Quilting Notes

So I’d gone through all the trouble of making some windmill blocks in various greens to represent the trees in my landscape quilt, and to be honest, I just wasn’t feeling it. So, I tossed them back in the landscape fabric drawer, brought out a whole bunch of greens, and did strips instead.

I’m already massively happier with it. It’s no longer the cliff-face I’d originally envisioned, but I’m ok with that. It’s much closer to my original vision than the quilt blocks had been. Now, I just need to sew it all together…


Broken – Susan Jane Bigelow

Broken was once Silverwyng, and Silverwyng could fly. Because of that special ability (and some kickass quick healing skills), she was raised by the Extrahuman Union. But when she lost the ability to fly, she escaped the Union, and has been living on the streets, a drunk shadow of her former self.

Michael sees the future, so has always known that one day, a woman would give him her baby, and his actions would determine if that child would end up the savior of humanity, or a monster. He also knows that he needs Broken’s help to do this, and has seen the one thing that will make her help him – that if they succeed – she will fly again.

This is an interesting twist on a typical superhero story, with an additional post apocalyptical layer – definitely a different twist on that genre. It’s a quick read, partially because you really want to know what happens next.

There is a sequel, which I will be grabbing.

The Freakishly Warm Winter Garden

We’ve had a snow drought this winter. Even when it does snow, it’s maybe an inch, and it seems to be gone in a day or two. The plants up here expect that snow cover, so when it’s not around, things get a little weird.

Now, end of February, little snow, I don’t get too worried when I see the crocus popping up.

But, when you also have the chives…

garlic chives…

and daffodils joining in the fun, well, this ain’t normal, folks. Heck, they were sugaring in Vermont when we were there last weekend.

I can’t really argue with the whole thing – I actually don’t particularly like winter, even though I’ve freely chosen to live in New England – but I can’t help but think this just isn’t normal, and it does give a vague disquieted feeling. Hopefully, n0thing gets damaged by the early warm.

Cugel’s Saga – Jack Vance

This book in the Dying Earth series follows the adventures of Cugel, who was first introduced to us in The Eyes of the Overworld. Cugel’s a likeable trickster-figure – he’ll do anything to advance his way, make him money, or get him the girl.

But the real star of this book (really, the whole series) is Vance’s writing. These books are gorgeously written. You get the most incredible sense of place from this far future world of ours. And his imagination is incredible. I really do think any fan of science fiction or fantasy should read these – they’re amazing books.

Garden Notes

So this is the one thing I allowed myself to buy with my tax return this year: a composter. I went for a self contained one so I could pull it up easily if circumstances warranted. Plus, there’s just two of us, so this should be just the right size.

I’ll admit I’m excited to not be throwing away my vegetable peeling, etc. We always had a compost pile when I was growing up, and I’ve felt vaguely wrong about getting rid of that kind of thing in the trash since I’ve moved out on my own. Here’s hoping this one is successful.

The People of Sparks – Jeanne DuPrau

In this second Book of Ember, the people of the city of Ember have escaped their dying underground city, and found their way back above ground. Some long ago Disaster has wasted the land above ground, but only a few days walk away, they find the village of Sparks, where the people there have finally managed to carve a comfortable existence out of the wasted world.

The people of Sparks agree to take the Emberites in, and teach them how to survive in the world above ground, but with so many more mouths to feed, tensions arise. Lina and Doon, the heroes from the last book, must find a way to show the people of Sparks and Ember that they can, and should, learn to live together.

I’d read that the first book was the best book in the series, and I can see why people would think that. The action here isn’t quite as urgent as the first book, and it’s strangely less exciting in setting, even though it’s a post-apocalyptic landscape. Still, it’s an interesting enough story, and I will try to track down the third book of the series.

The Boggart and the Monster – Susan Cooper

In this sequel to The Boggart, Emily and Jessup are back in Scotland to visit Castle Keep, and the family’s Boggart that lives there. The Boggart is a mischievous spirit that usually attaches himself to a particular family.

While in Scotland, they decide to visit Loch Ness, and the Boggart tags along, only to find a familiar presence there. It turns out that the the Loch Ness Monster is a Boggart (the Castle Keep’s Boggart’s cousin), but he’s been sleeping at the bottom of the Loch in the shape of a monster so long, he can’t remember how to return to his natural form. And that’s a bad thing, because a scientist with sonar is making a sweep of the lake, and they’ll probably find him. It’s up to Emily and Jessup and their friends Tommy and Mr. Maconochie to help the Boggart help Nessie find his way back to his true form.

This is a neat little book – it skews a bit younger than many of Cooper’s other books (The Dark is Rising Sequence especially), which makes it a quick read. Like her other books, she offers a great flavor of the place where it’s set – I totally want to go to Scotland now…

Further Adventures in Domesicity

Well, I had my first full on canning disaster. I was really excited to use my new canner that my mother bought me for Christmas (in action above – it’s so nice and big!). I got it filled up with jars, and those sterilized, and I also got to use the new jar lifter I bought myself with part of my Christmas gift certificate spoils.

Love the new tools. The canner fits so many more jars it’ll open up another level of recipe sizes to me, and this jar lifter is way better than the one I had, that came from the Ball accessories kit. The new one is a Ball as well, but it’s got a fused edge to business end of the tongs. The cheaper one had plastic rollers, and I was never really confident lifting up smaller, empty jars with the old one. The new one works like a charm with small jars.

So anyway, inspired by the bags of blood oranges that you can currently snag at Trader Joe’s, I decided to take a stab at the Blood Orange Port Marmalade in Ellie Topp’s Complete Book of Year-Round Small Batch Preserving. It’s a really small batch, meant to make 2 cups.

It started out well. I don’t know exactly what kind of alchemical process was happening in the first step of cooking, but I swear it smelled like rose petals.

And then I added the sugar. And here’s where it went wrong. I think the pot I used was too big, with too much surface area, and I pulled it off well before it was supposed to be done, because I could tell something was wrong. But I was too late. And I got orange flavored hard candy.

At least it was a small batch. And I haven’t royally screwed up anything else yet, so I suppose I was due. I’m just bummed I didn’t actually get to process anything in my new canner.

There was a recipe on the facing page of the cookbook that made a larger batch, and also incorporates cranberries, of which I have a metric ton in my freezer, so I think I know what I can do to get back on the wagon. Now – to find the time…