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Friday, November 06, 2009

The Elusive Charm of Mason Jars

Mason Jars
Originally uploaded by Patrick Q
As a child of the South, I have a soft spot for mason jars. I grew up surrounded by them, since the ladies on my father's side of the family did a fair amount of canning. (After all, his family did come from the country: Seminole County, in the Southwest corner of Georgia.)

And yes, people really do drink out of mason jars here. In fact, Folks restaurant chain used to serve drinks in them. Of course, it's less common than it used to be, but it can be very handy if you want to be able to seal it up. (Think of it as the environmentally-responsible late nineteenth and early twentieth-century version of the to-go cup and tupperware…) I recently bought a bunch of them for canning.

To me, Mason jars are wonderful to look at. Today's jars look just like those from my childhood, except that the lids and bands are now platinum colored. In our living room, we have a half-gallon Mason jar sitting on a shelf, filled with glass florist marbles. It looks very cool, but in our case they aren't simply decorative: we're gamers, so my husband and I actually use those marbles for D&D and for card or board games.

Mason jars are just so handy! I remember my grandfather keeping miscellaneous fasteners in those jars in his workshop; in the utility room off the garage, my grandmother had a couple of shelves of them, which she would send us to fetch to store leftover soup, or perhaps some sweet tea to send with a guest.

Perhaps it seems old-fashioned to you, but it's not like I'm old. Sure, we have dedicated drink bottles now, and all sorts of plastic storage containers. It's not like we didn't have those when I was a kid, though the variety was certainly smaller.

But think about it: after you finish your 32 ounce cup of Coke from McDonald's, what do you do with the cup? Trash it. What would you do with a Mason jar? Wash it out and reuse it. The only plastic is in the lining of the lid used for sealing; even those lids can be reused for non-food storage. The bands and jars can be reused until the jars chip or the bands begin to rust.

That's part of the appeal of a Mason jar: they remind us of a time when resources weren't taken for granted…and neither were people.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Life Less Dramatic

I want a life less dramatic. Until recently, I would listen to tales of drama from friends and co-workers and think, "I'm so glad my life is relatively drama free."

God decided my friends and co-workers had suffered enough and I needed to take on some of the excess.

A month ago today, my husband and I were driving home from a trip to Ikea (yay Ikea!) where we picked up a few small items we had been avoiding buying. Turns out it was a good thing that it was small items, because our car came to a total stop on the expressway. Blessedly, it was actually at the exit to his parent's house, and his dad is quite mechanically adept. So we called him, and he set out at 10 at night to come rescue us. And right after that, the mechanic who works two businesses down from my office happens by, and stops to see if we need help. (He didn't recognize us in the dark; he just stops to help people stuck at the side of the road.) He figured out what we needed to be able to coast to the in-law's house, so we put him on the phone with my father-in-law. He headed on, and by 11:30 we made it my in-laws house. They loaned us his dad's truck, and we headed home, getting back past midnight.

The next day, his mom's car breaks down at the side of the road. His dad has to go rescue her, and the car juggling gets complicated.

Fast forward to Monday. Did you hear about the Atlanta floods? Well, guess where my raincoat was? Yep, in our car. I finally made it to work, over an hour late instead of fifteen minutes early as I would have under normal conditions. Getting home was fun, too…I just love public transportation when I don't have a rain jacket and it's, well, raining.

The next weekend we have to switch vehicles with my in-laws, which wasn't a problem since we weren't going far and my father-in-law actually drove out here to make the switch.

Remember the problems with his mom's car? While we were getting set up for D&D, my husband ran out to pick up pizza. Half an hour later he wasn't back, and he calls. BECAUSE THE CAR KEPT BREAKING DOWN! So his dad is driving back out to pick him up, but he needs someone to come get the pizza from him before it's stone cold. HIs dad comes out, he gets it running, we switch vehicles, and my husband follows his dad back to their house, and then comes back to our house. Meanwhile my friends take me home.

Later that week, we find out the car is kaputt. (The guy couldn't get to it for a few days, because the road going to his lot was flooded.) The engine is shot, which is especially disappointing since we had it rebuilt about a year and a half ago. So now we're car-hunting, only two months after having to buy a house. Oh joy.

During this time we receive some disturbing health news, which I don't want to go into here. Just accept that it's more stress we don't need.

Since then we've had lots of drama with car shopping; a trip my husband and his dad took to Birmingham on their day off, only to find out it was seriously misrepresented in the ad and their phone conversation, getting lost trying to find sellers, cars that sell just as we're about to leave to go see them, and more.

While we're out of town for a conference, his mom's computer also goes kaputt (that's German, by the way). Fortunately, it can be repaired, but we spent a lot of time on our trip trying to provide tech support by phone, with no good results. We have to come back a little earlier than planned to try and fix it, but we're thankful we had a vehicle to even make the trip!

Also during this time my best friends' little girl was diagnosed with swine flu, and one of my nephews (the eight month old) had to go to the emergency room twice. The second time was yesterday…

Which we found out while waiting for a wrecker to come and get us after a guy in a Mustang ran a stop sign, resulting in my husband hitting him. Blessedly, my love was able to slam on the brakes and swerve, so he was going a bit slower and didn't hit the driver's side straight on. Everyone was fine, which is what counts, and amazingly enough there was an ambulance just driving down the road, so they were only four cars away when it happened.

Did I mention we were all the way in Ellijay, leaving the Georgia Apple Festival, two hours from home? And that we were in my father-in-law's truck, which had been the spare vehicle? We ended up on the side of the road for an hour, then the (very nice) police officer drove us to the towing company's lot. There we had arrange for someone who could tow us to Atlanta, which entailed lots of conversations by phone with my father-in-law. We finally found a local who could, and the officer drove us to the local shopping center (Starbucks, IHOP, and Wal-Mart) to wait for the towing guy to finish up what he was doing and pick up the truck. Finally, after 9:30, we make it back to my father-in-law's house, where we pay the driver (a very nice guy, a churchgoing family man) and get the car unloaded. Another of our nephews was there, so he had stayed up WAY past his bedtime to see us and the big wrecker truck. (He loved it, and we were thrilled to see him.)

By the time we got home, my back was killing me. It was already sore, but after an hour standing at the side of the road, and another hour alternately sitting in the back seat of a police car and standing around, then a ride in the cab of a wrecker? Not good. Not to mention the stress that left my back all knotted up.

So, spare car gone, and we're going to look at another one today; not how we planned to spend my love's birthday! I so pray this works out, because the last thing I need is another week or two of drama. And we didn't even get to stop and buy our apples…

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dark Gardening

I love plants, and I really adore flowers. I'm even blessed enough to live in an area where you can have flowers all winter long! (Yes, really, you Northerners. I've seen pansies peek up through our infrequent snows, and just keep on going.)

But all the pastels! They make me twitch after awhile–especially the overload of pink. I want a garden that's unique, a garden that doesn't look like every other garden in the city. A garden that doesn't feel frilly.

Like one with this little beauty.

Isn't that awesome? It's a bat plant, or Tacca integrifolia. I couldn't actually grow it in my garden, but that's beside the point. I want plants with character! And preferably, plants with some darkness.

I don't even remember how I found it, but I stumbled across the black pansy yesterday. A bit of searching uncovered the Black Moon, Black Prince and Clearly Crystals Black varieties, all available from Hirt's Gardens. They also carry Bowles Black violas. (Violas, of course, are from the same genus as pansies.)

What's wonderful about these is that I can have them blooming at Halloween! Is there anything more appropriate? (Well, okay, black roses, but this is close enough…)

Hirt's also carries seeds for a few other gorgeous black flowers, including the black iris, King of the Blacks carnations, black bachelor button, and black hollyhocks. (Don't miss the selections of black vegetables, including tomatoes and corn! Hirt's also has seeds for both the black and white bat plants.)

But I hit the real motherlode when a link from a livejournal community led me to Chocolate Flower Farm! Are they not totally incredible?

I can't wait to place an order for the spring. I want to use lots of native or naturalized plants in my regular garden, but I think a few carefully chosen selections of "black" or "chocolate" plants would be a wonderful addition!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

College Board's 101 Great Books

There's a so-called BBC list making the rounds on Facebook, which is kind of interesting. Except no one can find where the BBC ever published it.

Pfff. Details.

Actually, I did find a list from College Board that looks sufficiently challenging:

101 Great Books
Recommended for College Bound Readers

Bold entries are books I have read.

Beowulf (author unknown)
Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe)
A Death in the Family (James Agee)
Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (James Baldwin)
Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)
The Adventures of Augie March (Saul Bellow)
Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)
Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë)
The Stranger (Albert Camus)
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather)
The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
The Cherry Orchard (Anton Chekhov)
The Awakening (Kate Chopin)
Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
The Last of the Mohicans (James Fenimore Cooper)
The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane)
Inferno (Dante)
Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
Robinson Crusoe (Daniel Defoe)
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Frederick Douglass)
An American Tragedy (Theodore Dreiser)
The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)
The Mill on the Floss (George Eliot)
Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)
Selected Essays (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
As I Lay Dying (William Faulkner)
The Sound and the Fury (William Faulkner)
Tom Jones (Henry Fielding)
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert)
The Good Soldier (Ford Madox Ford)
Faust (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)
The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
Catch 22 (Joseph Heller)
A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)
The Iliad (Homer)
The Odyssey (Homer)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor Hugo)
Their Eyes were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston)
Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
A Doll's House (Henrik Ibsen)
The Portrait of a Lady (Henry James)
The Turn of the Screw (Henry James)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
The Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
Babbitt (Sinclair Lewis)
The Call of the Wild (Jack London)
The Magic Mountain (Thomas Mann)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Marquez)
Bartleby the Scrivener (Herman Melville)
Moby Dick (Herman Melville)
The Crucible (Arthur Miller)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
A Good Man is Hard to Find (Flannery O'Connor)
Long Day's Journey into Night (Eugene O'Neill)
Animal Farm (George Orwell)
Doctor Zhivago (Boris Pasternak)
The Bell Jar (Sylvia Platt)
Selected Tales (Edgar Allen Poe) *
Swann's Way (Marcel Proust)
The Crying of Lot 49 (Thomas Pynchon)
All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Edmond Rostand)
Call It Sleep (Henry Roth)
The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Hamlet (William Shakespeare)
Macbeth (William Shakespeare)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (William Shakespeare)
Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare)
Pygmalion (George Bernard Shaw)
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)
Ceremony (Leslie Marmon Silko)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
Antigone (Sophocles)
Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
Gulliver's Travels (Jonathan Swift)
Vanity Fair (William Thackeray)
Walden (Henry David Thoreau)
War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy)
Fathers and Sons (Ivan Turgenev)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
Candide (Voltaire)
Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)
The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
The House of Mirth (Edith Wharton)+
Collected Stories (Eudora Welty)
Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde)
The Glass Menagerie (Tennessee Williams)
To the Lighthouse (Virginia Woolf)
Native Son (Richard Wright)

So, even though I've made no special effort to read these particular books, I've read forty-one. I have also read other novels by the authors on the list, so I suppose I'm entitled to call myself "well read".

* I've read all but three of the short stories in the specified Edgar Allan Poe collection, and a lot of his other work, so I'm counting that one.

+ I haven't read The House of Mirth. However, I slogged my way through Edith Wharton's novel Ethan Frome, which is one of the worst "classic" works I've ever read. I definitely deserve credit for that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Almost have a house!

Well, hopefully tomorrow! We’ve been through so many hoops at this point–I feel like a trained monkey…

If everything goes right, we’ll still be moving on Saturday!

We planned to buy a house this summer over a year ago. Really, with the tax credits and all, we couldn’t have done better if we had time-traveled to the future to check it out.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting All Domestic

I love cooking. In particular, I love baking, casseroles, and desserts. I go through spurts where I do a lot of cooking; last night, I decided to make not one but two desserts.

The first thing I made was coconut cookie bars, out of 1001 Cookie Recipes. (I love that book! My copy was a gift from a former manager, who somehow ended up with two. He had baked rugelach from it, and since I loved it he gave me the spare.)

I enjoy the cookie bars, but I think they're a bit too yeasty. Next time, I think I'm going to use half shortening, half butter, instead of all shortening, but my husband loves them. Maybe I'll fix it the same way and eat it with a glass of milk; I liked it that way.

The rice pudding was adapted from In a Persian Kitchen by Maideh Mazda. It's my favorite Middle Eastern cookbook. I increased the sugar very slightly (by about half a tablespoon) and put three whole cardamom pods into the milk during the first fifteen minutes of cooking. I think I should have removed the cardamom earlier and increased the rose water, but it was still tasty. It's also very healthy for a dessert. Nice bonus.

Anyway, I hope to keep trying new recipes so we aren't so tempted to eat away from the home!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Customizing Clothing and Killing Sims

So I've been playing The Sims 3 for about a week now, and I love the customization features; it's almost like Second Life in that respect (except that you can't re-edit them constantly).

That you can't edit their basic physical attributes (their face, anyway) after creation does make sense. In-universe, you are one person per sim; each persona is a separate sim. In Second Life, your one avatar is many different personas, depending on your mood or the sim you're visiting. So the fixed facial features makes sense for The Sims.

Speaking of customization, I love the hair coloring! If you choose the advanced editing, you can edit hair color in four different areas: base, roots, highlights, and tips! So both natural and decidedly unnatural hair colors are easy to create on the fly! And you can assign different hairstyles for different categories. It's great that I don't have to change hairstyles manually every time my sim changes into her swimsuit (and back). Really, who wears the same hairstyle to swim and to go to the theater?

Okay, what woman?

I also love the editing features for clothes and objects. All the patterns divided into categories, and every single color editable through swatches, hex or RGB code, or a color picker? It's brilliant! And I can use any pattern for any item, regardless of what the original creators [i]thought[/i] it should be used for! But I wish they had made more styles; there really aren't that many available. (What is it, four or five beds?) It looks like they put all their effort into patterns. I'm really glad there are so many patterns; don't get me wrong. But I'd feel better if I didn't suspect part of it was so you'd buy items through the Sims store…

I also like "Lifetime Wishes" much better than the old "Wants and Fears". Being able to choose and save the four you want to promise–and still work on the ones in the current queue, at least until they disappear–is great!

When it comes to controlling a sim, I love the new moodlets! Everything that happens to affect your sim's mood results in a "moodlet". These little icons reflect how your sim is feeling. If somthing good happens (you fulfill a wish), it's positive (Fulfilled), and gives a buff to your mood; if it's bad (a dirty room), it's negative and you suffer a penalty. Each has a duration and a value. The better the event, the higher the mood boost and the longer it lasts. The same goes for bad stuff: if it's just a bit bad, it's a small penalty with a short duration. But if you don't eat, it's a -40 to your mood!

Speaking of being hungry… There are also neutral moodlets, like "Hungry", which clue you in that your sim will need something soon. (Very handy, if you ask me, since that means you If you give your sim what it needs before the time on the moodlet expires, you're fine. But if you don't, the resulting moodlet is usually pretty bad! Fortunately, the lead time is pretty long! Sims seem to eat and use the bathroom way less than in the previous games.

But killing sims seems harder. I think I'm going to have to talk to an undesirable townie, lure him or her to my home in Mosquito Cove, and wall them in. After a few days, that should do it. I'll just ignore that corner of my property until whoever it is dies. Maybe then I can start a little private graveyard!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Return to PvP 

So last night I did PvP with my Guild Wars guild for the first time in months.

We chose alliance battles because it's easier to put together four person groups, and AB is way more rewarding than Team Arenas or Random Arenas. (Plus, I hate them.) They're also much more newbie-friendly, and we're trying to recruit some new blood from our alliance.

Another bonus? Kurzick and Luxon faction are actually worth something! When you redeem it, it counts towards your Alliegance Rank title track (Kurzick or Luxon, depending upon your allegiance). You can cash it in for valuable crafting materials (amber chunks for Kurzick and jadeite shards for Luxon). If you're title-crazy, you can donate it to your guild and get double credit towards your title! Plus, it can be used to get PvE skills, which also counts double.

I had so much fun! Why have I been away? I love my guildees!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Stewardship

I tried desperately to avoid making this post on Earth Day. It seemed too cliché. But though I've been working on this post for over a month, I simply haven't had a chance to finish it.

I wasn't raised in a Christian household. My sister, brother, and I went to church on Sundays until we moved away from my grandparents and the drive was too much for my grandfather to make every Sunday morning. However, I was taught to respect the Earth. (If I littered, even today, my mom would probably kill me!) We fed the birds, the fish, and stray wildlife. We did not waste food, period. Wherever we went, we usually picked up trash inconsiderate jerks had left behind. We recycled cans (free money for us kids-yay!) and newspapers, and later milk jugs and plastic bags. We reused anything worth reusing (we were fairly poor, so that was pretty much necessary) and had to think carefully about where we put our money.

This was pretty much just how my mom is. It's not like she sat down and thought, "I must be environmentally responsible. Therefore, I must do this and this and this." She likes the outdoors, and she doesn't think it should be junked up. She's also a softie when it comes to animals, so she did what she could to look out for them. We were kinda poor, and she grew up really poor, so she avoided waste. And her Girl Scout troop? It was pretty much funded by our family. My mom never wanted to ask for much in dues, so she scrimped and saved to pay for as much of it as she could. That meant we figured out how to do as much as we could with reused or donated stuff. And recycling just made sense. (Not that my mom was a perfect environmentalist, of course. We had our share of cheap plastic doodads, for one thing. But she was remarkably sound for her day.)

I've stepped up my efforts on behalf of the environment for a specific reason: I don't think we're doing such a good job taking care of God's creation. Really, this place is His, and I can't help but think that He's not so happy with the way we're taking care of our room. People are more important than the environment, but come on! It doesn't have to be an either-or. There are a lot of little things that we can do that make a difference.

If you want a better-written viewpoint on Christians and the environment, check out the Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change. It's written by Jonathan Merritt, and is quite rational. (Ishy pointed me to it; Jonathan is her singles pastor.) Even if you aren't a Baptist, I think you'll find it interesting.

Epic Fail
Before I share my eco-friendly habits, I figure I'll get my confessions out of the way. First, I have way too much plastic junk. And I do mean junk; it's not even worthwhile stuff. I also have an art and craft supply stash that verges on embarassing. And we don't recycle at home, though I hope to change that now that the local recycling center is open. We also leave our electronics plugged in all the time (which means they always draw some power), though I'm going to buy a separate surge protector for the things that don't have to be on all the time. (I refuse to unplug things like the VCR when they're not in use, because I am NOT reprogramming them every day!) One of the worst things, in my opinion, is the food we waste. (I'm working on that one.) We also buy too much pre-packaged food, and we eat out too much. (I need to cook more…)

That was painful. Now on to the good part: the positive choices I've made.

Public transportation
I take public transportation every day of the work week, usually both to and from work. It's actually pretty pleasant, except for the part where I have to wake up before six a.m.!

Skipping plastic bags whenever possible
I try to always carry a reusable tote with me. I use them everywhere, even at places like Macy's, TJ Maxx, or Big Lots. (Makes me wish I still had the wonderful cotton string bag I bought in 1993 or so. I gave up using it because the only place that didn't give me a hard time about it was the natural foods store.) Sometimes I skip bags, like last week when the waitress at the Mexican restaurant offered me one for my leftovers. I can carry a box just fine, especially since I live around the corner! (I don't think she's ever had anyone refuse a bag; she was really confused…)

Reusing plastic bags
Sometimes we're caught without our bags, or with too few. In that case, we use as few as possible and reuse them. We use them in our small wastebaskets in the two bathrooms, and Paul uses them when he takes lunch or other stuff to work. I'm hoping to get to the point where supply drops to equal demand, with only a few bags in reserve!

Cutting back on disposable dishes
At work, I keep dishes in a desk drawer: eating utensils, a paring knife, a bowl, a small snack-size bowl and plate, a teacup, a lidded ceramic mug, and a stirrer. Also, I try to always have my reusable insulated cup with me. Not only does it keep my drinks warmer, but it's way easier to handle when I'm taking the bus. Some coffee shops even give you the option of using a ceramic mug and plate if you're eating in. Yay for less waste!

Homemade cleaning products
My experiments here have been mixed. The homemade laundry detergent seems fine (and is cheap!), and my Windex replacement is a winner. Borax or baking soda as a scrub works wonderfully. I'm still working on my dishwasher detergent recipe, since the first one I tried left a white residue on the dishes. I'm hoping to find a good mold and mildew killer that works, and a good oven cleaner recipe. (The commercial stuff is pretty nasty and rather expensive…)

Minimal packaging
I like stuff with very little packaging. This is one reason I like bulk, as well as stuff from indie artists and places like Lush. When it will work, I reuse packaging to hold stuff around the house or at work.

Environmentally sound cosmetics
I've been making my own facial scrub since, what, forever? For other stuff, I've been slowly switching to more earth-friendly products. Sadly, I've had to hide from Bath and Body Works, but my addiction to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has helped. Their scents are so wonderful that it makes everything else seem sub-par. For skincare, I've been haunting Whole Foods. For makeup, I've switched to Alima Pure, which has been great for my skin. My lipstick is Aveda, which has a partially refillable case (those have always seemed wasteful) and is wonderful!

This is a partial list, but I think it's quiet long already, so I'll stop.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Joined the 2009 100+ Book Challenge

I posted in January that I had joined that I had joined J. Kaye's audiobook challenge. I mentioned that I had also joined other challenges, but I forgot to actually create posts for them.

This will be for the 100+ Book Challenge. I'm already well on my way, but I am way behind on my reviews. Rather than fill my blog here with book reviews, I plan to post those on my LiveJournal, which had a whopping total of um, one entry until now.

Oh, wait, I'm actually up to three entries on Livejournal. Woohoo.

On to my books...

January 2009 (8 books)

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'engle
  • A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'engle
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'engle
  • Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
  • I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  • The Subtle Knife by Phillip Pullman
  • The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman

February 2009 (7 books; Running Total: 15)

  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • Inkspell by Cornelia Funke
  • The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
  • Star Wars New Jedi Order: Onslaught (Dark Tide #1) by Michael A. Stackpole
  • Star Wars New Jedi Order: Ruin (Dark Tide #2) by Michael A. Stackpole
  • The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Thud! (Discworld) by Terry Pratchett

March 2009 (16 books; Running Total: 31)

  • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Star Wars: Hero's Trial (Agents of Chaos #1) by James Luceno
  • Star Wars: Jedi Eclipse (Agents of Chaos #2) by James Luceno
  • Belgarath the Sorceror by David and Leigh Eddings
  • Polgara the Sorceress by David and Leigh Eddings
  • Maire: The Fires of Glenmaera by Linda Windsor
  • King Henry IV, Part 1 by William Shakespeare
  • A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick
  • Stellaluna by Jannell Cannon
  • The Diamond Throne (The Elenium, Book 1) by David Eddings
  • The Ruby Knight (The Elenium, Book 2) by David Eddings
  • The Sapphire Rose (The Elenium, Book 3) by David Eddings
  • Star Wars: Balance Point by Kathy Tyers
  • Star Wars: Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore
  • Star Wars: Conquest by Greg Keyes
  • Star Wars: Rebirth by Greg Keyes

April 2009 (13 books; Running Total: 44)

  • Domes of Fire (The Tamuli, Book 1) by David Eddings
  • Crafternoon: A Guide to Getting Artsy and Crafty with Your Friends All Year Long by Maura Madden
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump by Harry Turtledove
  • The Shining Ones (The Tamuli, Book 2) by David Eddings
  • Star Wars: Star by Star by Troy Denning
  • Star Wars: Dark Journey by Elaine Cunningham
  • Star Wars: Rebel Dream by Aaron Allston
  • The Hidden City (The Tamuli, Book 3) by David Eddings
  • Star Wars: Traitor by Matthew Stover
  • Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn, Book 1) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Star Wars: Destiny's Way by Walter Jon Williams
  • The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, Book 2) by Brandon Sanderson

May 2009 (12 books; Running total: 56)

  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, Book 3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
  • Arena by Karen Hancock
  • The Path of Daggers (The Wheel of Time, Book 8) by Robert Jordan
  • The Three Golden Keys by Peter Sis
  • Winter's Heart (The Wheel of Time, Book 9) by Robert Jordan
  • Mixed Signals by Liz Curtis Higgs
  • Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
  • The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

June 2009 (10 books; Running total: 66)

  • Crossroads of Twilight (The Wheel of Time, Book 10) by Robert Jordan
  • Murder at Avedon Hill by P.G. Holyfield
  • The Mislaid Magician by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
  • Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time, Book 11) by Robert Jordan
  • The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2) by Robert Jordan
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, Book 1) by J.K. Rowling
  • Pyramids (Discworld, Book 7) by Terry Pratchett
  • Foundling (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 1) by D. M. Cornish
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, Book 2) by J.K. Rowling

July 2009 (5 books, with a few missing; Running total: 71)

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, Book 3) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, Book 4) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harrry Potter, Book 5) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, Book 6) by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, Book 7) by J.K. Rowling

August 2009 (9 books; Running total: 80)

  • Arrows of the Queen (The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Take a Thief: A Novel of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
  • Arrow's Flight (The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 2) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Arrow's Fall (The Heralds of Valdemar, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Resistance (Star Trek: The Next Generation) by J.M. Dillard
  • The Black Gryphon (Mage Wars, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
  • The White Gryphon (Mage Wars, Book 2) by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
  • The Silver Gryphon (Mage Wars, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon
  • Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile's Honor by Mercedes Lackey

September 2009 (15 books; Running total: 95)

  • Winds of Fate (Mage Winds, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Winds of Change (Mage Winds, Book 2) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Star Wars: Remnant (The New Jedi Order, Book 15) by Shane Dix and Sean Williams
  • Star Wars: Refugee (The New Jedi Order, Book 16) by Shane Dix and Sean Williams
  • Star Wars: Reunion (The New Jedi Order, Book 17) by Shane Dix and Sean Williams
  • Star Wars: The Final Prophecy (The New Jedi Order, Book 18) by Greg Keyes
  • Star Wars: The Unifying Force (The New Jedi Order, Book 19) by James Luceno
  • Star Wars: The Paradise Snare (Han Solo Trilogy, Book 1) by A. C. Crispin
  • Star Wars: The Hutt Gambit (Han Solo Trilogy, Book 2) by A. C. Crispin
  • Star Wars: Rebel Dawn (Han Solo Trilogy, Book 3) by A. C. Crispin
  • Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers
  • Star Wars: The Way of the Apprentice (Jedi Quest, Book 1) by Jude Watson
  • Star Wars: The Trial of the Jedi (Jedi Quest, Book 2) by Jude Watson
  • Star Wars: The Dangerous Games (Jedi Quest, Book 3) by Jude Watson
  • Star Wars: The Master of Disguise (Jedi Quest, Book 4) by Jude Watson

October 2009 (8 books, several missing; Running total: 103)

  • Winds of Fury (Mage Winds, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Storm Warning (Mage Storms, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Rules by Cynthia Lord
  • Myth-taken Identity by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
  • Class Dis-Mythed by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Preserving Summer's Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, Preserving, and Drying What You Grow by Rodale Food Center and Susan McClure
  • Making Money (Discworld, Book 36) by Terry Pratchett

November 2009 (4 books; Running total: 107)

  • The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time, Book 12) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  • Lamplighter (Monster Blood Tattoo, Book 2) by D.M. Cornish
  • Chivalry by Neil Gaiman
  • The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket

December 2009 (16 books; Running total: 123)

  • Storm Rising (Mage Storms, Book 2) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Storm Breaking (Mage Storms, Book 3) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Sanctuary (Dragonlance: Elven Exiles, Book 1) by Paul B. Thompson & Tonya C. Cook
  • Foundations (The Collegium Chronicles, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, Book 8) by Terry Pratchett
  • Eric (Discworld, Book 9) by Terry Pratchett
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, Book 10) by Terry Pratchett
  • Reaper Man (Discworld, Book 11) by Terry Pratchett
  • Witches Abroad (Discworld, Book 12) by Terry Pratchett
  • Small Gods (Discworld, Book 13) by Terry Pratchett
  • Lords and Ladies (Discworld, Book 14) by Terry Pratchett
  • Men at Arms (Discworld, Book 15) by Terry Pratchett
  • Soul Music (Discworld, Book 16) by Terry Pratchett
  • Interesting Times (Discworld, Book 17) by Terry Pratchett
  • Maskerade (Discworld, Book 18) by Terry Pratchett
  • Feet of Clay (Discworld, Book 19) by Terry Pratchett


  • Hart's Blood by Orson Scott Card
  • Magic's Pawn (The Last Herald-Mage, Book 1) by Mercedes Lackey
  • Star Trek: The Last Roundup by Christie Golden and David Kaye
  • Sacrifice (Star Wars: Legacy of the Force)

Currently Reading*

  • Spirit Gate (Crossroads, Book 1) by Kate Elliott
  • The Ragamuffin Gospel
  • Tathea by Anne Perry
  • On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, Book 1) by David Weber
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  • Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Holy Bible
  • The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time, Book 3) by Robert Jordan
  • Hunters of Dune by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
  • Hogfather (Discworld, Book 20) by Terry Pratchett

In the Queue

  • Young Miles (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Confessions by Saint Augustine
  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

*Yes, I really am reading that many books at once. No, I am not insane.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You're a geek girl if...

This is sort of an informal list I've been keeping for a few years. A few months back, I posted it on Technochicks, and got a few more good ones. The events of Valentine's Day prompted me to post it on my blog. :)

You're a geek girl if...

  • You own more computer media than makeup (and carry more of it with you, too).

  • When you wear makeup, your friends ask you "What's the special occasion?"

  • You can keep track of chargers for your iPod, DS, PDA, GPS unit, digital camera, and laptop, but you've lost your lipstick. Again.

  • You've been hit on by a Jedi, a Klingon, a pirate, and an elf, and it's not even lunchtime yet.

  • After the last entry, you added "Jedi" and "Klingon" to your spell check, and then threw in a dozen other words for good measure.

  • You miss Surge, because it was a great stand-in for Bouncy Bubble Beverage during gaming sessions.

  • You've had to replace elf ears or horns because they're worn out.

  • Your costume wardrobe is bigger than your real life one.

  • Packing for a vacation requires an extra bag for your laptop and all your travel chargers.

  • You barely read the local paper, but you know about strange events all around the world.

  • Your sweetie has bought you things with power cords for Valentine's Day, and you were ecstatic. (Who needs onyx jewelry when you can have an onyx DS Lite?

  • You don't know the names of your neighbors, but you know the handles and real life names of dozens of people around the world...

  • And their blogs, websites, and social networking IDs.

  • You go through your day looking for things to blog.

  • Google is your best friend.

  • Your favorite number is pi.

  • In your mind hottest = smartest (Courtesy of Anathema)

  • You're in the hospital and a guy comes in to replace the monitor, and the nurses get upset it will bother you, but all you want to know is the resolution on it. (This really happened with Ishy; she's a bigger geek than I am!)

  • And now for true confession time:

    You're a geek girl if your husband gives you diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, and topazes for Valentine's Day...in Diablo II...

    ...And you're terribly excited about it, and spend an hour selling off stuff to make room for them in your inventory.

    Yes, it's really true. And my favorite number really is pi.

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    2009 Audiobook Challenge

    J. Kaye is doing an audiobook challenge over at J. Kaye's Book Blog. As it happens, I love audiobooks almost as much as I love regular books. It's just so much easier to listen to audio while I knit, crochet, spin, or journal, you know? (Though I can knit or crochet while I read, if it's a nice, thick hardcover that will stay open on its own...)

    The goal is twelve audiobooks; I'll probably do a few more, but that's where I'll start. I'll blog a review for each of them, and post it here.

    My definite listens:
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Engle
    A Wind in the Door by Madeleine l'Engle
    A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine l'Engle
    A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick
    Begun with my husband 01.27.2009

    Completed to Date
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l'Engle (01/09)
    A Wind in the Door by Madeleine l'Engle (01/09)
    A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine l'Engle (01/09)
    A Scanner Darkly by Phillip K. Dick (03/09)
    Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty (04/09)
    Winter's Heart (The Wheel of Time, Book 9) by Robert Jordan (05/09)
    Crossroads of Twilight (The Wheel of Time, Book 10) by Robert Jordan

    Abandoned as Horrible
    Hart's Blood by Orson Scott Card

    In Progress
    The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2) by Robert Jordan
    Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time, Book 11) by Robert Jordan

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    Save Handmade! Amend the CPSIA!

    Save Handmade! BuyHandmade.orgCross-posted from my craft blog, because it's just that important.

    Have you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, or CPSIA for short? No? Well, our government has really done it this time!

    The CPSIA is a new requirement for all items intended for babies and children. Its aim is good: keep kids safe from lead. But it's insane! Under its provisions, handmade items, especially one-of-a-kind handmade toys and clothes, are no longer feasible to make and sell.

    In a nutshell, it requires that every single item intended for children and babies be tested for lead and the like, and have a tag permanently affixed to it. That may sound reasonable, right?

    Think about it. If your neighbor is a seamstress who makes custom christening gowns for babies, she now has to make TWO IDENTICAL DRESSES and send one off to be tested (which destroys it). The remaining dress must have a permanent tag affixed to it, stating that it is safe.

    If a handmade item is sold in a store, the store must display a certificate for that item, and for every other children's item! How does that work?

    It's insane! For more information, see Craftzine's excellent post on the topic.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Sixteen Things About Me

    I've been tagged repeatedly on Facebook, so here we go.

    1. I'm a native Atlantan, married to a native Atlantan. Though I'm the first in either of my parent's families born in Atlanta, my family has been in Georgia for several generations...at least five, I think.

    2. Though most of you know me as an artistic person, I didn't even think I could draw until I took Two Dimensional Design and Drawing I in 2000 or so. I had been doing crafts since, well, forever, but I was convinced my mom and siblings had all the artistic ability in the family. It took me years–literally–to be able to call myself an artist!

    3. For almost all of my life, I thought I would be a scientist. I started college as a physics major and math minor. I've taken math through Calculus IV, and lots of physics (including two semesters of quantum mechanics). Not very useful as a graphic designer; take my word for it!

    4. I can listen to a podcast and read a book while knitting or crocheting, if I have the right place to sit...and I retain the information. It only works with hardcovers, and it works best with big, thick books like the Wheel of Time novels: they stay open on their own quite well.

    5. I adore baking, though I don't do it nearly as often as I should. As for cooking, I prefer yummy, nourishing stuff like casseroles. My husband is the one who loves cooking ethnic foods (except for Persian rice); I usually just eat it.

    6. Counting from when we began dating, my husband and I have been together for almost half our lives! We started dating a month before he turned eighteen, and we're both thirty-five now. We dated for almost three years, were engaged for two years minus one week, and have been married for over twelve and a half years.

    7. Total strangers have been known to comment on how dedicated my husband and I are to each other. Inevitably they ask how long we've been married, and are surprised to find out it's over a decade!

    8. I really adore goats. No, I don't know why, but I really want pygmy goats. Note the use of a plural, which scares my husband.

    9. I have never broken a bone. Likewise, I have never had surgery. If I were superstitious, I would be afraid to put that in writing. However, I don't expect God to jinx me just because I said it. :)

    10. When I was a kid, my sister and I used to fight over my brother. We would have long, involved arguments where we used kid logic to try and convince each other that we had the most "right" to him. Fortunately, we eventually stopped viewing him as a possession, but we're still a very close family.

    Okay, it's getting hard to think of stuff; bear with me.

    11. I collect...well, things. Lots of different things. Fortunately, my husband loves me anyway. :)

    12. I adore costumes of all sorts. Give me an occasion where I can wear a costume, and I'm happy. I can keep myself occupied quite nicely planning and plotting for different occasions.

    Woohoo! I'm getting a second wind on this stuff, I think...

    13. I never read only one book at a time. I'm always setting one down, or leaving it at work or home. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I read only one book. Maybe elementary school?

    14. I have a very interesting approach to exercise. I detest participating in organized sports, probably due to my poor depth perception and the number of times I got hit in the face with a ball as a kid. However, I will happily troop around in the woods, climb things, or bike, as long as I have freedom to stop and explore when I want. And swimming? My husband has the hardest time getting me back out of the pool, unless I'm absolutely freezing.

    15. Though I've been a Middle Eastern dancer for over fourteen years, I was never a dancer before then. My parents simply couldn't afford lessons for me or my sis. I didn't even do drill team; I did Flag Corps instead.

    16. Speaking of Flag Corps...I was in Flag Corps for three years, my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school. I now twirl brooms, sticks, and anything of the right shape, usually without thinking about it.

    If I tag you on Facebook, it's probably because you tagged me. :)

    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    Lacking Motivation

    I feel so worn out. I suppose I should be knitting or working on ATCs or journaling or something, but I'm just too tired.

    Maybe I'm just feeling a bit down because it's Twelfth Night. That means I had to take my tree down, and all the lights.

    I miss my pretty Christmas tree. Sob.

    And so does Bibo.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    A Year of Change

    And still we buy books!I think it's funny that this month's NaBloPoMo theme is change, because 2008 was a year of change for me.

    Some of the change was great: my beloved husband finally finished all his schooling, allowing him to get a position as a school media specialist. This meant we got a new apartment (big yay!), moving to Gwinnett County from DeKalb. Nice apartment with a high balcony, which means the kitties can go outside. Of course, moving and a new job for my husband meant big changes to our schedules: I wake up between 5:20 and 5:45 every morning. Not so hot for a dedicated night owl, believe me. But so worth it.

    Because of the new apartment, we've been able to host a few overnight guests: a Guild Wars friend and his wife and family in July, and some other Guild Wars friends for Dragon*Con. I have loved the freedom to invite people over whenever we want!

    There was even bigger good news for my family: my sister got married and is pregnant. He will the first baby on my side of the family. I take great pride in having bought him his first stuffed animal (a frog from Ikea), only three days after I found out she was pregnant and before most people even knew!

    I've done some cool stuff artistically this year, too. In February, I took an art journal class, Love This Journal, with Jessica Wesolek. I loved it, and I've almost filled my first Moleskine. I also got a spinning wheel, which I adore. (Note that I don't claim to spin with any degree of skill...)

    At church, we called a new music minister, just in time for our Christmas program. Exciting for sure; we've needed him! Still, I'm glad we didn't jump into a decision.

    Not all the change was good though: my life was really shaken up in October, when my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma. Her prognosis is excellent (as I've posted before), but it shaken up everything. (Even more so for my brother and uncle.) But it has definitely reminded me of how much I love all my family. The blessing in all of this is that once my mom is cancer free, she should be in better health than when she started! Turns out the cancer was behind some health problems she had been having...and they discovered her gallstones before they caused her any problems. Since they are taking out her gallbladder once chemo is over, she'll never have any problems with them!

    It's true that 2008 had some very serious, scary problems, but life is always like tht. Regardless, it was a promising year for us.