Bits and Bites

I’m lazy and tired and have WAY too many things to do, so here’s a short list of things that you might want to know.

  • Kitten has renamed Nybbles.  She’s now called “Moses”.  Don’t ask me why, but it is what it is.  Also, Kitten has learned how to make that “pssss psss pssss” noise and rub her fingers together when she wants the cats to come to her!  It’s hilarious.  “Moses” usually ignores her, but Tych has been known to come on the occassion (depending on how much love he’s received lately). 
  • I’ve still bee knitting like I have lost my brain.  Here are some of my most current items:

I did a set of three pairs of shorties for a wonderful lady on Cloth Diaper Nation. Here they are (please excuse the terrible photography in the first picture)

RoxyRocks Shorties

RoxyRocks Shorties

RoxyRocks Shorties

I also had time to crank out a skirtie for Kitten. I really love it, even though it took nearly 12 oz of wool (that’s a lot) and a zillion hours to do!

Kitten in her new skirt

  • My site was hacked.  It was kind of funny, but I’m just grateful that they didn’t do anything malicious… like corrupting my files and such.  So I’m doing a backup again today, and trying to figure out how to change my ftp password.  It’s lame right now, so I want to make sure it’s more secure in the future.  It’s possible that they guy just hacked everyone on the server… but I’d like to be a little responsible for my own security, you know?  Anyway, I have high hopes of moving my blog hosting to our server, but Rob isn’t sure if  it will slow my blog down and such.  But if it loads in half a second or one second… does it really matter?  I assume that *most* people use a feed-reader, anyway, so they’re not really loading my site as it is. 
  • Our air conditioner is on the fritz.  Some days it works, and others NOT AT ALL.  Apparently I am now a big spoiled baby because the heat makes me CRANKY.  Which sucks.  We have a repair guy coming tomorrow, and it’s been working *ok* (but not as efficiently as I think it could be), but when you buy something new, you don’t expect it to break barely a year after you’ve bought it, you know?
  • Also broken:  My washing machine.  Although not unusable, it makes a really loud squeaking noise… some times.  I originally thought that I had destroyed it by using too much soap, but the squeaking comes and goes, and happens when the drum is pushed on (we have a front-loader).  So… I’m using it until the it squeaks all the time and then we’ll have the repair guy out to look at it.  I don’t want to use it into the ground (and then buy a snookem new one)… or do I?  I have my eye on the LG fancypants one.  But in white, because we’re not replacing our perfectly good dryer.
  • We’re on week 4 of our homeschooling, and thing seem to be going ok.  How do I judge it?  I mean, Kitten doesn’t learn and use her vocabulary word every week (seriously, how do you work “vines” into every day conversation, other than “Hey kid, go get me a glass of Wild Vines Wine out of the fridge?”), nor does she always remember the sign language sign for the week (but “cat” was a hit, and she totally knows that one!!!), but she DOES remember shapes, colours, letters and numbers.  So I guess that’s better than nothing.  This week the topic is eyes and the vocab word is “iris”, so I try to talk about “mommy’s iris’ are blue, auntie’s iris’ are brown” after explaining what an iris is (the coloured part of your eye).  We try to review our learning poster every day to help with retention, but I don’t know if what I’m doing is “right”, you know?  Regardless, it helps me to interact with her a little more and helps me to plan pointed activities, rather that just letting her play independantly all day long. 
  • We had AWFUL ammonia stink in our diapers.  Probably a mixture of detergent and mineral build-up.  I finally found some RLR locally (Sobeys!  WOOT!), so I have officially stripped all of Kitten’s diapers and they are so soft and sweet smelling now.  Hopefully I won’t have to worry about that again any time soon.  However, I’ve decided to strip our microfiber because it’s all so dingy and gets smelly fast, so there must be yuck in there still.  First I have to catch up on some regular laundry.  I am so tired of doing laundry.  ::sigh::
  • I haven’t talked about Jamie Oliver in a long time (I know, what’s wrong with me?), but I recently bought his new book “Jamie’s Food Revolution”.  It’s a recipe book where the whole idea is to learn a handful of simple but tasty recipes and to teach them to your friends.  Then your friends teach them to their friends, and so on.  That way, everyone’s learning how to cook a few great meals and eating less take-out, which is ALWAYS a good thing.  Now, some people don’t need cooking lessons (I’m looking at you, Hanna), but for the rest of us who get stuck in the same rut all the time (spagetti, pancakes, KD, that was typical around here!) it’s great to be able to plan out a week of exciting different foods.  I especially love his curries section (mmm!  Curry!) and stir frys.  If you have a chance to even just peek at the book, it’s SO PRETTY!  I think I pet it for like, four days, before I started to cook out of it. 
  • I’ve started using the Oil Cleansing Method for facial care.   I still get terrible acne and there doesn’t seem to be anything that is helping it.  Plus, I am STILL struggling to find a good moistuizer.  So, the premise of this method is that you mix castor oil (plant based, aparently magical) with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and rub it into your skin.  Then you use a very hot, wet cloth and hold it over your face, then gently swoop the oil off, rinsing the cloth a lot.  I used it last night at the sink and this morning in the shower.  The sink method works better, because you’re not sweating in the shower (or is that only me?).  I liked how smooth my face felt after, and especially how that always dry and flaky patch between my eyebrows was just normal skin (although I could still see my angry elevens).  I don’t really need to use a moisturizer after doing this, and I liked that part best of all! 🙂  I’ll let you know how it all continues, especially during the hormonal acne I get during my period! 

Anywhoodle.  I think I’m going to go knit – I have one more skirtie custom to do and then I have a break to knit my own things.  I have oh-so-many things to knit.  Like a tank top for myself, a halter dress for Kitten, my winter cowl, a church shawl for myself… Lots of things.

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Tuck by Stephen Lawhead

I can’t believe it is tour time already.  It really snuck up on me this time.  We’re looking at Tuck by Stephen R. Lawhead

From Amazon:

King Raven has brought hope to the oppressed people of Wales–and fear to their Norman overlords. Along the way Friar Tuck has been the stalwart supporter of King Raven–bringing him much-needed guidance, wit, and faithful companionship.

Filled with unforgettable characters, breathtaking suspense, and rousing battle scenes, Stephen R. Lawhead’s masterful retelling of the Robin Hood legend reaches its stunning conclusion in Tuck. Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Lawhead’s trilogy conjures up an ancient past while holding a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood.

Deceived by the self-serving King William and hunted by the treacherous Abbot Hugo and Sheriff de Glanville, Rhi Bran is forced to take matters into his own hands as King Raven. Aided by Tuck and his small but determined band of forest-dwelling outlaws, he ignites a rebellion that spreads through the Welsh valleys, forcing the wily monarch to marshal his army and march against little Elfael.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the thought that everything that Lawhead touches is golden, he is definitely a talented author and this book will not disappoint. 

This should definitely be on your to-read list if you like Robin Hood (the legent) and have read the previous two books in the series: Hood and Scarlet. 

 

Don’t forget, there are lost of other people talking about this book!
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Epic Rat
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Blaggard's Moon Part 2

To be honest, the cover of this book doesn’t inspire me, not in the slightest.  The cover is so boring.  It’s a giant moon over top the water, with what looks like a toy boat sillohette.  It’s a very obvious photo manipulation, and it’s not terrible… but it’s certainly not interesting.

Whatever happened to the days of cover art?  Why are the majority of publishers going with plane jane photo manipulations?  I understand that it’s cheap, and that they can probably get their graphic designer to whip it up in about an hour… but I’m so tired of seeing it!  Even the back cover of this book is more interesting than the front!  It looks like a beat up piece of parchment (actually, it looks like it belongs to The Legend of the Firefish, which was a much nicer cover) , with a drawing of a large ship on it, with some beautiful scrollwork on it.  I mean, the front does use a nice font, and I like the little scrolly bit under the title… but that’s about it.  I just feel like Harvest House Publishers could have done a much better job with this one. 

Or maybe I’m just not the target market – Kitten loves this book and talks about the moon and the boat every time she sees it.  She brings it to me and says “MOOOOOON!!!  BOAT!!!” every time.  Sometimes, she’ll come in to my room when I’m sleeping and try to give me the book to read.  So I suppose there is some appeal, I guess I would have liked it better had it been an illustrated moon and boat than this photo manipulation.

The inside of the book is nicely done.  It has little wheels near the numbers, with a tiny bit of scroll-work there as well.  The title of the chapter had a watermarked moon behind it (nice touch), and is the pretty, piratey font that is on the front of the book.  The overall layout of the pages make it really easy to read, even when your 20 month old tries to grab the book from you.

I think I would recommend this book to people who enjoy books about pirates and Christians, and especially those who have read the Trophy Chase Trilogy.

Blaggard's Moon by George Bryan Polivka

I’ve been fortunate to receive a copy of Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka.   It’s part of the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour this month, so we’re going to look at this book for a post or three.  I’m not finished reading it, so I can’t give you my “final thoughts”, but I will tell you that thus far, at half-ways point, it’s pretty darn good. 

Blaggard’s Moon is a high seas adventure, told with an interesting twist.  We find Smith Delaney (of Trophy Chase Trilogy fame) awaiting certain death, but recalling his life and the events that led up to his current predicament.  This is a tale of true people wronged, love gone awry, greed and sacrifice.  Delaney must face himself, and God, before the end. 

Like I said, I’m about half way in.  I haven’t read any further in the Trophy Chase Trilogy, but I have to say that The Legend of the Firefishwas a little ham-fisted in it’s effort to get you to understand the message/morale of the story.  I don’t think that the author could have been any more blunt (or preachy) to stop the story and say “look, this is what you’re supposed to understand”.  Blaggard’s Moonis a far cry from that sort of obviousness.  Perhaps it will come up in the end, but if I’ve made it this far and not been put off by it, that is a good sign.  I feel like this time Polivka wrote a story in which Christians live, but not a story about how to be a good Christian.  For me, I want my fiction to be about a story (regardless of the religious affiliation within the story), and I’ll read non-fiction if I need something about theology. 

I’m finding the characters likeable in this one.  There is a fairly strong female role in it that I enjoy reading about, although I feel slightly less interested in some of the other portions, but I am interested in seeing how the woman gets caught up with everyone else. 

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about the book right at this moment (although I would like to talk a bit about the cover art and the inside of the book tomorrow or Wednesday).  Please take a look at what some of the other people on the tour have to say! 😀

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

CSFF Blog Tour – Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet

Aloha my friends!  Poolside greetings from Hawaii!  This month we are looking at Cyndere’s Midnight, which is a really fantastic book by Jeffrey Overstreet.  This is a follow up to Auralia’s Colors, which we looked at a few months ago.

I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m really enjoying it.  I had planned on reading while Kitten slept on the plane, but SURPRISE!  She neither slept nor left my lap, so the flight wasn’t conducive to flying (not to mention the terrible turbulence).  Anyway, if I can tear myself away from VH1 (Trashality TV!  Love!) long enough, it won’t take me long to finish it!

For now, please check out the following links to meet the author and view what kind of results the book is getting on Amazon.
Cyndere’s Midnight


Jeffrey Overstreet’s Web site

Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog


Jeffrey Overstreet at Facebook

CSFF Blog Tour – Lost Genre Guild

The Lost Genre Guild is a website that promotes the Christian Speculative Fiction (generally grouping fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc. together, all coming from a Christian world view)… a genre that is not well represented in our local Christian Bookstores.  Their goal is to connect authors, readers, publicists and buyers who are all involved in Christian Speculative fiction in one way or another. 

At the website you can browse book reviews, peruse the bookshelves (which feature books by the LGG members), and access resources for both aspiring authors and fans alike.  It’s a really great website to see what is out there for Christian Speculative fiction. 

I’m not a terribly informed reader in this regard.  I don’t read a lot of Christian fiction because I don’t know where to begin (other than what comes around on this tour!).  I should probably delve a little deeper into this website to see if anything grabs my interest.  You can visit the other websites listed below to see what other, more informed, people are saying.  A number of the participants on the tour are indeed writing in this genre, and will have more in-depth and relevant things to say about the website… especially from an author or members point of view. 

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Grace Bridges
Valerie Comer
Courtney
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Lost Genre Guild
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Mirtika
Hanna Sandvig
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise

Of Calculators and Lists

I am currently reading Living on Less and Liking it More by Maxine Hancock.  There isn’t much in it that I haven’t heard before, one way or another.  However, it is a good reminder for what we should strive to be like, striving to be content rather than rich, to have love rather than things, to work together as a family rather than blaming each other for the financial woes in our lives, etc. 

She was relating a story of how one week they had no money for groceries, and very little food left in the house.  They received a small sum of money in the mail from an overpayment and a reprint of an article she had written.  They took their small amount of money to the grocery store, and spent it as wisely as they could, to get the most from what they had.  This story reminded me of our shopping trip last night.

You see, we had exactly $63 left for groceries this week.  At the beginning of the month, we spent a little more than necessary on luxury items (you know, pizza pops, cookies, that kind of stuff), as well as we had to buy a tray of beef and a tray of chicken (which was about $35 combined – meat sure does take a chunk out of the grocery fund!).  So we were left with a little less for this week.  Last night, Rob and I made a grocery list, and put on it everything we were out of or low on.  Then I pulled up the Hillybilly Housewife Low Cost Emergency Menu.  I used some of her suggestions to plan our week’s meals, but lets be honest – I don’t cook breakfast or lunch like that, so I was able to take some things off the menu and substitute it with other things.  Also, groceries cost a lot more here than they must in the States…  Flour, for example, is about $1 per kg (2.2 lbs), whereas she has it listed as $1 for 5 lbs.  I planned out our meals, added the things that we would need to our shopping list, and then looked at the list again.  I knew I had only $63 to use this week, so I had to cross off all the things that I figured that I could do without. 

It was actually a tiny bit fun to go around the grocery store and get the things that we needed for the week, and to add everything up on my calculator.  It reminded me of when I first lived on my own, and my oldest brother gave me $200 in gift certificates for a local grocery store.  I spent those gift certificates down to the penny.  I would add everything up, making sure that I got the best prices on everything.  I don’t think I’ve ever shopped so wisely as those few months with the gift certificates.  Anyway, in making sure that we knew exactly how much everything cost, we were even able to get a few things that I said that I wouldn’t (ie. butter, chocolate chips for baking).  We did sacrifice a few things (ie. I’d bake bread with the supplies I had on hand, rather than buy it), but in the end, I don’t think that any of us went without the things we needed… just the things that we wanted.  Rob didn’t buy any candy, I didn’t buy any chips or pop, and Kitten didn’t get any fancy finger foods that we really just can’t afford (and that she doesn’t need). 

I just wanted to encourage others who are finding this financial crunch time to be hard on the grocery budget to persevere, and try not to use your credit cards.  I understand how tempting it is just to put down our plastic and get the things that we’re used to.  But with a little more work, and a lot of preplanning, it’s not too hard to make do with what we can afford.  The nicest thing about paying with cash is that there is no bill the next month.  No one really wants to pay for their groceries for years on end, and why would we want to make already high grocery prices higher by paying interest on them? 

If we all share our ideas on how to save money, then each of us will have a lot of different ideas.  What are ways that you’re saving/spending money this week?