Extra: Tadaima! I’m Home!

Tadaima! That’s what Japanese kids shout to their mothers as they kick off their outdoor shoes and shuffle into house slippers after a long day at school. Husbands and wives also use it to announce their arrival home from work or the market or a neighborly visit. Tadaima! That’s how I feel today. May 1st, the day of my return to the blog, has arrived. The break was marvelous; I feel like I’m coming home from a vacation, refreshed, relaxed, and ready to write again.

It’s been a few months, so I guess a recap is in order. Here are a couple highlights (and lowlights!) of 2015:

What’s With All This Bookbinding Business?

Dave took a bookbinding class this semester (REQUIRED for his degree! Lucky duck!). I was jealous at first, not gonna lie, but then I realized that I had before me an incredible opportunity to learn secondhand! Ever since, I’ve been unofficially piggybacking along with Dave’s class, paying close attention to his work, learning lots of new techniques, making some of the projects and itching to give it an honest-to-goodness TRY OF MY OWN. As of this week, his final projects have all been turned in, the dust is settling and all of his surplus supplies are now in my hands! I’m thrilled, but not everyone in our life shares the sentiment…

“I know why YOU’RE making books,” my brother-in-law said to Dave last weekend, “you’ve got a degree on the line, but why,” he wondered, turning to me, “are YOU doing it? I mean, two hundred years ago you may have been on to something, but we’ve got machines to make these now! And they make them REALLY well.”

None of my arguments—the pleasure of learning a craft, the ability to custom make books to suit special projects, the joy of joining a group of people whose profession changed history—seemed to affect his perspective in any way. Can you believe that? 😉 I know the skill isn’t enormously practical, but I still think it’s a marvelous idea, so hand-bound books there be! More to come on Handmade Mondays…

The Problematic Planting:

I planted seeds indoors in early March in sprouting trays. I expected the little guys to take a couple weeks to germinate, then spend about five or six weeks growing at a leisurely rate until the early May outdoor planting date rolled around. Boy, oh, boy, was I ever wrong!

I thought I was being smart. First, I put the seed trays in the warmest, sunniest room in the house. Then, I covered them with those clear plastic covers which hold in heat and moisture. THEN, I popped the domed trays into a little greenhouse cabinet (a metal shelf with a clear plastic covering that drapes over it). Thirty hours later, I learned an important lesson. Turns out, a gardener can be overly inviting. I was way too hospitable. Seems seeds will sprout almost instantly when kept moist, cozy and triple warm. (Check, check and check!). I’m pretty sure any ONE of my three techniques (warm room, greenhouse cabinet, and plastic domes) would have been sufficient to sprout and grow tomatoes and cabbages at a normal speed. Combined, they morphed into a sort of jungle-esque biosphere, launching those unsuspecting sprouts out of their seed capsules at an alarming speed and generating leaves at a rate which would have satisfied even Jack’s magic bean stalk.

It was amusing at first, but two weeks into the project I had 4-inch-tall tomato plants and I began to worry. They still had a long way to go. Could they hold on? Did they stand a chance? Would they survive? I lost most of the cabbages. The tomatoes are hanging in there…but I’m not out of the woods yet! Weather predictions say it should be okay to plant next week. Here’s hoping they’ll perk back up when they get their roots in some good garden soil! *Sigh* Isn’t it the worst when you try really hard and STILL manage to mess up!?! Oh, well! Life! 😉

The Turmeric Trial Run…and Other Food Fun!

Soups, stews, curries, and other one-pot wonders have been on the stove and in our bellies a lot this year. I can’t wait to share some of the recipes with you on Food Fridays!

I’ve also started eating turmeric paste (made with turmeric powder, water, coconut oil and freshly ground black pepper) three times a day. I heard the word that there are loads of health benefits connected with the super root, so I decided to experiment on myself. Worried about the decision? I DID get my neurologist’s support before starting. He approved wholeheartedly when I suggested taking the turmeric in addition to my seizure medication.

“Of course I do not mind,” he said. “I am from India. Millions of people eat turmeric every day. I am included. In fact, would you like me to bring in a curry recipe for you?” he joked.

“That would be great!” I exclaimed.

He probably thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t. I doubt I’ll ever get my hands on the recipe, but if I DO, I’ll try to share it with you all!

Anyway, my first bag of turmeric powder seemed to work pretty well. Things got worse for a short while before they got better, which is apparently normal as your body detoxes, but there was a definite change. My second bag didn’t seem to do anything. I kept at it for a while, but I wasn’t getting any of the benefits and I had some seizures. I wondered if the spice itself might be to blame, so I tossed that batch and tried again with a different brand of turmeric. Curcumin, one of the beneficial elements in turmeric, is beginning to catch the eye of pill-makers, so some turmeric producers are starting to separate it out before packaging the spice for culinary usage. This means the medicinal qualities of the turmeric you buy off the grocery store shelf may be substantially decreased. A higher quality brand turmeric powder was more expensive, but so far, so good! I’m back on track. I’m going to keep this up for 6 months before making any official statement about how I think it is affecting me, but I will say so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised and I look forward to evaluating at the 6 month mark.

(By the way, if anyone is interested in learning more about the health benefits of turmeric and deciding if you want to add it to your own eating routine, I highly suggest joining the Turmeric User Group on Facebook. It’s enormous. It has over 80,000 members, lots of good information, and the administration and many of the members are really knowledgeable and helpful. But do be warned, it IS a self-help group began by a veterinarian, and it caters to both humans and animals, so many people who join are seeking medical advice for their ailing dogs and horses. And they post a lot of pictures…good, bad, and ugly! It’s very informative, and the photos don’t bother me one bit, but if your stomach is weak, this may not be your best avenue for self education. Just saying’!)

Anyway, those are a few little things I’ve been up to! I hope you all have had a wonderful start to the year!



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