Archive for October, 2009

Halloween Brushes — Wizard Hat

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Here are some brushes in PSP X2 and Photoshop CS4 format.  I have also included the PNGs for use in earlier versions of PSP and Photoshop.

wizardhatbrushprev

TOU:¬† These brushes were created by me, Dragon’s Breath.¬† You have free use of the brush, just do not claim it as your own.¬† If your group requires a copyright notice (I do not), please write:¬† copyright:¬† Dragon’s Breath.

NO LONGER available for download

 

Halloween sig tags

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

pamelaboilingtroublerdb pamelawitchtreatrdb pamelagreatpumpkinrdb

 

NO LONGER available for download

 

Halloween Tubes

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

I’ve uploaded some more Halloween tubes.

TOU:¬† These tubes were created by me, Dragon’s Breath.¬† You have free use of the tube, just do not claim it as your own.¬† If your group requires a copyright notice (I do not), please write:¬† copyright:¬† Dragon’s Breath.

 

cauldronsprev

DOWNLOAD

cookiewitchprev

DOWNLOAD

fallenprev

DOWNLOAD

loperaprev

DOWNLOAD

witchbroomprev

DOWNLOAD

witchhatsprev

DOWNLOAD

 

Enjoy!

Trim-ming the Negatives

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Well, there is always someone in a group that makes you wonder if “it’s worth it.”¬† There’s always someone who thinks they do not have to follow the rules that they agreed to.¬† Or who is so selfish that they expect everything given to them or done their way, and never appreciate all the hard work that went into the group to begin with.

Over the years of managing graphics groups, I have encountered a few people like this.¬† They always follow these stages:¬† First they are very compliant to the rules.¬† Every thing is peachy keen.¬† Then as you let your guard down, they begin breaking the rules, little by little.¬† At first, you are very careful about how you correct their violations, for you don’t want to squash their desire to learn.¬† But they don’t see your carefulness as a form of diplomacy.¬† Instead, they see it as timidity, and soon they are openly violating rules in the group and arguing with the moderators who are trying to warn them, thinking that they have that right and there’s nothing¬†a group owner¬†can do.¬† Soon the peach has rotted to the core.¬†

Too many people and too many groups are afraid to put their foot down when members break the rules because they are afraid that their group will be dissolved.

Well,¬† whether my group becomes dissolved, or people leave because I put my foot down, does not matter to me.¬† This is my group.¬† This was my vision.¬† This was my hard work.¬† I have NO sympathies for a bully or for a rude member, or for a continuous rule breaker.¬† When a member becomes inviolate of the rules, I will enforce them.¬† And yes, that can include removal and a ban from the group.¬† And as pointed out when I Trim-med my last rude member, I did so without “another word.”¬†

Oh these Trim-med members will claim they were removed without explanation.¬† They overlook all the warnings they received before that to follow the rules, to stop arguing with the moderators.¬† They think that they can then email you privately, and that you have to tolerate it.¬† They think that they can then take your emails out of context and post them elsewhere and now demean your group, and demean you.¬† Oh, and don’t forget to bring in “God so he can heal your spirit.”¬† Anything, to cover up the fact that they messed up.¬† That they refused to follow the rules.¬† That they treated the owner and moderators rudely and with disrespect.¬† That they made a commitment that they had no intention of following.

I will not deny that I have replied to harassing mails and forum posts in a very firm manner.¬† I very openly state in my rules that these will not be tolerated in the least bit.¬† I really don’t know why a person who sends unsolicited or harassing emails should expect kindness and sweetness.¬† I will be very blunt and to the fact with anyone who thinks that they can join my group and then disrespect its rules and its memberships.¬†

People are afraid of having their reputation or group’s reputation smeared because they had to stand up to such Internet bullies.¬† Well, what kind of reputation are you trying to protect?¬† One of a coward, or one where your rights don’t matter?¬† I say:¬† speak up!¬† These are the ways of the bullies.¬† When they don’t get their way, they then try to intimidate you.¬† And they think that they can intimidate you into quietness and tolerance by threatening to impune you.¬†

My last Trim-med member has threatened to “spread the word” about my rudeness to another group that she belongs to, by forwarding “an email” that she says I sent.¬† Well, go ahead. Fabricate what you wish.¬† Your actions speak for themselves.¬†

And my site statistics speak for themselves, too.

I have the best moderators and members!¬† Trim-med members don’t bother to participate in the forum or get to know any of these members to ever find this out.¬† We have no problems at the group.¬† And that’s because I Trim the troublemakers from the group.¬† If that makes me the bad guy, then so be it.¬† I do not go out and solicit membership to my groups.¬† New members come after visiting my site or being referred by others.¬† I appreciate all these referrals, but this was done out of the kindness of their hearts and with care for the ones they were referring.¬†

Trim-med members think you owe them something for them doing this kindness.¬† Was it really a kindness if you thought it meant you were doing it to put the owner in your debt?¬† I think not!¬† Troublemakers like these think they can use people to get the owner in “their debt”, and that then they can run amuck in the group because the owner feels they owe them.¬† I owe these trim-med members nothing.¬†¬†They should have¬†followed the guidelines that they claimed they read.¬† The members try to fit into the group they join, not the group bend to fit the new members.

I will not be extorted into¬†allowing my group to be taken over by others who look for a “new home” after being run off from another one that they tried to take over, or that¬†collapsed after they ruined it.¬†

So troublemakers, beware!  You will be TRIM-med.

Halloween Tubes

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I’ve uploaded some Halloween poser tubes.¬† Enjoy!

 

 

jackoprev

TOU:¬† These tubes were created by me, Dragon’s Breath.¬† You have free use of the tube, just do not claim it as your own.¬† If your group requires a copyright notice (I do not), please write:¬† copyright:¬† Dragon’s Breath.

DOWNLOAD: 

littlestwitchprev

TOU:¬† These tubes were created by me, Dragon’s Breath.¬† You have free use of the tube, just do not claim it as your own.¬† If your group requires a copyright notice (I do not), please write:¬† copyright:¬† Dragon’s Breath.

DOWNLOAD 

Cajun chicken Gumbo and rice

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

I was asked to post a recipe for cajun chicken and rice.  Well, to us that usually means gumbo, or a stew.  Gumbo is more like a soup, and well, a stew is a stew.  Both of them have a roux base (flour and oil mixture) that gives the broth a flavor.  And because of the flour base, this is not the healthiest food choice, so eat it sparingly.  So here are directions for both.

1.  Make the roux

ingredients:  1/4 c flour for stew  or 1 c flour for gumbo, and equal part of vegetable oil (canola oil is a healthier choice)

directions:¬† Pour the oil into a cast iron skillet.¬† Iron skillets are best because they evenly heat, and stay hot.¬† Heat up the oil on medium and then slowly add the flour, whisking it into the oil to get it mixed well.¬† Keep cooking the flour-oil mixture, stirring and scraping the bottom so it doesn’t get lumpy or burn.¬†¬† You want it to cook until the mixture turns dark brown, like the color of dark chocolate.

Note:  you can make extra roux ahead of time.  Store it in a glass jar with lid in the refrigerator.  It will keep for at least a month.

2.  Making the stew:

ingredients:  1/4 cup roux (already made), diced onion, diced celery (about 3 branches), diced bell pepper, seasonings to taste (black pepper, garlic powder, red/cayenne pepper),4-6 pieces of chicken, 1 can chicken broth, minced green onions, cooked rice
note: we use a seasoning mix called Tony Chachere’s¬†

directions:
Heat the roux over medium high heat in a large deep skillet, if you haven’t made it fresh
Add in the diced up vegetables and keep stirring.
When the vegetables turn glossy, add about 1/4 c. water to thin out the roux.  Mix well and heat. 
Add Chicken and seasonings, and stir around so that chicken browns
When chicken is browned, add 1 can of chicken broth, mix well.
Then add enough water to just cover the chicken.  Mix well.
Bring to a boil, then set heat to about medium or medium low, just so the stew will simmer
Cook 45 min to an hour, until chicken is done. 
Taste after about 20 minutes and add more seasonings if necessary.
When chicken is nearly done, add in the green onions.
Serve over cooked rice.

3.  Make the gumbo

You will need a 4-qt stew pot, which we affectionately call a gumbo pot.

ingredients:  (1 to 1 1/2 cup) roux, 2 Р3 diced onions, diced celery (about 3 branches), diced bell pepper, cut-up chicken  (8-10 pieces),  seasonings to taste (black pepper, garlic powder, red/cayenne pepper), 1 or 2 cans chicken broth, minced green onions, cooked rice   (Note:  you can use boneless chicken if you want.  But bone-in gives flavor to the broth, as does dark meat over white meat)
note: we use a seasoning mix called Tony Chachere’s, and they also have a roux mix that you can use.

directions:
Heat the roux over medium high heat in a 4-qt (or more) gumbo pot, if you haven’t made it fresh
Add in the diced up vegetables and keep stirring.
When the vegetables turn glossy, add about 1/4 c. water to thin out the roux.  Mix well and heat. 
Add Chicken and seasonings and stir around so that chicken browns
When chicken is browned, add the chicken broth, mix well.
Then add about 3 quarts water.  Mix well.
Bring to a boil, then set heat to about medium or medium low, just so the gumbo will simmer.
After about 20 minutes, taste and add more seasonings
Cook at least an hour, covered.
About 15 min before serving add the green onions.
Serve over cooked rice in a bowl.

Some people like to eat potato salad with their gumbo (on the side or inside)

Doctors’ Diagnoses

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

My doctor’s appointments went well.¬† My cardiologist was happy.¬† My bp was down and my heart rate was slower.¬† He was so happy that he did not put me through the stress test.¬† He suggested a new weight loss goal:¬† lose 30 pounds by my next return visit in 6 months.

Then I went to the pulmonologist.¬† I had about an hour to wait.¬† I was happy to just wait in the waiting room and look at magazines.¬† It’s rare that I get to just sit and read leisurely.¬† But no.¬† They took me into the exam early, and then I had to wait the hour in there!¬† And there are no posters on the wall to read.¬† I almost fell asleep.

Things were good and “bad”.¬† Dr. McCarthey says that I had 2.8 apnea events per hour of sleep during my sleep test.¬† That’s normal.¬† However, my REM sleep was not normal.¬† He said, that had it been normal, I would probably have scored higher on the apnea.¬† What concerned him though, was that 90% of my sleep time my oxygen level was below 82%¬† Anything below 88 is considered abnormal.¬† He still wants to put me on a cpap machine because he thinks that will help with the oxygen levels, but he’s not sure if the insurance will certify it since my apnea numbers are not high enough.¬† So I have to wait.¬† He says, if the insurance does not approve it, then he would suggest me taking oxygen at night.¬†

I was a little disappointed.¬† Yes, it’s good to know that I don’t have sleep apnea.¬† But now I still do not know the cause of my energy drain that I feel, or this low oxygen level.

Today my energy levels crashed after lunch.¬† I’m probably hitting the bed early tonight.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I tried this recipe.¬† It was good, but I really think the thyme and oregano were too overpowering.¬† If I made these again, I would either reduce those seasonings to about 1/8 t each, or I would replace them with a little unsalted Tony’s seasoning.¬† Maybe even some Old Bay (but that’s saltier)

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

South Beach Diet, Phase 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms
  • 7 to 8 ounces crabmeat (canned or fresh picked) NOT IMITATION!
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground savory
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup no-sugar mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350¬įF.
  • In a medium bowl, combine crabmeat (rinse if using canned), green onions, herbs, and pepper.
  • Mix in mayonnaise and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese until well combined. Refrigerate filling until ready for use.
  • Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp towel. Remove stems. Spoon out the gills and the base of the stem, making deep cups. Discard gills and stems.
  • Fill the mushroom caps with rounded teaspoonfuls of filling, and place them in an ungreased shallow baking dish. Sprinkle tops with Parmesan and paprika.
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve immediately.

Serves 6. Approx 5 carbs per serving.

20!

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

 

 

20poundsrdb

Hurray!¬† I have lost 20 pounds since the end of August!¬† It’s been a combination of the diuretic I was put on, but also following the South Beach Diet.¬† I still have a long way to go, but it feels great.¬† 20 pounds different.¬† I feel like I am able to move more, and I have a little bit more energy.¬† My clothes are loose on me, rather than restricting me.¬† I’m trying for at least 50 pounds, so I’ll check in for a bit.

Weight:  302.8 pounds

My goals for this week: 
1.  Get on the treadmill  at least 3 days
2.  see the doctor for my follow-up appointment
3.  Begin Phase 2 of the diet after my doctor appointment.

From Out of the Depths of Winter

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Well,¬† I am doing better.¬† I believe the combination of new meds and the diet have helped alot.¬† I’ve lost about 20 pounds since I’ve been seeing the doctor, about 6 months.¬† Next week I’ll begin phase 2 of the diet he put me on.¬† Right now — no sugar,¬† low carbs, no potatoes, no carrots, no bread.¬† In Phase 2 I’ll be able to add some of those carbs back, just a little.¬† I suffer from low blood sugar episodes, and this diet is the opposite of what I had been taught to do to control my blood sugar levels.¬† The old diet worked;¬† I didn’t suffer low levels.¬† But when he put me on this diet I was concerned that I might.¬† And my blood sugar has been under control.¬† I really have not craved much, though I do say¬† I did think about pizza the other night.¬† The toppings would be ok for me to eat, just not the crust.

Last week¬† I had my sleep apnea test.¬† I had to do a 6-8 hour sleepover at the diagnostic center, with electrodes attached to my head and my chest and my legs.¬† I even had 2 sensor tubes in my nose.¬† And all I had to do was sleep.¬† Of course, I don’t sleep solidly.¬† And I was aware of those wires as I moved around during the night.¬† I did not get the air machine put on during the night.¬† I guess that may be a good thing.¬† My apnea must not be that bad, if I have it.¬† But then, the bad thing is — what’s keeping me from resting?¬† I’m still waiting to hear the results of the sleep apnea test.

The test was Monday night, and so I was late going in to school on Tuesday morning.  I had to wash all the electrode gel and paste out of my hair.  Then Wednesday I was gone from school all day to a professional development meeting for geometry teachers. 

My energy is doing better.¬† I usually can make it through the school day and come home.¬† I do notice that when it is hotter my energy gets worse.¬† And they still cannot fix the a/c at school.¬† It’s on and off every day.¬† But at least, I’m not so worried about falling asleep while I am driving home after school.¬†

I’ve been able to go to school, except for when I have doctor appointments.¬† My illness has not been interfering with my job other than missing days — and maybe I may have to sit during class for a while.¬† The sitting depends on how much walking around school I have been doing during the day.

We lost a math teacher.¬† The school board move the teacher to a middle school, and now we’re without an Algebra I teacher in that slot.¬† We have a “permanent” sub, but he doesn’t know enough to be able to teach the students.¬† I send practice work, they practice, and the work is sent back to me to look at.¬†

Report cards went out on Monday for the first six weeks.¬† My students faired ok.¬† My honors class is not an honors class.¬† Someone misled them.¬† And they’re fond of telling me about how they played games last year in Algebra I.¬† Mr. Parker is no longer with us, Thank God.¬† I think the other math teachers have realized or heard that I’m having health problems; they’re actually behaving themselves and doing their work for a change.

Next week I go have a stress test taken, to finish checking out my heart.¬† I’ve been on the treadmill twice since this mess has started in six weeks.¬† Today¬† I could see some improvement in the way I felt after getting on the treadmill.¬† Yes, out of shape — but not that sickly tiresome feeling as before.