Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Gluten Free A-Z : Thanksgiving or Christmas Salad 2019

Gluten Free A-Z : Thanksgiving or Christmas Salad 2019: Salad is always one of the special dishes on our Thanksgiving table, and this year will be no exception. Last Thanksgiving I made a ...

This salad looks and sounds delicious, and it's customizable.

Unfortunately, at this time of year, everyone doubles down on the diet talk. I'm having a particularly difficult time with diet talk triggering my abusive life partner ED (that's Eating Disorder) into action this year. I've already had one day where I starved myself all day and slept all afternoon in order to stop myself from eating. Today I've been up for three hours and am very hungry but having trouble making myself eat.

People look at me and think "she must be lying about having an eating disorder." The truth is, anytime you're looking at a big woman, there's a higher than average likelihood that she has engaged in restrictive eating behaviors more than once. She has most certainly dieted.

The diet talk and size shaming needs to stop. I like looking for recipes with lower carbs because I'm diabetic. What I don't like is all the weight loss talk that gets thrown into the mix every single time.

Anyway, salads are good. 

Delightful Repast: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Delightful Repast: Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala: Chicken Tikka Masala was the first Indian food I attempted 8 years ago. Actually, some say it's not really Indian food, but rather...

I will have to get some of the spices, but I love Indian food and I love cooking in the slow cooker. I'd like to try this.

Gluten Free A-Z : Low Carb Almond Cookies That Everyone Will Love

Gluten Free A-Z : Low Carb Almond Cookies That Everyone Will Love: It doesn't have to be a holiday to enjoy these lower carb delicious almond cookies. They are easy to make, flour-less, low in carbs...

These do sound really easy. I'm all about easy and also about finding low-carb recipes that taste good since I'm a diabetic. 

I was so relieved not to see any diet talk with this recipe. At this time of year, it's especially hard to get away from. I already had one day where I starved myself all day. Sometimes I can ignore the diet talk, but if I'm already feeling emotionally vulnerable it can get to me and start triggering restrictive eating behaviors again. As Cactus Clem says, "It ain't good to starve yerself, Ornery."

Cranberry Orange Bread - Lou Lou Girls

Cranberry Orange Bread - Lou Lou Girls: Tart cranberries and sweet orange juice combine to make this Cranberry Orange Bread that is perfect for breakfast or brunch, or even for dessert! This is the perfect quick bread for the Christmas season. My son, Ben, noticed one of my older recipe of Cranberry Walnut Bread. He asked me to make it for him … Continue reading 'Cranberry Orange Bread'

Note to self:
Bread machine: it isn't just there to make dough for hamburger buns. There is a Sweet Bread setting on it. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays 2019

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Ghost Town Grover

Cactus Clem

Ornery Owl
(The Ornery Old Lady's Avatar)
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Monday, December 23, 2019

About Me Monday + Inspire Me Monday + Inner Champion Workbook Chapter 8: Try New Things

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Something new I want to learn about or try:
I discovered the vegan recipe book by Chef Allyn Raifstanger through the Online Book Club. I have been wanting to start incorporating more vegetarian meals into my meal plans for years. I would never be able to be a vegan. I like cheese and omelets too much. It is also unlikely that I will ever be completely vegetarian. However, I would like to eventually eat more plant-based than meat-based meals.

I can cook, but the truth is, I'm a lazy cook without a lot of patience. Also, most vegan recipes leave me flat when it comes to flavor and hungry an hour later.

The person who reviewed this recipe book via Online Book Club tried some of the recipes. When she said that the "chicken" recipe she tried tasted like chicken and the author wasn't preachy about health or veganism, I knew I needed to give the book a look. I don't abide preachiness, and I don't need anyone triggering my abusive partner ED (Eating Disorder) to resurface.

My plan:
I am going to write down the ingredients I need and try the recipes in the book. I am also going to try the Every Plate delivery service. The ingredients come in the box with enough for two people and I don't have to go shopping for them. As I told you, I'm lazy. However, not all of it is laziness. I do have real problems with fatigue.

Every Plate is a lot less expensive than other boxed meal plans, making it a good option for families on a budget, which is pretty much everyone these days!

A routine or habit that I need to change:
My all-or-nothing thinking. My worst habit is to immediately tell myself how something will NOT work, and it always spirals into telling myself what a garbage excuse for a human being I am.

How I will replace the negative routine or habit with a positive one:
I don't know if I ever will entirely. However, I have to continue combating this thinking by telling my lousy inner critic to take a long walk off a short pier with raw steaks tied to them into a lake of hungry sharks and offering counter-points to her negative arguments.

This isn't the same as jumping into a potentially life-altering situation feet first without examining the potential repercussions. It simply means not telling myself that I'm trash for considering something in the first place.

How will this change make me a stronger and happier person?
Getting the Inner Jackwagon to shut up more often than not would help give me the confidence to make potentially positive changes. Believing in myself a little more couldn't hurt.

Also, regardless of what the rest of you may feel about reincarnation, it's something I consider to be a possibility. I don't want to drag all this negativity about myself into another lifetime! Talk about hauling around a psychic ball and chain.

Like the tattoo on my left outer calf says, born to lose, live to win. Thank you, Lemmy!

Before anyone decides that this is an appropriate moment to pop off about how much you hate tattoos, allow me to shut that nonsense down before it starts. I'm not forcing you to get a tattoo. This is my leg upon which I voluntarily got a tattoo that has personal meaning for me. I was 51 years old when I got this tattoo, thus, well and away old enough to decide whether such a thing was appropriate FOR ME.

You are welcome to not like or want tattoos. You are not welcome to tell me what I should or shouldn't like or want.

Seriously, I've had people start railing about their dislike of tattoos on a post where I was sharing a picture of a tattoo I had done in honor of a person who was terminally ill and who has since passed on. It was my first tattoo, and I was (and still am) quite proud of it. The person who felt it necessary to display their rudeness was, no doubt, trying to show everyone how stainless and pure they were by not having any of those icky tattoos. From my standpoint, they only managed to show their backside. Don't be that person.

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Good Stuff For Monday: Win Free Vanilla and More

Disclosure: I am an independent affiliate for Watkins Products

This post originated on the Good Stuff from Grover blog. However, I am sharing it with some of my other sites in case the opportunity may appeal to readers there as well.

Howdy, Grover Gang! It's the Ornery Old Lady here with a great giveaway and opportunity for my U.S. and Canadian readers, with apologies to my readers in other countries.

Every month, Watkins Products gives away $100 worth of extracts and spices. Wouldn't it be wonderful to win a free bottle of vanilla?

Watkins Products have been around since 1868. Choose from high-quality spices and extracts for cooking, grooming and home remedies made with pure and natural ingredients, and household products without harsh chemicals. These products are never tested on animals.

Unlike some home businesses which have monthly sales quotas and cost an exorbitant amount to join, Watkins consultants pay only $29.95 per year for access to the training website and their own page. You don't even have to recruit anyone or sell anything ever if you don't want to. You can simply use the membership to purchase products for your household at a reduced cost. This opportunity is only open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Happy Holidays from Cie the Ornery Old Lady and the entire crew at the Grover Hotel.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Shadow Shot Sunday + Not So Silent Sunday + Sunday Selections #460: Coyote Spirit Urban Art

Images copyright Cara Hartley/The Real Cie
You are welcome to use them, but please credit me

One cool thing about the job I had between July and November of 2017 (the job that messed up my left arm) was the fact that I got to take pictures of so many interesting things. I drove around in the car in the second picture. It's parked in front of the townhouse where my son and I lived before moving to the Grover Hotel.

I don't have that car anymore and I'm not sad. That thing was always breaking down and leaving me stranded. I ended up trading it to my mechanic to use as parts in exchange for him forgiving me the cost of the water pump he'd installed. It probably would have broken down before it even made Greeley.

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The Crazy Creatives Cheerleading Camp Come As You Are Party + Inner Champion Workbook Chapter 7: Find Your Why

Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of the book through the preview link, I earn a small commission from Amazon.

Five things that make me happy:
1. My son
2. Writing
3. Doing crafts, i.e. loom knitting
4. Exploring nature
5. Learning new things

Identify why each of the above makes you happy. For example, if vacations make you happy, ask yourself why. Are they relaxing? Are they a hassle or expensive, but worth every penny because of what you learn about the world? Is it the time spent with loved ones?

Why these things bring my happiness:
1. My son is simply one of those people who was born with a desire to be kind. He wants to make the world a better place. He doesn't care about being showy or flashy. He just wants to be able to do his own thing. He is very good at working with his hands and has a great artistic eye. 

At times, I have not been as supportive of him as I should have because I misunderstood him. My parents also misunderstood him and scolded him for not "trying harder" when he would withdraw. 

Neither my son nor I were aware until he was an adult that he is on the autism spectrum. He hid a lot of his distress from overstimulation. He was born in 1990, and at that time, most people believed that autism was identified by the pronounced behaviors in people who are more severely affected, i.e. rocking and screaming. Most people believed that everyone with autism is non-verbal.

My son has since been able to reveal such characteristics as extreme sensitivity to sounds. He turns on rain sounds because otherwise, the humming from his phone charger disturbs him. I can't hear the phone charger at all. He is very aware of the sounds of water running through pipes. One time when the washing machine hose was dripping and causing water to run down the laundry room wall into the basement, he heard it all the way up on the second floor of the house and went to check it out. I was completely unaware of the problem.

I first started to suspect that my son might be autistic when he would turn the air conditioner in his room down to the coldest level while he was sleeping in order to be able to sleep under his heavy comforter even in the hottest days of summer. Weighted blankets have been shown to be very helpful in calming people with autism. Fortunately, at this point, the knowledge about the condition has increased exponentially.

However, society is often very slow to catch up. People with autism still tend to be treated as if they are retarded. People with autism are intellectually diverse. Some have severe intellectual disabilities while some have higher than average intellectual capabilities. People with autism are often pigeonholed as having lower than average intelligence because they tend not to learn well using traditional methods. 

My son, for instance, has trouble learning anything at all from a textbook. He does not have problems reading long novels that hold his interest. The best way for him to learn a new skill, however, is by observing and doing, not by reading a boring textbook and attempting to answer a long roster of meaningless questions. For instance, when he was in the EMS program, he would become extremely frustrated by trying to read and answer questions in the textbook. It did not matter if I read the text to him, he didn't absorb it and trying to just upset him. However, he took a lot away from his clinical experiences, and he did well with the medical terminology and even the pharmacy calculations which were always a sticking point for me.

Unfortunately, at that point, the community college EMS programs were hell-bent on passing no more than 75% of their participants because they wanted to prove how "tough" their standards were. I was astounded by the amount of information that students were being expected to learn in the space of one semester. I had gone through the EMS program six years prior to when my son was in it, and at the point when he entered the program, the students were expected to learn skills that were previously part of the paramedic program. 

When my son opted to drop out of the program, I fully supported him. I was aghast at the changes that had taken place. It's a damn shame too because I think that my son would have made a good EMT. However, he probably would have opted to work in an emergency room rather than on an ambulance because, like many autistic people, driving is a skill that is problematic for him.

2. Writing has always been my main way to survive. I do not think that I would last long if I didn't write. If I go for several days without writing, I start to become clinically depressed. It helps me work through problems and provides me an escape from a world that I've always found hostile to my very being.

3. Unlike writing, there is no impetus for me to have a certain level of "success" when it comes to my crafts. I just do them because I like to.

4. Exploring takes me out of my everyday environment, away from civilization, to a place that does not judge me. Connecting to the natural world renews the spirit.

5. One should not cease learning simply because one is not in school. Without new knowledge, a person stagnates. Learning because I want to learn just feels good. 

How my goals connect to the things in life that bring me joy:

1. I want to succeed because I want to be able to support my son in his own goals and give him the best life possible. He deserves this.

2. I would like to earn my living writing. However, I doubt this will ever transpire. So, I intend to write as if I were earning my living doing so, but not as if I MUST earn my living doing so. I never want it to be a chore, and I never want it to become a duty or a means to seek acceptance. When I start doing any of those things, I know I'm on the wrong track.

3. I want to be able to have enough money to do my crafts anytime I want and not have to worry that I should be doing something that's earning money instead.

4. I want to have enough money to have the time and resources to explore and take care of nature.

5. Learning is necessary to find new avenues to obtaining my goal of multiple income streams. Also, without learning, life stagnates.

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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Carpe Diem 7 Days Before Christmas: Light

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Blow Your Stack Saturday + Inner Champion Workbook Chapter 6: Don't Give Up

Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of the book through the above link, I will earn a small commission from Amazon.

How can I break this goal into smaller, achievable steps?
With the publishing goal, I'm already doing this.

I think I'm actually already doing it with the Goat Yoga Studio goal as well.

I've also been thinking about purchasing condos in the Denver area (single condos, not an entire building) to use as Air BnB/rental properties. 

I've become better within the past five years about breaking my bigger goals down into smaller, achievable goals. Which would have made me about eighteen when I gained this sage wisdom in my life.

Nah, I'm just messing with you. I'll be 55 in less than two months. I honestly still wasn't very good at breaking things down into smaller goals when I was fifty. Or fifty-one. Or fifty-two. It probably started to sink in when I was 53, although I was still recovering psychologically from the fact that I could no longer do the kinds of physically demanding work that I had done all my life.

Okay, I really didn't learn the lesson until this year. I'm kind of slow on the uptake sometimes.

How will I celebrate my accomplishments along the way?
With my son. Other than him, my family has never been supportive of my dreams. I could count my real friends on one hand if you chopped off half that hand. None of them live close to me and I've never met any of them in person.

Who will I turn to for help and encouragement?
See above.

If my first attempt does not work, what is the next approach I will try?
I'll just keep going at it with the publishing. However, as I previously mentioned, I'm not doing that to try and become The Next Big Thing. I'm just doing it because I want to.

With the goat yoga studio, if the property across the way is sold, I'll switch gears and move the idea to the fall-back property, which currently has a decaying structure on the land. The basic premise is the same but the execution is somewhat different.

The Air BnB/rentals in Denver thing is something that I've been considering and doing research on for a while now. It isn't a burning desire, so if it doesn't happen it doesn't happen. It's a potential income stream, but I have to be careful not to fall into a money pit.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday Flashback + Fat Friday: Dreaming of a Mythos Xmahanukwanzyule

This post was originally published on 20 December 2011 on the Miskatonic University Netherworld Annex blog, which is currently in use as one of my private cataloging blogs. I am updating the post to include reactions to this lovely Xmahanukwanzyule tree, which is currently set up in President Cthulhu's office at the Miskatonic University Netherworld Annex main branch in Nightmare Heights, Netherworld.

Beavis: Hey, Butthead, that tree touched my butt!

Butthead: Beavis, that tree would kick your butt, you bumhug.

Cactus Clem: Grover, I feel a kinship with this here tree. It speaks to me!

Ghost Town Grover: When Cactus Clem says this here tree speaks to him, I'm purty sure he means that literal-like. It ain't said nary a word to me, but I kinda feel like it's watching me.

Sketch of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

So, why are we making this a Fat Friday post?

Because EVERY BODY deserves to have a Happy Xmahanukwanzyule free of body-shaming bullshit. That includes everyone from the mighty Cthulhu to YOU!

Happy Xmahanukwanzyule to All


Inner Champion Workbook Chapter 5: Take the First Step (Fat Friday Edition)

Disclosure: If you purchase a product through any of the links in this post, I receive a small commission from Amazon.

Fair warning that I am having a dark day despite it being bright and sunny outside. In fact, the bright sunniness makes the inner darkness worse. I hate when people say things like "how can you be depressed when it's so beautiful outside?" Please, if you say that sort of thing to someone who tells you they're feeling depressed, STOP! It doesn't help.

And now, on with the show.

An important goal that I’m going to achieve:

I don't know if this will happen or not, but there is an empty building across the street from my home which is zoned for commercial use. I will be able to access my 401K without penalty at 59, in other words, about four years from now. If the building is still available at that point, I am thinking about investing in it and bringing my idea to life.

"It won't be available then, Cie," you are probably saying. "Real estate goes fast!"

In the city, yes. Not out in the middle of nowhere. The house I'm currently living in had been empty since 2013.

"Well, what the hell do you think you're going to do with a building in the middle of nowhere, Cie?" you say now. 

I am thinking about opening a goat yoga studio.

"Goat yoga?" you sniff. "Who the hell is going to drive to your stupid goat yoga studio in the middle of nowhere?"

As my son observed when I postulated that I could probably pull in a few yuppies from Denver to drive out to Podunk on weekends for a goat yoga session:

"Denver? You mean Boulder."

He's right.

"Oh, and are you going to teach yoga, you disabled lardass? Who would want to take a class from you?"

No, I'm not, because I don't know the first thing about teaching yoga. I plan to put out a call for volunteer instructors, who would be allowed to record their sessions, pass out business cards, recruit people to sign up for their regular classes, and have a tip jar available.

By the way, a big rule at my studio will be this:


No fat-shaming.

No thin praising.

No encouragement of weight loss. No selling weight loss programs.

I want to provide an encouraging environment for every body. I want my studio to operate with a Health at Every Size (and every ability) approach.

Why this goal is important to me:
Most yoga classes shame larger students, behaving as if a literal monster just walked into the room when a big person comes in. It is also difficult for disabled students to find a class. I want the classes at my studio to encourage EVERY BODY, regardless of size or physical ability.

Image by filinecek from Pixabay

Why goat yoga?

Well, for those who have never heard of it, goat yoga is actually a thing. The presence of the goats is shown to have a calming and encouraging effect on those participating in the class. The goats won't have to learn the yoga poses. They'll be free to wander in and out of the classroom. And if a participant spends the entire session just playing with the goats, that's perfectly fine! Basically, the goats are therapy animals.

What has been preventing me from taking the first step?
Lack of access to funds.

How can I remove these obstacles or work around them?
Currently, I'm just waiting for four years and hoping nobody buys the place in the meantime. I also have a potential secondary site in mind.

The first step I am going to take toward achieving my goal:
I am currently making micro-investments with my small and undependable pay. I am hoping these will start generating passive income. I am also trying to promote my freelance literary services, as well as continuing to do reviews. I am going to apply to Kirkus Reviews at the beginning of next year in the hopes of bringing in another income stream.

For support and accountability, I am going to share my goal with:
My son knows, and now you all do too.

I feel better after writing this post. Sending positive energy to Lauren for the gift of her workbook, to Linda for the gift of Health at Every Size which helped me break out of the diet mindset almost 10 years ago, and to Caroline for the encouragement not to fall back into that limiting mindset.

Here are a couple more books to help you say FUCK YOU to diet culture and instead concentrate on REAL health, both mental and physical.

Monday, December 16, 2019

About Me Monday + Inner Champion Workbook: Chapter 2: Changes

Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of this book through the preview link above, I earn a small commission from Amazon.

Greetings, fellow Crazy Creatives, and others. Today I am continuing my shared journey with the Inner Champion Workbook, which is an adjunct to the above autobiography by bodybuilder Lauren Powers. As I said in yesterday's post, this is a book that came as a complete surprise. I kept putting it to the bottom of my list of books for review because I thought it was a workout book. It isn't.

Today's chapter addresses changes. Let's get to it!

"Whether we’ve embraced it or not, we’ve all faced changes in our lives. In this chapter, identify some of the changes that you’ve experienced in your life. First, think of a change that happened to you that was out of your control. Then, think of a change that you actively made. How have these changes altered your journey? How can they be seen as contributing positively to your identity?"

Change that I made:
I no longer work for anyone else. I am not an employee or contractor. I am strictly a freelancer.

The reason I made the change:
Mostly out of necessity. My physical health took a few critical hits, and then I ended up moving to a remote location which is 50 miles from the nearest city. I do not have the strength or stamina to make 100-mile round trips to a job several times a week. I no longer have the strength to work the types of physically demanding night shift jobs that defined me for many years. Most clerical jobs are on the day shift, and I become severely depressed working day shifts because of my lifelong difficulty regulating my sleep. 

The impact it had on my life:
I am more stable emotionally, although I worry about my low income. However, I am not allowed to make more than $1100 a month or I lose Medicaid. Isn't that the stupidest thing you ever heard of? People outside of the United States often express their shock about our health care system. As someone who has been a victim of this system for a lifetime, I'm not shocked by it but remain appalled. A for-profit health care system exists to help nobody except for institutions gouging the ill and infirm.

Change that happened to me:
In 2017, my life changed forever. I was fired from my job after falling into a very deep sleep while sitting with a patient on the night shift. It is my contention that I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack). I was very sick with a severe respiratory infection that I had contracted from this patient. The coordinator insisted that I go to the job anyway, reasoning that I could not reinfect the patient because I had contracted the infection from him. The coordinator also used guilt, stating that "the family really needs you." 

A bit of further background to this story. My diabetes was becoming worse at this point. I wasn't yet using insulin but knew the day was coming soon when I would have to. I was working 60 hour weeks. I was afraid to say anything to my coordinator because he kept telling me that they were going to replace the primary nurse on the case with me since she had lupus and this meant that she called off sick a fair amount to manage her condition. So I kept my own health issues to myself, fearing that I would lose work if the company realized that my health was infirm.

After being fired from this job I picked up more shifts with a company where I was working one night once a month with a patient I'd worked with previously. I lost $4 per hour but ended up being able to go back to full time fairly quickly. However, this patient's condition declined, and he ended up in the hospital. The agency never got me another job.

I went to work delivering food for Uber Eats. I was actually losing money doing this job. I found work with a company called GoPuff, which is a subsidiary of GrubHub, delivering groceries. The onsite managers were great but GrubHub does not give a flying fuck about either its employees or its contractors. 

Many nights, one manager was left in the warehouse running around like a chicken with her head cut off to pack the orders while the other two managers switched over to driving. The drivers were given ridiculously large numbers of orders and GrubHub customer service couldn't be arsed to call the customers and tell them about the delays. The customers were always angry and took it out on the drivers. 

As many of the deliveries were in downtown Denver, I often had to park several blocks from the location and carry heavy loads, sometimes up several flights of stairs in buildings with no elevator. On one occasion, I almost fell through the rotting boards on a porch. 

I started noticing tingling and numbness in the fingers on my left hand but ignored it. The tingling progressed to mild and then moderate pain running from shoulder to fingertips and then transitioned to pain so severe that I was having trouble sitting up for more than about 45 minutes before I had to lie on the arm to try and numb it. I ended up quitting the job. I had to wait for two weeks before Medicaid kicked back in. The pain was so severe that I considered committing suicide. I may well have done so if not for the fact that I knew I would be able to get physical therapy once Medicaid kicked back in. That was my only hope.

Fortunately, physical therapy helped greatly. My arm went from being in constant severe pain to being in moderate pain with some bouts of severe pain. It progressed to being in mild pain with bouts of moderate pain and then, to my joy, to feeling like a lump of clay with bouts of mild pain. 

Unfortunately, Medicaid only pays for 12 sessions of physical therapy for any given issue. My arm remained in the "lump of clay" mode for about a year. It has since progressed to low-grade numbness and tingling, which is where it will probably remain for the rest of my life. I have to be careful about lifting too much with this arm.

Once I was able to return to work, I delivered food for Cluster Truck, a delivery-only restaurant, from December 2017 until June 2019, when I found the wonderful Grover Hotel and my son decided that this building was our best hope for having a place to live for life. As I said, Grover is 50 miles from anywhere, which is why I made the decision that given my health issues, it was best to work from home rather than attempting to find a position working for someone who would be flexible regarding my health issues.

The impact it had on my life:
For the most part, I really like what I do. I wish I could have/would have made this decision sooner. I have always hated working for other people. In spite of the fact that I liked the patients I cared for, I was extremely burned out on health care, and my body was badly compromised from years of neglecting to take care of myself while devoting myself to caring for others as well as from the health issues which are due to faults in my DNA, i.e., my trash fire endocrine system.

One positive aspect or life lesson from the event:
I have been able to get adequate rest for the first time in something on the order of 40 years. I was always the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" kind of person. I often don't sleep well at night, and even though I'm a night owl, the night shift will mess your body up. I was always in a fog. 

I never respected my body and always told myself to shut up and quit whining. While I don't think I will ever be able to "love" myself (that concept is completely foreign to me) I have learned to respect myself and to be better about not letting people walk all over me.

Free Use Image from Pixabay
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Read and Review Books with Authors XP, Booksprout, and Online Book Club

Ornery Owl 
Free Use Image from Pixabay

If you like reading and think you can write a worthwhile review, you can get free books and in some cases get paid for doing so. Here are three of the places where I find the books that I review.

This service is new to me. You can review books and also help authors through beta reading and proofreading. You get free books plus chances to win prizes.

Receive free advance copies of books to review.

New reviewers do a few reviews without pay. As you earn credit, you start being offered paid reviews. Online Book Club is currently my main source of income.

~Cie the Ornery Old Lady~

Monday, December 9, 2019

Ornery Reviews: Bittergate 2: The Wizard's Bane

Modern Fantasy

Five out of Five Stars

If readers purchase a copy of the book through the preview link, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

The following is a duplicate of my review for Amazon, Booksprout, and Goodreads. 
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

The intense modern fantasy which took shape in Bittergate 1 continues with The Wizard's Bane. Although there are many fascinating characters in this moving and intricate tale, Drake is the one who, without a doubt, steals the show. This charming shape-shifting dragon is put to the test as he attempts to put right the wrongs done by the Wizard's Bane, the renegade band of centaurs intent on destroying Jedadiah Shine and all that is precious to him. Drake encounters new friends and enemies during his adventures. Meanwhile, the evil Zero is intent on continuing his quest for vengeance as well.
There is great peril at every turn in the secret mystical world which exists in tandem with the mundane world. The level of care taken in crafting this world and the characters that dwell therein is evident. For those who enjoy a detailed yet never boring story filled with sorcery, this book is sure to please.

Free Use Image from Pixabay
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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Haikai Challenge #116 + Haiku My Heart: Cold Moon

the cold moon looks down
on a quiet little town
as the year runs out


The Haiga and the Haikai Challenge logo were both created using stock images and the free Pixlr online photo editor. If you share the Haiga, please credit me. Please feel free to use the Haikai Challenge logo, no credit necessary.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Carpe Diem #1791: Bare Branches

bare branches
a painting against the blue sky
leaves under my feet
crunch foretelling coming snow
chill breeze blowing through the air

bare branches like claws
reach into the great unknown
hard winter ahead
too little snow or too much
the wind chills me to my bones

the blue sky turns gray
the snow begins to fall down
blown by the cold wind
I retreat inside the house
the cold tries to reach me there

the leaves are long gone
to the earth or raked away
nothing can linger
things that lose their youthful shine
are hidden away from view

unforgiving sky
tells of foul weather to come
thankful for warning
I plan my week according
to the weather prophecy

chill breeze cuts through me
its cruelty refreshing
brutal honesty
the winter shows no mercy
to anything in its path


The Hokku of the first verse was written by Yozakura the Unknown Haiku Poet. The rest can be attributed to me.

Carpe Diem #1790: Sunset Flowers

seen for a moment
in the last of the sunlight
sparkling wet flowers


Here is the poem by Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694) provided for inspiration.

in the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus -
a lovely sunset.

The Ornery Old Lady's Tackle It Tuesday: Best Bread Machine Buns

If you're tired of overpriced grocery store burger buns and have a bread machine, this very simple recipe is for you. If you don't have a bread machine, Grover can hook you up with one here in his General Store. This inexpensive investment will save you a lot of time in the kitchen!

This is a slight variation on the original recipe from using honey instead of sugar. With a small substitution of honey for sugar, there is no need to reduce the volume of liquid. If you are wanting to substitute larger amounts of honey for sugar, this handy conversion chart from Billy Bee will help you.

And now, without further ado, here is the recipe.

1 1⁄4
cups milk, slightly warmed

beaten egg

tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of honey

teaspoon salt

3 3⁄4
cups bread flour

1 1⁄4
teaspoons active dry yeast

Place all ingredients, except butter, in pan of bread machine according to manufacturer's directions.
Select dough setting.
When cycle is complete, turn out onto floured surface.
Cut dough in half and roll each half out to a 1" thick circle.
Cut each half into six 3 1/2" rounds with inverted glass as a cutter.
Place on greased baking sheet far apart and brush with melted butter.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about one hour.
Bake at 350° for 9 minutes.
Note: Oven temperatures vary so check after 9 minutes to see if done. Some reviewers baked these anywhere from 12 to 30 minutes.

Ornery Notes:
When it's time to let the buns rise, I put the buns uncovered in the oven on the "keep warm" setting (145 degrees Fahrenheit). I have a dual oven, which is very handy. If you don't have such a thing (I never did before, it was left behind by the previous occupants of the Grover Hotel), or if your oven's lowest temperature setting isn't low enough (I wouldn't recommend anything over 175 degrees at the outside because then the dough will start cooking) it's perfectly fine to use the traditional rising method.

You can experiment with different types of flours to get different flavors. I'm planning to do a wheat-white blend. At this point, I just have a big bag of all-purpose flour and it works fine.

I use reconstituted powdered whole milk. It's shelf-stable and, unless you have family members who drink milk, it's a better investment than milk from the dairy case. I cook with dairy milk but don't drink it and there would be times when it would go bad. With powdered milk, the problem is solved! I use whole milk powder because skim milk doesn't work for making pudding.

If you have family members who are allergic to eggs, don't despair! Grover always has egg substitute here in his General Store.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. It's really easy to make, it just takes a little time to let the buns rise. They taste so much better than store-bought buns. There's just no going back!

If you order products from Grover's General Store at the end of the post, we earn a small commission to keep the lights on and the kitchen cookin' here at the Grover Hotel!

~Cie the Ornery Old Lady~