Wednesday, January 29, 2020

In the Studio This Morning

I'm painting cards.

I followed along at CeeCee Creations to paint these. Very peaceful video.

I painted a few nautical cards too, using one of CeeCee's other videos as a prompt.

My chickens were quite happy with some bread snacks this morning.
Who are these chickens?
front row: Sheena (black), Clementine (gray), Sylvie (gray)
behind Sheena is Henny Penny; behind Sylvie is Brownie
In the back you see Buck's tail feathers sticking up.
By the food tray are Buster and Pepper.
Ruby, who's quite shy, is by the fence in the back.
One of those roosters is going away this weekend.
Nobody needs two roosters.

Now that I've had my fun painting, I must go work at some editing. Adam is preparing to send some of my books off to agents (!!! YIKES!!!) in early February. Kinda nervous about that. I'm over halfway done editing my Federal Hill children's novel (sequel to Three Against the Dark, for you fans out there), and the "Mortuary Mystery" cozy novel is pretty much ready to go also, plus that 3rd picture book, The Rescue of William Shrew. He will try out Three Against the Dark with an agent. I do think Ten Days at Federal Hill is a better book. We'll see!
Adam's crusty loaf
In addition, Adam is going gang-busters with his new Youtube station. If you haven't watched his most recent one, it's his best yet -- a lovely evening story about cooking Lemon Ricotta Chicken. So many great cooking techniques to ease your dinner prep, plus you get to see Beau :)
If you enjoy the video, please do click the "thumb's up" button, and if you click "subscribe," you'll get an email every time there's a new video. Thank you!

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Hello, friends.
Last month a faithful reader emailed me to let me know that my commenting format was causing trouble. Evidently we who use Blogger need to choose the "pop-up window" format for comments, in order for all our readers to be able to leave comments. She had been unable to comment for quite a while.

So, I changed my setting to "pop-up window" comments, and checked "anyone" for who is allowed to comment. I figured that would free up the system wonderfully. (Note: I DO have it set to "comment moderation," so your comments will not publish immediately. I receive them in my email and approve them there, for publication.)

Until. Today I received messages from two friends telling me that they still cannot leave comments on my blog! This makes me quite sad!

So I'm wondering ... are YOU unable, faithful reader, to leave a comment here? Has my commenting format frustrated you? Please let me know! Since you cannot comment, please send me an email, or if we're FB friends, send a message there. I need to know how much of a problem this is. And if you have solutions, please let me know!!! 

Thank you so much!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Tri-fold Cards

Or are they bi-fold cards? There are only two folds. Well, anyway ...

I finished painting my bookshelf folding card. Here's a tiny video of it in operation:

I had a portion of the watercolor paper left over from cutting that card to the correct height, and not wanting to waste the excess I made a second, little card with butterflies. (With a nod to my mother-in-law, Gloria, who has been painting these butterflies and who started me on painting cards a year ago!)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Poem a Day in Winter

I'm keeping a candle lit on the table throughout January.
A blogging friend, Michelle DeRusha, writes and sends out encouraging newsletters. She's taken on a challenge in January: to write one poem each day.

I used to write poetry. I felt convicted. Why not write a poem each day? I know why I stopped writing poems -- because I didn't think they were good enough. I'd rather write no poems than write bad poems.

But Michelle was honest: she's no poet. She doesn't expect to write one brilliant poem. She's writing them for fun, and some will be better and some will be worse. How can that be a bad thing?

She's right. So I took her up on the challenge about a week ago. I've written 8 poems so far, one each day. Some are okay. Most are bad. I may not share a single one here. But I thought I'd ask you all -- would you consider writing a little poem each day for a month? I'm calling mine "Winter Poems." They're simply numbered. I hate coming up with a name for a poem. If nobody ever read yours, you could write whatever you wanted! I think we should all give it a try.
The Neuse River yesterday, while crossing on the ferry to Havelock.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

All Charged Up

I accidentally left my laptop power cord in West Virginia, so I've been off-line (mostly) for a few days. I don't like doing much internet business on my phone ... squinting at the tiny screen ... typing with one finger. My thoughtful, techy son sent me a new cord!

On the drive home I remembered to photograph this unusual home on hwy. 60. It's shaped like a tea pot! (I love driving the back roads instead of interstates.)

Bo Beau missed me.

Adam taste-tested (with the dogs) lots of diet frozen meals while I was gone. (I know ... ugh!) If you want to know what the dogs thought of them, here's the video:

He made me yummy dinners when I returned home.

Anna gave me a good idea yesterday. She mentioned that she makes "no-bake fudgies" as a single serving, in a cup. She does it in the microwave, but we don't have a microwave, so I made mine in a little saucepan. It was wonderful!

Here's how:
Heat 1/4 cup milk. Add 2 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cocoa powder until well mixed and warm. Add about 2 Tbsp of peanut butter and a little butter, and stir until melted in. Then add old-fashioned oats. (Oh goodness, I don't know how much. Until it looks like a lot, but you want the oats to cook and soften a bit in the milk mixture over low heat, so don't add too much). Allow to rest on low heat until oats are softened, put in a cup and eat with a spoon. It's not like you can mess this one up :)

My mother received the most amazing Christmas card. I was so enamored with it that she allowed me to bring it home. Here's a short video I made showing how it looks:
I hope it works for you. If not, here are some still shots:
 It's a tri-fold card.
 I wanted to paint a card like that. It's a silliness. It will take me hours to finish it, and it's just one card, and there's no good way to print/copy it. But it's such a cool idea! I couldn't resist. I'm not quite done selecting all the book titles I want on mine.
The original card is made by Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University in the UK.

That's the latest from me. It's good to be home.

Friday, January 17, 2020

There and Back Again

I took another little trip to West Virginia to visit my mother and other family. She is doing so much better after her surgery.

We had a delightful visit with dear long-time friends, Ann and Beth. We met them at Tamarack for lunch, and we talked and talked and talked ....

The next day we drove to my brother and sister-in-law's home for lunch and a good visit there too. She made a wonderful winter lunch - wild rice soup and cheese toast and pineapple cake for dessert, with her delicious spice tea.

 Can you tell my mother is a dog person?

The weather has been quite good, but tonight it will turn nasty with ice and snow, so I'm heading home this afternoon to get ahead of the storm. I do miss my West Virginia family so much and the beauty and rich peace of this place.

I crocheted my mother a little tea cozy to hug her tea pot in wintertime.

 We've enjoyed movies (Miss Potter and Persuasion) and a couple of dinners with my brother and sister-in-law who live down the road, just wonderful family time.

Friday, January 10, 2020

A Knitting Conundrum ... and Books to Read

Unfinished knitting projects are bad enough, but when one has two hands (which most of us do) and one knits something for one hand, and then waits a month or so ... well, one forgets what one did. I knitted one fingerless glove.
It's not yet been sewn up to transform it into a glove.

I did some sort of pattern from the bottom up: ribbing, stockinette stitch, then some mysterious pattern that must've made sense at the time, then more stockinette, finishing with a crocheted picot.

Now it's January, and I decided I'd better finish the second one. Except I had no idea what I'd done in that middle section, the mysterious part! I hunted through my amazing book of 750 knitting patterns, to no avail. I looked a second, then a third, time. I couldn't find anything that resembled it. At last I chose the most likely pattern match and launched in to the second glove.

I was wrong. Close ... but "no cigar," as they say. I like this pattern better. Should I pull the other one out (soon! while I can still remember what I'm doing?)

Also, I dug around in my studio last night for reading material. I finished Cheaper By the Dozen at last, and needed something new. I found a stack of books I must've bought myself last Christmas, or who knows when? Now I will go through them one by one.
I'm starting with The Hare with Amber Eyes, set in Japan (at least at first). It's non-fiction and was reasonably interesting last night when I began it. 
Resistance Fighter and The House Near Paris are both WWII France, although the second one was printed overseas, and the cover text is very badly done. Coasting is a sailing book. I've promised myself if I find any of them boring I'm free to give them to the thrift store. Actually our thrift store currently has a sign that says it's not accepting any more books! There are a few "Tiny Libraries" in Oriental, and I suppose I could slip them in there with no one noticing.

Last, some advice about lemongrass. I bought a few stalks at the local Asian market store.
I put them in a glass. From doing this before, I hoped they might sprout roots, and I could later pot them and anticipate mighty lemongrass plants this summer.
The roots have begun! There are quite a few stalks in the glass, so we should have massive amounts of lemongrass this year. I've been snipping off bits of it and adding it to my black tea.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Puttin' On the Brakes!

I'm sure you readers understand -- we all feel this way in early January: Christmas frenzy is over, and we're ready for a Long Winter's Nap. Well, I am anyway. I'm well past 55 years old and not prone to leap up and do all I used to do. I was a true slug today. 
* I edited only part of a chapter in my book.
* I painted half of a picture for another book.
* I took a bath.
* I tagged along with Adam to the grocery store.
* I fed my chickens. Does that count?
* Oh, I did some laundry.

See? Some of you are going to work every day. Yikes. I can't imagine doing that again! 

Here are a few photos from the week. Adam is working hard at his new Youtube channel, "Dogs, Diets, and Recipes." He's learning the techy details of making those videos that look so easy when you watch them! He's cooking healthy foods, and more importantly, we're not cheating and snacking.
Last night we had a plate of veggies: grilled broccoli and cauliflower,
fried okra and squash, dressing, and half-mashed potatoes.
Approx. 480 calories

Tonight we had a "meat and two": a lean 3.5 oz. of ribeye,
and oven-roasted broccoli and potatoes: approx. 530 calories.

 I'm painting cards, but slowly, because I don't return to the farmer's market until March. No hurry, thankfully.

I'm truly torn about whether to feel guilty or pleased with myself for resting so much. I haven't launched back into my weekly duty schedule of music and meetings. Perhaps I should enjoy this brief quiet time while I have it. It's so tempting to become a hermit and stay home forever.

Next week I will be in West Virginia visiting my mother again. She is doing so much better. We have some activities and visits planned. Thanks so much for reading, friends! 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Dogs, Diets, and Recipes

Adam's got a Youtube channel! He gave me permission to share the links for you to go check them out so far.

If you click over and watch, please click the "thumbs up" button under the video; it helps his ratings with Youtube. And if you're interested at all, please click the box that says "subscribe." 

Here's his introductory video (11 minutes):
Adam introduces you to Bo Beau and tells why he's starting the channel in the first place: to lose weight (again) this year.

The next video shows Adam making his Honey Wheat Bread recipe (14 minutes):
This is a fabulous wheat loaf - soft, sliceable, delicious, and twice your daily iron requirements in one slice. Plus lots of great technique tips.

Adam's "true confession" video is the third one.
He wants to be brutally honest about how he's gotten as overweight as he is (7 minutes).
If you struggle with a food addiction or being overweight, perhaps Adam's honesty will help you not feel alone.

He has many more recipes to share, dog stories to tell, and confessions to make. He'll assess various diets that are fads right now. He'll taste-test (with the doggies) some diet dinners from the grocery. And there's a website (called Dogs, Diets, and Recipes) that will give the recipes and their nutritional stats. Click on over for that Honey Wheat Bread recipe.

If you want email notifications of future videos, click on the "bell" near the subscribe button. All of these things help Youtube channel folks like Adam. Thank you! I hope you enjoy it -- he's still working on his studio space, his editing, and his content. Any feedback is appreciated -- please leave a comment under the videos. Thanks!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

The Quiet Week

 The beginning of the year everyone is recovering from December, and nobody wants to do anything, thankfully. We've stayed home all week with zero extra responsibilities. It was heavenly. Adam worked hard on getting his new Youtube channel going: "Dogs, Diets, and Recipes." He baked some wheat bread for one episode, introduced Beau, and did a "true confessions" episode too. There'll be an accompanying website with all the recipes. I'll put it all up here when he's ready with enough episodes uploaded for folks to binge on. He's not quite there yet.

I've been drinking hot tea, painting, and editing my latest children's chapter book, Ten Days at Federal Hill. Five chapters down, about 25+ to go! The editing stage is not nearly as fun as the writing stage.
 Painting -- I'm using the tube paints Adam gave me. Here is a first attempt. I used another painting online as a resource.
 It was okay, but I wanted to try again. Here's the 2nd one, after the initial sketching, background, and a some of the fruit were started:
 I spent quite a bit of time getting this one just right, so I didn't want to sell if for $5 as a card. I bought a $1 frame/mat/glass at the thrift store and put it on my bedroom wall.
 Here are some others with the new paints. It takes time to get used to how tube paints behave.

I'm heading to West Virginia again next weekend, and after that trip my weekly schedule will return to its usual racing-around self. The week coming up is my last slow week, and I'm gonna make the most of it! Have you enjoyed these slow days in early January? It helps that we've had bizarrely warm weather. It feels like April out there. Happy January!!!