Wednesday, January 31, 2018

From Resolutions To Challenges

As I explained at the beginning of the month, I'm doing monthly challenges instead of resolutions this year.  January is at its end so it's time to see how it has gone for me.

Overall I am very happy with what I have accomplished.  I've discovered I was a bit ambitious in just how much I can do in a month so I have made adjustments here and there.  And as I explained to Himself, some challenges are to be finished by the end of that month and for some challenges the goal is to get started and continue... perhaps for the rest of my life.

My 'home' challenge was to KonMari the upstairs and our downstairs laundry room.  Got it done!  I was amazed at what I missed from the first go around.  This is one of the challenges that continues after the first month.  February I will finish my studio.  I've already started and am making huge progress.  A big part of that comes from deciding what creative projects I really want to do and enjoy doing.  Stash that doesn't work for those is going away.

For the yard I planned on pruning my lilacs.  They had gotten WAY tall and Himself took down about a third of their height.  I realize I won't have the best flowering this year but I'm OK with that.  And while he had the pruner out, he lowered the crepe myrtle and the hibiscus.

Making a shopping price guide was the kit of the month.  I'm not done with this one because it is pretty labor intensive.  I will be finished by mid-Feb and will show it then.  But so far it is proving rather interesting...

It has been so cold that my "sloth running" has been more like "stone running".  Snow, ice, and temperatures that didn't get above freezing stopped that.  Even the elliptical was a no go... my basement studio where it sits average 48*F.  No thanks.  

A new hair and skin routine didn't get far either.  Kept forgetting.  But earlier reviews of the coconut oil for skin is good.

In the creative challenges, that went a bit slower.  Didn't do a thing with my assemblage projects.  Again, too cold to work in my studio.  The quilting project I got started... the components for the two quilts I'm going to do this year have been gathered and put into a tub each.  And I decided to do a small lap quilt for Himself's auntie in MN.  It's called a "Fidget Quilt" and is a very tactile quilt that calms dementia patients.  That will also be done in a couple weeks and you'll see it then.

My writing challenge was haiku and this was definitely a 'starter' month.  So easy but so complicated too.  I'm working on a piece for an EHC writing contest, the deadline is the end of Feb.

Photos... oh my goodness!

For basic photography I made my first challenge to deal with the photos I've already taken... both on my laptop hard drive AND on my external back-up hard drive.  What a nightmare.  Double...triple... even quadruple mass saves from different times.  It all had to be consolidated and then the duplicates deleted and then deleting of all those photos I just didn't want (like when you take 50 photos of the baby playing with her new toy).  I worked every single day of January on this.  Seriously, I have deleted at least a quarter million photographs.  I have learned a lot in the process.  Not quite done, but I will be by mid month Feb.  This is NOT going to get this way ever again!!!

I finished ~ as in done-stick-a-fork-in-it ~ my photo album from my Mexico trip in 2006.  Journaling is complete and excess photos have been dropped in the trash.  Done!

My photo book on the Scotland 2011 trip is also done.  Blurb has put up a 40% off coupon so I am doing my last proofreading today and hitting 'publish' tomorrow.  (I'm only going to publish when they have a good coupon!)

And finally my bonsai.  I have planned my new bonsai garden for when they wake up in a couple months.  I've cleaned up my tools, taken stock of my pots, and reorganized what I have.  I'm ready for spring!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How Are Those Resolutions Coming?

This first month of the year is almost over and most people's New Year resolutions have already been abandoned.

Consider this...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Snow Time for Marmalade

I've had enough winter for the year!  Remember my last update on Monday the 15th when I said we were going to see if we could drive up the hill?  The road was good and we made it to the Dollar General to get my eggs and some milk.

Good thing... it snowed that night. 

Around 4 inches, part of which melted on the road and froze ~ leaving us yet again with an impassable hill.  We didn't get out until Thursday.  The below video was taken on Wednesday afternoon.  See the issue?  LOL  

So we entertained ourselves by making goodies!

Orange marmalade goodies to be exact, from the bag Cara Cara oranges I'd bought before all this snow stuff started.

First batch gave us 17 half pints of vanilla orange marmalade.

We had some Amish sourdough bread to try it out on.  It passed the test.

A year's worth of treats.

Then I got to thinking on flavors.  Wouldn't lavender orange be pretty good?

Yep!  It was delicious ~ especially on Himself's fresh hot homemade biscuits.

Hmmmm... maybe this snow stuff isn't so bad after all...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Nashville Highland Games

I forgot to say anything about our anniversary excursion, probably because I didn't blog much in September.

The Nashville Highland Games are back!

He's the guy in the poster.

We wandered around a bit until I saw one of my clan tents!


Or McFee or MacFee or MacPhee or MacPhie or, or, or...

Anyway... there they were!

We sat and visited for a while, and when we went exploring we could leave our chairs and stuff there at the clan tent.

The games start with the "massed pipe bands" meaning everyone who plays comes together to play and lead in the clans.  All of the clan parade in together by clan.  It's so cool.

So you can imagine how excited I was in Jim asked if I'd like to walk with him in the clan parade!!

Ginger let me borrow her tartan rosette and pinned it on for me.

SO much fun!!

After the field was cleared and set up, the athletic games began.  There are some big men competing in these!

Then it was time for the not-so-big guys over on the small field...

The girls had other places to be...

... with the fabulous Merida (of Pixars "Brave").

There was dancing ...

...and sheep...

...and fun shops too!

Can't wait til this next September!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Thai Banana

On a recent trip to Bowling Green, KY I waaaay over estimated how long it would take to get to our destination... like about an hour and a half.  Oops!   So we had some time to waste.  

And we happened upon an area with THREE international markets!  One of the three was was Thai and east Asia.  We picked up a few things I needed for some recipes and as I was checking out I noticed some LITTLE bananas... definitely not the Cavendish bananas seen everywhere.  I grabbed a bunch and added to my order.

The grandmother who was checking out my order immediately told me "Thai banana...not plantain!"  (yes, they were pretty green).  Then she said "Yellow!!!" while miming eating.    She was quite serious that I knew not to eat them green.  Told me several times.  As I picked up my bags, one more time she warned me with "NO green" and a very scrunched up face.

Once home we let them sit.  They went to yellow, then dark yellow, then they started getting a red tone, and finally turned pretty dark (we were sampling thru all the stages).

These are the last two... look rough, don't they?

At all stages the skin had to be cut through.  It is very fiberous.

Even tho the skin looks pretty gnarly the fruit is perfect.  Firm and blemish free.

The flavor is gently sweet and kind of "apple" but not.  It's really hard to describe.  But it is NOT like a Cavendish banana.

I'll be looking for them at the various international stores I shop at!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Baby, It's COLD Outside

The high for today is predicted to be 13*F, with tonight's low at -1*F.  For mid Tennessee, that is brutal.  Only hope for many folks water lines is with 4 to 6 inches of snow, it will insulate the ground from the super cold.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cold Snap This and That

Still hanging out here at The Sticks... keeping busy.  

During the early month cold snap we put away our Christmas decorations and did some general neatening.  I had to bring my small bonsai into the garage because it was just too cold for them.

We started the second KonMari.  I'm not as ruthless as some, so I definitely need another go around with it.  Hitting areas in my studio this time that haven't been done at all... like ALL writing/drawing instruments.  Seems I have a bit of a problem with Sharpies...

Not even Persia can escape!  I pulled out all her toys I could FIND (she is a cat, after all...) and went through them.  You can see I don't spend much on cat toys.  About half of her above stash disappeared.

The leaf?  SHE put that in her toy box!

Then we got a 2 day break from the cold.  It was lovely.  

We used the warmth to open the windows to air out the house.  The Christmas decorations were taken back to the shed and the winter decorations were brought in.  We cleaned up the garage (it really needed sweeping out badly) and bonsai were pushed out the garage door.

But all good things come to an end.  You see that cold and snow for last Friday?  

It hit.

Friday morning we woke up to this.  Ice glaze.  I walked over to the road to see if it was as bad as I thought.

It was worse.

Then it snowed 2.5" on top of the ice.

Persia was NOT impressed.

We were VERY happy to see this Saturday afternoon.  But it was still undriveable until Monday (today).  The salt, chemicals, and sunlight had to do their work.

So we waited and amused ourselves by working on the KonMari.

Found this in the pantry.

Doesn't a loaf of hot bread sound perfect on a cold winter day?

Yeah, we thought so too.

I'm going to tell you a secret...  That beer bread mix was at least 8 years old!  It was a gift from a friend and was misplaced when we moved.  Once found, I just didn't get around to making it.

So Himself whipped it up.  It turned out deliciously perfect.

Plus I've been working on all of my January challenges... some more than others.  But I still have half a month left so life is good.

Well, it is time to see if the road up our hill is passable.  I need eggs!

Just So You Know...100% Cotton!

This label was on a new pot holder from IKEA.  Made me laugh!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Time for a Volcano

Talk about being at the right place at the right time!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Broan Range Hood Fix

I am the unhappy owner of a Broan range hood and was a family member.  

We own different models... however we have both had the same problem.  The light bulbs for the hood are basically the exact same size as the hole they fit into. 
Not a problem putting IN the bulb.
BUT it can be a huge problem when you are trying to replace the bulb.  Essentially you can't get your fingers around the edge of the bulb to unscrew it.  Not enough space.  So you have to apply a wee bit of pressure to create some friction to get the bulb started...

... which causes the extremely weak connection holding the socket inside the hood to pop loose. 

Now you have the bulb and socket rattling around INSIDE your hood with no way to get to it outside of major hood surgery.

Both myself and the family member had a 'one eyed' stove hood for several years.  Customer service advised calling a repair man.  The family member got sick of it and bought a new range hood... NOT a Broan.  I can't afford that option.

So I fixed it myself.

I worked a piece of thin string around the light (it had to be thin so it would fit thru the hole at the same time the bulb was there).  The string had two long tails hanging down.  I used the string to apply downward traction while I pushed up (VERY CAREFULLY) on the bulb to get that friction to make it turn.

It worked!!  Took a few tries and a bit of time, but it worked.

To keep it from happening again, I put in LED lights with the cooling fins so it sticks BELOW the hole.

Below... where I can easily unscrew them!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Great KonMari of 2018

Did you know that January is “Get Organized Month”?  So it is fitting that this is the month I do my second KonMari decluttering.  I’m starting to see too many things that are NOT bringing me joy...

By serendipity a few months ago I found a Face Book group called Nourishing Minimalism Yearly Decluttering Challenge with the challenge (at the time) of “2017 in 2017”.  The group’s goal is for members to declutter out 2017 items in the year. 

I came late to the dance so I’ve been waiting for this year’s challenge of 2018 in 2018.  Well... truth be told... I started my count down on 15 Dec and I will work thru to 14 Dec 2018.  I got tired of waiting.

As with any group, there are members who are seriously working on it and there are those who are playing mind games with themselves (like counting EACH piece of paper or individual twist tie they declutter).

Decluttering for me means that an item is removed from my household.  It can be trashed, recycled, donated to charity, or given away... it just does NOT live here anymore.  Nor will I be obsessive in ‘getting rid of’.  Teri’s idea of minimalism is not ‘Spartan’... it is ‘cozy’ and 'can find what I am looking for'.

So I am playing with a stricter set of rules... ones that will mark real results. 

1. It has to be a real physical object.  No digital photos or electronic files.  (Sheesh... I’d be done 500 times over by the end of this month!!)

2.  No counting individual pieces of paper or photos.  I weighed a ream of paper and found that 1 pound is a third of an inch stack.  That is a good measurement and easy to figure.  So one pound is "one" item.

3.  Normal trash from daily living does not count.

4.  An item that broken and was replaced does not count.

5.  Something that comes in quantity (such as a box of nails) counts as one item.

I wonder when I’ll hit my 2018?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Challenges For January

I’m ready for my January challenges!  Here’s what I have lined up:

1.  Home – Time to KonMari again. A year has passed and there is definitely more to let go.

2.  Yard – Not much... it’s January for Pete’s sake!  However, I will get the lilacs, myrtles, and hibiscus pruned.  They are getting to be beasts!

3.  Kit – I’ll be doing a ‘shopping’ kit that will consist of a price comparison notebook and a coupon file.  I've done this before and it is well worth the effort of setting it up.

4.  Fitness – Starting back with my “Sloth Running” (I’ll get there when I get there!).  I have signed up for a 5K in mid-March so it is time to get real with this.  I hope to do a 5K each month IF I can find one near by that supports a good cause.   #USOTenMiler   

5.  Appearance – This month’s focus is hair and skin. Between being "a woman of a certain age", the stresses of the 2nd half of 2017, and having dry skin in general I need a lot of work on this!  I may take me to a spa for a day. 😉

6.  Spiritual – Get back to serving Him properly and with intention.  This month it is time to start being grateful again.  

7.  Assemblage/Mixed Media - My first month will be focusing on configuration boxes, shadow boxes, and rigid mountings. 

8.  Creative Focus Project – Quilting.  I'm starting two projects this month.  One is the is the 3 decade old sampler quilt which I WILL finish.  The second is a quilt that will use blocks, fabrics, and scraps from Himself's family heritage.  Of course I won't finish them in January but there will be a good start and I will aim to finish by next New Year.

9.  Writing – Write a haiku piece in octave form for the EHC writing contest. 

10.  My photos – Cull and organize the hard drive photos.  A daunting task as I've done about 4 different mass saves that I have to pick thru to find the few unique photos in each.  Uff-da!  Goal is to have only 2 complete copies - one on the external hard drive and the other on my lap top.  And to have it organized in such a manner that new photos can be easily transferred. 

11.  Photo albums – Finish my 2006 Mexico trip album journaling.  

12.  Photo books – Finish my 2011 Scotland trip album.  This is another biggie as there is just SO much to go thru.  

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Look At The Sky - January


Well, this does not happen often....there are TWO full moons in January 2018 which is somewhat rare in itself (two full moons in the same month result in the second being called the "Blue Moon"), and each one of them just happens to be near its closest point to Earth in its 27.5-day orbit around our planet!  Two full moons, two Super moons and one Blue Moon.  Look to the sky on 2 Jan and on 31 Jan. 

AND there is a total lunar eclipse on the 31st for north-western North America, the Pacific, Asia, and Australia.

The Planets for January:
A VERY COLD month, and mostly devoid of bright planets for the early evening hours this year.  Two very interesting very close conjunctions take place this month!

Mercury - Mercury is very close to the eastern horizon in bright dawn skies, and is very closely in conjunction with the ringed planet SATURN on Jan. 13, much like Mars and Jupiter (below); after mid-month the innermost planet will again move eastward toward the horizon and be hidden by the sun's glare at late month.  Both Mercury and Saturn will rise about the first light of dawn, 6 a.m., on Jan. 13 - in SAGITTARIUS

Venus - our brightest planet will not be favorably placed in either morning nor evening skies this month due to proximity to the sun - in SAGITTARIUS.

Mars - A spectacular sight awaits all during the first two weeks of this year, when bright reddish MARS moves eastward in the very early morning skies and appears to overtake mighty yellow JUPITER.  For each day after the first of the year, look for Mars to edge more toward Jupiter until the two are actually within the SAME telescopic field of view, only 0.2 degrees apart on January 7.  Both rise at about 4 a.m. local time and will be high above the eastern horizon before morning twilight.  Mars will be much smaller (less than 5" arc) in the telescope against huge Jupiter (over 40" arc across) but both will be brilliant and in stark contrast in terms of color; Mars will continue a slow trek each following morning toward the east. - in LIBRA

Jupiter - Now rising in the EAST about 4 a.m. local time, the largest of all planets will be high in the east at dawn, although not so large as it will become as the earth-Jupiter distance decreases over the coming will be high enough for telescopic observations by dawn.  See MARS above for the spectacular telescopic conjunction on Jan. 7 - in LIBRA

Saturn - Very low in eastern skies and rising about 6 a.m. local time, the ringed planet will make its yearly debut in predawn skies by mid-month; see MERCURY above for info on the Jan. 13 close conjunction! - in OPHIUCHUS

Uranus - distant planet Uranus is overhead about 6 p.m.. local time and is setting in western skies as midnight approaches,  It shines at magnitude 5.9, bright enough to spot in good binoculars if one knows where to look; use a good planetarium sky program or GO TO telescope to locate this distant world; by sunrise it is high in dark skies and will show a faint, blue disk in large telescopes - PISCES

Neptune  - look for faint Neptune in large telescopes at mid-month south and far west of overhead about dusk local time.(mag. 7.6), setting about the time the skies get dark. - in AQUARIUS

Pluto - at magnitude 14.3, our most distant planet ( is a planet)  will not be visible in telescopes because of its proximity to the sun.  - in SAGITTARIUS

METEOR SHOWERS for January 2018:  .

Observe when the moon does not interfere and attempt to observe AFTER midnight for most meteors to be seen!  There are a few notable meteor showers that peak each January:

January 3-4 - QUADRANTID METEORS - The moon will be at a nearly full phase and dominate the skies for most of this evening for this year's showing of this meteor shower.  Always a chance for quite a show...the best that January has to offer each year, but in 2018 the moon will hamper observation of these meteors.  With an incredible short and fast maximum peak of 40 or more meteors possible, it will come and go in a flash (about the time that the sky reaches peak darkness after sunset on the 3rd.   In some years under dark skies, observers have seen up to 600 members of this stream per hour, all traveling at a medium speed of about 41 kps.  Most are very faint, remember, and distinctly blue in color, so fast film is desired if photographing these meteors.  The meteor shower emanates from near and north of the bright star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes, rising in the northeast about midnight.

January 15-16 - DELTA CANCRID METEORS - Sounding more like a disease than a meteor shower, the Delta Cancrids rise in the east about the same time the sun sets in the west...thus it is nearly directly overhead at midnight each year, in the constellation of Cancer.  The shower radiant is actually just slightly west of the bright and well-known naked eye star cluster, Prasepe or the "beehive."  Only about four meteors per hour can be seen from this shower under good conditions, and this year's NEW MOON  will be absent from the sky throughout the night after about 10 p.m., thus making this a terrific year to observe these meteors ; I suggest setting up around 7 p.m. local time on Jan 15 for best views.  Cold, but fun!

January 18 - COMA BERENICID METEORS - Also coming from very close to a naked eye cluster, the Coma cluster, this meteor shower rises about 10 p.m. (again, NO MOON on this night for this one!) and is directly overhead at pre-dawn.  These are among the fastest meteors known....65 kps (compare to the Quadrantids, above)...BUT expect only a couple of these swift interlopers per hour.  The moon is absent and skies dark for this one if you observe after 1 a.m. local time,  so this is a good year for observing this shower; perhaps some splendid streaking meteors might be visible for those who brave the typically cold nights of January.