Wednesday, May 2, 2018


Our long winter seems to be finally ending with quite a bang as we've had a few days near 90F. The plants around us are taking advantage and blooming with a swiftness that  makes it hard to remember that we were bundled up with winter jackets just a week prior and still seeing only gray and brown.

And as if to remind us that summer will be fast approaching, leaving a very short spring here in Michigan, we're already experiencing a thunderstorm with warm humidity and the chorus of peepers nearly drowning out the distant rumbles.

I'm writing this from my spot by my book nook window. I've got a view west, where all our storms come from and I've been watching the giant clouds of lightning slowly pass to the south of us. Our direct storms aren't forecast for another hour but I've enjoyed the show so far. I have other things I want to be doing, like continuing catching up on a new podcast (Critical Role Vox Machina) or some sewing.

But I've got a sick 2 year old who went to bed not long ago and I'm worried that I'll miss her cries. Even not feeling well she is spunky and kind and very attached to her routine. We crawl into bed together and she gets a kiss from Daddy and then I get a kiss from Daddy. This must happen every time. And then the lights are turned out, the cats shoo'd from the room and she and I snuggle in together.

"Mamilk?" She pats my breast and always asks, even if she forgets the please more often than not. She always asks. And I consent and she makes happy little sounds as she latches. When she's sick, I am always grateful that she still nurses, both for the comfort and the immune boosts it can provide. It's my little trick of comfort I always have tucked away and when she stops nursing a part of me will miss the guaranteed calming it gives my kids.

She's got a grasp on math already because we cannot skip the other breast, by the way. She'll stop on my right and tell me she's "all done" and then take a drink of water. Then she'll pat the other side of my chest.

"Moy?" This time I make sure she uses please. Tonight I'm worried that despite the fluid intake she's getting is good, that it isn't going to stay down and I'll end up cleaning it up later. We've already prepped her bed for that eventuality.

But we keep nursing. I play sudoku on my phone while she squeezes me rhythmically. She's finished in not too long a time and rolls over with a quiet "ni night momma". There's no protest about bed. She's tired and ill and will welcome rest in those times. I want to stay with her all night but she'll get better sleep if I leave. I just really loathe leaving her to potentially get sick and not get to the bucket in time.

But maybe if she falls asleep quickly enough the nausea will remain at bay, so I leave her room, shutting the door as quietly as possible.

And now I'm sitting by the window of a dark house, breathing in the air that smells like rain is on the way, and watching the clouds be illuminated in infrequent flashes of light. It's a peaceful night and there's honestly nowhere else I'd rather be.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

DIY Dino Dig

Saving this for later. I'll be making these for Hazel's birthday party on Saturday.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Out of Sorts Healthwise

I had my Novasure ablation a couple weeks ago and while recovery seemed to be swift, it jumpstarted my period two weeks early and it hasn't stopped. Things are weird, is the best way I can describe it. If this is my period it's nothing like I've ever had before, which is nice, but it also hasn't stopped, which is less nice. I've also had bad cramps to go along with it.

On Friday, while at work, what felt like a combination of constipation and uterine cramping pretty much brought me to my knees. I was sweating from the pain. I'd rate it equal to my gall bladder attacks and more severe than pitocin contractions in labor, only because I at least got a couple seconds to breath pain free between contractions. On friday it was just an unending torrent. After vomiting and promptly googling my symptoms, I shot a text to my husband to come take me to the ER. Michigan has horrid potholes right now. The drive to the hospital was basically torture. Every jolt made things worse.

We spent the afternoon there and I got an ultrasound and CT scan to be told "UTI".  I also got morphine, which was nice, if surprising.

Well damn. That was awful. I've never had a UTI before that I know of and this was not what I would have expected.

I recovered through the weekend, barely eating Saturday because my belly was still tender. My poop habits were also weird, so I do wonder if it wasn't a touch of constipation as well, yet today, after having a day of normal goings (Sunday) I get to work and I was hit by the pain again, just not as bad. I took a ton of ibuprofen and it faded off again.

I still feel bloated and my metformin hasn't caused me to have my normal bathroom habits. I didn't dare get coffee because I was in too much pain when I would normally get coffee.

Things that concern me:

This period thing started the day after I did a long ride on Gwyn. I was told no sex but figured I'd be fine for riding. I wonder if I over did it? I have a followup this wednesday with my doctor to pursue this.

The period is on day 8. It started last monday and while it hasn't changed it also hasn't stopped.

It's WAY stinkier than I am normally. It makes me think complications yet the ultrasound showed normal stuff for after this surgery.

Either way, I'm glad that I'll be having my followup in a few days. I'd like to figure out what my normal is, or my new normal.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Neck Strap DIY

So, neckstrap DIY time. I roached Gwyn's mane and needed something to hang onto in moments of super fast acceleration. This was my solution.  Material: Nylon webbing and a buckle.
I chose bright lime green because I'm in the Green Bean Endurance group and I wanted some way to identify myself. Once Gwyn's mane is longer I'll just braid in green ribbon. 
First, secure the strap on the non adjustable side. Some buckles are adjustable on both sides. I opted for one side fixed.

Square and cross with a straight stitch.

Add pyrotechnics to seal the edge of the nylon so it won't fray.

Thread the adjustable side and seal the edge again with fire/heat.

Test it.

Approval! With extra length just in case.

Bonus: I made two more belts! These are for sale and will fit a larger waist size rider.  There is a black with gold geometric ribbon and a navy with teal ribbon.

It was sunny and warm today so I removed Gwyn's blanket.

We had kisses and cuddle time


"I nom your phone, Mom"

Then I got itches in return for scratching her.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Equestrian Surcingle Belt

I follow a horse blog called DIY Horse Ownership.  It's pretty much in line with my thoughts on horse ownership, and I do love to DIY something if it means it'll be cheaper. I also feel like I own the end result more, take pride in it.

In December, they posted a link on how to make your own Surcingle Belt! Now their thought process was mostly driven by cost. Mine is driven by 'what is available in my size'? Belts for riding are NOT one of them. To that end, this DIY project was right up my alley.

I finally made a trip to Joann Fabrics (before I got sick on Saturday, it really came out of nowhere) and got some supplies. Because really, this looks like an amazing project and if I can sell some... well, that's even better! I could even market to the plus size rider group. 

Tonight I finally felt well enough and had kid free time to sit down and make one.  When I got the cotton belting, one of the pieces was less than a yard. Not great for an adult size belt, but perfect for Kaylee. I also found some clearance ribbon with Frozen characters which Kaylee immediately took a liking toward. So my first attempt won't be for sale, but will be for Kaylee!

While I do a basic DIY, I recommend heading to the blog link above. Their instructions are fantastic.

My short piece of belting and the clearance ribbon.

First, measure out your ribbon so it's 6 in longer than your belting. Pin the ribbon to the belting.

Sew the ribbon to the belting

Attach all the buckles and badaboom, you're done! (LOL, told you to go to the other blog)

I think Kaylee will be thrilled.  

This belt has a waist size range of 20-32 in so perfect for kids and highly adjustable. Total cost, not including thread, needles and pins is $11.14. It took me less than an hour to make, my very first time. I consider myself an advanced beginner sewer, fwiw.

January Fitness Roundup

This is for accountability.

The goals I set for myself in Endomondo include treadmill walking/cardio 3x a week, yoga/core workouts 2x and 30 minutes minimum of riding each week.   The 30 minutes is more to encourage me to actually get out and ride, not because I think that's near enough with my show goals for the year. I'll actually be tracking mileage.

Let's see how I did, eh?

Endomondo has a handy visual calendar we can use!

The first week is a known bust. This challenge to myself starts on the 8th

Week 1: 4 cardio, 1 horse (.33 miles), 1 day of yoga/stretching
Conclusion? Pretty good.

Week 2: 1 riding (2.53 miles), 2 cardio on the same day, 1 yoga, not as good

Week 3: 2 cardio on the same day, nothing else, bleh

Week 4: 1 awesome ride! (6.31 miles), 1 cardio session

So I was gung ho the first week on, and okay the rest. I was active every week, and that is an improvement from nothing. Each week is a fresh start!

January Mileage Total for Riding: 9.17 miles
This will only increase as I figure out scheduling and as the weather starts to improve. This is way better than January of last year.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Marriage of Science and Art Supplies

To start, I cannot say enough excellent things about Well Inked Box. They are a quarterly subscription box of cultivated art supplies. Each box has a theme and the most recent was Watercolors! One of the founders is in an online support group with me and it's awesome supporting women owned small businesses!  They are based in Canada and got their start through Kickstarter. They are totally passionate about writing and art supplies and really find some unique things to share in their box.

They do ship to the US and I find it's definitely worth the price. If you like what I show you here, you can use the code AMYM for 15% off! I don't get a kickback, but I like supporting my friends :)  

The box comes well packaged

As with most subscription boxes, you get a list and description of the sample that are included with each shipment

Watercolor Samples.

Here's a video guide to what was in my box

All of that to say, I brought the trading card watercolor paper to work with me. We get a shipment a couple times a week (more or less) from a watercolor producer (not featured in Well Inked but I'm also not going to name them for privacy concerns) and I wanted to experiment with the colors as I test them. My challenge to myself was to only use what I had in the lab (aside from the appropriate paper) and to see what I could come up with.

So the following little cards were made with the lab supplies I had in my testing of the paints (spreaders, pipette and a rough brush plus my gloved fingers). I really liked that the cards were small. It felt less intimidating to experiment and just play and not have specific goals in mind or an image to create. I would definitely buy these cards again, or just cut up some of my larger watercolor paper into small pieces for little practice pieces.

I had fun with them! I hope you enjoy them.

This was made only with the plate spreader and the gradations of our dilutions

Fingers and pipette only

Rough brush

Pipette only

Prewet and rough brush. A very rough water scene

Pipette only

Pipette and fingers

Pipette only with several dilutions

I call this " -3 -7 "    It shows the dilution strengths we use

Fingers and pipette

Monday, January 15, 2018

Marooned in South Carolina

Okay, so the title might be a bit dramatic, but it is somewhat accurate!

On New Year's Day we woke the kids up super early and headed to the airport for two quick flights to Myrtle Beach, SC. My parents have retired and purchased a house near, but not on, the beach just outside of Myrtle Beach. This was to be our holiday visit to them. As it so happens, we brought the ridiculously cold weather with us, though we avoided the terrible negative temperatures in Michigan.

It was supposed to be a fairly quick trip. Fly down on Monday, return Friday. With the storms all along the east coast, and a connection in Newark, NJ, we ended up not getting home until very late Tuesday, 4 days after our original return.  Third time was the charm, apparently, and all it took was a sacrifice of a water bottle to the Myrtle Beach Airport and the purchase of another carry on to hold all of our shit.

Ah, life with kids.

Despite all that, it was a nice trip to see my parents. I will agree with my husband though, from now on if we can't get a direct flight there and back, we're just going to drive.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Riding Skirt: Prototype 1

So I've made my awesome quarter sheet (that I have a few additions still left to do, namely a tail cord and maybe some weights so it actually stays centered on Gwyn's butt) and with temperatures now in the single and negative digits, I decided I can't put this off a year and need to get moving on making a riding skirt.

I've seen one website linked a couple times from different horse friends of these awesome riding skirts made by a woman owned business in Alaska. These things look spectacular and there are a couple different kinds for all sorts of weather. There's one made out of what appears to be a sleeping bag or heavy duty winter coat material, a wool one, a duck canvas one and a lighter one for rain.

I really want all of them. But my bank account says NONE.  They are seriously so expensive. But I do already have a sewing machine and a serger. And JoAnn's has fleece for 50% off like every day (just mark it down to that price, silly capitalists!)

I figured I could make a working muslin of a riding skirt with cheap fleece and once I perfected the pattern, go and snag some decent winter jacket material from Seattle Fabrics so I have a REALLY warm one!

Image Heavy Below this link! 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

St. Lucia Buns

My main cultural heritage is Swedish. My mom's side of the family are somewhat recent immigrants (my great grandparents immigrated from Sweden) and I know we are still in contact with others in the family who stayed in Sweden. One thing I've been trying to do is recapture that side of my heritage to share with the girls.

A big celebration at midwinter is the St. Lucia's Day or the Feast of St. Lucia. It's like a pagan/christian combo holiday like most at midwinter and is usually celebrated on December 13. It used to be celebrated on the winter solstice but got moved and coopted once Christianity came to town. Now it's part of Advent and the celebration of light.

The girls are still too young to dress in a white gown and wear a wreath with candles on their heads, so this year is us just dipping our toes into celebrating it. But as I was charged with bringing desserts for Christmas Day with the family, I decided to make the saffron sweet bread that is typically eaten at that feast!

I used this recipe from the NYT.  St. Lucia Buns It was fairly easy for a beginner to make, and I'm pretty sure they came out good. The saffron is VERY strong, and you use a lot of it, which makes them fairly expensive to make. After grinding, 1g became my 3/4 of a teaspoon. It's a LOT of saffron threads. So heads up.

I took pictures as I made them today and you can follow along!  I'll recreate the recipe here on the blog if you can't access the NYT website for whatever reason.

Make sure you have everything plus your recipe!


  • 6 ounces butter, melted
  • 2 ½ cups lukewarm milk
  • ¾ teaspoon saffron
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1.7 ounces fresh yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds wheat flour, or as needed
  •  Beaten egg, for brushing
  •  Raisins, for garnish.

 Place the butter and milk in a medium bowl.
Amy's Tip of the Day: If your husband has not cleaned the mortar and pestle out after grinding up super spicy peppers, use some rice and just grind on that for a little while. The rice soaks up the capsaicin and coloring and you're left with a clean mortar and pestle!
Do not rub your eyes after trying to clean it the old way. Or your nose.
 Using a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron with a pinch of the sugar, and stir into the mixture
All those little flecks are the saffron.

This was my first time using fresh yeast in a brick. The package said it was good until Jan 2018 but man... I dunno. The microbiologist in me was skeptical. I mean, I know it's a yeast, but I saw some filamentous fungi on this stuff. Also, 1.7 oz is a LOT of yeast! It was almost this whole brick (2 oz)!!!  I was able to cut out the stuff I thought was bad/discolored to pare down to 1.7, so that worked out okay. 
 In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a little of the lukewarm butter mixture, then add the remaining butter mixture, the remaining sugar and the salt.

Let 5 year olds help where possible for best memory making.

Nailed it again. 2lb of flour

Yes, those eggs are out on the countertop. They are straight from a chicken's cloaca though, so they're shelf stable so long as they're not cracked. #themoreyouknow #besteggsever
 Gradually add enough of the flour (almost all of it) to make a workable dough, kneading for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook. 
Dough hook it is. Best. Wedding Present. Ever.

 Shape into a ball, sprinkle with a little flour and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 30 to 45 minutes.
Photo credit to the hoosband.
 Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and knead in additional flour if the dough is sticky. Shape as desired into buns, braids or lengths.
Star Wars Cheezits definitely necessary for this recipe to work well. Also, those silicone baking mats are the fucking bomb. Highly recommend. Merry Early Christmas to meeeeeee.
 Place on lined baking sheets, and allow to rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400F.
My dough shaping was not on point at first.

Hoosband takes silly photos of the scientist/baker/mom extraordinaire.

 Brush the buns with beaten egg, and press raisins lightly into the dough.
Much more on point dough shapes. The bottom row were made by Kaylee. <3 

12 minutes was about the magic number for the sizes I made. Super quick to bake. All the time is spent in prep, really.
 Bake until golden and risen, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a bun comes out dry. Smaller buns may take 8 to 10 minutes; larger lengths and braids, 15 to 20 minutes.

Things I will try next time:
  • A recipe that uses less saffron
  • smaller bits of dough for finer looking final products
  • warming up the milk a bit more before adding the melted butter, it immediately separated and solidified and I ended up nuking it a touch to get it liquid
  • Buy saffron well before christmas eve, LOL, and not try to look for it at my super limited grocery store
  • more raisins, omnomnomnom