Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I'm still here. Really.

Yes. I’ve been silent for months. Well, in the blogiverse mostly. I’m rarely silent unless I’m sleeping. What have I been doing? Well… I’ve been writing books. I finished one and sent it off for editing. I’ve been working on a collaborative project with author Shéa MacLeod, which is in rewrites stage right now, and I am about two thirds through another novel. I’ve been pouring my creativity into my books. I have been given the unique gift of time; the first time since my little baby was born four years ago (Yes, he turned 4 last Thursday, I can hardly believe it). He has started preschool in earnest, which allows me nine hours a week to sit down at the local café (which is really like the town’s living room, it’s awesome), and to write freely. It’s been a while!

Playing with Friends Annie & baby Maxine
 So I am taking advantage of it. I have my crafty projects (and project-a-palooza) on hold for now. I have a desire to create pretty things with my hands, but I need to finish this novel and get these projects done before the end of the year so I have new releases for Comic-con in February. If you want to know more about these things, or more about the world of my writing, which is done separately from everything else under the nom-de-plume Miranda Mayer, please feel free to like my page on Facebook, or sign up for my newsletter from my website. I don’t email very often, only when I’m about to release something.

His first tournament.

School starts
 Other big news is I have stepped away from the group I founded, the Oregon Regency Society. I did it for a variety of reasons, but what it came down to was that there were constant issues with drama, unkind gossip being flung by people who were supposedly my friends, returned to me by people everyone respects and who were then called liars by said gossips. There was also a problem common to groups like these, and that is people with input but no actual action. There was the old problem of people who take on too much, and then cannot take responsibility for not following through, and who spew blame instead. Bottom line, it just wasn’t fun anymore. I’d been through this kind of thing once before, and I just didn’t have it in me to weather the drama to try and fix what had been poisoned. So I have cast it off the shore into the hands of others, and wish the best for it. As long as the people who have maligned and vilified me continue to be involved, I will not. I might try to play with friends again someday, and I already miss so many people, but for now, I need to just focus my energy on things that are fulfilling to me. Like my child, my creative outlets and well… me. My mental health needs to be important too.
Chilling behind my table at the Rose
City Comic Con. He's pretty deft
with the iPad.
 So I’m here, prepping for the holidays. My son’s paternal grandfather has been struggling with stage 4 cancer. My son has Bronchitis, and so does my husband, and as grandpa’s immune system is compromised by Chemotherapy, we cannot go to their home for Thanksgiving. It’s kind of sad, because my mother-in-law has been really having a rough time dealing with all of this, and to top it off, she has painful arthritis in her hip. I was going to go and help her cook the meal so she wouldn’t be miserable the whole day. But we can’t put Grandpa John in danger. So I will be cooking a small thanksgiving meal for the three of us here at home.

School time.

Waiting to go to class.
 Alex had his fourth birthday party on Saturday. He had a wonderful time, and Stephie made him the most beautiful Paw Patrol cake in history. He was so fixated on the cake, it was hilarious. It’s amazing to think that the child we never expected is now four years old. It’s crazy. It’s too fast! I wish there was a rewind button so I could go through it all again. Even the colic and the teething.

So the holidays approach. I imagine you all have plans for them. I’m excited about Christmas. More than ever since we had Alex, and this year, it’s the first year where he has as much anticipation as a child should have, and I’m excited to put the tree up with him, and to decorate the house. I intend to do it after Thanksgiving, come what may. The earlier the better. Considering how awful this year has been, we need some damned goodwill in this country. Even if there are battles to be fought still.

Class is over!

Feeding the gulls in Astoria.
 Oh! I found a kitten. So we now have another cat. She’s fecking cute. I might be a little allergic to her, but how do you tell your kid, sorry, no cat. So I’ll just manage with it. She’s a brat. So I appreciate that about her. Anyhoo, I will try to be better about snarking, crafting and journaling as I go. I won’t have any new costume posts for a while, I’m afraid. I don’t really have any desire to participate in events right now, so I don’t have any reason to sew new Regency things. But the lark may come where I will want to make a hat or whatever. So who knows? Maybe I’ll arrange a non-related event just so I can play with the people I want to play with. Time will tell.

New BFFs.

My girls started laying. Two were killed by raccoons. Hubby
shored up the enclosure, and my friend Molly gave me a couple
hens to replace my lost ones.

Halloween spookiness.

The kitten (Peppercorn), has claimed Simon as her
personal bed.

My little lion trick-or-treating homes for the first time.

Bratty McKatten

Everything Paw Patrol for his party

Kitty McAssface Von Kattenstein.


The lovely cake by Just a Dash cakes (aka auntie Steph)
I’m off to forage for Thanksgiving ingredients and such, in spite of my sinus infection. See you on the flip side folks! I’ve missed this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Project-a-Palooza; Project TWO ~ Colourful Découpage

Project-a-palooza rolls on with the next phase, and that is playing with lovely colourful patterns. The video explains the goal, while also simultaneously showing how easy it is to block out a playing toddler. You even get a glimpse of my offspring as he movie-bombs me.

Here are some of the progress pics so far:

So fun! Lots of detail work tho. I'll post more pics soon! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Project-a-Palooza; Project ONE; Luxurious Lip Balm

I’m in project mode. I shouldn’t be. I should be finishing my latest book, but no. I have gone all crafty, and I have several projects lined up as if there's another personality inside me who's even more obnoxiously belligerent and mischievous than I already am. 

Technically; the first project was really the gown for the book cover of the manuscript I"m supposed to be finishing, but since I’m not releasing yet, so I can’t go around flaunting pics. I didn’t take many anyway. Here’s a sneak preview though:

Lots of sumptuous, velvety drama here.

The first official project for Project-a-Palooza is making some lip balm.

I know, it’s a small project, but I wanted some lip balm with a bit of a fresh tingle, made with all the crunchy organic foo-fooness that is required in the Pacific Northwest. 

So here goes. Finding the ingredients for these things is fairly simple online. I found mine at a homesteading store in Southeast Portland, because yes, there’s a homesteading store in Southeast Portland. They have pretty much everything the crunchy granola PNW person would need, from seeds and eggs, to cheese cultures and soap-making supplies; it’s a DIYer’s dream. It even has a hipstery logo. It's awesome. It's called the Portland Homestead Supply Company

What you need for this quick project: 

Shae Butter, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E (liquid preferably), Organic Raw Honey, and your favourite Essential Oil.

I recommend the following ones from the ones that I have:

Lemon-lavender (mix), Peppermint, DōTerra’s On-Guard (great for fighting a cold), or what I used; DōTerra’s Slim & Sassy – because putting a weight-loss booster in your lip balm RULES (and because it lovely, is safe for consumption, and when applied topically, provides a refreshing tingle). But the essential oil(s) you use is wholly up to you—just make sure that they’re safe for consumption, they’re not ‘hot’ oils, which means that some oils, like Cinnamon, for example, in its concentrated state, can actually cause irritation, so use with care.

The quantities in this recipe comfortably fill six of these little tins when all is said and done.

In a double boiler (in my case, I filled about two fingers of water into one of my sauce pots, and then inserted a metal bowl over that), add the Shae Butter, the Beeswax and the Coconut Oil. Cook it on medium so it doesn't heat too quickly.

I let them melt together. They each melt at different rates. I added the vitamin E and half of the essential oil at this stage.

When it was fully melted, I swirled the spoon of honey into the emulsion until all of the honey had dissolved into the mix.

The amount of essential oils you add is entirely up to you. I say 10 drops minimum. I personally added 22 drops. Ten at this stage, and then two drops in each container after I poured the blend into the tins. I stirred them with a toothpick while they were still hot.

Be sure to mix it well before and while you pour it into the tins. 

Once poured, let them cool. And voila. A smooth, moisturizing, healing lip balm in less than fifteen minutes. Pop a label on these and they make lovely gifts for your friends and family.

And that concludes project numero uno for Project-a-Palooza 2016. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A cool and rainy day (after face-melting heat)

Things have been fairly quiet at Johanesen Cottage these past weeks. As the anxiety disorder makes me even more hermit-like than ever, I am spending most of my time in the house, taking care of my son.  He was allowed to attend preschool two or three times a week before it closed for the summer, to see if he’d like it, and he LOVED it. That’s my boy. He asks every day, now that preschool is over, when he can go back to ‘the school building’. 

He will be enrolled officially in September. I’m not sure I’m really accepting how much he’s grown already. I still want him to be my baby. He will be 40 and be my baby.

Fascinated by yellow buses, like his mom.
He was allowed to climb aboard while
the bus waited for its big-kid passengers.
It’s a slow day today. We ate some leftover clam chowder I made the day before yesterday, for lunch. After 90 and 100 degree days, we are now enjoying 46 degree temps and heavy rainfall. Just the kind of day for chowdah.

My off-the-cuff Chowder recipe (amounts may vary a bit since I cook by the seat of my pants, you can adjust liquids as needed for your desired thickness—I like it to be thick, but not stand-your-spoon-up-in-it thick)

  • Three medium leeks chopped fine and cleaned well. (I use leeks because I’m Belgian and I love leek. But most recipes you’ll find will call for onions and that’s fine too).
  • One large carrot diced into tiny cubes.
  • Four 6.5 ounce cans of cherry stone clams from Trader Joe’s, diced up to small pieces
  • Three tablespoons of butter.
  • ½ cup flour
  • ~2 cups of water/stock
  • ~2 cups of milk
  • ~one cup heavy cream
  • A spash of white wine
  • Two Idaho potatoes cut into one inch cubes.
  • Coriander and thyme (to your tastes)
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper

Melt butter on medium until the sizzle goes silent.  Toss in the leeks and stir until transparent.
Add carrots. Stir in the flour until everything is coated. Deglaze with the liquid from the canned clams. All 4. Then add water/stock. Add wine (just a splash). Add in the clams and the potatoes.
Add milk and spices. Taste first, the liquid from the clams can be salty, so you should always taste before adding salt. Add pepper to taste. Let cook for an hour on low.  Add heavy cream abefore serving. Add some cilantro or parsley to taste. Garnish with a dash of paprika.

My garden is growing. My radishes have bolted because of the strange weather. I just went outside between rain showers to take some pictures of the progress.

Walla Walla onions are coming along nicely.
The little root is swelling already.

The potato-tire stack has grown!
I'll be adding one more tire in a few weeks.

I like my garlic. 

The radishes have bolted!
The flowers are cute though.


Gandules! I got some hard-to-find things to grow for my puerto-rican cooking.

Strawberries are doing well

Our little carved bear guards the back door.

There is something deeply soothing and satisfying, watching your garden grow. The only major failures so far are the bolted radishes and the celery seedlings that were gobbled up by something. The carrots are coming back from their first attack by nibbling somethings or other.

I've managed the slugs, and whenever I find them, they are the perfect treat to give the newest members of the Johanesen Cottage household; the little chickens!

I’ve wanted chickens for a long time, but my husband has been kind of a major brat about it, worried that they would be eaten by predators and whatnot. But this mother’s day he relented and got me a little coop for four hens. You could not imagine my delight, I know that sounds stupid. 

Ever since I lived at my sister's farm in Estacada, I have been in love with the layers. We had chickens at our stable, but they just roamed free and at mice, and laid eggs randomly about the place to be stepped on when they rotted.  My sister got me a horde of chicks to raise for eggs, and oh, I loved them. It was only when she brought in the cornish cross meat chickens that I started to dislike having chickens. They ruined everything, they were SO GROSS.

My little coop: 

So I went out first thing and picked up two chicks to begin with: The first two I got are Silver-Laced Wyandotes. They will look like this:

Miss Chicken McFluffyPuffButt

They looked like this when I brought them home: 

But they look like this right now:
Their names are Bea and Emmaline. Not quite sure which one is which.

I got two Ameraucanas this weekend. Cadence and Mellie. They are still eensy and super cute!

They will look something like this:

They live in a little coop which will soon have a large run attached to it for their pecking around purposes. Hopefully in a few months we will have beautiful blue-green eggs and soft tan ones with rich yolks. The big girls already eat just about anything. They're great for my potato peelings and old lettuce, as well as the slugs that dare slime their way onto one of my garden bales. They are great composters, and when I much out their space I will pile it up for future garden fertilizing.

Otherwise, Johanesen Cottage is trying to get through this crazy spring.

Mother's day flowers

My window box. Trying a new experiement
to keep things alive in it.
 Alex has been fully potty trained for a few months already. I had some pull-ups and diapers left over from his diaper days. So I took three or four and tore them apart, shaking all the crystal powder and cotton lining into a bowl. It didn't amount to much, it seemed; until I filled the bowl with water. The stuff expanded to multiple times its original size. So I blended that with a planting soil, and lined my flower box with an old shower curtain, filled it up and planted sedums and a seathrift in there.  Normally it dries out super fast and I just can't keep up with the watering. I'm hoping with this water-retaining crystal stuff in there, it will create a lovely sedum garden overflowing from it, with a seathrift for colour and texture. Time will tell!

Sedum flower explosion in the hot-poker pot.

I love sedum. I steal them from everywhere.
Many of my pots are just collections from my
klepto habit.
The chimney of my repurposed cracked
chiminea is still going strong.

And the bottom half of my chiminea,
although cracked, has served beautifully
as a sedum pot. I just put a piece of
wire mesh over the mouth and filled it with soil.
The sedum are being barfed out of it. LOL

This is just a chill day today. Nothing glamourous. 

Alex is playing in the blankets and ruining the bed.

Sweet bratty boy.

A ghost! 

Two more pics before the rain starts


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