Thursday, December 30, 2010

Endings, Beginnings, and a Pattern!

To enable my obsession with reading, I ended 2010 with a new toy. I am now the proud owner of a Nookcolor. I love it! Young Man and I both scored them for the holidays. Young Man picked out a nice book-style cover from B&N for his. I haven't decided whether I want one of the heavenly tooled leather covers from Oberon or an easel-style for hands-free reading. Until I decide, I figured that my new toy needed a cover, so the Nook Cozy was born:

Nook Cozy
Yarn: Any worsted-weight will do. Mine is knit is a Malabrigo kettle-dyed worsted that is just lovely and soft, but way too busy for most projects.
Needles: US 8 (5mm) - I used double-pointed needles, but a 16in circular would work too.

Using Judy's Magic Cast-On (or your favorite for toe-up socks) cast on 52 stitches and join for working in the round.

Rnd 1-5: k7, p2, k8, p2, knit to end of round
Rnd 6: k7, p2, cable cross left over 8 stitches (put 4 stitches on cable needle, hold in front, k4, k4 from cable needle), p2, knit to end of round
Rnd 7-8: k7, p2, k8, p2, knit to end of round
Repeat rows 1-8 six times more (seven cable crosses in total).

Rnd 1: p9, p2tog four times (four stitches decreased), p9, knit to end of round
Rnd 2: knit
Rnd 3: bind off 22 stitches in purl, p3, k20, p3

At this point you will be working back and forth to complete the flap.
Row 1: purl
Row 2: p3, k20, p3
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until flap is approximately 1 1/2 inches long (I did five more repeats), repeat row 1 one more time.
Buttonhole rows:
Row 1: p3, k9, bind off 2 stitches, k9, p3
Row 2: p12, cast on 2 stitches, p12

Garter stitch edge:
Purl 2 rows and bind off in purl.
Weave in ends and add a decorative button over the top cable cross.

Credits: I used parts from both of these eReader sleeve patterns: Kindle Pocket and Cabled Kindle Sleeve.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Witchy Hunts

The CrucibleThe Crucible by Arthur Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a much quicker read than my days reading would indicate. Life has certainly kept me away from books! This one was very good. While it is a stylized version of the Salem witch trials, it was also a review of the McCarthy-era Communist witch hunts. There were so many parallels that I can see that the topic was just too good for Miller to pass up. There are also some parallels to current events of today that many would do well to note. It is far too easy to take a little heresay and comments made from those with axes to grind and condemn innocents.

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Go Another Round with Lisbeth

The Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! That's not a particularly insightful review, but it was exactly what I said after I finished this book. I should probably amend that to say, after I dropped everything that "should" have been done and finished this book. As much as I enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, I enjoyed this second book much, much more. The first book took almost 300 pages before I was fully engaged. This second book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go. Larsson's style is like nothing else I have read. It is stark and completely reporter-like, but gives everything I need for the story. Lisbeth is a completely messed up character, but much of that mess is understandable after reading this book. Of course, now I am having a horrible time restraining myself from buying and starting the third book. I am again saddened that Stieg Larsson is no longer with us to grace us with more books.

Seriously, if you have read the first book in this series, what are you waiting for? You will like this one even more!

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Back in Time

Grave Goods (Mistress of the Art of Death, #3)Grave Goods by Ariana Franklin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Mistress of the Art of Death series and I enjoyed it much more than the second. Adelia can be a bit much, but I do like the idea that there were strong, educated women even in Henry II's day. There is less of the the Adelia-Rowley romantic tension in this one and that is probably why I liked it more than the second book. The mystery this time is also better. In this trip through time Adelia is trying to determine whether a dying monk's vision was indeed Arthur and she is trying to find the dear Emma from the second book who has disappeared. The ends get mostly tied up at the close and Ms. Franklin again does her best to promote Henry II as more than just the king who called for the death of a bishop.

Ariana Franklin (a.k.a Diana Norman) did another wonderful job of fitting in her story more or less with historical fact. Yes, she did bend a few dates, but I forgive that for the sake of the story. I also very much enjoy her writing style. Of course, slipping in the first chapter of the fourth book was a nasty trick. I stayed up much later than I should have and now I need to get another book! Yes, it is an effective device.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rincewind Returns!

Eric (Discworld, #9)Eric by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read several reviews and comments that indicated that many readers didn't particularly like this romp through Discworld. While it wasn't my favorite of the Discworld books (hey, this was only my seventh), it wasn't bad at all. First of all, it answered (mostly) the question of how Rincewind came back after Sourcery. Next, it featured The Luggage nicely. Third, there were bemused and befuddled demons. How could any of that be awful? Learning that Hell is much like business caught me slightly off guard, but didn't particularly surprise me. All in all, this was a very nice diversion.

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Just Because...

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Hope for a Troubled Teen

WillowWillow by Julia Hoban

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading this one I had to remind myself that I am not the target audience. This book was definitely meant for young people, um, a few years younger than I am. For someone my age, the character development and plot were a bit shallow. However, when I was, um, a few years younger, this book would definitely have been one I would have read. It hasn't been so many years ago that I was a teen and I do still remember the confusion and absolute certainty I felt about many ideas that later turned out to be completely wrong. It is always hard to predict how others will react to you and when you throw in some extra-tough circumstances, the predictions go completely awry. Willow is a teen who was behind the wheel when her parents' car went out of control and both of her parents died in a horrible accident. That Willow would then blame herself is believeable, as is her certainty that everyone else blames her as well. Her reaching for something to get her through this is understandable and many girls do end up cutting. The resolution of her pain was certainly easier than it would be in real life. Still, seeing that there is a way forward would give the intended audience for this book one thing they really need: Hope. And, really, that is what is important.

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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Not About Rodents

Of Mice and MenOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It had been some time since I last read a work by Steinbeck. I had forgotten how well-crafted his writing is. Every word is carefully chosen and every sentence is molded to fit perfectly into the story. That said, I had also forgotten that there are no happy endings in a Steinbeck work. So much emotion is ever-so-barely contained in these 103 pages. Is there hope remaining at the end? Perhaps, but it is not the hope that we have come to expect in current popular literature. There is a reason that some works are classics.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Words From the Past

Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (Bloom's Guides)Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried by Harold Bloom

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is a challenging read. It dips you in and out of the Vietnam War without warning and without the glossy, neat coating that some war stories give you. There is no moral, as there wouldn't be in real war story. This is one of the few in your face lessons from the author. In one sense, this is his therapy to process what he saw and did, but in another, it is ours. When I picked this book up I realized that I have only read a few books from the Vietnam War. I have ready many WWII and Cold War books, but not many that tell what appears to be the truth about Vietnam. No, this isn't a deep, historical or philosophical essay. O'Brien leaves the big picture to others and writes what he knows. It was at times gut-wrenching and at times deliberately confused. In other words, it was very, very real.

This is part of my current reading series taking me through my son's reading list for this school year. I know that we will have many conversations about this one. I have already warned him and will warn the rest of you to plan on reading this one during the daylight. Be careful! There are monsters and nightmares in this book.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Swayed Logic

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational BehaviorSway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is a fair amount of correlation hiding here and sometimes it is claimed to be causality (yes, this is a peeve of mine), but the book is still an interesting read. This book is definitely thought-provoking and does, indeed, help in the understanding of why we do some of the stupid things that we do.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rounding the Disc

Sourcery (Discworld, #5)Sourcery by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another wonderful romp through Discworld! This version is particularly appealing if you like Rincewind and the Librarian (and who doesn't?). The Luggage also makes a significant appearance. As with all of Pratchett's novels that I have read, there really isn't any way to describe the plot. Still, I liked this one very much and laughed out loud several times.

Before reading this one, you probably should have read Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic just to be familiar with the main characters. I won't say that it will be more meaningful having read those books, but you will be somewhat less confused. You will also have had a jolly good time!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Powerful Books for Teens and Former Teens

Mockingjay (Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This is definitely not your average young adult series! The plot is intense and the violence far more graphic and widespread than you would expect for the intended audience. I have to agree with most of the reviews of this book that I have read that this was the weakest of the three. After dealing with the Katniss is unconscious, let's fill everyone in device for the third or fourth time I was getting annoyed. My suspicion is that Ms. Collins had more material than would fit into a single book, but not quite enough plot to stretch into a fourth book. Hence, the somewhat artificial plot device to keep things moving. Over at the blog Through the Tollbooth, there is a series of articles on making your writing believable. Do I really believe that Katniss could unite a country? Probably not. But when I was 17, I certainly wanted to be able to influence people and be strong for everyone around me. Maybe that is good enough.

I will continue to rave about this series and recommend it to others. That recommendation comes with the caveat that some portions of the books (especially this one) shouldn't be read just before bedtime if you are a sensitive reader and this really isn't a young, young adult book.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Re-Visiting an Old Companion

Presumed InnocentPresumed Innocent by Scott Turow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my second time reading this book. I read it back in the late 80s/early 90s when I was doing a lot of traveling and this was exactly the sort of book that could suck me in and make those cross-country flights tolerable. The second time was nearly as good as the first. I was a bit concerned that knowing whodunnit would detract from my reading pleasure, but I found that not to be the case. Knowing the ending actually freed me to enjoy more of the writing style and see how the plot was set up.

If you haven't read this (or seen the movie), the premise is that Rusty Sabich, Chief Deputy PA for Kindle County, is investigating the murder of the woman with whom he had an affair only to become the prime suspect and be put on trial for the murder. The twists and turns leave you wondering all the way to the end (and maybe even after) whether or not he did it. All in all, it is still an engaging read and holds up well 23 years after its debut. I am now looking forward to the sequel, Innocent!

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Reads to Savor or Reads to Swallow Whole?

The Lovely BonesThe Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yes, I really read this book in two days. The real story is that I read the first chapter on Sunday evening and then finished the book Monday evening. Starting this book in the evening was definitely a tactical error. The murder occurs in the first chapter and it is really hard to read. I ended up sleeping poorly that first evening because I was trying so hard to not think about what I had just read. At that point I decided to read the entire book in one gulp. I knew that I would not be able to sneak up on this one.

Ms. Sebold's writing is very good. I am definitely impressed with her skill. However, some of her narrative did finally get to me. I found the chapters near the end too hard to believe. I also wasn't sure that Susie's "fall to earth" really fit with the story. It seemed too easy and nothing else about this book was easy. There must have been another way to wrap this up without giving two characters what they really wanted, since the theme of the book seemed to be that no one gets what he or she wants and life isn't fair or even reasonable.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wizards and Werewolves, Oh, My!

Fool Moon (The Dresden Files, #2) Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I finished the first book of The Dresden Files, I liked it and thought that I might read another sometime, but I wasn't sure. Then a friend sent me an email: "They get better." Hmmmm. That was enough for me to pick up the second book, but not quite enough to dive into it. The book aged nicely on my bookshelf for several years. This week I was starting to contemplate vacation reading for the summer and picked this one up. Instead of packing it, I cracked it open. I can now state definitely that my friend was right! Book two is much better than book one!

If you aren't familiar with Harry, he is a wizard. Not jus any wizard, mind you. He is the only practicing wizard in Chicago. His services are for hire by most callers. In particular, the Special Investigations unit of the Chicago PD employs Harry to assist in certain odd cases. In this missive we find Harry facing werewolves. We also learn that there are many different types of werewolves and, well, they are all pretty nasty. There is a bit of magic and mayhem and poor Harry comes out of it battered and bruised. Oh, please, that isn't a spoiler, there are 12 of these books in print and a 13th coming next year, so it is no surprise that Harry lives at the end. Even knowing that tiny bit of knowledge doesn't help the reader figure out how he is going to get past packs of the beasties that keep popping up all over Chicago.

I never should have doubted my friend and I will definitely pick up more of this series to read in the near future.

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In case anyone is wondering, I have turned off comments. I did not appreciate the effort that some folks were going through to add comments that linked to odd, Asian sites with pictures of scantily-clad girls. Grow up!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Abigail Adams, One of My Heroes

Abigail Adams: A Life Abigail Adams: A Life by Woody Holton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Biographer Woody Holton is definitely an Abigail Adams fan. This is a good thing, because if he were not a fan, he never would have waded through the Massachusetts Historical Society archives to prepare this book. He also did a very good job of bringing the second First Lady to life. Unfortunately, being a fan also means that some of his writing was very close to fawning over Mrs. Adams. I do understand this as I have long been an admirer of her myself. Still, the writing did drag at times and there were many chapters that could have used more work. Historical works do not need to be constantly thrilling, but they can be consistently engaging. If you don't believe me, please read Cokie Roberts' book Founding Mothers or 1776 by David McCullough). Holton isn't in their league, but he does show promise.

I learned much about Mrs. Adams that I did not previously know. Now I have to come to terms with my own biases since I have learned that she was, after all, human. I am still very impressed with all that she was able to accomplish and grateful that Woody Holton reintroduced me to a true Founding Mother.

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Steampunk Steampunk by Ann VanderMeer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As with all anthologies, every selection can't possibly satisfy every reader. Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this collection. I fully expected to enjoy the Neil Stephenson selection and I was not disappointed. I could have done without Joe Lansdale's "The Steam Man of the Praire and the Dark Rider Get Down," but I was thrilled with Mary Gentle's "A Sun In the Attic," Molly Brown's "The Selene Gardening Society" and Stepan Chapman's "Minutes of the Last Meeting." Even Michael Chabon's "The Martian Agent" left me wanting more and I have never been a Chabon fan. I have already picked up one of Gentle's novels and look forward to finding more fun reads in this genre.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tripping the Light

One fine day, I took my son to a local sporting goods store (what? isn't that where everyone spends her disposable income?) and needed something to clear my mind so we went next door to the dreadful chain book store (only dreadful because it, too, gets a large chunk of my disposable income). Wandering through the stacks just reminded me how very many books I already had waiting for me. Then I saw the Terry Pratchett books. Of course! I needed a break. This was the perfect change of gears.

The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2) The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Seriously, what can anyone say about a Discworld book? This one is another delightful romp with Rincewind and Twoflowers. Life on Discworld is perfectly warped and ready for you to lose yourself. Just give in and enjoy! Oh, and watch out for DEATH. He may need a fourth for Bridge.

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As I was finishing the book, I took up needles and yarn and ended up with a fun shawl that just seems like it is made up the colors of Discworld.

Project: The Wisp Fantastic
Pattern: Wisp
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock
Needles: US 10 1/2

Notes: At a recent knit night, one of the women brought her new interpretation of Wisp. While looking through Ravelry, I found a version done in Noro sock yarn and just had to follow suit. This is a very quick and fun knit. I did add buttons and need to have another photo shoot, but this will have to do for now.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for April 6
or, where I return from the the craziness and attempt to reclaim my blog...

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each tuesday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us. (Thanks, Marguerite!)

Outside my window... I watched children play and heard laughter while Young Man entertained the neighbor's daughter.

I am thinking... the very long list of things that needs to be done around the hours and at the office.

I am thankful for... a son who still enjoys snuggling with his mother while reading or watching a movie.

I am wearing... my new CAbI clothes, jeans, tee, soft, white hoodie.

I am remembering... that I need to get up earlier tomorrow to get to the meetings of the day.

I am creating... a Melon Pattern lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today. As a departure from my usual penchant to modify every pattern I knit, I am knitting the scarf from the cover of the book in the called for yarn. What can I say? I liked this one just as it was.

I am going... to go to bed as soon as I post.

I am currently reading... Abigail Adams, by Woody Holton. I've been reading this on and off since December. I do like the book and I adore Abigail, but I keep getting interrupted by other books that need my attention.

I am hoping... that my big meeting tomorrow doesn't take its full allotted time.

On my mind... too many things (not a very simple thought, sorry).

Noticing that... Young Man remembered to pick up his Clementine peel, but left his plate.

From the kitchen... we had the last of the yummy pork loin roast and I baked snickerdoodles when the cookie dough order was delivered.

Around the house... things are looking a bit neater after some effort this weekend. Our taxes are filed. Young Man wants us to put in a garden so he and Mr. Engineer have started digging up the raised bed. Young Man did his best to channel Tom Sawyer as he tried to engage the neighbor children to help dig. That scheme didn't work out quite as planned.

No pictures tonight. It is time for bed!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Booking Through Thursday - Winter Reading

The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now... So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch ... what kind of reading do you want to do?

Well, it is hardly cold and wintry here in Southern California, but this Minnesota girl does remember those days. Why do you think I moved? When it is nasty outside, and I am barricaded in the house with a mug of hot cocoa and a book, I want something that takes me away. A mystery might be good, but some mysteries just aren't. Mostly, I want a setting that is so well-described that it jumps off the page and makes me forget about what is going on outside the windows. The young adult book that I just started, The Hunger Games, seems to have that magic. I know that the plot is going to get very dark, but I can't stop myself from reading the next chapter. Then again, the book that I just finished was good, but it didn't quite grab me strongly enough to keep out the chill.

An Unsuitable Job For A Woman (Cordelia Gray, #1) An Unsuitable Job For A Woman by P.D. James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this one for my book club and it took me a little to like Cordelia or maybe it was that it took me a while to get comfortable with author P.D. James' style. Eventually, I settled in and enjoyed myself. As with all mysteries, the main discriminator for me is whether or not I guessed whodunit before the great reveal. In this case, I figured out part of the mystery, but not all of it. That was good. Still, there were a great many things I did figure out before the end and there were a number of details that didn't seem necessary. Some were and others were red herrings. One thing that I found quite interesting was that I found it difficult to guess the time period. Obviously, it is a modern story, but there weren't too many references that would pin the story to a particular decade. All in all, it was an enjoyable read, but I'm not sure that I'm interested in digging into another in the series.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

It's a Year of Lace

Last year I overdosed on sweaters. This year is a year for working through my lace stash. Over on Ravelry I joined the 10 Shawls in 2010 group and am working away on my 10. I think I have laceweight stash to get me through at least the first 8 and I definitely have sock yarn that would work for the other two. The rules are simple. Each shawl has to use at least 250m of yarn and 2 of the 10 must use at least 500m. The shawls can be any shape, but they must be started and finished within the calendar year 2010. Piece of cake! My first shawl of the year is already complete.

Project: Feather Duster, by Susan Lawrence
Yarn: Schulana Kid Seta Lux (293m used by weight = 321 yards)
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm)
Start/Finish: 2 Jan 2010 - 15 Jan 2010
Notes: The yarn was a complete impulse buy just after Thanksgiving. Two balls of this lovely gray with silver thread jumped into my basket and begged to come home with me. This yarn is similar to Kid Silk Haze (a.k.a. crack). It is light and airy and just plain fun to use. It is an absolute bear to unknit so I was very glad that I made few errors (that I caught and needed to repair). The pattern was one that I had loved ever since Susan first posted it. After I bought the yarn and decided that it would be perfect for this pattern, Susan made the generous gesture of offering donations to the Red Scarf Project for purchases of her patterns during a certain timeframe that happened to coincide perfectly with the time when I decided to buy the pattern! See, it was charity! In any case, I got a great (and well-written) pattern, a worthy cause got a donation, and I ended up with a beautiful shawl. Obviously, I was the big winner this time. Originally, I planned to knit this for holiday garb. As it turned out, I didn't go anywhere to need something like this and felt too rotten to knit then. So, again, fate worked in my favor and I didn't cast on until after the first of the year.

After all that good luck, I very nearly messed up the blocking. Most of the shawls I have knit have very sharp points on the lower edge. I initially blocked this one with points and then wondered what was wrong. It didn't dawn on my until I was in bed that night that I had blocked it incorrectly. Of course, I couldn't sleep until I got up and fixed it! Sometimes obsession is no fun at all.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Sky in SoCal

Yes, we are lucky. This was the view as we drove to Irvine Spectrum for a day of wandering, eating, and a movie (The Blind Side is great!).

This is a view of Saddleback. We don't usually see snow this low, but his week's rain was good for something.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Storm Watch!

Yes, Southern California is all worked up because we are expecting a REALLY BIG STORM. Okay, so the weather forecasters finally have something to do besides tell us that tomorrow will be just like today. As I type, it is actually raining. The rain isn't very hard and hasn't left enough water to really run anywhere, but we are getting a nice soaking. So, what do we do when it rains? Well, I try to stay of the roads when possible. Unfortunately, I do have to go to work on Monday. I figured it was a good day to mix up a big pot of Chili.

So, as a thank you to my friend Jo, whose Corn Chowder recipe was such a hit that Young Man not only drained his first bowl, he requested leftover chowder instead of going out for dinner on Friday!

Engineer's Diner Chili

Put the following into a big pan (5-quart or bigger):

1 pound lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic (or 1/4-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder if you are out of fresh)
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped

Cook and stir over medium heat. Stir to break up the meet. Cook until onion is soft and meat has lost its pink color. Drain off most of the fat.

Add lots more good stuff:
6 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups crushed or chopped tomatoes (I use canned and dump in all the liquid)
1-2 cans of whatever beans you want (optional) - This batch uses a can of Chili Beans and a can of Red Beans. We also like Black Beans or even Kidney Beans
2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional - hey, if a small sprinkling of sugar means the 12 year old will gobble this up, I'm game).

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for an hour or so or until you can't stand it any more and must dish it up because the house smells so good. We serve it with cornbread. Most of the time I just make the basic cornbread recipe that comes on the box of cornmeal, but lately we have become hooked on fancier fare.

Mr. Engineer's Phenomenal Cornbread
Lube up a 9x9 or 8x8 square baking pan with whatever you prefer (spray lube, butter, etc.)
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups corn meal (white or yellow)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup brown sugar

When the dry ingredients are all mixed, dump in the wet ingredients:
1 can (14-15 ounce) cream style corn
1/3 cup oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, or Mexican blend) - optional

Mix lightly just until moistened (do not overmix quick breads!).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

I really wish I had photos from Young Man's game yesterday, but it was a night game ane I just can't seem to get decent pictures under the lights. It was a fun game for us. Young Man's team won 14-1. While it was a great boost to their egos (and a fun way to start the season), I'm sure future opponents won't be so easily defeated. What was really fun to watch was the way the boys played together as a team. Over the years we parents have waited for this moment. We all knew that our boys had skill and we saw glimmers of working together, but this really was the first time that almost every boy seemed willing to work together and achieve assists instead of individual goals. The results of this teamwork were obvious - field domination. Young Man and his fellow defensemen had some good plays, but most of the action was near the opponent's goal. Next weekend is an afternoon game and I will have my camera charged and ready!

As a consolation prize, I give you two books for your reading pleasure.

A Single Shard A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was assigned to my son for his 7th grade history class. I knew his teacher was onto something when I picked up the book after work on Friday and he was finished with it before 10:45 a.m. Saturday! Any book that was assigned for a class yet still keeps a 12-year old off the video games must be a winner! Of course, this book was already the winner of the Newbery medal in 2002.

This is the story of Tree Ear, orphan, outcast, but a young man well raised by another outcast, Crane-man, in 13th century Korea. While it is ostensibly a story about a potter's assistant, there is far more to the story than that. Linda Sue Park did an excellent job of weaving in historical details that are sharp enough to stick in a young mind. She also adds many moral lessons that help to mold young minds much as Tree Ear hopes to mold clay.

Teachers and parents, don't miss this one!

Fleece Navidad (Knitting Mystery, Book 6) Fleece Navidad by Maggie Sefton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yes, more "popcorn" reading. I admit that I like the break that Maggie Sefton's Knitting Mysteries provide. As with all the others, I figured out whodunit long before the last potluck, but I didn't really care. This one had some elements that seemed a little less polished than some of the other books. While it was about time that Kelly and Steve got together, the increased sexual innuendo really didn't thrill me.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday Sky

Don't hate me because I'm warm.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Happy New Year?

Mr. Engineer and I started the new year off with colds and his turned into a sinus infection. Now I am sitting here feeling the pain killer wear off from the two ancient fillings that I had replaced today. 2010 is not starting out that well for us. Hopefully it will improve from here.

As a start, let's get back into the Booking Through Thursday routine, shall we?

What books did you get for Christmas (or whichever holiday you may have celebrated last month)?
Do you usually ask for books on gift-giving occasions or do you prefer to buy them yourself?

Ooooo! I like these questions! I received a few books this year and I made sure that Mr. Engineer received a few that I also wanted. Is it poor form to give your partner books that you want to borrow? Perhaps, but we do it anyway. Here are the books I received this year:

Abigail Adams, by Woody Holton
Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook, by Mary Anne Dragan
Steampunk, edited by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer
The Black Book of Secrets, by F.E. Higgins

The first two were purchases I made in my role as Santa and the second two were my gifts from my book club's secret gift exchange. They were on my short list of books that I wanted. Yes, I do request books and I buy them myself. My sister and her husband set a budget and then go to the bookstore together. Quite efficient.

Here are the books that Mr. Engineer received from me that I will be borrowing:
Superfreakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
And Another Thing..., by Eoin Colfer (the sixth book in Douglas Adams' trilogy)
Good Eats: The Early Years, by Alton Brown
Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, by Kevin Zraly

Young Man didn't miss out either, but he has already read all the books he received under the tree and in his stocking! I guess I can't complain if he will stop playing video games to read. Here are the books he received:
Bone: The Complete Cartoon Epic in One Volume (Vol 1), by Jeff Smith (actually, we returned this version and bought the individual books because the color versions really are nicer and the big volume was too big to read in bed)
Castle of Llyr, by Lloyd Alexander (book 3 in the Chronicles of Prydain series)