Thoughtful Thursday – Use It Up – Music to my ears

Lessons learned from the Great Depression, via my Grandmother’s kitchen plaque “Use it up, wear it out, make it last, do without.” For the near future, I’ll be focusing on these four strategies. Starting at the beginning “use it up.” OK this is kind of a no-brainer, use all the ketchup, DON’T let leftovers rot in the back of the fridge, utilize that prepper pantry etc. etc. But when I dug a little deeper, I found a lot of assets I am under-utilizing. One of those is my library. We have a wonderful library here in our little town. Many, many resources both on-line and brick and mortar. I recently had an epiphany about just how important music is to me. It sets the tone for my day, times my workouts, inspires me, soothes me; it can pump me up or lull me to sleep. While we were living in South Dakota, I played background music all day, everyday, on the sound system in our RV. Castle Serenity has no such system and I do not feel inclined to spend the money to purchase a new one, soooo I mostly use my phone. I have a wonderful little resource from my library called Freegal which allows me to download 5 songs per week from the library for free. The same library also offers digital albums to borrow rather like e-books. I have a fairly impressive collection of CD’s that I’ve ripped to my backup drive so all, in all I’ve got LOTS of music available. Now, how to utilize it.

I use a little off-line music player (since they did away with googleplay ;-p) called musicolet, works great and, oh yeah it’s FREE. I curate a new playlist for my mornings every month and I’m adding new playlists for evenings and workouts. Here is my “Morning Activities” play list for June:

Beautiful Day – Joshua Radin
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Mine – Taylor Swift
Time in a Bottle – Jim Croce
59th Street Bridge Song – Harpers Bizarre
Super Trooper – ABBA
Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
Come a Little Bit Closer – Jay and the Americans
Hands – Jewel
Firework – Katy Perry
Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack

There you have it, how I’ve stopped buying music (download or hard copy) by “using up” what I have. If you utilize Spotify, you can also find this playlist here. Next week I’ll touch on the more obvious use for Libraries: reading.

Til next time ~Stay Safe and Be Kind to each other ~JP

Thoughtful Thursday – May Activities

from my polyvore collection

I am finally starting to feel a little more like myself an so there’s a flurry of activity here at Castle Serenity. I have finally admitted that after 2:30 pm I might just as well pack it in and do crafts or something else not strenuous as the afternoon fatigue bogey zaps me. I had this idea to get myself a surprise box subscription. One of my grandpuppies gets a bark box, the daughter gets a human bark box from FabFitFun and it seemed like a really cool idea. BUT, the thing is I’m not at all sure I’m willing to spend $20 – $75 per month on “stuff” no matter how cool the “stuff” is. I mean, really, I have enough “stuff” more than enough truth be told. So, I have began curating my own activities box where I pick a theme and toss stuff in from my craft stash, my “I’m gonna use this someday” stash and other various “stuff” that I want/need to use up. My challenge is to find something to do with all the items in the box by the end of the month. A peek at May’s activity box:

May color focus – Turquoise/Teal thanks to Terri’s Sunday Stills color challenge for this inspiration.

Floral rubber stamp
coloring pages, flowers and swirls
dream box from mint tin craft, lots of stickers and “Legend of the Dreambox” card
Self love card
“I am Beautiful” sigil card
Mountable photo print
misc. small scrapbook papers
lots of ephemera for journaling
culinary – dried thyme
breathwork exercise card
hair product samples
May treat – Candied Hibiscus Flowers
MP3 album Llewellyn – Moon Spells, several other MP3 songs courtesy of my local library via Freegal
E-books – The Vintage Housekeeper’s Circle by Alison May — from my Kindle Collection

So those are the goodies I’m working with this month. I’ll be working on my reading list, playlist, menu plans, outings and nature based activities soon. So what are your big plans for May? Do you post regular monthly activities? If so leave me a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check them out.

Til next time ~May your spoons be plentiful ~JP

Monday Musings – Spoon deficit and women in art

It’s been a week dear friends and my bones are feeling every hour of it. Most of it was spent traveling. Now I’d like to tell you that it was a fun little spring break trip, I’d really, really like to tell you that. Buttttt… it was a “quick” trip to take care of final business transferring our remaining South Dakota property.

We spent six of seven days traversing 2700 miles of misery known as “Interstate across the Great Plains States”. We battled scenic boredom, road fatigue, rain, sleet, snow, and 70 mph wind gusts. I ran out of spoons on day 2 and have been running on spoon deficit ever since.

Make no mistake, spoon deficit is real, and it’s ugly, sleep is no cure and the effects can stretch on for weeks or months. For me, it involves flu-like symptoms including muscle aches, joint pain, fever, chills, and a wracking cough that puts childhood croup to shame. Ahhh well, eventually my immune system will stop it’s current tantrum. In the meantime, I’ve put together a few bits of Public Art for Marsha’s PPAC. I loved Marsha’s review last week of “Women in Public Art” and thought I’d follow suit. So here are a few shots I’ve collected of women in public art.

Advantages of Being a Woman Artist – Guerilla Girls Poster Art 1988

Here a crappy shot of a piece of paper art from the Te Papa museum in Wellington, NZ. The poor focus is a result of incredibly brilliant lighting, smudgy glass overlay and a seriously old cell phone camera. My apologies but it still makes the point. I think my favorite is the first reason “working without the pressure of success.” 😉

Lady Octopus Queens Garden Invercargill, NZ

Here “Lady Octopus” in Invercargill, NZ an interesting interpretation of feminine form. I have always found it fascinating that less than 11% of art in US museums comes from female artists, yet over 85% of human “nudes” art are female in form. Not sure if that’s a compliment to the divine feminine or just gender bias. Ah well, a topic for another post.

Lady of the Woods, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon US

Here’s another interpretation of feminine form in the “Lady of the Woods” sculpture at Crater Lake, Oregon, US. Carved by Dr. Earl Russell Bush in October 1918. It took Dr. Bush just 11 days to create his homage to the beauty of the forest around him out of the huge volcanic boulder using tools he convinced a Corps of Engineers blacksmith to make for him. “This statue represents my offering to the forest, my interpretation of its awful stillness and repose, its beauty, fascination, and unseen life. A deep love of this virgin wilderness has fastened itself upon me and remains today. It seemed that I must leave something behind …. if it arouses thought in those who see it, I shall be amply repaid.”

Dignity – Chamberlain SD US
Wouldst that “Dignity” were that easy to find. 😉

And finally, “Dignity” a 50-foot tall stainless steel sculpture by Dale Claude Lamphere depicts an Indigenous woman in plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. According to Lamphere, “Dignity represents the courage, perseverance and wisdom of the Lakota and Dakota culture in South Dakota. My hope is that the sculpture might serve as a symbol of respect and promise for the future.”

Many thanks to Marsha for the challenge and her inspiration that got me off my spoonie butt today. And, even though it’s not Sunday, I’m gonna link up to Johnbo’s Cellpic Sunday since “Dignity” and “Women Artists” were both shot with various cell phones. 😉

Til next time ~Stay rooted in the ground but keep reaching for the stars ~JP

The Pre Years – a Fandango Flashback Friday Challenge

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday Challenge – a tidbit about life back in 2018, pre-brain surgery, pre-pandemic, pre-hailstorm.

3/18/18 It’s All About Balance

When you’re a spoonie with a family of 2 with chronic and autoimmune diseases, kitchen work can be a considerable challenge. We follow two similar yet different diets at our house. I follow WFPB (Whole Food Plant Based) diet, Superhubs is primarily pescetarian. He eats fish, generally once a day, egg whites as an ingredient and occasionally chicken if we eat out. He’s extremely particular about the type and preparation of fish, hence the occasional chicken and eschews all forms of dairy. We eat LOTS of beans, tofu a couple times per week. Since we are in “travel mode” right now, we eat simple and rather more “packaged” food than we normally would. Today we’re not moving but still follow the same principles. A quick look at our menu for today.

Breakfast: Museli for SH, quick oats for me.

AM snack: SH – 1/2 banana, 1/2 sheet graham cracker, 1/4 cup nuts

Me – 1/2 banana, 1 rice cake

Lunch: Soup with toasted cheese sandwiches, veggie sticks, chips

PM snack: Both – homemade oil-free hummus, crackers, cuties

Dinner: Saag Aloo with chickpea curry

Dessert: Fruit plate, 1/2 spelt muffin w/almond butter (homemade pumpkin butter for me)

As you can see, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. It equates in spoon usage to a part time job. I’ll also do some writing (fiction project) in addition to this and some housework. Trying to figure out how to fit in some exercise since it’s snowing and blowing and too cold outside for my lungs. If the roads clear enough, we may try some “walmart walking” after lunch.

It’s always a challenge, to balance everything, enough rest, enough exercise, nutrition and convenience. The scale moves both ways and every day is different. I tell my yoga learners that balance is not a static thing. Stand in any one leg pose and feel the tiny adjustments your muscles make, especially your feet. Life is like that, balance isn’t something you just find, it’s a thousand tiny adjustments every day that give us the feeling of solidity. Life is always in motion and you have to roll with it. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of a spoonie. A healthy recipe for Saag Aloo (spinach and potatoes) in the slow cooker and a pretty picture for you my friends. Namaste ~oep

Saag Aloo — Serves 2

2 medium to large potatoes, well scrubbed (or peeled if you prefer), any “eyes” or brown spots removed.
1 cup reconstituted broth (I used Better than Bouillon vegetable)
1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons dehydrated onion flakes (or 1/4 Cup chopped onion or 1/2 cup sliced onion if you have it).
1/2 teaspoon each of: cumin, ground corriander, hot chili powder (I use ancho), and graham masala
ground black pepper – a few good shakes

As much spinach slightly torn as you can fit into your slow cooker. Feel free to use a mix of greens, I threw in some collard greens that I needed to use up and a few handfuls of baby spinach. You can add more spinach as it cooks down.


Cut the potatoes into 1 inch or smaller pieces. I, personally do not peel my potatoes, I use organic and the peel is full of nutrients. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook.
Add the broth
Add the spices and onion and stir in.
top with greens, firmer greens on the bottom, spinach on top
Cook on high for 3-5 hours depending on your slow cooker and the size of your potato dice
Add spinach as desired.

There you have it, quick, easy, yummy and slow cooker friendly, especially important on a low spoons day.

My view this morning

street lights cast a blue glow on the snowy branches in Richfield, UT

Til next time ~Duuuuude that’s COLD! ~JP

Tasty Tuesday — Moon Milk Spoonie Version

Photo via Pexels

I love moon milk, you know those fancy-schmancy hot milk before bedtime drinks. Infused with floral essences and calming properties. Sigh …. yeah you know the ones that require three pans and thirty minutes of prep time. Gorgeous though they be, I’m a SPOONIE. By night time I’m lucky if I have enough energy left to watch a half hour of television much less do some picture perfect hoytietoytie drink. So, what’s a spoonie/foodie to do? Improvise! Here for your culinary enjoyment is my adaptation for Lazy Spoonie Moon Milk. As always, see the disclaimer page. I’m not a nutritionist, this is just what works for me.

8 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 celestial seasonings sleepytime lavender tea bag (or other tea of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon ashwaghanda powder (totally optional)
1 five mg fast melt melatonin tablet
sweetener of choice (I use honey)
cinnamon or other spice of choice

Pour almond milk into a microwave safe cup, add tea bag. Microwave until hot but not boiling (mine is usually about 2 minutes). Let teabag steep about 5 minutes. Remove teabag, add melatonin tablet and ashwaghanda powder if using, stir, microwave to reheat. Remove from microwave, add sweetener and top with a pretty little sprinkle of spice.

Sip slowly, with perhaps a biscuit.

So what’s your bedtime beverage of choice? How do you convince your aching muscles to relax at the end of the day?

Til next time ~Keep Calm and sip slowly ~JP

Paleo, Keto, Whole 30 OHMY! – a Saturday Swappit tangent

Di is our host for Saturday Swappit again this week and is asking “have you designed your own diet from the successful bits of others you’ve tried? Have you gone back to one that worked, or found one that worked better for you?”

There are lots, and lots, and lots of diets out there and believe me, I’ve tried most of them. I have been on one diet or another since 1968 when I first went on the “grapefruit and rice” diet at the tender age of 12 because I was seriously alarmed at the size of my breasts. The only one I had any luck with was Atkins back in the 1990’s. I lost 85 lbs. kept off 75 of it ever since but I found the diet to be unsustainable as I got older and my diseases got stronger. My personal experience is simply that diets are like opinions, everybody’s got one and they all work, and they all fail, depending on the individual.

That said, I have ultimately just devised my own based on what I’ve learned in the past 50 years of dietary frustration. We follow a modified Anti-inflammatory/controlled carbohydrate diet here at Castle Serenity. Our foray into anti-inflammatory diets started with Dr. Weil back in the days before it became so commercially popular, with a few modifications. We eat less grains, more beans, lots of fish, tofu at least once a week. We also include some chicken and occasional beef. I eat some dairy (yogurt and some low-fat cheeses) for calcium. Oh and spices, lots and lots of spices. I add ginger to lots of stuff and turmeric to everything else. 😉 😉

I’m currently working on a modification I’m calling the LOL diet (Little Old Lady), OK it’s a fancy way of saying I’m trying to practice better portion control. I have found that counting anything, calories, carbs, fats tends to get me into trouble as I can get more than a little OCD about it. So between Superhubs LADA and my wonky vitamin dysregulation, we’re kind of loosey goosey keeping Superhubs to about 180 gross grams carbs per day and I just try to watch my portions and run a little tighter on fats. We use very little in the way of sugars or sweeteners, avoid trans fats like the plague and eat very few processed foods.

That’s about it. Even though Superhubs and I both get a little frustrated with the whole autoimmune dietary issues thing, we are both doing extremely well. SH’s diabetes consultant lauds our work and his numbers are in target range 99+% of the time. My CRP (C-reactive Protein) which is used to measure overall bodily inflammation levels are virtually nil. So to quote my pulmonologist “whatever you’re doing … keep doing it.”

Til next time ~Stay calm and back away from the donut ~JP

I Put on Pants – A Spoonie Award

I don’t mean to brag, but I am totally rockin this day. Not only did I get out of bed, but I put. on. pants! Yesterday was what could euphemistically be called a “low spoons” day. In all honesty, it was, in fact, a total, complete train wreck. Including meltdowns and tantrums. Now I’d like to tell you that it was a visiting grandchild that threw said tantrum, but, alas, it was none other than me. I wish I could tell you that this is an exceedingly rare event but no, it’s rather too common for comfort and I’m considering just penciling it into my planner for like “Monday Meltdown” or “Tuesday Tantrum”. All it takes is a trip to the hardware store where we did not find what we wanted, well OK we did but not at a price we were willing to pay, and it’s a new sump pump because we’re (read that Superhubs) not sure if the one we have works and we’re supposed to get five inches of rain over the next three days.

Then, just one innocuous comment, a casual dismissal of something I have taken it into my head matters more than a cure for cancer. Something that matters not one jot, something stupid like trying to follow Superhubs hand signals as he guides me through parking the car in the garage around the gargantuan garbage can and the stupid cardboard boxes that are STILL HERE from our move three months ago. I mean really? I have to negotiate my way around the ancient box springs that we had to move out of the house and the garage is as far as it got because we have no idea how to get rid of it. Because it’s not that I have depth perception issues or blurry vision from lack of anything remotely resembling a tear film in my eyes, and you know, I have to do EVERYTHING around here. And no don’t you dare offer to park it for me! Boom! BAM! SOCKeroooo! It’s like a bloody Batman Show (the real one with Adam West). Yes, a sixty-something great grandmother sat in the middle of the floor blubbering like an over stimulated two-year-old.

Fortunately, I am blessed with Superhubs who sits down beside me, holds me, makes little shushing sounds until the worst of the weeping subsides. And then asks “what hurts?” So I can sob out “EVERYTHING!” Yeah, that’s one of the worst parts of being a spoonie. Painger is a very real thing. It’s when you think you’re angry but, really, you’re just in pain.

So, in light of yesterday’s emotional train wreck, I decided to reward myself with a Spoonie Award. I’m wearing pants, and that’s a step in the right direction. Fellow Spoonies, always remember that you are amazing, strong, powerful health warriors. It’s OK to lose it once in awhile, grab your heating pad, tylenol and a cup of tea, go snuggle up. Do what you can to take care of you, this day will pass and tomorrow is another day.

Til later ~ Too low on spoons to give a fork ~JP

Saturday Swapit – a recipe exchange

Oooooohhhh a recipe swap! DI over at pensivity is hosting Saturday Swapit, a recipe and healthy eating idea swap. I am so totally in. Here at Castle Serenity, we eat duo. Two different diets. Mostly we eat the same thing, just different quantities and add ons. Superhubs is a LADA diabetic so carb control is essential. At a whopping 60 grams of carbohydrate (that’s gross count including fiber) per meal, I get a little inventive sometimes. I, on the other hand am most definitely NOT diabetic, I’m just poofy.

“I’m not fat, it’s all this fur, it makes me look big. I’m poofy.” ~Manny the Mammoth in Ice Age.

Another big factor around here is spoon levels. We’re both spoonies and often it just depends on what I can throw together by the end of the day. This little bit of awesomeness fits both bills.

Broccoli Bowl

Basics (for 2)

1 Tablespoon good quality whole grain mustard

1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (I use raw) or other vinegar of your liking

2 Cups lightly steamed broccoli florets (I use frozen and a microwave)

1 Cup cooked brown rice

1 can of tuna well drained (we use 7 oz split into thirds)


1/4 Cup guacamole or avocado mash

and 2 Tablespoons sliced almonds


1 Tablespoon goat cheese crumbles (or low fat feta) mixed with

1 Tablespoon well drained low fat small curd cottage cheese


Mix mustard and vinegar together, pour over steamed broccoli and toss to coat.

In a bowl, layer 1/2 brown rice and 1/3 – 2/3 of the broccoli

Top with 1/3 – 2/3 of the tuna

Top with either the avocado mash and almonds or cheese mix*

Obviously, Superhubs gets the larger of the bowls as at over 6 feet tall his caloric requirements are quite a bit more than mine. If I have a bit more spoons (energy) I’ll also throw on some red bell pepper, cucumber, or other diced, sliced vegetables and maybe substitute some poached chicken breast for the tuna.

*I like to drain some low fat small curd cottage cheese (because I don’t like ricotta) and mix it with various cheeses. Keeps the calories and costs down.

Til next time ~Stay Wild Moonchild ~JP

Tuesday Tangents – I Need Winter

“The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”
~Lewis Carroll

My lake is frozen solid today. One tiny portion thawed for a time this afternoon then promptly glazed back over. It is smooth with crystalline textures. Leaves lie in stasis, captured in the glassy layer like silk garlands. It is frigid and beautiful and perfect. A reminder of all that Winter holds, the warmth of a cup of tea in my hands as I gaze out my window at the sun reflecting on the ice. Winter is a time for rest and reflection. A time to come to grips with all the changes we’ve been through this past three years. Oh yes, I need this Winter.

Feelings shift like oceans
beneath the frozen ice
glaciers of emotions
pain too long denied
struggle against the cold
mind closed against the truth
pressures build, exploding in
a single tear of crystal blue

OK enough tangent talk for now, I’m going to “google” how best to prepare monkfish.

Til next time ~Cold never bothered me anyway ~JP