Friday, 28 October 2011

Halloween Postcard Book

I recently purchased a copy of this 'book'.  Actually, it is 30 postcards printed on a card stock and bound together in a book format.  I love these cards.  I immediately tore them all out and sorted through them deciding to whom I would be mailing them.  Several are going out right away and the rest will go as the mood strikes me, I'm not hung up on them having to go out before the stated holiday.  The book is from Darling & Company, also known as the Laughing Elephant.  They have additional postcard books for a number of holidays.  

ISBN 13   978-1-883211-78-3

I am posting some of the cards on my other blog: Send a Postcard a Week

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Halloween Ebook Deals from Sourcebooks

I received a message today from Sourcebooks that listed the ebooks they are offering as a Halloween special.

Check with your chosen vendor or directly at the Sourcebooks site for purchase information.  Please note that they might not be available at all vendors.

Halloween Spotlight: Plain Fear Forsaken for $2.99! 
(10/25/2011 – 11/03/2011)

Plain Fear Forsaken by Leanna Ellis
Hannah Schmidt pines for Jacob, the boy who saved her life when she drowned, bringing her back from the brink of death by breathing life into her. But Jacob is gone, buried. Levi Fisher loves Hannah. But he knows how much Hannah loved his brother Jacob. He also knows the troubling event that took Jacob out of their lives…. So when a stranger named Akiva comes into their community, carrying with him a dark secret, their love and beliefs will be put to the test. And Hannah must choose between light and dark, between the love she vowed to carry with her and a new possibility of love---a decision that will decide the fate of her soul.

Vampires, Werewolves, and Witches, Oh My! Paranormal Romance for $0.99! 
(10/28/2011 – 11/03/2011)

Wicked by Any Other Name by Linda Wisdom
Stasi Romanov uses just a little witch magic in her lingerie shop, running a brisk side business in love charms. A disgruntled customer threatening to sue over a failed love spell brings Trevor Barnes to town. Trevor's the best attorney around, and he just happens to be a wizard. Everyone knows that witches and wizards make a volatile combination—sure enough, the sparks fly and almost everyone's getting singed. Add to that Cupid playing a practical joke, a lunar eclipse that nearly precipitates a witch hunt, and some very mysterious goings on at the magical lake, and the feisty witch and gorgeous wizard have more than simply a possible lawsuit on their hands. Can they overcome their objections and settle out of court—and in the bedroom?

Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe
Trinity Harpswell is a cursed Black Widow--death and mayhem are all part of the job description. If she can manage to go just one more week without accidentally killing someone, she’ll break this killer curse and put her Black Widow days behind her. When sexy Blaine Underhill III shows up at her door and asks for her help rescuing his friend from the clutches of Death’s evil grandma, Trinity gets pulled into a daring high stakes adventure. As Blaine and Trinity join forces to take down a series of underworld assassins, they may just learn that love is the deadliest game of all.

The Wolf Next Door by Lydia Dare
Rogue, Rake…Werewolf. Years ago on a full moon, Lord William Westfield gave way to his inner beast and nearly ruined young Prisca Hawthorne. Knowing he can never trust himself in the arms of the woman he loves, he throws himself into a debauched lifestyle. When Westfield discovers he has a rival for Prisca's love, he decides if she's going to marry a Lycan it damn well better be him. But time is running out as Prisca's other suitor takes an instant and potentially fatal dislike to Westfield.

Merely Magic by Patricia Rice
The daughter of one of the strongest magical lineages, Ninian Malcom Siddons is a powerful witch. Determined to only use her magic for good, she lives a simple, solitary life as a healer in her village, where she meets Drogo… Lord Drogo Ives believes only logic and science can explain the wonders of the universe and doesn’t believe the local folklore about Malcolm witches and Ives men, until he meets Ninian.

Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear
Devlyn is a beta male werewolf in a pack of grays, Bella is the female red werewolf he rescued as a pup. When the pack’s alpha male tries to rape her, she flees and lives as a lone   werewolf until Devlyn comes to bring her back to the pack. The two get embroiled in danger when a local red werewolf goes on a killing spree. While fleeing the murderer and the police, and keeping their whereabouts hidden from the vengeful alpha male of their pack, they find that their love is deep and their mutual attraction irresistible, but Bella knows that if she mates with Devlyn, he’ll have to fight the wicked alpha male, and it’s a fight to the death . .

Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase
When all-star pitcher and shape-shifter Jason Falco buys a small apartment building, he sees it not only as an investment but as a place to escape the demands of major league baseball. That is, until he meets his tenants— a sarcastic unemployed crime-fighter vampire; a wereraven with a morbid sense of humor; a super-friendly salesman werewolf; and two witches with an owl who work as phone sex actresses. Not to mention a beautiful, all-too-human nurse. But with all the hooting, howling, and hollering going on, how's an all-American shapeshifter supposed to sweep a girl off her feet?

Emma and the Vampires by Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson
In this hilarious retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma, screenwriter Wayne Josephson casts Mr. Knightley as one of the most handsome and noble of the gentlemen village vampires.  Blithely unaware of their presence, Emma, who imagines she has a special gift for matchmaking, attempts to arrange the affairs her social circle with delightfully disastrous results.  But when her dear friend Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightley, Emma realizes she’s the one who wants to stay up all night with him. Fortunately, Mr. Knightley has been hiding a secret deep within his unbeating heart—his (literally) undying love for her… A brilliant mash-up of Jane Austen and the undead. 

The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary
Haunted by visions of Druid priests and Celtic warriors, Donovan O’Shea left home in Northern Ireland and immigrated to America. With his father ill, he returns to help sell the family property and pub, and now, to his dismay, the “sight” has returned. He inherited the talent from his long-lost mother, who told him to keep it a secret, and he has. He is soon involved in the archaeological excavation on his family’s land and meets American Rylie Powell. Her father walked out on the family when she was a toddler, and she now believes that Donovan’s father is also hers. Donovan knows in his heart this cannot be true as the attraction between them is palpable. In between checking out DNA tests and family histories, the two become involved with murders past and present stemming from the Troubles, a quest that requires Donovan’s gift. Northern Ireland’s violent past combined with supernatural elements add an intriguing twist to this modern love story.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Crochet with a Sense of Humor

 Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

Ever get that urge to make something impractical but fun.  That mood struck this week.  I just had to make an apple cozy.  Several months ago, Tracy at Pen and Paper sent me a link to a new magazine in the UK. It was featuring a pattern for an apple cozy.  I thought it was very cool at the time, but didn't get around to making one.  I did sign up for their email list.  When the most recent posting arrived, it again featured the pattern as National Apple Day in the UK was on October 21.  The first one I made out a too thick wool and I am in search of a giant apple that will fit.  This time I made it with a thinner cotton and a much smaller hook 3.5mm.  Perfect.  The pattern was posted by The Guardian newspaper. This pattern says to use double crochet, but I used single crochet.  My sister tells me that the terminology is a bit different between our countries.   Check out the really cool pumpkin apple cozys.  Should you decide to make this project, beware, it might lead you to think of making jackets for your other fruits.

 Last week I showed you the yarn that I purchased for my snowflake afghan.  I just love how these colours are looking.  I made up the first motif while visiting with my parents.  My mother was curious how it went together.  How long before I get her picking up the hook again???

Yes, I did make this project one before.  To see how the motif goes together visit this earlier post. Are you interested in making this afgahn, visit the Red Heart blog to download the pattern and to watch the instructional videos.  They clearly show how to make this comfy blankie.

Son's stocking is now finished.  Love the adaptation to make this cable.  Very manly.  I pictured it with the measuring tape this time so you could get a better idea of the size.  I should be able to fit lots of loot, I mean goodies, in this.  Pattern not available.
It was a challenge this week to make the seventh stitch pattern for Grandma Coco's Papa Bear Sampler Scarf .  I think it was mostly that my needles are dark and the yarn was dark.  It didn't help that I was trying to knit in the evening without insufficient lighting.  This pattern is called Twisted Texture.  It involved knitting in the second stitch on the needle and then going back to knitting on the first one.  Not really a difficult thing in itself, but I did have some trouble with splitting my yarn or inserting the needle point in the wrong spot.  It was worth the extra effort.  Looks better than in this photo.  Cheryl now has up the instructions for week 8.

 Not one to shy away from a challenge, I have been browsing thought Ricky Tims' Convergence Quilts.  It's my mother's book and she has been planning to make at least one of the projects.  We're planning to make the "Original Haarmonic Convergence" quilt together.  In the mean time, I had to give the basic technique a try.
 Using this scap fabric.  It's cotton with a water resistance coating (came from a friend).  I trimmed it to about 36 inches square. Note the diagonal light and dark areas.
Next cut it into 2 inch strips.
 Offset the strips by 1 inch.  And sew them together.
 All sewn together and all seams pressed to one side.  Now rotate 90 degrees and repeat process, only this time you offset by a complete unit (2 inches) so you can match all those millions of seams.
This is my new fabric in the original orientation.  NOte that there still is that light and dark diagonals.  I have now removed all those extra bits from the edge and will use them in a border.  I do think to make it more interesting I will have to applique something on the top.Or possibly a thread art image of a radiant sun.
This is the fabric I purchased last evening from the guest at my local guild meeting.  It was dyed by Jane of Dye-Versions.  This piece measures about 37 x 53 inches.  I think it will be perfect for when mom and I do our project together.

What have you been working on this week.  

Sherrie, from Just Books. has started on a new afghan, I guess we are all planning to be warm and cuddly this winter.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Weekend Cooking - Melon and Bean Salad

I have been staying with my parents three or four days a week lately as my father is rather ill.  I try and make them a few tasty dishes each visit.  While there last week, my mother requested the recipe for a salad I had make for Thanksgiving a few weeks earlier. Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October.

This one is totally yummy and could be served as the main dish of a lunch with the addition of some whole grain toast.

It is from the 1986 edition of Smart Cooking: Quick and Tasty Recipes for Healthy Living by Anne Lindsay.  There is a newer edition of this book that should be widely available.

Melon and Bean Salad

1 cantaloupe or honeydew melon
1 can (19 oz/540 ml) red or white kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 green onions (including tops)
1 small red pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut melon in half, scoop out seeds.  Remove rind and cut melon into pieces.  You should have at least 2 cups of melon.  Add kidney beans. Cut onions and red pepper into thin strips about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.  Add Onion, peppers, garlic and parsley to melon-kidney bean mixture; toss to mix.

Whisk together lemon juice and oil; pour over salad.  Add salt and pepper to taste; toss to mix.  Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  may be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

I used a small red onion instead of the green onion. I didn't add the parsley as my kids don't like that green stuff in their food.

For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking feature.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott

Parkour is a sport where the runner uses fast, efficient movements, and makes spur of the moment decisions to negotiate a route.  CIA agent Sam Capra has to use all these skills to find and try to save his pregnant wife Lucy.  She was abducted prior to a deadly explosion at their offices in London, England.  Sam is the only one to believe that Lucy is an innocent victim.

I listened to the audio book version of this novel and was captivated from the first minutes.  The book is full with a wonderful assortment of characters.  Where does Mila come from all of a sudden and for whom does she work.  I loathed Piet from the moment he was introduced, yet I couldn't have imagined a more effective bad guy.  Even the minor characters, such as the bar managers are more than I expected.  Along with these cast, is a story with totally unexpected twists.  Each time I thought that a big reveal, or a resolution was going to be unveiled, the story just dug in deeper.    As with the parkour running, this story also covered a lot of physical ground: London, a hidden CIA prison, the United States, Holland and a few more sites.  Author Jeff Abbott made me feel as though I was in each of those locations along with Sam.  I was ducking and weaving with him as he tried to avoid capture on the freighter.

I enjoyed this book so much that several times I found myself sitting in my car in my darkened garage listening for a 'few more minutes'.

From Hachette Audio.  Read by Kevin T. Collins - unabridged.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the use of the cover image and for my review disks.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

From the time he was a tiny baby, Peter Nimble has had to fend for himself.  He found a stray cat from which to nurse and when he was a few months old he learned to steal to feed and clothe himself.  This may sound impossible, but then you don't know Peter like I have gotten to know him.  He is a most capable ten year old boy.  Even though he is blind, he is the greatest thief in all the lands.  He can open any lock, sneak into any building and steal food from your own dish.

One day he is faced with a most challenging situation.  He is asked, as a favour, if he would guard a carriage secured with the most cunning assortment of locks.  Being true to his nature, Peter can't help but pick all the locks  and steal the most wonderful of treasures.  When he tries to use this treasure he becomes ensnared in a magic he has never even imagined possible.  This is the start of an adventure that will take Peter to the ends of the earth and places far beyond.

From the very first pages, reading about an infant who found his own wet nurse/cat, I loved this book.  If life had let me, I would have read it in one sitting, which I suspect many children will try to do.  Should you be wise enough to choose to purchase this book for your child, be sure to remove it from him or her at bed time, or remove the bulbs from their lights as they will not be able to put it down.  When your child tells  you of the Vanished Kingdom, don't say it doesn't exist, as it might have been magically added to your atlas when you weren't looking.

Peter is such an unlikely hero. He was abandoned at birth, blinded by ravens and left to fend on his own as an infant.  Not really hero stuff.  But he is good at what he does, thieving.  Somehow, with all these strikes against him, he is a most lovable character.  Not the kind that makes you want to cuddle and hug him, but the kind that you want to sit down and have a serious discussion with, treat him like and equal.

This story has all the makings of a wonderful adventure: unlikely hero, fumbling sidekick, children in need of a hero and magic, and it delivers many times over.  Once the action begins, it doesn't stop.  You and your child will enjoy it right to the final word.  This is a debut novel by author Jonathan Auxier.

Recommended ages 8-12

Thanks to Penguin Books for my review copy.

This is my 11th novel for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge, which is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.  You are invited to join in the fun.  Read 13 books by Canadian authors, ones for each province and territory, between July 1,  2011 and July 1, 2012.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Holiday Projects

  Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
Last week I told you that I was going to knit some stocking for my children.  This is daughters.  Oops, I ran out of wool with a lot further to go.  No chance of buying more, so I had a choice to make, and no, I wasn't going to rip it out and start again.  I consulted with daughter, and she agreed to a design modification.  I would take the cuff off and use that wool to finish the foot and then use a contrasting colour for the toe and new cuff.
 I was at my parents again for a few days last week, but forgot to take the double pointed needles for the toe and couldn't find any at the local department store. Drat, knitting put on hold.  When I got home on Saturday evening, I searched out the required size and set to work.  I added the diamond motif to the top the of the foot.  I think the brown sets the gold off very nicely.  Measures 9 inches across the top and 20 inches from toe to cuff.  Pattern not available.
Using the same basic instructions, I have started a stocking for son.  Since I already know I won't have enough wool in the light brown, I am using the dark brown for the cuff and toe.  I tried to use a different cable pattern from the book, but the instructions were not for the cable shown in the photo so I had to change it on the fly.  I think this one looks quite masculine.  A few more inches and I'll be ready to turn the heel.

While watching television with my parents, I was able to get pattern six knit on my scarf.    This is called Chequer Board with the old fashioned spelling but with a modern appeal.  Cheryl, over at The Kingdom of Coco, now has the seventh stitch pattern up for the Papa Bear Sampler Scarf.  We're over half way there.  Yippee.
While I was staying with my parents, mom and I took the opportunity to visit one of her favourite quilt shops.  The Marsh Store, located  in Coldstream, is a short drive north-west of London, Ontario.  I had no specific project in mind, so was open to all that was on display.

I was intrigued by this panel.  It measures the full width of the fabric by 18 inches and they are seven prints in the panel.  I bought the rest of the bolt, which was three panels.  I am going to mix in a few additional fabrics and set to work.  Guess I need to choose a pattern.
I have been cutting strips for my first jelly roll quilt.  Since I am in need of more variety, I bought this package.  It has 2 each of 8 different fabrics.  I am going to use them in the "Jelly Roll Quilt" that starts with 40  2 1/2 inch strips.  Check out this video.  The duplicates I'll trade with mom.

I also bought a number of clearance 1/2 metre pieces.  No specific project, I just liked the colours and patterns.

Should you find yourself in this area of Ontario, be sure to drop into The Marsh Store and say Hello to Shirley.

How did you all do on your projects this past week?  Any one else working on stockings?

Be sure to visit over at Lit and Laundry and check out the cool Halloween Embroidery. Not quite a stocking, but then again, who needs a stocking when a pumpkin basket will work.

Gone by Lisa McMann

Janie is now finished high school and has some major decisions to make.  Continue as she has, dreaming other peoples dreams which destroy her body, leave Cabel and live in isolation, and what about her mother.  To help them both unwind from their work with the police, Cabel takes her to visit with his brother for a week.  In the middle of the week, Carrie calls and leaves frantic messages for Janie that result in the two rushing back home to sort out whatever is happening.

First, I want to say that I enjoyed the whole series.  I liked the reader Ellen Grafton and would listen to more of her work.  She made the characters come alive.  Particularly liked her no-nonsense voicing of Captain Komisky, my favourite character in the series.  What I didn't like as much is that Janie is so certain that it is Cabel or no one.  That this is her one relationship and that if she cuts ties with him, she'll be alone for the rest of her life.  Though, that does seem to be a very teen way of thinking.

Sure, it's pretty far fetched that you can enter other people's dreams, but imagine the possibilities....  The whole series was fun to listen to and I would recommend it to teens and parents of teens as it does a good job of looking at some of the issues and decisions facing young adults.

I listened to the unabridged version from Brilliance Audio, 4 hours 43 minutes.  Read by Ellen Grafton.

Earlier titles in the Wake Series by Lisa McMann:

Also reviewed by Sara at Along for the Ride.

Thanks to Brilliance Audio for the use of the cover image.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Weekend Cooking - Fluffy Salad

I don't know how it started, but I have always referred to this dish as "Fluffy Salad".  It's not a salad in the traditional sense, and perhaps it really should be a dessert.  Which ever way you decide to classify it, I still will eat it when ever I get a chance.

Fluffy Salad

1 cup miniature marshmallows (I use the coloured ones as they look prettier)
1 cup sweetened coconut
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup mandarin orange pieces, drained
1 cup cottage cheese, the creamy type not the dry one
1 cup sour cream, or thawed cool whip

Mix all six ingredients together and chill for a while before serving.  Best if used that day or the next.  It's up to you whether you use 'lite' or low fat versions of the cottage cheese and the sour cream.  It will still taste good either way.  Some versions I have eaten use canned fruit cocktail (drained) in place of the orange pieces.

I am curious whether you have a fun dish that you include in your family celebration dinners?

For more food related fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.  

Friday, 14 October 2011

Thanksgiving Visit to the Farm

My family visited with my friend at her farm, Stone Meadow Farm, on Thanksgiving Sunday.  Hope you enjoy the following photos.
 Tamworth piglets.  These are a Heritage breed.

The duck on the extreme right is an Indian Runner Duck.  These ducks are hilarious to watch.  My friend has quite a few and they usually walk around in a tight flock.
Silky Chicken

their feathers don't knit together, so they look fluffy.
These two wild turkeys have escaped the oven this weekend, though the male, on the right, could be on the menu this weekend.  The female turkey was injured badly a few weeks back and lost a lot of feathers.  My friend rescued both the bird and her feathers.  She gave me the feathers for a project I am working on.  The bird is doing well.

If you would like to learn more about Stone Meadow Farm, please visit their blog.  It hasn't been updated lately, but there are some lovely photos and stories.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen

Napoleon Bonaparte has been exiled and the war is over.  England is recalling her spies and sending them home.  Not all those newly un-employed spies are happy about this change of fortunes.  The Saint doesn't want to go back to her mundane wifely duties.  She much prefers the sophisticated, stylish woman of the world she is when on a case.  Well, life can't be all that bad at home, if only her husband weren't such a bore.

Agent Wolfe would like nothing better to be at home in his wife's arms, if only she would open them to him or even talk to him.  He'd much rather be in Europe chasing down England's enemies.

You can tell where this is going.  Agent Saint and Agent Wolfe, un-known to each other, are actually Lord Adrian and Lady Sophia Smythe.  I totally enjoyed the scene where the two agents meet for the first time.   It reminded me of the movie Mr. & Mrs. Smith, only in this case, both spies work for the same agency.  They are both proud of the work they have done and are not ready to let go of their careers.  I could visualize them during the scene when they are comparing their scars, the number of times they were shot and various dangerous cases.

I found it amusing that with a total change of clothing, hair style and demeanor, that Sophia could transform herself to another women that her family wouldn't recognize.  Her husband and sister-in-law expected her to be that dowdy, mousy woman she had portrayed for years and they found it hard to recognize her outside of that 'costume'.  People see what they expect.

Two supporting characters that I particularly enjoyed are Agent Blue, who knows both of the Symthes, and their butler Wallace.  Wallace is the epitome of the perfect butler, nothing phases him, he maintains his composure no matter the unusual doings of his employers.  I'd love to see him in a future book should Ms. Galen write a follow up to Lord and Lady Spy.

Spy book - Romance novel, it doesn't matter, I found this a refreshing scenario.  Unlike many romances, right from the beginning they both admitted to themselves that they were attracted to the other.  Like many romances, mis-communications or lack of communications led to the estrangement of the two.  It was fun to follow the story and find how they would resolve their difficulties.  I would definitely read further works by Shana Galen.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.  At the time of writing this review, the  ebook is on a special  for $2.99 at a variety of retailers. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

It was going to be fun solving the next clue in Harajuku Fun Madness.  Marcus, known online as w1n5t0n(Winston), met up with his friends in the San Francisco neighbourhood called the Tenderloin.  They were zeroing in on the game location when a series of blasts shook the area. While pushing their way through the crowd at the subway station, Darryl, one of the friends, is stabbed.   They go back to the surface to seek help.  When Marcus finally manages to flag down a passing vehicle, that's when his troubles really begin.

The Department of Homeland Security mobilizes instantly after the explosions.  This can't be a bad thing, as they were set up to protect American interests, and what could be more American than it's citizens.  Marcus quickly learns that at least some of their employees can be very vindictive, even towards those very Americans.

Much of this story unfolds through the use of technology.  Yes, there are laptops and cell phones, after all, it is the rare teenager that is caught without his or her accessories.  It was the use of the hacked Xbox Universal and Paranoid Linux that really got 'things' moving.   I totally enjoyed the discussions of cryptography and personal and public keys.  I had previously heard of key signing parties in business (persons flying in from around the globe to sign) but not for private correspondence.  Now if I could just find me a fashionable Faraday pouch I'd be set, or is that secure.

My favourite scene in the book had to be the vamp mob.  I can imagine the frenzy of a rush hour crowd being caught up with a thousand or more teens dressed as vampires yelling "bite, bite, bite, bite, bite."

My overall take on this book: America all started out playing a cooperative game, the objective being a country where all could live safely, freely and be happy.  After the attack on the the bridge, the DHS became an aggressor.  Each time DHS's control slipped, they cheated at the game and changed the rules.  The only way the citizens could achieve their objective was to play the game with a different approach.  No longer could they play to win, but they had to play to thwart this new opponent so he couldn't win.  The average citizen had to play the game such that they could make the cheaters rules work against them.

I listened to the unabridged audio version of this book.  It was read by Kirby Heyborne.  11 hours 54 minutes.  From Listening Library at Random House.  After finishing listening, I ordered two hardbound copies, one for my bookshelf and one to lend.  I then listened to the complete audio book for a second time.

Be sure to check out author Cory Doctorow's site for information on his other works.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Needlework Tuesday:Starting a Stocking

 Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
 Last night I finished my fifth stitch for Grandma Coco's Papa Bear Sampler Scarf.  The stitch is called Basket Rib 1.  This was a new one to me, but very straight forward.  Lots of 'slip stitch purl ways' which isn't difficult by any means.  Due to the slipped stitches, this is a slightly more firm knit.  Pattern six is up now for those following along.

Since I am in a knitting frame of mind, I thought it was about time to get started on a Christmas Stocking for my daughter.  I have been finding it rather embarrassing that my kids have store bought stockings.  This year it must change.  I found a skein of Briggs and Little Heritage weight in gold.  Am going to knit it in 5.5mm needles and use a sock stitch pattern called Diamonds and Lace from Knitting circles around Socks.    The stocking pattern itself is from a kit I bought way back.  Unfortunately it doesn't have a publisher or company name on it.  Since I haven't started, I don't have any photos.
Finished two more pair of boxers.  Obviously these are for daughter.  Son wouldn't be caught in the same room with these beauties.  They are the same size, but the camera angle makes them different.  Three more pairs to go in this batch.
As you can imagine, I need a new project just as much as I need a new hole in my head.  Red Heart Yarn has started their latest Crochet-Along today.  They are hooking that wonderful snow flake afghan that I made for my niece last year.  I hooked hers in the colour suggested in the pattern, though for myself, I am making  mine a touch more colourful.  If you decide to make this project, I recommend purchasing more than the suggested 5 balls of variegated.  I used at least 6 balls and might even have started into the 7th.  I sent these corrections to Red Heart, but they chose not to make note of them.

Tami at Just One More Thing...  is joining with me this week and also working on a stocking.  Be sure to drop by and encourage her.  I'm not big on doing cross stitch as I am so slow, so I will be eagerly watching her progress.

Sherrie over at Just Books is working on her ripple stitch afghan.  Love the use of the variegated yarn.

I made my first stocking when I was in a girls group at my church.  I think I might have been ten.  It still make an appearance each year, though it is small and barely anything fits in it.  Mrs. Claus managed to find items that would fit in it every year.  I'll have to search it out and share it here.  It is starting to show it's age, and has lost some beads.  Perhaps this is the year to fix it up a bit.  Have you made stocking for the holidays?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, 7 October 2011

First Nations Friday: The Bootlegger Blues: A Play by Drew Hayden Taylor

If you have picked up a copy of this play, then get ready to laugh.

Martha followed the advice of a fellow committee member regarding the the amount of beverages to order for the church fundraiser.  Now she is stuck with 143 cases of beer she can't return.  What is a teetotaling woman to do.  Sell them, as in bootleg.  There's a small catch or two, her son is home from police college, and her daughter and son- in-law work for the band council.

This play had me laughing out loud from beginning to end.  I loved every minute.  While the play was written to be set on any reserve in Canada, I think it could also be adapted to many small communities.  I would love to see a performance of this work.  I haven't read a play in years decades and now I am wondering why.  More than likely it was the over studying of them that I did when in high school.  Fortunately author Drew Hayden Taylor has several more that I am looking forward to reading.  For a complete list, be sure to visit Drew's site (click on his name in the previous line).
Reading at the Eden Mills Writers Festival 2010

Additional works by this author:

Motorcyles and Sweetgrass 
Furious Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway: Funny You Don't Look Like One Two Three
Me Sexy  (haven't yet read)

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Recipe Thursday: French Toast Muffins

I was ready to try something totally different.  In the Fall 2011 issue of Inspired: For the Love of Good Food, I came across a recipe for French Toast Muffins.  Inspired is the food magazine of Sobeys grocery stores.  These were easy to make and the flavour will change depending on the bread you select.

I decreased the amount of vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon and added 2 extra teaspoons of milk to compensate.  I went to the extra expense of real maple syrup as it's a flavour that you can't get anywhere else.  I used frozen blueberries since that's what I had on hand.

French Toast Muffins

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp  vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
10 slices whole grain bread, cubed
1 cup frozen mixed berries
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until well combined.  Add cubed bread and toss gently until the egg mixture is absorbed.  Add berries and toss gently to combine.

2. Divide muffin mixture evenly into a greased muffin tin and drizzle with maple syrup.  Bake in the centre of a preheated 375 F over for 25 minutes.

You can eat these immediately or leave them to cool, wrap individually and store in the freezer.  To reheat, remove wrap and place in microwave on defrost for 1 minute.  If desired, drizzle with a bit more syrup before serving.  For a printable version of this recipe visit

For more recipes and food fun, come back on Saturday and click the link to Weekend Cooking which is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Needlework Tuesday - A Virtual Road Trip

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

Yesterday there was a special treasure awaiting me when I went to my mailbox.  Norman and his blankie, or more formally, Norman's Blankie by Cheryl Coville, was hiding in there.  Cheryl, also known as Grandma Coco, has written and illustrated this wonderful picture book.  It tells the story of a quilt that Norman was given as an infant.  As he grows and gets older, so does his quilt.  In fact his quilt gets rather frayed on the edges, but his mommy knows how to deal with that. 

Cheryl has donated the use of her book to Fun with Books, an organization in the counties of Leeds and Grenville (eastern Ontario) that distributes books to children in need of reading material, free of charge.  Over the seventeen years of their operations, they have delivered over a half a million books.

For further information and images from this story, be sure to visit with Cheryl at her blog The Kingdom of Coco.  She also tells you how you can order your own copy of Norman's Blankie.

During my virtual stroll this week, I stopped in at The Knit Cafe.  They have an amazing window display that you really shouldn't miss.  They are featuring a wonderful and ecclectic display of knit owls overseen by a knit skeleton.

Now back to The Kingdom of Coco.  For the past few weeks I have been telling you about the wonderful sampler scarf that Cheryl is working on.  I made a concerted effort this week to get caught up, and yes, I did it.

Week 2

Waffle Stitch - this went quite well, no tricks required.
Week 3

Broken Rib Diagonal Stitch.  This was a new one to me.  It knit up nicely, though it took me a full repeat to get the hang of it.

Week 4
Plain Diamond - I have done a variation of this one before and rather like the effect. 
The final photo shows where I am at now with the first four stitch panels complete.  All ready for stitch 5.

I am curious, did  you do any virtual strolling  to any sort of needlework shop this week?  There must be more shops out there with wonderfully decorated windows.  Be sure to add the links in the comments along with a link to your post.

Over at Rikki's Teleidoscope, Rikki has combined crochet and beading to make beautiful flower necklaces.