Long Summer

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This summer was a pile of poop. Life was really busy kicking my ass and the blog didn’t even enter my mind, and anything I had to say wouldn’t have been for public consumption even if I had.

But I finished 2 hats and a pair of socks. For the socks, the 2nd one was knit almost exactly 10 years after the first one. That’s probably the worst case of Second Sock Syndrome I’ve ever had, but they are done now, and I like them so all good. Links to the Rav project pages with the photos if you want more specific details.


Repotting My Aloe

Category: garden, house | Comments Off on Repotting My Aloe

I’ve just about missed the quarterly posting deadline I’ve given myself, again. So today you get to hear about my house plants.

Let me start by saying I am not good at plants. The only plants I’ve been truly successful with have both been transplants/cuttings from plants my co-workers had. I have a Devil’s Ivy and an Aloe.  The Devil’s Ivy has been pretty awesome, mostly because it likes neglect and is fairly forgiving when I forget to water it for 3 weeks.

The Aloe I have is a baby from a coworker’s plant that had a bajillion babies, was finally split, and then distributed to those interested. Today I split off 6 pups from the aloe I was given, trimmed it down, and repotted it.

When I started today after depotting it looked like this:

It was way to big for the root system it had,  was supported by an orchid stick, and still wasn’t really holding itself up very well. So I read on the internets, and then trimmed off a lot of the lower base fronds that were bent, or browning on the tips.

Once done, I was left with a decent sized base stem I could use to root it further into the new taller pot. The plant itself is now much smaller,  able to hold itself upright properly, and still has plenty of room to grow.

The viable pups have also been repotted into spacious new homes and if they survive, I’ll take the smaller ones in to work.

In the meantime, they’ll live in the window with the Devil’s Ivy, where the fluffy cat can chew on the frond ends as usual.

Some hats.

Category: craft, Finished Objects, knitting | Comments Off on Some hats.

I’ve been doing a little bit of knitting this spring/summer. Very little really, but enough to produce two hats. Both are the same yarn, because I liked it. :)

Conversationalist hat in Knitcircus Ringmaster (worsted, Lambeau Leap)

Parrotfish/Pomatomus Hat in Knitcircus Ringmaster (worsted, Beach Glass)

Cast of Wonders episode 299

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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.

Keylime Cheesecake

Category: food and wine, Recipe | Comments Off on Keylime Cheesecake

I meant to post this sometime in January, but I’ve missed that deadline now. Regardless, making this dessert was a good expiriment and one I plan to do again in the future.
I made this at Thanksgiving as an experiment. It turned out pretty well, and I plan on making it again at some point, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are too close together for this much cheesecake.

First…I didn’t make up either of the recipes I based this on, and I used them as they were and modified just a few things.

I used, the standard Philly Cheesecake recipe, and the Nelly and Joe’s key lime pie recipe. And then I just made some modificiations.

For the crust, I made a double batch and added the zest of one lime, but then only used 2/3rds of the total. I needed a thicker crust than the cheesecake called for to support all the weight, but not double the amount of crust, that would have been too much.

After I got the crust tamped down, baked off, and cooled, I whipped up the filling as per the directions and added 2 ounces of Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice to that, and got it into a 350 oven instead of the recipe listed 325.

While the cheesecake was baking, I mixed up the Key Lime pie filling.

At 40 minutes into the bake time, I opened the oven and gently, oh so very very gently, poured the key lime filling on top of the cheesecake and spread it all the way out to the edges. The goal here is to disturb the cheesecake part as little as possible so you get two distinct layers, and the cake tastes different depending on where in the piece your is taken from. For the most part, I achieved this.

Cook the entire thing for another 20 minutes, and take out to cool until you can place into the fridge for 4 hours. I did my cake on Wednesday night for the Thursday dinner because I wanted it to have plenty of time to set up.

For topping I used the 2 ingredient no machine ice cream recipe found here. But it only sat in the freezer for about 4 hours the first night before we used it, and that was my prefered texture for it. After that it was basically plain ice cream topping.

Bullet Journaling – part 3, things I’ve modified/implemented in my second notebook

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This is my final (planned) post on bullet journaling and how it’s working for me. I wanted to get this up in case someone is planning to start this for the new year and would find any of this helpful before setting up their new notebook. (My publish on a future date settings went wrong and this isn’t going out until the 31st when I meant for it to go out on the 26th. Apologies!)

You learn as go with this system, and I’ve spent the last few months trying some things. Some worked, some didn’t. I’m using what worked, and dropping what didn’t. I’m not bothering with any type of doodles or artwork because I don’t find it useful/helpful in any way, but I do use some washi tape and lots of color in the form of markers, pencils, and pens because I like color.

So here’s what I am doing differently in over all setup:

Split Index
I have my Index pages/columns, but I’ve also made a column for Collections all it’s own. That way when I am looking for a specific collection to reference something in it, I can find it more easily than if I had to read through the entire Index. I don’t always think of things the way I originally named them, so having a shorter list to read through will help me not miss what I am looking for.

And speaking of Collections..
Collections in the back.
I am putting all collections/lists of things I keep for reference in the back of the journal like an appendix.
There will obviously be things that come up as the year goes on that will get mixed into the daily stuff, but generally speaking, it’s going to be in the back.
And for migrating collections from the old to the new? Digitizing, printing, and attaching in the collections from the 2017 book to the new one. That way I don’t waste time writing a whole list again, I can easily alphabetize it, add to it, update, and move it all over again when I move out of this notebook at some future date. I keep all of these as multiple sheets in a single excel file, so it’s easy to wrangle them if I need to with my excel wizardry. I have lists for authors I like to read, audiobook readers I like to listen to, things I want to make, quotes I like, a honey-do List for shmoo, and downstairs freezer contents. Likely I’ll have more in the future, but for now that’s it.

Doubled Future Log; skipped first month.
The Future log is 2 years instead of 1. I started with February and not January because that’s wasted space since the Journal starts with January. And sure, 2 years it’s a long way out, but when a doctor says “ok see you next year” I want to be able to put that appointment in my journal. Also, I like having the long view, and I don’t think I’ll use up this journal in one year based on the number of pages and how many pages I use per month, so 2 years up front is just more practical.

No Monthly Cover Pages
I tried having monthly cover pages for October, November, and December. I just don’t see the point, and in my opinion it’s a waste of a page I could be putting something useful on. I don’t need a mini-calendar I’m not going to look at, an inspiring quote/art, or an indicator that the month has changed. I don’t need a separating page, and if I do, I’ll just leave it blank so I can use it for something else later. For me, each monthly spread page is indicator enough that the month has changed.

Edge Protection
I am now placing washi tape on the edges of pages I know will see heavy use in order to help them remain intact and have less wear. Things like the Future Log, Monthly spreads, and certain collection pages are all getting a vertical band of washi on the edge of at least one side of the page to help stabilize the page for heavy use.

So that’s it. Now you know what I know about bullet journaling.

Plated Weeks 44-47 – This is the Final Plated Reviews Post

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First, let me just say, we have quite liked our Plated experiment and would do it again in the future if we wanted to shake things up and be more experimental in the kitchen. We have chosen to be more budget conscious in light of a large purchase we’ve just made and that means things like Plated are being cut out for now. We may do it again in the future, but we may not, so this will be the last of these review type posts. Hopefully if you found these because you are considering trying plated, the collection of these posts will help you make that decision.

Week 44
Cajun Pork Dirty Rice with Bell Pepper and Scallion
This was tasty and easy to make. We both liked it. I could see doing it again and maybe putting it into a regular rotation.

Creamy Butternut Squash and Chicken Linguine with Parmesan Breadcrumbs

This was OK. The Butternut definitely added something different to the pasta dish but we probably won’t do this again on our own.

Week 45
Curried Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Chickpeas and Toasted Naan.

We both quite liked this one. It was a crappy day and the soup and naan were perfect. We’ll probably make this on our own on my next soup kick, but I’ll use regular coconut milk instead of lite. The soup needed a bit more body and I think that would do it.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken with Roasted Chinese Broccoli and Basmati Rice

This was OK, but nothing stellar. This was the first time we had eaten Chinese Broccoli and it was good. If I saw it in the store, I’d pick some up to eat as a vegetable for other meals.

Week 46
Japanese Chicken Tsukune and Coconut Rice and Chinese Broccoli

These were really good but the sauce never thickened like the instructions indicated it would, which was a disappointment because it was tasty and it being thicker means it would have stuck to the meat and rice much better.

Piri Piri Chicken with Crispy Potato Chips and Sauteed Kale

Success! I only chose this dish so I could learn to make Peri Peri sauce on my own, so I consider it a win even though I don’t particularly care for bone in chicken thighs.

Week 47
Hoisin Beef Buns with Ginger-Sesame Slaw and Baked Sweet Potato Fries

So good! I want to do this again with different buns. The meat was savory and tasty and the Ginger-Sesame slaw was the perfect counterpoint. The sweet potato fries were meh, but the rest we’d totally do again.

Potato Latkes with Horseradish Sour Cream, Roasted Carrots, and Spinach Salad

The salad was lacking and I’d have liked to have seen more seasoning and such in the latkes, but they were still crispy and good and I learned things making them. And the horseradish, chive, sour cream sauce was definitely something I’ll start making for other dishes.

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

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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?

– 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:


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.

Plated Weeks 40-43

Category: food and wine, plated | Comments Off on Plated Weeks 40-43

Week 40
Butternut Squash and Poblano Enfrijoladas with Queso Fresco
I don’t remember this one. At. All. And I’m the one who cooked it. But shmoo does and he says he remembers liking it.

Seared Steak with Ginger-Roasted Tomatoes, Butternut Squash, and Cardamom-Lime Yogurt
I also don’t really remember this one. I vaguely remember the ginger tomato saucy bit but mostly, not really. Which I guess means it didn’t suck.

Week 41
Cashew Chicken with Bok Choy and Garlic Rice
This was ok but nothing spectacular. Sort of a typical vaguely asian-esque dish. I would have liked it to be more specific and maybe have more flavor. The garlic rice was decent though.

Beef Moussaka-Stuffed Delicata Squash with Greek Yogurt Sauce
This was different and pretty good! We’d eat it again, and I’d maybe consider

Week 42
Spicy Chicken Arrabbiata with Parmesian-Roasted Cauliflower
This was good but….. the instructions had you skillet fry the chicken skin down to get a crispy skin, but then it has you cook it in the sauce in the oven which makes the crispy skin you made that special effort for all soggy.

Chana Masala with Shallot Pakoras and Basmati Rice
Shmoo really liked this one. The shallots were battered in a chick pea flour that I thought could use a bit more seasoning but shmoo just loved. It was like fancy onion rings with an extra crispy crust. I’d consider doing this one again if he asked for it.

Week 43
Chicken Paprikash and Bell Pepper and Egg Noodles
This was good but had the same chicken skin fry and then cook in sauce so it’s not as crispy thing going on. But otherwise, quite tasty.

Butternut Squash Empanadas with Mozzarella, Salsa Roja, and Spinach Salad
This was good and we’d totally do it again. We both really enjoyed the squash as a filling and how well it went with the “salsa roja” which, I’ve mentioned last time we had empanandas with salsa roja from plated… isn’t saucey enough to be called salsa anything. It’s just cooked tomatoes to pile on top mostly. But still, tasty!

I started Bullet Journaling in March for my personal life, and starting using the same format each day for work in late July. It seems to be a the cool thing to do now according to the internets, but I actually find it useful I wouldn’t have kept doing it, so I thought I’d do a few posts on it in case it’s helpful for someone else.

What attracted me to bullet journaling:
You don’t need anything other than a notebook that you like, spiral, bound, stapled paper, whatever is going to work for you that you have on hand or easily afford. The system is not meant to be a huge time, money, or energy sink, and you can pick up and start using it whenever, and if you stop for a few weeks, just go to the next blank page and go again. No sweat. Because it’s not a preprinted planner, you aren’t wasting pages by time passing. It’s fairly simple and straight forward if you stick with the basics. It can be as elaborate or as minimalist as you want.

Why I use it:
I’m not a diary writer or journaler about life events. I don’t need to know what my thoughts and feelings are on a subject in writing. I don’t care. What I need is a way to keep track of all the shit in my head that I keep forgetting. This does that for me. I spend a few minutes each day getting the things out of my brain that I used try and keep a handle on mentally. This works for me because it’s freeing up brain space so I can move on to other thoughts and tasks without worrying I’ll forget what I just thought about, because I wrote it down and know I’ll get to it when it’s appropriate. As I get older, and more and more distracted and forgetful about the billions of tiny little details that make up my life, I find it harder to stay on top of everything I need to remember, and this is a solution to that problem for me.

The next post on this will be about how it’s working out for me, and the post after that will be about the notebook I am starting at the New Year and the minor changes I’ve made that will suit me better. (No, you don’t have to do this, but the spine on my current journal is breaking, the paper allows more bleedthrough than I like, and I want to swith from graph paper to dotted paper.) For now, here’s a set of links and notes for someone interested in possibly starting bullet journaling.

website and video by guy (Ryder Carroll) who started it

the journal/notebook I bought to try out the system:

the one I am “upgrading” to for next year (it’s a buck more, but heavier paper dot grid paper, and hopefully a better spine):

the journal/notebook most folks get because it has index pages and page numbers for you already, and has a lot of options for colors:

and here’s the ruler I use for quick straight lines and as a bookmark: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0015ZY25I

Some people I follow on youtube who make videos about their journaling to give you an idea of what can be done with it and how people are using it etc etc, and you can see from the titles I’ve listed below, they obviously do this every month pretty much, and some of them put out other content like migrating from one journal to another once they’ve filled one and such, but this should give you an idea of the nutso elaborate things people are doing as well as give you some ideas of the things you can keep track of and how to track them pretty easily if you are interested in doing so. Watching these made a difference for me in that I realized I could implement some of these things in my journal and get more out of it, but it was also a bit overwhelming because a lot of it is WAAAAAAAY to arty and time consuming for me.

Sunshine and Stationary:
Plan With Me Oct 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phmRD7sJWwU

Steph B Sanity:
Plan With Me Oct 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKr77EDs3dc

Jenny Journals:
Plan With Me Oct 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSf-cwg_tic

Plan With Me Oct 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj7vnpnQzWo

There’s are two different reddits for Bullet Journaling. r/bulletjournal is more artsy, and r/bujo is more bare bones getting shit done


And finally, after you’ve seen all this crap and are overwhelmed as hell….

How to Start Bullet Journal without Feeling Overwhelmed

It’s easy to make all this harder than it really is, and ultimately it’s about getting things done, not making your life harder or stressing out because you don’t have a pretty notebook.