Friday, 28 June 2013

Regarding Resourcefulness

As you may be aware, I work at a library. Mum and the Siblings come in on Thursdays to help out with odd jobs around the library, and sometimes one of those jobs is Rearrange The Display Walls For The Season/Holiday/Programme/Etc.

Our (actually, mostly everyone's) Summer Literacy Programme theme this year is Digging Holes And Undergroundness And Things.

There is shockingly little content in the poster-room having to do with that sort of thing.

So we had to be resourceful.

While I worked the end of my shift, Mum & Co. put up some flowers (with children's and authors' names on). After a curry break at home (we live ninety seconds from the library) we went back armed with printouts of book covers and things.

After we'd stapled the covers to the wall, we realised that we needed More Stuff. Luckily Mum was able to find a springy/summery poster and we stapled it to the wall. Unluckily, it cut off extremely abruptly on one side - it was half of a giant posterbannerthing. We were unable to find the other half.

Our half had trees and a sun and words:
 'A good book'
 Obviously there was SOMETHING missing.

'We could put words above it,' Mum suggested. 'Dig into a good book.'

We were about to do that until we saw the problem with capitalisation -

'Dig into
A good book.'

That doesn't work. Unless:

'Now, my fellows
Dig into
A good book

But that might have gone over the children's heads.

Just then Smallest Sister (D) pointed out that she knew more or less where the other half of the poster was. We encouraged her (vociferously) to go and find it, then.

She came back a few minutes later with the other half.

The other half reads '. . .never ends.' and has on it. . .a picture of an autumn-leaved tree. And a winter tree. And snow.


We ended up making The Classiest Arrow Ever to put next to the poster. Our display looks like this:

A good book ---> (there is a book on the top of the shelf below)

Better than snow.

After that there was the small matter of Not Having Any Other Posters Which Go With This Theme. So we rummaged through the poster drawers some more.

After a short time, Mum pulled out a poster of the Justice League (DC is my sworn enemy, but our Avengers poster is in the teen section right now) and had a Brilliant Idea.

A few minutes later, D and Mum and I were sitting around a tiny table in the children's section, surrounded by scissors and pens and colourful paper.

Some time after that, our masterpiece was finished. Pictures will be posted eventually, but I shall endeavour to use words to do justice (no pun intended) to this magnificent thing.

Superman is holding a small gardening spade. Green Lantern has a blocky diamond pickaxe and a tiny plastic yellow beach pail. Wonder Woman's lasso has become a gardening hose. The Flash's lightning-bolt emblem has turned into a golden spade, and Batman, of course, is holding a Bat-trowel. (That one was my idea. I'm rather proud of it.)

Aquaman has nothing.

I'm hoping to conduct negotiations with people and snatch the Avengers poster for our nefarious purposes. Tony Stark will look amazing with a tiny plastic pail.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Regarding Culinary Magnificence

Well, maybe not quite. I made some things on Wednesday, though, and they were very tasty. I started off with an Earl Grey Panna Cotta, which was super easy and very yummy. While I was waiting for it to chill I made meringues (which I whipped by hand, whee!) and custard (from the meringue-caused yolks). The meringues were delicious, but I got the custard much too hot and it curdled. Oh well - two out of three isn't a bad turnout, I think! I finally got my hands on Nigella's new cookbook yesterday and am planning to make the Nutella Panna Cotta from that (because why not?).

In other news, I've finished the first of the Song of Ice and Fire series and have started (sort of) on the second. My new book (Warriors #5.1: The Sun Trail) came by post on the day of its release, so I've been reading that as well! I picked up 'Anansi Boys' from the library, too - but I should get through 'Neverwhere' first, seeing as the first part of the radio play will be broadcast on the sixteenth (insert insensible noises of uncontrollable excitement here).

 On a possibly less productive front, I've been chiselling away at the new RuneScape quest ('The World Wakes') which is apparently the most important quest released so far! It's been pretty amazing, but the battles can be frustrating. I think it took me about thirty tries to get through the first big fight, but after that it got easier.

I'm continuing to work on The Book (or rather the construction of its universe). I've got some pleasing things lined up but I need MORE. Always more. Everything should be hugely grand and magnificent by the time I've finished.

 Oh, and I saw SKYFALL a few weeks ago! It was very, very good - perhaps the best Bond film so far. It made me want to go inhabit Scotland for a while.

And now: an abrupt ending.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Regarding Achievements and Anticipation

I'm all caught up on the main Warriors storyline now. I started 'Bluestar's Prophecy' after finishing 'The Last Hope' and was pleased to find that the Special Edition books may help fill in a lot of gaps in the family trees. There are a few lineages on the official site that go beyond what's covered in the main series, and I've been meticulously adding to and correcting the information I took away from those. I'm actually quite proud of myself for having managed to put (some of) my scribblings into a format which is (possibly) actually comprehensible by the average human brain (I think). I'm excited for 'The Sun Trail' but I also really want to see what happens next in the story of the cats by the lake! Patience, as always, is the key.

I've been finding the most delightful obscure music lately through Pandora - my current favourite channel is Sarah Jackson-Holman, and I've trained it to play a selection of other interesting things such as 'Requiem Waltz' by Emily Jane White, 'In Your Dreams' by Dark Dark Dark, and 'Pretty Little Head' by Eliza Rickman. My mum also discovered Mika recently, and I love 'Underwater'. (I think that the latter is probably the only song on this list that you can actually find online.)

Also, I have put some digital words down on digital paper and have officially started writing The Book. It's very satisfying. I'm a page and almost-a-half in and I've already got a footnote. I actually drew some things, too, a few nights ago: sketches for Mobster Putter and Tabby, my parody universe based on books by Cynthia Rylant (with illustrations by Arthur Howard). Yes, they are books for small children. But you must know that I also checked out some of the Eloise books from the library when I went to work this morning and I have thoroughly enjoyed them. I do not put myself above reading books for small children as long as they are brilliant books. In fact, I quite enjoy them. (I'm also working on a portrait of the Eleventh Doctor in the style of Lauren Child.)

I became totally distracted while using Google Maps on Monday and ended up touring Dartmoor (well, a very small bit of it) using the road-view feature. I went along a lovely road and found a) breathtaking landscapes and b) what appeared to be wild (or feral) ponies. I was very pleased with this.

My mum made amazing gluten-free banana bread today and I put lingonberry jam on mine (of course!) which led to a discussion about PLANTING LINGONBERRY BUSHES IN OUR GARDEN. How magnificent would that be? While looking online for places to buy bushes, we also discovered a fruit (THE FRUIT OF THE FUTURE according to one source) called the Hardy Arctic Kiwi. We may be forced to buy and grow some out of sheer curiosity.

I also changed the font of my blog header because Calligraffiti causes it to load temporarily as Comic Sans and I just couldn't let that happen anymore.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Regarding Musicals

We watched The Sound of Music a few nights ago. I hadn't seen it for something like five years, and even then the sound went out about twenty minutes in and I had to fill in the rest with dialogue and songs of my own invention (more on that later, perhaps - or a re-enactment to follow). Anyway, there were some things I noticed upon rewatching the film as a Fully-Functioning Aware Person.

-Everyone has a personality
-Rolfe is really, really awful (I never liked him but this time I fully grasped the magnitude of his unpleasantness)
-We should go to Austria and sing in the mountains
-WALTZES EVERYWHERE which is wonderful because I am an absolute sucker for waltzes

All in all it was really amazing. I want to learn ALL THE WORDS and sing along to everything next time.

Also: CHRISTMAS. I am very excited for it. We are planning all manner of festive activities and foods, and it will be great fun. Also, since we always open our presents on the night of Christmas Eve, we'll be driving to see our family on Christmas Day which will be amazing because the roads will be super-empty (we hope)! I'm sure we'll get loads of good stories out of the drive. . .

Monday, 3 December 2012

Regarding Tiny Adventures

I happen to be currently stationed in what I am convinced is The Parade Capital of the World. Easter? Parade. October? Parade. Winter is coming? Parade. We've just been recognised officially as the Parade Capital of the World? Parade, and make it a bloody good one, because that funny little town three miles west of here is sort of catching up on us, and this is too good a title to let go.

Last Saturday, as it was the first in December, was the date of the December Celebration Parade or something. My library had a vehicle and trailer-full-of-decorations in the parade, so I was excited to see that, and my brother was doing a baked goods fundraiser for his boy SCOUT troop, so we were going to be downtown anyway.

Regarding the library decorations: This is fantastic. On Thursday I came into work and walked round to the back room to write in my hours. But I thought for a moment that I'd taken a wrong turn, because I seemed to have ended up somewhere in the Arctic Circle (North Pole Christmas Headquarters, to be precise). There were wrapped boxes piled for miles* against one wall and they looked very, very festive. I was pleased. (I think they might have looked even better against the wall than they did when they were actually on the vehicle!)

Regarding the baked goods fundraiser: crowded, busy, jam-packed full of people. We were trying to fit a lot of sugar-crazed people into a very small Historic Building, so there was a bit of a mad rush for a while. Luckily, we were able to slip off partway through and walk to the coffee-shop, where we got some steamy peppermint mochas.

After that we went back to the Historic Building to pick up a friend who wanted to come with us on the next part of our adventure. Along the way we popped into a small Historic Chapel and listened to a quartet playing a Christmas song. It was rather good, we agreed, as we dematerialised from the building and went to collect Coming-Along Friend.

The next part of our adventure consisted of going to see THE INSIDE OF A VICTORIAN HOME, WHICH WAS DECORATED IN ALL ITS SPLENDOUR FOR CHRISTMAS. But there will be more on that later. During the walk there, my dad (who had not previously obtained coffee) went into the town's other coffee-shop to get a drink for himself. Noticing the lovely piano that was just SITTING THERE IN THE COFFEE-SHOP, I immediately sat down at it and started in on Karl Jenkins' Palladio.

I realise, as I write this, that that must have been my first public performance, but I thought nothing of it at the time. It was not at all uncomfortable sitting there in that strange new coffee-shop playing that strange new piano which I'd never touched before. It went fairly well, except for the part where I suddenly forgot which keys were which and found it difficult to continue the song. (I think our own house-piano has keys which are about a centimetre wider than most, which apparently matters in a ridiculously large way when one is trying to know where everything is.) On the way out I was complimented by a random stranger, which might have made me happier than it should have done.

When we got to the AMAZING VICTORIAN HOME, there was a huge dog in the driveway. It was about the size of a small bear, I think. Upon further inquiry I learned that it was a Leonberger - I'd read about them and seen pictures but until then I hadn't known how absolutely massive they were. That was brilliant.**

The inside of the house was spectacular. It had lots and lots of very small rooms, including a wee little kitchen (with authentic Victorian electric refrigerator), a wee little sitting-room (with authentic Victorian flatscreen telly), and spectacular bathroom (with authentic Victorian almost-clawfoot bathtub, for real). There is a turret room in this house, but you are not allowed to visit it (presumably because nobody would ever leave the turret room once they got in).

After skipping giddily past the Best Garage Ever? (a barn with huge sliding doors which would have comfortably housed an entire armada of Minis) and down the gentle but still exciting hill, we were directly across the street from the new antiques shop in town, which I absolutely must visit as soon as they are open next (Tuesday, argh). We did look in the windows, though: ooh. Wonderful beautiful things. I cannot wait to look through it properly.

*Not actually miles.
**His name was Bentley.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Regarding Excitement

* I have just learned about Narritivia. It is Sir Terry Pratchett's recently-created film company! They'll be the ones behind the upcoming Good Omens (!!! ! ! !) as well as thirteen episodes (so far) of a series ('The Watch') about Ankh-Morpork's police force.

* Neil Gaiman is writing another Doctor Who episode. YAYYYYYYYYYY

* I keep coming up with really good opening lines for books and nothing to do with them. I think I might just write a book that includes a lot of references to fictional books and then I can use the opening lines.

 * IT IS ALMOST CHRISTMAS. We've been thinking about decorating the house rather earlier than is socially acceptable. (It's only the inside of the house, anyway, so it's not like anyone will care.)

* I've just discovered that an independent bookstore near us is having their Annual Sale starting next Wednesday! THIS IS VERY EXCITING.

 * Kedgeree.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Regarding Long-Awaited Arrivals

Art by Wayne McLoughlin
I've been stalking the new Warriors cover for weeks and it's finally been revealed! I wish I could see the creative process for Wayne McLoughlin's covers - and some of the roughs for positioning and alternate covers that didn't make the cut. In fact, he should do an entire art book. That would be magnificent.

The book will be out on the fifth of March - that's nearly half a year away, but at least I have a book-and-a-bit to tide me over until then (plus four more Special Thick Books).

And I must speculate on the promise encapsulated by that reddish-orange dot - a written scene? Or an illustrated scene? Either would be most welcome.

In other news, I have recently looked out the glass door to see a leggy black cat helping itself to some cheddar crisps from the boards of the deck. We didn't exactly have cats in mind when we placed the crisps out for various wildlife, but okay. That works too.

French onion soup makes a wonderful gravy for colcannon. Heart.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Regarding Pumpkin Filling

Today is a cooking day.

My mother has chosen a wonderful way to express this: she is making little sweet rice-flour-cakes stuffed with pumpkin filling.

Well, she's trying to.

After realising that Just Pumpkin Paste was far too thin for our nefarious industrious purposes, we set about trying to find ways to make it thicker. Cornflour, we decided, was too boring - and thus was born a magnificent scouring of fridge, pantry, and cupboards as we frantically lazily searched for anything which would improve the taste and texture of our pumpkin paste.

Here are a few of the things we rejected. Some of them are lies.

-Peanut butter
-Sweetened condensed milk (I was bitterly disappointed when they shot this one down)
-Another form of pumpkin custard that I'd made a few days ago
-An entire stalk of Cabbages on a Stick
-Sweetened condensed milk again
-Chocolate truffles and cream (which we would have done if we hadn't been out of cream)
-The Immortal Yam-Creature (which may be explained in the future)

Eventually, sugar was added. Then Mummy, inspired by the pumpkin custard suggestion, decided to add some cream cheese. She did this by pulling the remaining half-box (left over from the custard) out of the fridge and tossing it into the bowl of pumpkin paste. Not quite satisfied with the visual effect, she scooped a bit of paste out of the bowl and set it on top of the white brick.

'Beautiful,' we pronounced. Kristebel took pictures (with a desk lamp for lighting).

Then we began to stir the contents of the bowl. This attempt was met with moderate success until the two ingredients stopped blending and sat next to each other in small, unappetising clumps. Kristebel took more pictures of this while I pointed out that the food-processor was amazing at blending creamy things like this, and we got that out and used it instead. We began tossing in ingredients to thicken and sweeten the mixture (Mummy and I had the same reaction after licking the traces from the sugar-pumpkin bowl, and this was a mixture of grimacing, blinking, and teeth-licking).

Another excerpt from the Hunt for Thickeners:

Mummy's muffled voice from inside the cupboard: 'Marshmallow fluff!'
Brief pause.
'I can't open it!'
Another pause.
'Have we got any more marshmallow fluff?'

I managed to get the jar open and we scooped most of that in. (In retrospect, we were basically creating George's Marvellous Medicine all over again except that none of us is called George and we were making pumpkin filling rather than any actual cure for anything but hunger and curiosity.)

In the end, we'd cobbled together a mixture of

pumpkin paste,
cream cheese,
three sorts of sugar,
two permutations of marshmallows,
two eggs,
melted chocolate,
and a glorious sense of bliss fuelled by a determination to be victorious in the face of adversity and thin pumpkin paste (sometimes these things are one and the same).

As I write this, the filling-creature is in the oven. The rice-flour-cakes have been finished and stuffed with smooshed red-beans*. As you may have guessed from the previous information, none of the pumpkin mixture actually ended up in the rice-creatures. We are planning to eat it as a custard.


*This choice of filling prompted us to invent a new game show ('Potato or Giant Bean?') based on Mummy's honest queries during the handling of red-bean paste.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Regarding October

* It is the best month.

* It is coming soon!

* I have now had a Pumpkin Spice Latte! HEART.

* For something like half an hour I've been wondering about the strange chemical smell which comes in waves and is terrifying (not really) and confusing (really). Just now it has turned out to be a lemon, which managed to stay yellow and nice-looking for (approximately) four hundred years before going off a day later. It has become all brown and strange-looking and smells like nothing should. Seriously - the next time you have a lemon, save the peel and put it in your fruit basket until it turns all brown and horrid and then sniff it for an experience unlike anything you could ever have imagined. You will thank me.

* TEA! We ordered some Davidson's Earl Grey a few days ago and it arrived today. IT IS AMAZING.

* Mum has harvested one of the bushes of jewelweed growing rampant in the garden. She means to chop it up and boil it and freeze it in ice-cubes for use in case of poison ivy (which is also growing rampant in the garden). Simple, yes? Not for my multitude of siblings (who are very clever but still remain confused by some things occasionally):
 -Brother was outraged that Mum had uprooted ALL THE JEWELWEED, until I informed him that it was ONLY ONE OF THE JEWELWEED, at which point he switched to being outraged that she had uprooted AN ENTIRE BUSH OF THE JEWELWEED.
-Smallest sister was absolutely flabbergasted that Mum might possibly want to chop AND boil AND freeze jewelweed, and besides, she thought it was strange that there was just a jewelweed lying there.
-Slighly larger sister was at first frightened (I think) and then confused as to why Mum might possibly want to chop AND boil AND freeze the stuff if she wasn't going to put it in glasses and drink it.
Love my siblings. They are very funny.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Regarding Pasta

Today we made cheesy sauce and brown rice pasta for supper. It was tasty - and exciting. The packet claimed that a variety of eighteen different pasta shapes were contained within, but we managed to find even more than that. Here are a select few of our discoveries:

-Penguin with rocket-propelled grenade launcher
-Fancy hat
-Throwing star
-Hermes' shoe
-Brass knuckles
-Beef heart
-Cassette tape
-Eucalyptus tree
-Bone with a bit of sinew
-Alien skull with attached vertebrae
-Giraffe riding on a unicycle
-LEGO arm
-Wolf standing on the bonnet of a vintage car and howling at the moon
-Human arm
-Rooster with arms
-Rabbit hiding behind a very small hill
-Boot for the Little People
-Camel being frightened by a smallish rock