Reflections on packing

Ah, how I long for those heady days of my youth, when my worldly goods could fit in the back of a pickup truck. Now I have so. much. stuff.

Moving gives one the opportunity to make a fresh start, theoretically.

Was it the famous Zen philosopher Yogi Berra who said the difference between theory and practice was in practice?

In practice, we got rid of some of our burdensome possessions and packed others. Now that we have moved – twice! – we have to make decisions about the rest.

Some of our feline companions are no longer with us. Her Grace, Isadora Gopherbane died May 25th of last year. Gus passed away in June of this year.

And the last of our trio of awesome kitties, our sweet ambassador of goodwill, Brr, has lymphoma, and is not expected to last much longer.

As each of these glorious feline creatures leaves this earthly plane, I carefully pack their remains at least 4 feet down, well below the topsoil, deep in the clay. Their mortal remains are buried with flowers, herbs and topped with a living bush to commemorate their lives and convert their dead bodies to new life.


Homemade Hand Butter

Homemade Hand Butter

A thick creme for dry skin and hard-working hands.

  • 1 ounce bees wax
  • 8 ounces cocoa butter
  • 3 ounces olive oil

In a saucepan over the stove, or in a glass bowl in the microwave, melt these items together in this order:

  1. Melt the bees wax.
  2. Add the cocoa butter, melt and stir together.
  3. Add the olive oil, and stir together.

Don’t overheat the mixture. As long as everything is runny and mixes easily, it’s hot enough.

Whip the mixture while it is cooling, to keep the crystals small. You can use a whisk, or if you have one, a kitchen mixer.

Package your hand butter in clean, dry wide-mouth jars.


Happy New Year 2018

Several hours ago, midnight came and went, bringing a new year. Welcome to 2018.

This year, I resolve to use more hashtags, speak Spanish more, post more photos, quilt more, finish more projects, and brag, er, I mean, blog about them. And practice my horn. Because how else will I ever get to Carnegie Hall?!


Posting more photos – check

High on my list of projects to finish are editing my #NaNoWriMo2017#WriMoRebel cookbook, and completing any project in the garage or back room.




A Spooksmas Story

A Christmas tree filled with twinkly lights, shiny ornaments, and unspeakable terror!

Beneath the Spooksmas tree is a special present just for you!

“Look, there’s another present!” Kaysa pointed at the small, lumpy package.

Gloria raised her eyebrow at the unfamiliar wrapping paper. She shot a glance at Mo. Mo shook his head and shrugged.

“Wait a second, baby,” Gloria said.

Too late. Kaysa had already torn the paper. “Sorry, Mama.”

A winged imp unfolded itself from the torn paper. It unfurled its wings, fluttered up into the Christmas tree, and began eating a candy cane.

“What the …” Gloria picked up Kaysa, holding her as far from the tree as possible while still keeping an eye on the imp. Kaysa peeked around her mother. Mo prodded the imp with a rolled up Sports Illustrated. “Shoo!”

The imp pushed the magazine away with a long, bony forefinger. “Please, my dear Sir, let us not start off on the wrong foot,” said the imp.

“Don’t you come in my house and give the orders around here,” said Gloria.

“But my dear Lady, you invited me,” said the imp, “this very morning. Before breakfast? Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Christmas Spirit.”

With that the imp drew itself up to its full height of four inches before executing an elaborate bow, its wings and tail extended for balance. The tree’s branch bounced, dislodging an ornament. Mo dropped the magazine to catch the falling ornament. The imp used his tail to acquire another candy cane.

Gloria remembered saying grace before breakfast. Following the pastor’s advice, she had included “Let us invite the Christmas Spirit to live with us all year long!”

“Keep an eye on it, Honey. I’m calling the pastor. Right. Now.”



Spice Melange

“In this time, the most precious substance in the Universe is the spice melange.”

– Princess Irulan

Melange means mixture. If you keep the following whole spices on hand, you can crush and grind them in various combinations to go with any foods. You could probably even make sandworm taste okay.

Coriander seeds




Cumin Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Black Peppercorns




Cinnamon (Canela) bark




Tamarind Pods

Cardamom Pods



Steak and Liver Pie

You can hide rather a lot of liver in this pie.


1 package of beef liver cut up relatively small

2 pounds beef cut into 1 inch cubes

½ cup oil

½ cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

½ tablespoons minced onion


oil for frying

1 medium onion, chopped


bouquet garni (a cheesecloth bag containing a bay leaf, and several sprigs of thyme)

¾ pound of carrots, cut into bite sized pieces.

½ pound of mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces.

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce


Place liver and beef in a bowl with oil, lemon juice, vinegar, minced onion, and pepper and marinate an hour or overnight.

Pour the whole through a sieve, to save the marinade. Coat the beef and liver with flour by tossing the meat in a bowl with some flour.

Sautée the chopped onions in oil. Add the beef and liver. Stir while sautéing until the the flour is coated with oil. Add the marinade to the pan, along with the bouquet garni, salt, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer for an hour.

Add the carrots and mushrooms to the pan and simmer for 45 minutes or until the meat is done.

Whisk together ¼ cup water and ¼ cup flour. Add it to the pan and stir for another 5 minutes to make a gravy sauce.

Pour into baking dishes and cover with pastry.

Preheat the oven to 425 Bake at 425 for 15 minues and 375 for 30 – 45, until crust is brown and filling is bubbling hot.


Borscht Recipe

A family recipe for borscht from Naked Cookbook, my #NaNoWriMo #WriMoRebel project this year.


  • 1 quart beef broth
  • 1 pound pork sausage
  • 3 medium beets, peeled and grated
  • 3 carrots, cut very small
  • 3 potatoes, cut small
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 medium head cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, for topping


  1. Put a bottle of vodka in the freezer.
  2. In a saucepan, heat beef broth to a simmer. In a kettle, bring about a quart of water to a boil.
  3. In a soup pot, crumble the sausage over medium-high heat. If it is lean, add a little cooking oil. Cook and stir until no longer pink. Lower heat. Add a little pepper, the onion and garlic, cook until the onion looks wilted.
  4. To the soup pot, Add the beets, carrots, potatoes and beef broth. Add boiling water to cover the vegetables. Cook until the carrots and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes or so.
  5. Add the cabbage, and cook only a tiny bit, less than 5 minutes.
  6. Ladle into serving bowls, and garnish with sour cream. Serve with a shot of ice-cold vodka straight and dark bread.



Aquaponics Build #1: Getting our feet wet

A rectangular object covered with a silver gray tarp. An electrical cord stretches from the pump to a nearby shed.

Our 1st aquaponics build, dressed like an astronaut to protect the plastic from the sun.

Our first aquaponics build is in operation. A few fat-head minnow, some snails, and a pollywog munch algae in the tank.

Water pours into a large fish tank

Very small fish in a big tank.

A pipe leads up from the tank to the grow bed.

The upper compartment, as seen from the outside…

Water pours from a pipe onto a filter.

… and from the inside.

Trays with tiny green plants.

Germinating lettuce, or possibly spinach.

A bell siphon, as seen from the top.

Once the water level rises to its maximum, a bell siphon quickly drains the grow bed.

Water pours into the fish tank.

Water draining from the grow bed into the fish tank.

That’s it!  There are a few things I’ll probably do differently on the next build, but this will do for now.