Brain Mush

My brain is a bit mushy today. I think it is from running in a hundred directions the last few weeks. Maybe it is getting to do more people stuff again. Either way, this post will ramble a bit so I can give you some updates across many of those hundred directions. 

Cats!

The vet recommended I look into a shot to manage Big Cat’s arthritis. Based on how he acts, I am holding off for now and keeping that on the back burner for later pain management. However, the research I did made me think of getting him a bed for the winter months. With it getting colder, I wanted him to have something warm to sleep on at night. They warn against using heated blankets and such for people, so I went for a heated cat bed.

I got the large one in case Little Cat tried to join him so she would not push him out. 

He loves it. Not more than my lap (thankfully), but he often ignores the metaphorical dinner bell now to stay curled up in it until he is hungry and gets up to pester me for food. He is super adorable in it, and I’m glad he took to it right away. 

Health

A couple of weeks ago, I got my updated COVID booster, and yesterday I got my flu shot. I have mentioned before that I continue to work through a needle phobia. Both vaccinations went off without a fainting problem, so I count those as two wins. The one from yesterday might be contributing to my brain fog today, but the side effects are relatively mild this time (another win). 

I’m doing what I can and crossing my fingers that I can avoid any additional illnesses as we head into the colder seasons. 

Grandma

Something I have been spending more time on lately is helping my grandmother look for a new independent living facility. My mom’s side of the family used to split between us in the Auburn/Federal Way areas and the other half in the Puyallup area. Before my grandfather passed, they also lived in Puyallup, so it made sense that when she decided to go into independent living that they would look for something there as well. 

Time moved on, and the Puyallup half has now moved to Florida, and she wants to be closer to those of us still living in Washington. I have been researching places closer to us, and we toured some a couple of weeks ago. We did some thinking and negotiation, and she signed onto a new place this week. We will be helping her move into it at the end of November, and everyone is excited that she will be closer to us for visits and events. 

Miscellaneous

We started up our Halloween parties again. I called this one Zombie Halloween because we were essentially trying to resurrect the events of old. It turned out to be a great time. I brought back one of my old costumes. My sister and I made it together about twelve years ago, and it mostly still fits with some strategic cape placement. For the event, I also made some spooky deviled eggs. I am a Miracle Whip person, while my husband prefers mayo, so I did half of each kind. The MW ones looked like mummies, while the mayo looked like pumpkins. 

This is the She-Ra (OG 80’s cartoon) costume my sister and I made. I bought the skirt, boots, and sword.

Another fun thing I tried out this week was making butter (main photo)! I first saw an old butter churn on TikTok, then I saw that you can do it with a mixer in about fifteen minutes. The latter seemed easier, so I went in that direction. It was cool seeing it firm up and the buttermilk getting washed out. This morning, I chopped some garlic and homegrown basil and mixed that in for some homemade garlic-basil butter. I’m freezing it for later use, and I might make some more butter and other varieties to give out for Christmas. 

Thanks!

That is all of my brain mush for the moment except to say that two more ratings came in recently on Amazon, so that puts me at thirty-three total between the two books. Seven more, and I will add that deleted chapter to the website! Thanks for all of your support, and I hope you keep reading. 

Overwhelmed by People Stuff

The last two weeks have been packed with people. From both work and personal perspectives, I’ve been inundated with human interaction. It is starting to put pressure on me. As the upcoming week’s schedule is also packed with people, I’ve decided to take today off and be by myself.

My husband had already decided to have sushi lunch with friends, so this works out well from a timing perspective. Sushi is one of the few food styles that I will usually pass on – surprising for someone from the Seattle area, I know – so it is no hardship to skip this lunch for leftovers at home. It leaves me with plenty of time to just exist and take care of internal tasks.

I do have a few goals today. Two of them are must-do items, while some are in the time-allowing category. My self-assigned, mandatory tasks are to complete the “read-alouds” for our D&D session this week and to finish my edits of book one. For D&D, I’m not sure which directions the party will go at this point. They could potentially reach the end of this level in either direction, so I want to have all the level one commentary completed in preparation. I can wing it at need, but I find I forget more details that way, and I prefer preparation that gives them all the initial information they will need to make decisions.

For the book, I only have the epilogue left. I need to edit what exists right now and add one perspective to it as recommended by an alpha reader. I should complete both of these today since the epilogue is shorter than a full-length chapter. With this timing, I’m also posting my beta reader request for a couple more readers today. I want them to focus on plot or character disconnects or areas that pull the reader out of the story rather than line edits. With those items as the focus, I’m hoping to have the book back from them within two weeks.

The timing becomes tighter now. I’m going to schedule a copy editor and will need to finish any edits before that deadline. While I’m going to have some buffer planned in the sequence, any beta reader delays mean less time for my side of the polishing work. I also need to work on the administrative tasks, but I will do that once the book is out with betas.

As for the optional weekend tasks left for today: one is related to how much effort I want to put into cooking dinner tonight, the other is canning some pickles. I purchased some pickling cucumbers the other day, and I want to turn them into pickles. We will see if I can dredge up enough energy to fit that in today or if I procrastinate until a time when it is either “do it now” or “they go bad.” Wish me luck!

Gardening

An update for the book’s progress this week would consist of: editing is still going strong, a few chapters left to go, and beta readers are still the next step. Rather than leave the post at one sentence, I’m going to share some progress on our garden that I mentioned earlier this year.

I am sad to report, the pickling cucumbers did not make it. My best guess is that they need to go out later in the season or have some sort of greenhouse cover to keep them warmer for longer. Other than that, the plants are doing well. There are some aphid battles being fought over the brussels sprouts, but we believe we have them under control for now.

The tomato and tomatillo plants are growing like crazy, and I will need to set up some support lines for the tallest branches soon. The romas are starting to come in now, and the others are already producing many of the fruits. Off to the left in the picture, you will also see the asparagus in all its tall fluffiness behind the cilantro in bloom and basil filling out nicely. We are letting the cilantro go to seed to plant again for a fall harvest.

These things are still too early to can, but we have done a couple of jams so far this year. Over the last couple of months, I bought rhubarb and mixed it with strawberries. A week or so ago we were also given some sour cherries. We decided to mix those with blackberries to sweeten them up. I prefer some tartness to my jams, so we use low-sugar pectin and only a bit of sugar (much less than the recipes show).

We made the black(berry) cherry jam this morning, and I think it turned out pretty well. We have about a serving or two sitting in the refrigerator that was not enough for another full jar. I have actually found I enjoy using the jams on bagels. I put a thin layer of cream cheese on half and some of our jam on the other half. Now I need to buy some more bagels!

Strawberry-rhubarb in the back right. Black(berry) cherry on the left.

More editing complete, jam jars sealed, and the new job starts Monday! Have a great week everyone!

Spring Planting

On this sunny weekend in the Puget Sound, I decided it was time to plant my starts outside.

I’m pretty proud of starting all of these from seeds in my garage. A few years ago I started working with a grow light so I could plant seeds rather than buying starts. It is too cold in the January / February time frame to put seeds outside around here. I could have done them in the house instead, but a) I have found they get less temperature shock going from garage to outside and b) cats. Little cat would eat them and big cat would have no problem knocking them over.

If I could only grow one thing, it would be tomatoes. They are a must have in my vegetable garden. This year I planted four tomato starts, and I’m hoping we have a big enough harvest to make and can tomato sauce. However, with the way I eat tomatoes I’m not counting on it.

In the big planter we also have brussels sprouts and three tomatillo plants. We usually make a big batch of Verde sauce with the tomatillos and can all except one meal’s worth. It is my favorite enchilada recipe – not claiming authentic in any way – and growing my own tomatillos is just another excuse to make it.

Asparagus on the left (year 4) and basil on the right.

We always try to have at least one basil plant. Either we use it fresh as needed or dry it to use over the fall months. You can also see the asparagus coming in nicely. Those were also grown from seed, and we patiently waited the recommended two years before harvesting any of them.

Cucumber plants!

Finally, we have my pickling cucumber plants. I tried to grow these last year, but they did not take for me. I’m hoping I can harvest enough with these two little starts to get a few jars worth of pickles. I mentioned in the pasta sauce post that I like canning, so now you see I was not joking. I’m sure as summer comes and goes this year I will have more canning posts for you.

Enjoy the weather!