TannieSpace

geekery, drawing and then some

2010 (old posts, page 2)

Making icelollies (and drawing it)

I made ice-lollies. I quit sugar last sunday (meaning, refined sugar, not the kind found naturally in fruit, veg, honey and such). The heat wave decided to test me or something.

I used my fancy ladybug shaped vegetable peeler to peel two pears, and added a banana. I blended until somewhat smooth — ooh chunks of fruit in ice-cream! — and then poured the mixture in the ice-lollie-shapes I had. With one left, I added some lemonade, because that always works.

And I made drawings of it.

I stepped out of my comfort zone for this, quite literally. I stood in my kitchen drawing this and found that I prefer sitting down for my drawing. Standing cramps up my other arm, the one holding the book.

But still, here you have it. Instructions on how to make fruity ice-lollies. I did add a bit of maple-syrup though I wonder if I really needed too.

And I love my new vegetable peeler! It slips right onto my fingers and I can use my whole hand to peel.

drawing1

drawing2


Useful planting things

I’ve tried out a few new things this year with my balcony / gardening to make it easier to take care of the plants.

I installed the Gardena Micro-drip System. It did cost a bunch, and one May find cheaper alternatives (I couldn’t here, so I went for this), but so far so very worth it. I have most of my containers set up, only need to do the last few pots, which means I only have to hook up the garden-hose and turn it on and the plants get watered. I took care in placing the drippers and sprinklers in the right place to not waste water — or at least, as little as possible. I water some parts manually, because that works out better.

It creates a better controlled watering — and less waste of water — than me hauling the big watering can around.

For even better watering I added clay pellets to the bottom of most of my containers. This works because the holes in the containers sit above these pellets. The pellets need some time to suck up the water, so this way they sit in a layer of water for an hour or so until they absorbed it all. After that, they slowly release the water, keeping the plants happy.

The heat wave we had this week didn’t kill off many of my plants, which I consider proof that the system works!

For sowing I bought some of those peat pellets I’ve read about. I though about using them last year, however, considering their price I didn’t buy them back then. This year I bought some to try and I really like them. No messing about with trying to get the poor little seedling out of the tray. The gauze around them degrades over time, although I sometimes remove it if the roots haven’t grown through them yet. I’ve only planted a few seedlings out using these pellets and they all do well, which May or May not mean anything.

The second photo some of my mini lettuces, tiny seedlings. I have seeds for leaf lettuce and for heads of lettuce. The leafy ones I sow in a container (last picture) and for the second batch of heads I decided to try the pellets. More control over the result, I think.

I also like how I can place these little pellets in any tray I have. For the set of lettuces I only needed a small one so I recycled a little plastic tray from the store (I think it contained mushrooms or veggies). The mini greenhouse seemed a bit overkill (hello heat wave) for this purpose.

So far, I feel very pleased with the gardening results. I’ve harvested plenty of lettuce / leafy greens so far and have much more of that on the way. The tomatoes have started to grow by the dozen and I see bean-pods everywhere. I’ve had very tasty strawberries and all my herbs do well. Even the oregano that got a big blow because of the heat has started to grow again (yay!). I also have a few plants for my mother, they also look healthy. I did lose a bunch of tomato seedlings, which makes me a little sad, but seeing how I didn’t have that much place left for them and they didn’t look that strong and healthy, I can live with them becoming compost.


Solar panel

Solar panel.

I bought a little solar panel recently. It lies in my windowsill, with open window, sucking up the sun’s rays.

At night it recharges my phone, which works very well. It came with lots of different plugs to charge different phones and even my Nintendo DS. I like that I can use the sun to charge things. It also has a separate attachment so it can charge batteries. I haven’t tried that out yet.

I made this drawing while my hand hurt badly and cramped up a lot. Not the smartest thing I ever did.


Drawing my hat.

img

I went out to the mall (yes, we have one!) for some groceries and somewhat needed purchases and failed horrible in the last category. They did not have what I wanted.

Crossing the large parking-lot to the stores I realised I forgot to bring my hat (or cap). My scalp burns easily — which hurts — so on sunny days like today I wear protection. I hopped into the nearest clothing store and found exactly one hat. A simply grey-ish bucket hat. I now have a full quartet of bucket hats.

It posed nicely for my drawing.


Software sucks

I spent a frustrating few hours yesterday and today trying to get things to work properly. I updated to WordPress 3.0 (it went well in a test-environment) and then stuff started to break big time.

I use Textile for markup and suddenly, that caused issues. I tried switching it off, and switching to a lighter version, and I still had trouble editing and displaying posts. Eventually I deleted the WordPress files and installed them again and tried to get everything to work again as I wanted.

Then my RSS-feed broke and Feedburner started to complain.

I think I fixed it…

I really hope I did…


Two more salads.

Homemade salad.

Salad with shrimp.

I made two more salads from the lettuce on balcony. The mini lettuces grew a bit bigger than expected but do deliver ‘one head per person’, which works out great for me.

The first salad I made with one head of mini oak leaf lettuce (weighing in at 74 grams) and some loose leaves (24 grams)[^fn1], and a bunch of rucola flowers. They seem to grow well and the flowers taste sweet. I chopped up some tomatoes and orange bell pepper from the store, and added some chunks of marinated artichoke-hearts. To give it some more protein, I added salad cheese (like feta, but lighter).

The second salad I made with another head of oak leaf lettuce (69 grams) and some loose leaves (20 grams)[^fn2] . I also added rucola flowers, and some red leaves(HG) to give it more colour. I used mostly water pepper which tastes a bit spicy, very nice, and added the rest of the orange pepper. For protein I grilled some shrimp for ten minutes or so in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, chopped scallion(HG) and some parsley(HG).

I try to add more protein to my salads currently. As far as animal protein goes, I can only stomach(pun very much intended) seafood, cheese, eggs and sometimes a bit of yoghurt, which I’ll use for the dressing mostly. Luckily for me they don’t cause any allergic reaction, so yaay for that :)

I seem to do much better with a mostly vegs and fruit base, which brings on some interesting challenges. On the very good side, it doesn’t fill me up very much.

Maybe next time I’ll draw the shrimp before grilling them. Or after, since they have to cool down anyway…

Total harvest: 187 grams of lettuce, woohoo!

*[HG]: HomeGrown


The ongoing search for proper medication

Campanula flowering.

Most people with RA know the process of finding the right medication for their situation. The disease behaves roughly the same in every person, however, the specific differences make it a lot harder to find proper medication. No one pill will fix everyones issues. Some medication works for about 75% of the cases, and then the other 25% has the option of using some other medication which, again, also only works for 75% or so.

Trying to treat RA means having to try different combinations of medication, and different medications on their own.

I’ve had a mild form of RA so far, yet mine seems pretty stubborn. It reacts well to MTX on its own, although it never goes away completely. Once I experienced some sort of remission; or at least, a complete absence of pain. This happened right after my surgery, while I had loads of opiates and other painkillers and antibiotics and what not in my body. It lasted for about two weeks after surgery, and I think that the summer itself helped. My RA acts up badly during wet weather (which, here, means all year except those few summer days. That year however, we had a heatwave, which caused entirely new problems).

Only once before I seemed to have started to get in under control. At that time I took part in a trial with a new form of Interleukin-1 blocker (a so-called ‘biologic’). As a side-effect of that blocker, my white-bloodcell-count dropped briefly, resulting in me not getting it for two weeks or so, and after that I could continue. It felt great, the pain almost completely went away in a matter of weeks — RA medications tend to take months to work properly, making the whole search harder.

And then I learned about my cancer-gene. And then they terminated my participation in the trial. The blocker had a slightly increased risk of cancer, and with the gene the doctors — understandably — did not want to take that risk. After all, they needed the most neutral information possible to get it on the market (that never happened, I learned a year later).

Last Thursday, when visiting my rheumy, he brought up biologics again because my symptoms didn’t go away. He wanted to discuss with the RA-team if I could and should get them, and which ones. He explained the higher risks of cancer (mostly lymphoma) and how they don’t really know how it all worked yet and how RA-specialists around the world argued about the risks. He said he would discuss it and then phone me the next day.

Of course I got excited, the MTX alone doesn’t seem to help enough (highest dosage doesn’t take away any pain, just the swelling) and on top of it all, it makes me damn nauseous.

He phoned me, as promised, and explained that the team does not want to take the risk (yet) with my history of having had cancer and that stupid gene. I will start an intensive physical therapy program soon (already planned before last Thursday) and they want to wait and see if that will make a difference (and if so, how much). He also prescribed me a lower dosage of MTX (almost half of my current dosage), a double dosage of folic-acid and anti-nausea medication. I think my RA will get worse these coming few months, despite the summer. I also think the physical therapy will help at least a little bit.

I will know more in October…


Another day, another salad

Salad with flowers.

Today I made another salad from balcony-greens. I’ve lost track of what greens exactly, though I know I had cut-and-come-again lettuce, some chard, some purslane (I think), and some herbs. It also had a surprising nice amount of fennel in it, which gave the salad a fresher taste. I added some cherry tomatoes(SB(StoreBought)), some chives (HG(HomeGrown)), some salad-cheese(SB(StoreBought)) and a hardboiled egg. Added a blob of slasaus (best described as Dutch salad-Mayonnaise) and a few dried herbs, pepper and salt.

As an extra I added a few of the rucola flowers that started growing on the balcony. They made it look pretty and tasted good too.

Can’t wait for the Indian Cress and violas to flower so I can start add them too!


A drawing to end a day of hard work.

Blue cocktail.

Today I had a good day and I decided to hoover — yes, ‘hoover’, I actually have a Hoover — the sofa. This always takes a bit of work with all the pillows to move around. I figured that as long as I had to move them, I might as well wash the pillow-cases. It took me all day, but I aired out the pillows on the balcony, washed the pillow-cases, hoovered the entire sofa and the floor under and around, mopped the floor and put everything back together. I took lots of breaks and drank a lot and ate in between too, but I managed it.

At the end of the day, I decided to make myself a nice cocktail, and for extra kicks I added some blue food-colouring to it. Sometimes you just need a little extra colour!

I then decided to draw it; it turned out wonky, as all my cocktail drawings do, but still. Bad drawing beats no drawing.


Aspiration

Beanies

I’ve followed Michael Nobbs’ for quite some time and really enjoy his work. The one thing that attracts me in his work, is that like me, he also deals with illness. Sometimes I’ll stumble on a blog of someone who does great work and they’ll have a job, go to college and do that great work all at once. It makes me tired just thinking about that.

Michael, however, frequently blogs (and draws!) about how he copes with his illness and others things life tosses at him. He makes his own books and sells them. The last issue of The Beany came out as an ebook today. Despite his illness he takes on (little) projects and makes stuff happen. He seems to have found a way to make it work despite being ill, something I still aspire to.

I have not yet figure it all out, and I have not yet made it all work. Thanks to Michael however, I know I’ll get there, eventually.

Some other inspiring artists:
* jess (borkedplanet)
All worth checking out.

Camera and garden stuff

img1

img2

I received my new camera a few days ago and have enjoyed using it. It has some big advantages over my older camera (insane zoom, wide-angle, remembers settings between off-on, easier controls) and the only disadvantage so far seems the weight (something I can manage). On the left you can see a photo of my balcony from today, taken with the new camera. Below it, the one from last week, taken with the old.

The lettuces (in the middle in round grey pot) have done particularly well. More salads for me!


Cooking with sprouts

Lentil + bok choy dish

I sprouted some lentils and realised I didn’t like the raw taste of them much. I figured I had nothing to lose and heated them up a bit (cooked very briefly in my ricecooker). They got a wonderful nutty flavour from the cooking. I added a bit of ketchup, olive oil, salt and pepper and curry powder, which made it really tasty.

On top of that I roasted the bok choy from my balcony — the weird kind that bolted suddenly — with some sesame oil, ginger and garlic.

I mixed it all together and it tasted wonderful!

I ate it all.


More geekery with twitter and flickr stuff

A couple of weeks ago I found and edited a php script to help me post photos to flickr from Tweetie for iPhone (now Twitter for iPhone — do keep up…). After using it for a while I realised the title of the photos got a bit too long for my taste and I spend a little time tweaking. I’ve now changed it so that the first sentence (up to the first . or ! or ?) becomes the title. The rest becomes the description of the photo. For me this works out pretty well.

I added the following lines (changing the last line of my previous tweak to prevent confusion):

$string = preg_replace("/#\w+/i", '', $title);
//previously the above line said: $title pregreplace("/#\w+/ i", '', $title);
if (preg_match("/^.*(\.|\!|\?)/U", $string, $matches)) {
             $title = $matches[0];
             $description = preg_replace("/^.*(\.|\!|\?)/U", '', $string);
    }
else {
      $title = $string;
      $description = "";
     }

right before:

$parameters = array( 'api_key' => API_KEY, 'auth_token' => API_TOKEN, 'tags' => $tags, 'title' => $title, 'description' => $description, );

Note that I also added that last field in there (‘description’). I haven’t completely tested it; however, my limited tests seemed to work fine. I don’t really know much about php, so I probably used more lines than I needed. This way I could keep track of what I did though, and I think I’ll still understand my changes a couple of months from now.