Handwriting, like letter writing, is an over looked skill in an electronic lifestyle. True as well for urban sketching as contrasted to cell phone snaps and selfies.

This year I’ve started practices to improve my calligraphy, letter writing and sketching skills. Shout outs to:

#showmeyourdrills … Becca’s passion to helping us (re) learn pen action

#oliveinks … Wendy is my pen friend, thanks to the annual #incowrimo2017

#sketchingnowbuildings … Liz’s (Steel not me) ten week course helping with the eye hand skills that make #urbansketching much less embarrassing.

So check out my progress on Instagram @lizzardlaw. Let me know here what art you are working on.


Saturday it must be Mayonnaise

I am allergic to a few foods, which is another reason to forgo premade and packaged food. My diet is free of wheat and garlic. I also try to eat organic foods. Don’t get me wrong … There are times I cheat .. But my body pays dearly for this with inflammation and other immune system responses.

Part of cleaning up my diet included learning to make my own mayonnaise. Easy but a bit fickle condiment IMHO.


Continue reading “Saturday it must be Mayonnaise”

Preparing for 2016

I adopted a new planning system this past November – a Bullet Journal. (“Bujo”) I have been using a daily based Franklin Planner since 1992. That is a lot of ringed binders in “storage” … The principle there, as with any true planning system, is to identify key goals and to align activities and tasks to reaching those goals, set priorities including professional and personal goals/tasks, determine any obstacles along the way, and track of progress, additions and deletions from day to day and month to month. [Franklin Covey has a number of publications and courses targeting the system for personal effectiveness and achievement – Franklin Covey. I am not affiliated with any of these links; it is just a system with which I am familiar.]

Today’s Setup and “System”

I post pictures and discuss the use of the Bullet Journal planning tool with Instagram, @LizzardLaw, with a large group of folks – try searching for the tags #bulletjournal and #planwithmechallenge to start.

Specifically I use a couple of tools for my planning. I keep my calendar electronically through Outlook (work) and Google (personal), so I do not try to recapture all those details in my Bujo. My primary planning tool, my Bujo, is in a Leuchttrum 1917 – A5, with dot grids. I really like the paper and the size of this book. Through the years my journals have been hard-bound blank books – so the feel of this bound note book works for me. Also I use fountain pens, archival ink pens and highlighters, none of which “shadow” through too much in the Leuchttrum. My other tool is for personal “to dos” and is a small, soft-bound Moleskine, which fits in my purse or a pocket. I also keep my grocery and errand lists electronically on Google’s Keep.

For the most part I follow the Bullet Journal’s creator’s original plan – he calls these “modules:”

  1. Index
  2. Future Planning (6 month view)
  3. Monthly Logs (one month at-a-glance with tasks)
  4. Daily Logs (average is a week on a spread)
  5. Collections (brain dumps and detailed project lists)


[Re]Focus [Re]New [Re]Dedicate [Re]Commit

I’ve brought in my old “blogs” not that there was a lot of content or expression in those. It seemed a shame to leave them dangling under a different program.

Today, the end of August, is a day to refocus and recommit to habits that are good for me and that will move me toward the person I want to be[come]. In the last weeks I have recommitted to swimming as my exercise along with walking during the workday. I am trying to find the internal motivation to a clean diet without wheat – likely should walk away from sugars and other starches as well. But the first steps are to be aware and up the veggies and natural fruits. Maybe having a WordPress site will also assist the steps along the [re]new-ed path.


Day 35 – Pomegranate Cookies and Oxtail Soup – Less than a day to Go

Pomegranate and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Well, I did it … I de-pipped a POMEGRANATE and figured out how to use it in a cooked dish.  If you can call cookies a “dish”.


  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Ghee because the butter was frozen and I didn’t want to wait … probably a bad choice)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (didn’t have it … used white sugar left over from feeding the humming birds … probably adding to the bad choice list)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (link takes to you a description of how to de-seed — piece of cake and no mess after the first cut)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (is there an expiration date on this stuff?)
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup) semisweet chocolate chips

Well – I probably had more than 1/2 cup of seeds and probably hit the 3/4 cup chocolate.  I am probably not cut out to bake because I am not a precise measure-er and, well, there are those choices noted above.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and FLUFFY. (what does that mean? — I used the Kitchenaid and went until I thought “I guess that’s fluffy…”) Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sweetened butter and mix until a very thick dough forms. (Think the consistency of refridgerator dough but a bit drier).

Use a spoon to fold in the chunks then the pomegranates and distributing both evenly. (ok, again i used the Kitchenaid for the chocolate – but just a spoon for the delicate pips) Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. (What size is “HEAPING”  Golf ball is too big, see below)  Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on wire racks (if you can wait that long) then serve with plenty of cold milk. 

Well, I made mini frisbees.  A little too flat and a little too greasy, but taste great.  Hoping there will be one or two for SO when he gets home tomorrow.  that was the plan any way.

Followed the previous start, 2 cans of stout, 3 cups of water, onions and celery, oxtail — all in the pot for 35 minutes under pressure.  While that was cooking, I coarsely chopped carrots and orange/yellow bell peppers. Thinly sliced some hot peppers.  Added a hand full of baby spinach leaves, also cut into smaller pieces. Let the stock release pressure naturally. (I went to the bird food store and bank in this intermission.)

Strain the vegetables from the ox-tail broth. Remove the tail pieces and let cool enough to get the meat off the bone. (Better this time).  Put a can of diced tomatoes along with the above noted vegetables into the stew pot; return the broth to the pot; add the meat from the bones.  Recover the pot and return to pressure.  Cook for 4 minutes under pressure. Natural release again.  I’ll let you know how it turned out later.

Day 32 Part 2 Easy Cheat Soup

Ok … I confess! I used a cheat starter for my soup tonight.  I found a box of CORN CHOWDER in the pantry, which did not list garlic on the label.  With the cheat as my inspiration, I chopped up a bit of onion and a YELLOW SQUASH.

Heated oil in the pan then sautéed the onion with a little bit of green chile.  After a little bit of stirring I added the squash.  Again with the stirring to coat with the oil and to begin to sweat the squash. Then added a little cumin and sage.  To this I added the corn chowder and placed the lid on the pot. Checked once and stirred to ensure no stickage.

While that heated through, I chopped up some of the chicken pieces into a large bowl. Added the hot soup on top of the chicken.  Garnished with fresh parsley.  I’m going back for SECONDS.

Day 31 and 32 Pass Uneventfully

The biggest news in the kitchen is that JR landed back in the states, even if his luggage did not.  Still not back in New Mexico, but at least is no longer 1/2 the world away.  Like the title says … not much else of note in the kitchen here during Week 4 – I made another Rotisserie Chicken Stock, which needs the fat strained off and to be frozen in 2 cup servings.  I feast(ed) on chicken off the bone along with left over soup and cumin flat bread.  And I cleaned out the freezer, throwing away 2 grocery sacks of miscellaneous, unrecognizable-due-to-freezer-burn items.  Shelves are again re-organized — MEATS at the bottom, FRUITS & VEGETABLES in the next bin up, topped by frozen stocks, CHILES, and JR’s pizza.  Tossed out old flour and pancake mixes along with the mystery foods.  Dumped the ICE and started over, while also fixing the ice dispenser so that it will again CRUSH the ice.  (Note: We’ve been stuck with whole cubes for months. GASP)  So, I suspect I am ready for the SO’s imminent return.  I do wonder how I will translate all the cooking I have been doing into a more vegetarian friendly fare.  I am suspecting that I can not and I do like having meat protein again.  Though it won’t kill me to add FISH in once or twice a week.  I suppose that I can make the meat in a packet separate from the other items if pushed.  And he can make his own starch if he feels deprived …  Time to reconsider all the cookbooks. A LOVELY way to spend the rest of the afternoon on this wonderful Veteran’s Day holiday.

Day 30 – Already?

Peppered Vinegar:
Ingredients:  A handful of colorful chile peppers, red and green, slim and the right size to fit into a narrow opening of a bottle, and white vinegar. 

Process:  Bring the vinegar to a boil, while waiting stuff the container with chiles, using a funnel or measuring cup so the hot vinegar does not spill everywhere (don’t ask), fill the container.  Leave it open as the peppers will absorb the vinegar, so you will have to add more.  Once full and cooled, put your cork or top on the bottle and place in the refrigerator.
Stay tuned – I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Cumin Flat Bread:  — from a Gourmet Magazine read in Guatemala circa 1999
  •  1 1/3 cup of warm (105 to 115 degrees) water
  • 1 envelope of yeast
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon peel (yellow part only)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons course salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Place warm water in the Kitchenaid Mixer bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast over and stir to combine.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add oil, lemon peel, salt & ground cumin.  Using dough hook attachment, gradually beat in flour. Continue beating 5 minutes.  Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth dough forms (about 2 minutes).  Dough will be very soft.  Lightly oil large bowl.  Add dough; turn to coat.  Cover with plastic and let rise in warm draft free area until doubled in volume — about an hour.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12×18-inch baking sheet with heavy duty aluminium foil.  Brush foil with oil.  Place dough in pan.  Using finger tips, press out dough, covering pan completely. (Dough will be very thin)  Sprinkle with cumin and sesame seeds.  Bake until golden – about 30 minutes.  Loosen bread from foil — Serve warm or at room temperature.

Well – the water was the right temperature – but the kitchen is apparently not WARM – had to put the bowl on the floor in front of the heater vent.  So maybe a little flat – but WOW – the lemon is great in this.  Served this to myself with EMPTY THE BIN VEGETABLE SOUP.  Very, very good.
Empty the Bin Vegetable Soup – is just that.  Tonight I started with chicken stock, collard greens and cooking water (pot liquor), the last of the spinach, a red and yellow bell pepper in a chunky dice, chunky pieces of carrots and sweet potato, a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, a couple of sage leaves sissored into the pot, some herbes de provence, and a few stalks of celery.  All into the pressure cooker – and cooked for 20 minutes beyond reaching pressure.  Perfect with the flat bread.