Thursday, February 28, 2019

Snow Day

    Today I had a snow day. We didn't get an insane amount of snow, and no rain on top of it this time around, but because the elementary schools already had a planned half day for parent/teacher conferences we had to have a cancelation. Which I was actually fine with. I didn't mind going to work if school was open but I was into a day off (yes, another one just a week after vacation) because I knew I could get a ton of stuff done. 
    I went out about 6:00 to shovel some snow and make sure Travis could get down the driveway to get to the bus, since his school only had a 2 hour delay. My snow removal was actually quite simple since it was so light a fluffy. I did a good amount of it with a push-broom. 
    A little bit before the bus would show up I realized they were not going to send a bus for Travis at all. When there is no school in Ludlow they won't sent the bus even if school is open in East Longmeadow. So I needed to drive him. Which was fine, I was planning on going to Walmart and instead of going after he got on the bus I altered the plan and brought him to school first. I got some things packed up that I needed to ship and then... ran out of ink in the printer. So that went on the list. Conveniently before the trip to Walmart. 
    Backing up in time a bit I also spent a good amount of the early morning on Pinterest. I have spent way too much time on there lately. But it is leading me to interesting looking low carb recipes and new websites I didn't know about. So my low carb recipe collection is getting larger and larger. I likely won't talk about them too much until I actually test out each recipe. It seems nicer to be able to offer an actual recommendation. This is just a small sampling of some of my Keto pins on Pinterest. I need to remember why I bought chicken breast today...
     I currently have a lot of dolls in the works. A few weeks ago I decided it would be good to prep a whole bunch of doll bodies all at once. It's sort of a big production to take out the dremel and get everything set up. Plus I dremel out in the driveway so I did a bunch when the weather was a bit warmer. I have thoroughly appreciated having dolls that were all ready to go. One thing I was out of was helmets. There are currently no ready-made helmets available for sale that fit properly on Yvonne/Gracie. So I mold my own. I worked on a batch of those this morning. They still need some trimming and clean-up and paint, but at least I have helmets again.
     Another project that I decided on for today was fixing the ear on Mocha Latte. I broke her ear off last fall and I have had it taped to a sticky note (with "ear" written on it) for months. I was going to have Liesl Dalpe fix it, since she was the one who sculpted and painted Mocha Latte, but we have not found a good time to get together yet. And my show is next weekend so Mocha needed her ear back on. And Liesl taught me that everything is fixable. I have actually gotten a lot of my no-fear attitude about working with models from Liesl. The first horse she taught me to prep on was an old Eberl which was a run of 15, riddled with pinholes, badly stripped and a sentimental favorite of his owner. That horse, and Liesl's encouraging and teaching, are a big part of the reason I can prep anything. I also have broken rare horses and then fixed them. When it comes to prepping I have no fear. I am working on that with painting. 
     I am fully aware that I am not a professional level painter. I have not practiced enough for that, so it is not surprising at all really. I am however fairly amazed that I actually painted Hugh Can Do It (my NaMoPaiMo model) myself. I think he really is quite good. Not perfect, but pretty great. I am excited to bring him to SNEWRU next weekend so people can see him. And speaking of NaMoPaiMo and my painting, in the past couple of weeks I have bought 3 micro mini resins and 3 stablemate scale resins. All with the intention of painting them myself. I think I am going to try to do one a month and give each the effort I gave my NaMoPaiMo project. That seems like a nice idea. And if I do that, I imagine I will get better at painting. 
     So I am not an OF collector but I have gotten really into the blind bag models. It's sort if like playing the lottery, but with horses. I have gotten lucky with them many times as well. My first time out I found the horses and no unicorns. But I did also get one of the pink Icelandic horses. The first time I finally found the unicorns I got a black and gold Magnolia. I was shocked and amazed! I am not usually that lucky! Today when I went to Walmart I found new boxes of both the horses and the unicorns. And I found another pink Icelandic and another black and gold Magnolia. I may start to prep some of the models and offer them for sale that way. I have a Magnolia I broke half the horn off that I should finish removing the horn from (she got dropped in the driveway when I was priming) and paint her as a regular horse. Could be fun. 

    I decided I needed to try a Pinterest recipe because just pinning them does me no good at all. I chose the chocolate chip cookie dough fat bombs. They looked interesting and I had all the ingredients. When I was casting helmets this morning I took out the cream cheese and butter to soften. The problem I ran into was when I went to actually make them. The recipe calls for Lily's chocolate chips, which "of course I have". Except that I don't. When I started the weight loss competition I sent them all to school with Travis, along with my almond and coconut flour. He makes mug muffins with his para and sometimes pancakes. So I didn't actually have any chocolate. I had one bar of Lily's semi-sweet baking chocolate left so I spent some good quality time with a paring knife chopping up that bar of chocolate. And I managed not to eat any, even though I really wanted to.
    Other than needing to chop up chocolate everything went well. The recipe says you should cream the ingredients together with a mixer. I figured if I did this I would lose a ton of the mixture just for the fact that I couldn't get it off the blades. So I just creamed it together with a silicone spatula. It took a few minutes but it was not hard and it worked perfectly fine. The recipe also says it makes 20 fat bombs but I tweaked it a tiny bit and made 24 out of it. I did it so they would each be a bit lower in calories so I could fit them into my macros more often.
    And speaking of the macros, here is the breakdown. 119 calories, 2 carbs, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein and 67 grams of sodium. I put the recipe in My Fitness Pal to get the stats on this. When I had it first set for 20 portions it was something like 147 calories each. I liked 119 better.
     Another note on the recipe, I don't have a cookie scoop or whatever they actually used to make the nice scoops on the Pinterest post. So I used a spoon and spread them out on the parchment covered cookie sheet as instructed. I wanted them to look a bit neater and be able to tell they were about the same size so I rolled them into balls. First I wet my hands and that was enough to keep the dough from sticking to me. Then I stuck them in the freezer and right after they were done I had to go and pick Travis up. 
     A couple more things about the cookie dough fat bombs. They smell just like cookie dough. They taste sort of like cookie dough but they have a hint of cream cheese in the flavor. Even though they have peanut butter in them (you can use other nut butters as well but that would change the stats) they don't taste like peanut butter at all. They are a tiny bit sweat, but not overpowering. I have had NO sugar in a very long time and no alternative sweeteners at all in 7 weeks. People who are new to keto might think they are not sweet at all, I am not sure. I think they were very good. A nice little treat to end my day. I will totally make these again. 
    The last thing I wanted to mention was the pewter Kaladin I bought arrived today. I love this horse. I figured he would be the first to get painted since he arrived first. I am thinking dark bay. As usual, I have no idea where to start. Seriously. I have never painted a bay horse. I don't know what color to do for a base coat. So I will need to work that out. And I need to get him prepped. Even though I'm really good at prepping I don't much like prepping. Not anymore. I have done a ton of it on some incredibly difficult horses. Which is why I am good at it but also why I am burnt out on it. Anyway, maybe I will wait for some of the other horses I bought to show up and have a prepping session with several. When we get some nice weather.
    Tomorrow is March 1st which means it is 29 days to my birthday. I'm still not 100% settled on which cake I want to make or what food I want to eat. But I have some time still to work that out. Maybe I will go check out Pinterest and see if I can figure out why I bought the chicken. Hopefully I can try another new recipe soon so I can share it will you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Low carb vanilla pancakes and prep progress

     Yesterday I said I found a new low carb website that looked interesting. It was called The Hungry Elephant. Today I tried out the low carb vanilla pancake recipe. It was a little bit finicky to make but they are SUPER tasty! I had a bite and Travis scarfed a couple of them down in about 2 seconds. The instructions say you need to use a non-stick pan. I found this to be 100% true. Using non-stick spray on a regular pan results in somewhat burned pancakes. I don't know when I can fit any of these into a meal for myself (I plan all of mine ahead of time) but I am sure Travis will be pleased to have these until I can make another batch of the pork rind pancakes. I just reheat a couple in the pan with the eggs each morning. It works and saves time. 
     I did also manage to work on a bit more show prep. I started at least thinking about which horses to bring the the show and I ordered a few new props this morning. Hopefully they arrive on time. I feel like I am at least making slow progress forward.
     My hunt for the perfect birthday cake recipe continues. I think I may have found a winner though. It was a coconut flour chocolate cake, it didn't look dense and weird and it is only an 8x8 cake. Seems just about perfect. And super low in carbs. I may look around a bit more but I think that might be the one. OK, off to bed! Maybe I can think of something interesting to talk about soon.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Heads and Things

   Yesterday I had a customer interested in the casual/gaming/working western doll I had for sale, but she really likes dolls that have removable hats. In general, it is easier to have a doll with a hat permanently attached to their head for a couple of reasons. One is that there is no potential to lose the hat.  Sometimes, depending on the hair, the hat might sit funny on the head, where gluing it down solved this problem. And lastly, to get really in-scale hair a head is never full haired. 
    Personally, when I hair an Yvonne or Gracie head I do one circle all the way around the head. And that is all. It makes the buns and braids nicely in scale. If I was to do that for a doll with a removable hat she would look like she had hair that was starting to thin out, a lot, on the top. The way I found that fixes this is to do my first line of hair from ear to ear, just about 1/8" back from the hairline. I know, that sounds a bit confusing, but there is a faint line on the heads where the hair is, ideally, supposed to go. If you are using a regular Yvonne or Gracie head where the original hair was first removed you can just use the same holes. Then when I have that first line of hair on I put a bit of glue on the doll's head and brush and carefully lay down that line of hair I just put on. The bit of glue (spread it around first!) will hold the hair down and keep your girl from getting bald spots. Then I add the front line of hair and when that is done I style it the way I normally would. In case anyone is wondering, my little pink brush is a My Little Pony brush that I got from Elecktra about 10 or more years ago. It has widely spaced bristles that will separate the hair but not yank it back out of the head. It's basically perfect.
    I am really loving the new, totally bald heads that are available from KC's Galloping gals! They have their stock up in the 8 inch superstore. Though as always, if you order a doll from me I have plenty here and you don't need to provide your own. The store has some cool accessories in it so it's worth a look if just for that!
    As I was saying, I have really been enjoying the completely bald heads so I can put the hair just where I want it and can use smaller bunches. Which also leads to the end result of more in-scale hair.  Things being in-scale, or as close to it, is a very big deal to me. I'm aiming for realism after all. Another feature of the bald heads is that you also have the option of getting them without the faces painted. This is a WONDERFUL thing and I love it! I don't always use the bald heads because I can't financially justify buying an extra head for every single body when they come with a perfectly good head. But sometimes it is a great thing to start with a completely bald head and a totally blank face. I think this lady came out really well.

     Because I can't seem to stop working, no matter what day of the week it is, and I do have a show coming up in a couple of weeks, I got to work on painting my Christian Bale head while I had the paint out and was working on the Gracie head. So the first problem I had was I don't really have a good skin-tone colored paint. Or I thought I didn't. I did buy a couple of options before Christmas and one I tried, which was decent but I wasn't madly in love and then there was the other one. Which I can't remember the name of, again, even though I looked at the bottle twice in the past couple of days. It's peachy something. This is the color it was coming out:
Paint color peachy something
      After I had a couple of layers on, enough to cover the primer, I grabbed the Liquitex portrait pink (I remember the name of that one at least!) and put a layer of that on while the peachy something was still a bit wet. That was a bit too much so I added another two layers of the peachy something paint and the results were a guy with not too pale skin who sort of looked OK even in my super bad lighting. I was fairly pleased. I am also not horribly picky most of the time.
2 layers of sugared peach, 1 layer of portrait pink and 2 more layers of sugared peach. I looked at the name of the paint. 
     Today I was totally planning on doll work after school but then I got distracted by food websites and I found a couple of good ones that I want to investigate. I'll post the links at the bottom for anyone else that is interested. So I got back to work on Christian Bale and I think he turned out pretty well. His lip color is straight portrait pink, which I think is a decent lip color for a lip with no lipstick. I might be able to make it a bit more pale with a touch of the sugared peach. But I think he looks fine. 

    The last step was to put on a coat of the super matte nail polish Joan gets for me. It dries incredibly fast, like nail polish should, and it leaves the doll head looking fairly natural and not too shiny. But not too flat either. I love that stuff. So I am calling my Christian Bale head done. Now I have to get it on a body and get him some clothes! I may or may not have him ready for the show in a couple of weeks, we'll see.

    Have you figured out that I am easily distracted and am often working on several things at the same time? Well, it's true. So while I was hairing a head and painting a couple of faces I decided that I wanted to tighten up the breeches on Halestorm's doll. So I took care of that last night as well. I think she looks a bit more natural now. And it defines her legs better, which came out really well. So another little project out of the way. 
     I  may have mentioned, but I can't remember, that I was thinking about skipping treats on my birthday because of the weight loss competition I'm in at school. But then I decided that was not a good idea for me. While I DO want to lose weight and I would LOVE to win the competition, I don't want to hate my food. I don't want to skip all the delicious things all the time. I don't want to feel like I am on a diet. Because I am not. I changed the whole way I eat and I plan to keep this up. Right now I am just in the mode where I eat a bit less in calories, which then of course leads to weight loss. But the reason I can keep at it is because the food is delicious and I feel fantastic. Skipping my birthday, my 40th birthday, would not feel fantastic. It would feel like a huge sacrifice and I am not willing to do that. So I am on the hunt for what cake I want to make. In some ways I want to make something small, so there are not tons of leftovers (because even though I am not skipping the birthday treats I AM still trying to lose weight). I have an amazing recipe for salted caramel brownie cupcakes. I made these last year when I was first getting started with low carb eating and, as was my custom, I brought a bunch to school to share with my sugar eating friends to help me taste test them. They were a HUGE hit and everyone was very excited about them. So those are in the running for birthday cake, since I already know they are amazing. I also got really distracted on the Pinterest rabbit hole today. There were some other cake options that looked like they had merit. One of them was a loaf sized cake. And that sounded awesome because it is little. And it was chocolate with peanut butter buttercream frosting I think. Need to find that and print it... there were some others, and I think I at least remembered to pin them, but Pinterest is such a dangerous place!
    OK one more story and I will go. So yesterday we all went to a baby shower like I mentioned. I was really good! I did eat a bit extra in calories and had extra veggies (ahhh, carbs!) but I made good food choices. Even when confronted with fresh empanadas. I LOVE empanadas! Ethan does too. So we were both slightly tortured by that one, but were well behaved. So now I feel another life goal is to make a low carb empanada. Which if we eat too many will not be low carb, but I found a coconut flour pie crust that I think would be perfect. I may have actually made this for one of my Thanksgiving pies, I can't remember. I forgot to check my binder. Anyway, with just 2 net carbs per serving we can eat several and still be within reason. So those are definitely in the planning phase. And I have such a love of empanadas I may need a press for my birthday...
     As promised, websites. I found this one The Hungry Elephant  I think because I was looking for  burger buns that act like real bread. I can't remember. I think I mentioned Pinterest was involved. So this site is new to me and looks like they have a lot of interesting things. I need to check it out more. This site also had a bunch of delicious looking things. And a cookbook apparently. I do love Keto cookbooks. I have 3 in my collection at this point (Keto Sweet Treats, The Essential Keto Cookbook and 30 Day Keto fix) all of them were "free" with just the shipping. They do look interesting, but so far I haven't made any of the recipes. I keep meaning to and then I just don't. Though there is a coconut breakfast bread I want to make. As soon as I can remember where I put my loaf pan. Anyway, last website is Gnom Gnom  and there were several interesting looking things on there. I'm going to go and look around on them a bit more and then work out. Nope, I lied, I'm going to go and workout right now and then make supper. Maybe some more show prep later on. And low carb recipe hunting.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Show Prep

    There are shows when I think very little about show prep. Sometimes it is basically just making a list of the classes I want to enter, which horses I want in those classes and what equipment they need (or that I need to take off) for each one. This is not one of those shows. Not only did I buy Halestorm back from Joan but I bought a new-to-me tack set that fits him very nicely and decided he needed a new doll. Which was also a necessity because I sold his other doll with his other tack. That project has been going on for a few days now.
     This morning I got back to work on the doll. She got her gloves painted and her boots got touched up at the same time. When that had a good long while to dry I put some matte finish on both. Which is actually a matte clear nail polish that Joan found for me. It really is wonderful stuff, dries super fast and works very well. 
    For anyone that thinks the "ugly stage" is just in painting horses or tack making, think again. Dolls go through several ugly stages. There are times when a doll looks ugly most of the way through and it is only at the very end, when everything has come together, that they look good. It's always good to push through the ugly stage.

     Over the years I have changed the way I do certain things on dolls. I used to glue the coats closed. Most of the time that was no problem at all. But for coats, especially fitted ones, I have been sewing them closed most often these days. I take a few stitches where the buttons should be and then those get covered with a glued on nailhead. 

     Here we go with a more finished look at the doll. She is still missing a bunch of details and is still pretty ugly. At this point I am hoping that she will come together and I won't have to start most of her over. This can be a very hard stage.
    I mentioned that I didn't like the cartoony head that came on this smaller body so I took a look through the body parts drawer and found this one. The neck hole was not big enough for the giant neck peg so I had to carve it out a bit with an exacto knife. This doll had already been almost completely rebuilt so why not put a head from a different doll on her? Plus I like the face and I even like the paintwork. The eyes are crooked, but that is actually in the sculpt. I might decide to repaint the face eventually, but for now at least I like how she looks.
    My perseverance has paid off! Sure, her breeches could be a bit more fitted, but kids sometimes get clothes they need to grow into so it's still pretty realistic. 
    I am one step closer to being ready for the show now. I still have no idea what I am going to show anything in but I have the tack and doll are all set for Halestorm. I ordered a super awesome pad from StudioMaire to go with this set and I can't wait to see how it all looks together. I think so far it's pretty nice. 

    After glancing at the classlist just now I think I will put Halestorm in Hunter Over Fences, English games, Huntseat pleasure, Arena Trail, Other English (though now I need to think of a very clever something to do with her) and Dressage.
      I don't always like to make dolls for myself, but his one was actually a lot of fun to do. I think she came out well and was worth the effort. Hopefully she will bring a bit more correctness to my entries and Halestorm can get back to being one of my excellent show horses. I need to work out exactly what I want to do with her. I am still waiting on some props to arrive, so I don't exactly know what I will have available to work with. A tiny bit of show prep down. And sort of a fun way to spend a Sunday morning. Later I have a baby shower attend and tomorrow I have to go back to work. It's been a really fantastic February vacation.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Weekend Update

     So I have managed to find a way to work on blog posts without making myself sick or crazy. Which really may result in more frequent posting. I do promise to try to make it interesting. If anyone has any ideas of things they would like to see in this blog please let me know. Doll related or whatever. 
     Anyway, I was having several issues that made it super inconvenient for me to post to the blog. First was the fact that when I set it up I was using a yahoo email address. When my yahoo account got hacked I switched my email to gmail but I was super afraid of having anything yahoo connected to it. So I didn't connect it to my new (now super old) gmail address. The result was to post on the blog I had to either log out of gmail and log into yahoo, or use an entirely different browser to post. Which is what I ended up doing for a couple of years. Not fun or convenient. I also started having issues with my desktop computer. It makes me dizzy and sick feeling. I have tried changing the height of the monitor, turning the brightness down a ton, nothing helps. I can use that thing for only a very short time and then I often have to go lay down. Not really conducive to posting often. 
     A couple of weeks ago I decided enough was enough and I went in and figured out how to get a gmail email address as my main blog email. I actually made an entirely new email to facilitate it. Then I completely deleted the yahoo address out of it. Step one of retake the blog was complete! That same day I figured out I could post to the blog from my phone! So while I was at the laundromat I did that first February blog post. It was a huge pain in the behind because of all the photos. If I was doing short posts and never needed to move anything around it would have been fine. 
    Yesterday I discovered the absolutely easiest way to deal with blogging. I can go on my phone, where the photos are anyway, and I can start a post and stick all the photos in. Blogger saves it to a draft and then I can go on the Chromebook (which belongs to the school so I don't actually like to load photos onto the drive) and I can do the writing and move pics around if needed. The ease of this method means that I might babble at you guys a lot more. 
     I do realize that maybe no one other than me cares at all that I figured out how to solve a blogging problem I have had literally for years. But I was happy to find a solution to an ongoing problem. Now let's talk about some dolls!
    I have actually been really efficient with doll making this year so far. I have gotten a very large amount done, especially in comparison to every other year. Usually in the winter I am a bit sloth like and don't want to do anything. I have had seasonal depression issues for years. I don't seem to be having that problem anymore. More on that later though.
     So the first doll I want to share is this saddle seat doll. I wanted to try to make one with a removable coat. I know some people like to use the saddleseat dolls for in-hand showing, but the coat isn't really correct for that. I LOVE the color of her vest! She is fairly basic in most of her color scheme so she should look good with just about every color horse. Her coat is not as fitted as a permanent one would be, but she is extra versatile. I was pleased to see I could get this idea to work out. 
    Next I have a doll in pink. Because honestly I just can't go very long without making a doll in pink. She's a super versatile western doll and would be great for all sorts of casual riding scenes, games and working classes or even ranch work. Her pink top has a bit of a marbled pattern to it so it's slightly different than almost every other pink top I have ever made. And speaking of pink, I got some awesome in-scale pink plaid from a miniatures site recently. So that will be making an appearance in the near future.

     As a lot of you probably know, I have been having a lot of fun making dirty cowboys lately. They are something a bit different and really, not every cowboy is going to be squeaky clean. This guy looks dirty, but not filthy. His clothes look like they have a bit of staining from use, a bit of wear here and there and he has an overall sort of dusty look. Though it does look like his hat may have fallen in the mud! I like how the dirt on this guy ended up a bit more subtle than the last two. When I originally thought of making these I was thinking of that sort of layer of dust you get when you're out on a trail for awhile or out working hard all day. I am sure I will end up making more of these guys in the future. Though currently on my worktable I have a clean cowboy planned. I like the variety. I also like the different heads I have found. I ordered one for myself that looks like Christian Bale. He's going to be my new cowboy as soon as I get around to painting the head.
      I was planning on doing a post with some updates on Halestorm's doll but I have not gotten much further on her today. Today was chore day and I got into some major deep cleaning in the house. Have you ever had a to-do list that sort of took on a life of its own? Oh, and I LOVE to-do lists because being able to cross off the things you finished just feels good. Anyway, this morning I wrote up an extensive to-do list and I started into all of the different things I needed to do. And then I would see a bit of semi-neglected cleaning that needed to get done. For example, I took down the fan cover on the stove hood and cleaned that. I got wild today. But the house looks amazing. I did also manage to get the youth doll clothes cut out and sewn. But that was as much doll work as I have managed. And it was a couple more things I could cross off my list.
     Another thing on my to-do list is show prep. I have a 2 day performance show coming up as I mentioned. I have no planning done for it. I have gotten as far as copying the classlist and printing out the blank lists with double spaces for any classes I am going to show in. The easiest part is I know which horse I am showing on OF performance day. Since I only have one OF performance horse that was easy. So Bring the Mayhem is showing on Saturday. I have no idea in what classes. Travis will come with me for the Saturday show. Since I am only showing the one horse it will be easier to keep an eye on him. And if I can remember to get my act together I am going to teach him to sell raffle tickets. He's good at counting money and making change (at least with bills) so I am pretty sure he can do it.
    Speaking of Travis, I have some wonderful news! Yesterday he was asking for help. He would come out of his room and sing us part of a song and we had to try to figure out what it was and look it up so he could get the name. Now for anyone who thinks this should be an easy thing, especially with an 18 year old, let me explain. When Travis sings us a song he sort of mumbles and doesn't say the words clearly. We will usually get the basic melody and not much else. So we have to really know the song to be able to guess what it is. Ethan is actually really great at this. Travis came up with a song that Ethan hadn't even played in at least a year. He only had a few bars of it and the word confessions (I think that was it). I didn't really know what he was trying to sing but Ethan figured it out. He'd put it on YouTube and Travis would look at the name and then look it up on his tablet. The great thing is, now that he knows the name of the songs he wanted, he will likely never forget them. He has an excellent memory.
     Travis and I were driving to Walmart today and one of "his" songs came on the radio. I asked him what song it was (because I didn't remember) and he told me it was Faint. I asked who sang the song and he said Linkin' Park. I know he's right, even though I didn't remember when I asked him, and I am just incredibly impressed that he answered some questions for me. This is a life goal for me after all. Now if we can progress to hearing about his day at school...
     So at the top of the post I said I used to get seasonal depression and I don't seem to have that anymore. It used to get pretty bad and for several weeks at the start and end of winter I was useless for basically everything. Some of the improvement may be getting out and going to work instead of just working from home. Being alone almost constantly can be hard. But I think a lot of my improvement is from the low carb eating! I realized the other day at Marci's house that I don't get tired in the afternoon anymore. I used to have almost a super crash about 2:30. I would get home from school and almost immediately have to take at least a short catnap, just to function the rest of the day. Now I occasionally have a tired day, but that is usually on the days that I got very little sleep the night before. I do love the even energy levels. Especially since currently I am not supposed to have extra coffee.
     Lastly, I wanted to post an update about the pork rind pancakes that I first mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Ethan discovered that they make fairly excellent bread. And I discovered if you don't thin out the recipe at all they come out fairly sturdy. The thin ones were also really sturdy, but floppy. It may be the greasiest bread you have ever eaten (it IS made out of pork rinds after all) but it doesn't have an overpowering or offensive flavor and can make a really great keto sandwich bread! Now I want to try it out in a grilled cheese. Or maybe a grilled ham and cheese. Hmm, need to see if I can fit that into my macros for lunch on Monday. Tomorrow I am going to try it out with a burger and see if that works out. I have a feeling it will work fairly well and that makes me very happy. Bread was always one of my favorite things. And not just because I love the flavor of bread, which I do, but because I love sandwiches. There is a sugar-free (and artificial sweetener-free) nutella that I feel would be wonderful on this bread. Though probably better on the almond crackers I haven't made in forever. That stuff will have to wait though. For at least the rest of the weight loss competition I am going to super limit the nut flours and have no alternative sweeteners. Except on my birthday. I have decided I WILL have cake and ice cream. Now to settle on what kind of cake to make.
    Before I go I will leave the instructions for how to make the pork rind pancakes. They do not work as tortillas, no matter what the recipe pretends. I am still on the hunt for a tortilla recipe that works well. The coconut wraps are pretty good though. That may be the one I stick with. Anyway, Ethan got this recipe from a carnivore group he is a member of. He says this may be the only good thing that ever came out of that group. Enjoy!

Pork Rind pancakes/bread

yield: 5 medium panc70g of ground up pork rinds (they should be about the consistency of bread crumbs)
2 eggs
1 tbs of melted ghee/butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup or so of water.

Blend well until it makes a pancake-like batter and add more water if it's too thick to get it to the consistency you want. Then just fry them up on low-med on both sides. I spray the pan with coconut oil, but you might not need this at all. Use about 1/4 cup per pancake

Friday, February 22, 2019


    My favorite band is Halestorm. I have never in my life had a "favorite" band but I have loved the majority of the music they have put out and the love has persisted for years. That's usually when you can say you have a favorite something. I love the band so much I named my pony, Halestorm. He is a custom Stone pony created by Julie Brooks in 2011. I bought him from my good friend, Joan Yount. He’s a wonderful and fairly versatile little pony and is pretty fun to show. 
      Halestorm started his showing career with me in 2014. He’s really great at a wide variety of classes, though I have only ever had him in English equipment. I keep trying to get western tack that fits him, but it’s tricky. Maybe that will be my new goal for this year. I think I need to find classic scale tack, but I'm not totally sure. Anyway, could be a goal. You never can tell.
       Halestorm has brought in bunches of NAN cards, ribbons and rosettes. And did I mention he was fun to show? I mean, he’s a pony, so he has to get bonus fun points for that. Doesn't he?

Sometime last summer, during my wild purge of everything I own, I decided to sell Halestorm. I hadn’t really been showing him much and he mostly just sat on the shelf. When I mentioned it to Joan she said she would like to buy him back. So I sold him back to Joan and sold his tack and doll and didn’t think about him much anymore. It’s easier when you sell something you love to one of your best friends.
          Then a couple of weeks ago I was looking at one of Joan’s doll ads on MH$P (because I always look at her doll ads) and there was Halestorm. The little doll was riding bareback because Joan doesn’t have any pony sizes tack, but they sure looked cute together. I instantly missed my pony. So I asked Joan if she would sell him back to me because as soon as I saw him I had a longing for him to be back with me. She said she didn't have any pony sized tack and didn't really have time to make any at the moment so she would and that it was nice to “keep him in he family”. It’s true. 
       At almost exactly the same time as I was seeing Halestorm in Joan’s ad my friend Marci posted an older Braymere tack set that had been made to fit a Bouncer. I have an OF Bouncer sitting in a box, a deep love of Braymere tack and a tradeable skill. So I asked Marci if she would be interested in a trade and she happened to need a doll. Sometimes life just works out. I got even more excited when Marci said the tack would fit a Stone pony as well.
       Since Marci and I both work in schools, we both have February break this week, so we scheduled a pony play date. I went over to her house and brought her the new doll I made her and I brought Halestorm, who arrived on Tuesday. Just in time to go out and play! I think the set is an excellent fit on Halestorm and makes him look like a fancy hunter pony. I don't know why I think that, I just do. I show him as an Australian pony and it works. Anyway, I tried Marci's youth doll and a sales youth doll I had on hand. Neither was a good fit for the saddle. And I wanted everything to be as perfect as I could get it. So I pulled out a smaller doll when I got home and got ready to super-customize her. 
Still not a perfect fit, but I can make it work. I have never actually customized a doll specifically to fit a particular saddle and it has been an interesting build. First I pulled off her thighs and remade them a bit shorter but left her knee joint. I didn't like how it looked. The thighs ended up a bit too short and her knees were still not in the right place. So this morning I decided to take her all apart, again, and start over. 
         Here we have her boots/lower legs, sliced in the back and braced with a bit of wire so she can be in a proper heels down position. Then a knee/thigh wire was super glued into the top of the boots. The shape worked and now I was confident I could get the doll made in a way that would fit the saddle well. However I forgot to do the gluing after the legs were through the pelvis. Oops. So I cut the leg wire in the center and super glued it back together in a small medical tape wrap. I don't think the wire is actually back together, but it is firmly attached to the medical tape, which is also firmly closed. And that make her legs moved slightly more realistically. What a happy accident!
         Finally I got the thighs wrapped and the arms done. I think she looks fairly natural now. Other than the fact that she is mostly made of medical tape. Once she gets her clothes on she should be great. I am thinking that I will dress her in a pale pink shirt and a black coat. The same as my last youth doll. But I love the look. I don't like the cartoony head this body came with so she may get a different one. I have to check the body parts drawer and see what I have.
      The only other problem I had now was that the reins on the bridle were too short for a Stony Pony neck if I used a doll. Since I live in the land of no-fear crafting, I looked in my box of leather lace and found a piece that was the same width as the reins and nearly the same color. And I splice in a couple of new pieces to lengthen the reins just enough that the doll can hold them. If you look for it you can see the difference (maybe not in the photo, but in person) and if the doll is not holding the reins you can see the difference, but in general it looks good and it totally works. 
      I think I have a good start on this doll and can hopefully get time to finish her in the next couple of days. I have a show coming up on March 10th and I want her in it. Definitely clothes are required for that. 
      I was going to wait to do this post until the doll was finished. But then I saw that Jennifer Buxton, of Braymere Custom Saddlery, was nearing her 5,000,000th page view! Holy cow! That is an amazing accomplishment. It made me curious so I came to check my blog. I didn't have a page counter showing so I went and figured out how to add that. I have a bit over 103,000 views, which is actually really amazing considering I suck at keeping up with the blog and I don't always have anything very interesting to say. I also noticed that quite a lot of my traffic comes from referral links from the Braymere blog, lol! Jennifer is really great about things like that!
    Anyway, I wanted to keep up my blogging momentum (3 posts in one month! This is madness!) and send out a congratulations to Jennifer, who did in fact get her 5,000,000th page view. She does have the best hobby blog out there so it makes sense. I have always enjoyed her blog and have learned a lot from it. Here's to the next 5,000,000 Jennifer!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

NaMoPaiMo update #2 and February vacation

I made a post very recently. Last Tuesday (a week ago) if I remember correctly. The fact that I am posting again might mean that I am crazy or we have entered a parallel universe. I guess either option is possible. Most likely though it is that I am happy, already had to be on the computer to print a class list for a show and I thought about doing it.

 This is Hugh Can Do It. He is a Hugh micro mini resin sculpted by Maggie Bennett and was painted by me for NaMoPaiMo. I have said to many people over the years that I am not a painter. I suck at painting. I have no desire to put in the work to try to be a good painter. Because that is what it takes to be good at anything, work. Practice. Lots of practice. I usually don't have the time, energy or motivation to work hard on painting. NaMoPaiMo gives me that energy and motivation every year. I WANT to paint "with" all those people. And I want to do as good of a job as I can. I had some time an motivation on Friday and Saturday and I finished up Hugh's shading and blending, fixed the blending that was not super and then I got his details done. 

 Is Hugh up to professional standards? Of course not. Is Hugh likely to win any prizes at a live show? Most likely not. Is Hugh an entirely respectable little horse and a really excellent palomino for a super beginner artist? Absolutely. Am I incredibly proud of him? Yes! I am very proud of him and I love looking at him. He is not perfect, not that perfection actually exists, but he is the best I have ever done and was a double challenge. One, he is super teeny tiny. I have painted a micro before but I worked harder on it this year. I have also never painted a palomino. If viewed at normal size, or even twice his size, he's fairly well done. Maybe I can talk myself into painting another horse before next February. 

 Other than this guy. I had the fancy rainbow Albicorn in my head and he needed to come out. I used the absolute cheapest craft paint ever on him and the yellow to green blending was just not happening. The rest of the blending went a bit better but cheap paint is not the best at... anything. Albicorn was also decorated with small flowers with Swarovski crystals at the center. So he's pretty fancy. I have no idea what I am going to do with him, but he wanted to get out of my head.

Part of my energy comes from my new way of eating and my weight loss. As of this morning I have lost a total of 47 pounds since the end of last March. I started with low carb eating around then and just tried to keep my overall day under 20 net carbs. Nothing fancy, just low carbs. I lost 37 pounds before school started up in September. But then I sort of stalled. For awhile. I would slowly...slowly...lose a bit more. Like ounces, not pounds. I can say though that I am one of a rare group of people that didn't gain weight over the holidays. This was our low carb traditional Thanksgiving feast.
 All of the foods were low carb versions of traditional Thanksgiving foods. Except the fried cabbage, that was just because we really love fried cabbage! But we had turkey and green bean casserole, mashed "potatoes" (cauliflower) and stuffing. I'm French so we have always made meat stuffing anyway. There was also pie for dessert with fresh whipped cream. A really excellent key lime pie and a French silk pie. Key lime is my favorite pie of all time so being able to eat that again was great. But I have to say, it is HARD to make. So many steps! Worth it, but I doubt that I will make it often. 

 Continuing on the low carb eating, for New Years we made a variety of pizza and calzones. How do you make pizza and calzones low carb? Fathead crust, mostly. Which is made out of almond flour, cheese and a few other things. We did try a chicken crust and it was good, but not awesome. I also did the math on it and I have to say, it was one of the most expensive pizza crusts ever. Not super for something that was just OK. Anyway, even my non-low carb daughter and her boyfriend we impressed with the low carb pizza night.
 6 weeks ago I entered a weight loss competition at school. It's a "friendly" (mostly friendly) competition that is supposed to motivate us to drop those holiday pounds. I did not gain any holiday pounds but I was stuck in a plateau for months. Maybe this was just what I needed to restart my losing. I asked Ethan to plan proper keto meals for me because I hate calculating macros which is why I never did it before. He got me started and then told me to do it. What??? I can't do this! But yes, it turns out I CAN do it. Ethan is amazing and he will push me in ways other people are not willing to. Yes, he absolutely did it for me at the beginning. But then he pushed me to do it myself but would check my daily menus for me. Now I am to the point where I can do it, I know I can do it, and it's not insanely hard to do it anymore. So I don't even need to ask for help. He pushes me to do better and it is wonderful. Now though I am in another challenge, with myself. I have never been able to do a real pushup. Ever. So I am working on it. Ethan is coming up with ideas to help me work up to it and so far I am doing slightly better, though I am not there yet. Maybe tomorrow. But I get a little bit better at it every day. Maybe soon I will stop falling on my face.
 So the competition at school was becoming frustrating. I was losing only 1/2 pound a week if I was lucky. I was eating only exactly what was on my daily menus, no extras, even measuring and weighing things (not everything, but a lot of things). I was working out every day and walking all over the school before school, during lunch and any time I had time to do it. And I was frustrated. Ethan said that my head was getting in my way (which I am sure he was right) and the stress I was putting on myself with the competition and wanting to win with likely what was holding me back. I can't drop out but I can change my thinking. So I tweaked my calories (dropped 50 per day) and I changed my mindset. I am going to go back to celebrating everything positive. I lost any weight at all? Great job! I dropped from an XL to a medium? That is super! I actually have energy to do things? That is the greatest thing ever!
I am also going to go back to having more fun with food. Keto is not a boring way to eat. I have heard so many of the people I am losing with complain about their food or always being hungry or missing things. I miss stuff too. And I was to the point of obsessing over things. I really want a cookie. Not even a real cookie, but one of the delicious low carb shortbread cookies I have in my freezer. I made them at Christmas-time and they are dipped in dark chocolate and have shaved white chocolate on them. And they are amazing and I love them. But I was being super pure on everything because I wanted to win. Now I want to be happy. Happiness is having fun with food. So I looked up several recipes for low carb egg noodles and I made "real" spaghetti  the other night. One of Travis's favorite foods is spaghetti. And we have only had zoodles in the past year. I am sure he missed spaghetti. Another wonderful thing is we are all doing low carb eating here. Ethan started it and he found some research that says that low carb eating might be helpful to the symptoms of autism. We didn't have miraculous results with Travis, but we had noticeable results. So we continue. It also makes it SO much easier since we all eat the same way. Anyway, the egg noodles were amazing, not exactly like traditional pasta but close enough to be really fun. Travis scarfed them up and asked for more. It makes me incredibly happy to be able to make spaghetti for him again. 
    I also have been on the hunt for a tortilla recipe that works. I have tried a couple that didn't work up at all and ended up in the trash. But I found one the other day which can be a flatbread, naan, tortilla or a couple of other things I have never heard of. If you roll it thin enough you have basically a tortilla. Different texture than a flour tortilla, but still good. I had a ham wrap with one yesterday and it was very good. 
    Ethan found a recipe for some pork rind tortillas so I figured I would try those out yesterday. I thinned them out a lot and they ended up looking and acting, just like a thin pancake. So I gave them to Travis like pancakes with butter. That guy doesn't even really like pancakes but he ate them and liked them a lot. Ethan tried some as thin breads for a breakfast sandwich. He said they were amazing, though he couldn't speak on their flavor on their own. But he said they were excellent as breakfast bread. I haven't tried them myself yet because they didn't fit into my macros yesterday. Today though, today I will try them. Maybe I will report back on what I think of them. I am going to try making them again today too I think. I won't thin them as much. Ethan was saying if they could be thicker, like English muffin thick, that would be nice. So I am aiming for that today. The basic idea though is I am having fun with food again. I am trying out new recipes and finding things that are easy to make and make eating fun again. THIS is why I think I can win the competition. I am not going to get bored with my eating. Not unless I let myself. 

     So in about 6 weeks I will turn 40. My goal is to lose that full 50 pounds by then. Since I only have 3 pounds to go I know I can do it. But I will start with that as my goal. Originally I was thinking I will skip any treats on my birthday because of this competition. But I have decided that is ridiculous and not fun at all. I am only going to turn 40 once and I want it to be fun. I will plan out whatever meal will be delicious and interesting and I will plan in a treat or two. I don't know if I want to make a cake, but maybe. I have a great recipe for chocolate caramel brownie cupcakes and I have only made them once. Maybe I will make those again. And I could have a cupcake and a bit of ice cream. The ice cream we eat is Enlightened and is made with erythritol, so we can eat it. It is so far one of the only ice creams I have found that is made without artificial sweeteners or sugar. Because there is a difference between alternative and artificial. I haven't totally figured out my birthday plan yet. but I have time. 
     Anyway, I know people usually come here to hear about dolls but I don't have much to say on those other than I have been really productive lately. I have a show coming up the beginning of March and I will try to post a show report then. I am going to continue to work on my weight loss and fitness and find ways to make eating fun. I doubt anyone came here for advice but I am going to give some anyway. If you are trying something and it is not working out the way you want, keep trying, don't give up. Whether it is painting a horse or trying a new way of eating or a fitness challenge or whatever. Give it your best effort and push yourself to keep going.

Recipes for some of the low carb foods pictured:
Key lime pie
coconut flour biscuits I have not tried these yet
almond flour biscuits
chocolate silk pie
Low carb egg noodles
Low carb flatbread/naan/tortillas
fathead pizza crust