Brain….dead.

Pretty much describes me right now. I was going to write a post about the end of One Book July (I even thought about recording a video!), or some form of fun writing. I’m also re-evaluating the Café Roundup section.

But in the last few days, my son has started drinking regular milk, which resulted in some very interesting diapers, our windows need replacing, my stomach and head are having a party without my consent, and I’m just….drained.

So, no fun post, other than wishing you a great weekend. I leave you with two cool things….

This guy lives in our city and does fun vlogs.

If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman, and haven’t watched “Behind the trees”, it’s cute. I talk in my sleep too, but I doubt I am that clever. Mostly, I snore loud enough to wake myself up.

Have a great one everyone!

Café Roundup #4

Disclaimer: None of the companies mentioned in this post are sponsoring me. They don’t even know who I am. The views and blunders are my own. Thank you. 

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Instead of spamming social media with things I find, I’ll do a weekly post with some of the things that get tangled up in my brain. Or hair. Really, it has a mind of its own.

 Aperture, shutter speed and ISO infographic. Pretty self explanatory. I got a camera a couple years ago and I really need to explore the ins and outs of it before it grows grey hairs. The site is in German, but the infographic is universal.

13 ways to hack your writing.

There’s a new Good Omens hardcover on the way. I’m so very tempted.

Some years ago, I ran into Hybridworks while looking for interesting computer icons. I’ve used their Japanese set (Yoritsuki and Sakura) on my computer ever since. They also have an iPhone/ipad app called Yoritsuki which simulates the view from a traditional Japanese bathhouse. It’s a paid app and it does not give you points, it’s not a game. It’s just…..downright relaxing. You can set your view as you wish, and enjoy. Setting it on a timer, with their rain mode has helped me unwind many times. Do you have a different set of icons you want to use to change the look of yours? This is how you change them in MacOS.

Have a good week, everyone.

Quick chicken and peppers

Every week we plan a menu and almost every week, we have a moment when we run out of ideas. So we just write ‘chicken and veg’ in the empty spot. We never have a set idea of what this will be and it usually gets improvised on the day we’re having it for dinner.
This one came out better than I expected, so I thought I’d share.

THE BITS AND PIECES

  • About 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • 1 large red bell pepper.
  • 1 large green bell pepper.
  • 1 med-large onion.
  • 4 garlic cloves.
  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Your favorite seasoning blend.

HOW TO

  • Heat oven to 375°F. 
  • Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, your seasoning blend and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss well and set aside. 
  • Roughly chop the peppers and onions, then slice the garlic. Toss all together with olive oil, salt, pepper and seasoning blend. Spread vegetables on a baking dish and put in the oven. 
  • Heat up a skillet and sear chicken breasts on each side. You want a good char on them. 
  • Place chicken on top of the vegetables in the oven. 
  • Bake, uncovered for 40-50 min. Ensure chicken is cooked thoroughly before serving  
  • Serve with your favorite side. The pan juices are pretty good over it all. 

NOTES

  • While I’m not a big fan of big store pre-packaged seasoning blends, I used Mrs. Dash’s Fiesta Lime on this dish. I like the flavor combination. 
  • Have leftovers? Chop the chicken in bite size pieces and make yourself a chicken and peppers taco. Or quesadilla. Yum!


Buen Provecho!

Café Roundup #3

Disclaimer: None of the companies mentioned in this post are sponsoring me. They don’t even know who I am. The views and blunders are my own. Thank you. 

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Instead of spamming social media with things I find, I’ll do a weekly post with some of the things that get tangled up in my brain. Or hair. Really, it has a mind of its own.

Midori Travelers Notebook review from a man’s perspective. I love color, but when it comes to journals, notebooks and planners, I like for them to be plain. I get easily distracted, plus I want the option of decorating vs not decorating a page to my taste. There are so many reviews for the Midori out there that are covered in stickers, washi, scrapbook paper and other paraphernalia, and while they are beautiful, I feel like you can’t really get the bare bones essentials of the notebook from them. I liked this review for that exact reason. It’s to the point, without any sparkles. He also put together a pretty good video with suggestions on how to improve your handwriting. I see many people in the planning/journaling community concerned with their penmanship. 

Questions posted to the NYPL pre-Internet. If you’ve ever been in the business of providing information to others (be it as a teacher, customer service, librarian, etc), I’m sure you have a list of oddballs. While you’re on a roll, look up Richard Lederer’s “Anguished English“. 

Tim Hawkins is one of my favorite comedians. He has a book coming out. In a world where cussing, adult themes and body parts are a source of hilarity (which in general, I have no issues with, though it can get boring when it’s the main source of material), it’s good to find someone who doesn’t need them in order to be awesome. 

Have a great day!

Hobodori 2.0 and One Book July 2015 update

One Book July 2015 is halfway done. If you participated this year, what have you learned about your planning style?

My Hobodori planner has become my Hobodori System. The Hobonichi and Moleskines combo work very well, but they needed to split up. Why?

I ended up feeling the need to separate my daily planning from my journaling and writing.


So, the Hobodori 2.0 is in fact a split system that works together.
Allow me to break it down, along with my One Book July 2015 update:

1. On Day 1, I forgot to add: a pad of sticky notes. I always keep one in my purse.

2. The Hobonichi side:
Now flying solo in the Kokuyo cover. I absolutely love this notebook/planner. From the Tōmoe River paper to the grid. I’d often heard the Tōmoe described as “Bible paper”, and I agree. It’s very thin and smooth, and it feels wonderful to write on it.
I only write with a pen, so I can’t attest to Tōmoe’s abilitiy to take just about every single writing/color/art media around.

Because it is so thin there is some shadow of a ghost on the backside of the page; and it doesn’t particularly bother me. When it comes to writing pressure, I’m somewhat average. You can feel it on the back of the page as well, but I like the “used” texture it creates on the pages.

Unlike the full 12 month Hobonichi Cousin, the Avec does not have a weekly layout. I did not think this was going to be an issue for me, since I don’t have many appointments, but I was surprised to find I actually miss it.
I started listing/notating holidays, events, etc on the monthly layout and journaling on the dailies.
I found I missed the weekly layout for appointments and other week to week occurrences.
I even though about getting a weekly calendar to use for the rest of the year, but I think I will make do with what I have in the setup for now. Sticky notes can help me with appointments.

I have, however, decided that I will be getting the full year Hobonichi Cousin for next year. I like the A5 size and I have plans for the layouts.

Sorry about the lack of interior pictures. I’ve been journaling personal material and you’d just end up staring at a blurred out picture if I put them online.

The Avec on its own in the Kokuyo cover fits quite nicely. I’m hoping the full Cousin will fit there, considering that the Avec and two Moleskines fit comfortably. Just in case, I’ll start saving money for an actual Hobonichi cover.

3. The Midori side:
I really, really love the concept of the Midori Travelers Notebook. I wish I’d found out about them years ago.

Why didn’t I get one now?

– Size. The regular size seemed a bit awkward. The passport seemed a bit small.

– The placement of the closing elastic on the back cover. I’ve never held a real Midori, so I don’t know this for sure, but I feel like it would bother writing on that side of the notebook. Real Midori users, please feel free to correct me. I’m curious.

– Availability of inserts. I know that there’s 1000+ tutorials on how to make your own inserts. But I have a limited amount of time in which to work. I type up posts, edit and upload pictures for this blog on my phone, between baby naps, meals and other housework. My crafty endeavours need to be very easy and very small. Measuring, cutting and binding inserts would take too long for me at this point.
I could, of course, order Midori inserts or Etsy inserts, but I’d still end up with shipping costs and wait time.

{……….I really need to open my own stationery store}

I like using Moleskine in part because I can just go to the bookstore and buy a couple of packs of three cahiers, and they work well with my A5 setup.
I’m sure that if I had found out about the Midori when we were stationed in Japan, I would’ve had the opposite situation. Moleskines would’ve required shipping and the MTN inserts would’ve been a drive away. In the end, it’s more an issue of availability over size.

So…..the Moleskine are out of the Kokuyo cover. Where have they gone, you ask?

I’ve been doing a Konmari purge/house cleaning (more on that on another post). I found a couple of things I could sell, so I went ahead and jumped into the Fauxdori wagon.


The Vandori, sold by VanHook and Co. , is made from tooled leather, has 4 elastics, spine closure and is beatiful. It popped up on Instagram as one of the more affordable leather Fauxdoris.
I ordered the A5 size and it fit the Moleskines nicely. I don’t have a lot in it right now, just two different writing notebooks. I’m trying, within the limits of my randomness, to remain with my One Book July setup.
I do plan on adding more to it after July. There are good tutorials for folders that seem quick projects.

Do I still long for an original Midori TN? Kind of. It is the doom of your hobbies. My husband has the same issue with camera equipment.

I know myself well enough that at least a passport size Midori might end up on my table someday. I’ll have to keep up with the Konmari cleaning and sell more things, haha.

What else has changed in my setup?

– A quick pen loop for my Hobonichi. Quick project by Robyn Lott.
– My food log hasn’t gone into the Vandori. I’m leaning towards keeping daily life in the Kokuyo and writing in the Dori. I have, however, left the food log in one of the cover’s outer sleeves, so I can grab it easily.


The Hobodori System 2.0 has expanded and morphed some, but I am definitely enjoying it!

I wish you all a great day!

Café Roundup #2

Disclaimer: None of the companies mentioned in this post are sponsoring me. They don’t even know who I am. The views and blunders are my own. Thank you. 

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Instead of spamming social media with things I find, I’ll do a weekly post with some of the things that get tangled up in my brain. Or hair. Really, it has a mind of its own.

Kids can join Camp Google for free! – Brought to you by a collaboration of Khan Academy, National Geographic, NASA, and the National Park Service. My boy is too young to appreciate it yet, but I’m hanging on to this as he slowly relaizes what it means. Growing up, I would’ve loved every second of this. 

Japanese notation to keep a notebook better organized. I loved this idea and plan to implement it on my writing notebooks. 

We were stationed in Okinawa when the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami destroyed part of Japan. It was horrifying to be sitting in front of a TV, watching as a giant wave razed the land, being unable to help. The destruction went beyond just infrastructure. Thousands of lives, so many families…. Amidst the ongoing rebuilding, there are projects that offer services and use proceeds to help their community. Two of these are sister projects Megumi and Nozomi. 
The Megumi Project takes kimono and refashions them into shawls, ties, ribbons, scarves, and book covers. 
The Nozomi Project takes pottery and turns them into jewelry, bookmarks, key chains and other pieces. 

On another part of the world, we have Sudara, which employs Hindu women who have been rescued from the sex trade and gives them the opportunity to make a living on their own terms. Their Punjammies are very comfortable :)

There’s going to be a Victorian Sherlock special. It makes me fangirl. Oh, my goodness does it ever make me fangirl. They even tortured us with a teaser.  

Have a good week! See you Friday with a One Book July and Hobodori update!

From the Archives – “Tiger” a picture story.

From time to time, I take a random picture and write a short story/vignette about it. I’ve been doing it for many years. A little while back, some friends and I had a weekly writing challenge based on that exercise. This is one of them.

The picture for this story was found inside a purse in a thrift store.

“TIGER”
Picture Story #2
This story is (C) Diana C. Quaintance, 2006.

Hours had gone by and still the storm kept on vomiting bucketfuls of snow on the land. By morning, the inhabitants of the peaceful mountain town would have to try and dig their way out of their homes.

They’d all gone inside early in the day when the first snowflakes had started to fall.
“This will be a bad one……you’ll see” one of the old timers had said, shaking his head at the sky “Mark my words……a bad one…a bad one” he’d stood up and amidst the soft cracking of his joints, he’d gone home with his faithful dog – Tiger – by his side.

Tiger was not a big dog…….in all certainty, the name was almost a mockery. The canine was small and furry. When he went out during a rainy day, he would’ve been easily mistaken for a running wet mop. He was also an odd dog. Faithful to the death when it came to his Master, but cranky to everyone else. He would yap – for his yowlings could not be even considered barking – at anything that came across his path, be it animal, vegetal or mineral. He would walk briskly by the old man, always curious about the things around him. And when his Master sat – daily – on the benches outside the local drugstore, Tiger would always be by him, eating the peanuts the man threw at him. He would also yap happily at the passing cars and when a cat came by……Hell would break loose. People had gotten used to his noisy behavior and let him be.

That day, the old man had gone back home and after a brief meal, he’d gone to bed. Tiger curled up in front of the fireplace and fell asleep almost instantly. His soft snoring made the hairs of his muzzle dance slightly.

As the hours ebbed by, Tiger’s ears twitched slightly. He snorted and turned on its back, having one of those mysterious, happy, doggy dreams. Then his ears twitched again and he straightened up, his eyes open wide. There was a noise. A foreign noise in the room. He stood up and trotted around the living room trying to find its origin.

Sniffing here and there, he heard the noise again, under the couch. He squatted by it and peered into the darkness with his small, beady eyes. Not only a foreign nose….but a foreign smell as well…….

The old man was awakened by Tiger’s incessant yapping, as he tried to oust the mouse under the couch. He got up, his joints cracking again and walked into the living room, absentmindedly scratching his butt as he yawned.
“What is it boy?”

*yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap*

The old man grunted and shaking his head, he walked to the kitchen and boiled some water for coffee.

*yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap YIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!*

Tiger came bounding into the kitchen, teary eyed and twitching his nose, where the mouse had scratched him. He looked up to his Master in that unique way that made humans feel pity for dogs. The pup whined softly and if you looked closely, you could almost say he was pouting.

The old man picked up Tiger and set him on the table, bringing out a small bowl and filling it with milk for him. He set the bowl on the table and Tiger lapped at it contentedly, the mouse now forgotten.

The kettle whistled and the man made himself a cup of steaming, strong instant coffee. He sat by the table, clad in only his boxer shorts and drank from his cup, eyeing the dog. The dog lifted and canted its head at his Master and they stared at each other for some time, as outside the snow kept falling, turning the world into a soft white and silent haven.

Café Roundup #1


First Roundup! Instead of spamming social media with things I find, I’ll do a weekly post with some of the things that get tangled up in my brain. Or hair. Really, it has a mind of its own.

Need to kill some time? Enjoy!

Just” putting this up here. What we do and say is important in how we present ourselves to others.  How do you feel about this?

A stationery vending machine. I would have a crazy little geeky breakdown there. If you live in Chicago, you must go there and tell me all about it so I can experience it from a distance.

One Book July 2015. Started in 2014, it’s a ‘test’ of your planner/journal/notebook setup. Can you use it for one month at its most basic? I’m trying this year. My setup is explained here.

Sherlock Holmes in info graphics.

The Circuit Marker, wow! I can’t wait to see what people do with these things.

Online paranoia about your pictures and data. Is it really paranoia? I for one, don’t like sharing images of my child outside of family and close friends. We live in an era of oversharing and we need to find where to draw our line. Because the Internet happens. When you least expect it.

When librarians went to war. Out of all my jobs, I’ve been a librarian longer than any other (10 years combined). Books are a vital part of my life and once EB  has started school I will find a way to be one again.
Have a great week everyone!

Caldo de Pollo

Do you remember that scene from “Kung Fu Panda” where the Goose says that they’re “noodle people. Broth runs in our veins”?

Growing up, we weren’t noodle people, but broth did indeed run through our veins. We…are Soup People. 

If you type “Caldo de pollo” in a search engine, you will get many variations on this dish.  It’s a popular comfort food, and as such, there are as many ways of making this as there are people who love eating it. The one I’m sharing here is the one I grew up with and there are not enough words to describe how much I love a bowl of Caldo. I make it when it’s cold, when its snowy, when any of us is feeling sick. It’s a permanent addition to our menu planning. 

I apologize for the lack of measurements in this recipe, but the amounts really depend on what you want to put in your bowl. Usually, I chop everything up and put it on the table, then let everybody mix their own and ladle on the broth. Also, after the initial bowl, I leave the pot of broth on a low simmer so it stays nice and hot for those who want seconds. 

I would recommend using a soup bowl that is slightly larger than the average.

  
THE BITS AND PIECES

  • Chicken broth (homemade, store-bought, your choice. Sometimes you’re in a rush). 
  • Cooked rice (white or brown, your pick).
  • Cooked chicken, shredded (a rotisserie chicken will do on busy nights). 

All of the following are optional garnishes. Mix and match to your heart’s content:

  • Tomato, finely diced.
  • Onions, finely chopped. 
  • Cilantro, chopped.
  • Lime juice.
  • Avocado. 
  • Chile piquín or diced chiles. 
  • Salsa. 

HOW TO

  1. Bring broth up to a boil.
  2. In a large soup bowl, add about two scoops of rice.
  3. Add shredded chicken, plus your garnishes.
  4. Pour hot broth on top of the whole thing.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. ENJOY!!

NOTES

  • Because the garnish ingredients are cooler, your broth should be really hot, almost boiling when you pour it on top. Be careful with that first spoonful!
  • I have a friend who is allergic to chicken. This soup will work with turkey too (holiday leftovers! Yay!). 

One Book July 2015

I found out about it while watching a video by Mylifemitts

The challenge: one book, one pen, one month. There are addendums, but those are the basics. You can follow the links above for more in depth information. 

So I’ll be doing a month-long test of my Hobodori to see how it runs. 

The Book: as described in my previous post, a Hobonichi and Midori mix composed of three sections. 

  
The Avec for a planner, sketchbook, journal, etc. 

A Moleskine cahier as a food log. I keep it separate from my journal, because while dealing with gestational diabetes, I had to keep a very strict log of everything I ate and the log would be reviewed and photocopied every appointment. I’m trying to get my health in check, so I’m starting a log in the same fashion I used then.  

One more Moleskine cahier for writing. I need to get back into storytelling and this will be my tool for the month. In my previous post, I was using the notebook that came with my cover, and while it’s a nice notebook, I really like the Moleskines. 

The Pen: Jetstream included with the Hobonichi. It has three colors: red, blue and black. 

  

And that’s about it! I’ll post any progress shots on Instagram (@cafenox). 

Have a great day!