Saturday, September 23, 2017

a birthday party

We went to a birthday party last night.
It was a long night for us, but everyone had fun!
Today I'm back at work....

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The bits

I get the day off tomorrow, but we have a birthday party to go to.  I don't have a lot extra to report - have lost some weight with the near-ketogenic diet and I'm just a little away from my goal.  Wondering how to work the carbohydrates back up to maintenance level.. but that will be next week. 

I hope to sew some more shorts for Esme and do some laundry tomorrow while she is at school.  I have a new magazine and am still listening to the e-book.  Had some salmon today with plums and red cabbage in olive oil, as well as an egg.  That was supper, and I did have breakfast and lunch before that.  The plum was SO sweet now that I have not been eating any sugar.  It was almost too sweet to eat until I cooked it with the cabbage and olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.  I still came out 60% fat today, 24% carb and 16% protein.  It is so easy though to not eat the 'proper' amount of calories because I feel so full. 

More to report after the birthday party!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

menu bits

Continuing with the diet plan - and it seems to be working really well.  It's difficult to plan things that have no sugar and very little carbohydrates - but its definitely not difficult not to eat those things... I don't really want the sweetness.

Esme and Mark can still have all the sugar they want - it's all around me in the house, but about the only thing I'd want is a coconut Hershey's kiss with almonds - which I had one last night before bed.  Even with that yesterday was 15 grams of sugar - less than I used to eat in one breakfast 'cake' which would make me hungry again a few hours later.  I do admit I was very hungry at lunch today - but I went light on the calories the past few days and the avocado and pistachios today helped catch me up.

2/3 cup of coconut milk (unsweetened)
2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
mixed those in a hot cup of coffee and let it combine
ate about a tablespoon worth of walnuts and a slice of swiss cheese with that

1/2 of an avocado
1/3 cup of black beans
2/3 cup of tomatoes
1 tortilla
handful of pistachio nuts
lots of water and coffee

Dinner :
2 brown eggs
a 2 inch square hunk of mozzarella
2 oz of turkey kielbasa (I usually cut the kielbasa into an equal # of hunks based on the weight, Mark did it this time so I tried to guess-timate)
1/2 cup of red cabbage shredded
1/3 cup of green peppers
1 tbsp of good Irish butter
1/4 cup of whole milk in coffee

I cooked the cabbage and peppers and kielbasa together, drained it, added the butter and black pepper to it and then made the eggs and cheese on the side.

 Today the planner said I ended up with 59% fat, 24% carbs and 17% protein.  I almost reached the calorie goal (which is a weight-loss goal of 1 lb per week), and today was 12 grams of sugar for the entire day.  Carbohydrates were 70 grams - and true ketogenic diets are less than 50 grams a day - but I'm not 'doing' true ketogenic - I'm just eliminating as much as I can without having to go out and buy really specialized foods.  I can see the difference.

I work later tomorrow, the past two days have been very early and lots of physical labor at work.  I'll get a chance to cook something tomorrow instead of having to throw things together on the fly.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


I'm averaging about 50% fat and the protein and carbs are wavering back and forth a bit around 25%.. and that seems to be working wonderfully for me.  This would be the third day of increasing monounsaturated fats and cutting back on carbs, with as little sugar as I can get away with.

I have energy and I'm not knife-gnawing hungry before mealtimes have even arrived.. which is a very different feeling.  I have to get used to that.  Do I need to eat right now?  Should I just eat later, or ..?  I keep waiting for it to swoop down upon me like it had even during the three weeks I was not restricting carbs and sugars - trying only calorie-restriction (and naturally doing 35-45% fat, although most of it saturated).  I used to be hungry two hours after I got to work - and yesterday I only drank water at my break instead of snacking.  I was cleaning and moving stuff, too - so it wasn't an idle day by far.

I like this - but I'm not used to it, yet.
We'll see how it continues to develop.

Esme got really great grades on her reading and math tests.  We have her parent teacher conferences tomorrow.  I have today off and she has asked to invite a friend over to play games.  I'm cleaning the house some, doing laundry et al.

These aren't out of the diet book I'm reading - just based on the foods they recommend and the ones they do not -  and what I happened to have in my cabinets and freezer that would fit with the plan.

The other day I had this which was EXCELLENT
I've made it before, actually, when I needed 'something' and the fish seemed to be it.
Five of my seven dogs sat at my feet and demanded some of this.. so that tells me it's good!

Mackerel and Tomatoes (2 servings)

1 tin of boneless mackerel in olive oil  (Season brand)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
mix together and put in toaster oven on 350 until hot and steaming 

Last night I made this:

 Eggs and Swiss with spianch and black beans

2 Large brown eggs cooked in 1 tbsp of butter.
handful of torn up spinach greens tossed in when mostly cooked
2 tbsp of black beans, mixed in after cooked.
1 slice of Swiss cheese torn up and mixed with it all.
A few frozen blueberries on the side

Then this morning I made this:

Coconut Cocoa Greek Yogurt

4 tbsp of toasted unsweetened coconut flakes (we had in freezer, and I had an inspiration)
I toasted that in the toaster oven on low broil and stirred it until it was dry and starting to brown
2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa powder, mixed in after toasting
3 tbsp of full fat Greek yogurt

I liked the coconut yogurt, but it probably would have been better with a few tbsp of unsweetened coconut milk.  It needed something 'more'...  The cocoa powder was much subtler than I expected - the taste actually rounded out and hit me after I had eaten it... it might have done well to be mixed and let stand so the fat and the cocoa powder could combine some before eating.

Friday, September 15, 2017

diet bits

I decided to embrace the higher fat lower sugar trend my numbers were showing me in the app - and I didn't even want to eat all the food I had today - which is pretty astounding.  I was reading an audiobook about eating more fat to actually lose weight - and I'll try it for a few days and see if I continue to feel this good or if I need to go back to the simple calorie counter method.  I didn't even make it to my calories today - even with what I planned to eat, which I didn't eat all of.  And I was not starving at lunchtime (like every day for weeks) or snacking when I got home from work. 

I did drink a LOT more liquid.  I was thirsty, and I did a lot of physical work moving large things around at the store.  I got all of my work done for the night and even some of the cleaning I normally do on the weekends.  And I still had enough energy to do exercises at home without feeling like I was about to fall over dead... 50% fat for the day (good fat, from eggs, fish and avocado)  30% carb, 20% protein.  The only sugars I ate today were in the tomatoes, fresh peppers and a half cup of milk.  That was 11 grams for the day compared with the 59 grams they 'allow' me for the day. 

We even had free pastries in the breakroom and I was so full feeling I didn't want to eat my dinner or a pastry - I just drank another jar of green tea and had my dinner at my break much later than I normally do.  I'll see after three days if I want to continue this or go back to the other method which had more carbs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

tiny bits

Not much, Esme opened a can of green beans by herself with the can opener!  So there is a skill to keep in practice.  Mark got me a left handed can opener once.  It worked really well.  I lost that in the flood in Duluth (I was planning on eating canned food and saving money that way while staying there a few days) so he got the electric one we have now, which I can also use most of the time.  Me vs a regular can opener is sadness... dulled mutilated edges mixed with sharp ragged ones that have paper stuck in everything.

So three weeks into using the fitness thing I have a few good things to report.  I'm drinking some water - although that has more to do with having actual verre glasses instead of plastic ones.  I'm making some time for exercise every day - exercise bike or yoga mat or arm weights.  It's making a difference.  I'm working muscles I didn't remember weren't working well... right up until I started working them.  Then, I remembered.  It's only been three weeks but I do feel like some of my clothing is fitting better - maybe it is, maybe its just wishful thinking.

Continuing with the Welsh - it's tough on the headphones a little because there is a lot of overstatic when they make the breathy noises and I have to turn the volume up high to hear some of the other mutations properly.

Esme has tests this week at school and we have a parent teacher conference on Monday.  I think she's doing well - it's hard to tell.  She's in fourth grade now and they're supposed to do everything on their own with very little prompting.  And not all the students are doing the same work - so just because her classmate had to make a diorama or write a report doesn't necessarily mean she has the same assignment?  I guess we'll see when we go to the conference.

Other than that, just waiting on a real day off.  I close these next few days so its like having a day off that stops mid morning and then I have to get ready and go to work, only to return at the verge of bedtime.   Big changes happening at work, too - in processes and procedures... paperwork changes and computer program changes - new freight processes - have to get used to those, as well as the lovely 'get ready for inventory' kicking up into full gear. 

Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin have just come through the boundary in 'A Wrinkle in Time'.. Esme had a lot to think about with the description of the crossing of the time boundary.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Recipes beef curry and peanut sauce

There was a cooking class offered at Esme's school,  but it was after school every week and we couldn't provide transportation home because of my work schedule...  so, we've offered to teach her a few more things at home, and she has agreed to be brave and try things.

Tonight, she made her own sloppy Joe tonight start to finish :-)   She cooked the meat and added spices and tomatoes and chopped up some cheese with a knife and then poured it all over Italian bread.

I also made beef curry (for myself tonight and tomorrow's lunch) and it was excellent.
1 tbsp olive oil
Onions and green peppers
Hot madras curry powder
Black pepper
Tiny bit of good cinnamon
4 oz. Ground beef
1 tbsp unsalted butter (melted then mixed with the curry)
'Golden curry' Japanese curry (1 / 10th block)
 1 tsp tomato paste (add curry and paste together with cooking meat)
--I added about a cup of water and let this simmer and boil until the meat was cooked.. it made its own curry gravy :) --
2/3 cup carrots (add last)
Makes two servings 270 calories era
Serve over 2/3 c white rice

Recipe for peanut butter ginger sauce I want to try
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp grated ginger
Add water if too thick
2 tbsp per serving of rice and meat

3 weeks with the fitness tracker tomorrow

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Leather jacket

This is the new fall to winter jacket.  It has really long sleeves, so I tacked them up at the seams and we can let them down to probably wear next year.  It was at the outlet store, so it was not crazy expensive (like it was originally), but should last her for a good time.  I also have a 'parka' type winter jacket that was on clearance from WM coming in a week or so - just in case this doesn't make the cut to wear to school during the winter.  I picked her up some magic type gloves at the store.  It gets cold in the mornings at the bus stop!

She's a little leery of wearing this to school after Mom and Dad talking up that it is 'cool' but was a really big thing when we were her age.  We'll see.  I've got her name in it and she said she would try to be careful with it!

And this is the dog bed (a huge floor pillow) that Mark has been after me to make for Sweetie (shown) for over a year.  I finally collected up all the filling for it (remnants, old jeans and foam bits from an upholstery shop) and put it together.  It is approved of.  We have agreed I should probably make a longer thinner one for the futon for the other dogs.  And maybe before another year and a half has gone by.

I'm starting to cut out Esme's shorts pattern.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Fitness Bits and a leather jacket

Now we have a weekend - but so many things to do.  I have a store meeting very early Sunday.  On Monday we are helping grandma with the cats.  Today we looked for jackets for Esme as it is getting cold in the mornings.  Mark found a black leather jacket at the outlet store.... adult size small - as in, Esme size... We decided to get it when we got our chicken.  I will have to get a picture soon of her 'coolness' jacket heh.

I still need to sew the shorts - but maybe now they will be more like knee pants.

I have been using the fitness tracker for about two weeks.  There hasn't been a dat that the fat percentage has been less than 35%. There were several days it was nearing 50%.  The reccommendations say 20-35% max for fat in the percentage ratios.  But the calorie count and sugars have been within the goal each day.   That is just the way I eat...  I wonder if my grandmother's Anishinaabe blood has something to do with it.

At least I am getting good exercise and stretching.  I can feel my muscles protesting heh.  Mark points out that I already have a quite physical job - throwing showers, toilets and vanity cabinets around (as well as pipe and boxes of plumbing goods) on a daily basis.  I also do a lot of walking at work, back and forth across the large store over and over and over... but it only works some of my muscles and leaves others with needing more.  The simple routines I've picked out for the yoga mat help get the shoulders and hips more, and the workout moves target specific areas in my arms (small weights) and legs that are not usually exercised by simply lifting and pivoting large boxes.  Considering my abdominals are now complaining to me about the bike and plank combination means I must be getting somewhere!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017


Got some fabric today to make Esme's new shorts, one bandana and one with cute birds on it.  She's told me there is some sort of cooking class at the Dixie this year - but she wasn't that interested in cooking when we tried last... have to take a look at the dates and times.

We had a nice Labor Day potluck sort of thing with friends last night after Esme had a sleepover with their girl the night before.  The girls still get on each other's nerves about half of the time they are together... but then, they are preteen girls.  It seems to be the way of it.  We had a nice talk ourselves with the parents and their relatives, it was a nice 'social' night we don't do a lot of.

Found another place online that returns gift cards for surveys - and that is already adding to the purchase we plan to make in a week or so.  We are finally going to buy Esme a loft bed (and wow, we'll have to put it together) that she has been asking for more than a year.  Then there is the mattress that goes with that and a few little things we've thrown in our cart like a tshirt and a closet organizer for her etc.  The gift cards pare down little bits of the bill at a time, which will make it less expensive to actually purchase it. 

We've started reading 'A Wrinkle in Time'... and Esme was not thrilled with the first chapter but I dropped enough hints and explained that we have to see who Meg and Charles Wallace are before they can start doing all the interesting special things _they_ don't even know they are about to do yet.  So, she kept on listening.  I hope tonight it does start to get more interesting.  She perked her ears at the 'tesseract' idea.. she wants to know more now.

I've been sticking with the fitness tracker - last night was hard because I didn't cook half the things - but I think I'm doing okay still.  I'm getting more exercise during the day, (bike, weights, yoga mat) and that has to help.  I'm not going for immediate weight loss.  I had been trying to reduce sugar for a long time - that is working, sweet things seem so much sweeter now and I want less of them.  It's good to know the ratios of nutrients, fat and protein that is in what I normally want to eat, and making sure I get some exercise in and stretching because there are placeholders daily to report that.  And I'm taking my vitamins, again... which I can feel that difference.

Off to look at the cooking class thing, and then get the fabric and other laundry out of the dryer...

Saturday, September 02, 2017

more little bits

I had a dream early this morning that was interesting.  I was looking everywhere for my Welsh lesson I'm not even sure what exactly I was trying to find, audio or paper or ... but suddenly I stopped and it was like I could tell exactly where it was.  I opened my jacket and pulled on a zipper in my chest and my lesson was inside me all along.  I've never felt this way about a language I've been learning - but it does.. it feels like the Welsh is inside me and I'm being 'reminded' of it.  It's really cool.

I realized I could download the image of a workout routine on my tablet and save it to my gallery and have it downstairs by my mat to refer to without actually loading the pages again.. simple but nice hack.  Esme and Callie cat both like the mat.  Cat, no mat.. get!  I think I said that three times yesterday and had to carry her off protesting each time.

Work is getting even less clear and more tightened up about exactly what minute we can punch in and out.  The robots are taking over... that is the general consensus.  Humans will no longer be in control of figuring out if other humans were 'on time' or not.. it will all be computer recorded.  Oh joy.  Like that has worked so well in the past!

I processed the rest of the hot chili peppers with tomato puree last night to make chili sauce.  It was good (but hot!) with black beans.  Mark had made bacon.  It made a decent dinner.

Friday, September 01, 2017

bits of bits

So much rain.  School was cancelled today - which makes a four day weekend for Esme.  I have to go in to work, though.  Hoping the roads are okay.  I actually did get out the yoga mat last night after she went to bed.  I didn't follow any specific routine yet, but just getting over that threshold of taking it out and letting the dog stare at me funny is something.  Nova thought I was being 'puppy' and refused to speak to me about it.. she is the oldest of our dogs and crawling around on the floor is not something she expects or admires in a human apparently...

I've almost got rid of what is in my lungs but the rain just keeps coming, which is no good for it. 

Cut up all the hot peppers last night and roasted them in the oven, put them in oil in a jar in the fridge for making my next batch of soup.  I should take some of that soup to work today as my meal.  I'm just not looking forward to that drive after the hurricane-remnant storms have come through.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


I'm really enjoying Stori Tic Toc, the Welsh story telling program on BBC Cymru.  I can understand about half the words now, and more things are making sense to me each time I relisten to one of them.

I made a project to put a magnetic whiteboard on our fridge for all the 'to-dos' I forget to do after I leave the kitchen area.  It's a nice place to put those things that wander out of your mind almost as soon as you think it...  I have a new yoga mat and am going to move the weight lifting things down there, too - to encourage more exercise.  I've saved several beginner routines on my pinterest to try to do more yoga stretching when I have a few minutes here and there.  Little changes add up.

My new sewing pattern came in the mail today for Esme's size shorts and skirt.  I weeded out the things she doesn't wear anymore out of her hang up rod to accommodate the hanging organizer I am going to order with her bed in a few weeks.

Esme's first marks of the year came in, all good, four As and a B.  She says school is very stressful, though - and the boy she shares her locker bay with (her below, him above) is super annoying, whiney and never has anything constructive to say.

Not much other than that... learning  the Welsh, reading another Outlander type book and using the fitness tracker.  There is some big thing coming up at work after the tenth.. trying not to think about what that is about, as it does no good to speculate.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I'm finding some new resources for Welsh, like Stori Tic Toc on the BBC radio Cymru.  I am understanding more of it.  It is an interesting feeling to hear one or two words at a time that you understand.. and wade through things.  A sentence to remember: 'darllen ar hyd' means 'read along'.

During the thunderstorm the other morning I was repeating after the speaker in the 'Say Something in Welsh' lesson, and getting a fairly natural rhythm on it as it is the second time around, and Minerva dog was very confused.  She kept perking her ears up and walking over to me after I would say some of the sentences, and especially after lightning flashes, and nuzzle my knee and hand and look at me with raised eyebrows.  Minerva usually doesn't do this - so it was very social of her.  She was puzzled I was talking funny during the scary storm *heh*

I've also been using the fitness tracker for a full week now.  I'm still ending up with 30 to 40% fat and much less protein.  It has a nice little bit to the program to track minutes exercised to, to try to meet the weekly standard.  We have the exercise bike downstairs and I've been hopping on for a few minutes at time when something needs to boil, or the washer needs to spin etc.

We're almost to the end of Serafina and the Black Cloak.  Serafina just realized who her mother is, and Esme finds that exciting ;)

Waiting on my pattern to come in the mail.  Tried to get a dental appointment but they are booked up for the next two weeks (on any day I had available).

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Esme had a great weekend, she got to go to a sleepover, another pool party, and have her friend over to play Minecraft on Saturday.  I've had to work every day... I'm trying out a fitness tracker program on my tablet that gives me some idea of how much fat, carbohydrates and protein as well as the calories in what I am eating.  It's tough, as there are a lot of things that are difficult to track.  Compared to the 'reccommended diet' I eat a very high-fat diet.  I usually feel awful if I don't... but my sugar level has come in well below the bar almost every single day I've tracked while the fat is 'in the negative' meaning I ate more than was reccommended. 

Continuing with my Welsh.. cutting a bit back on the book reading because I've just been so busy - one I'm reading now about the girl rescuing the man who has been spellbound in a painting. 

I have a new sewing pattern coming in the mail for Esme.  It has been a long time since I made her things.. and she needs new shorts and perhaps a wraparound skirt to cover up shorts after the pool... although it's almost the end of summer now it would still be a good project to make.  Every pattern in my collection was too small, or didn't have pants/shorts with it. 

I work today, and tomorrow.. and the next day... then have Wednesday/Thursday off.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Autumn Beauty sunflower

My garden sunflowers have finally started to bloom.  I also had a handful of small green peppers. (Petite Bell variety).  The morning glories have crawled up all over the fence but I haven't gotten out there to see them bloom yet in the morning.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 at Land Between the Lakes

We went up to Land Between the Lakes for the Eclipse today.  

 We started the morning at Hematite Lake, but the duckweed was high... we didn't get to see much of what the lake is famous for.  We decided to head further on North.

 Hematite lake wasn't much to see right now.. but this boulder was lovely.

Esme wasn't that thrilled by the trip to the dam - she said she'd seen it before (which she hadn't)... she perked up when we saw some herons down by the water.  They had been dropping bits of dead fish though, so there was a sort of odor about the place.

 The herons were fishing down by the water.
We went down there and walked out near the water - it was a long climb back up!

 We built a simple pinhole viewer box 

 Esme got some souvenir rocks.

 This is what was visible in the pinhole viewer box.

 And someone had extra glasses and gave Esme a pair.

 The box really did work.. it just wasn't a big image.
During totality the image disappeared entirely and came back with the sun, just as it should.

Totality was very cool!  It got very dark, and the air got cool and moist like it does at dusk.

  Mark caught some pictures with his camera.

We went on a long trip!  We saw all three dams, and ended up watching the Eclipse just south of the Golden Pond Observatory (which was all full on parking - but there were several 'overflows').  We had a nice chat with some people from a University and our pinhole box worked really well!  I'm so glad we got to spend this event together as a family.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Out at the city pool

Esme and her friend had a lot of fun out at the city pool tonight.  Mark even got in to calm Esme's fears about the water slides! 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

No bus and notes

No bus this morning!  I'm glad I didn't have to be at work at seven, like the other morning.. I would have been late or Esme would not have gone to school.  Luckily, I was noon today, and we took her in.  Mark drove us in and the morning traffic was not half as bad as I had feared.  Spud got a sausage biscuit after seeing little girl off at the school.

I noticed something this morning when I was practicing my Welsh.  I is much easier for me to use my 'audio echo' remembering what I just heard in Welsh than it is with French OR English... Isn't that weird?  My audio memory isn't very good, dismal compared to my visual memory.  But Welsh does have an echo for the end of the sentence while I'm still processing the beginning of it.. which I find difficult in most other languages, including, sometimes, English.

Off to pull the laundry into the dryer and get ready for work.
The coconut curry sauce I found last night was awesome.  I should have only made half a cup of rice to go with it, but I made a full (dry) cup, and it is a bit watered down because of it.  But still SO good.. Mark said I made a terribly happy noise opening the container.  Yes, I did.  It smelled even better than the Thai Curry Rice I used to make but they discontinued.  With a little extra curry powder mixed in even the half-strength one is going to be an awesome lunch today.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

reading list updated

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert (25% through)
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys
Sea of Poppies, by Amitav Ghosh
Heartburn, by Nora Ephron
Serafina and the Splintered Heart, by Robert Beatty
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, by Mark Haddon,
Darker Still, by Leanna Renee Heber

I might just have to finish 'signature' and go right into Serafina... I've been waiting for that for a long time!  But I'm still reading volume one to Esme, so maybe I should wait until we are at least done with that... hmm... two weeks to read the last five.. a few days to read the Lahiri and Sepetys books.. 20 hours left on Signature.

bit o bits

I reheated another bowl of the green pea soup this morning with lots of hot madras curry powder stirred into it (remember, it already had turmeric and cumin and red pepper in it!).  SO good.  It was just what I was wanting this morning.

In chapter four or five of Signature of All Things.  Trying to do French in morning and Welsh at night to keep my brain powering on them...

This is how far we are in 'Serafina and the Black Cloak'.. ironic bookmark, as she is a girl that can turn into a panther! (catamount)

I got my yellow split peas!  Simple things make me happy.  We are going to a different store today and I hope to look at more spices.  Looked a little at Indian food and it is not quite what I am wanting.  Although, indian yellow dhal does look like something I would make and eat.  Looked at Swedish food, and that, too... was not on the note my tastes have been leaning towards.  It's somewhere in between... will have to keep looking until I find an ethnic cuisine that can appreciate hot curry powder, rutabagas and orange squash equally... *heh*  Maybe I'm just my own mix and I should write a little recipe book.

//They had no fried chicken at the store :( At least. none for sale.  They were cooking up some huge order to go out and weren't planning on making any for the public today.  We had to settle with something else.  However, I did find some Aka Miso that I had to pounce upon.  I shared a tiny bit of Esme's fast food and came home to make a very nice bowl of miso soup as my main lunch :)

Finished stage one of the acrylic rug - going to use it as a chair mat until I think if I want to put some extra rings around it and make it an even bigger rug.  It is as wide as the floor rug in Esme's room but not as long... if I put another few borders on it though, it will be as large of a square as the other rug in there.

I'm silly that I am pleased for digging up an old soap dish that was not being used and putting it on the pedestal sink when I thought we needed one there.  *rolls eyes at self*

Thursday, August 10, 2017


I'm on to 'The Signature of All Things'... it is starting out interestingly.  Tomorrow is Friday?  The end of the week and we can use it.  I've told Esme and Mark we can get fried chicken on Saturday and they think it is a great idea.  I have some yellow split peas that came in on an order to pickup at the store... they didn't have them in the store but they were free pickup.  I've been having a taste for making vegetable 'soup/goulashes' again... but maybe not quite as much as the other day.

Green Split Pea Soup
chicken pieces
1 cup of green split peas, washed
1/4 cup of red lentils (normally would be yellow split peas), washed
onion, chopped up
can of cooked carrots
can of cooked diced potato
a little chicken boullion (because I had some)
water to cover the mixture twice deep (at least this much, you could add more and make it thin)
garlic powder, turmeric, cumin, black pepper and red pepper flakes
a bit of salt
a bit of olive oil

cooked down until everything is ready to fall apart,  I got about three quarts out of this considering we ate some.  Esme had some (she asked) but mostly picked out the carrots and chicken I think - but she made an effort.

I'm also experimenting with some preserved ginger root.  Made Esme a chicken and honey and carrots with some ginger and onions in it tonight.  She ate all of hers (even after I said she could pick out the onions).

Also crocheting a heavy green acrylic rug with some clearance yarn.. probably double-up a few things to make a border for it as it is coming out a bit smaller than I'd hoped for the two skeins they had.

Weeded out all of Esme's too small jeans, a few to go to a younger girl that are decent condition and a few to cut up and sew into something else.  I'm trying to find a few things in the house we can repurpose into 'more useful lives'.. like a jewelry dish that is small but pretty that I've moved to the bathroom for Esme's hair clips.. and one of the rugs I had washed had originally been by my bedside table but is more useful by Esme's. etc.. Whenever I see something and think of a good use for it I try to remember it later and put it to a test.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Stage four fish painting

I've got to let this layer of color dry before I can go back in and define the tyes more and the scales.. just a bit of shading started... Esme has been at me for days about when I will finally start to paint the fish.. so I took a bit of time today.  I meant really to just go down there and start to sketch in my notebook about the colors  - but then I dove right in with the paint anyway without making a single sketch.  The top one is a bit dull, but I saw a gold scaled one with highlights I'd like to try to work with.. and maybe some actual gold flake paint as well.

Listening to Seven Nations... they are gifted musicians.  Sometimes their lyrics are a bit lacking, but they go off on these wonderful multi-instrument joyful 'tirades' again and again.. and that is amazing to listen to.

Reading Fingersmith.. vicious, terrible... I'm not sure where I got that recommendation from.. but I'll finish it out.  Mark said he saw me visibly shudder a few times reading it.

Also working on the yarn.. bought something on clearance that will make another good acrylic washable rug for Esme's room.  It is a chunky green yarn that will work up quick and let me rotate them out a bit. 

Monday, August 07, 2017


I cleaned up a bit and found ten skeins of KnitPicks fingering wool from when I used to make dolls and horses with yarn hair.  There is over 2,000 yards of yarn there.. in black and brown. I'm trying to put a few more rows on a purple acrylic shawl, too - to get it off the circular needle for whatever I do with that yarn.

I washed up the acrylic yarn rugs I had made for Esme's room and put them back on her floor.  One in front of her bed and one under the chair I have been sitting in to read to her at night.

My foot is healing up well - but I'm trying to stay off of it, too, by reading, knitting, and using my language app.

I'm getting along with the languages, 500+ words in Welsh, 1200+ in French.  Dw i'n hoffi bwyta pitsa :)  J'aime bien manger le pizza.  

Yes, Mark made pizza, tonight.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

reading list

Just finished:
A Twist in Time, by Julie McElwain
The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, by Helen Grant

Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters

The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys

Just in case I don't finish them all and have to go hunting to put them on hold again...

Thursday, August 03, 2017


 Went out today and got some pictures of an old barn (see end) for painting later.  Also caught a shot of Callie relaxing on the roof under the cedar tree, and Daphne went for a short jaunt into the lake path with me.

Esme says she is having fun in fourth grade, but the switching classes is hard.  She took a lunch today and is eager to play games when she gets home.  I think she is enjoying Serafina.  I stopped the second installment just BEFORE a scary part last night.. with only the sense of foreboding starting... and she has been wondering this morning what that meant and what was going to happen...

I see this barn often on my drive back and forth from Huntingdon.  I wanted a shot to get the idea of the shadows and the colors.  Mark helped me get one, today.  :) Thanks!

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

First Day of Fourth Grade

It's Esme's first day of fourth grade

Thursday, July 27, 2017

painting progress

Did an hour on the painting last night.. just to block things in but not to get too entrenched.  My next step might be to start the fish but also I want to take some more sketches of the plant in the middle in a light study so I can get the highlights correct.

Doing laundry (sale linge) and a Welsh lesson, and making rice for my dinner tonight.  We've all been getting up quite early to get used to school schedules again, which tonight I close, so it will be a long one.  I've noticed my brain really doesn't feel 'active' in the same places when I am studying Welsh as studying French.  The Welsh feels like a 'shorter distance' from English because of the tenses, while the French (although I know more of it) seems like I'm going through more hallways between thoughts, making more turns and 'curlicues' to get to the same places.  The Welsh just feels like I'm remembering to pick up different things on the same routes most of the time, with a few oddities.

Finished 'The Other Language', although I admit I skimmed and skipped through most of the last story because I was just ready to be 'done'.  I have three more loans that have come available from the library and my Paul Auster book 'In the Country of Last Things' has arrived (which I can read anytime).  The beginning of that book really does have reminisces of  'In the Cities of Coin and Spice' by Catheryne Valente I read a few months back...

Esme starts school next Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

bit o bits

Still reading 'The Other Language' by Francesca Marciano.  Some of the stories are sweet, most are tragic and leave you with a sense of 'other' but 'why' at the same time... I'm not sure why I'm still pushing on through it, because it is very different probably, and the whole reason of the book is to show how all of these people change - some slowly, some drastically (and not all for the better) when they encounter a new language that separates them from something, then joins them to something, and then many of them (but not all) play a balancing game between wins and loss, change and stability, progress and regression.  I've got at least four other library books that are waiting on the queue on my Kindle..

I'm waiting on a book - Paul Auster's 'In the Country of Last Things' to come in the mail.  And a CD (used buy), Seven Nations... something I used to listen on Spotify discover back when that was free.  Both of these I bought with my survey-taking rewards... hoping I like the other songs on the CD... 'Under the Milky Way' is the one that earwormed back into my brain while I was working freight the other day - an echo from years ago.. a little piece on repeat - not even full lyrics, just the 'shape' of the sounds, then trying to catch that bit and 'taste' what song that was from, turning it over in my mind like pieces of a tangible wooden puzzle.. then suddenly remembering it and really wanting to turn up the volume and hear the whole thing again enveloping my eyes and skin until it reminds me why it has become a part of me.

I have an hour before I need to put Esme to bed.. I've started her on the early routine again.  She doesn't like it, but she isn't digging her heels in and making a terrible face as much as she did the first night.  And I'm getting her up twice during the night.  I think there is some anxiety about back to school happening.

I didn't work much on the new painting - we did grocery shopping tonight and I didn't want to get into it when I had so much to read and I knew one dip of mixing one color to fill in one space would probably be two hours.  I'm tired enough to nap now, but staying up an hour until it is 9:30.  Maybe I could do a sketch... colored pencils aren't half as addictive as paint that is one more dab before it dries, one more drop before that color is gone, one more dab, etc etc.. in repetition.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Painting stage two

This is as far as I got last night- Mark said it had changed enough to need another progress picture taken... I'll get some more filled in before I work on exactly how the light needs to come across the stones to the left.

And it is so hard to get pictures of this dog, Freckles.. but I caught one that wasn't a blur.  She is sitting there in front of her father Spud at the top of the stairs.

I've had dreams of painting and drawing the past few nights.  One dream I just swished a pen and an entire detailed drawing of a brick building came out.  It wasn't quite satisfying, though.. because it happened all at once and that wasn't right.  I went with it in the dream, because I wanted to see what happened.. but I kind of mourned the process at the same time.  In my dreams last night I had a yarn and bead and art supply store just across the street from a new apartment we had to move into.  But the brakes on the truck wouldn't work and I was playing bumper cars trying to get it to stop without breaking something up.  But in the store there was a place I could set up an easel and paints and nice light.. and I realized the dream was because I did finally have a nice place to set up this canvas and paint and it was working so well.  I even used more than one brush so far.. which is almost unheard of.. in fact, so far, I've used three.  It is a terrible habit of mine my art teachers used to chastise again and again that I would only use one small brush to do an entire painting no matter how huge it was...

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Had the day off, got a few things done.  I've been waiting to get a better idea of what to do with this painting for a few days.  I had transferred the fish drawing to it but there was all the rest of this space... did a depth sketch of a real aquarium photo in colored pencil then, with that to think on, went to the sketch on the painting and did this.

I also finally finished Esme's longer pink scarf that was started probably a year ago.  It took a long time, but that was the last knitting project unfinished not counting the huge afghan that has been on the needles for several years... Esme was very glad to have it done.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


We are now two weeks from the start of school.  We're trying to get Esme up earlier so she gets used to it again... she is not happy with that.  I'm continuing with Welsh and French simultaneously.  Not a lot else going on except that it is super hot outside and we have been shorthanded at work so my schedule has been even stranger than usual...

Off to work now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Here we go

Finished the rest of Esme's school supply shopping the other day.  I'm halfway through my French learning app and making some headway on Welsh (un dau tri pedwar, pump (I can't spell six but it begins with ch), saith, wyth, naw, deg).. Counting in Welsh has made my brain fold over a little, it makes sense, but it is different (un deg un is eleven, literally one ten and one)....

I'm reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and waiting for In the Country of Last Things (Paul Auster) to come in the mail.  I read that book so long ago and it has been sending back little tendrils that I need to finish it finally.  I might take a stab at my novel again after reading it.. I have six chapters but I felt there was something big changing so I need to sweep through it again when I have actual brain time.

I have a close tonight and an open tomorrow.  That is never good for my brain.  My sense of time is already messed up, and then put me in a short sleep cycle between two workdays and I sometimes have a thought-breakdown about four hours into the second shift.  Protein helps.. but several times I've just had to take my lunch with an ice pack on my forehead and a cup of coffee and see if I can get the reaction to go away before it turns into a migraine.

Not a lot else hapening... School starts on the 1st.  Still no word when we will have a teacher orientation meeting... they always announce those at the very last minute and then I have to rearrange my schedule on the fly.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


We've been out of our air conditioning most of this week.. coping it with many ways, including popsicles and hanging out in the basement.

I did a little work towards the canvas I stretched the other night.  I painted it white (which wasn't all that easy, as the fabric had been a heavy blue cotton), and began to sketch out in green paint this drawing I made the other day.  These are koi fish I found pictures of online.

Monday, July 10, 2017


We've had a very busy day - fixed the water heater again, and took the old one out to the dump...  Then I took a load of things into town to donate that had been waiting for months.  Esme was a big help.  We also got her basic school clothes shopping done, the things I needed her to try on etc...

Our air conditioning has also went out and my main computer has been dying for a week in the heat of its own processor...  so I am trying to adapt to using my tablet, which previously I only listened to audio books on - it was a tablet Esme had years ago that she couldn't run her games on well....  but, it seems to do this and my French lessons and social media OK enough...

I have gotten to halfway point on the French which is awesome... more than a month straight practice.  And yet I have not yet learned the word for forest or tree or stone... l'eau et les chaussures oui... heh

I am reading Patricia McKillip's "Wonders of the Unseen World". Many of the stories are delightful - many of them are complicated and leave rabbitholes of thought to fall down.

Thinking about making banana bread here soon tonight but not wanting to heat up the only cool place myself and three dogs have taken refuge in the cement floored kitchen.

Saturday, July 08, 2017


Sketches of roseate spoonbills, 7/7/2017 Marie Lamb.  Graphite pencil, overlay with Micron pen, colored pencil background.  11x14 inches on canson sketch

Thursday, July 06, 2017

town houses painting

The big thing about this painting is that I didn't outline everything in black.  I usually get to doing that when I add so many details.  I saved the black for the wrought iron and a few small places where it should be.  Apple Barrel acrylics over pencil on standard sketchbook paper.  It's about 14" by 9".

I had a painting from 2002 that I finally put up in my kitchen, of fish swimming in a pond.  It makes me happy to see it there.  It took me a very long time to admit that I saw it in my mind's eye often and wanted it on full display.  Tonight, I finally acted (with some nudge from Mark pointing me towards the frame I had forgotten I had) and hunted down this little cat drawing.  I knew I had seen it recently, and it is another one of those that comes to mind again and again... it is joyful, and the lines are elegant.

So, here it is imperfectly 'matted' with a sheet of wallpaper with a hole cut in it and some artist tape hinges behind it.  It is hanging up in my sewing room where I will see it often.

Monday, July 03, 2017

ma belle fille de minuit

 ma belle fille de minuit
"my beautiful midnight girl"
Our cat Minion laying claim to my lawn chair because it matches her eyes 
and she uses it more than I do.

 And I caught a big lazy bee wandering around my nasturtiums.. well he was flying low and slow, but he was definitely into every flower he could find, so maybe 'lazy' isn't the right word.. he was taking his time but he was on the ball.. heh

I so love the nasturtiums this year.. they haven't grown well in the past, but this year they are making up for it.

I got a cucumber, a tomato, a small green pepper and some beans today - blended them all up with some mayo into a salad to eat with tortillas and cheese today at lunch.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Fish painting (second)

second try at one of my favorite paintings I've ever done, that is hanging in our kitchen.  I had a migraine headache last night and thought I'd try the theme again to see if it relaxed me some.  This painting is smaller, but has even more fish.

Monday, June 26, 2017

end of vacation

I'm back to work today.  I've dreamed of work at lest a third of the nights.. crazy stuff, all the way to walking the aisles with coworkers asking me questions like usual... I close tonight and I've been getting up early almost every day, so that is going to be a tough turnover.

I finished the Christmas yarn Mark and Esme got me and it is a simple but useful shawl.  I have this owl pin on it that Miss Irene (Grandma)  gave to me.  I'm working on a second lace thing that I might make into a sleeved bolero thing.. I'll have to see.  I do like knitting lace and Mark had also found some bamboo knitting needles for me on a clearance shelf, so I found an interesting yarn in my stash and started working on it.

It is 'Unforgettable' self-striping acrylic yarn, in Tealberry
It took two skeins to make it, and it is just a simple seed stitch pattern.
This yarn was lovely to knit with, and it is soft and silky and warm but not hot.
It has t he most beautiful drape, flowing over anything like a stream of silk water.

I've gotten to level 11 on the French learning site I'm using, and 31% fluency (which fluctuates with how many I answer right/wrong).

We watched Arrival.. not the greatest.  I have 'Forever Knight' in the queue to introduce Mark to - something someone posted the other day reminded me again I needed to look for it.  It is about a night-shift vampire detective who is trying to cure himself of his 'disease' with the help of the coroner.  *hilarious* in its way, for that alone.

I'm still sunburnt.  Esme had sunscreen on so only her back between the suit straps got burnt some.. she still says it is uncomfortable.  I might look for some aloe lotion when I get off of work tonight.

I didn't touch my book I am writing all week except to print out the progress.  I did read about six books, though.. maybe seven.  The Orphan Tales series is still swelling up at times and being further digested and rolled around... there is just SO MUCH to it it keeps changing even after I read it. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Garden flower

nasturtium and zinnia

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Out at the Beach

We all went out to the beach, Mark took the photos (and didn't get wet).  Esme and her friend were swimming for hours.  I got definitely sunburned.  I had my hat and shirt but I should have worn them more of the time we were there.  We had a lot of fun sitting on the beach after a bit and watching the girls bounce around. One more day of vacation and then back to work.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

More beading

 This is the necklace that Esme made today, it is an ocean necklace with a real shell.

 trying out some combinations

That 'look' when Mom is taking pics... ha.

I've even gotten a little sewing and knitting done during this vacation.  I finished something today that I'll try to get a picture of tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Birthday and beading

I had my birthday walk this morning, and watched the sun come up.  Then we hung out at the house for a bit.  I accidentally broke my shell bracelet, and rebeaded it with other scraps to make something new, then went right on making a necklace with the rest of them and a huge pretty shell I had never used in my bead collection. 

I finished reading the Catherynne Valente book.. 'In the City of Coin and Spice' (volume 2 orphan tales) and it was so much.. I cried in the middle, and also in the end.  It shocked and intrigued and delighted and filled you to bursting with both tears and wonder... (In the Night Garden, volume 1).   And the stories overlap and intertwine and pluck the same note on different instruments, retell old tales and tell other ones you are sure mean something else... and in the end, I was still surprised as something never said I thought was true was not.. and it changed everything again.  

We went to town for cat food and dental floss, and picked up a few more beads and the Real Ghostbusters cartoon set for my birthday, which I had wanted, but didn't want to spend that much on it... we are watching it now.  Esme made the green bracelet all by herself from the beads she picked, and I made t he other two bracelets with what my kit had and the new box I bought.

green beans and cucumbers from the garden tonight...

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Mark got a happy Father's Day card, shockingly chartreuse bath towel (to match his new choice in shorts), some cookies and candy he likes and of course, a holiday potato.  It just isn't a holiday without a potato being exchanged between them.  // ha

Other than that, his wish was to stay home and relax.  The weather was very rainy and stormy, too, so it was a really good idea.

I've read two more books, started on a third.  Listened to my music yesterday and drew this for fun.  Esme sat beside me and drew  something of her own, too.  Then, when I was nearing the end of the drawing, she said the rabbit needed to have a kite. 

Micron Pen. it is sort of an Italian villa... we watched Under the Tuscan Sun the other week, and a I started this drawing the tower and doorway kind of took over...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

first day of vacation

I picked our first bean crop (four), and spent some time in the sun.  I read two books.  I finally folded the laundry.

We bought Esme a new swimsuit yesterday, in case we want to go swimming.
We wrapped up some Father's day gifts and Mark found a few other things he wanted at the store.

He bought me some goat cheese I had looked at before.
Hmm.. what to do with that?  My instinct says eat it plain on crackers.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Lamb family recipe book

A few weeks ago I took down all the paper printouts that were scattered all over the fridge and rewrote them into this tablet.  We couldn't decide on what to put on the cover, so it got a little bit of everything going back and forth between Mark and I.  What's actually in here are all the recipes we've made that were good enough to keep and want to make again.  Some of them are 'family secret' type recipes, like Mark's ginger muffins and the Dragon Pork spice ratios.  My egg noodle and pancake recipes are in here, too (see the pancakes tab for easy access?)

I made the 'yellow cake' recipe out of this (also seen on one of Esme's birthdays) and layered the batter over mandarin oranges and pineapple pieces to make a cake dessert for tomorrow at work. We all just had a piece of one of the two cakes I made and it turned out good!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Flowers and egg noodles

Nasturtiums, zinnias and a marigold in the garden
Making egg noodles

The flower garden I started a few months ago is starting to produce some very pretty blooms worthy of cutting and bringing in to a vase.  The other flowers - dianthus, and verbena, are not cutting flowers but they are pretty, too.  I've reached level 11 in the French program I'm working  in (Duolingo), and a twelve day streak, which is really good.  Mark pointed out some Italian sausage (the kind with the fennel) in the store today, and I bought some and an orange pepper to make a meal for Esme.  I ended up making egg noodles again for the first time since I was Esme's age or younger.. it was pretty much a success.  I'd like to try again tomorrow or at least during my vacation and try to make them much thinner.  They would be even better cut thin.