Saturday, January 31, 2015

Eve's Diary on Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a wonderful website that has over 48,000 books you can download for free. While doing research for my novel, I discovered a story that Mark Twain wrote called Eve's Diary. Yes, is it Eve from the legendary couple, Adam and Eve. I read it, I loved it and now I share it with you.

Eve's Diary

Here is where you can read about how in 1906, the book was banned from the Charlton Library in Massachusetts due to the "graphic drawings". Sad because they were lovely, but luckily, the book is back on the shelves there.

Enjoy and Cheers!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just Purge It! (I am yelling at myself here)

Luckily the blizzard ending up being a dud. Instead of two feet we got 4-8 inches and I am fine with that. New England got slammed, but that is a pretty darn resilient part of the country so I am sure they will be a-okay.

Being stuck in the house can make you a little nuts. I mean, we have gotten outside, but these last few days have been a mix of outside, get back in. Snowballs were made and snow was eaten. Toddlers find beauty and food in everything.
The boy also has a runny nose again. Does it ever stop??? I swear this must be a permanent thing until spring.

I have also decided it was time to buck up and do a real deep cleaning purge. The reason I say buck up is I need to get rid of things I really no longer use or even look at. That being said, I got brave and began to add DVD's to the pile. Why brave you ask? Well, the joke here is that we have not had a DVD player for quite some time and for some reason, we felt the need to save movies we had bought in collective sets. It makes no sense, I know this. It is not like we can watch the darn things. We stream EVERYTHING now. So I took a few and tossed them into a bag. Not all of them as some belong to hubby and I am not sure he is ready to part with them. I did check Amazon and at this point would only get anywhere from 25 cents to maybe 75 cents for most of them. So not worth packing them up. Back when Amazon started that buy back program, we made some good money getting rid of books and DVDs, but now the market is flooded so there is really no point. We stopped buying DVDs before Blu Rays hit and that seems to be the only ones that sell. For now.

I also have old textbooks I need to toss, but am having a hard time. Why? Why can't I just get rid of the darn things? I have also waffled on tossing out old diaries and pictures. Do you see a pattern here? I have already scanned important photos and heck, I can even reprint them on Shutterfly if need be. So what is holding me back? I don't have a good answer. I think some of it stems from the idea that if I get rid of it, it never happened. Stupid as can be, but what is it I need people to know about me. That I had a crush on some guy in the eighth grade? Who cares?
I am not trying to go full on minimalist here, but some of those that practice that lifestyle do have a point. If it is in a box and you never look at it, never use it or never wear it, why are you holding on to it? So with that, I have begun making small, yet significant inroads with clearing out some forgotten clutter.

And while being house bound, if you want to get crafty and say, take up sewing, you can get some fine inspiration here at this interesting site called Unsung Sewing Patterns. There is quite an impressive archive of vintage patterns. I love the Ladies and Misses' Apron pattern from McCalls.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hello Sunny Sunday

Had snow yesterday and getting more snow tomorrow afternoon. Apparently it is a H-U-G-E storm.
Meh, it's winter.
No one likes being house bound thanks to Mother Nature, but what can you do except to make sure you have gas in your car, food to cook and a generator in case of a power outage. Loss of the internet will always bite the big one if it happens, but we have books and games so all should be well.

I got my son outside earlier to make snowballs and listen to the snow crunch under his feet. I do think he has a cold coming on again which makes me cringe. Poor kid's nose has been running so much this winter it is crazy.

My garden(s) in their present hibernation state.

I have been looking at seed catalogs, trying to decide what I would like to add to my vegetable list. But I am still unsure. I do know I want kale and leeks again, they grow so well in my garden. Other than that, I am still tossing around all sorts of ideas on what to grow.

Since I can be easily distracted, I came across the site, ZeroWasteHome. This is not new to me, but I never really read her "tips" page. If you are a frugal person or homesteader, you probably already implement some if not most of her suggestions. Even if you are not and are interested in ways to cut back on your waste, take a gander at her 100 Tips.

We signed up for Amazon Prime. They were offering a promotion of $72 for the year. With my credit card points we got it for $30 so why not? So far I like it. What I don't like is that they and Netflix have a lot of the same movies and TV shows, barring the ever obnoxious HBO who fights everyone and gave their streaming rights only to Amazon. (Yes, HBO pisses me off and yes I have watched a lot of the shows which are usually pretty awesome, but still.) I want Netflix and Amazon to compliment each other not compete,  but I am a peon in their worlds so my opinion is moot.
Anyway, after going through what Amazon had to offer, I chose to begin watching the tv series Hannibal. It is downright creepy and everyone's acting is marvelous. What is most exciting for me is that Richard Armitage, fabulous actor and delicious eye candy to boot, will be joining the cast as a serial killer. Rock on.
On Netflix I began watching the animated series Bob's Burgers. A little demented, a little silly and a ton of fun. The humor is not for everyone, but I am not everyone so I dig it.

Now I am off to have some tea. May you all have a nice evening and if you are in the path of this snowstorm, stay safe.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Opinion and Apples

Education is extremely contentious in this fine Nation of ours. Myself, I would have loved "estimated" answers and essays for my SAT's. Alas, that was long ago.

The Common Core has its supporters and critics, but what of the actual students? Do they have a say? I mean, how much testing do we really need to do? All this studying for tests takes away any time to actually learn a little something. This letter to the editor from a 13 year old out of Parsippany is pretty impressive.  I don't care if her she wrote it herself or received help from classmates, a teacher or her parents. The points she makes are valid and worth considering. I have a feeling that homeschooling, unschooling and alternative education plans are going to soar thanks to the blind belief that only testing gives you measure on how smart these kids are and what they are retaining. No practical applications, no experiments, just write the answer down or tap the keyboard and pick a, b, c or d. Hell, anyone can memorize answers, we all have.

My son is fortunate enough to just be a preschooler. He is in a class of 5 children. It will be interesting to see what happens when these youngsters move onto the public schools with 22 kids in a class. I am sure most will adjust with ease, but wouldn't it be better to have smaller classes? Of course I know the "cost" arguments, but since everyone is so worried about 'the children', wouldn't it make sense to try and set them up for success? Or if not for success, put them in an environment where the opportunity to thrive is greater? Not everyone can afford private schools who usually keep their student teacher ratio pretty manageable. I know I don't have the answers, but I do like to think about what could be done to improve education.
Maybe we should ask the students themselves for once.

And now, a random video: How Does It Grow? Apples


Friday, January 16, 2015

Interesting Things to Share

Tudor Monastery Farm - Very interesting series. There is also Edwardian Farm and Wartime Farm.

Rose Water and Orange Blossoms food blog. Oh my goodness I want that Talami!

Nutella Puffs for desert. Yum!

TinkerLab is a great site for anyone looking for different, fun projects to do with their kids of all ages.

10 Traits for Better Living by Claire Wolfe

Printable Mini Envelopes and Tiny Cards from Lia Griffith let's you add a special touch to any gift.

Have a terrific weekend!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Curried Lentil Soup with Shrimp

Let me be clear, there were no leftovers and it gave 4 servings.

I did not have parsnips or fennel and I used frozen shrimp that I pan cooked instead of baking in the oven. My house smelled amazing and this soup was absolutely divine. Next time I would double the recipe and make sure I had the fennel and parsnips because I can just imagine the touch of sweetness it would add. My hubby who is coming down with a cold loved it because it had ginger, garlic and curry. Look out germs!

The recipe comes from Oui, Chef, pretty amazing stuff on that site, and will be a staple in our home for sure

Curried Lentil Soup with Shrimp


**UPDATE on Pinterest Issue - In case you care, apparently Pinterest suspended my account for, ready, COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!! This is a comedy. An Historical Lady had photos pulled, and rightly so, because someone took her photos and used them as theirs in an EBay store. People are odd. Anyway, I was notified that two of my pins were hers and that they would pull them. No problem. Now, "Tobi" is telling me I had multiple copyright infringements and my account gets suspended for 14 days. Oh really? Multiple means many which I have should been notified about as I was with the TWO pins that were deemed unacceptable. Seriously, now I have to decide if it is even worth reactivating the account. Good times.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Pinterest and Me

I am not a prolific pinner. I made some boards, I like what I have and I love the humor sections. What I don't like is going to my homepage and seeing a box pop that tells me I am in safe mode because of suspicious activity and my account may have been hacked. All I have to do is reset my password and I am good to go. I follow the steps and BAM! At the top of my page it says my account has been suspended until January 17.

Oh really?

Now, I get that we are all spoiled rotten people who are used to accessing free sites like Pinterest, Facebook, etc. at will. And because they are free, they will do what they want with our information and our accounts. I am willing to play the game a little bit, but not for too long. Lack of good customer service is a beef of mine and right now Pinterst is failing in the customer service department.

I sent them an email through their site, detailing my issue and asking for help with the account and the reason it was suspended. Here is where they get pretty slick. The minute you his 'send' a generated reply comes through with a response from their help pages, you know in case you didn't check and need everything spelled out for you, but the real kicker is the following:

"If you've reset your password, your account is secure but if you do still need help, respond back to this email and someone from our California office will get back to you soon. These tickets close automatically after two days if you don't respond to them. 

We're a small team and appreciate your patience with us!

Hope this gets you pinning again soon 

The Pinterest Team.

I am going to bet most people see the generated response figure all is well and leave it at that. This then absolves Pinterest if they fail to get back to you. "Well, did you email us?" can be their standard reply. I did respond to that mail and I got nada. So when I sent a second email, I made sure to tell them I sent a prior one that was ignored. I also questioned why no suspension of account email was sent. That would be proper business etiquette. Instead, I find out when I tried to go on the site.

Pinterest has 300+ employees, I have to assume someone in their customer service department could have answered my questions pretty easily. Unless they are busy about tackling the copyright issues that are all over the place on the boards. I do my best to credit the original artists, author, blog, etc. because I think it is rude to repin a picture and just write, "Dream Kitchen!" like you are freakin' thirteen years old. Show some respect and at least put a link to where you got the damn photo from. If the owner asks you to take it down, you take it down. But I sidetracked there, excuse me.

At the end of this day this is not a life threatening crisis, but I expected a quicker response. Silicon Valley is so proud of their cutting edge technologies, but it seems they may need to tweak their old school business skills. Sure it is easier if the car can drive itself or you can use a smartphone to hire a maid service, but there are people using these services and we still want to know you hear us and are actually listening.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

See What Happens When You No Longer Go to an Office?

You start to over think things like a lunatic. Well I do.

I have been out of the office workforce for close to 7 years. Massage was done in hospital/hospice/private client settings and then I got pregnant and that was that.
The best and worst part of all of this is I can't even list my SAHM gig on my resume. I have said it before, raising a child is just like being an Executive Assistant. They want stuff when they want it. There are no excuses for why you were unable to get them what they required, just get it. They do not always want to do things they were excited about doing and sometimes will bail leaving you to have to explain why said bail occurred. Lunch can be a nightmare as well as dinner, especially if you did not get them what they ordered.
I believe I should be able to list all of this on my LinkedIn profile so if I do need to go back to 9-5 one day, I can show just how well prepared I am. I may not use Office much anymore, but thanks to being a writer, I am more than acquainted with Google Drive and the Docs section. When I had massage clients I used Google Drive to prepare invoices as well as spreadsheets. So look at me, using a new system and able to call out for appointments. She's still got it!

Why am I even thinking about all this? Well, I was recently reviewing a profile of a digital media person and their experience struck me. See, this person is part of a major site launch and quite frankly what is launching has no presence to be found. A simple search should have them front and center. There should be press. Just tweeting about something is not PR. Some people think it is, but it is a small part. You still  need various avenues to reach your audience, especially if you, like everyone these days, wants the coveted Millennials group. I am no SEO or marketer, but even I know you only get eyeballs if the people you partnered with are also pushing you. Perhaps it is early in the game, or perhaps I think I know more than I do which is entirely possible. Here I am, sans paycheck, critiquing some poor person's job and I know nothing about what they have done. But isn't that the fun of being an armchair quarterback? Or in my case, a Chromebook quarterback?

I realized what this all stems from. Sometimes I miss being out there. Among the adults. Talking, taking an hour or less lunch, eating at my desk, wearing make up and nice clothes, doing ad hoc projects whose deadlines constantly change, doing travel expenses, ordering cars, cancelling cars, running to catch the bus, you know normal workday things. Then I think about how much I enjoy being home with my son, not having to dress all fancy schmancy, to have the ability to write a chapter or a paragraph and feel accomplishment, do laundry without having to leave it all for the weekend, cook, save money on gas and transportation and day care. So the usual perspective kicks in and while all is usually well, it doesn't mean I wouldn't like to be involved and feel like I have contributed to the world today. I know I have just by teaching my son how to use the word awkward or a screwdriver or flush the toilet. What I would love is to have a real work conversation where I would be able to suggest things or take care of a project and see an immediate impact. Or not. I guess that is what this is all about. When you chose to write a book there is no immediate impact. The process takes time, finding an agent takes time, if you get published, that takes time. Time is always lacking or for some people time is too short. I am not sure where I stand. I try to enjoy all the time I have, but I do wish I had some more time, and really, who doesn't? People say make the most of your time and I do, but I get greedy and want more and want better use of my time. Better use means better results. That can only fall on my shoulders though. So instead of quarterbacking someone else, I need to quarterback myself.

I will now leave you with one of my fave memes in the whole world.


Monday, January 12, 2015

A Clean Refrigerator

I am not quite sure what possessed me, but this morning I decided to reorganize and purge my two spice drawers and clean my refrigerator. I must be channeling my dead mother because she found immense pleasure and relaxation in cleaning. Seriously, you could eat off of that woman's floors. Mine? I would prefer you don't.

I a not someone who wants to willingly dismantle an appliance to make it all sparkling new. What compelled me was the amount of dirt, stray herbs, blueberries and dog hair (???) that had made it's way into the refrigerator. Behold the foulness.

My shelves were gross and yes, those are paper towels in my trash. It is my one weakness and while I had a lot of rags, thanks to mice poop, I need to make new ones from some old shirts. Good times.

The best part? When I was all done, even cleaning the shelves i the doors, I could not for the life of me figure out how to get the bottom shelves back in and wrestled with them for a good 15-20 minutes. I am not a mechanical idiot so you can imagine this pissed me off. Here is the refrigerator all nice and clean. It looks like we have no food, we do, just most of it is in the pantry and freezer. We do need to do a Trader Joe's run soon. We do it about every two weeks if we can. If we had, there would be more eggs, cheeses, tofu, soy chorizo. When it is summertime that refrigerator is packed with fresh produce from our CSA and garden so while this looks bare, it is all good.

Please note the rust at the bottom of the fridge. We inherited the refrigerator with the house and while it is ugly, it works and I hope it works for a long time. I would eventually like a SMEG (unfortunate name and stop laughing you perverts) when it goes. I really like colored appliances so it is either that or Big Chill or Elmira. Good thing is, I do not have to worry about that at all right now. At least, I hope not. :)


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Soup and Other Things

It is definitely winter in New Jersey. Our son has a cold, but it seems it might just be a twenty four hour thing which I would love. Currently though he keeps pulling books out of the bookcase which is stressing my husband, so it seems we need to continue to impart respect for books. He loves reading, but like most three year old kids, everything around them is meant to be played with and explored. Just adds more gray hairs.

I am making a favorite soup this evening, black bean and chorizo, using Trader Joe's soy chorizo since we do not eat meat. I also cut up some habanero lime tortillas we ad bought at Trader Joe's and turned them into tortilla chips. Yummy!

I went and got a haircut the other day and also indulged in an eyebrow waxing. My, oh my it has been years since I have had that done. I have pretty much gotten lazy using tweezers so I decided it would be a nice treat to have them taken care of by a professional. Tracy did a great job and I will probably do it again. Some women get manicures, I wax my brows. :)

Many moons ago we bought a half case of Kirk's Original Coco Castile Soap off of Amazon. Not everyone is a fan of castile soap, but we like it and it is very gentle. The fact that we won't need to buy soap for some time is the real plus here.

Also, the 'H' key is not working that well on my computer which has led to some comical sentences.

Stay warm and have a nice evening!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Koala Mittens Needed

Seems the brush fires in Australia are raging once again which is doing damage not just to land but to the wildlife, especially the slow moving adorable marsupial,  the Koala Bear.

You can read about it on The Guardian as well as on the IFAW site along with a pattern to sew mittens and where to send them. Can't sew? You can donate funds to help because treatment can be expensive and extensive.

Thanks to Rhonda at Down To Earth for posting about this.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

White Bean and Garlic Stew

Thanks to the snow and chill, I wanted something warming for dinner this evening. White bean and garlic stew from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen fit the bill. 
I used fire roasted tomatoes and chose not to use a whole head of garlic. Not because I do not like garlic, but because it is the only head I have and didn't want to use it all up. I also used jasmine rice from Trader Joe's. I washed it, then threw it in the rice cooker with a heavy dose of turmeric and a dash of garlic powder. Of course if your don't want rice, a nice homemade cheese biscuit would accompany this very well.

This recipe will be staying in my rotation because it is darn tasty and you have a nice amount of leftovers which is a plus for the hubby.

And now I leave you with a cat meme.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Hello and Merry New Year!

My I have been absent here haven't I? All for good reason though. Visits, celebrating, eating, reading, writing and more writing. On that note, let me share the two books I am currently reading.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee which is clearly geared towards screen writers, but has been incredibly helpful to me. I have begun to think differently when it comes to my novel in progress. (Slow progress, but progress none the less.) And with that, I have turned the damned thing on its head once again and have gutted it inside out and realized where the characters really want to go. For everyone who says writing courses are not necessary, I beg to differ. I am sure if I had pursued this in college I would be much better equipped on how to actually get my act together and not constantly flounder. Yes this is a learning process as it happens, but now I just want the damned thing to write itself. Perhaps it will once I better understand this current change of plot. I have toyed with just tossing it aside and starting a different book, but I can't. So let's all hope it gets picked up once it is completed sometime in 2055 shall we? :)

While walking through the library during a rare alone moment, I came across Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland. First off, don't you love how all these book titles have an explanation or synopsis in them? It cracks me up quite frankly, but it also seems to be the norm in most non-fiction titles these days.  Anyway, I enjoy reading about the High and Mighty of Wealth because one, I doubt I will even reach that pinnacle and two, nor do I care if I do, but three, it is interesting to me how the gap has widened and how technology has caused much of that to happen.

Staying on the wealth topic, the HGTV Dream Home is in Martha's Vineyard this year. Very nice. Not totally my style, too much white but I would not turn this house down as it is five hour ride away and that is the closest Dream Home yet! I am linking to it through Hooked On Houses because I dislike the HGTV site and always have. Too much stuff everywhere. They need to streamline it pronto.
HookedonHouses - HGTV Dream Home 2015

Hope you all had a lovely holiday and are looking forward to spring as much as I am! I can't wait to get the garden going, but that is for another post.