Random (but not really)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Project Chairs: FINISHED

HUZZAH! They’re done!

Here’s what the chairs looked like before I started. The chair on the right had the most damage, with the replaced back board and broken bar. Plus, most of the joints were no longer flush together.

Kitchen Chairs

Here’s the most damaged chair, in pieces.

So, I'm doing this.

Here are the repairs on the two most damaged pieces:

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And here are the finished chairs.

The damage is still visible, but BY GUM the repair is smooth and sturdy!

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The two repaired chairs are in front.

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Next major project will be the table–or the bedroom floor since that’s the last room that needs done.

Written by Michelle at 3:11 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Busy day at Coopers Rock, what with it being freaking 70 F IN FEBRUARY.

Towards the gate:

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Towards the I68:

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We took it kinda easy today–my back has been sore from all the bending over and crouching I’ve been doing working on the chairs.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Roadside, Reservoir Ski, Reservoir Trails
Distance: 3.7+ miles
Elevation: 2169-2364 feet

So we hiked the Reservoir Ski Trail to the reservoir and then around the reservoir, which brings me to this important question:

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HOW DID I NOT KNOW THERE WERE BEAVERS AT COOPERS ROCK?

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ADDENDUM the First:

To clarify for H J Gadiyar, check out the details of these pictures!

The larger tree is in the process of being gnawed down. But in the background to the left you can see a felled tree.

beaver2

Here you can see the tell-tale v and ^ signs of the tree that fell to the left. But also you can see that the missing branches on the tree coming towards the camera have all been chewed and drug off once they were detached.

beaver1

Written by Michelle at 7:01 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Project Chairs: Update Part Three

If you have spent more than an hour with me, you know I’m not a patient person.

So much of this project is WAITING. GAH. Waiting for wood glue to dry, waiting for resin to dry, waiting for stain to dry… SO. MUCH. WAITING.

Here’s how things have progressed since last week.

I dug and scraped and sanded all the old glue and gunk and everything to get these pieces to fit together again. (Here you can see prior to work, these pieces are held together with about a quarter centimeter of wood glue.)

These pieces fit together better now...

As do these two pieces.  (You can see the new split on the smaller piece.)

I scraped old glue and then sanded the crap out of the broken pieces to see if I could get them to fit back together smoothly.

Scrape glue, sand, scrape glue, sand. Ugh. I hope I'm making this actually better.

I glued everything back together as carefully as I could. After getting the large piece down I remembered I had small paint brushes–those worked best. Then I taped everything down for the resin.

I hate waiting.

Duh duh DUH!

PROOF I wore gloves! I also had a window open! Safety precautions! I did not bond together anything that should not have been permamently stuck together.

Proof I remembered gloves!

In progress. It’s never going to look good, but BY GUM IT WILL BE STURDY. And smooth. And even. Just ugly. (Here’s how it looked before I started.)

It’s possible if I’d be more aggressive with the sanding it might have looked better, but as this wood is mostly likely 100+ years old, I’ve been terrified of using too much force. And the site I found that showed step-by-stop how to use the resin to fill voids also used a power sander to smooth the resin. I’m positive that made things quite different from my sanding by hand.

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Again you can see how the resin filled in the void.

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Three areas visible here that got resin.

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Let me tell you, working with the epoxy is a giant PITA. I ended up peeling everything off and starting again on two different sets of cracks. The second time I was far more sparing in my application of resin. If I’d thought to get tooth picks it probably would have gone easier.

The resin is supposed to be sandable, but I mostly have just (CAREFULLY) used a razor and exacto knife to cut the resin flush with the wood.

Yes, that is as miserable to do as it sounds. But so far, no trips to the ER.

And here’s where things are now. Waiting for stain to dry so I can polyurethane the chair on the right. Left is also waiting to be polyurethaned and for the back to be finished.

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Another note–the wood here is very light. I’m positive that on a darker wood many of the imperfections and repairs would have blended into the grain. But here I’m stuck with repaired cracks and voids that are much darker than the surrounding wood.

Written by Michelle at 3:22 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Project Update: Chairs

(First post here.)

The project is moving apace. Two chairs are finished, two are waiting the arrival of the clear epoxy I ordered.

First, what was hiding when I went to recover the seats:

Oh. Well.   Now I'm thinking I'll leave these old layers for a future surprise.

I found three different fabrics.

Of course I left them underneath for the next person to go WTF?

I did NOT strip the wood, just thoroughly cleaned and sanded. Here’s part of a quick cleaning:

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The two chairs that were finished were simply coated with a water-based polyurethane. I’m going to have to purchase a small can of light oak stain for parts of the two remaining chairs that I’m repairing.

Here is the chair that has the busted back. I am super nervous about how the repairs will turn out, but I realized it can’t be worse than how it was. Plus, someone cracked the end of a support bar while working with the legs. (That someone is NOT ME.)

So, I'm doing this.

The clear epoxy should arrive Monday, so I can stain the pieces I sanded over the weekend and they should be ready for the epoxy then.

And here is a finished chair!

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My goal was simply to recover the seats, and add a layer of protection to the wood.

Next week, we’ll see how the repairs go. But if you hear a lot of cursing, you’ll know it’s not going well.

Written by Michelle at 2:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Although last week’s snow is gone, it was a clear, beautiful day at New Rover Gorge.

We spent a good deal of time poking around Wolf Creek. One area was easy to get to, the other–less so.

Location: New River Gorge: Canyon Rim Area
Trails: Timber Ridge, Long Point, Fayetteville, Park Loop Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1784-2151 feet
Temperature: 34F

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Map of the Hike.

Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Books of January

The start of the month was for short stories–including finishing up anthologies I’d been reading for ages and ages.

I read a lot of good books this month, including going back and re-reading a book I’d almost forgotten about.

As for my favorite books of the month, let’s start with A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories which was an anthology I picked up solely for the Patricia Briggs story. Which I’ve not read about five times, because I kept re-reading it when I’d flip past it or while on a Patricia Briggs reading bender. Not all the stories were for me, but in all it was a strong anthology.

I know I keep going on about Daniel José Older, but that’s because I really do love his writing. Ghost Girl in the Corner is set following the events of Shadowshaper, but follows Tee and her girlfriend Izzy. As expected, the teenage girls are all strong characters I enjoyed spending time with. Kudos again for that.

Ghosts in the Snow is a good book, but it is extremely dark, and I’m not sure that I was in the mood for that much darkness, but if you like supernatural mysteries, then I do recommend it. As long as you’re aware that it’s dark.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit series is one I really do like, and when I realized I had the first book as an ebook, I set out to reread. Second book was also inexpensive, but the third? Well, that’s why I moved into another series. I’m waiting impatiently for that to go on sale. I’d like to note that Grandmom really enjoyed this series.

The other two mystery series are also very good–I’m re-reading the Inspector Erlendur series–but I can only read a couple Karin Fossum stories at a time, because they tend to be extremely depressing–two of the mysteries were about murdered children. The third was about a murdered teen. So small doses of that.

Mystery

Inspector Erlendur
Jar City (2000/2004) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (8/10)
Silence of the Grave (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (9/10)
Peculiar Crimes Unit
Full Dark House (2003) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
The Water Room (2004) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
Inspector Sejer
Black Seconds (2002/2007) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund (8/10)
The Water’s Edge (2007/2009) Karin Fossum translated Charlotte Barslund
Bad Intentions (2008/2010) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund

Supernatural Mystery

Ghosts in the Snow (2004) Tamara Siler Jones

Fantasy Anthology

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran
Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology (2014) edited by Henry Herz
A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014) edited by Kevin J. Anderson & Kieth J. Olexa (8/10)

Fantasy Short Stories

A Wolf in Holy Places (2009) Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Burnt Sugar (2014) Lish McBride
Ghost Girl in the Corner (2016) Daniel José Older (8/10)

And now, the statistics! Huzzah!

14 books this month, which is about average.

All ebooks this month (not a surprise), with 5 re-reads, three of which I have in paper. I would have continued on with Christopher Fowler’s series, but I’m not paying that much for a ecopy of a book I own in paper (and paid full price for at the time, I might add!).

eBook – 14
Multiple Formats -3
Re-read -5

Genre, things were split pretty evenly between fantasy and mystery.

Fantasy – 7
Mystery – 8
Anthology – 3

As to author genre, it’s split pretty evenly between male and female authors this month.

Male – 5
Female – 6
Anthology – 3

And that’s it for this month! YAY READING!

Written by Michelle at 12:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Project: Kitchen Chairs

This one is going to be a little more complicated.

I inherited Grandmom’s kitchen table and chairs. She said that they were “antique” when she and Popbo were given them by one of his aunts, who had the set in her attic (or perhaps basement).

Popbo refinished the set, and then they were used every day. Over the years chairs broke and were repaired with greater or lesser degrees of skill (depending upon who was doing the fixing). When they started to get unstable, and she was afraid one might fall apart while she was using it, we used L brackets to brace them up, and at the same time recovered the seats, and that’s how things have been since–the late 90s probably.

So I have a table and chairs that are in need of a good deal of work, but also very old. And more importantly, of great value to me because they were Grandmom’s.

Essentially, I don’t want to make things worse, but it’s reached the point where something really does need to be done.

The table I can probably manage, since I’ve refinished tables before.

The chairs, however, worry me.

I’m not worried about the sanding and refinishing, but it seems silly to do all that work without repairing them, and THAT I am not comfortable doing.

The chair in the right is in the worst shape. You can see it was badly broken and poorly repaired. We try to make sure small people never sit in this chair.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is a closer look at the repair job. The back slat was replaced with a mostly-matching piece of wood, but the repair where it was rejoined is–awful.

Kitchen Chairs

The bracing is on the underside, out of sight in this view, but somewhat visible from the side. It’s just a brass L bracket, carefully screwed into the wood.

Kitchen Chairs

Here is the view from the back.

Kitchen Chairs

I’ve started by simply cleaning the wood with Murphy’s Oil soap and an old toothbrush and nail brush and soft cloths, and that’s helped, but they really need sanded and several new coats of polyurethane. (Several coats, because this is MY kitchen table now, and I use it every day.)

So, here is the question. Does anyone have advice or recommendations for me? Or is anyone willing to trade delicious baked goods for assistance in this project?

I’m assuming the wood is 100+ years old and so I am extremely leery of removing any existing screws for fear of causing further damage (or not being able to get things back together without breaking something.

Did I mention delicious baked goods of your choice in trade?

Written by Michelle at 8:21 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Project Floors: Part III

I’ve just finished up the hallway (and by hallway, I mean the tiny expanse of floor between the two bedrooms and the bathroom) but I also decided to see if I could do something about the floor grates.

I tried cleaning them, but they were still ugly.

Then I remembered the existence of spray paint!

Here is a painted grate next to one that has been cleaned (no, really, I cleaned it!) but not yet painted.

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

And here we were in situ!

Redoing the Floors: Air Vents

I possibly should have gone with a darker color, but standing in front of the spray paint options was a bit overwhelming (like, half an aisle of spray paint) and it might just look odd to me because it’s clean and shiny.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Quid Pro Quo: Something Given or Received for Something Else

US Constitution: Article I Section 9

“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

 

Nations whose citizens have committed terrorism against the United States in modern times:
Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon

 

Nations targeted by Trump’s ban:
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya

 

Nations with whom Trump has business interests:

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar

 

And a quick bit of history. Nations whose governments have been toppled / destabilized with US interference / assistance:

Korea (1945), Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Congo (1960), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Afghanistan (1979-1989), Nicaragua (1981-1989), Panama (1989), Haiti (1991), Somalia (1993), Iraq (1994-1996), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), Haiti (2004), Somalia (2007), Syria (2005-2015), Lybia (2011)

 

‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’
– George Santayana

Written by Michelle at 9:33 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

I tried several biscotti recipes over the holidays, and there were two I particularly liked. The double chocolate ones are good, but if I eat them in the evening, then I can’t get to sleep (because who can eat just one biscotti?!)

So it’s the Cranberry-Orange Biscotti that are on the menu this winter. And they are delicious.

Recipe based on Italian-Style Cranberry-Orange Biscotti from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (4 3/4 oz) sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp orange juice
Zest of one orange
1 tsp orange extract
1 cup (4 5/8 oz) dried cranberries
1 cup (4 oz) chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups (8 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I’ll lightly grease the parchment paper to make removing the biscotti logs easier. Not required, but recommended.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light-colored creamy. If you start mixing the eggs and sugar and then go onto measure out everything else, as well as toasting and chopping the walnuts, you’ll come back and it’ll be done.

Beat in the baking powder, salt, vanilla, orange juice, zest, and extract.

Toss the walnuts and cranberries in with the flour, then add to the egg mixture, beating just until the flour is completely incorporated.

Create two dough logs on the parchment paper.

This is easier said then done. Here is the easiest way: Plop down blobs of dough roughly in two log shapes.

Wet your hands.

Using your wet hands, shape the dough into something resembling two logs.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Don’t worry if the dough looks very wet after shaping. It won’t matter.

Bake the dough for 25 minutes at 350F.

After 25 minutes, remove the dough from the oven and drop the temperature to 325F.

As soon as it’s cool enough to do so, move one of the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, and cutting on the diagonal, cut 1/2″ thick slices. If your knife is sharp, you should need only to press down on the dough to cute it–avoid sawing which will break off bits of the cookies.

Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet (I stand them on end, but if they’re on their side, that’s fine), then cut the 2nd log in the same manner.

Bake the slices for 25 minutes at 325 F.

Cool on a rack, and then enjoy dipping in your favorite hot beverage.

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Written by Michelle at 7:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock (TWO DAYS IN A ROW)

Two weekend days in a row where it wasn’t raining and miserable!

HOORAY!

This time we walked out to the overlook and back. Same distance as yesterday but MUCH easier, since there is little elevation gain.

Location: Coopers Rock
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation: 2188-2442 feet
Trail: Roadside Trail
Temperature: 28 F

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20170129_Coopers_Rock_007

20170129_Coopers_Rock_012

20170129_Coopers_Rock_019

Written by Michelle at 6:34 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We’ve actually been out to Coopers Rock several times this year, but the weather has been so gloomy, I carried my camera solely for weight-bearing exercise, apparently.

But Saturday was snowy and pretty, so we hiked down to Mont Chateau, one of my favorite hikes.

Location: Coopers Rock State Park
Date: 2017-01-28
Distance: 6.2 miles
Elevation: 1483-2412 feet
Trails: Advanced Ski Trail, Mont Chateau Trail
Temperature: 28 F

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What? Doesn’t everyone clamber along streams in 30 F weather?

Here are the previous hikes, if you were interested in the hikes.

Date: 2017-01-21
Distance: 5.7 miles
Elevation: 1806-2350
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resovoir Loop, Clay Run Trails
Temperature: 60 F

Date: 2017-01-15
Distance: 3.3 + miles (GPS cut out for part)
Elevation: 1768-2420 feet
Trails: Advanced Ski, Resovior Loop, Roadside Trails
Temperature: 35 F

New Years Day Hike! (Lots and lots of people out)

Date: 2017-01-01
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 1961-2393 feet
Trails: Roadside, Scott’s Run Trails
Temperature: ~40 F

Written by Michelle at 9:40 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Pizza

For Kimby!

Homemade Pizza

The dough is from The New best of BetterBaking.com by Marcy Goldman. This was actually the first time I tried that dough recipe–usually I make pizza with a thinner crust, but this was good! (Especially since it was fast–the other recipes I was thinking of using wanted an overnight sponge. NOT the thing to read at 2PM when I want dinner at 5PM.)

Dough:
1 3/4 cup water
2 tbsp instant yeast (yes, TWO TABLEspoons)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 cups (13.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 – 2 cups (4.5 – 9 oz) bread flour

Mix together all ingredients except 1 cup of the bread flour. Knead on lowest mixer speed and add more flour, two (2) tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together.

Let dough rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled (I totally let it rise twice that, because: busy.)

Sauce:
~1 tbsp olive oil (Yeah, totally didn’t measure here)
1 pint canned crushed tomatoes
2 – 4 tbsp tomato paste (YAY! A use for the tomato paste I canned last summer!) (A)
1 – 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic (B)
~3/4 tsp dried oregano (See above comment)
~1 tsp dried parsley (See above)
~1/2 tsp salt

Put sauce ingredients into a small pot, and allow to simmer on low while the dough rises.

Once the dough has risen, roll it into on large or two smaller rectangles. Dust with flour then cover with a clean cloth to rise for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 400F for at least 30 minutes. If you have a baking stone, make sure it’s in the oven for the whole pre-heat. (C)

Uncover the dough and drizzle it with olive oil. (D)

Spread the sauce over the dough.

Sprinkle a bit of shredded Parmesan, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella. I used part of a ball of fresh whole-milk and a block of the part-skim stuff with the longer shelf life, because that’s what I had. If I have Provolone, I’ll add some of that as well.

Add toppings of your choice. This choice was black olives and mushrooms.

Dinner : ready for the oven

Bake 15-20 minutes. The crust should be browned. If it’s not, let it bake longer.

Dinner : Ready to eat

Brief note on yeast. If you think you’re going to do any amount of baking, then buy a container of yeast, and just store that container in the freezer once opened. That’ll keep the yeast longer.

—–

(A) I have always HATED tomato paste–it always tastes like the tin to me, so making my own paste was MARVELOUS. It’s YUMMY and I use it ALL THE TIME NOW!
(B) I discovered that you can freeze garlic! (I tried pickling it last year and hated it.) So I mince a couple heads at a time, then freeze in 1 – 2 tbsp servings (An ice cube tray is what you want to use here if you don’t have a Food Saver.) Freeze the garlic into cubes then put those cubes into a ziploc bag and EASY! I do the same thing with lemon and lime juice, so it’s in tbsp servings, and I’m not wasting what I don’t use.
(C) If you have a baking stone, the easiest way to transfer a pizza is to roll it onto a sheet of parchment paper. Then use a flat cookie sheet to transfer the pizza back and forth. (Because I am NOT buying a pizza peel when a rimless cookie sheet and parchment work perfectly.)
(D) I’ve listened to enough food shows and read enough cooking magazines that I avoid Imported Extra-Virgin Olive oil, since much of it is adulterated. I can get California Olive Oil in our stores, which is what use now. I think it’s only an issue for EV Olive Oil.

Written by Michelle at 6:30 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Project: Floors, Part II

After putting the living room back together, I moved onto the NEXT room, the guest bedroom (or, as I still sometimes refer to it, Grandmom’s room).

This floor has a lot more deep damage to it–quite a number of burns that predated our purchase–but I still think damaged hardwood is a zillion times better than carpet.

And if you needed further evidence I’m weird:

See that line along the bottom of the door? That’s where Grandmom’s walker would sometimes scrape the door as she maneuvered in an out.

I still, after 6 1/2 years, can’t bring myself to permanently repair that scrape.

Written by Michelle at 8:56 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Music for the Day

Here’s some happy music I’ll be listening to today.

R.E.M – Exhuming Mccarthy

Mexican Institute of Sound – Yo Digo Baila

Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder


(more…)

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: music,Non-Sequiturs  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

PROJECT! Floors

Our wood floors have need some aid for a while now, but it’s a huge hassle, so we’ve kept putting it off.

UNTIL NOW!

Obviously, I’m not stripping the floors and refinishing them, just cleaning them up as best I can and putting down quick-drying polyurethane. (There IS such a thing! It’s pretty good!)

Because we can’t go somewhere else for a week while I’m redoing the floors, I chose a quick-drying polyurethane, which is allowing me to do part of a room, then (carefully) move the furniture and the do the other part.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a huge hassle to be cut off from half the house for 2-4 hours while the floor dries, but 2 – 4 hours is doable. Especially since there are bathrooms in both halves of the house now.

And because our house is so small, it’s not like I can just move everything into an empty space.

But is IS manageable, and I’m delighted to finally get this taken care of.

And in case you were wondering–here are the contents of part of one of the living room bookcases.

Written by Michelle at 1:03 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: House & Garden  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Books of 2016: Stats!

I love statistics and manipulating and Excel more than is normal, so when I have a data set, I love looking to dig into it for meaning.

Because: geek.

I read a LOT of books this year. More than any other year since 2003 when I started keeping track.

2016 – 189
2013 – 174
2014 – 167
2006 – 164
2012 – 160

That turns out to be an average of 15.8 books a month.
with a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 23 in a single month. Interestingly, nine has been the minimum number of books read in a single month for four of the past eight years.

Here is something that shouldn’t come as a surprise, and yet it does. I read zero mass-market paperbacks this year. Zero mass-market paperbacks.

Paperback : 0
Trade Paperback : 5
eBook : 173
Hardback : 2
Audio : 9

We got our first ereaders in December of 2010. It was a nook and I wasn’t especially impressed with it.

That changed once I got my first Kindle.


(The numbers are off by one because I finished the chart a couple days ago)

But even I’m surprised that I didn’t read any mass-market paperbacks this year.

But that’s reflected in the fact there were 50 books that I have in multiple formats. Nine of those were audio books, which means the rest were books I had in paper and got again as ebooks, so I could read them a second time.

Multiple Formats : 49
Re-read : 68

There are actually a LOT of books I’d like to re-read, but when I have the paper book, I’m not willing to pay $8-12 for a second copy.

Which means I don’t re-read those books.

I’ll note right here that the Shelfie app has allowed me to got reduced price ebooks when I own a paper copy of the book. So kudos to them–and I wish more books were available.

Genre-wise, mysteries came out on top this year, but not by a lot, though this is the second year in a row I’ve read more mysteries than fantasy.

Mystery : 87
Fantasy : 79
Romance : 33
YA : 7
Anthology : 6
Comic : 4
Cookbook : 3

If you’re curious as to that drop in the number of mysteries, Grandmom died in 2011, and she loved mysteries, so I didn’t feel like reading mysteries for awhile after that.

Now comes the bit I find super interesting: author gender.

Female : 120
Male : 40
Male Pseudonym : 18
Initials : 8
Joint + Anthology : 3

120 is a pretty big number, however, the actual number of books written by women is 146, once you add in women writing under male pseudonyms or their initials.

This is, I admit, a confusing graph, but it’s also the clearest way I found to look at both author gender and book genre at the same time.

And that should be the final geek out of 2016.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Written by Michelle at 9:54 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Geek  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Books of 2016: Great Covers (Historical Settings)

Since the majority of the historical fiction I read was old, there weren’t many books that qualified for inclusion. But there were some.

To be clear, I don’t know much about historical costuming, and I know less about the accuracy of such, so it’s quite possible that the clothing is completely ridiculous for the time period, but I’m okay with that.

 

magic-and-manners

This is an obviously photoshopped cover, but despite that, I like it. It evokes the tone of the book, and the main character is neither passive nor submissive, while still looking reasonably like a creature of her time.

Could it be improved? Yes. But for what it is, I think it’s pretty good.

Published by Miz Kit Productions

Magic and Manners (2016) C.E. Murphy (9/10)

 

tremontaine-series-cover

This cover is quite simple, but I think it does an excellent job evoking the feeling of the time and place of the book.

I love the silhouette of Riverside, and even more I love the sword hair sticks.

Published by Serial Box

Tremontaine: Season One Volume One (2016) by Patty Bryant, Joel Derfner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Racheline Maltese and Paul Witcover (7.5/10)

 

As-Death-Draws-Near

All of these covers are good, but I particularly liked this one.

On most of the covers, the main character is facing away from the viewer, and generally looking like she is moving away from you, with some building or structure in the far background.

What I liked about this cover is the use of color–her purple dress against greens and greys of the background.

As I said, all these covers are good, but I especially like this one.

Published by Berkley
As Death Draws Near (2016) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)

 

A-Talent-for-Trickery

I have no idea of the historic accuracy of her clothing, but as I said, I’m not particularly worried about that part of the cover (I’ll leave that criticism to fashion historians). I just know that I like pretty much everything about this cover.

This is a boinking romance, yet she is fully clothed, and there is no guy looming over her.

I love how she is looking back over her shoulder and the look on her face–and the fact that although she’s not being particularly active, she’s definitely not passive or submissive.

And I find the color scheme especially appealing.

Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
A Talent for Trickery (2015) Alissa Johnson (7/10)

Four books here, and four different publishers, although one of the publishers is Berkeley, of which Ace and ROC are imprints.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

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Categories: Books & Reading  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Not Cookies

Poticza from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Thank you again to Tania for introducing me to this.

20161223_Christmas_Cookies_016

 

Cranberry-Walnut Bread from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I made this regularly through the winter, because it’s really delicious. And it has some whole wheat, that makes it healthy, yes?

20161223_Christmas_Cookies_015

 

Chocolate Truffles from Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

These were a PITA to make, at least using their directions.

But they were delicious, albeit ugly.

Pumpkin Pie

20161224_Christmas_Cookies_019

Sweet Potato Pie

20161224_Christmas_Cookies_020

Eggnog (with eggs I pasteurized, because I couldn’t find pasteurized eggs in the story)

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Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Great Covers (Modern Setting)

I complain a lot about terrible book covers, so I figured that I should make a point of noting good covers, and why I like them.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to stop the terrible covers, but I keep hoping.

To make this post, the books had to have been published in 2015 or 2016. I decided to break these posts into two parts–modern covers and historical setting covers.

First up, the covers of books with a modern-day setting.

 

The Witches of Lychford

lychford the-lost-child-of-lychford

Paul Cornell gets some very good covers. I also love the covers for his Shadow Police series, but The Severed Streets was published in 2014 and so missed my cut off.

These covers are deceptively simple, but you can tell they are in the same series, and the fog evokes the mystery of the books themselves.

Published by Tor
Witches of Lychford (2015) Paul Cornell (10/10)
The Lost Child of Lychford (2016) Paul Cornell (9/10)

 

Jane Yellowrock

Blood-in-her-Veins shadow-rites

The Jane Yellowrock series is a good example of what I think are good covers. They had difficulty getting a good model (you can see that one model looks Native American while the other, not so much) but they’ve done their best to make the model on the cover look like Jane.

Although I think that Jane shows a little too much skin, and her hair is never down when she fights, but it’s not a horrible issue. At least they put her in her neck guard.

But most importantly, Jane is active and in control on these covers. She looks like a woman who is in the midst of kicking someone’s ass, which is, well, that’s Jane.

Published by ROC
Shadow Rites (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Blood in Her Veins (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)

Soulwood

bloodoftheearth curse-on-the-land

The covers of Faith Hunter’s are quite different from the Jane books, but they are still evocative, and are a good representative of Nell.

I particularly like two things: first, the use of color, which seems to represent Nell’s magic use, but most importantly, even though Nell is a magic user who does not typically fight, she is still in an active pose. I actually think that’s a good way to depict Nell’s magic use, as described in the book, so extra bonus points for that. The only marks off are for (like the Jane covers) too much skin. But all else considered, these are really great covers.

Published by ROC
Blood of the Earth (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Curse on the Land (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)

 

Bone Street Rumba

Midnight-Taxi-Tango

This is, hands down, one of my favorite covers.

There are three main characters in this story: Carlos, Reza, and Kia. Not only did they make Kia, the teenage girl, the cover character, she looks like a teenager girl and is not sexualized.

I look at that and immediately know it’s Kia.

But even better, she’s 1) in an active pose 2) wearing a leather jacket and showing minimal skin and 3) has wild, natural hair.

Even though Kia is just standing there looking like a tough and surly teenager, it’s still obvious there is action in this book from everything happening behind her.

Kudos to ROC for putting out such amazing and marvelous covers.

Midnight Taxi Tango (2016) Daniel José Older (9/10)
Published by ROC

 

Mercy Thompson

fire touched_front mech.indd

Although I could quibble with some elements of this cover (why do they always have Mercy exposing her stomach and showing boobs? She’s a mechanic, she’s not going to dress like that. And she’s too skinny.) I generally let them slide because 1) Mercy looks like a capable human being 2) she is never in a passive or submissive pose.

Published by Ace
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs (8/10)

 

The SPI Files

The-Brimstone-Deception

Despite the cartoonish look of these covers, I do like them.

Mak is in the forefront with the male character behind her, she is in an active pose, and the figure looks like the character–small and unassuming.

Published by Ace
The Brimstone Deception (2016) Lisa Shearin (9/10)

 

 

Crow_Girls

I love Charles de Lint’s writing, and I love the covers to his older books. He’s been reissuing his older books himself, and although I realize that the art of the original covers belongs to either the publisher or the artist, I miss those covers.

But this cover actually does a very good job of evoking the Crow Girls.

Published by Triskell Press (the author)
Newford Stories: Crow Girls (2015) Charles de Lint (9/10)

 

 

The Dark Side of The Road

What is interesting about this cover is that–like the descriptions in the book–you really have no idea what the main character looks like.

My reflection met my gaze with a cold, mistrustful stare. A very familiar face because it hadn’t changed in so very long. Not the one I would have chosen; but good enough. I was tall, slim, dark-haired and handsome enough if you weren’t too choosy. A long rangy figure who appeared to be in his mid twenties. Dressed well, but anonymously. The kind of stuff you can buy anywhere, so you can fit in anywhere. An easy smile, a casual look, and dark eyes that gave away absolutely nothing.

I also like the feel that something untoward is possibly going to happen. Plus, of course, snow, which I love.

Published by Severn House Digital
The Dark Side of The Road (2015) Simon R. Green (8/10)

 

YA

Shadowshaper

I have so much love for this cover and almost can’t stand it.

The model is Sierra Santiago. No really, here’s a quote from the book.

(T)he words crept in, made a home in Sierra’s mind no matter how much she fought them off. Her wild, nappy hair. She ran her hands through her fro. She loved it the way it was, free and undaunted. She imagined it as a force field, deflecting all Rosa’s stupid comments.

And although she is just standing, she is not an a submissive position–she looks strong and capable. And the colors (along with the brick behind her) evoke the painting Sierra does.

This is a marvelous cover, and I am so very happy that Daniel Jose Older gets such great covers.

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Shadowshaper (2015) Daniel José Older (9.5/10)

Here’s an interesting thing. There are 12 covers here, all fantasy in some way.

Tor has 2 covers
ROC has 5 covers
Ace has 2 covers

But ROC and Ace are both imprints of Berkely (which is now part of Penguin I believe). That means that just over half of the great covers I loved this year come from a single publishing house.

I didn’t have any covers I utterly despised this year, but Avon has released the cover for Ilona Andrews upcoming book and it is just as horrific as the cover for first book in that series. (1)

I don’t know what is wrong with Avon that they keep putting out such abysmally bad covers, but I wish they’d take a good look at what ROC and Ace are doing.

(1) Ilona Andrews has no say in their book covers. That horrificness is ALL on the Avon.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

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