Saturday, December 10, 2011

I know what I'm knitting next fall

Go check out Hilary's amazing knitted stocking.

I've already posted a comment begging her to publish the pattern, because I totally plan to knit this.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Power, for real this time

We have power back.

I'm a total failure at blogging daily...

Maybe pictures in a day or two?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

halloween was delayed again

by our town, but our little street is going ahead with the celebrations anyway.

Friday, November 4, 2011


We have a generator on loan, now that almost all the town has power. It provides heat and limited electricity. (I still can't do the laundry.)

I tried to take a picture of it, but it wasn't very photogenic. And I didn't try all that hard.

Then I took my temperature and it was 38.3C, and I was so tired and loopy that I didn't convert it correctly the first three times I tried. (It's just under 101F) But I'm still at work because everyone else on my team is even more tired and/or more sick than I am.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Across the street has power but my little side street does not.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the power outage continues

Still no power. Still no public school. Still no day care.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Can I do it every day?

Yes, I'm jumping on the bandwagon with trying to blog every day for a month.

Right now, I'm taking refuge at my in-laws' place because ours has been without power and heat since Saturday night. (Oddly enough, the hot water still works.) The boys and I are all sick, probably as a result of sleeping in sub-50s roms for two nights without hats. DH wears hats to bed regularly, so he was all set without really thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 ways to eat a pumpkin

1) Pumpkin pie, with just a touch of real whipped cream on top.
2) Curried pumpkin soup (can't find my favorite recipe right now, will post if it I do...)
3) Pumpkin latte
4) Roasted pumpkin seeds on my salad
5) Yellow curry with pumpkin (at my not-local-enough Thai restaurant)
6) Roasted, mashed pumpkin with butter and allspice
7) Pumpkin-apple soup (once again, recipe not springing to hand...)
8) Pumpkin cheesecake
9) Pumpkin milkshakes (from pumpkin ice cream, of course)
10) Roasted pumpkin seeds in my trail mix

(can you tell I love pumpkin?)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things to love about weddings

Hey, it's my 300th post!

1) Seeing everybody. Particularly if we're related to one of the celebrants, it's great to have that mini-family-reunion at the hotel before or after the wedding.

2) The flowers. I love flowers.

3) The happiness. Duh!

4) The dancing. Even though my bad hip rarely allows me to dance, I love to watch other people enjoying themselves.

5) Talking to people I've just met about how they met their spouse and what their wedding was like. I love stories!

6) Teasing my sons about how one day, they'll go through this and I'll embarrass them by crying through the entire ceremony.

7) The toasts. People say the darndest things!

8) You know, I'm having trouble thinking of more... I really love weddings, but I'm having trouble articulating why!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things you do every day

Every day, I...

1) check e-mail, Facebook, Google News, and my dozen favorite blogs.
2) Brush my teeth (about 5 times a day. Haven't had a cavity in my life!)
3) Brush my hair, because having long, curly hair requires constant maintenance.
4) Shower. Often twice a day. I sweat a lot and have a horror of smelling bad.
5) Eat.
6) Knit, crochet, or weave.
7) Read. (I read 68 books this summer!)
8) Hug my husband and kids, and tell them that I love them.
9) Take my allergy medicine.
10) Sleep.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One sock done

I was supposed to make a pair of socks for our neighbor's son's birthday, but Real Life got in the way and I ended up frantically binding off the first sock just before the party. I wrote a nice note in the card explaining that the second sock was OTN and would arrive shortly, but the card got separated from the present. I'm told that there was much laughter and confusion about the presentation of one sock before my husband was able to break in and explain.

So here, have a crappy low-light picture of one blue sock:

It was knit on #2 needles out of Bamboo and Ewe that I got at our local Jo-Ann Fabric. Amazingly enough, this sock used up less than half the ball of yarn, so I can get a pair out of one skein. Awesome!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Loving Knitty

I know... I make these lists four times a year and I don't do anything with them... although maybe when I retired in another 25 years, I can knit all the things I'm putting on these lists now. Or maybe I can just get more knitting done during my son's soccer practice instead of constantly swatting mosquitoes.

I love Kiwi. My sons are a little too old for this, but I've got lots of baby gifts to knit!
I also love the Ambroso mittens, and since I do knit mittens most of the time, these might actually get made.
It's the wrong color for me, but Apis Dorsata totally tickled my sense of humor.
Loved the cabling details on Papermoon, and since socks are the other things I knit reliably, these might also get made.
I think Tenney Park looks awesome, but I doubt I would either knit it or wear it.
I love Takoma but it's going to look terrible on me.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Notes on a project

My older son's teacher says that her favorite colors are sea-blue, and green.

I have committed to far, far too many projects for this fall!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things you buy every week

Whew! Now that school has started, I barely have time to do the shopping at all. OK, I'll try...

1) Groceries (general category... Carole did it, so I figure I can, too.)
2) A ham-egg-cheese on bagel at DD
3) A large unsweetened ice tea with extra lemon at DD
4) Candy for the little bowl in the office
5) Sushi (my stress-out food)
6) Random craft supplies that one of the kids needs for a project at school (grumble, grumble)
7) Time with my husband (via the babysitter, who is expensive but worth every penny)
8) Library fines (sad, but true)
9) Books (just kidding! but I do buy a ton of books)
10) Yarn (once again, kidding! But really, it does feel like I buy yarn almost every week...)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Notes on a project

My younger son's teacher likes the color purple. I made her a scarf two years ago, so this time 'round I plan on making her mittens.

I cast on NHM#1 yesterday and am already halfway up the hand. It's amazing how much progress I can make when I have NOTHING else to do for three hours.

We came through the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee with nothing worse than a wet basement.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things I want to knit this fall/winter

Yes, I'm posting late... yesterday was both my birthday and the first day of school, so I didn't have time to put any thought into blogging.

There are TONS of things I want to knit! My Ravelry queue is up to 250 items. However, let's be practical: I'll be doing Xmas gifts for the next three months, and then graduation gifts until May. So keeping that in mind, here are the things I hope to knit:

1) The 116-7 mittens by DROPS. (I call them Stripes and Snowflakes.) My gauge is not quite what it should be, so I plan to do the Large size for a small woman's hands.

2) Glitten by Julia Mueller (rav link). I'm on the hook for two pairs of these, to my husband's cousins in Toronto.

3) see above

4) Selbu Mittens (rav link). I made these last year and they were so gorgeous that I'm knitting another pair. Miracle of miracles, my gauge actually DOES match here, so no adjustments should be needed.

5) NHM #1 (rav link). I love snowflakes on mittens!

6) NHM #3 (rav link). Yes, I am a fool for Norwegian mitten patterns.

7) Elizabeth Zimmerman's May Mittens (rav link.) I need to build up some courage before tackling an EZ pattern!

8) Some sort of fingertip-less gloves for my aunt, who wants them "in a bright color."

9) Jonah (rav link) because a lot of my colleagues are having babies!

10) The Owl Baby Vest (rav link), because it's too cute not to make it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The City, in Summer

I've become such a New Englander that I call NYC "the city" and expect everyone to know what I'm talking about.

My younger son and I went to The City to visit my mother and expose the little boy to the wonders of subways, buses, and the MOMA. On Saturday we ate vegetarian Dim Sum (I can't recall the name but it was #7 Mott Street) and bought dried plums and sailed boats in Central Park. On Sunday we saw a Brazilian street festival, hung out at MOMA and had lunch at Cafe #2 (where they screwed up my lunch order 3 times... sigh...), then had gelato at Grand Central and bought spices at Penzey's, and went for sushi at Sushi Time on 2nd Ave.

Today I had a pork bun and leftover egg tart for breakfast before taking the express back to CT.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 ways to prepare for a big storm

We rode out Hurricane Irene with only a little water in the basement, so I'm feeling incredibly grateful for my good luck. We were, however, prepared for the worst! Here are my suggestions:

1) Put candles in 2 or 3 central locations and place a full box of matches with each stash of candles.
2) Similarly, put flashlights in obvious locations. We have a lot of handcrank flashlights so I didn't have to stock up on batteries.
3) Catch up on laundry before the storm hits!
4) Cook plenty of food that won't go bad quickly (no mayo or sour cream!) and tastes OK at room temperature. PB&J sandwiches are probably the most obvious choice, but we also had hummus, crackers, cheese, carrot sticks, a pasta salad, a potato fry-up, and leek fritters.
5) If you're worried that the basement might flood, move your valuables to higher ground.
6) Don't put beer in the fridge if you think the power might go out. Instead, focus on drinks that will taste OK without chilling or ice. I personally like my gin-and-tonic (or vodka-and-tonic) without ice, so that was fine.
7) Gas up the cars.
8) Dig out the board games or books that will entertain your children during the long hours.
9) Have a calm, reassuring talk with your children about what is forecast to happen, and what you're doing to prepare for it.
10) If an evacuation seems probable, have favorite toys and a few changes of clothes packed well in advance. Scout out your route. Make sure the pets are welcome at your temporary destination (and if it's a relative's house, do point out that leaving the pets behind is NOT optional. Not everyone understands our devotion to our furry-children.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-ordering books

I just spent a very happy hour perusing the "Forthcoming Books" list at Locus and pre-ordering them from B&N. Since I'm a member there, all my shipping is free.

I was good and didn't get EVERYTHING I wanted, since many of them would be just as good on the e-reader.

But, for the record and so that I don't forget, here's what should be coming in the mail:

Mastiff: Beka Cooper #3 by Tamora Pierce
Kingdom of Gods by N K Jemison
Snuff: Discword #39 by Terry Pratchett
The Alloy of Law: a Mistborn Novel by Brandon Sanderson
Master of the House of Darts by Aliette de Bodard

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another pleasant surprise

While staggering around the kitchen, blowing my nose and losing track of my recipe, I managed to produce a good stir-fry. Here's how I did it, since I'm sure I won't remember in another few days.

1 pound firm tofu
about 1/4 cup vegetarian stir-fry sauce
1 red pepper, cleaned and cut into bite-sized strips
1 or 2 heads baby bok choy, cleaned and separated and cut into bite-sizes chunks
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
a scary amount of olive oil... maybe 1/4 cup?

If you're cooking brown rice, start that first because it will probably take longer than the entire stir-fry.

Press and blot tofu for 10-15 minutes. Slice into bite-sized strips (thin and flat works well for this cooking method) and marinate in the stir-fry sauce while cooking the vegetables.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large wok. When hot, saute peppers until nearly soft, then add some of the garlic for the final minute of cooking. Remove to a large serving bowl; do not clean wok.

Heat an additional small amount of oil in the wok. Add the bok choy stems and saute until nearly soft, then add the leaves and garlic and stir constantly while they cook. Remove to same large serving bowl; do not clean wok.

Dump in more oil. Add half of the marinated tofu and spread into a single layer. DO NOT STIR! (I know this seems counter-intuitive but it's the key to browning the tofu.) After several minutes, carefully flip each piece and brown the other side. Using a slotted spoon, remove tofu to same large serving bowl. Do not clean wok.

Repeat cooking procedure with second batch of marinated tofu.

When tofu is nearly done, add dump everything else back in the wok for 30 seconds (until it gets hot again) and stir GENTLY to combine. Serve immediately. It's good over noodles or brown rice.

(You can now clean the wok.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ten on Tuesday (late): 10 random things

Well, it looks like Carole is on vacation this week, so I'll just have to make up my own topic!

Ten random things in my life:

1) The Red Sox have a new batting line-up tonight and it's messing with my head. (For the record: Ellsbury, Scutero, Gonzalez, Pedroia, Ortiz, Lowrie, Crawford, Veritek, and McDonald. I'm used to Scutero batting late, like eighth, and Pedroia batting second.)

2) I went to the Korean store today and got home-cooked Korean side-dishes, which I'm now eating over white rice. I have almost no idea what's in them, and I certainly don't know how to cook them. (Note: one claims to be fish cakes with vegetables in spicy sauce. The other is called "Seaweed in oil" and certainly tastes like it.)

3) I should learn how to cook Korean food.

4) I seem to be coming down with a summer-cold.

5) Being in the middle of both The Stand and Feed, this is unduly alarming to me.

6) I really shouldn't have been playing Pandemic while reading The Stand. My germ-paranoia levels may be at an all-time high.

7) Almost all the Patricia Wentworth mysteries are now available as e-books, which may have lead to a little purchasing binge on my part.

8) Next year, I want to try growing okra again. (I tried two years ago, and my garden-mate weeded them out by mistake.)

9) Apparently the Red Sox are now back in 1st place in the AL East.

10) Recently, my DH checked the standings, and found out that the THIRD PLACE team in the AL East (that would the Rays) had a better record than the first place teams in the AL Central and AL West. Something seems wrong with this system.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite romantic comedies

While RomCom isn't my favorite movie genre, I've certainly watched enough of these to come up with a solid list...

*SPOILER ALERT* Some of what I love involves the endings. I've tried not to give too much away, but be warned.

1) Twelfth Night - I don't know if Shakespeare really qualifies, but this is one of my favorite movies EVER so I'm putting it on the list. Hey, two (three?) couples end up happily married!

2) Moonstruck - my family doesn't understand how I can watch a movie that stars Cher, but I think she's brilliant in this one. (She won an Oscar for the role, so I'm not alone in thinking this.) Plus, young Nicholas Cage... swoon... and the dialogue is terrific.

3) Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version) - once again, I don't know if Jane Austen really qualifies, but I adore this movie and it makes me giggle, and it ends with two - no, three - no, four couples married, at least two of them happily.

4) Four Weddings and a Funeral - I love the slightly off-beat plot. I love the lack-of-wedding ending. I love Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell and Kristen Scott Thomas....

5) You've Got Mail - I love the gentle chemistry between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, and I particularly love the Golden Retriever and the houseboat owned by Tom Hanks's character.

6) Sabrina (the Audrey Hepburn version) - gorgeous, classic, and romantic.

7) Singin' in the Rain - another classic, with some great music and amazing dancing to top it off.

8) Much Ado About Nothing - I adored the team of Kenneth Branaugh and Emma Thompson while they were making movies together. Dead Again is my favorite, but it isn't a comedy, so I'm going with this one. Aside from a badly miscast Keanu Reeves, the movie just sparkles. And hey, it's by Shakespeare!

9) Stranger Than Fiction - I'm usually not a fan of Will Ferrell's star vehicles, but this one is far more than that, and manages to be funny, touching, poignant, and romantic all at once. The terrific cast of women (Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah) really elevates the picture.

10) Heathers - black comedy, and not entirely a romance, but I have to stick this one in. It's hysterical! Watch Shannon Doherty and Winona Ryder before they screwed up their adult lives and professional careers! Enjoy a very young Christian Slater chewing up the scenery as his character slowly goes nuts! Enjoy the not-a-typical-romance ending (I won't say more...)

And the runners-up...

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Best Friend's Wedding
Shakespeare in Love (again with The Bard)
The Wedding Singer
Groundhog Day
Clueless (again with the Jane Austen)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pleasant Surprise Recipe

Every now and then, I cook something that tastes far better than it sounds (or even smells!) like it will.

Tuesday's dinner was one of these.

1/2 large red onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 fairly large zucchini, cut into bite-sized slivers or matchsticks (should be fairly thin on at least one dimension)
2 small Japanese eggplants, cut into bite-sized slivers (as above)
about 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters (if small) or equivalent (if large)
Enough olive oil for cooking (3 Tablespoons?)
1 tablespoon butter
chopped fresh basil, marjoram, and oregano (I used one stem each of oregano and marjoram, and about 10 large basil leaves)
pine nuts
feta cheese

I cooked the vegetables in batches so that they'd each get cooked thoroughly, and also so that the juice from the mushroom and tomatoes didn't change the cooking method from "stir-fry" into "braise."

While doing all of this, also cook a pound of rotini.

1) In wok or large frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions when oil is hot. Stirring frequently, book until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Remove from pan. Do not clean pan.
2) Add a little more oil and heat up again. This time, cook the zucchini until just turning brown. Stir frequently or the zucchini might stick. Remove zukes from pan (add them to the bowl with the onions), do not clean pan.
3) Add a little more oil and heat up again. This time, cook the eggplant until browned on both sides. Do not stir frequently or the eggplant will never properly brown. Only move them around to flip over each piece. Place eggplants into colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow eggplant to drain at least 20 minutes. Do not clean pan.
4) Add a little more oil and a tablespoon of butter. Cook mushrooms, stirring frequently, until just browning and soft. Add tomatoes and cook for one more minute, then dump in all other cooked vegetables and add the herbs. Stir together and allow to heat through. Serve over hot pasta with a handful of pine nuts and a sprinkle of feta cheese.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ten on Tuesdays (late): 10 favorite bumper stickers

Whew! Yesterday was so busy that I completely forgot about Ten on Tuesday until this morning! Now, I have to clarify that I don't have any bumper stickers on my car, just a bunch of parking permits for the various parks near us.

1) Gandalf for President - a classic, but one I still love
2) Republicans for Voldemort - was very popular in 2008, I believe
3) If You Think Education is Expensive, You Should Try Ignorance - don't know where I first saw this one, but I've seen it enough times to remember it.
4) COEXIST - where the letters are made of different symbols with religious significance... I don't know how to describe it if you haven't seen it for yourself
5) I'd Really Rather Be Biking - can't remember where I saw it, but I love the sentiment
6) If You Can Read This, You're Driving Too Close - another classic
7) My Kid Can Beat Up Your Honors Student - because that's probably true...
8) I Support The Right To Arm Bears - because I love Sandra Boynton's artwork
9) Do Not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons, For You are Crunchy and Taste Good with Ketchup - another classic
10) and I had to look this one up to remember exactly how it went... I'm Not An Alcoholic, I'm a Drunk: Alcoholics Go to Meetings

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite beach songs!

Most of these are clearly referring to a beach somewhere, but a couple of them are just my own personal "beach music"!

1) Boys of Summer by Don Henley
2) Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams
3) Kokomo by the Beach Boys
4) Pink Cadillac by Natalie Cole
5) Hot n Cold by Katy Perry
6) Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
7) Venus by Bananarama
8) Under the Sea (from The Little Mermaid)
9) California Dreamin' by The Cranberrys (or The Mamas and the Papas... I love both versions!)
10) La Isla Bonita by Madonna

Saturday, July 16, 2011

FO: green knee-socks!

My mother and I co-knit these: I did the heels, toes, calf increases, and bind-off, while she knit all the parts that were just ribbing or stockinette.

Yarn: Marathon Sock by Wisdom Yarns, North Pole Series, "Elf"
Needles: size 2 wooden, used two 16" circular needles
Pattern: nothing specific, just a basic 2x2 rib on a generic sock pattern for an 8-year-old. The toe has a Figure-8 cast-on and the heel is a gusset heel in Eye of Partridge stitch. The bind-off is Jeny's Surprisingly Stretch BindOff.
The pair of socks took just under a full skein of yarn. (The kid has small feet!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 awesome things about Harry Potter

I probably won't get to see the last movie until the middle of next week, but I'm already on pins-and-needles about how good it's going to be! in 3-D! (Our baby-sitter is probably really sick of listening to me on the topic.)

1) It made a generation of children into readers. (I don't actually think that's much of an exaggeration... as a high school teacher, I often talk with students who tell me that Harry Potter was their first book over 200 pages or their first seriously multi-book series.)

2) It gave steady work to a generation of excellent British actors and actresses. (I'm still stunned that many people think of Alan Rickman as "Snape" rather than "that amazingly hot older dude in Sense and Sensibility", and my younger students know Helena Bonham Carter as "Bellatrix Lestrange" rather than for her many roles in excellent costume dramas.)

3) The stars of the movies aren't idiots. (Granted, I'm going by what the popular press tells me, but it seems to me that Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe haven't gone off the deep end of fame.)

4) Molly Weasley, Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Nympadora Tonks, and Professor McGonnagal are all, in their different ways, important role models for girls. (My personal fave is Molly, who raises seven kids on very little money and is generally portrayed as a harried, stay-at-home mom, but jumps into battle at the first chance and can more than hold her own against the Death Eaters.)

5) Hermione Granger's very liberal views about inclusion in society. (Most notably the House Elves, but also applied to Giants, Centaurs, and Mer-folk.)

6) Harry Potter, despite having a really lousy childhood, manages to grow up to be a good person. (Good friends and teachers certainly help him find his path, but I admire his firm determination to be on the side of Good.)

7) Harry and Ron, despite being surrounded by young lovelies who fawn over them, manage to fall in love with the two smartest, kick-ass, take-no-nonsense girls at Hogwarts. (It doesn't hurt that Ginny and Hermione grow up to be pretty, but it's barely remarked upon by the guys.)

8) Hogwarts is just really, really cool

9) So is Diagon Alley.

10) Did I mention that Molly Weasley also knits?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite herbs

I haven't had much luck growing any herbs except mint and basil, but I'm trying a lot more of them this year (oregano, rosemary, and sage) and we'll see whether I get better at it...

My favorite herbs for eating are
1) Basil - grows well, tastes delicious. This year I'm growing lettuce basil, purple basil, and Thai basil in addition to my usual globe basil.
2) Mint - grows like the weed it is, tastes delicious. This year I'm growing chocolate mint and lemon mint in addition to regular mint.
3) Cilantro - I cannot grow this at all, but I love it on my food. I'm so glad that my local grocer stocks it year-round.
4) Dill - no luck growing this either, but I love it so very much... particularly on salmon... yum....
5) Tarragon - since going flexitarian I haven't had much chance to eat this, but I used to love it in chicken salad. I should try it in a roasted tofu salad sandwich this summer.
6) Oregano - tomato sauce just isn't the same without it.
7) Chives - are these an herb? Or just a member of the onion family?
8) Bay leaf- I've never even thought about growing this. Does it grow in New England? I love using this in soups and stews...
9) Thai holy basil - I think of this as a different thing than regular basil. It's the crowning touch in any Thai or Vietnamese cooking I plan to do.
10) Lavender - I've never grown it, or even cooked with it, but I have a couple recipes that call for it and I love the smell in sachets and herb mixes.

What did I miss?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

FO: orange socks

Details: a made-up pattern for a six-year-old
Knit toe-up until I had just under half the skein (by weight) on the sock
Includes an Eye of Partridge heel and a heel flap
Yarn: Heart and Sole, in "Tequila Sunrise", 1 skein
Needles: size 2 wooden, two 16" needles from Knitpicks

Comments: the knitting itself was quite easy. The yarn was disappointing... some underdyed spots and one long run of white (totally undyed) at the top of the right sock. Fortunately, my son declares that he still loves them. Now they go into a bag with some lavender until the cold weather comes back.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More books: top ten SF recommendations

Since I restricted myself to General Reading in yesterday's post, I thought I'd hit one of my favorite genres today: Science Fiction! A couple of the books in this list are borderline fantasy, but I maintain that anything with a scientific/rational background counts, even if the underlying tropes are closer to fantasy. So these aren't necessarily my favorites, but they're the ones I most recommend to others:

Startide Rising by David Brin - actually, the entire 6-book series is great, but this one (#2) is the best of them. This is one of the best alien-contact novels I've ever read. Despite being published in the '80s, it still feels very current. Plus - hey, talking, poetry-writing dolphins!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - this is a fantastic YA novel in addition to being a brilliant dystopian novel. While you're at it, read the entire trilogy.

HellSpark by Janet Kagan - 50 scientists from 50 different cultures, isolated on a planet to decide whether the natives are sentient. This is an adventure novel, scientific mystery, comedy, and murder mystery wrapped into one!

In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker - the whole series "The Company" is just great, but this one (#1) really sets the stage for all that follows. This is a very cool time-travel concept, in addition to having love-lorn cyborgs and a great perspective on history.

Raising the Stones by Sheri S. Tepper - this might be the best Utopian/Dystopian novel I've ever read. It's the first in the trilogy that continues with Grass and SideShow.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis - the best time travel book I've ever read. It's also hysterically funny. Fans of Regency romances will either be horrified or delighted.

Komarr by Lois McMaster Bujold - this is fairly late in the long-running Vorkosigan Saga, but I think it's a great place to first enter the series. Any of the other books will do, too. (DH suggests Shards of Honor or Mirror Dance as alternate entry points.)

The Skinner by Neal Asher - for those who like their SF brisk and bloody, this is like catnip.

GlassHouse by Charles Stross - for those who like their SF subversive, thought-provoking, and gender-bending... this one is sheer genius.

The Prefect by Alistair Reynolds - a great SF mystery/ suspense novel. This is vaguely part of a longer running series, but takes place several hundred years before the others, so it's a good place to enter.

The Many-Colored Land by Julian May - this reads like epic fantasy but is firmly grounded in an esoteric branch of physics that allows time-travel. Yes, I just realized that I have three time-travel books on this list. In this one, they go back 6 million years and stay there, so it almost doesn't count.

And here are the ones that didn't quite make the cut:

The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov - I know most people would pick his Foundation series as their representative work, but I think this stand-alone novel is his strongest SF. The alien race is portrayed movingly and convincingly.

Sky so Big and Black by John Barnes - one of my favorite YA SF novels. Set on Mars, it follows a teen-aged prospector as she searches the highlands for water with her father. The novel is set within a larger series about the take-over of Earth by sentient programs, but this one pretty well stands alone.

DragonFlight by Anne McCaffrey - this, the first in the very long series, reads like fantasy, but later volumes set it firmly within the realms of SF. The whole series is pretty good but I still return to this one as my favorite.

Dune by Frank Herbert - I feel like this hasn't worn so well as other classic works, but it's still worth reading. Don't see the movies.

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge - don't bother with the sequels, which lack the charm of this one. It's one of the coolest dual-culture novels out there, and has aged very well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten books you would recommend to a friend

This is a great topic! Since I actually can't come close to narrowing it down to ten books, I think I'm going to cover this over the next few days... but for today, I'll talk about ten general-reading books I would recommend. While a few of them have supernatural elements, these were all sold out of the "General Fiction" section at my local bookstore, rather than being in a genre such as SF/F or Horror. (Actually, a couple of them are nonfiction... go figure.)

1) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - this book is truly stunning, amazing, and life-altering. I actually have only reread it once, because so much of it makes me cry, but I still remember much of it by heart.

2) Persuasion by Jane Austen - this is the first "classic" novel that I truly enjoyed reading. I also adore the movie.

3) Sandman by Neil Gaiman - this is actually a series of graphic novels. Start almost anywhere. I don't actually recommend #1 because the series got much better after that; I think #8 ("The Sound of her Wings") is a very good place to dive in. This is tragic, literary, funny, transgressive, and amazingly moving.

4) Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond - this is actually nonfiction, but so grippingly told that it's better than most fiction out there. Have you ever wondered why Europeans ended up dominating the last few thousand years of history? Hint: it's not because they're smarter, it's because they had better natural resources.

5) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant - this book makes the Old Testament come alive. It's the second thing I ever read with my book group and love of it kept me going through 4.5 years of lousy books choices after that, until we moved away.

6) The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - this novel is a love letter to the vocation of the historian, in addition to having vampires.

7) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - one of the few epistolary novels I've truly enjoyed, and a love letter to the avocation of being a reader.

8) Fledgling by Octavia E Butler - another vampire novel, but so moving and personal that it transcends the genre. I am so sad that Ms. Butler passed away before she could write more in this series.

9) The Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louis Erdich - a gorgeous, unexpected, moving novel about immigrants, love, and World War II.

10) Atonement by Ian McEwan - I didn't see the movie because I loved the book so much. I don't think anything can compare with the twists of Part II and Part III, as the truth of the betrayal slowly gets laid out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Books of May and early June

I just realized that, having fallen out of the blogging habit, I am very far behind in recording my books. I'm bound to miss a few today, so tomorrow's post will probably have to include the clean-up.

A Late Phoenix, His Burial Too, Henrietta Who, Some Die Eloquent, all by Catherine Aird - it's always nice to find a new-to-me author who has already published 20+ novels! These are English countryside mysteries, all starring the same essential cast, with unusually baroque plots. Lots of fun.
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert - a modern mystery set in rural Texas. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the mystery and the heroine. I hope the love lasts through the rest of the series. (Note: this is actually #2 because the library didn't have #1 in stock.)
Duplicate Death, Death in the Stocks, Behold Here's Poison, No Wind of Blame, A Blunt Instrument, They Found Him Dead all by Georgette Heyer -I like her mysteries better than I like her romances, which means that I like her mysteries very much, indeed.
A Spider on the Stairs, Trick of the Mind, Village Affairs all by Cassandra Chan - while the books are long on dialogue and short on description, I really enjoyed all of them. They reminded me of early Martha Grimes, without the weird complications from the pubs. I accidentally read the series backward, as they became available at the library... now I only have to track down #1 to complete the set.

Fantasy and Science Fiction:
Septimus Heap #2: Flyte by Angie Sage - not as good as the first one; I haven't sought the rest of the series after reading this one, which probably says a good deal about how much I didn't enjoy it.
AI War: The Big Boost by Daniel Keys Moran - this was very enjoyable but not the jaw-dropping, work-stopping amazement that I had hoped it might be. It reads exactly like its predecessors. This is both a virtue (it's very funny) and a detriment (the character development sucks.)
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth - a vampire who works for the president, and his rather hapless human aide. Good fun.

The Ghost Map by Steven Berlin Johnson - the first 3/4 were a gripping description of the cholera outbreak in London; the last 1/4 slowed a bit, but overall this was a fantastic book.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite love songs

"Ice Cream" by Sarah McLaughlin
"Just Like You" by Voice of the Beehive
"Hey There Delilah" by The Plain White T's
"Sunday Morning" by Maroon Five
"Lady in Red" by Chris De Burgh
"Always a Woman" by Billy Joel
"You're Still the One" by Shania Twain
"Iris" by the Goo-Goo Dolls
"Sealed with a Kiss" by the Beatles

And the ones that didn't make the list, because even though they're romantic, they're really break-up songs...
"Strawberry Wine" by Deana Carter
"I'm Never Gonna Dance Again" by Wham!
"Last Christmas" by Wham!
"Travelin' Soldier " by the Dixie Chicks

Sunday, June 12, 2011

First woven scarf!

The pictures don't completely capture the colors in it; it's a little more green and a little less blue.

Details: Woven on a 15-inch rigid heddle loom by Schacht, with a 10-dent heddle
Yarn: Alto by Abstract Fiber
Weave: I can't remember the technical term for this... it's just a plain weave, "over under over under" for 5 yards or so.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Little Girl's Shrug #288

In the past four days, I have knit a pair of mittens (see previous post) and a baby sweater (see below). I also attended an 8-hour weaving class at WEBS and made myself a pretty nice 5 foot scarf (photos next week. I promise.)

Unfortunately, the loom I bought was missing the heddle, so I can't do more weaving until I have time to get to WEBS to replace it, and all the knitting has given me a sore left hand and elbow. So I'm going to go slowly with the crafting for the next few days!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

More mittens

Yes, that joke about how I should have chosen the blogger-name "Mitten Mama" is getting another workout this week.

Here's why:

Details: size 3 wooden needles (16" circs, two of 'em) from KnitPicks.
KnitPicks' Swish DK Superwash in black and red (about half of a skein of each.)
Mittens were made to fit a 4-year-old child.
Obviously, his initials are "JG" and no, I haven't actually seen them on him yet.

We got the invitation to the birthday party on Thursday morning. It's now Saturday evening. I knit that pair of mittens in 2 days. I think the first one took about 6 hours and the second one took about 4.5 hours.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 things to put in a salad

I assume these should be things I like? (And do I have to limit myself to ten? I do love my salad...)

1) fresh herbs (basil and dill, mostly, but sometimes tarragon, mint, or chives)
2) avocado
3) cucumbers
4) radishes
5) tomatoes
6) dried fruit (like Craisins)
7) toasted nuts
8) cheese (gorgonzola, feta, or tiny cubes of sharp cheddar)
9) croutons
10) celery

if I were to be allowed to continue, I would add

11) black beans (out of the can, rinsed and raised to room temperature)
12) carrots
13) lettuce (red leaf, Boston Bibb, arugula, endive...)
14) home-made salad dressing
15) heart-of-palm
16) baby potatoes, lightly boiled and sliced
17) corn
18) peas
19) pears
20) fresh blueberries

Friday, May 27, 2011

Proof of recent knitting

Details tomorrow, when I have more than three working brain cells...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

checking in

In the past few weeks I have

suffered through a bad cold
followed by nasty asthma
given myself a mild concussion on the cabinet door that pops open without making a sound (I stood up and knocked my head straight under it)
knit quite a lot
taken no pictures
put two raised beds into the garden
bought some plants and put them in, too (eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, basil, and onions thus far)
also put mint into a pot on my porch
cooked some amazing food
once again, taken no pictures

I will try to pull myself together a bit this week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 ways to save at the grocery store

I'm in a strange position here, as I don't HAVE to cook for myself nine months out of the year. But I like cooking. And we can afford it. Being vegetarian at home really helps here, because I know that meat is where a lot of our friends spend a lot of their money, and it just doesn't figure for us.

1) Coupons.
2) Shop smart. I know which of our four local grocery chains has the best price on vegetables, so I always go there for the veg. Then to another place for the dairy. And another for the cleaning supplies. I used to worry about the gas costs adding up, but all the stores are within a mile of each other, so I'm not worrying anymore. (Plus, I have a Prius: 50mpg!)
3) Limit the impulse-purchases. Don't buy any cool ingredients unless you know how you're going to cook them.
4) Don't be a slave to the list. If dates are cheaper than figs, and can be used in the same recipe, go ahead and make the swap. This really helps me out with expensive ingredients like nuts.
5) Plan ahead. Don't buy so much food you can't cook it up and eat it before it goes bad.
6) If you see inexpensive stuff that your family loves, go ahead and buy it (in moderate quantities.) And drop something roughly equivalent, but pricier, off your list. (Thus: bought two melons because they were cheap and smelled good, didn't buy the wicked-expensive grapes.)
7) If you have storage space and facilities, buy in bulk and store things. We don't have a very big freezer so I don't actually do very much of this, but it's a nice idea.
8) Make your own... bread, cookies, waffles, pancakes, pizza, marmalade, jam... actually, I'm not sure the marmalade came out any cheaper than buying a nice jar at the store, but I know we save lots of money on the other items.
9) Grate/chop/clean your own stuff. I've wasted a lot of money over the years on pre-washed lettuce, baby carrots, shredded cheese, and "ready to steam" broccoli. When I was short on time, I felt it was worth the extra cost... now I don't.
10) Farmer's market/CSA/farm stand/U-Pick... for me, this revelation came last fall, when the local farm stand had butternut squash for 1/5 the price of the supermarket. I couldn't take full advantage of the bounty, as I didn't have a reliable way to store them, but I bought five and we ate them over the next month.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's for dinner?

Once again, I failed to take any pictures of dinner, because as soon as the serving bowl hit the table, we both tucked in and had to be restrained and polite about splitting up the last bit that was our thirds.

Tonight I made the astounding Beggar's Pasta by Dorie Greenspan. It came together in under 20 minutes and was absolutely delicious! Also, it was surprisingly easy to modify: I used almonds in place of pistachios and figs in places of dates and it was still divine. I need to see if I can cut back on the butter a bit; feeding each of us over TWO TABLESPOONS of the stuff didn't do our cholesterol any favours.

Last night I made two dishes from Plenty: the shakshuka was good but rather less fabulous than last time, possibly because I couldn't find the saffron and possibly because I omitted most of the hot pepper to make it acceptable to my MIL. The leek fritters also suffered a bit from the lack of hotness, but were still amazingly yummy. Too bad they're also fairly unhealthy, between the butter in the batter and the amount of oil it takes to pan-fry them. Maybe a better frying pan would require me to use less oil?

I found another version of the leek fritter recipe that has been mostly adapted for US readers: the only missing measurements are that the parsley will be about 1.5 cups chopped and lightly filled, and the flour is a scant-cup. I added an extra teaspoon of baking powder to account for not having self-raising flour and that worked pretty well. Oh - and two ounces of butter is 1/2 stick. I accidentally used 3/4 of a stick (not sure what I was thinking there) and they did taste a little too "buttery."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten things I love about my family

My family... I wasn't sure, at first, if we were talking about my nuclear family (husband and two kids) or my extended family (parents, in-laws, step-mom, cousins, cousins-in-law, aunts, uncles, second cousins, cousins-by-marriage, etc.)

Then I thought about it, and realized that most of these apply to both groups, and it's silly to try to draw a line.

1) Love: even when we're mad at each other, we still love each other.
2) Good food: my family is packed with people who love to cook and eat, and I share in that joy with them.
3) Good books: my family is also packed with librarians and bookworms, so there's always somebody with whom you can share a new novel.
4) Good math and science: my side of the family is heavy on scientists and my husband's side is heavy on mathematicians, so there's always somebody around who can explain tidal pools or sub-woofers or Cauchy's Theorem.
5) Travel: I travel less than everyone else in the family (I'm a home-body, and having two small children makes long flights challenging) but everyone else travels to really cool places, and brings back pictures and spices and stories. I love hearing and seeing all of it and one day soon I think we'll join them in traveling more.
6) Traditions: we've lost some of our traditions as my grandparents' generation passed away, but we still know that stockings get opened before breakfast but big presents wait for after breakfast, and children get one present the night before Xmas, and everyone who has a job has to send a red envelope to anyone who's still in school on Chinese New Year's.
7) Loyalty: even when I've screwed something up, I know my family will stick up for me.
8) Kindness: this is something I've worked on with my children, and it mostly plays out in the larger family, too. We're kind to each other. We're gentle with each other's feelings and we play fair when we play board games.
9) Fairness: goes hand-in-hand with our notions of kindness.
10) Stories: we all share stories, whether it's the time that my cousin made herself throw up to get out of eating calves liver, or the time I nearly took out my aunt's mailbox. Sharing these is part of what binds us together!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


which means I'm busy with the "real-life" stuff this weekend. Hopefully, I'll have a finished pair of mittens to show off by Monday or Tuesday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Here's what 8 pounds of citrus fruit looks like

after somebody (ahem, me) has eaten one large orange and removed the giant avocado so it will stop squishing the smaller fruits beneath it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bad Day Blues

Today has been One of Those Days, where I don't even want to write down the stupid silly stuff that made me see red because hopefully, when I reread this in a year, I won't remember any of it.

Also, it's mostly work-related and I don't talk about work on the blog.

However, I will say that the citrus fruit came from Friends Ranches and it is delicious! Two tiny tangerines had split under the weight of their larger cousins, but the avocado, lemons, and other 25+ oranges and tangerines came through intact. I'm still not sure we're going to eat it all fast enough so I'm giving some away to friends as I see them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Book Report

Somehow I've been squeezing in more time to read. This partially comes at the expense of getting enough sleep, and partially by doing no housework except cooking, and and partially by putting less energy into my knitting.

Indulgence in Death by J D Robb: another in the VERY long-running series by the prolific Nora Roberts, under one of her several pseudonyms. This one does a nice job of checking in on the returning minor characters without twisting the plot to actively include them. It isn't much of a mystery - Detective Eve Dallas spots the "baddie" pretty early - but the book remains compulsively readable as it follows the investigation.

Septimus Heap #1: Magyk by Angie Sage: a lovely YA book about wizards, witches, dragons, evil zombie necromancers, a lost princess, and a very bad cook. I was utterly charmed and immediately sought the second book at the library.

Intrigues: Book Two of the Collegium Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey: another in the VERY long-running loosely linked series of books about Valdemar by the prolific Mercedes Lackey. This book is about average for Ms. Lackey: the plot is interesting and the narrator sympathetic, but she "tells" far more than she "shows" and is somewhat ham-handed in her foreshadowing.

The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett: the direct sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, this was less derivative and seemed to move at a more measured pace than its predecessor. I was frustrated that so little actually happened until the final 100 pages, when everything suddenly fell together at once, but I loved the world and the characters and will definitely seek out future novels in the series.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite snacks

Oh, another one I can really "sink my teeth" into!

1) popcorn, lightly salted, with real butter
2) fresh edamame in the pod, lightly salted
3) grapes
4) vegetable sticks and onion dip (or ranch dip, or remoulade sauce)
5) potato chips with salt and vinegar
6) watermelon
7) cheese and crackers (preferably sharp cheddar, a good Brie, or St Andre... I'm also partial to aged Gouda)
8) guacamole and chips
9) smoothies
10) nachos: just chips and hot cheese dip is great, but a little chili and scallions puts it over the top
11) cherries

As you can see, I couldn't limit it to just ten items! (I do love my snack food...)

Monday, April 11, 2011

1/2 FO

I finished a mitten! I don't dare say that I have a Finished Object, because of course what good is a mitten without its mate?

Pattern: Quo Vadis
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Needles: size 3 wooden

These knit up VERY small as I was doing them, but I trusted that the superwash wool would relax when I wet-blocked it, and it did!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I just found out that Tor has been publishing appropriately themed poems in celebration of National Poetry Month.

I don't want to violate copyright by copying any of them over here, but you must go check out this collection of steam-punk sonnets. More than one of them surprised me to tears.


Went to see Hanna last night. Music was awesome. Cinematography was very cool. Plot was weird.

(posting at 6am because I've been UP ALL NIGHT. Well, up since 3am. Bleah.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Eye candy Friday

Seen in front of our neighbor's house.

The colors remind me of a poached egg. Speaking of which, I made shakshuka for the first time and oh... wow... will definitely make it again. So yummy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A rant about the Red Sox

The Red Sox are now 0-6, having gotten swept by both the Tribe and the Rangers on the road.

As a dedicated fan, this has me... concerned. (Insert stronger words here.)

I was going to rant about how lousy the pitching's been, and how Carl Crawford really isn't living up to his advance billing, and how Youk looks kind of uncomfortable at 3rd... but instead I'm just going to point out that Crawford can steal, Salty can pick off a runner, and Lester had a terrific outing today.

Anyway, the BoSox always do a lot better at Fenway!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What I love in the new Knitty

This one didn't generate much excitement for me... maybe I'm just still in "mitten-mode" while Knitty is publishing cute little cotton sweaters and intricate shawls. The three that did catch my eye:

I love the idea of Make Up Your Mind but I think one has to be built like Julie (who must be a size 0) for this sweater to be a good idea. Maybe my skinny teenaged cousin would like this? I'll have to show it to her...

Amiga is just about the perfect summer sweater. I might make this one, if I can figure out how she made those buttons...

I love the heel on Ornamental and might take up the challenge, next winter.

And sadly, that was all. Verdant looks really lovely but I know I'll never wear it. Maybe I'll just do a tiny sample so I can master the new intarsia technique.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 favorite one-hit wonders

Oh, this is a such a rich topic! I had to hit Wikipedia to make sure everything I liked was actually a one-hit wonder. It turns out that while I love Concrete Blonde for "Everybody Knows" they had a much more major hit called "Joey." (Yeah... once upon a time I actually knew that. I must be getting old.) Similarly, my favorite song by XTC is "Mayor of Simpleton" but they had a much larger hit called "Dear God" - but I remembered that before looking them up.

1) "Life in a Northern Town" by Dream Academy
2) "No Myth" by Michael Penn
3) "Wild Night" by Meshelle Ndegecello (featuring John Mellencamp)
4) "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred
5) "Take on Me" by A-ha
6) "99 Luft Balloons" by Nena
7) "Beds are Burning" by Midnight Oil
8) "Wicked Game" by Chris Isaak
9) "Jump Jive N Wail" by The Brian Setzer Orchestra
10) "One of Us" by Joan Osbourne

Now I want to go load up my iPod with 80s music!

Monday, April 4, 2011


I got Plenty (the British version) as a late Christmas present from one of my cousins and I've been enjoying reading it and marking recipes to try. I finally tried two of them last night and oh.... they're good!

Of course, I forgot to take pictures.

I've got another two planned for tomorrow's dinner and maybe I'll remember the camera this time!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My life, in fives

Yes, yes, I know I'm about FOUR YEARS TOO LATE to pick up this meme, but it amuses me and I'm short on other blogging material.

1972: I am born. Despite being half-Asian, I start life with strawberry-blonde hair and blue eyes, which gradually change to hazel. I am reliably told that as the doctor delivered me (which took a complicated C-section) he took a quick look at me (and my Chinese mother) and said, "Dear lord, I'm glad we have a lot of witnesses for this birth."

1977: I turn five, start kindergarten, begin piano lessons. I've already been taking ballet for nearly two years. I barely remember any of this. We're living in a tiny ranch house in upstate NY that's notable primarily because of the half-acre garden that comes with it.

1982: I turn ten, start fifth grade, pick up cello lessons AND riding lessons but finally convince my mother to drop the ballet lessons. I think this is the year my mother finally gets her driver's license. My best friend is Amy, who lives a half-mile up the road from us. We're still in the tiny ranch house in upstate NY, but a lot of new houses have been built around us. I'm a honey-blond with very green hazel eyes. Everyone assumes I'm adopted.

I read like it was my job: this is the year of horse books, from Walter Farley to Marguerite Henry. I'm aging out of the young Judy Blume books but still treasure them. I've read the first 50 Nancy Drew novels. This is the summer we go to Great Britain for nearly 6 weeks and the airline loses our suitcase with all the books, so I spend the first week there reading The Jewel in the Crown Quartet (which was in my father's carry-on for some reason) until we have time to buy a few more novels. I discover a novel by Anne McCaffrey at one of the B&Bs and insist on tracking down everything else she's written.

I remember that fifth grade was one of the happiest years of my early life: I had friends, I was pretty good at the things I wanted to be good at (like school and horse-back riding), my parents seemed happy, and I was starting to develop an interest in gardening.

1987: I turn 15. We now live in Indiana and I hate it. A small group of people in the town are viciously sexist and racist, and I allow their nasty interactions with me and my family to color my opinion of the whole place. I can't wait to "get out" and to this end I'm trying to finish all my high school classes in three years.

I still take piano lessons but I don't work at it very hard: my teacher is a lot of fun but she's into Impressionists and Moderns which just don't excite me. I've had to give up cello and horse-back riding because finances are tight. I play tennis, but mostly to please my father.

I still read like it's my job. I have a huge collection of fantasy and the school library has an amazing selection of SF "juveniles" for me to check out. I do really well at school, but let's be honest: I don't have a whole lot of competition from my classmates. Most of them aren't planning to attend college.

1992: I turn 20. I start my senior year of college. My parents have divorced, nastily, and I'm barely on speaking terms with either one. I'm trying to double-major in math and physics, but catching mono in my senior fall puts my plans behind and I end up with just the math major. On the bright side, I've got an amazing group of friends, a terrific roommate, and a gorgeous boyfriend.

1997: I turn 25. I'm half-way through a graduate program in experiment physics. I'm starting to think it's a bad idea: I love the classes but independent research doesn't appeal as much as I had hoped it would. I've got a crazy crush on a guy who's got a steady girlfriend, so I'm just his Best Friend and I manage to get along OK with his girlfriend, too. I have an adorable Golden Retriever and some really good friends. I meet my husband-to-be at a party but neither of us recognizes the significance of the event.

2002: I turn 30. I'm happily married. I teach math and physics at a posh boarding school in PA (I never finished my PhD) and I get pregnant with my older son in this year. Life is crazy. I never get enough sleep and I puke a lot.

2007: I turn 35. I'm on pretty good terms with both of my parents. We've moved to CT and I feel so much happier being back in New England. I've got two adorable little boys and a great husband and, while I still don't get enough sleep, I feel like things are only looking up. I'm really developing an interest in cooking and I'm becoming closer friends with my cousin-in-law, who just moved to an hour away from us. My interest in knitting is slowly taking off. I still read a lot, but life doesn't give me much time to indulge.

And... that's it, so far!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Flu-like Illness

Apparently the school-sponsored trip to South America brought back more than photos and good stories... yes, almost all of them fell sick at some point with what Kiley called "a really nasty case of Montezuma's revenge" and then brought it back to share with us.

I've didn't actually throw up, but I couldn't eat for over 2 days (severe stomach cramps if I tried) and also suffered from a high fever and aches and cramps. I'm slowly getting better, but it's still really hard for me to eat much solid food, so chronic low blood sugar is my new enemy.

So that's my excuse for missing a few days of posting! I could have put up a one-line post (which I've done before) but I literally didn't... have... the... energy.

Totally off-topic, I want to order from this citrus farm so badly! Currently wondering if my family can even eat 8 pounds of citrus fruit before it goes bad...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ten on Tuesday: 10 reasons to use the public library

Well, I use our public library a lot (at least three of the librarians know me by name) but always for the same reason: books. I'll try to spread this out over ten semi-distinct concepts.

1) Books! Not even close to everything I want to read, but a nice selection.
2) It's free. Well, my tax dollars go to support it, but on a daily basis it doesn't cost me any money to use it.
3) I discover books I might not spot at the bookstore.
4) Audio books! I'm still getting into the habit of using these, but I really like the concept.
5) YA is a section I don't shop in but still love to read, and the library lets me feed that habit.
6) The children's librarians are awesome.
7) While I don't need to use the computers there, I recognize how valuable they are as a community resource.
8) DVDs! Although I rarely tap this resource, it did keep me sane the last time I was trapped at home with vomiting children. Their selection of children's videos is amazing.
9) There's a nice film series in our library's basement on Thursday evenings.
10) They run a small used-book section and are always happen to take my donations.

Monday, March 28, 2011

forgot Earth Hour

Yikes! I just realized I was driving home during Earth Hour on Saturday night, and totally forgot to observe it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A dinner to remember

Just got back from a delicious four-course dinner cooked by my FIL. I know I want to remember this one, so I'm trying to recreate the menu...

Pasta with Cantaloup (this recipe looks pretty close to it)

Fresh Bread with pork meatballs in tomato sauce (or the vegetarian equivalent in tomato sauce)
Lightly sauteed bok choi with grated parmesan

A salad of baby greens, fresh herbs, and papaya

Meyer lemon meringue pie

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The book I forgot

The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway: a light, fluffy, happy romance set at a house party in Regency England. I thought the collaboration was particularly well done in this novel. Although I'm a big enough fan of Quinn that I thought I could mostly tell which parts she had written, the transition among authors wasn't jarring.

Recent Reading

Spring Break is always good for shrinking the "To Read" pile.

Tithe by Holly Black: having just seen Ms. Black at Vericon, I was inspired to try her books again. I really enjoyed this one; the teenaged narrator sounded just right and the plot went in unusual directions. This isn't what I was expecting from the author of "Spiderwick" and I mean that as a compliment.

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson: this is his first published novel. As such, it's amazingly assured. The plot hangs together nicely, the characters are well-developed, and a large number of people die. (Note: I don't demand that my favorite authors kill off their characters, but if a plague decimates the city, I expect something like 10% of the named characters to suffer also.)

The Voyage of the Sable Keech by Neal Asher (technically, a re-read): another bloody, lengthy, twisty adventure from Mr. Asher. Explains a good bit more about the Prador and why the Second Kingdom became the Third Kingdom.

The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett: it's not quite England, it's not quite Pride and Prejudice, and almost nobody really believes in magic... I found this book utterly charming, but most of my friends thought it was too derivative and dragged in the early sections.

Plenty by Yottam Ottolenghi: I managed to score a properly British edition (not the one in the link) which uses Gas Marks, Celsius, and British terms for vegetables. I had to ask DH to translate a lot of it for me! Still, the recipes look fabulous and reading this just before bedtime gave me lovely dreams for a week.

fresh coriander = cilantro
courgettes = zucchini
aubergine = eggplant
rocket = some wild green akin to arugula
samphire = another wild green
mange toute = peas that can be eaten with their pod on
haricots = very thin green beans

I feel fairly confident that I'm forgetting at least one novel, but I'll just cover it on the next report!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

FO: Tropical Striped Scarf

I must disavow all association with the colors... they were Sarah's choice!

Used Cascade 220 Superwash in Lime green and Tropical Paints.
Size 8 needle, wooden, from KnitPicks.
About 5.5 feet long and 6 inches wide.

Started over a year ago, finished today!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nothing much

I ate too much pizza and now I feel like an unmotivated blob.

Must finish WIP.

Must clean the house.

Must survive the inch+ of snow that we are supposed to get tonight...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten reasons to be glad it's spring

Well, it was snowing here yesterday, so it's kind of hard to believe that it is spring... but I'll try!

1) Watching the birds nest
2) Baseball season begins!
3) Starting the garden
4) Warmer weather... no need for heavy coats.
5) Sweaters are still appropriate.
6) The Farmers' Market opens in the middle of April
7) The days get longer
8) The flowers start blooming
9) Knowing I don't have to shovel the driveway for another 8 or 9 months
10) Knowing summer vacation is just around the corner

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vericon Part Three

Wrapping things up...

I bought three mounted posters by Sarah Clemens (you have to scroll down a bit to see the actual pictures.) All three are in the "Magnus and Loki" series and are beautifully painted in addition to being adorably cute.

We went to a concert by Sassafras. They weren't very polished, and they were sometimes horribly out of tune, but they also had some wonderful moments of power and humor. I bought both of their CDs as a gesture of support. I really want them to finish up the Baldur Song Cycle and get it published.

I hit the Harvard Book Store just before it closed on Saturday night and bought four books. I'll talk more about them as I finish reading them.

Brandon Sanderson gave a really thoughtful keynote speech and was remarkably patient with his fans. I've heard that some really popular writers can be jerks - he definitely wasn't one of them.

We saw The Summer Wars which did not quite live up to its billing ("Spirited Away meets Ghost in the Shell!") but we did both enjoy it. I tend to find anime depictions of small children incredibly irritating, and this movie may have set a new level for that.

We talked ourselves out of buying Tales of Earthsea because the DVD set didn't include BlueRay.

We had a delicious quick lunch at The Sabra Grill and got wonderful bubble tea at The Boston Tea Stop.

On the drive home, we stopped at Minado for an amazing sushi buffet. I had to force myself to stop eating after two giant plates of food. It's quite expensive but if you love sushi and go hungry, it's absolutely worth the money.

safely home!

I am safely home from Vericon XI, and I will post more about it later.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vericon Part Two

Had another great day at Vericon. Went to three interesting talks and bid on some artwork.

Had a lovely breakfast at Au Bon Pain, but next time I will get my lox sandwich made without wasabi sauce: it was just too strong for that early in the morning. Had a great lunch at Tanjore - their buffet is varied and plentiful and we also were able to try a new form of chaat: Dahi Batata Poori. It's these little puffs that have been broken open on top and filled up with cooked potato, lentils, tomato, yogurt, and tamarind sauce. I would absolutely order these again.

Went to see "Battle:LA" which was surprising well-done. I appreciated the director's decision to make the battle scenes comprehensible: at all times I pretty much understood where the major players were with respect to each other. That said, this movie is all about the adrenaline; character development is minimal.

Then had a great, late dinner at 9 Tastes Thai. They had a fabulous array of vegan options and we left stuffed but not overstuffed, if you know what I mean.

The only lousy part of the day was the bubble tea I got from Dado Tea. It was almost tasteless and the tapioca balls were clumped together, making them impossible to slurp up the straw.

All told, I'd give today about a 9.5 out of 10.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vericon Part One

I'm at Vericon.

Thus far I have bought artwork, ogled hand-spun yarn (but not actually purchased any), and heard a lively panel discussion by Catherine Asaro, Brandon Sanderson, Holly Black, and Sarah Smith. I also ate really great sushi at Takemura Japanese Restaurant which, unfortunately, doesn't seem to have a resident website.

Tomorrow I hope to watch anime, attend more panels, and eat Vietnamese food.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

FO: Mittens for Matt

I finally gritted my teeth and finished the second thumb.

This is based loosely on Pattern #11 from Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch. I had to rewrite the pattern because my yarn was much thicker than the one called for in the pattern. (I will not do this again. What a pain in the #$%)

Yarn: Cascade 220
Needles: Size 3 wooden (I used the "two circulars" technique)
Time to complete: almost nine months. I got most of the way through one mitten in July 2010, then decided I didn't like the top section, and put it away. I then ripped it out, redid it, and then finished the second mitten all in the past month.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Just missing one thumb

About nine months after I started them, the Mittens for Matt are finally nearly completion!

As you can see, I just have to knit the second thumb and block them.

Details when I actually have a FO.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten favorite kinds of pie

Oh, I love this topic! My FIL makes great pies and I've slowly been learning the tricks of the trade.

1) Apple pie: the classic, warm with cinnamon and nutmeg and maybe a little sharp cheddar on the side...

2) Peach-blueberry pie: a FIL favorite. Actually better cold than warm.

3) Cherry pie: another FIL favorite. He used to leave the pits in the cherries but since I joined the family I've made it my job to pit the cherries for him.

4) Amandelspijs Banketstaaf: Dutch almond pie, which was a staple of my childhood but I'd forgotten about since we moved away from NY. (There was a Dutch bakery two towns over from us... also a terrific Italian bakery three towns the other way.) This is what I made yesterday for Pi Day.

5) Lemon Meringue Pie: I never get my meringue right so I depend upon FIL to make this for us.

6) Key Lime Pie: never make it myself, but FIL knocks this one out of the park.

7) Cranberry Pecan Pie: my colleague AJ introduced me to this concept and I've never gone back to pure pecan. That cup of chopped (fresh) cranberries adds tartness, depth, and interest to the pie. This pie, sometimes in bar form, is my go-to baked good for Winter Solstice celebrations.

8) Boston Cream Pie: I've never made it myself, but this was one of the few desserts that my Grandmother (may she rest in piece) could reliably produce. Thinking of it still brings back fond memories of her.

9) Pumpkin Pie: I can't believe I almost forgot to put this in my list! I only make it once a year, for Thanksgiving, but I treasure every slice of it. A little fresh whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg make all the difference here.

10) Mock-Chicken Pot Pie: well, I also love the real thing, but I'm flexitarian so I'll go for the meat-free version in my official list.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day!

In honor of Pi Day, I baked a pie:

This is an almond pastry which the author says is called "banket" but a more knowledgeable source says is properly termed "Amandelspijs Banketstaaf."

Next time, I should not put the pastry on the top shelf of the oven - as you can clearly see, I burned the sugar topping.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Saw Rango last night, which is part of why I forgot to post.

Pretty much loved it, although the first ten minutes didn't entrance my kids.

Yikes! Forgot to post!

I had a whole post in my head about how lovely it will be to have daylight at the end each day, rather than at the beginning when I'm still trying to sleep... and I was so worried about losing the hour in the morning that I went to bed without posting it.

Damn. Foiled on day #71.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Books of February (and early March)

Prador Moon by Neal Asher: another in his series about The Polity, this one is set well before any of his other novels. It's really a long novella and therefore comes across as a bit choppy, but since Mr. Asher usually tends to be overly prolix, I found it refreshing. (U-cap... stands for Up Close and Personal) As with all Neal Asher novels, this is only recommended to those who like their SF brisk and bloody.

Trylle Trilogy by Amanda Hocking: I can fall for a marketing ploy just as quickly as the next book-obsessed person armed with an E-reader. Truthfully, I'm glad I didn't pay $7.99 per book for each of the trilogy; I think I shelled out a total of $8.50 and that felt about right. The series could have used a more vigilant editor, but Ms. Hocking is a great story-teller. I definitely plan to try her vampire and zombie series the next time I need some light reading.

A Sleeping Life by Ruth Rendell: a gentle mystery with confusions, misdirections, and many meditations upon a woman's place in the world. I guessed the ending pretty early on, but my mind was already trending in that direction for other reasons, so I think this was still a good novel.

Harbinger of the Storm by Aliette de Bodard: sequel to Servant of the Underworld, and not quite as good. The focus moves off the main character's family and into the political arena; while it's still well-told and nicely paced, I just wasn't as concerned with the fate of the Mexica Empire as I had been with the fate of the man's brother and sister.

Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom: I read this book as a favor to a friend, who is friends with the author. I thought the book was moving and captivating, but I really wish it had been longer. It's a memoir of a young boy who goes from illiterate Ethiopian refugee to Harvard graduate.

Dark Mirrors by Jo Putney: a very nice YA fantasy, half of it set in 1803 and the other half in 1940. I know two sequels are in the works and I plan to read both of them as they arrive.

And that's my round-up for the recent past! I'm currently half-way through another Neal Asher book and I have a pile of other fantasies waiting to be read.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another cold... bleah...

Well, yesterday I thought it was horrible hay fever, but I now know better.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FO: Bella's mittens with many modifications

Details: Berkshire Bulky in color Dusty Rose
size 8 DPNs

Modifications: started on row 16 of the pattern. Added 4 more stitches (that's two ribs) in circumference, because the recipient's hand is wider than mine.

Verdict: well, the weather warmed up just in time to render these mostly useless, but her birthday is over the weekend so I think she'll still appreciate them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

10 on Tuesday: ten favorite smells

1) vanilla
2) cardamom
3) cinnamon
4) orange
5) lime
6) freshly cooked white rice
7) freshly baked bread
8) warm honey on freshly baked bread (they really are different smells!)
9) happy, fairly clean dog (NOT freshly washed dog - bleah! - but just a dog that hasn't sat or rolled in anything awful.)
10) chocolate

Monday, March 7, 2011


Look what I made!

Marmalade! (with two Meyer lemons, a gigantic orange, and a lime.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Green Smoothies

I was very inspired to Lolly's post about green smoothies, and while I feared my old Black-n-Decker blender might not be able to handle the load, I went ahead tried all three of her recipes.

What I've learned: I cannot eat raw kale.

No matter how it was disguised by the other ingredients, I couldn't force myself to drink more than a single swallow. The texture was a turnoff, but even worse was the smell!

I'll cook the remaining kale for dinner tonight. We do fine together after it's been stir-fried with some garlic and ginger.

I went ahead and tried the recipes with spinach as the main green. First two? No luck... my poor DH was stuck drinking both of them after I couldn't handle it.

But I finally got some sprouts at the market and tried her Sweet Sprouts recipe (subbing spinach for the kale, and frozen pineapple for the frozen peaches) and... it's not bad. Now, mind you, I'm not promising that I'll make it ever again. But at least I'm drinking my 1/2 of it this time.

Next question on my mind: how long will I stay full?

Friday, March 4, 2011

How I'm spending March

After much internal debating, I decided that March will be my month in which I try various elimination diets to see if I can do something about my near-constant state of sinus pressure and lethargy. I've spent the first week eliminating corn, which seems to have helped my digestive system to a rather remarkable degree. Starting Sunday, I'll also be eliminating dairy. I have to eat up the leftover raviolis and pizza and drink the last bit of lactaid milk before then...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pimms #1

is delicious. If you ever see some in the store, buy it! Serve over ice with seltzer and lemonade.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Potholders? Do I dare?

A few days ago Grumperina posted about the annual crocheted cotton potholder swap, and I'm so tempted... you see, crochet was my original fiber-art, long before I fell for knitting. I never got much past the point of making afghans and scarves in crochet, but I can read basic directions and make a motif come out more-or-less-square.

The problem is that I don't think I own ANY cotton yarn, and so this would require some hasty yarn shopping. (Actually that's not a problem!) The true problem is that I still have almost a year's backlog of knitting projects that I owe various people:

Mittens for my cousin-in-law (90% done)
Mittens for MH (70% done)
Socks for my mother (30% done)
Mittens for CL
Mittens for PC
Socks for SS
Mittens for JN
Baby sweater for HE (good lord, she's almost three already!)
Baby sweater for DS (he's only 13 months.)
Vest for my older son, who's always cold
and I feel like I'm forgetting another sweater somewhere in that list.

So here's the question: how much time will crocheting five potholders take away from my knitting?