30 January 2011

10:15, and still no photos.

I guess I'll go for three tomorrow.

Hmmm.

Consistency doesn't seem to be as easy as I'd hoped.

(That I got to Lansing and found that my batteries were dead is my current excuse.)

Grain-free Chocolate Mud Cake

Grain-free Chocolate Mud Cake

5 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 cup honey
2 ounces cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup nut flour
1/4 cup coconut flour

Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to to wet ingredients and stir until just mixed.

Bake at 325 for 20-30 minutes, until the middle starts to firm up and leaves a toothpick slighly moist but not sticky.


Another grandbaby on the way!

Congratulations to Joel and Makita!
And heartiest congratulations to Grandpa Rod!
Aren't they gorgeous! The baby is going to be so beautiful!
I'm so excited -- again!!

29 January 2011

Another "what a day!"

Well, dinner is almost cooked, and then we can eat and hit the sack.

We started the day with Jack's karate class. Actually, Rod and Jack did that while I stayed home and salvaged the kitchen and then finished up preparing our notes for today's astrology class.

The prep seemed to take a long time, but the class went pretty well, give or take some dropped notes and missing charts. But the folks were very interesting and most seemed to get more or less what they came for. (Not everyone did, but it was an "Astrology as the Ultimate Parenting manual" class and single, child-free folks who didn't send in their data were bound not to have a terribly interesting time. ) I have a few more charts to read for folks who wanted to but couldn't make it, and I have invited a few people to continue the "class" in a few weeks on a more private basis. That should be fun. :)

After the class ended, we headed out to get the last of the stuff for the baby boxes I am packing. My granddaughter is due in a few weeks and a friend is expecting her first, also a girl, a week before Sara is due. I have to say, it's a lot of fun to shop for little girls. Anyway, that stuff is packed up to go out on Monday. Kim and Alec will have theirs in plenty of time, but I am cutting it close for Marika. I hope it gets there on time.

Then, finally, we headed out to get groceries since Rod wasn't up to his usual Friday shop yesterday. We finally got home at 9:00pm and I started dinner.

On the journey, Rod and I discussed food storage again. We have agreed that for our purposes, we'll start with a goal of three weeks without shopping. Once we're there, we think that a solid six months with minimal shopping would be the ultimate goal. Our assumption is that the most likely "crises" we'd be facing would be unexpected bills or some other financial crisis or weather related emergency like August of 2003. But the real advantage is that we could stretch our budget further is we put away more food so that we only had to buy what wasn't too expensive this week. That level of frugality is important when we insist on high quality food, but our budget barely stretches to cover what we need. This way, we might be able to save more quickly. Most of our storage foods will be things we've put by ourselves, so that we can count on local and organic for the most part, though tuna and coconut milk and things like that will be canned. So, now to start figuring exactly what we need most.

I had an interesting experience today. I discovered that my greatest wish for my looks had come true. Of all the things about my appearance that had ever dismayed me, the one I had had every day of my life and had never really made peace with was my very, very full neck and jaw. I could never quite bring myself to consider surgery, but if there was one thing I'd have considered, it would have been a reduction of my jaw and throat. Today, after I got dressed for the class, I caught sight of myself in the mirror unexpectedly and realized that my wish has been granted. I will never have a long, swan-like neck, of course, but most of the fullness is gone, leaving only a gentle softness that seems suitable to my age and not unattractive. It was a weird experience. Good -- but also strange since that fullness was evidently something that was very much a part of my self image. I don't think I'm going to have a great deal of trouble getting used to this. ;)

I'm way beyond tired. No photo today, but I'll aim for two tomorrow.

The photo above is one I took of my niece and her son last summer. Gorgeous shots are so easy with gorgeous models!

28 January 2011

Misti's 365 Project: Day 25

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What a night!

It snowed pretty much all day yesterday. Unfortunately for me, the temperatures also hovered around freezing. That means icy, slippery streets. Now, I am not really fond of driving at the best of times, and in bad weather I really don't like driving. That's why my darling husband goes out of his way to drive me in to work most mornings. But he's very sick right now with whatever bug got Jack last weekend, so I drove myself to work yesterday.

Long story short, the next street over no longer has a street sign and dimples has added to her collection of ...dimples. :( On the bright side, she is drivable and other than being embarrassed and frightened, I am fine.

In better news, Jack tested for and earned his next belt at karate class last night. We all thought it would be some months away yet, so it was an exciting surprise! He will be presented with his new orange (third level) belt next Saturday at class.

Also in karate news, but this across the puddle, my darling granddaughter Isabella and her best friend were two of only eight of in their dojo who qualified to compete in Denmark in late February! I am so proud of both of my karate-ka!

Time I got ready for work. More tomorrow, I hope.

27 January 2011

Misti's 365 Project: Day 24

A tie.
I couldn't choose, so I asked the guys. This is what they came up with. ;)


Still working with low light, no flash.
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26 January 2011

Misti's 365 Project: Day 23

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Happy Anniversary, my beloved

Ten years ago today, I met my wonderful, beautiful Rodney.
It took several years more for us to make it so, but I consider this the day my life turned around.

Thank you, so much, Rodney, for the sweet gift of yourself. I love you.
Well, Jack is finally on the mend. As I mentioned, he started eating again a day or so ago.

Now poor Rod is down with it. He was 'off" yesterday morning and by the time I got off work, he had to have me drive. If you know Rod, you know how serious that has to be. And last night, I again saw the "semi-tropical" side of him come out again. He was under three blankets and still shuddering, so I put four more on him. He finally relaxed, and then he commented on how weird it is to him to sleep under "40 pounds of blankets".

Poor Jack is still going to be stuck in bed reading. He doesn't like to get too far from Dad until I get home, and that's what there is to do when Dad is sick. Knowing Jack, he'll sleep as long as he possibly can before he deals with being on his own, and I have made sure there is something for him to eat when he does wake up (leftovers, a PB&J, and bananas and apples). Rod will get up a few times to make sure Jack's doing oK and if he needs something, Rod is good about dealing with it.

Did I even think to mention that Jack won third place in his chess tournament on Saturday? I don't think I did, because by the time he got home, it was pretty clear he wasn't well. But he did. He won third place for his division. Rod says that Jack will play in this division one more year and he speculates that he'll be pretty close to the top when he ages out, especially now that there is a game group meeting on Tuesdays these days with several other kids who like chess, in addition to his once a month chess club meeting, so he's getting more practice.

Oh, I thought, too, that I'd mention that believe it or not, last night's 365 photo was a triumph. I have set myself a rule that I won't use post production to improve a photo for this purpose (thus the photos seeming a bit ordinary sometimes.) and I have been using the every-day-ness of it to try to stretch myself to things I haven't tried before. For a couple of weeks now I have been trying to capture low-light images. Mostly I have gotten blurry, pixilated, yellow blobs. Last night, I think I finally found the setting that works. It's not much of a picture in the sense of telling a story, but the light is interesting and the photo is pretty clear.

Next challenge: capture the texture I so love in other people's work.

(The photo above is one I took of my 'niece', Tiffani, and her husband Kody on their wedding day last summer. Aren't they beautiful young people? I wonder whether, when I am ready to start tackling portraits, they'd be willing to play for an afternoon at the p[ark... Hmmm.)

25 January 2011

24 January 2011

What are you putting on your skin?

Which are the scariest baby products?

How about the ones that contain carcinogens and endocrine disruptors? In baby products? You bet. Even some that sound so safe!

Have a look. Johnson No More Tears? Baby Magic Calming Bath? Gentle naturals? They're on there, and it not pretty.

Think you're safe because you don't have a baby and you don't wear makeup or perfume?

Sorry, even soaps can be scary and shampoo, too. How about deodorant?

It's worth a look to see how safe your favorites are, and maye find some that will work just as well while leaving your health (and the health of the planet) intact.
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Misti's 365 Project: Day 22

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Why I take so many pictures

The 365 project has me really thinking about photography in a way that I haven't really before.

I mean, I like to take pictures, but when you are trying to take at least one "sharable" one per day (and sometimes failing, like yesterday) you start to ask yourself what exactly it is that you want to capture.

Rod seems to have lost interest in actually taking photos, but he does pipe up with suggestions every now and then -- usually pretty esoteric, deep and meaningful, and just not suitable for my project.

Why?

I like esoteric. I like deep and meaningful. Why is it not right for my project? It took me a while to figure that out.

I have come to realize that for me, photography is mainly a way to record the beauty around me. I can warm up to "journalistic" photography, too. That is, recording what happens around me, good and bad. But 'high concept' art of all kinds -- photography, painting, all of it -- has always left me blank.

I guess I'm just not that smart. I prefer the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to Picasso, it has taken me years to warm up to the Impressionists, and most"Modernist Abstraction" leaves me cold and not a little confused.

I want something else from my photos.

I want to share a sense of the wonder and delight that I find around me. I want to share a sense of warmth and familiarity. Making folks think isn't really one of my artistic goals. Thinking, for me, is the purpose of words. Pictures are more about emotion and my goal is to evoke positive emotions as much as I can.

Now I know what I'm looking for. Let's see if I get any better at finding time in a busy day not only to see it, but capture it. ;)

Another gluten free pancake

Because of all the foods in the world, Jack loves pancakes.
He prefers Dad's Perfect Pancakes, but he'll take what he can get.

Tonight, while Dad was out on an Essential Oil errand, Jack annaounced that he was feeling enough for Dad's Perfect Pancakes or Mac and Cheese. We have already established that my mac and cheese isn't up to snuff, so he asked for Mamma's almost perfect pancakes.

We're out of almond flour and I wanted them done fast, so I found this recipe on Comfy Belly and Jack has paused devouring it long enough to proclaim them "really quite edible"...

FLUFFY COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES

Ingredients (makes 5-6 silver-dollar-size pancakes)

  • 3 large eggs or 4 small eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or your oil of choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (I now reduce this to 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut flour
  • fresh or frozen blueberries (optional)

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, add all the wet ingredients and whisk together until well blended.
  2. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and whisk mixture again until well blended and frothy – this will get them even fluffier!
  3. Add additional olive oil or butter to a frying pan on medium to low heat and let warm for a few minutes. Next, pour the batter into small circles in the frying pan without letting the edges of each circle touch. Keep the heat fairly low and let the pancakes heat up slowly and rise – about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Wait until there are several bubbles appearing on top of the pancake circles and the edges are cooked, and then flip each pancake to cook the other side. This will not take long, so watch them carefully, and then move the pancakes onto another plate. Continue this until all the batter is gone.
  5. Enjoy!

Poor Jack

Poor Jack. Rarely have I seen him this sick.
He came home from chess unusually exhausted, and didn't want much dinner. He was too cold and couldn't get warm, so we put him in a tub of warm water for a while and he seemed to recover a little. He flopped around the house the rest of the day and went to bed early in the evening.

Yesterday, he came down for some water, but went back upstairs pretty quickly. He tried to come down for dinner, but he could only crawl down the stairs and once he got here he was too tired to eat. By then he had developed quite a fever. He didn't even want any candy for dessert! Poor guy.

The fever broke in the night, so I hope he'll feel better soon, but obviously he won't be at art class or the dentist today.

Misti's 365 Project: Day 21

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23 January 2011

Schedule confusion ...

Sometimes I am such an idiot.

I agreed to teach a class next weekend. I scheduled it for Sunday, because of course we see John on Saturday.

Unfortunately, I didn't check the calendar carefully when it was posted. The scheduler put it on Saturday. Sadly, 17 people had signed up before I realized.

Worse? This is his birthday weekend.

I hate changing the schedule on John because it makes it so much harder for him to keep track, but in this case that really is the best option.

Frustrating, but there it is.

Note to self: Double and triple check the calendar BEFORE the last minute. Mistakes happen. Catching them is my responsibility.

Fortunately, John's son, Bill, has verified that John is indeed free on Sunday. Now, to find some adventure or other that will be open.

(There is a bright side, too, though -- that means I have some time on Saturday to bake the cake we'll bring up, and we can arrive a lot earlier on Sunday than we could on Saturday.)

22 January 2011

Boycott Horizon and Stonyfield ?!?!

I'm late out of the gate on this, but it appears that since June 2010
" a group of organic farmers is calling for a nationwide boycott of all H.P.
Hood branded products because of what they’re calling “unfair business
practices.” This includes organic companies—Hood products include some names you
might not expect: Horizon and Stonyfield Organic Milk."
Hood is evidently forcing farmers out of the cooperative that produced organic milk for these companies if they also provide products directly to the consumer.

Looks like we're looking for a new brand of butter.
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Misti's 365 Project: Day 19

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Misti's 365 Project: Day 18

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Misti's 365 Project: Day 17

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365 project update

I've missed two days. But I'm not going to stop. Instead I am going to cheat.

Now that I have my meds balanced again, and I have some energy, I am going to head outdoors and try to get at least three very different photos, and I will assign them to days 17, 18, and 19. If I can't do it all today, I'll try again tomorrow and again and again until I catch up. (It's -21C adjusted temperatures out there today, so even bundled up, my ability to stay out there will be limited. I don't own boots, for instance.)

I doing the 365 project in an attempt to improve my eye and my familiarity with my camera rather than as an endurance contest, so this will suit me just as well as having stuck it out -- but the key will be "very different photographs."

But meanwhile, I have been making a lovely warming ginger butternut soup and wholesome chocolate coconut candies to surprise the boys when they get home from the chess tournament.

Chocolate Coconut Candies

1 cup virgin coconut oil
1/2 vanilla bean
1-2 Tablespoons raw honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T almond butter
unsweetened dessicated coconut

Mix all ingredients together in a food processor until mixture is smooth. Drop by the tablespoon onto the dessicated coconut, then remove to parchment paper, and refrigerate until the candies are solid, then store in a covered container in the fridge.

20 January 2011

I should be running around taking pictures, or making Valentines cards for Jack to decorate for his homeschool Valentine exchange.

Or... *something* useful. But I can't. I'm exhausted.

I thought I was coming down with something. I didn't get sick.

I blamed it on not enough sleep for several days running, but I got plenty of sleep last night and it's worse now.

Now I am thinking that my thyroid dose needs adjusting. (I had experimentally reduced it a month ago, and it's has taken quite a while to feel it, but I am feeling it.)

Oh well. Maybe I can find a photo to take and post it much later -- like 7am. Meanwhile, this is Jack on Learner.org a few nights ago, finding out that actually he spells pretty much on target. He passed all the third grade spelling tests with 100% and got only 82% on the first level of the third grade test. On my lap top, of course. It's annoying to have him take it over -- but I really don't want him wandering the web unsupervised and he would if he could. So, no Internet on his computer. Learner.org also has some videos that are pretty good for older kids and some interactives for the 9-12 year old group. And I had Jack use the interactive about the parts of a story, just to plant the seed. He says he wants to be a writer when he gets older (this week) so it seemed apropos.

Food storage

First off, no, I didn't take this photo. I wish I had. This is our niece, Jasmine, with her daughter Sienna Lee. Jasmine took this photo. I can't imagine how, but she did. Isn't it lovely?

Rod and I have been pondering the possibility of getting serious about food storage. Our friend, Sue, talks about it a bit on her blog from time to time and the more we follow her adventures the more sense it makes. I doubt we'd ever get as serious about it as Sue is (and she's less serious than some) but the idea of a nice, safe cache of food that would last a while in case of emergency really pleases us. In our thinking, that emergency is far more likely to be a cash blowout because of an unexpected major expense than a world cataclysm, but you never know. It can't hurt to be prepared for anything.

I had assumed that our weird eating patterns would limit our ability to really buy our food for long term storage. In looking over Honeyville's food storage site, I have come to realize that we'd have to check everything carefully and there are things we need that we'd have to find elsewhere, but it does look viable. Our eating would have to change, of course -- milk and eggs don't store well unless you do strange things to them and I'm not ready to go there yet -- but we could eat.

We have plenty of room for storage, too.

Hmmm.

19 January 2011

Misti's 365 Project: Day 16

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Imbolg is coming

Imbolg is coming...I feel it. We're just a couple of weeks out from the midpoint. Can you feel it, too?

Oh, I am still waking up in the deep black night, even when I only just have time to get ready for work. And it's still grey and cold and wet.
But the light is coming up every slightly earlier these days and bedtime is coming a little sooner after dark. And our brief thaw yesterday got me to thinking about...seeds! I am starting to ponder and plan about what we should put in.
Beets and turnips, definitely! (Thanks, Linda, for the introduction!) A few radishes, though not too many. We like the greens when they're young, but they get prickly really fast, and none of us likes the bulb. Potatoes, and zucchini. Butternut. Tomatoes -- sauce tomatoes, mostly. What else, what else...? So many options!

Of course, life got so busy last fall that we never cleaned up the gardens, so we'll have to do that before Beltane planting, but that's OK, because we also need to put down a lot of supplements in the new gardens before we plant. We ran out of supplements before we finished last year and didn't have the funds to get more just then. It was dead obvious where we had the supplements down and where we had skimped. The nourished beds produced like crazy, big, juicy, and delicious! And the others? We got small plants, but little fruit -- and what we got was smaller, less beautiful, and less yummy.

***
The photos are from the same shoot as my "spot of colour" 365 shot. This lovely farm is on my morning commute and I have admired it for 10 years or so. So very pretty! I don't think I entirely did it justice, but I am so glad I took the time (and so grateful that Rod helped! There is no way to pull over on that stretch of road, so Rod dropped me off and drove off and then picked me up.)

My new years letter is almost ready to go out. I have one more letter to print -- but that I tried three times before I gave up for the night. I really don't get on well with printers.

Jack and I have joined a homeschoolers Valentines Day card exchange. We have developed a system -- I make the basic card and then Jack decorates it. We're also sticking to quick and easy decorations so that no card takes too much effort because we have 20 or 30 to make. (Still waiting to find out.) It's kind of fun! :) And I am seriously considering signing up for another card making class with Katherine. It was fun and I got some new techniques because her style is very different from mine. And the techniques can be used for scrapbooking, too, so...

In the 365 project, I am finding that the Aperture Priority setting I have been playing with, I get a lot of really blurry photos. The shutter speed is slow enough that I catch myself swaying just as the shutter closes. I am wondering whether I need a tripod. Probably. But this will take some research unless one comes up on Freecycle...what is the difference between the $9 one and the $50 one and the $350 one? Best guess, go with the $50 one until you know what you want. ;)

Now, to finish the dishes and hit the shower...

18 January 2011

The Tuesday that feels like Monday

Hmm.

I'm exhausted and I should be in bed. Sadly, I am waiting on the printer to finish and I am determined to get the New Years letters out tomorrow. They are embarrassingly late, but printing the labels darn near made me tear my hair out. Those are done now, but we came up 8 letters and four photo cards short. More letters I could print, and so I am. But we ended up cutting the list back. But the letters will be printed before I sleep. So you get to listen to my stream of consciousness. And, thinking that it had taken too long, I went to check. Yep, printing the back on the front on half the sheets. (

Oh, this photo is for Steph -- Jack's braid fell out and I got his permission to take a photo after breakfast and before he went up to get dressed. Thus the "are you done yet" pose. It was oiled and re-braided within the hour, though. He rarely takes his hair down except to wash...kinda like Mamma.

I am playing with a Zazzle shop. I'm not sure there would ever be much of a demand for my photos, but it's fun to play with. If I get anything up to sell, I'll mention it here. (Probably note cards, since that would I will want to have made.)

Jack and Rod have just met up with a playgroup based around playing board games. Jack is thrilled! Finally, kids as crazy for games as he is! They meet on Tuesday afternoons, making the week just a little crazier, but all in all, I think it's a good thing. The boy does love to be around other kids and he does love to play games. It also sounds like they may be switching from the Monday UM field biology class to one in Chelsea that meets on Thursdays. The UM class is in conflict with the art class *and* less convenient to get to, and they like the Chelsea class just fine, but the two classes cover pretty much the same material, so doing both doesn't make a lot of sense. This homeschooling thing seems to mean *never* being home. Oh well. We were warned. And if Jack had siblings we might be more inclined to skip some of the outside activities, but he doesn't, so we don't.

I think I heard the printer stop.

Good night.



Misti's 365 Project: Day 15

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17 January 2011

Misti's 365 Project: Day 14



Digital photography school weekly challenge - a spot of colour


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