Friday, December 26, 2014

Photo Challenge December

We're heading out to SoCal today, so I thought I'd post the best of December's Photo Challenge pics now. I hope your holiday (whatever you celebrate, if  you do) was lovely, and that your New Year will be fantastic every single day!



Cut out

Simple Pleasure


Interesting (he's a sun dancer)








Sunday, December 21, 2014

Best Books of 2014 Some More

First it was a short story, then it was a movie, then it was a novel. Doesn't matter- they're all by Dennis Lehane and I would read his grocery lists if he published them.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We interrupt our irregular programming for an announcement...

I will not be recapping American Idol this year. I've been a fan since the first episode, and I started writing regular recaps in Season 7, I think. I realized last year, that I was dreading AI nights, and resenting the amount of work that each recap requires. Even though the show apparently is going to just one episode a week, I'm not interested enough to devote hours to taking notes or live-blogging any more.

I might still watch, and I may comment here and there, but I'm done with the blow by blow snark. There are many other online recaps, though none will ever top the late great Television Without Pity's. We won't lack for smart-ass commentary. I'll post links as I find new favorites.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and my weird obsession for all these years.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Best books of 2014- Part the Umpteenth

I know that I said I wasn't ranking the books beyond my favorite of the year, but I should probably mention that if there was a #2 ranking, this book would be it.

Felix Brewer's not-entirely-legal business kept his wife and three daughters, as well as a mistress, happy up until he faced a conviction and prison, at which time he simply disappeared. Vanished. Soon thereafter, his mistress vanished as well. The mystery may be what happened to both Felix and his lady friend, but the multi-generational story is about the women he left behind.

I would say that Lippman is at the top of her game, but seriously, I don't think there is a top. She just keeps getting better.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Interrupting the book reports

I bought a state of the art Viking sewing machine back in the late 70's (or early 80's, somewhere in there). It was very expensive (over $1,000 back then, when that was a whole lot more money than it is now- and it's plenty now), and it served me well for decades. But the poor thing has been going downhill for a long time now (witness this) , and it was no longer able to sew more than eight or nine inches without breaking the thread, and it squeaked terribly and the tension wouldn't hold... and... and... and...

Still, I wasn't quite ready for a new one, until Amazon had sale a week or so ago, and I was seduced by this Brother machine at 66% off. Lookie here- It's still on sale! (if you order, you may not want the extra carrying case- it does come with a dust cover).

This baby cost less, delivered, than a trip to the shop for the Viking. It was an easy seduction.

There is a learning curve with it- the lever for the presser foot is on the right side of the needle, which means I need to raise and lower it with my right hand, something I have never done before. It'll take a while before that feels natural. But otherwise, man, is this baby nice (and light- it weighs less than 10lbs).

I doubt I'll use the fancy stitches often, but they're fun. And the tension was perfect, right out of the box.

I might want to remember how to spell my name, though.

As a way to get used to the general functioning of the machine, I decided to piece a baby quilt from fabric I had cut already.

No better way to acclimate than playing, I always say when I need a reason to justify sewing a quilt top when I still have Christmas knitting to finish.

I just pulled fabrics as they came off the pile, this is a true random selection. I like how it came out.

Note the corner matchingness... (there is a reason I chose this one to photograph... the other corners might not be quite as matchy).

With the border.

I decided to free-form quilt it (more practice) with just a fleece backing and no batting.  It took me awhile to remember to slow down on the curves, so the tension on the back isn't perfect. And the fact that I have absolutely no sense of straight doesn't matter with free-form quilting. I quilted every block differently, just playing the whole way through.

I am hand stitching the binding down now, and then I will wash the quilt. I'll show you the finished product tomorrow!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Best Books of 2014 Packing for Mars

Again- presented in no particular order except the order in which I feel like writing about them. And in case I haven't mentioned it, these are my favorite books of 2014, but that's not necessarily the year that they were published.

Yeah, it IS rocket science. And it's hilarious.

No, seriously, Mary Roach is an exceptional writer. She makes science not only approachable, but laugh out loud funny. Want to know how toilets work in space? Or what happens when you cry in zero gravity? Or what some of the early astronauts really thought about each other? Read this book.

Oh- unlike most of the books on my list, this one is non-fiction. It's all true. Amazingly and goofily true.

Also? Read any other book Mary Roach has written. They're all great.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Best Books of 2014

(Reminder: The rest of the Best of 2014 books are not being listed in any kind of preference order beyond when I feel like writing about each one.)

While The Martian was pure science, today's book is fantasy, the kind that might happen if Pride and Prejudice and Game of Thrones had a baby.

The characters are all dragons who live in a very structured (nearly Victorian), and totally believable, society. Family and wealth are everything, and sudden death lurks. I fell into this universe and didn't want to come back out. I hope the author, whose books are all good, and all completely different from each other, writes a sequel.

Edited to add: The author does have a series, but it's not set in this universe, and I have not read any of those books. I have read several of her stand-alones though, and I enjoyed them all

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Best Books of 2014- The Winner, hands down

I read a lot of really good books this year, so I thought I'd do a series of year-end posts about them. I'm not ranking them after today, except in that I loved them all. I recommend them all equally, though often for different reasons. But one book stood out to me as the absolute best, so I'll start with it.

Even if you're not a science fiction fan (it used to be verboten to say Sci-Fi, but I don't know if that's still the case), you need to read this book. Yeah, it's set in space (Mars, to be exact), and yes, it's hard science (as in: the rules of science and physics are the rules of this story)(in other words: no magic or wizards), but more than that- it's an edge-of-the-seat thriller that is also warm and human, and laugh out loud funny.

I said, when I finished it, that this was going to make a kick-ass movie, and I am thrilled to know that it's already in production. I will make a point to drive the 100 mile round trip to see it in a theater.

Small small caveat- it opens with a profanity, and there are bad words here and there throughout. The bad words are entirely appropriate, and as long as their parents didn't mind, I would not hesitate to give this book to a YA reader.

I loved loved loved loved loved it.