Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tired today

My two youngest kids have been stressing me out with squabbling, so I cut their gluten again and things are much better. Amazing what a difference it makes.

I'm tired. I had an emotional day yesterday; random stuff, but still. I'm trying to force myself to write, but you know what? I don't want to work on SE. I think a tangent is just what I need. Now where did I put my notes...

Snippet: I wiped out Thonis

“Fine. I’m going to shower and change my clothes. You can wait here.” She wanted to tell him not to touch anything, but how would she stop him? Getting clean was the priority; she was horribly itchy.
He nodded, glancing around the house. “Take your time. I’m going to make certain your house is secure.”
Cara didn’t want him messing with her parent’s house, but it was worth it if it kept him busy. Grabbing some fresh clothes, she hurried through a shower, worrying about him all the while. She was so tired and hungry, it distracted her as she dressed. Still brushing her hair, she left the bathroom to check on him.
Tremor was seated at the table, looking out the window. He turned at the sound of her approach and stilled. His eyes tracked her body slowly, surveying the results of the shower. “You look…better.”
She huffed. “I don’t usually go around caked in mud.” She looked him over critically. “You’re welcome to use the shower.” He might as well; she had an awful mess to clean up in there; chalk would make little difference.
“Show me,” he said simply, following her into the bathroom. He watched her demonstration and nodded. She felt fairly confident he would manage, so she left him to it, promising to leave him some clothes outside the bathroom door.
Thankfully, her tall father had a round middle, so she was able to find a pair of navy blue gym shorts, but her dad’s shirt would never cover Tremor’s chest. At least the shorts were better than the rag he had wrapped around his hips now.
She raided the fridge, loading her plate with leftover tamales. She ate quickly, but never seemed to fill her belly. Well, she’d had a full day and missed lunch; a second helping couldn’t hurt.
Tremor entered the kitchen as she was refilling her plate. He looked less dusty, and he’d shaved his straggling hair off. The shorts were a little snug, but they covered the essentials. He frowned. “You can’t feed on human food.”
“I just did,” she said tartly, putting her plate in the microwave.
He shook his head. “You can eat it without harm, but it won’t satisfy you.”
“It will if I eat enough,” she said stubbornly. She sat down with her plate and proceeded to prove him wrong.
He took a seat and alternated between watching the windows and her. When he saw her expression of dismay as she stared at her empty plate, he said mildly, “Ready to try feeding my way?”
“No.” She wouldn’t admit defeat. Ignoring the fact that she was hungrier now than when she’d gotten home, she dished up a big bowl of ice cream and turned on the TV, determined to ignore him.
Unfortunately he followed, examining the flat screen with great interest. “How does this work? Are you an oracle? This is some kind of enchanted mirror, yes?”
Cara frowned. “Technology has come along in the last few years. It’s science, not magic, and you’re smudging the screen.”
He stepped away. “What else has changed in the centuries I’m been away? It’s dangerous to be ignorant of the times.”
Her brows climbed at the word centuries. “How long were you imprisoned?”
“Eight hundred years, more or less.” He was examining the DVD player, popping the tray in and out.
“Whoa. That’s a long time. What did you do to deserve that?”
“What did you do to deserve your fate?” he asked. “I was myself.”
“That’s not an answer.” Her ice cream was gone, and she was beginning to feel weak with hunger. She rubbed her head.
“I caused an earthquake,” he said, folding his arms. “The shockwaves caused a tsunami that wiped out Thonis.”

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Flooring, trees, soup

Nice out yesterday so I pruned my fruit trees. Today it's big fluffy snowflakes, so I made two kinds of soup and radish bricks.

I saw an acid stained concrete floor on Pintrest. It's finished with a coat of high gloss and looked stunning in the kitchen in the picture. I showed John and he agreed it would be a cheaper, easier fix than laminate wood when we take the carpet from our room/office. Looking forward to it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wind, perfume, sun

Crazy wind yesterday, but sunny like today, so that's great.

Wanted to find cologne I could tolerate for a long while for John, but all commercial brands have fixatives and chemicals that slay me. Worked with my massage therapist, who also does aromatherapy to find a blend that I'm not allergic to. I looked up the basic elements to Drakkar on Wiki and took the list to her house and sniffed a bunch of stuff to see what I reacted to. I know I'm allergic to pine and geranium and sandalwood was iffy, but Frankincense smells yummy and I do well with citrus, mint, lavender, bergamont and the common cooking herbs like sage and rosemary.

We had to open the window and let fresh air in, because all the oils are potent and you end up feeling high. Yikes!

The method: hold a couple of open bottles to your nose and see how they smell together. Mix and match until you find the scent that makes you feel like human catnip. At one point I was holding several bottles at once.

Crazy how some scents completely clash. Example, I love lavender, but combined with an-oil-I-can't-remember, it was yuck. We added one drop of cinnamon to a yummy, nearly finished perfume and it ruined it. Totally skunked, had to start over. Blech! Very educational.

We ended up with this formula for men's cologne:

Frankincense: 26 drops
Lavender: 14
Peppermint: 5
Rosemary: 13
Juniper berry: 8
Lemon: 4
Bergamont: 3

Fill small spritzer bottle 1/4 filled with vodka, 3/4 with water. Add drops. Shake well, spritz. I really like it, smells good and John and he likes it, too. I might experiment to see if I can refine it further, but I'm very happy. A bit of guidance helped, and it would have been very expensive to buy a bunch of random essential oils to play on my own.

Will definitely play with oils again!

You know that's going into a book sometime :)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Working, couch, kids

My couch is here! Friday was a good day. Greatly daring, I survived eating out and at our church's Valentine's dinner.

Bought potting soil. Hopefully the stuff I got will do; the first batch of Miracle Grow was making my allergies crazy in the store, so we took it back and hunted for less toxic stuff. Fingers crossed; peppers need planting.

Kids burst into my room fighting while I was trying to work, so I assigned them to dog poop patrol and floor cleaning. Hopefully it'll keep them out of trouble for a while.

Excuse me. Tremor needs a doctor.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hot n Sour Soup

Hot and Sour Soup

John really liked this. I never have wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots on hand and I’m allergic to soy, so I Americanized it, with tasty results.

½ c mushrooms, slices
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon red chile paste, such as sambal oelek
1/2 cup carrots, sliced (I had red pepper and shaved asparagus, so I threw them in also)
1/4 pound barbecued pork, shredded (or chicken/seafood/sausage)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Pinch sugar
2 quarts chicken stock
1 pk rice noodles or 1 small, shaved turnip cut into strips
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Optional: Chopped green onions and cilantro leaves, for garnish.


Heat the oil in a wok or large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, veggies, and pork; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl, pour it into the wok and toss everything together - it should smell really fragrant. Pour in the chicken stock, bring the soup to a boil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice noodles and cook for 3 minutes.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Mix the slurry into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten eggs in a steady stream and watch it spin around and feather in the broth (it should be cooked almost immediately.) You can also pour the beaten egg over a waving spoon into the hot broth, which seems to make thinner ribbons.

Optional: Garnish the hot and sour soup with chopped green onions and cilantro before serving.

Snippet: eat rocks

“How old are you?” Tremor asked, glancing at her. The mud must have made it hard to guess.
“I’m twenty-two.” She’d remember this birthday, all right, but not for the usual reasons. Someone should make mailing jewelry a federal offence. “If those Fates wanted me to set you free, why did they try to kill me? I don’t know how I survived, but I’m going to have nightmares for the rest of my life.” She shuddered.
Tremor chose his words carefully. “They wanted to transform you. You’re now an earth elemental like me.”
She stopped dead. “What? What are talking about?” she asked in a small voice. She couldn’t take any more shocks.
He kept walking, a stiff, determined stride, scanning the trail for danger. “You’ve been changed. Your personality is the same, but your body isn’t. You’re of the earth now.”
She scrambled to catch up. “Wh-what does that mean? I’ll look like you soon?” She scanned his wasted body in panic.
He snorted. “I’ve been imprisoned a long time. I’m not surprised I look terrible.” He looked at her with deep appreciation. “That rock was the first food I had in hundreds of years. Thank you.”
Cara barely heard his thanks, too busy panicking. “You eat rocks. Am I going to have to eat rocks, too? What else is wrong with me?” She tugged uselessly at the bracelet, trying to undo the madness.
He stilled her hand. “It won’t come off. If you could remove it, you’d crumble to dust. It’s what happens to our bodies when we die.”
Hyperventilating wouldn’t help, but Cara didn’t care. Fear churned in her belly, aggravating the pain of the boot to the gut. “I can’t die, it’s my birthday,” she stammered, aware she wasn’t making sense. “I mean, I’m human. You can’t just change that!”
“I didn’t,” he said with strained patience. “I would have chosen an elemental. Curse the Fates for scheming witches!”
“What do you mean, ‘you would have chosen’? What’s wrong with me?” It was one thing to object to being changed and another to be rejected as unworthy. Not that she wanted to be like him, but it was the principal.
“Nothing. Forget it.”
Tremor must not have known women if he thought that would shut her up. “Look, I’m just trying to understand what’s going on. None of this makes sense.” They’d reached her house, so she used the hidden key and opened the door, grateful to be home. She glanced at Tremor, unsure what to do with him. If in doubt, fall back on the usual habit of hospitality. “Would you like something to eat?”
He looked at her, stone faced, or maybe it was gargoyle faced. He really did look bad. “I can only absorb so much energy today. It will take time for my full strength to return.”

Couchless in a windstorm

I'm still couchless. Apparently the shipment is delayed, and my couch should be delivered by Friday. It will be a very appreciated piece of furniture.

Now we have to shop for a mattress for my youngest. He's 13 and complaining of an aching back, which isn't surprising since the mattress is dished.

Meanwhile, the wind is going nuts outside. At least the snow is melting.

I'm off to the elemental mall. Tremor and Cara are going to do lunch.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Seeds n stuff

A reader asked:

Since I have picked up that you are a great gardener, and from Alaska, are you familiar with "Best Cool Seeds" or Denali Seed company? I consider putting in an order. It's rather cold here in Norway as well, so I did imagine that it might be a good match.

While my greatness is still to be determined, I do garden. Denali Seeds are common in AK, and I've grown their stuff with good results when I lived there. Since Norway is on a similar latitude, I'd assume their seeds would work there.

I bet you grow good cabbage; they don't seem to like Spokane summers. Maybe they're a winter crop? They get root maggots and remain tiny, which is a big disappointment when I'm accustomed to 40 lb heads (the midnight sun, cool summers make amazing cole crops).

On the other hand, I can grow fruit and warm weather stuff here, so it works out. Squash! Peppers, tomatoes! Alas, eggplant is so glossy and pretty, but can't convince my family it's tasty. Maybe I can grow a row for Second Harvest? 

Me: It's for charity, baby.

John: It's eggplant.

Me: But it's so pretty! Look at that shine.

John : <_>

Me: Promise you won't give it away to the neighbors this year and I will grow squash next year. Mm, yummy pumpkin pie!

John: What about the cherry tomatoes? Can I give them away?

Me: It's a conspiracy, isn't it? You and the kids are plotting on me. Fine, I'll plant beets.

John: You're the best, honey.

Me: Uh huh. About that greenhouse...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Asthma got me the last two days, but I'm making up for it now. Tremor is getting in trouble with the law.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dutifully logged paychecks and receipts today. Figured weekend mornings on the first of the month was a good time, instead of waiting until night when my brain was fried. My system is improving, finally. Accounting doesn't come naturally, but practice helps. The biggest thing is the logging the bank deposits as they come in and monthly updating the expense spreadsheet. If I keep that up, tax time won't be the nightmare I've let it be.

Now if only I can find the most opportune time to exercise. A walking buddy would help.

My taste buds have shifted since going gluten free. Flavored popcorn (ranch, BBQ or salt, pepper and blackberry balsamic vinegar with olive oil) is tastier than cookies. Brownies and cupcakes remain delicious, however.

Figured out what was wrong with SE; not enough conflict. I needed a problem to solve, so I read what I had so far and came up with some stuff to make Tremor's life more complicated. Much more satisfying!

Need to get my seed and plant order in soon. Why are the luffa's so appealing? I know I can't grow them without a greenhouse, and yet they're so very tempting. Grow my own sponges? It's almost having my own shoe tree.