Saturday, September 29, 2012


I fear I have too many social media outlets, and none of them are getting the proper amount of attention. I get the most traffic with this blog, yet I'm only posting a couple of times a week.  I keep intending to make a schedule whereby every place that I want to post gets posted to regularly, but it hasn't happened yet.

The thinking was to divide my personal blog from the jewelry stuff, to avoid overwhelming either with non-pertinent information. Given how my posting seems to simply be divided between the two, maybe it's time to put it into one thing. I don't know, I'm thinking about it.

I suppose another question is what is working? My FB page for the jewelry stuff has over 300 followers, and I've gotten a couple of sales off of that. I enjoy it, too, especially reposting other people's cool and interesting photos.

I've got two Tumblr blogs, too. One that I repost cool sciencey art or science humor or science stories, and one for jewelry and upcycled things. Those get some traffic, but since the jewelry one is an offshoot of the same email account, I can't seem to do everything on that one that I want, like listing who I follow, which I'd like to do.

And Google. I think I dug myself this hole, but I have two gmail accounts and my blogger blog for the jewelry stuff isn't attached to my jewelry gmail account. Again, I can't do everything I'd like to do because of that. Oh, and Google plus is a whole other thing to be dealt with one of these days.

So I'd like to consolidate. After reading through this post, I've got a lot to do!

Friday, September 28, 2012

My cooking prayers answered

Regular readers of this little blog know I can't get it together (ever, really) to pass along recipes like some better-organized bloggers. But I was at the library yesterday, and found a whole book with several good recipes in it, so I thought I'd pass that along.

When I was younger, I can remember spending a lot of time in the library. I guess some of it was with my mom, and some by myself. I do remember having the luxury of time such that I could walk the aisles of nonfiction and pick out things that looked interesting. 

I brought Mr W to the library yesterday. It's slowly transitioning over, but he'll pick out 15 books he's read before if I let him do all the choosing, so I spend some time selecting books I think he'd like. We have found a lot of good ones like that, and say what you want about sequels, it is a really good way to get a kid to pick up a book and begin to read without too much fuss.

We found a bunch of good ones for him, then I went upstairs to the nonfiction stacks and did the walking around thing. I didn't feel like I was getting anything good, but I was wrong. The stew book (link is to see it on Amazon) has a BUNCH of straightforward recipes whose leftovers can be frozen, which is a high priority for me. Lots of cuisines, too. 

I also got a book on clay, one on casseroles, a Rick Steve's guide, "The Best of Europe", and a book on remodeling small houses. I guess I did pretty well at the library yesterday. Being able to wander around the stacks was a real treat.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Last night I watched the movie The Way, with Martin Sheen. It's about a straight-laced, follow-the-rules kind of guy who gets a call that his wandering adventuring son has died on his very first day of a pilgrimage that starts in France and goes through northern Spain to the sea called the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). This link shows the route and has info.

Sheen's character flies to France to identify and claim the body, and decides on a whim to take the pilgrimage in his son's stead. The movie is about the people you meet along the way and how we make choices about how we live our lives. I really liked it and recommend it.

This is a picture I pulled off the internet (link below). Amazing scenery, with this pastoral-small European village feel - really nice. The movie has made me think a bit about folks who have the wanderlust in a big way, those that most definitely don't, and the rest of us in between.

I found myself thinking about my assumption that, sure, I'm in good enough shape to do an 800 km walk over the course of a month. Well, I think so. And thinking that I could do this kind of thing if I really wanted to is an assumption I carry with me that makes me feel better about not doing it. I've always figured I'd get to Europe someday. As I've mentioned before, it's something I don't want to do by myself; I'd like to go with the wonderful guy I hope to eventually meet. 

But I feel sort of this nagging feeling that I should be making contingency plans so I don't wait too long and miss the opportunity. This thought isn't necessarily new, but I figured I'd put it down on the blog. If I hit 50 (3 years from now) and still my match is taking his sweet time, I'm going to Europe for 2-3 weeks on my own. Saying that makes me feel better.

It's a big world out there, that like it or not we are part of. Ack. I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never been further out of the U.S. than Canada, and that was 20 years ago. Life kind of happens, you know? It's more in my nature to do things locally, I guess. I was chatting with someone the other day, saying how, when you own a home, you could work on home stuff during almost all of your free time and not be finished. Ergo you need to back off a bit sometime, yes?

Hmm. I need to cogitate on this a bit more.

image from here

Monday, September 17, 2012

Nice weekend

We had a really nice weekend up in the mountains. We stayed at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. When my family was here in August, we stayed at the YMCA in Winter Park, which was also really fun. Estes is closer to my house, and I'm looking forward to visiting again when it's snowy. 

We were on a retreat with the church I attend, and I liked how they didn't over-schedule us. There were several fun activities, including a "To Tell the Truth"- like game where people had weird or unlikely things happen to them and there were three people up there saying the same story. We had a relative of Evil Knieval in our midst. No lie.

I guess it's human nature, but there are people at church who I see often, but we never connect. I spoke to a few of those over the weekend, and it was a positive thing. I need to remember that it's totally worth the effort to make those connections. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Just funny that way

So I'm at my banjo lesson yesterday, and I have practiced maybe 30 minutes the previous week. I almost always feel guilty when I don't practice enough, even though my instructor doesn't admonish me for it. But I feel like I get my money's worth more if I do practice, so that we can move along as I get better.

Anyway, I had sent her the music in a tabulature (not sure that the right word, my spellcheck is no help)  form for several song that are played at these jams I go to. She was playing this one when I arrived at my lesson.

This is called "Shove the Pig's Foot a Little Further Into the Fire". It is not a cooking song, it's a blacksmithing reference, which someone had to tell me because I am clueless about such things. Anyway, it's a really nice old timey tune and I'm really pleased she's learning it to teach to me.

We were playing a song together as practice, and as we went along, I did this thing that cracked her up and she said it was bizarre. In the good way (so she said...). But as we played, if I lost my place, I would sing in a dum-de-dum kind of way until my fingers could jump in and pick up the playing again. Kind of like the singing was a placeholder while I found a place to get back into the song. I figured everyone kind of did that, but apparently not. I later though that it's probably because I'm not relying on reading the music; I've memorized the song and so am not looking at the sheet music.

Anyway, it's an adventure.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A bit of travel

I tell you, I am still getting used to sending my kid to school an hour earlier in the mornings. As we've gone to an every-other-week schedule, this is only my second go of it. I refuse to give up my 30 minutes of coffee-blogging-check websites time, so I'm getting up 15 minutes early and then have to just keep moving to get out the door by 7:10. But he has not been late yet, so we're good.

We are also getting used to how he spends his time after school. There's a lot of time between the end of school and bedtime, and it's a process determining how he should spend his time. I know, I know, when we grew up, no one had to schedule our time. But that darn computer would occupy all his time if I let it. Still *sigh*.

Anyway, we'll have a computer-free couple of days, as we're going to the church's retreat this weekend up in the mountains. I'm looking forward to hikes, knitting, playing board games and there are rumors that someone's going to be calling contra dances. We're sharing a room with Mr W's friend and his mom, so he is thrilled.

Should be fun.

I'll leave you with this picture of my ONE yellow pear tomato plant this year. As you can see, it had a great year - of vegetative growth. Yes, there are a couple of tomatoes even. But mostly leaves and stems. You can see the hose for scales (and the weeds, does that help?). I won't plant this kind of tomato again. I loved and actually used the grape tomatoes I've planted for the two previous years, so will go with those in the future.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Four cuke-a-lopes, one cantaloupe

Yes, I am aware that cucumbers and cantaloupe are both members of the same plant family. Yes, I realize that planting them close together means that a pollinator might go from one to the other. 

But, geez, I had no idea I could get cuke-a-lopes. Or Canta-bers, I suppose. At least I've gotten a couple of the regular round kind. Stay tuned for what these look and taste like when cut open. I'll let you know.

I did make jam yesterday and it tastes great!! I was limited by the amount of low-sugar pectin I had on hand, but still got plenty of little jars to give away. Yippee!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jam redux, pickles too

I blame it on the pectin box. Two weeks ago I bought some peaches and pickling cucumbers from the farmer's market and set to work making jam and refrigerator pickles. I kind of like making jam. My first attempt turned out really well and I had hoped to repeat my success, and even give some as gifts this year. I added ginger and cinnamon and really liked the flavor.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and I've skinned and cut up the peaches using a reference I got off the internet. I look up how many cups of peaches and sugar to use and figure I should check the pectin box and go with that. I'm still astonished that the recipe was something like 3.75 cups peaches and 5 cups of sugar. I didn't have enough white sugar (which is probably why things went awry) so used brown for 2 cups of it.

The darn stuff never set up properly. The box said it might take a few days, so I opened a jar the other day, and the stuff is that kind of stretchy sort of gel. Ick. Out it goes under the banner of experience. I've got some low sugar pectin and will try again today. It was too gross to save, so I'm not going to save it.

I had bought some pickling mix to make refrigerator pickles. I bought it because it made only two quarts, which is plenty of pickles for this house for the three months pickles stay good. Easy to make, good flavor, but deemed too salty by Mr W, who is the main pickle eater in the house. Out they go, and I'll find a recipe where I can adjust the salt and use the dill I got from a friend's garden.

It's a learning process, isn't it? I'm thankful there isn't a lot riding on these mistakes. I suppose in the old days, both things would be eaten and I'd be thankful for them.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


It has been forever and a day since I felt excited to start a knitting project, but maybe the cool nights really are the thing that triggers it in me. Also, I received a birth announcement from my dad's girlfriend's son and his wife (how to shortcut the name for that relationship?) for the birth of their daughter. This is the Lacy Julian Hat and I believe that link will only work if you are registered with Ravelry. Isn't it sweet? And more to the point with my knitting these days, doesn't it look like something that could be knit in a weekend? I'm thinking something in a very soft variegated color scheme, with a couple of my littlest handmade buttons sewn on. 

My local yarn shop is having a sale this weekend, too, so it all fits together nicely. Since I'm posting pictures, here's a recent bracelet.

Candy pinks. I'm getting a kick out of making these. I think I've said that about a hundred times, so I'll stop. 

What else. I was called in as a mediator (I say that tongue in cheek) to talk to Mr W over at his dad's house. Seems Mr W hasn't been turning in all of his assignments, and the school has a system where parents can check all of their kids' work. I noticed he was missing a couple of things, and texted his dad to make sure those got done. 

One of the things that has always irked me a bit about my ex is his impulsiveness. However, when he jumped right on the "the kid is off of TV and the computer until this is turned around", I found myself relieved that he acted so decisively. I wondered if I would have done the same thing. I may have waffled more and waited until the infraction was larger? But his dad did the right thing to get Mr W's attention. 

So we talked about getting organized, and the kid needs to bring home all of his homework, even if it is done already, so we can see it. I think we're all on the same page. Mr W walked me out to my car, and I thought it was really interesting coming from this ever-maturing 11 year old boy when he said, "I just thought that I needed to stand up to him for some of this stuff". He was implying (and I largely believe him and it will all get sorted out) that the grade viewer thing online wasn't complete and that he (Mr W) was correct on some of his points. Fair enough. I told him he still needed to pick his battles, and that things would go more smoothly with his dad if he was cooperative and helpful on the little things. 

Welcome to middle school.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


My ankle (or "cankle" as one dog park friend called it - calf + ankle looking) is much better. Thanks for the well wishes. I thought at the time it happened that it wasn't too serious and sure enough the swelling is down a lot. I might get a good-sized bruise out of it yet, which is always a conversation starter :-)

What else. We are making the transition to Mr W's middle school schedule reasonably well. I've been getting up 15 (just a puny 15) minutes earlier and I have felt it. Or so I think. After two weeks of it (on school days) I woke up last Friday a little before the alarm and took that as a good sign. However, I've also been in sort of a rut of waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling back to sleep. Nothing's wrong, I'm not anxious, I just can't fall back to sleep. It's frustrating, and hopefully will turn around soon.

Work is good. I handed in another manuscript to my boss so we can get that study published. It's a sometimes painful process, the editing and the back and forth about how things should be worded. He's nice about it, but it can be a long process. We've got two other authors this time around who will want to (and should) have input, but at least the ball is rolling. This means I can go back to the lab and do lab stuff, which is my favorite part of the job. Try this, try that, run samples, get data. I know it's not for everyone, but I do like it.

The bracelet stuff has taken a lot of my free time lately, and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I need to promote the stuff, because just listing items on Etsy doesn't go very far. I use their within-site advertising, so if someone searches "button bracelet" my stuff will be at the top of the page, and that gets some views, but so far not many sales. So I'm beefing up my blog presence at my other blog, and trying to make those connections with people who make things out of polymer clay, mostly. They are by and large warm and friendly people and that makes it not so much like work. So much interesting stuff out there.

But it's hard to know when to stop with the checking and promoting and what works and what doesn't. I'm still not in a spot where I feel like my efforts translate into selling my stuff. So far that, and feedback about pictures that I post, are the signs of "success" in this for me. However, I do still get a kick out of making the stuff. I love it when a piece comes together and all the parts look good. I feel like I need to focus more on that, but would really like for this little hobby to at least pay for itself.

And for heaven's sake, don't take the above paragraph as a plea for you to please go over and buy something. Don't do that.

In the meantime, I have not played my banjo enough, and am making a concerted effort to practice more. I hate feeling guilty about not practicing, and really don't want that to be my motivation. I want to practice because I enjoy it.

I have had some insights about the garden this year that I will share in another post. Growing veggies didn't go quite as I had hoped this year. My tomato plant is monstrous, but with few fruits. The powdery mildew came early, and I probably, because I planted cukes near my cantaloupe, have some weird melon-cuke hybrids. The fruits between the two plants are more cylindrical than the first melons I  harvested. More on this later.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ice, rest, elevate...and I forgot the last one

I got hit in the back of the knees at the dog park today and the front of my ankle was bent a little further than it wanted to go. A ballerina I am not! So it's sore, but I am not incapacitated, and it will hopefully be back to its old self in a couple of days. I've got some ice on it and actually have it elevated. For now.

That stuff happens so fast. I think everyone in our little group has been taken out by a dog at one point or another. More than once for some of us. Darn dogs.

It's funny how if someone goes down like that, it creates quite a kerfuffle with the dogs and many want to get right in there and see what's going on, my Sally included. The offending goofball of a dog (he absolutely earns that title in everyday life as well, well the goofball part) was utterly clueless about what he did. So funny. I can't be mad at a dog who has no clue.

My dog park peeps were totally awesome in making sure I was OK, and even made kindly pests of themselves to encourage me to at least run cold water on it from the spigot in the park. That felt pretty good, so I went home and got the ice. I appreciate their concern and will tell them again when I see them.

I made a bunch of new button-clay bracelets that I'll be posting on the Etsy site over the next few days and also on my other blog. It's very satisfying to make these. When it all comes together, I really like the effect.