Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Today's Lesson

We are currently studying that immensely interesting period of English history, the Norman Conquest. Of course, just before the Norman Conquest, there was the Viking invasion. And the Normans were the descendants of vikings... but I digress.
So we decided to keep pressing on with history over the rest of the summer until we can catch up a little.
First up... the vikings, and their ever present 'dragon boats' as M'Lady calls it.
THAT is from the wonderful (if somewhat lacking in detail at times) The Story of the World Volume Two: The Middle Ages.
The Normans were up next, and I managed to find some great online resources.
First, the helmet.
Rebel made this one ALL by himself, following the instructions from here. While he worked on his, I hastily made another... I was fearful of one of two issues... either he would make a mistake, or where one child went, the other had to follow. I was right...

You KNOW you can't leave one out of ANYTHING can you? They could not wait to decorate them, and I was afraid something would get broken (the scissors are out) so I took pictures!
There is a Norman ship to go with the Viking one... and the page they come from has some great Norman Resources.
While working on the hat, we listened to the brilliant Our Island Story chapters on the Norman Conquest and the Battle of Hastings. THAT is also available for free, but takes a LONG time to download.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Beatrix Potter

I know that Elizabeth mentioned her own little rabbit trail the other day into the life of Beatrix Potter... and I too took a trip down that same rabbit trail earlier this year. I think I even reviewed the book!
Anyway, I just thought that it was worth mentioning that the latest Beatrix Potter mystery by Susan Wittig Albert is available for pre-ordering at Amazon... and that you can get it autographed!
If you have never read Albert's mysteries, you really should. She and her husband author the Victorian mysteries, and she authors the China Bayles Herbal Mysteries too. Well worth reading!

An Interesting Look at Modern Life

According to this rather fun tool, my blog is for the general public... although I did say 'dies' once! (oops... now twice).

Free Online Dating

Anyway, HT goes to Elizabeth (another G rated), who got it from Katherine (who is PG rated for a rather silly reasons) who got it from Margaret (who is also PG rated for silly reasons).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


EXCELLENT. J.K. Rowling outdid herself with this rousing finale to the seven book series.
I don't want to give TOO much away... but...
Basically the story is finished, the loose ends tied, the little things that confused you are all explained. It is a LONG book... over 700 pages long. If you have read all the way to this point... allow yourself an entire day to sit with it... because otherwise you will be up all night unable to sleep because you are wondering what will happen. Or in my case, DREAMING what will happen.
I got the book last night, started it about 9pm and finished it at about 10:30am today... AND I slept. And dreamed too much. But there you have it.
5 * * * * * Stars!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Extreme Simplicity: Homesteading in the City by Christopher and Dolores Lynn Nyerges

Extreme Simplicity is another ‘self reliance’ book , only there is a twist. The story unravels itself in the book: Christopher and Dolores live in a suburb of Los Angeles. They produce a lot of their own food, go dumpster diving, have a home without central heating and they don’t often use the central air. The other difference is that the Nyerges have been doing this for about 30 years.

The couple have some very unorthodox views on life, but the book is filled with practical advice on how to “Live Lightly Off the Land” (their term)

The book is 232 pages long, yet you feel like there must be more information available. It is good but not as in depth as any potential urban homesteader might wish for, not to mention that not all the advice therein is exactly practical. Few urban homesteaders have the ability to keep chickens and pigs (especially those who already have kids) despite the tips the Nyerges give.

Many more suburban dwellers have the room but are unfortunately forced to abide by covenants which restrict what they can grown in the yard, let alone things that they can put on the roof.

I would not hestitate to recommend the potential urban or suburban homesteader this book- with the caveat that they need to check th zoning restrictions they abide under. The books seems a little out of date, although written in 2003.

I give it a * * * 3 star rating. A good read, but do your research first- not all states are as easy going as CA, not all neighbourhoods are created equal and there have been definite improvements in sustainable technologies recently.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Crafting Away

In the last couple of months, I have actually made a few things. In fact, most of the making was done in the last two weeks, but at least one piece is older ;)

First up is a jacket I made, taken from the English knitting magazine, Simply Knitting. It is one of my favourite magazines, not because it has lots of patterns (it has a few, but not loads), but because of the cool freebies it has :) The patterns are a little different too, which is nice. This chevron jacket is from the December 2006 issue.

I made it a little smaller than I wanted to, mainly because I forgot English sizing was different from American sizing! I used Caron Simply Soft yarn, because I like the colours. It worked out very well ;)

Next I made a set for a friend of mine who just had a baby. Cute isn't it? This came from a booklet I picked up at my local knitting shop, for Sirdar Snuggly yarn. I used the recommended yarn ;) This is made for a 3-6 month old because it is WAY too warm for it now ;)

Next up the sling I made for her. You can't see these very well without the Mum wearing it with baby inside, but you get the idea ;)

With the leftover material I made myself a farmer's market bag... these are just rectangles folded and sewn together. The straps were longer rectangles, long ends folded to the middle and then folded in half and sewn. This is really easy to make, and I might make another. It took about 1 yard of material... what I had leftover from the sling :) My friend Sandy, has made a bunch of bags out of vintage fabric leftovers... the ULTIMATE Earth friendly gift. I like it because it looks better than plastic... and it is ten times as strong.
Lest you think I am going mad... I am someone who thinks that the farmer's market is the best place to buy your veggies... eating locally helps your local economy, and it is a lot healthier (read fresher) food wise :) Most farmer's markets have only plastic bags they are re-using to give you... something like my bag is easily placed in the back of the car for trips there!

Last up, is my current (read HOT WEATHER) project... a pair of baby socks for another friend. This is the first of the two, and you can make your own using the pattern here.

ETA: I'm sorry, but my posts appeared to have had their pictures eaten yesterday :( So I replaced them!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Something Fun

Thanks to Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight, I had a delightful interlude, inventing a MEEZ!

You can see my Meez in the sidebar, or make your own by clicking on the link :) ENJOY!

Monday, July 02, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.

This is another book about eating locally/growing your own food, much like the Joan Dye Gussow and Gary Nabhan books.
The idea behind all three, is a return to living on only local foods, many of which are grown by the authors themselves.
Barbara Kingsolver is no exception.
It was a fascinating glimpse into another world. Not because she was able to go on vacation to Italy (I'd LOVE to do that!), but rather because she threw herself wholeheartedly into the 'project' of living off of the Earth, and keeping it all local. Peppered throughout with recipes from her daughter Camille, and sidebars of information from her husband Stephen, the book takes you through a year of growing food. ALL kinds of food, including turkeys and chickens for butchering. One of the best arguments PRO-meat eating I have ever read, was in this book, and so was confirmation of the suspicions I had harboured about the possible cause of the rise in early-onset of puberty in girls. I realised that I, and a number of paediatricians are leery of the number of hormones in our dairy these days.
Most fascinating to me, were the instructions for making your own cheese. Apparently the soft cheeses (like Mozarella) are very easy to make yourself!
All in all, I rather enjoyed the book. It was refreshing to me to read a book actually set in my home state, so I could relate to the whens of planting a lot more.
The only issue I took with the book, was the intolerance of the author when it came to personal beliefs... she was very much anti-'whatever was not her own beliefs', which was quite a shame since the content of the book is very useful to people who wish to adopt the self sufficient/eating local lifestyle.
There are numerous references throughout the book, websites, books and ideas, that can really help anyone on a crusade to eat more locally.
All in all... a good 4 star **** read. Recommended for those who want to eat/live in a more self-sufficient life.