Long Summer

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.


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.

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

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.

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?

– 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.

Bullet Journaling – part 1, a few thoughts and some reference links

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….

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.

Annual Jeep Post 2017

So here’s the annual Jeep post. I realize this really isn’t interesting to anyone but other Wrangler owners, but it’s useful to me for tracking changes I’ve made.

This year, the doors and top came off in early May. May 7th to be specific, as May 8th she had a date with a man in Dundalk for a few days to get spray on bedliner. I chose to get the RhinoLiner TuffGrip, and Four Sons Automotive in Dundalk is the only place in the state that does it. If I had wanted some of the other liners Rhino offers I could have gone to Frederick or Bowie, but if you want TuffGrip, you gotta go to Dundalk. It was very windy and breezy driving across Key Bridge at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning in early May in a stripped down Jeep. And it was both windy and full on raining during the trip back home a few days later. It was worth it.

The one thing I’d say is notable about switching over to liner instead of carpet is that the carpet is very heat and noise insulating, so your road noise level is going to go up a bit, and if you are taking longer trips, the floorboard is going to get pretty warm on you. Road noise never really bothers me, but the floor heat on an already hot day when you have the doors on can be a little toasty.

I’d been wanting to strip out the carpet and get spray on the bedliner for a few years now, because nothing smells worse than wet carpet in a car and I don’t want to deal with that. We’ve had the liner for almost 6 months now, and shmoo and I are both pleased with how it looks, wears, and the overall change.

Other changes I made this year were to not use a bed cover for the summer as I had previously and put the rear seat back in and then use a strap cage underneath the Safari top I use in the summer. This created a “safe” area to throw my stuff for going to and from work and allowed me to have an additional passenger it if was needed. I guess technically it would be 2 additional passengers but I never needed to cart 3 other people around at any point this summer. Overall, the strap/top combo gave a shaded cosy area that someone could sit in and wear a seat belt, so it wasn’t the worst place to sit, but if you are tall you would not have liked it. Having the backseat in also cut into available cargo room, but generally just folding/flipping it up would give us enough to get by with.

The foot pegs were used again this year as well. And I have to say, for such a small easy change to make, they are more than worth it. My left foot is noticably a few shades darker than the right one I used it so much.

We put the doors on for good this year on Saturday, and I gotta say, May 7-Sept 30 is a pretty good run for no doors. There is one exception to this where I had them on for about a week during that time, but as soon as I could, I took them right back off. The top goes back on this weekend, because it’s certainly time. It’s cooled off quite a bit and all the wind that feels great in the 80s and 90s is a little biting and chill in the 50s and 60s. I’ve held off as long as is reasonable, but I have to admit defeat to the change of season now.

I am pretty happy with the way things are now, and really enjoyed driving the Jeep all summer. Next year’s currently planned changes are to have some body work repairs done where the hood has been dented from a branch falling on it and some scratches on the sides above the rear wheels that go through the clear coat and down into the paint. I’ve hit the point where I’m very satisfied with what I’ve got, even though shmoo keeps demanding we get a snorkel,(You know, for reasons!) so now I want to focus on maintaining what I have and keeping it good shape.

In the meantime, I’m working on knitting up a steering wheel cover out of this because I think it will match quite well once it’s done!

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