoPod 559: Granite Requires by T.J. Berry.

This is the 9th time I’ve read for Escape Artists, and the 5th time for PseudoPod specifically.
Early feedback on this has been very enthusiastic so I am guessing I did a good job. I recorded it at the same time I did “Bring The Moon To Me” which was released back in April, but then did the edit/clean up later on. (Turns out our computer room has a different sound to it with the different seasons, so that made drop in edits interesting.) This story was easily the longest one I’ve recorded but I could hear her speak so clearly in my head when I read it that I knew it’d be a pretty good fit.

Eldritch knitting

I read another story for Escape Artist’s podcast, Pseudopod recently. It was just a short flash fiction piece in an episode that had several works in it, but I loved it (and I don’t always love the things I read). It has binary, knitting, the moon, and magic in it. If you want to check it out, you can find it here.

If you’re here for the Plated recipes, they will be caught up soon! Come back again later. :D

Plated Weeks 3 & 4

So…shmoocon means that things in our schedule got off-kilter and thus, you get 2 weeks combined this go round. There will also be a bonus plated dessert post after this one.

Week 3 dishes were Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps with Basil Rice, and Peanut Chicken Curry over sticky Rice.
Week 4 was Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Pamesan Potatoes, and Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Srircha.

So for week 3, both dishes were REALLY GOOD despite an issue or two, but if I were to make them again, I’d change a lot of things.

Thai Beef Lettuce Wraps
We both loved these, so very much. They were simple and fast and tasty! The only real issue with these is that the butter lettuce was gritty as hell even after a thorough cleaning and run through the salad spinner to dry off. So that sucked, but they did give you plenty of butter lettuce to use, and there was enough filling to use more than the 3 leaves each the recipe advised. The ground beef they sent was 80/20, but since we generally buy 92/8 I found it super greasy even after draining, but otherwise this was great.
I’d like to try making this on my own with the following changes:
-Skirt steak instead of ground beef or 92/8 ground beef, and if it’s the skirt steak, marinate it first in a teriyaki sauce or some Dale’s.
-Thai Basil instead of plain Basil, as I think that’s a better flavor for the dish, and I’d use more of it.
-I’d defintely add more hoisin and sriracha, but we like things pretty spicy. We are possibly of the camp that it’s not spicy enough until it hurts us.
-Add spring onions, and up the amount of cilantro a bit.

Peanut Chicken Curry over Sticky Rice
Again, we both loved this, and again we both agreed we’d change some things. I really don’t care for most of the types of rice Plated sends us. I am not a huge rice person, and generally the only rice I find acceptable is basmati, and it should be cooked with the Toast and Season method. (Rinsed well, cooked with a bit of oil/fat til it slightly changes color and smells nutty, then add the water and cook as normal, preferably with a chicken cube for some extra flavor. I don’t always do this I admit, sometimes we just use a rice cooker.) So I didn’t like the sticky rice. It was ok, but texture wise it was off for me, and I would have loved basmati in the dish so much more. And the instructions for cooking the chicken had you cooking it for 6 minuutes in a pan on it’s own, which did not make sense to me at all, because you were only cooking it through and not browning it. So I put it in the broth to cook instead, so that broth flavor would be in the chicken and chicken flavor would be in the broth. Also, 1 less pan. I thought the broth was a bit on the thin side, but shmoo was fine with it. It was a super tasty dish even with all my complaining.
I very much plan to make this on my own with the following changes:
-Use normal coconut milk instead of lite
-Use more red curry paste, more gochujang, more peanutbutter, and a smidge more ginger.
-Use Basmati instead of Sticky Rice

Week 4 was tasty as hell. Both dishes were good and I plan to do my own versions of both of them in the future.

Seared Steak with Swiss Chard and Crispy Parmesan Potatoes
Neither of us can remember having ever eaten Chard before, and the way the potatoes were done is totally happening in my house again, but this time just cooked on a Silpat instead of parchment, so they don’t stick.
Changes for when I make it:
-Instead of demi-glace in the sauce, I want to use Worchester sauce or maybe a little Dale’s, and up the wine content by about half of what was sent.
-No sugar in the Chard, it was a small amount but I just didn’t think it was needed at all
-More red pepper flake
These are pretty small changes over all, and we really enjoyed the the whole dish. Other than the very first recipe we did (cheesy black bean burritos) this is probably the 2nd on the list for really liking it as is without changing things.

Bok Choy Fried Rice with Butternut Squash and Sriracha
This was good and very filling. We both liked it, and while there were things we’d change, neither of us would be mad if someone made us eat it again as is. They sent basmati rice for this one, so I was a lot happier with life. I followed their instructions on the rice instead of doing it my way, but it was still the best rice we’ve had from Plated. The butternut squash came pre-cut sort of but you still had to cube it up, which was hard because the pieces sent to you were inconsistent. One large section of squash would have been better because then I could have cut it more uniformly. The carrot came shredded, so that was pretty handy. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked bok choy before, so that was both new and educational. I definately feel more confident about the idea of making fried rice on my own now. If you want a vegetarian fried rice dish, this is solid. Shmoo says he did not miss the meat, and he is generally the one who wants meat in all the foods, so that’s pretty high praise.
What I’d change:
-Add some meat. Diced chicken or pork, or shrimp perhaps. Barring that, I’d add some stock or meat flavor to the rice.
-Possibly remove the butternut squash. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but it was a little sweet, and we both thought it was there to be the “meat” of the dish.
-More onion, garlic, soy, and Srircha. Maybe add a little hoisin, or some rice-wine pickled cucumber at the end for flavor/texture/temperature contrast. Possibly some mushrooms would be a good addition as well if you like that sort of thing.
-Maybe instead of the fried egg on top, scrambling it and frying it into the rice in the more traditional style.

So yeah, we really liked all 4 of these recipes quite a bit and we’d eat all of them again, even if it were as is. I do think the minor tweaks and changes would make them amazing dishes however, so I’ll be trying that out at some point in the future.

Not an inch.

So I didn’t spin a damn thing for Tour de France/Fleece.

I knit instead. And I almost managed knitting every day for a while. But then I stopped and have only randomly picked it up here and there.
I am working on Stephen West’s Bolting.

It’s been to several baseball games this summer and overall is pretty good travel knitting. It doesn’t really take a lot of attention and I can knit it without looking at it or the pattern when watching the games, but it does take just enough to not be a total snooze.

The only other crafty thing of interest is that shmoo got me a fancy ball winder for our anniversary. (It’s a month early, but his gift is also, so it works out!) I love it. It’s awesome and a huge improvement over the Michael’s $14.00 w/ coupon winder I was using. I am not resisting the urge to wind everything I own. :)

I thought I had other stuff to post about but I keep forgetting it so nothing is getting posted. Maybe I should make a point to post when I am thinking about something instead of doing it later and thinking I’ll remember do actually do it.

Arizona

We are home from 3 weeks in Arizona, and while I took my knitting and spent many many hours at the Mayo Hospital there, I did not do a lot of knitting.
I did however teach shmoo’s sister to knit, and finally on the last day we were there was able to go to the only real yarn shop in the area.

If you are in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, check out Jesicca Knits, it’s a lovely shop, great selection, super super nice staff, even though we skated it 30 minutes before they closed for the day on a Saturday, and just a lovely experience over all. Very happy with them, would shop there again, kinda sad they aren’t local to me.

We also ate at Fate Brewing in Scottsdale for lunch one day and even the salads were really great. As shmoo said “I’d have eaten 3 or 4 of those spinach salads!!” I got the house salad and felt the same. Their pizza options were interesting and tasty as well. And the beer was really good. They did an IPA with Falconer’s Flight hops in it, which is a favorite of ours, so much so that shmoo ended up buying a growler of it to go with him.

Arizona is lovely this time of year as long as you don’t have allergies and like brown. Towards the end of the 2nd week things stopped looking so brown, and I knew that I’d been there too long because I could now see the colors in everything. Their spring is not that green and I missed some of the verdant greens we see hear on the east coast. My allergies were way worse than they are here in Maryland, but not as bad as if it were Georgia, but still I had to heavily medicate for them every day, which I don’t care for.

We were told that Coyotes, Javalinas, and Rattlesnakes were a problem out in the area we were, but didn’t see a damn one of them. I was really disappointed by the lack of coyotes and pigs. Rattlesnakes I’ve seen before so that didn’t matter. But we’d been told the coyotes are an aggressive problem that like to run in packs around the retirement neighborhoods snatching up small dogs to eat and running away with them. The pigs just wander around in aggressive herds like bored youths.

Our last nifty surprise was at the airport. We ate breakfast at a place called Bario cafe in Terminal 4 gate D, and discovered Michealados. For those of you like us who had never heard of them before… it’s a light plain beer, like dos eqis, corona, or bud light, ice, spicy bloody mary mix, lime juice, and some hot sauce in a glass with a salted rim. And it was pretty damn awesome. We are totally planning on making these for brunch, camping or Florida vacation in the future. Crazy good. Really.

So, that’s Arizona for you. Dry, brown, and pollen-laden with sketchy gang-banger style wildlife roaming retirement communities.
I’d go again to visit, but hopefully next time not because of a family emergency, and not for nearly as long.

June’s knitting

I knit a Jayne hat while off camping. But it’s for a swap and I haven’t yet put the pompon on it. So no picture of it yet.
I also knit a tea cosy the night I finished my first Swedish Fish sock, and it turned out lovely.
It was a one night knit, while we were watching T.V. It only took about 2.5 hours, if that long.
The yarn is/was a peachy salmon handspun merino/tencel blend (held double) that I got on Etsy, and I was really happy with the yarn when I made and now I am really happy with the tea cosy.
And I still have enough left to do another little something, the question is just what that little something should be.

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I did not put the button on it yet, but just used some bits of yarn to tie the button hole to the fabric instead. Not perfect, but it works and it’s impressive what a difference it makes for keeping my tea hot.

As to the Swedish Fish sock, I hate it. It’s a cute sock, the colors contrast great, and I should love it.
But I don’t. I think it looks awful on and now it’s in time out. I’ll have to think about it and revisit it some other time after it’s been washed, blocked, and left to behave itself for a bit.

For those of you in Canada, Happy Canada Day. And if you’re in the States, Happy 4th of July.
And I guess the rest of you can just piss right off. ;)

(No, there’s nothing wrong with your feed reader, I cheated and back-dated my post to be in June instead of posting on July 2.)

Missed it by…. that much!

So I’ve been trying to finish Radiate in time to do an April post about it, thus fulfilling my “at least one post per month” idea of trying to remember to blog. Once a month, with a FO post, seems like a good way to spend the year. Both substance and regular posting, but not really enough of either to feel like a chore.

And I finished the last bit of actual knitting on Radiate about 10 minutes ago. However, I still need to sew buttons, wash, block, and weave in the ends, so it’s not DONE done, and I don’t have any photos of it yet. But I did finish it in the month of April, so I’ll chalk it up as a win, and do the buttons tomorrow, and a real post about it next week.

Tourmalines

So here’s a totally crap photo of my first FO for 2011.

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Evangaline armwarmers (formerly found on magknits, now sold on Ravelry) knit up in Sweet Georgia Superwash Worsted yarn, color Tourmaline. The photo does not do justice to the hue and saturation of the yarn. Nor does it convey it’s squooshyness factor, but it’s the only photo I am going to have of these, because after wearing them for two hours I gave them away.

Yes, I loved them. Yes, I knit them up just for me. But I have another hank of that yarn and I can knit more. Johnny doesn’t make it home to the states that often and waiting to mail a pair to his daughter meant figuring out how to mail something to Uganda once I finished the second pair, and hoping that it actually did get delivered, and there were no problems with Customs there in Uganda. And all that was assuming I finished them ever and didn’t get bored and just flake off in general about the whole damn thing, as we all know I am quite prone to do with knitting.

So… he was at shmoocon, and I was at shmoocon, and I just gave him my pair, though I had already worn them for about 2 hours, to take back to Uganda with him when he goes for one of his girls. It was the right thing to do, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Also, Johnny is doing really cool shit in Uganda. I am sure I’ve blathered on about it before, but he’s staying over there longer than originally planned and I feel like what he is doing is pretty damn awesome and more people should know about it. So here is a link to his Shmoocon 2011 presentation if you want to check it out: http://www.hackersforcharity.org/long-journey/shmoocon-2011-2/