Sunday, April 26, 2009


It was a pretty low-key, quiet weekend. I made jewelry, read a little, cooked, and watched the rest of Twilight, along with all of the extended content. I liked it a lot, I will definitely watch it again. It seemed to capture the book really well, and while I wasn't crazy about the casting when I first read about the movie, it kind of grew on me. I didn't start reading the book until after I'd seen promotional stories about the movie, so I think that helped, since I didn't have a pre-conceived version of the cast in my head. The only one I pictured differently, if I pictured them at all, was Charlie, Bella's father.

But all in all, I enjoyed it.

I've been trying to cook more, and to use Bob's term, utilize existing resources. He was out of town a couple of weeks ago at a friend's place at the lake, and when he did his grocery shopping he bought a whole bag of potatoes since they were on sale, and cheaper than buying individual ones. But since he was by himself, he came home with basically a whole bag of potatoes.

Last weekend we were thinking about what to cook for dinner, and, looking at the bag of potatoes, I said, "We should cook something with potatoes!" So I made scalloped potatoes. We had baked potatoes a couple of nights during the week, and tonight I made scalloped potatoes again, along with hot dogs and deviled eggs (using up the last of a dozen eggs I bought when they were on sale at Easter). Bob's friend Phil called while we were eating dinner, and said it sounded like a picnic.

Pretty much everything I cook, I just "wing," i.e., I don't really use recipes. For scalloped potatoes, I just peel and slice a few potatoes and chop up a small onion, and layer them in a casserole dish with pats of butter, sprinkle them with flour and salt, and pour milk over them. Then bake until it looks like they're done.

Deviled eggs are easy, too -- halve hardboiled eggs, scoop out the yolks, and mash them with Miracle Whip, a quarter teaspoon or so of sugar, and a drizzle of sweet pickle juice, then mound them back in the halved eggs and sprinkle with paprika.

I went outside this afternoon to take pictures of the new jewelry I made this weekend, and there was a scruffy little bird sitting on the side of a dish that I leave sitting outside with water in it for the various wildlife. I hadn't cleaned it out yet this spring, so it's full of fallen leaves and other debris, but I guess beggars can't be choosers.

I thought he would fly away the minute I stepped outside, but he didn't. I had the camera in my hand, so I turned up the zoom and took his picture, in face, I took about half a dozen pictures, and he didn't leave. I figured he must be hurt or something. I went ahead and took my pictures, and pretty soon he flew away. Just a rest stop on the journey, I guess.

I made a bunch of bracelets this weekend, and put them all up at the Etsy shop.

On a whim, I laid them all out side by side and book a picture, and it was so pretty that I made desktop wallpaper out of it. Just click on the link for the one you want, and it will open up in the browser. If you're on a Mac, you can control-click and choose "Save as desktop background." If you're on a PC, you're on your own. ;)

1280 x 960
1024 x 768
800 x 600

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I get Rob Brezsny's horoscopes in my email every week, and I usually just skim them and don't pay a lot of attention, but this one struck my imagination last night. It isn't even my sign, it's for Capricorn:

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): From an astrological point of view, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to start a band and record an album. Your creativity is waxing, your attunement with the right side of your brain is especially sweet, and you will benefit immensely from anything you do to become less of a spectator and more of a participant. To jumpstart the process, go to Wikipedia and click on "random article." That's the name of your band. Then go to and click on "random page." The last few words of the last quote on that page will be your album's title. Finally, go to and choose a photo to be your CD cover. Or, if you don't like what's there, click on the link for "Get more interesting photos for the last 7 days." (My band is Widemouth Blindcat, our album is "More Time for Dreaming," and our cover art is a spiral staircase from here:

So I did the exercise. Mine:

Band name: To Traverse Water (an opera by Tasmanian (Australian) composer Constantine Koukias)
Album name: Collecting Happiness (Quote: When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness. - Vincent Starrett)
Album Cover: This image

Apropos of nothing, my current favorite song that I forgot about for awhile: "California Stars," written by Woody Guthrie and arranged and performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco, from the album, "Mermaid Avenue."

Current favorite iPhone app: Pocket God. I had seen advertisements for it, but it didn't seem all that interesting. Then on Saturday morning I was browsing the App Store and saw that they had dropped the price to 99 cents, so I went ahead and bought it. It's actually pretty fun, and very clever. You get an endless supply of "islanders" that you drop on your island, and then torture in various ways, like dropping them in the ocean to be eaten by a shark, striking them with lightning, etc.

You can also be benevolent and give them a coconut (which usually bonks them on the head) to eat, or giving them a fishing pole so they can fish (and about half the time they catch the shark, which tows them off the island).

You can change the weather, cause the sun to set and come up, cause violent storms; at night you can call a vampire bat to bite an islander, then that islander bites all of the others. It's actually a lot of fun. With the latest update, you can name the islanders, so it sort of takes on the aspect of a voodoo doll. Completely pointless and a total time waster, but fun.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009


Books are a huge part of my life. I remember when I was in school, waking up at least an hour before I had to in the morning, so I could sit in bed and read before I had to get ready for school. There was a library within walking distance of the house where I grew up, and we could check out ten books at a time. I would walk to the library several times a week in the summer and pick out my books, and walk home carrying as many as I could.

I remember the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books that our teacher would read to us on rainy days, and I remember Harriet the Spy. I remember sitting out in our garage one summer afternoon watching over my family's garage sale, and reading Raymond Chandler. I remember walking up to the drugstore and agonizing over the paperback rack, trying to figure out which Agatha Christie novel to spend my allowance on next.

My father ordered the Happy Hollister series of books for us -- I wonder what happened to those? I read all of those, and I read all of the Nancy Drew books, and I read the aforementioned Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, all of those undoubtedly forming the love I have now for mystery novels.

I don't read nearly as much now as I used to, the time I used to spend reading I now spend on the computer. But I try to read as much as I can, and I almost always have a book of some kind with me in case I get stuck somewhere. Give me a good book and something to knit and I can stave off boredom no matter what.

When I got my first Palm Pilot, one of the first applications I installed was eReader. I was thrilled to find that I could get ebooks and read them on the device; I became a frequent visitor to Fictionwise, buying mostly short stories and magazines--science fiction mostly--because the short format seemed more suited to reading on the small screen.

When the Amazon Kindle came out, I coveted it, but there was no way I could pay nearly $400 for it. Even when the price came down to around $350, it was still way out of my price range when it wasn't something that was strictly necessary. I could read ebooks on the Palm, after all.

Then the iPhone came out and I wanted one of those, too, but I didn't really need one . . . it wasn't until the second generation ones came out, and my job changed at work, that I really did need one. And there was eReader for the iPhone, and all of the books that I had purchased at Fictionwise and could be transferred over, so now I could carry a library of a few hundred books with me on my phone. At that point I was glad that I hadn't bought a Kindle, since it would really just be another thing to carry around.

I know the screen is larger, and I'm sure the reading experience is better, but I figure it's probably not $350 better, and like I said, I don't really need something else to carry around.

And now, there's a Kindle application for the iPhone! The reading experience is pretty much the same as eReader, same size screen, after all, but the thing I really like about the Kindle app is the samples that you can get for free. I'll hear of a book that I might like to read, go find it on Amazon, and, assuming that it's available for Kindle (most recent books are), ask them to send me a free sample chapter, and I can instantly read it and see if I want to buy the book. That's huge for me -- one of the reasons I'll get books from the library rather than buy them is that I never know for sure (unless it's one of my favorite, known authors) whether it's something that I'll want to read or not.

If I get a book from the library, I can always read a chapter or two and, if I decide I don't like it, return it, with no hard feelings and no buyer's remorse. If I've bought a book, I feel compelled to finish it even if I don't care for it all that much. A sample chapter pretty much takes care of that problem.

I don't know for sure how many books I have on my iPhone right now, at least a hundred, probably more. Fictionwise runs a lot of sales, and quite often gives a 100% rebate on new titles, which is an excellent deal. They don't give you the money back, but credit it to your account, so you can buy more books for basically free. Last week I got a book from the library, "The Fallen," by Thomas Sniegoski. About halfway through the book, a paperback, there was a section of pages missing. I thought, well, I could try to request another copy from a different library, or I could see if I could find it in a bookstore, but oh heck, I just went to Fictionwise and bought it, downloaded it to my iPhone, and finished it that way.

In general, it takes me longer to read a book on eReader than it does a printed book, but I don't think that's all bad. I pay closer attention. I can't really skim. And I kind of like that. I read fewer books, but maybe I read them, and remember them, better.

I spent most of the morning today updating my Goodreads and LibraryThing lists, and then I worked on my I worked on my Amazon "A Store" for awhile. I'm trying to put up most of my favorite series books; I'm finding they're mostly paranormal mysteries, I guess that's where my interest lies lately. I read purely for enjoyment, and these books are, at least for me, a lot of fun.

I have a project in mind for knitters, and I would love it if any knitters out there would answer a short survey. Thank you!

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Monday, April 13, 2009


When I was out at my folks' yesterday for Easter lunch, I mentioned that I'd seen pictures of a baby shower that one of my nieces had held for a friend of hers, and my mother asked me how, and I had to try to explain Facebook. I said I'd also seen pictures of them with my grand-niece, and showed them the pictures on my iPhone, and we ended up looking at all kinds of pictures. My dad, especially, was so intrigued. He's always been fascinated by technology.

I stole these pictures from my niece's Facebook page:

I also showed them pictures of my second cousin and said that she had posted things about music competitions that she was in and things like that. I never really thought I'd enjoy the "micro blogging" tools like Twitter and Facebook, but it turns out that I do, very much. It's fun to use it to keep in touch with friends, and to see what everyone else is doing. Social networking online. What a concept.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009


I hadn't planned on doing anything special today, but my mom called and asked me to come out to lunch. Bob had to work today, so it was just me. We had a nice lunch, and I stayed out there a couple of hours, then came home. I normally would have stayed out there all afternoon, and maybe for dinner also, but I had a lot of stuff i wanted to accomplish today. I didn't really get a lot done, but I did make a batch of soap, and photographed and posted some new jewelry in the shop.

Bob had been using my cucumber-melon soap in the shower, and he was almost out, so I made him some more when I got home. I just made a small batch, but I thought to photograph it while I did. I've been writing some small "how to" articles at eHow, and I've wanted to do one about making melt-and-pour soap, so I can use these photos there, too.

It couldn't be simpler, really. I start out with a premade melt-and-pour base. There are several different kinds, but for this soap I used an avocado cucumber base.

You need something to use for a mold, a glass measuring cup to melt the soap in, color, and scent.

You cut the soap into pieces, pile it into the measuring cup, and melt it in the microwave. I usually set the timer for 60 seconds, take it out and stir it, then melt it for about 30 seconds more. It can take more or less, you just want to have all the chunks melted, but not boil the soap, so you need to take it slow.

Once the base is melted, add soap colorant and soap scent, or fragrance oils. In this case I'm using an already blended scent of cucumber-melon, since I already know that Bob likes it. I also used a "seafoam green" liquid colorant. Since the soap has already been colored white, any color you put in will result in a pastel color, but that's fine for this particular soap.

Then pour the soap into your mold, and that's it! If bubbles form on the top, spray with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, and they will pop. The bar in the bottom right looks odd because I waited to long to spray it and it had already formed a skin.

I'll leave the bars in the mold overnight, then in the morning I'll stick them in the freezer for ten minutes or so, then the bars will pop right out of the molds. After that, I'll probably let them dry for a couple of days before I give them to Bob to use. The longer they dry, the longer they'll last, i.e., they won't melt as quickly in water.

After I made the soap, I photographed some more jewelry that I made last week, and posted it in my Etsy shop. Most of the earrings I made were using some very cool ceramic beads that I'd had for awhile, mixed with my favorite silver discs. There are some things that I find that I love, and buy a lot of, and those silver discs are one of those things. I love them.

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