Threads of the Pattern

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Cover Art © Scribner

Cover Art © Scribner

My lunch break/bathtub reading at the moment is Under the Dome by Stephen King. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan, but I like a good number of his books, especially The Dark Tower series, which is about as extreme in the direction of fantasy as he’s ever gotten. This is probably why I like that particular series so much.

I’ve only just started Under the Dome, but so far I’m enjoying it. It looks a bit daunting at one thousand pages, but Stephen King has a very comfortable writing style that makes his books easy to read. I’m sure I’ll blast through it in no time.

The premise is basically a “dome” of sorts (in quotations because I’m told it’s not exactly spherical in any sense of the word) closing off an entire town from the outside world. I haven’t gotten too much into the mechanics of how the dome itself works yet, but it’s been made clear that one cannot get through it simply by walking.

The beginning of the story depicts the dome falling into place from the viewpoint of several different characters: a pilot and his student, a drifter who is only feet away from getting out of town, and even a woodchuck, among others.

I find different points of view on the same scene to be fascinating, so obviously I’m enjoying myself. I’ve been spoiled by fantasy authors and their love of introducing as many characters as possible, so any time I can get this outside of the fantasy genre I get excited.

I’m looking forward to getting to know all these characters and finding out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to interact with each other once the knowledge sinks in that they can’t leave. And, it goes without saying (but I will anyway, naturally) that I’m also looking forward to finding out the who, what, when, why and how of the dome itself. I’ll let you know when I get to the scary thing hiding in the sewers waiting to eat the children.

Once I finish the book, I’ll dive into the show, though I’ve heard that it’s very different, even a few episodes in.

Read this book? Stephen King fan? Fan of the show? Tell me about it! (but try not to spoil anything for me, ok? 😉 )

Tomorrow’s prompts: you today/ green/ shoes/ this happened today/ look down/ fitness/ leaves

 

~Rosie

Colorful

Posted on: October 3, 2013

Suffice it to say, real life is a bitch. A lot has happened over the last few months that has kept me from writing for this blog, and feeling creative in general.

I’m hoping to get back in the groove of things, and to do so I thought I’d try some writing prompts. Turns out they’re not so easy to come by, but I did find quite a few photography prompts and I was able to think of some things to say about a few of them, so I’m going to adapt them to suit my needs. I may use a few, or just one. We’ll see.

So the prompts I’ve pulled for today’s post are: something colorful, stash, homemade. These fit perfectly with a project that I’ve been considering for a while now.

I’ve been looking around for skirts to wear at my new job (selling medical equipment to emergency medical personnel), and I’m finding the selection in stores to be quite lacking, so I’ve decided to make my own.

Being the nerdy gal that I am, I of course turn to my hobbies for inspiration. I tend toward more vintage and historical fashions, and I frequently think about ways I can bring my favorite bits of those styles into my modern wardrobe. Of course, then there are the fashions in my favorite books, though they’re usually at least somewhat based on real styles. The Wheel of Time is no different, though there happens to be a LOT of talk about clothing in the series and who wears what and why. There are a lot of wonderful specifics.

In the spirit of the series, I’ve crafted a pattern for a skirt in a style that I’m going to call Aes Sedai Modern.

Image

I went through my fabric stash, and found a nice brown wool(ish) fabric that looks like it has enough for a skirt. This seemed like a sign, seeing as I’d definitely be a Brown Sister if I had the choice. You know, and if it were a real thing.

The skirt is planned to be a pencil style, with a ruffle at the bottom, and I decided to add pleats with colored inserts, each one a color of an Ajah. Fat Quarters from Joann’s were on sale, so I had a bit of a look through at them. I decided to play it loosey goosey on the patterns, but sticking to things like spheres, vines, flowers or just thread like squiggles. Very low stress.

All told I’m happy with my choices, and I can’t wait to see it come together!

Tomorrow’s prompts: light/change/in my cup/bubbles/cozy/car/lunchtime. No real idea yet which of those I’ll choose or what I’ll write about, but that’s the point, right? 😉

How do you break through your blocks?

Are there any styles from books, shows, history, or anything else that you’d love to wear if you had the chance?

 

~Rosie

So, I have an interest in blacksmiths. I will admit that Perrin Aybara is top of my list of fictional characters that I’m in love with. I’m sure 75% of it, is that blacksmiths are like the green beret of making things, and I enjoy watching a project come together. Probably the rest of it is the fact that they, by way of their profession, naturally seem to be in control of themselves and the world around them. I guess in an era of impulse control issues, someone who is the antithesis of that type of behavior is attractive to me.

So at the library today I didn’t have anything specific I was looking for, so I wandered and did random searches on the computer. (Am I the only one who misses a proper card catalog, by the way? It seemed so much more straight forward than trying to find a computer and navigating the website, especially since my library is part of a network and any books you find may or may not be at that branch. Anyway.) One of the searches I did was for “blacksmith” under fiction.

Collars and midriff shirts: totally practical smithing wear.

Happily, one of the books on the first page was “Black Blade Blues” by J.A. Pitts. The description reads thusly:

“Sarah Beauhall is a young woman who has loved fire and the lure of the forge all her life. She is now living her dream as a blacksmith, by day creating works that are practical and fanciful, and working nights as a props manager for low-budget movies to pay the bills.

When Sarah’s favorite sword is broken on the set of a new movie, it sends the director into fits, and Sarah agrees to repair the blade to avoid reshooting scenes. One of the extras – who claims to be an actual dwarf – shows up at her forge and offers to help Sarah with her destiny.

That’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as he claims? Are dragons really living among us as shape-shifters, and are evil power brokers controlling our world? And why would he think that Sarah would be willing to kill a Portland investment banker just because he says that the guy is one of those supposed creatures?

She refused to believe…and then one of the dragons makes its move. Suddenly, what was unthinkable becomes all too real.

And Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine that is needed to save her world.”

The short blurb that was on the library’s computer also mentioned that Sarah is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was intrigued.

As it was pouring out, I waited in the car and started the book before going in to my next errand. (Amusingly, I was waiting for it to stop raining so I could go buy a gallon of water. Lol) I’m now seven chapters in.

Not only has the SCA been mentioned a couple of times, but also Renn Faires, conventions, and the like. So we’ll have to play the “Was this written by a SCAdian?” game while I read the book. Obviously this is an author who has heard of these things, and has a passing knowledge (enough so far to know that SCAdians don’t use real swords, anyway), but we will have to see!

Aside from looking for the things that had initially captured my interest, I have to say that I can tell this is going to be a quick read. Not that it’s short. Just shy of four hundred pages, it’s a decently sized book, but the writing style is easy to follow, and so I’ll probably fly through it. The characters so far have been introduced smoothly and reasonably, and I don’t really have any questions about the plot. Except, perhaps, which group Black Briar is associated with, since Sarah seems to be involved in everything nerdy in order to sell her swords.

I’m loving that the main character is a female blacksmith. That just tickles me. Especially since it was written by a male author. I am kind of missing the apron in the cover art, but I guess I can forgive that. What’s the leather collar for though? I’m pretty sure that won’t protect her from anything a forge might throw at her.

Perhaps it will become apparent as I continue reading.

Want to read it? Click here to go through the author’s page: http://www.japitts.net/buy-the-books/ I’m not sure if he gets some kind of kickback if you buy it through their website, but it couldn’t hurt!

I don’t know you, Paulette the cashier, but the threads of our lives have briefly touched.

As a side note, I found this receipt in the book after I got it home. I’m always interested in what people use for bookmarks, and what those things might say about them. Looks like this person was travelling while reading, and bought a newspaper and a bottle of water at LAX back in July. Neat!

 

~Rosie

 

I have to tell you, I went about this whole thing completely backward. I started with the decoration, and then decided what kind of cupcake and frosting I wanted to go with it.

I stumbled upon a recipe for candied orange peels that seemed pretty simple. It also happened that I had an orange in the fridge that needed to be eaten fairly soonish.

It was fate, I tell you. Three ladies in the sky spinning the thread of my life had a nice long discussion and came up with “Rosie should make candied orange peels today.” Seriously, could you imagine that conversation? I bet it was INTENSE.

Anyhoo…So I had some delicious sugary citrus treats. Then I found out I was going to be able to attend my local SCA meeting that week thanks to the kind souls who made room for me to carpool.

This meant I’d have an excuse to make cupcakes. (The excuse being that I wouldn’t have to eat a whole batch of cupcakes by myself. ‘Cause…I so would.)

The cake itself was a pretty easy choice. I tend to like my cupcake decorations to let people know what flavors they’re eating, so orange cake it was.

A couple weeks before, I had gotten some orange cake mix from the clearance shelf at the supermarket. While the fudge marble I made with Alyx turned out alright, the orange supreme kind of tasted like I was pouring Tang directly into my mouth.

So I altered a box of yellow cake mix by adding more eggs, orange juice, and orange extract. (The Ariel fruit snacks had nothing to with the cupcakes. I just like them, ok?) I normally would have subbed melted butter for the vegetable oil, but for some reason my mind kept telling me that if I use butter it’s not vegetarian anymore. Yeah, yeah. I’m straight now on where butter comes from.

To decide what flavor buttercream I wanted (which  made with vegetable shortening, because I was still stuck on that making it vegetarian thing) I rummaged through my extracts and decided on almond. I also had some sliced almonds in the cupboard, so that was quite perfect.

Look! The batter was super thick, which made it really easy to dish into the cups. No clean up!

In the end, if I did anything different, I would use real butter, and I’d toast the almond slices.

No one at the meeting seemed to mind though.

Things I learned:

1. Butter comes from milk fat, not meat fat. (I promise I knew this before, but apparently I needed a refresher.)

2. Candied orange peel is amazing!

 

~Rosie

This fabric, a deep red silk, is going to become a lovely formal 13th century Mongolian noblewoman’s robe. (del, as they’re called natively)

I’m basing my choice off this image and (many) others like it:

 

Red seems to be the most common color for the formal overrobes the women wore, and as you can see above, they were big on embroidery, but not always. I have not yet decided if I will embroider mine or not. I think that will depend on how the winter goes, project-wise.

 I’m basing the cutting on a couple of different pieces.

©Gold, Silk, White and Blue Porcelain; p58-59

 and this diagram for cutting a Han Chinese Banbi: http://torguqin.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/shangyigencutting.png

I’m using the linked image as a sort of pattern. Obviously, the actual Mongolian piece has cuffs attached, which I will be adding. I was largely looking for direction in shaping the sleeves.  the rest of the del (the body) I’ve done before, and is pretty much the same no matter who was wearing it, so it should be pretty straight forward.

When I am finished, there will also be a pair of slippers and that fantastic hat with the feather sticking up out of the top!

 

~Rosie

 

So last Friday, I didn’t post because I was up at Ayshia’s, baking with my nieces. The eldest of that set just had a birthday, and this time she thought it would be fun to make things together.

 Their mother isn’t really a baker, so this was kind of a novel experience for them. As in, they’ve never taken a pan out of the oven on their own before kind of novel. Don’t worry, this was quickly remedied with supervision.

 I really didn’t do anything. In the morning I instructed Kyra (the second eldest) in following the package directions for some Betty Crocker Molasses cookies that I’d gotten on clearance for 75¢.

 

 

She had a blast.

Can you tell these kids get their picture taken a lot?

Molasses cookies were delicious, and even bought me a haircut. Aunt Jo is the bomb, y’all. That’s all I’m saying.

 

 

After dinner, I supervised Alyx while she made a batch of modified boxed fudge marble cupcakes. They didn’t rise as much as I’d like, but she was thrilled. Also, all two dozen were gone in about 15 minutes.

Honestly, I think they were in it for the experience. They made things! And they did all the work! And Auntie Rosie is super awesome! (I inferred that last part.)

 

 

Ayshia and I thought this picture was super-hilarious. We may have been drinking.

Sometimes, I forget that the kids don’t care as much about the big fancy cakes I try to make for them as much as they care for our company. This was actually a far less stressful and fun-filled birthday than the last few have been.

 Way to teach Auntie a lesson, girls.

~Rosie

As I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother (maternal) had this amazing green thumb. Possibly, it wasn’t a green thumb, but more of a green…aura? essence? Something like that, anyway, because I never once saw her actually -gardening-. When I knew her, she lived in a trailer with three of my cousins, whom she was caring for. She had a bit of a back yard, but not a whole lot of one. mostly just a path around the trailer with enough space for some patio furniture on the far side. The back wall was entirely covered in plants. Potted plants, that is.

Everything was growing in profusion. I think people just gave her plants because they knew she would keep them alive, but there were also some that were what I like to consider purposeful: herbs and vegetables. In amongst the spider plants, aloe plants and ferns, there were also tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, parsley, etc. I didn’t know most of the herbs at the time, but it’s pretty hard not to spot a tomato.

I never even saw her pick anything, though I’m sure she must have, when I was busy being a lazy teenager and sleeping until 10am and fighting with my cousins. My grandmother was not a woman to remain idle long, and there were always vegetables in the fridge (with the cup of bacon grease, and other homemade items that I couldn’t name at the time) and there were never rotten vegetables on the ground outside.

I wish I’d inherited her knack for keeping things alive so easily. Or at least learned her secrets! Maybe it’s been bad luck, but I’ve been struggling to get a garden going at all. Last year, we bought all these containers and tried to grow some root vegetables (onions, carrots, beets) and we got exactly zero result. Even the four tomato plants only yielded one tiny cherry tomato. It was a pitiful harvest.

 

This year, I had some scallions, basil, and dill. Now I only have the basil left, and it’s just barely hanging on by a thread. For the scallions, I blame the heat. These were scallions I bought from the store, used the greens and then put the whites in a jar of water. For a while they were growing like crazy, and all I had to do was change the water every once in a while. Then the heat hit and they just shriveled up and died. Not sure what happened to the dill. Possibly also the heat, but it wasn’t around long enough for me to tell.

 

So, I don’t really have much in the way of gardening tools, but what I do have was in a cut off paper bag. It worked fine at first, but that is not a long term solution. It also meant that things weren’t really very visible. So when this week’s challenge came around, I grabbed a basket that wasn’t being used for anything else, and started transferring everything useful. It turns out, we had some seeds and onion bulbs that were no good in that bag. I had completely forgotten about them. Poor things. 
I should get a baggie for the twist ties, but I didn’t think of it at the time. 

 

 

Is it just me, or do they seem to be getting greener already? I think it’s weird that the cuttings (far left) are growing so much more nicely than the original stalks with roots.

As in previous weeks, I’m following Home Storage Solution’s 52 weeks to an organized home challenge. Feel free to jump in any time! The next two weeks are basement and attic focused. My basement is already organized, thanks to a crack in the foundation that we had to pack up and move everything for, and I don’t have an attic to speak of, so we’ll see how the next two weeks go.
I’m open to any gardening advice anyone is willing to share, as well! Note: dipping your thumb in acrylic paint has absolutely no effect.

 

~Rosie



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