Monday, April 25, 2016

White Noise, Blue Lights and More...

by M. J. Joachim

Ah, the end of another long day, a day when you've spent way too much time distracted by modern technology, to the point of sometimes tuning out moments in life playing out directly in front of your eyes. Oh, you're there when they happen alright, just not exactly 100%, because even if you aren't on your computer, tablet or cell phone, your mind is still wondering who you need to connect with next, which author's book you should read and review next, who might be contacting you - be it family, friend or Internet acquaintance, whether or not it's your turn to make a word on Words with Friends and if you'll still maintain your leading edge there, because even though it's one more thing on your list of things to do, you love that game and have a wonderful time playing it.

Much more than all the white noise, blue light and technology though, you LOVE your family. You think about your grandkids all the time, often smiling about them when they aren't even around. You also positively adore your husband. He's your undeniable best friend and you know you've been blessed beyond measure with him at your side, your kids in your corner and your grandkids who wouldn't know what to do without their Grammy. Your kids are still the best kids any mother was ever blessed to give birth to. As much as they work hard to drive you crazy at times, or call you out on your bullshit and quirks, these kids love you as much as you love them, and despite the little (and sometimes bigger) things they do to tick you off, ruffle your feathers or push your buttons, you know God took it easy on you when he brought all of these phenomenal people together and made them one family.

This is a glimpse of my life in recent weeks, as I stare at the ceiling in the middle of the night, attempting to wind down with my blood racing and a certain odd feeling I can only describe as tingling from staying on my devices too late into the night. It's a mental note to shut down relax after dinner, turn everything off, because just like caffeine, white noise and blue light are adrenalin boosters, charging my system and sometimes putting it on overload.

I won't do it, of course. Not with so many book review requests waiting in the wings and being sent via email, not with so many people challenging my word sense and keeping things interesting on the game. I'll cut back, making sure I don't work on my books and blogs when everyone else gets home from work and wants to hang out as a family. I only work on those when the babies aren't here, or when they nap while I'm babysitting them, so cutting back should be easy enough, provided I make it a top priority and bust my butt to break any and all bad habits that would attempt to sabotage my efforts.

So the hubs and I took a few hours and visited Bartlett Lake, Carefree and Cave Creek AZ yesterday. We drove with the windows down most of the way. I tied my hair up in a scarf so it wouldn't keep covering my face and I could see the scenery. It's been a long time since we were up that way, and things have changed. Small town AZ is definitely growing. I'm okay with it. The world and life need to do that sometimes. We ate at a famous restaurant called The Horny Toad - named after a lizard, so don't get the wrong idea. They have quite a few gluten free options, I was thrilled I wasn't limited to salad minus dressing. Instead I had potato skins for an appetizer, a horny toad burger on a gluten free bun and potato salad. Talk about dining out on the fly, and finding exactly what the customer with celiac ordered. It was delicious!

The above photo was taken at Bartlett Lake yesterday. I was amazed by all the yellow hues in the scenery everywhere we went. Even the flowers were yellow or white with yellow tints in them. Notice the rock formations in this photo - there were so many around the lake, and almost all of them looked like they'd been painted by someone with yellow. I didn't touch up the photo or change it in any way, so you can see how the yellow hues seem to glow on their own merit. It's fascinating and beautiful, and it caught me by surprise, but then it is spring here, and yellow is one of our more predominant colors this time of year. We haven't had much rain, which usually brings out more of the green and blue hues in our natural surroundings. It was also the middle of the day. Sunrise and sunset bring out the orange and red colors.

Time to wrap this up now. I've worked overtime to finish reading that book I started last week, and I need to review it and couple of children's books on my other blog. Then I need to work on my books, before I do some thorough cleaning around here. Time's a wasting and the day is getting away from me before I blink my eyes to see what time it is.

Please email me with any comments regarding this post.  I was attempting to keep a diary on my other blog, all on one single page there. This is so much easier, because my posts are logged and it's easy to look at them individually, instead of scrolling down without any reference to what I wrote about, which as a writer can come in handy when you're working on other projects. That's another reason I started this blog, to be just a tiny bit more organized.

Thanks again for stopping by,

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit:  M. J. Joachim ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Monday, April 18, 2016

Life Happens, and then we blog about it...

by M. J. Joachim

Sometimes we get in a bit of a funk, and there's not much we can do about it. We're restless when we sleep, our minds are going 100+ miles an hours and we feel like there's always way too much to do. What can I say? It happens to the best of us, and my encouragement to you is to be okay with these times, knowing they will pass.

I also want to remind you to treat yourself with respect and dignity, because if you don't, you can't expect others to. Remember that saying, do unto others as you would have them do unto you? There's a second saying that often gets forgotten, do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you. That's not to say you should go overboard and act like you're God's gift to the world. It is to say you don't need to allow yourself to be treated poorly by others. You're the one who sets your boundaries, so if you're having trouble living with something, move the boundary, blow up the scene (figuratively, of course), and decide how you want to be treated by others. No one has a right to make you feel bad about yourself, so don't let them.

I was going to go into a bit of a rant about how tech savvy I'm not, but then I erased all that, because who wants to read some madness about getting photos off the phone and onto the desktop, to free up memory space on the phone so it works properly? Suffice to say, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. All I had to do was plug in the usb cord to both my phone and computer, and copy the photos into a file. Ah technology! I looked up a few apps for this, but they seemed more confusing than plugging in the cord, and some of their reviews were rather scary.

I'm currently reading a neat book. I've done reviews for this author before, and after reading and reviewing so many with poor editing lately, I wanted to play it safe. Besides, I've had this book in the pile for quite a while now, so it was definitely due to be read. I'm about half way through it, and once again, I'm learning a bit about technology, as I email book docs from my computer to tablet, so I can read them on there.

Time for The Voice - we get to see who's in the Top 12 tonight. I love the music and thoroughly enjoy watching people grow and succeed, especially when they are really good at what they do.

Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you only good things,

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit:  Shared post from Facebook

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Log Cabin Pattern Crochet Blanket

by M. J. Joachim

This is my current crochet project. The idea is to make a huge square of single crochet, and then use the log cabin quilting pattern, to single crochet strips around the edges, using coordinating colors that go well with my square.

I'm using 4-ply cotton crochet thread and  a size H hook. My starting chain was 85 chain stitches. My tail to start this blanket was very long, and I've taken great pains to wrap around it, thereby eliminating the need to weave it in when the blanket is finished.

I like the idea of combining the beauty of quilting with crochet, and plan to make more projects, using quilt square patterns as my guide. Since I'm not much of a seamstress, though I have made a few quilts in the past, I will get the best of both worlds this way. Plus, it's very easy to sit and single crochet mindlessly, as opposed to following or creating a new pattern, though I'm sure I'll be doing that too, since it truly is something I thoroughly enjoy.

That's all for now, as I'm almost finished reading an interesting book I need to review, and I'd like to get a bit of reading in before my granddaughter wakes up from her nap.

Wishing you only good things, my friends. May you have the most wonderful day!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit:  M. J. Joachim, ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Gluten Free Nachos, Easy and Inexpensive

by M. J. Joachim

Being gluten free isn't as hard as it seems, especially these days. Of course, on those very rare occasions when I get exposed to gluten, it tends to do quite a number on me, because as many of you know, I have Celiac disease. This is not a gluten allergy, as some people believe, but rather a digestive issue, where one simply cannot process gluten properly. Consequently, it wreaks havoc on almost all parts of the body.

The diagnosis is difficult to determine at best, because health complaints range from not feeling like oneself, being achy, having a fuzzy brain, not sleeping well, going to the bathroom too much or not enough, being tired all the time and even having sore joints, to a whole host of other things that mimic other illnesses. Doctors do their best, but many don't immediately suspect Celiac or gluten sensitivity as the culprit, especially when the patient only pinpoints one or two of the more grievous complaints regarding his or her health. 

I was lucky, if you can call it that, because I have three siblings with similar issues, and since there's a strong genetic factor in all of this, I knew to ask for the Celiac test. I also knew enough to stop eating gluten on my own, to see if my health didn't improve, which it did more than I can say.

I have a tendency to munch when I watch t.v., and since I didn't actually sit down and eat dinner last night, the urge was all the more strong when my husband and I sat down to watch The Voice. We love that show, and last night's lives was rather spectacular. I believe there will be a few new vocalists reaching the top of the charts in the very near future, if they haven't already.

I didn't make it to the grocery store yesterday. We had a house full here, and I was having way too much fun hugging on and playing with my grandkids, so there wasn't a whole lot of dinner items to choose from. I'd had leftover rice bowls for lunch, and while it was good, I wanted something different. I knew there were Tostitos chips in the pantry. We had cheese in the fridge. What I didn't know was that those chips are gluten free. Label readers are us, and there it was, right on the back of the bag, with a GF toward the bottom.

Quick and easy nachos hit the spot! I made them with Tostitos chips, mozzarella cheese and Macayo's Mexican style taco sauce. It's an easy and inexpensive gluten free treat. All I had to do was layer it all on a paper plate and melt the cheese in the microwave. All of these ingredients are readily found in the grocery store, and they are sure to please the entire family, even those who aren't gluten free.

Thanks so much for stopping by. It's a pleasure sharing this blog with you!

M. J. 

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo credits:  Fair Use copyright law

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Kaleidoscope Doily

by M. J. Joachim

Finished size:  Approximately 8 x 8 inch square, 32 inch diameter

You Will Need:

  • Size 10 doily thread in 3 different colors, colors a, b and c respectively. You will only need a small amount of thread for a, approximately 1/3 of a skein for color b and approximately 1/4 of a skein for color c
  • Steel crochet hook size 1/2.75 mm
  • Small sewing scissors

Step 1:  Using color a, chain 8 and form a ring by slip stitching into the first chain
Step 2:  Chain 2 (counts as first hdc); make 23 hdc in center of ring for a total of 24 hdc in center of ring
Step 3:  Chain 6, dc in same space (counts as 1 dc + chain 3 + 1 dc); *skip next 2 hdc, make (1 dc + chain 3 + 1 dc) in next space; repeat from * around, joining with a slip stitch to the 3rd chain of first chain 6 in round.  

Finish off color a and join color b to same chain 3 where color a was finished off. 

Step 4:  Picot (chain 3, slip stitch in 1st chain) and single crochet in same space
Step 5:  (Single crochet + chain 5 + single crochet) in next chain 3 space
Step 6:  Skip 1 dc, (sc + picot + sc) in next dc

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 around, ending with a slip stitch to first slip stitch in round.

Step 7:  Chain 10, work behind picot, sc from wrong side into next chain 5 space
Step 8:  Skip next sc in chain 5 space; slip stitch into next sc at beginning of next picot

Note:  Chain 5 loop will twist in this process

Repeat Steps 7 and 8 around, joining with a slip stitch to the first stitch in round; you will have 8 chain 10 loops

Step 9:  Slip stitch into 1st chain 10 loop; chain 5 (counts as 1st triple crochet), make 9 more tr in same loop; chain 10, make 10 more tr in same loop - corner = (10 tr + chain 10 + 10 tr)
Step 10:  Chain 5, sc in next chain 10 loop, followed by corner (10 tr + chain 10 + 10 tr) in following chain 10 loop

Repeat Step 10 around, joining with a slip stitch to 5th chain of first chain 5 in round, aka top chain of 1st triple crochet in round. 

Step 11:  Single crochet in same space; chain 5, make corner in chain 10 loop of next corner, chain 5
Step 12: Skip 9 triple crochet, sc in next tr; (chain 3 + sc) in next chain 5 loop twice; chain 3 + sc in next triple crochet, chain 5, make corner in next chain 10 loop, chain 5 

Repeat Step 12 around, ending with a slip stitch to 1st sc in round; break off color b

Step 13:  Join color c to any corner chain 10 loop, chain 3 (counts as 1st dc), make 2 more dc in same corner
Step 14:  (chain 1 + 3 dc) six more times in same chain 10 loop

New corner = 7 groups of 3 dc with chain 1 spaces in between them

Step 15:  Chain 5, skip next 5 triple crochet; make 1 sc between 5th and 6th triple in corner in previous round
Step 16:  Chain 5, sc in next chain 5 space; chain 3, sc in next chain 3 space; (chain 3 + sc in next chain 3 space) twice; chain 3, make 1 sc in next chain 5 space; chain 5, skip next 5 triple crochet; make 1 sc between 5th and 6th triple in corner in previous round; make new corner in next corner space

Repeat Steps 15 and 16 around, joining with a slip stitch to the top chain of 1st dc. Break off color c.

Step 17:  Join color b to 3rd chain 1 space of any corner; single crochet in same space and in next chain 1 space
Step 18:  Chain 40, make 1 sc in 3rd and 4th space of chain 1 in next corner

Repeat Step 18 around, ending with a slip stitch to 1st sc in round

Step 19:  Slip stitch in next sc, make 1 sc in chain 40 loop
Step 20:  Chain 5, (sc around chain 40 space and next chain 1 space of previous round) twice
Step 21:  Chain 5, sc in chain 40 loop (5 times)
Step 22:  Skip next chain 3 space of previous round; make triple crochet v-stitch (3 tr + chain 2 + 3 tr)  around chain 40 and next chain 3 space of previous round (twice)

Note:  Lay doily flat. Gently even out chain 40 loop between stitches, prior to working on Step 23. This is very important and must be done for each side of the doily, to get your doily to lay flat and even, particularly while working on it now and in future rounds.

Step 23:  (Single crochet + chain 5) in chain 40 loop 5 times; (single crochet around chain 40 loop and next chain 1 space of previous round + chain 5) twice; chain 5, slip stitch in each of the next 2 sc stitches; break off color b
Step 24:  Join color c to right center chain 2 space of triple crochet v-stitch on any side. Chain 5 (counts as 1st triple), make 2 more triple in same space; chain 2, make 3 more triple in same space (beginning v-stitch complete)
Step 25:  Make v-stitch in center of next v-stitch; sc in next chain 5 loop
Step 26:  Chain 5, sc in each chain 5 loop around until you get to the next v-stitch; make triple crochet v-stitch in center of next v-stitch

Repeat Steps 25 and 26 around doily, ending with a slip stitch in the top chain of the 1st triple crochet.

Step 27:  Slip stitch over next 2 triple crochet and into chain 2 space of first v-stitch; make beginning v-stitch

Repeat Steps 25 and 26 around doily one more time. Break off color c.

Step 28:  Join color a to right center chain 2 space of any v-stitch on any side; chain 1, sc twice in same space

Final Round:  This round consist of single crochet stitches around, plus 4 triple crochet stitches - one on each side.

Make 3 sc in each chain 2 space of v-stitches.
Make 1 sc in each triple crochet.
Triple crochet over both of the last 2 rounds, between 2 v-stitches (3 tr + chain 2 + 3 tr), triple crochet over last 2 rounds (3 tr + chain 2 + 3 tr)
Make 1 sc in each sc, make 5 sc in each chain 5 loop

Join with a slip stitch to 1st sc. Finish off. Weave in loose ends. Lay flat. Steam and shape. Let dry. 

This is an original crochet pattern, designed and tested by M. J. Joachim.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to email them to me at:

All comments are eligible to be shared on this blog in a future post, unless otherwise requested by their sender.

Thanks for stopping by!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  M. J. Joachim
Kaleidoscope Doily ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Blog Learning Curves and Celebrating Amanda's Birthday

by M. J. Joachim

Blogging has been a bit of a roller coaster ride with me, in part because of the learning curve, but more importantly, because somehow many of my blog posts (on five blogs, I might add) become troublesome, giving me problems since I published them. I've read that part of this can be blamed on links and other things that the platform doesn't necessarily support. In vain I would try to fix them, knowing full well that I should simply focus on transferring the content to a clean blog, eventually dismissing any further issues with them. So if you see a sudden burst of activity here on this blog, a rapid succession of posts from a similar topic, it might be because I'm tired of fighting with whatever bug ails my other blogs, and I'd like to start fresh, eliminating the possibility of any bugs bothering them at all.

I've read so many things over the years indicating blog hops and shady links play a huge roll in messing with one's blog. I've also read that uploading pictures can be a problem, which is one reason I switched to screen shots quite a while ago. But I was not a purist way back when, hopping everywhere and more than likely hitting on a bad link that somehow tainted my blogs, or inadvertently including a faulty link somewhere along the line. Without the tech savvy to figure out what, when, how, why or even who (if there is a 3rd party involved), I'm left to doing the grunt work. This isn't the only huge writing project I'm undertaking, btw. But it is a bit overwhelming, nonetheless. Onward we go, in the quest to make blogging fun again, and a whole lot less work.

It's my daughter Amanda's 22nd birthday today. I can hardly believe she's that old already. Seems like not so long ago I was holding her in my arms, cuddling her close as an infant. She always did enjoy being in my arms,  and now she gets to hold her own little one in her arms, having given birth to her first child last February. Proud mom of her that I am, it seems only fitting to share with you a bit about her delightful personality and how it has made our family all the more special.

Amanda was and remains the family clown. She's a comedian in her own right, though a bit shy and reserved too. You wouldn't have known that last Thanksgiving, when I personally thought she might give birth out by the fire pit. A lull formed as everyone was mesmerized by the flames. Then someone suggested putting on some music, and whoa, Amanda came alive dancing with moves that had us all in stitches. Add in her hysterically funny verbal comedy routine, as she experimented with the lyrics using a multitude of voices and sounds few of us had ever heard before, and well, that's my Amanda, the life of our party and a joy to claim as my own!

It's just one of the many reasons I love this family and my life so much!

So there you have it, the ramblings of M. J. Joachim, fondly known as Grandma T. on the home front. Ah life! And then we move on...

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to email them to me at:

All comments are eligible to be shared on this blog in a future post, unless otherwise requested by their sender.

Thanks for stopping by!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  M. J. Joachim
Amanda, Age 3 ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Contributing to the Shared Life of M. J. Joachim

by M. J. Joachim

As it turns out, Adsense, even though I've had it for years, isn't all that easy to add to a brand new blog. Faithful customer that I am, a woman who easily has earned Google more than a few of those proverbial pennies in the piggy bank mentioned in my previous blog post, pennies I wish I'd see more of, but gave up on that idea because Google is my platform and it gets the lion's share of anything I might attempt to earn here, I press the adsense gadget to no avail, since this new blog is not approved for adsense yet, and must go through some sort of screening process before I can apply it here.

My granddaughter finished in the high chair. I cleaned her up, changed her diaper, had a tickle fest with her and together we hugged and rocked her baby in the rocking chair. Lightbulb!!! I have a Contributor Badge on my Writing Tips blog. Who needs adsense anyway? All I have to do is copy the code in a text gadget and add it to this blog. That way, if people want to add pennies to my my piggy bank they can, and I don't have to do anything else at all. It can be a grand experiment to see which one earns more, adsense or contributor. Plus, it definitely qualifies as being easier than wondering when or if adsense will approved letting me place ads on this new blog. Plug it and leave it. I'm game, and since my granddaughter went down for nap, I'm also done - posted in the top right hand corner, you can choose to add this blog to the list of those you contribute to, or not. I'm good either way, though I do enjoy earning and saving pennies now and then, even if they are far and few between, so I definitely hope you'll add this blog to your list of those you choose to contribute to.

Onto the next thing I'd like to share with you about this blog. I'm going to be adding pages of all the things I can think of that pertain to my world. Many of them will have links of all the other things I've done like crochet tutorials, book reviews, recipes etc. Each page will be updated added to in turn, based on the new content I plan to continue publishing on this vast world we love called the Internet, more specifically this blog called M. J. Joachim's World, which could easily be considered M. J.'s command central, the place where you will be able to find anything and everything publicly published by M. J. Joachim, along with all that other stuff called life, where you can get to know me on a more personal, intimate level.

It's going to take some time, and life has a way of taking detours, but patience is the key. If you ride this wave with me, you'll personally be privy to an inside look at the life and times of M. J. Joachim, author, wife, mother, grandmother, artist, friend and more. I'm putting it all out there folks, tearing down the walls and opening the flood gates. This is my world, and I'm only too happy to share a glimpse of it with you!

So there you have it, the ramblings of M. J. Joachim, fondly known as Grandma T. on the home front. Ah life! And then we move on...

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to email them to me at:

All comments are eligible to be shared on this blog in a future post, unless otherwise requested by their sender.

Thanks for stopping by!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  M. J. Joachim
Eagle Crest, OR ©2016 All Rights Reserved

Pressing the Easy Button...

by M. J. Joachim

This is me, pressing the easy button and trying to do a bit of consolidating on my blogs. Truth is, I've thought about doing something like this for a long time, and between all the hemming and hawing, plus living life, never quite made it a big enough priority. Fast forward a few years, a couple of sad ones where the notion of having both my parents off in the next realm of life, a place that hopefully is more beautiful than words can possibly describe, became a major life adjustment, add in two beautiful grandkids and a to do list that keeps getting longer, even though my life is probably more simple than it's been in years, and this is the result, a brand new blog, creating a brand new window, albeit probably a little bit dirty at times, "I don't do windows. Wait. Yes I do, just not as often as I need to." And Voila! You now have everything it takes to immerse yourself in M. J.'s world too.

Blogging didn't turn out to be the nice passive income I thought it might. More like pennies in a jar that keeps swallowing them up, making it impossible to earn enough to put gas in the car, let alone fill anyone's piggy bank. Perhaps that's why they call it piggy. I don't know. The fact is that if blogging and writing were about the money, I'd have given up long ago and gotten a real job. But then you already know that, since you're likely in the same situation - caught between what you know  you must do to keep your sanity, working your a** off in too many other areas of your life and pretty much squeezing in a few moments to throw up a blog post now and then, in vain, all because hey, it's one form of writing that doesn't require a long term investment. Well, sort of, but not really, because on one hand, you're writing on an island, putting your work in the floating glass bottle that quickly flows away to where you do not know, and enjoying the fact that although you are still in your proverbial bubble, you're still at one with the universe sharing your thoughts and ideas in turn.

Okay, so this is what it's come to. A life of doing what people do and finally having the courage to admit it. Might I also admit that the past isn't what it used to be. The future will always be an insatiable unknown, the present is this exact moment in time, a moment where my granddaughter is eating homemade, gluten free banana bread in the high chair, and I'm hurriedly trying to finish writing directly into this blog post, since as it happens, I get to play with my granddaughter for a couple hours while my girls go attend an orientation to further their education, so they can better help support their families.

Yes, it is grand! And I couldn't be happier! Which is why I'm doing what I'm doing with my blogs right now. You see, I've spent years dedicating myself to the content I publish, only to find myself being torn between two worlds, because the home front had a massive growth spurt, both in people departing from my life to enter their next phase, and in people entering my life to be part of this one. Growth in all directions as it were, and now my blogs must grow in turn, following suit and becoming one with my world in an easier, more manageable way.

So there you have it, the ramblings of M. J. Joachim, fondly known as Grandma T. on the home front. Ah life! And then we move on...

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please feel free to email them to me at:

All comments are eligible to be shared on this blog in a future post, unless otherwise requested by their sender.

Thanks for stopping by!

M. J.

©2016 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit:  M. J. Joachim
Sedona, AZ ©2016 All Rights Reserved