Archive for November, 2009


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Muesli surrounded by ingredients packets
I’ve been thinking about making my own muesli on and off for quite awhile. In London I used to buy the Dorset Cereals varieties, mostly, and while they are available here, that doesn’t mean in every shop, plus it’s expensive, and travelling a long way.

So yesterday the supermarket on our way home was one of those that didn’t have muesli, only granola. Now I don’t recall ever actually eating granola as a breakfast cereal, but it really doesn’t appeal, what with honey or other sweeteners apparently being integral (certainly in any packet/recipe I’ve seen) and oils being common.

Instead, we bought a packet of oats (added to two-thirds of a packet we already had), some raisins, chopped almonds (far cheaper than any of the packets of whole nuts), sunflower seeds, and brown flax seeds. Once home I mixed all these up, using the entire quantities of everything except the flax seeds, which I already knew go a long way. Altogether they filled the jar we had available, plus two bowls, which worked out perfectly.

Another time I’d reduce or even omit the sunflower seeds entirely, but it came out pretty nice. I’d like more whole nuts and other dried fruit, and perhaps even better oats, but we have to find a cheaper source, I think. Still, I’d definitely call this a success!

(Whenever it’s available I chop fresh fruit into my muesli before serving it.)

Out of NaBloPoMo

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Well, our phoneline’s been down since Sunday, so I haven’t been able to update the blog since then. (It was dodgy on Saturday night, but I did manage one then.) I’ll keep aiming to post daily as I can, now, but perhaps not quite as assiduously.

It’s late!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Only 10:45pm, but a few hours since Shabbat went out. We had a nice and very sociable one, so that’s good.

Still, I think I’ll limit myself to the one book to discuss!

57. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

This was Julie’s latest read over at Forgotten Classics (which I’ve mentioned before, always positively, I think). This has rather more potential for controversy than most of hers, but she never shied away from that, and I think she did a good job with it. I’ve read the book before, many years ago, and certainly it was interesting hearing what Americans (from different parts of the US – and not just talking about Julie and her correspondents here) say about the book and the issues it raised. Not that I’ve heard anyone justify slavery or the (other) atrocities perpetuated with it, of course. Still, it’s intriguing to hear the criticisms of the book, whether literary or fact based.

There are definite issues with Stowe’s own expressed opinions (like many of her time she did espouse ideas of racial characteristics, for both bad and good) from a modern perspective. I have been troubled many times in this blog by when to ‘allow for’ the prejudices of past ages, and when to say they are unacceptable now, even for that time, and I probably will be again. (Examples off the top of my head: the Tarzan books, the Fuzzies books just a few days ago.) I suppose with this book I’ll just accept that she was trying to make an important point, but by no stretch of the imagination had perfect opinions, attitudes, or writing styles.

Stash Pics!

Friday, 13 November 2009

I really, really, need to be getting ready for Shabbat, so I’m just going to show pictures of (much of) the yarn I have here and now. (For very basic yarn details see the alt tag in picture properties (on a PC right-click on the pictures. I don’t have time to type these twice, and I’d rather they were there!)
Madame Tricote Camilla

TeDdy's Wool Super Cotton

Heela Knitting Yarn

Brown Rowan Cotton Tape

Inbalit Malaga Prints

Black Ice Yarns Lame

Black Inbalit Koral

Yellow Madame Tricote Rio

Des Montes Crafts Peruvian Cotton in turquoise and red

Addictive Books…

Thursday, 12 November 2009

I actually have some new stash and crocheting I should show you, but I’m too tired to take and upload the pictures now, so I’ll just discuss the next book on the list.

56. Dune by Frank Herbert

This was another recommendation from my DH‘s library, and I enjoyed it, for the most part. I had a few quibbles (especially the wrapping up in the last page and a half – and I mean that literally – it should either have been longer or left out) but for the most part it’s well put together, even though the three parts to the novel could hang together better. The addictive Spice of Dune is what inspired the post title.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I found this today, and my DH and I are going to play Scrabble tonight, after our walk…

Game Boards

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

I’m working on my second design of a board for a classic but lesser known board games. (And no, I have no intention of doing a chess/draughts board. There are plenty of those available, and it’s pretty easy to work out anyway.) The first one is fully designed on paper (with chart and row descriptions), but I still don’t have the yarn for it. The second I’m working on a chart for, to be done in tapestry crochet (using the special graph paper Carol Ventura made available on Ravelry. As and when I’ve used (and thus tested) both patterns I plan to put them up here on the blog.

Have I mentioned that my DH is a board game fan? He’s introduced me to lots of classic abstract games, as well as some more modern games. I’m thinking of writing about some of them here, presuming I run out of the books I’ve read this year before the end of the month.

I’m sorry, I should be getting on with the books, but I have a book I’m proofreading that’s under an important time limit, plus I’m working on that game chart.

Aggravating slowness

Monday, 9 November 2009

My laptop is being wretchedly slow, I’m dithering about what decorations to put on my husband’s tallit bag, we have wedding thank-yous to write, and those and belated birthday gifts to post, I’m nowhere near finishing any of the books I’m reading, and I’m generally wishing certain things would hurry themselves up.

I think this isn’t the best attitude to be blogging in.

We did find a shop selling yarn last night (acrylic and cotton only, which is par for the course here, so far as I’ve seen), so got a bit, until it became really clear the man was waiting to close for the night, which is why I began the tallit bag today. I’m doing it in tapestry crochet, and I have my DH’s name charted (in Hebrew for one side, and English for the other), but wanted something small in at least one corner on each side, but haven’t found what we like yet. Any ideas?

I’ll get back to the books tomorrow, בע”ה.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

And so to my first forays into my husband’s library (which is great, but I’m still looking forward to the rest of my books arriving)! He does have lots of classic science fiction I haven’t come across before, however…

53. Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper
54. Fuzzy Sapiens by H. Beam Piper
55. Fuzzies and Other People by H. Beam Piper

I’ve been dithering between writing about these individually or together, but seem to have chosen to do them together. Even just two months after reading them altogether it becomes difficult to necessarily be distinct about exactly what happens in each novel. (The whole series covers only a few months.)

Still, I really enjoyed the complete story. Yes, there are a lot of attitudes and practices that are decidedly dated and uncomfortable these days (let alone however many millennia into the future the series is supposed to be set), but it’s of the time it was written (the 1960s, although the third book was lost on Piper’s death, and not found and published until 1984, by which time other authors had written some versions of their own – William Tuning‘s Fuzzy Bones is coming up on the list shortly) and there is recognition that some of these attitudes could and/or should be challenged, even if it isn’t prioritised within the series.

By the end of the series several of the Fuzzies themselves have rounded characters, as do many of the humans who are stereotypes and ciphers in the first volume. The potential of all the people of Zarathrustra (the planet where these books are set) has been challenged to develop both technologically/educationally (the Fuzzies) and morally/socially (the humans). While all the women who marry give up the (often prestigious) jobs they held before they married, they do at least move into expert posts alongside their husbands (luckily the Fuzzy bureau and research divisions have plenty of openings). Certainly the treatment of the Fuzzies as children to be adopted and continuously looked after should be no model for any real human behaviour.

In a way, this is television morality. Huge issues are raised, and sometimes trite solutions are given, which if you give it too much thought are not satisfactory, but all that could be expected (perhaps) in an hour, or 150 pages. It is up to us to not only enjoy the story and its wrap up, but to consider the real issues as they apply to our world, and ensure that the best solutions are put into practice, despite their necessary complexity.

(Well, this should go out at 11:35pm, which is a little closer than I’d like for NaBloPoMo posting, but counts. I’ll go by the time of this initial posting however, rather than when I finish any later tinkering with links or typos!)

New Nostalgia

Saturday, 7 November 2009

This will likely be another short post, about books that feel like they should be rereads, but aren’t.

51. Just Henry by Michelle Magorian

As a child I read Goodnight Mr Tom and Back Home multiple times (I had a lot of kids’ WWII novels and biographies, and that war and its aftermath are a regular period for Magorian to write about). (I have read one or two of her other books as well, but don’t know them so well.) I liked both novels a lot, for the realism of the characters, and the interest and depth they bring to sometimes horrendous situations. (Although there’s a lot of good-heartedness in there as well, and they are perfectly suitable for the intended age-groups, in my opinion.)

This book is Magorian’s first in some years, and takes us to 1950, and a group of adolescents still dealing with rationing, National Service, and the family disruption caused by men having been lost in the war. At the same time there is an atmosphere of looking forward to new possibilities (Henry and his friends are fascinated by the cinema and what it shows them of the world) and new attitudes and opportunities (Henry’s stepfather has gone back to school, and hopes to be able to do 3rd level training or studies; and Henry and his classmates, male and female, are all being taught both to cook a meal and to put up a shelf). There are still many types of prejudice to be challenged and overcome, and a need to re-evaluate the past as well as the future, but this is a historical novel which very much looks forward.

52. The Truth About the Irish by Terry Eagleton

This was a (much appreciated) wedding present, to remind me of what I’ve left, and my DH of where I’ve come from! (It does rather help to have enough education in the country and its history to tell fact from fiction, but there are enough signposts that a savvy reader shouldn’t have much trouble.) It’s very amusing, in the good-natured self-deprecating humour that only a professed Irishman (no matter where he’s born) (or woman) could get away with.