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  • Archive for February, 2012

    prolific wrap up

    So. February. Was a bit better than January but still proved to be hectic.

    Writing went well, mostly because I also busted out about 4,000 words over the weekend. Honestly, if I just devoted an hour to it at least a few times a week with a larger spurt in the weekend things would be done faster. But I often find so many other things to do, which shouldn’t be the case.

    Alas, I’m happy with getting that much written.

    Running. Well, 9 isn’t good either. I have made myself a schedule for the next month though and hopefully that number goes up as does the yoga. I ran 3 miles the other day in a little over 40 minutes. Yes, I am painfully slow. I could probably hike faster than that. But it felt good, and when I finished the last lap for 3 miles, I contemplated doing another lap to make it 3.5, but didn’t. I’ve also got yoga and some strength workouts planned. I love to lift weights but my weights are *still* in storage and here I am with nothing but my body weight…which is perfectly fine. I also bought a 10lb weighted ball to use and love it thus far. I haven’t done much in the way of strength exercises since pre-AT (re: 2 years) and can certainly tell my arm tone is greatly diminished. I’ve always told myself I did not want bat wing arms as long as I could prevent it—so maybe when I’m 80 I’ll accept bat wing arms but not when I’m 31. Or 51 or even 61.

    As for the books I’m reading:
    That Used to Be Us: I received it from my boss at Christmas who gave it to everyone in the office. He was enthralled with it and had brought it up after we’d all started talking politics one day at lunch. So far it is very interesting and the authors point fingers at every political genre. It is just a dry read so I’m not really rushing through it.
    This Common Ground: Seasons on an Organic Farm: I got this off of BookMooch and have only read a handful of pages, mostly because I kept misplacing it. I am really excited about reading it though.
    Darcy’s Story: A P&P spinoff told from Darcy’s POV. The author uses some of Austen’s dialogue in order to be consistent. So far it is a good spinoff and isn’t too drastically different. I do love me some P&P spinoff books. I just received Me and Mr. Darcy from BookMooch as well—so I’m set for Darcy/Elizabeth romance for awhile.

    What do I hope for March? Looootts of writing. Looootts of running. I have an art/creative day scheduled with a friend this coming weekend so I am planning to DRAW! I’m hoping I do more than one drawing this coming month too.

    How about you? How are you doing with your word?

    Sometime in early January I came up with the idea of Sprout Dispatch. Of course it wasn’t called that initially, it took the brainstorming of Chel, my brother Curtis and myself to get the name, but here we are, ready to start.

    What is this about? Well, it’s a collaboration between the three of us on our gardening adventures. I wrote more about it in the post that is up today. There will be thrice weekly posts, one from each of us, for awhile. We’re starting with themes and interpreting them our own way, but I’m sure the blog will evolve as time goes on.

    So, please, subscribe to the new adventure and pass along the blog link and join in the conversation!

    We look forward to sharing our gardens with you! (I will still be writing garden ventures here as well.)

    redadmiral
    Taken *last* Sunday at our community garden, perched on the flowers of a cabbage, Vanessa atalanta the red admiral butterfly

    +This week…this week….whew, I am glad it is done. I ended up in the field for a few days, honestly thinking it was going to be two days max, but then it looked like it was going to bleed into the weekend. Chris is in the field full-time right now but the project I was on was nearby so luckily I was able to stay in his hotel with him. When I realized I needed to run home to check on the cats, mostly because I wasn’t sure if I’d left them with enough food—had put more water out but wasn’t sure on the food—we ran home Thursday evening to check on them and spend the night there. Leo, one of our cats, was acting a little strange but in the hustle and bustle of getting things done and ready for bed we didn’t think too much of it.

    Then the next morning we were up at 4 a.m. to leave and head back to be in the field by 7 and I noticed he jumped off the futon strangely. I picked him up and put him on our bed to pet him and talk to him (Samson was on the bed all bleary eyed, wondering why we were up), when I petted his tail. It felt weird and when I picked it up he was not flicking it back at me like normal. When I let it go he dropped automatically. I tried it a few more times and got no response. Then I felt his tailbone and he looked at me weird and jumped down. He headed straight for the litter box and proceeded to try to use it but to no avail. Chris was in the shower so I went in and told him I thought Leo’s tail was broken. It was chaotic after that. Leo was scared and it was pretty clear I was going to have to go back to get my car (we’d only brought one back home) and then come back that morning and take him to the vet.

    The vet ran some tests, having to sedate him because Leo is a monster at the vet. Nothing conclusive came back. His tail is functioning but not like normal, he is still skittish and seems to avoid our bedroom. He gets all cautious when he tries to peer under our bed and I had to trick him with treats to initially get him into our bedroom. I hadn’t seen him jump at all until this morning, when I was getting his medicine ready to squish in some soft treats, when he jumped up onto our breakfast bar and quickly got down. He’s also started using the litter box again. I have no idea what happened but it scared him and he was hurt for some reason. I don’t know if it is internal or some sort of freak accident, but he has a follow up appointment tomorrow afternoon.

    Freaking cats. I know children are 100x worse.

    +Aside from the cat, things are good here. Spring is arriving!

    +I went around some Farm to Market roads (FM) near my house scouting wildflowers. It was a sunny and bright morning and I heard rumors that the bluebonnets were up in San Antonio so I wanted to scope them out here. No bluebonnets but I found Indian paintbrushes & blankets, a variety of yellow asters, sunflowers, alliums and crow poison (they look similar) and just took my time driving down the roads and stopping when I felt like it. It was nice to see some places I hadn’t seen yet and I found some ranches and homes that I wanted!

    +Tomorrow check back here early as I’ve got a new writing adventure waiting!

    +If you are a gardener you might be interested in what seeds are owned by Monsanto. This is why I like heirlooms!

    +Found an awesome backyard chicken book at Barnes & Noble the other day but I didn’t write down the name of it. I guess I’ll have to go back. Chris doesn’t have much optimism for me and my chicken idea (he wants bees), but I do. I’m not going to eat them, they will definitely be pets who give me eggs, but I’d like a few when we get our own house.

    +I had more but I’ve got some things to do around here, writing to get done and some cooking to do.

    Hope your weekend was great!

    turnips7

    turnips6

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    turnips4

    turnips3

    turnips2

    turnips1

    We pulled all of the Golden Ball Turnips last weekend in an effort to make room for a spring crop of cucumbers. Some of the turnips were gigantic, including some that I had thinned and transplanted in a spot that we’d just harvested radishes several months ago. We took the turnips home and made two batches of mashed turnips and froze them for future eating.

    I love having all of this food, but I can’t wait to get a deep freezer and more storage space for keeping food for throughout the year.

    scarf1

    scarf2

    self2
    The awkward mirror self portrait.

    self1
    Followed by the faux day dreaming self portrait.

    bertha
    I brought out Big Bertha to work with this yarn. The yarn was a skein of Lang Maxima I received from my mother in law for Christmas. I chose the yarn to work with because I knew it would be fast and get results (creative satisfaction) in the manner I needed. The problem was the thickness. I was going for a cowl initially but there wasn’t enough yarn for that, so I went for skinny scarf instead.

    After I reworked it a few times, when I realized I wouldn’t have enough for a thicker scarf, I finally settled on a chain of four and then worked in single crochets throughout. That was it!

    I think it worked out well!

    tl1
    Trout lilies are wonderful and beautiful native wildflowers, blooming early in the spring, really late winter. The last two years we’ve ventured out to Tandy Hills to check them out. The first year we found many blooms, but last year not so much.

    t2
    This year I ventured out with with my brother to show him where a small population of them were; he’d never seen them.

    tl3
    When we arrived I didn’t think there were any blooms yet. I’d thought there would be with the warmer winter we’ve had this year. But it took looking a little closer to find the flowers. Most were just budding but one was fully open.

    tl4

    tl5

    tl7

    If you in the hunt for spring wildflowers, these are ones to be on the lookout for in woodlands. There is also a yellow variety, Erythronium americanum which extends east of Texas into the eastern half of the U.S., excluding Florida.

    The two places we’ve found the plants have been in moist to mesic environments and are well wooded with a lot of ground debris, so be on the lookout in those areas.

    More Information:
    +Illinois Wildflowers
    +USDA Plant Database
    +Wildflower.org
    +Horticulture Magazine

    I’ll have macro photos of these flowers next week.

    The other day I was lamenting that it is incredibly frustrating that I have my best creative moments in the middle of the work day. Those moments where I think, ‘Man, I wish I was at home because I could really get some writing/art/whatever done right now.’

    So, in those moments, in the middle of the day I get excited for my creative energy and inspiration and then, what happens? I go home. And what happens when I go home? I’m hit with being tired, lack of motivation and an overall brain drain from working on projects for clients instead of my own works.

    I thought about this as I read Mandy’s post about that…β€œIn the space between anxiety and boredom was where creativity flourished.”. Later Mandy writes, “Though I have not been bored in years, I can’t claim that my creativity is always flourishing. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the number of choices I have, rather than the lack of them.”

    That. Is. Me. I’m not bored. But boy, do I get overwhelmed. Not only by what I can do, but the goals I set for myself. Every weekend that I’m alone, which is a lot these days since Chris is doing field work, I write up a to-do list of things I want to do, all the big, important things I’m going to get done, and by the end of the weekend I’ve only done a tiny inkling of what I set out to do.

    Somehow in the mix I shuffle my creativity into being overwhelmed and then sidetrack it into doing other things from the mundane (chores) to not so mundane (shopping or nails painted).

    Sometimes I hear my sister in law saying “I’m gonna need you to focus.” I can’t remember the backstory on that, but she was saying it quite a bit a year or so ago….I need her here to say this to me.

    Focus.

    Here I am writing a book and the next thing all I want to do is draw or crochet. Part of that is the instant/semi-instant gratification that comes with those two. I can, if diligent, draw something in a couple of days, and likewise depending on the crochet project, have something crocheted in a few days. It’s something that I can say “I did this. Good job, self.”

    This writing thing? It’s a whole other mountain to climb. There isn’t instant gratification at all. And you know what? I’ve talked myself into writing two other books, with a third being a distant idea that needs fleshing out. I’m not sure when I’m going to do this, I haven’t even finished one book.

    The creative process is hard.

    So, I guess I will keep plugging away at the book, writing it until it is done. I’m trying to allot myself at least an hour to write a night, hoping for more, but most nights I don’t even write. In the hour time frame that I do manage to write, depending on how easy the words come to me and how much I have to look up (I try not to look things up, saving that for editing later) I can get between 1,000 to 2,000 words in an hour.

    The rest of the time I’m trying to catch up on photography in order to update the website which is in desperate need of updating, fitting in blogging which is another creative outlet, and somehow getting crochet and art into the mix.

    But, I know I am not alone in this creative process, that others have the same issues, even those who get to devote their entire days to their craft.

    You just keep trudging along until you get it done. It’s the only thing we can do.

    zoe3
    Last weekend I went up to DFW to visit my family and to see one of my good friends who had recently had her first baby. I was excited to be going up there because my niece and nephew were going to be staying at my parents house for the night on Friday. Slumber party!!!!!

    You can see Zoe above making ‘poop and pee panckes’. Yep. That’s right! Her imagination runs wild! And yes, I had to ‘eat’ a few of them too.

    zoe2
    Zoe crashed in my bed and boy, definitely not your best sleep. But, that’s ok because I got to snuggle with her as we fell asleep to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. In the morning she woke me up (as I was rolling over to try to go back to sleep) and say “Look, Aunt T!”, pointing to the window. “Good morning sun!”

    aunttgrayson
    Then we brought Grayson in where he watched Zoe as she watched a video on my mom’s iPhone.

    grayson2
    While I usually see this kid smiling in all of my brother and sister in law’s photos, he did cry a few times. But, he is still a very happy baby!

    grayson1

    zoe

    aunttzoe

    photo
    Mom took this on her phone at Carrabba’s. Zoe had just told me that I was a CuddleBug! πŸ™‚ LOOOOOVEEEE this kid! Even when she is being bratty you can’t help but want to eat her up, especially when she says things that you don’t know where she pulled them from. I can’t wait for Grayson to talk (though I don’t want to rush him too much, he’s a blast right now!) and see what kinds of things he comes up with.

    red2
    Red the cat is not doing too well. He’s been vomiting and not eating much and his normally thin self is even thinner. The vet thinks he has lymphoma or something else fatal. They are feeding him wet food as much as they can and trying to pamper him. He attitude has changed a lot, even from a year ago. His attitude changed when my cats showed up, I think they showed him how to be more loving. But now he will even let me kiss his face and snuggle up in his face more than he used to. I was bitten once because I lingered too long, years ago. Now, not so much. I think he knows it is nearly his time to go. πŸ™

    red
    I don’t remember taking this photo, I think my brother snagged my camera.


    And Grayson being a cutie pie….


    with Zoe coming around and playing with Grayson. She’s finally getting more playful with him, but she is still in the ‘me’ mode, wanting you to put Grayson down so you can play with her. My sister in law caught another vantage point of his exchange. I almost took photos but I am glad I opted for video instead. As I went to get the camera I was worried she’d change her mind and stop playing, but as you can see in the video she knew we were watching and I think enjoyed the attention too. Don’t mind the tv and background chatter—we’d just found out about Whitney Houston and were trying to come up with two other celebrities who’d recently died. Etta James and Don Cornelius.

    It was a happy weekend! Times like this I wish I lived closer. But, at least I am in Texas.

    sauerkraut

    Last week, about a month into the fermentation of the sauerkraut, I skimmed off the last bits of mold that had formed on the surface water and jarred up the sauerkraut. I gave it a taste beforehand and it tasted pretty good. Still crunchy and there was no mold growing on the actual cabbage itself.

    Will I make sauerkraut again? Maybe. I know we will have more cabbage in the garden in the future and it is hard to eat it all so I may end up doing this again. I might try the jar method next time.

    I only put the sauerkraut in the jars and stuck them in the fridge. While some places say to put them in a hot water bath, most blogs I read were against that because all of the good things from the lacto-fermentation would be killed in the process. Storing it in the fridge will keep other molds and bacteria at bay and it will last in the fridge for several months. I have yet to eat any of it; I need to think of a meal to pair it with.

    Miss the original post on starting this whole process? Read it here.

    A few weeks ago I was at a local garden center, The Arbor Gate, and they had some seeds on clearance. I found a package of broccoli sprouts and jumped at the chance to try them out. I thought it would be fun to see how it worked but also to have sprouts on hand, and a specific amount of sprouts at that. Of course it takes a few days to have sprouts ready, but if you were planning a meal for a few days out that involved sprouts, it would be easy to start. I always feel bad when I waste sprouts bought at the store because it is inevitable that we won’t eat them all before they spoil.

    sprouts8

    sprouts7
    I followed the directions on the packet which included soaking the seeds in a bleach solution, 1tbsp bleach to 1c water for 15 minutes and then rinsing thoroughly. This was to prevent E. coli contamination.

    sprouts6
    Then I soaked the seeds in water overnight. I’m using a pair of old hose that had runners in them. I didn’t feel like running all over town to find cheesecloth so I used that instead. It worked perfectly and I kept the section I cut off for future use.

    sprouts5
    After the first night of soaking you can already see the sprouts starting.

    sprouts4
    Twice a day I would rinse the sprouts out and drain them and put them back in their corner, covered with a towel. This is the second day.

    sprouts3
    Four days in I had sprouts that I could eat but I wasn’t quite ready for them. This is where I made my fatal mistake.

    sprouts2
    Looking good!

    sprouts1
    I had forgotten to use them in a smoothie on Friday morning so I was going to take them to my parent’s house for the weekend and eat them the following morning. Well, when I went to get them out of the jar that morning I found the sprouts covered in mold (which you can see barely in the photo)! I should have refrigerated them as soon as they were big enough to eat. My mistake and I will learn from it in the future! I don’t think they were molded when I left on Friday evening, but I can’t be sure.

    I’m happy that the experiment worked—I didn’t realize it was so easy to sprout. But, refrigeration is key to preventing spoilage after they are ready to eat. I should have known better!

    Oh well, next time!

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