I should really read the ingredients more... apparently this is a chai sampler. Oh well :-)

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Viserion's Bane
Spiced apple chai, yes. Spiced apple chai with coconut and cinnamon? Turns out to not taste like much at all. My tongue is probably overwhelmed. It's not bad, but meh.

Targaryen Spirits
Too heavy on the cloves and the cinnamon, which basically overpower any coconut notes that may be in here. Plus, the tea feels... grainy? Like there's cinnamon powder, not cinnamon bark, and I just inhaled a whole lot of it. Meh.

Drogon's Revenge
This mostly tastes of black tea and chai spices, which is fine, but a little blah. Of course, the ginger doesn't help me in any way. Ginger in tea is just weird. But if you like that sort of thing, this is a great holiday tea. Very Christmas-y.

Rhaegal's Fire
I'll never like green tea, gunpowder, or cinnamon in tea, but this is actually pretty good. Nice notes of vanilla with just a hint of orange peel, and the sharper spices and teas aren't overpowering.

Stark Winterbrew
Too much ginger. Probably because of the combination with other spices. Not bad, and nicely tempered with the caramel notes, so it's fine with some milk to bring down the spice, but it's not a re-buy.

Lannister Royal Tea
This is actually pretty good. I'm thinking I like Tiger Eye tea - that seems to be a common ingredient in the samplers I've liked so far. And the cinnamon isn't too strong, so the chocolate and caramel get a nice chance to come through strongly.

Bonus Sample: Wizard's Grey
I hate this blueberry flavor. It's utterly horrible in all of the blends I've tried. So not doing that again. Which is sad, because it sounds so good, just like the TARDIS blend. But in the end, it's like drinking soapy water. Mrgh.
Bridge & Beyond is a local charity that collects handmade items for people living on the street, in shelters, or in temporary housing. One of the things they ask for is hats, because Ohio is bloody freezing in the winter. While using up some worsted-weight leftovers from a previous project, I put together this simple pattern for a nice, stretchy hat that should fit a wide range of possible recipients.

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Sizes
women's S-M, (men's S-M/women's M-L, Men's M-L)

Materials
about 120 yards of worsted weight yarn - these are a great way to use up leftovers
US 7 / 4.5mm needles (DPNs or circulars, depending on your preferred method of knitting in the round)
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends
8 stitch markers (optional but helpful)

Instructions
Cast on 80 (88, 96) stitches. Place your marker, join in the round (and don't twist anything that shouldn't be twisted).

Work in 1x1 rib for about 5 (5.5, 6) inches.

Work one more round in pattern, placing markers every 10 (11, 12) stitches - you’ll end up with 8 sections of 10 (11,12) stitches each. Note: If you're working with 88 stitches, it's much easier to divide them into alternating 10-stitch and 12-stitch sections.)

Decrease round 1: *ssk, work in pattern to marker*, repeat from * to end of round.
Decrease round 2: work in pattern (knit the knits and purl the purls)
Repeat these two rows until you have 32 (40, 48) stitches left.

Work decrease round 1 every round until you have 8 stitches left.

Cut yarn, thread through stitches, pull top closed.

Weave in ends.

Bridge Hat 1


Note
You can make the body of the hat longer, allowing for a folded brim and heavier coverage over the ears. Just be careful when you weave in ends, so they don't show when the brim is folded up. If you're even more careful when weaving in ends, the hat is reversible :-)

Bridge Hat is also on Ravelry - please link your projects!
Oh yeah. Hi. I know you were all expecting Gallifrey One stories, but, well. Air travel tried to kill me.

We'll get to that part later (because was it ever an adventure), but basically, I got home, went to work the next day, and then went home from work because I was coughing up my lungs. And then kept coughing for the next two weeks. I must have caught something really weird during the trip, since it needed antibiotics to get rid of (and my throat still isn't happy with me, even if I do feel way better)... it was bad.

But! I'm better. So we'll get to Gally adventures soon. Because I had a blast.
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I needed tea. And Adagio actually had sample tins in stock, so I grabbed a couple.

TARDIS Blend
I really wanted to like this one, but the blackberry flavor is just fake enough to leave a soapy aftertaste that I just can't get over. Very sad :-(

Quartermaster
This is SO GOOD. Perfect Earl Grey with hints of citrus and cream, without any kind of weird aftertaste or background scent. Like spiced scones with creamy butter and lemon curd. Delicious.

WTNV
I'm just not sure I like coconut in my tea. At least not mixed with Earl Grey. It's not at all bad - but it's not really my thing. If you like coconut though, this is definitely worth a try.
Jeni's seems to be a love it or hate it thing - either you adore it and love trying new, random flavors, or you think it's overpriced and ridiculous and never want to go there again. Obviously, I'm in the first camp :-)



It's just so good. Creamy to the point that other ice creams now feel grainy, packed with whatever flavor you picked out that day, and stuffed in waffle cones that they should seriously sell as cookies.

My favorite is the Goat Cheese & Roasted Red Cherries - tangy yogurt flavor with cherry swirls. Best paired with Cherry Lambic sorbet.



Is it expensive? Yeah, sure. But it's fresh, it's local (made, and many of the ingredients), and it's totally worth it.



Mmm. Yum.
2016 Note: I'll be paying for either a new car or a forced overseas move next year, so if you're not comfortable just handing me cash, Kroger gift cards would be much appreciated. That way I can save the grocery money for other purposes. Thank you!

Wish Lists
Amazon
Adagio Teas
Knit Picks
Etsy
ThinkGeek
Torrid

Gift Cards
Amazon
JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts
Etsy
Adagio Teas
Knit Picks
ThinkGeek
iTunes
Goulet Pens
AMC Theatres
Kroger
Panera

Stuff
Patons Kroy sock yarn
Sugar & Cream or Peaches & Cream or Bernat Handicrafter kitchen cotton (for charity washcloths)
I adore chocolate, as long as it doesn't have fruity cremes or jellies in it.

Donations
If you'd like to make a donation instead of giving a gift, that's cool too! My preferred options would be:
American Civil Liberties Union
Planned Parenthood
Doctors Without Borders (US, Canada, Germany)
Capital Area Humane Society
We had some interesting guests in the office last week, to help us raise interest at a student activities thing. Obviously, nothing else got done that day...

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Penny is an Eastern Fox Snake, and tends to come to most outreach events, because she's actually quite chill and relaxed. Despite the fact that she spent some time trying to find a way to escape her terrarium at first.

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She and Andy, our resident milk snake and lover of hoodie pockets and sleeve openings, eventually settled down though.

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It may have had something to do with how cold it was in the office that day. They ended up cuddling for warmth (not particularly effective when you're a reptile).

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At least until we got them a heater. That, they approved of.

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Nesting

Jan. 21st, 2015 01:37 pm
I think it's winter that does it to me, but this year, it's been serious. So much organizing, clearing things out, getting things set up better. In a word, so much nesting.

I found a way to deal with all the pins I've collected over the years. Just a half-yard of fabric, folded in half and hung with some sawed-off dowel rods. There's already more pins on it, after my volunteer gig for the craft show.

Pin Banner 1a

I acquired some additional storage containers to put things in appropriate places. So many blankets, so many scarves.

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I framed and hung photos and pictures. One set of pony photos that I got as a birthday present (although that photo of Dante has been replaced by a better one that came for Christmas), and one card from my last trip to a National Park (I think that one is from Carlsbad Caverns).

IMG_2271 IMG_2276

A friend traded a pair of socks for a beautiful handlettered first page of Good Omens. Which obviously needs to hang out with the other Crowley. (Don't mind the spacing. I'll fix it next time these get hung, in whatever new home that'll be.)

image image

And I improvised an advent wreath (without the wreath part, admittedly), though those candles are already burned down again. I like the idea though - maybe next year I'll be able to find non-white candles that still aren't scented.

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real_rowena_ravenclaw__s_diadem_by_lunaticca-d5ot006

Diadem Days were a thing we did in an online group a few years ago, as a way to help center everyone after the holidays drove us all to the brink of insanity. We're reviving the concept this year, and I thought it might be nice to share :-) Click each header for a link to the relevant blog post.

Week One: Grounding
This week we begin by examining the root chakra, which relates to grounding ourselves.

Week Two: Creativity
This week, we let creativity in crafting spill into "everyday" life.

Week Three: Being Powerful
Time to play with fire and kick some butt. Even if it's just your own.
I love black tea. Except, I usually have no idea what kind of black tea I'm drinking if it's not something with "Breakfast" in the name. So, Raja Sampler it is :-)



Assam Melody
I like this one. It has a weird aftertaste, but not in an unpleasant way, so it's a little different from my usual black tea, but still quite nice. It's not airplane tea (which I do actually like - I think it's Lipton's or PG Tips), but it's also not as spicy as Irish Breaskfast. Nice in-between flavor, for some variety.

Ceylon Sonata
Now this is the tea I want when I don't want Irish Breakfast. Like PG Tips or Lipton's, but way way better. So good.

Assam Harmony
This one's sharper than the Melody, and... smokier? Something like that. Definitely prefer the Melody, I admit.

Irish Breakfast
Oh Irish Breakfast tea. Why would I ever think about leaving you? That's just silly.

Bonus: White Peach
If flavored white tea is your thing, this is probably delicious. I thought I would love it, but it's actually too perfumed for me - tastes and smells like weird peach gummy rings. It's got a nice natural sweetness though, and the tea itself is beautifully delicate. Just, you know, with overtones of gummy peach rings.
Happy New Year, darlings. May 2015 be everything you want it to be, and include at least one beautiful sunset a month.

I can't help it. It's just not New Year's Eve without a wasted butler, an oblivious rich lady, and a death trap of a tiger rug.

Another year, another attempt at 25 books. Also, another fail at 25 books. It would really help if two of these hadn't been 800 and 1200 pages each. Otherwise I would have actually been able to make it to 25.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
It's interesting... The first part was nice, but not OMG amazing. The second part? Hilarious. Could have something to do with Wil Wheaton reading the audiobook, especially that part, but generally, I like writing like that. Definitely enjoyed it overall, even if it was a little excessively meta in the beginning, but really, that's the point of the book, isn't it? And then the ending killed me. *sniffle*

Spillover by David Quammen
Bats are eventually going to kill us all, in really interesting ways.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Victor is an idiot. There, I said it. But in all seriousness, this is great as an audiobook, especially the Creature's parts. It's great writing, an interesting story that weirdly still resonates (hello, genetic engineering), and at least one character you really do end up caring about. So yeah, I liked it. However, dear Hollywood: THE CREATURE'S NAME IS NOT FRANKENSTEIN. Argh. (I admit, I used to do that. But that was when I was, like, twelve. People who write screenplays about this book should know better.)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What. The actual. Fuck. This story is messed up, and I can't tell if I mean that in a good way. That ending is just so wrong. No, scratch that, the whole thing is just so wrong. Reading it is a little like watching a car wreck: you don't really want to, but you can't look away because you may miss something even more freakishly messed up. So. Weird.

London Falling by Paul Cornell
I loved it. Unabashedly, unreservedly, completely. I thought it was going to be Dresden Files set in London, but it's actually quite different while maintaining all the local-lore bits I love about Dresden Files. And one of the reveals literally had me whisper "holy shit" while on a plane (good thing my seat neighbor was wearing headphones). Plus, I got to tell Paul Cornell just how much I loved it at Gally - and got the ribbons to prove it :-)

Gallifrey One 2014

The Doctor Who Story Book 2007
It's only been ages since Claire gave this to me... but it's quite fun. Little stories, easy to read one by one before bed, but nicely illustrated and mostly well-written. Nothing amazing, but really enjoyable.

Bonk by Mary Roach
I enjoy her writing, and this was a fun read, but I agree with some other reviews that this could have used a better editor. Yes, some of the snarky asides are really funny, but others just seem out of place, and don't really add anything, or even detract from the actual good writing. It's almost like, while Roach makes a comment about sex research not being taken seriously and that being a bad thing, she wasn't quite able to get over that "prudish" need to make nervous jokes about it while writing the book. It's odd.

Logbuch Polarstern: Expedition Ins Antarktische Packeis by Ingo Arndt & Claus-Peter Lieckfeld
Good science writing, gorgeous photos.

A Dance With Dragons by George RR Martin
You know what's a terrible idea? Including a 1200-page book in a reading challenge that is based on the number of books you read in a year :-)
Seriously though, I do love this series, despite all of the issues it can have. It's well-written, it's a huge world, and not all of my favorite characters are dead yet :-P This one also expands on the world more, since King's Landing is no longer the setting for every other chapter. In fact, most of the action is not in King's Landing. I kind of appreciated that, though I spent a long time wondering when we'd actually get to see some of the characters from previous books. I think the "problem" is that book 4 was all about some characters, and while book 5 covers some of the same timeline, it's all about some other characters, so it feels very... separate. But: see previous "huge world" comment. I just hope we get book 6 soon.

Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol Sulcoski
What? If I read all the introductory stuff and knit most of the patterns, it means I read the book :-)
I do like this, both as a general "this is how you work with crazy yarns" book, and as a pattern book. Although I would have liked to see more patterns for "wild multis" that did not involve colorwork. Like, I get that it's one way to deal with, say, something wildly flame-colored, but I rarely have solid yarn to pair with the crazy yarn I want to work with. And frankly, "mostly solid multis" is not a section that should be in this book. Kettle-dyed yarn in mostly one color is not the reason one buys this. But the patterns they do give you are mostly very nice, so take that as you would like.

The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes: Stories of Tidiness, Self-Esteem and Other Things I Gave Up On by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
I feel sad saying this, but I think I may be over her books. This one is cute, just like all the other ones, and it's not like I've read the stories on the blog before, mostly, and they're funny stories (because how could they not be), but I vaguely feel like, in buying the book, I pay for what I can get for free on the blog. Which is a terrible thing to say. So don't be me. Buy this book :-) (To be fair, I will continue to buy her books. And probably continue to feel this way. But that's ok. She's worth it.)

Horns by Joe Hill
I picked this up at the Book Loft because I had seen the author on Twitter, and because it was a cheap copy due to some minor spine damage. Meh. The concept is good, but this is such a... guy book. Swearing and sex and homophobic jokes (I know it's part of the story, but really), and trying to be gritty when it's really just annoying. I guess it was worth a try, but ugh. Maybe the movie will be better.

Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories
Predictably, my favorite stories coincided with my favorite Doctors, with Nine and Eleven having the best stories. Eleven was written by Neil Gaiman, so obviously that was delightfully nightmare-ish. And Charlie Higson, who wrote the Nine story, had a delightful style of only revealing the things that were the most important at the time of the plot. And then I kept thinking "whoa... that's where we're going?" Just awesome.

Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014
One of my rewards for backing Women Destroy Science Fiction on Kickstarter. Great varied anthology of sci-fi and fantasy, plus a long list of new authors to check out. I love it.

Lightspeed Magazine, May 2014
"Selfie" is the weirdest, most intriguing story I've read in a long time. Still thinking about it, obviously. And the rest is pretty awesome too... aside from the Joseph story. That was just weird. But hey, it happens with anthologies. The rest was really quite fun.

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi
I like it. Intriguing idea for an overall plot, good way of advertising the book without being too obvious about it, and a writing technique that's just different enough to be interesting without being gimmick-y. Works for me. I'm definitely going to pick up Lock In eventually.

Shakespeare's Champion by Charlaine Harris
Meh. This is brain candy, but nothing more, as shown by the fact that I'm reading another one of these in basically a day. Not much to the story, I admit some of the racism made me twitchy, and frankly, these are the most boring sex scenes ever.

Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
I'm pretty sure I've read this before. Except I totally did not remember anything about it. I... guess that says something about the quality of this book. It's not bad, exactly, just nothing special. Fun brain candy, I guess. And yes, I did re-read 2 before 1. It was the order in which they were on my Kindle list.

Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook by Chris-Rachael Oseland
This was fun... I mean, half of it is an instruction book on how to carve daleks out of the weirdest materials you can find in your kitchen (and bathroom), and there's just a little too much food coloring involved everywhere, but the actual recipes actually sound pretty good. And I do enjoy the writing - so many puns, so little time :-)

Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014: Women Destroy Science Fiction!
Aside from Seanan McGuire's mermaid story (MOAR PLEASE), I think my favorite part were actually the flash fiction pieces, simply for the potential of each story being expanded later on. I do hope that happens at some point. I admit I bookmarked fewer authors here than I did in previous issues, but hey, it happens. There's still loads of good stuff in here, and someone who prefers more "hard" science fiction (as compared to me, who sways more towards the second F in SFF) would probably adore this entire collection.

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Another "I couldn't read this, but it's a great audiobook" example. It was free on Audible, which means it probably still is, and it's really nice to finally hear the story every single other vampire story ever wants to be based on. Plus, Alan Cumming and Tim Curry reading parts of the book. What else would I ask for, really.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
I never realized how short this story is. But it's still lots of fun. I quite enjoyed the way the people in the story were described - obviously there was hyperbole involved, but it was just so enjoyable to imagine Ichabod based on the text. Plus, I got the audio version read by Tom Mison. So. Good.

Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
So. Good. I mean, I love the book, but the audioplay is incredibly perfect.
And here's your happy holiday wish for everyone in North America. I have to say, I appreciate having multiple traditional holiday days to enjoy :-)



Also, here. Have a video of Tom Hiddleston singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Because reasons.

I've called my grandma, made holiday coffee, and am about to hit the road. Have a lovely holiday evening everyone! Non-British Europe, enjoy your presents.

A new year, a new tea sampler :-) This time, the Sherlock sampler. Still by Cara McGee, because hey, I liked the last one.

Adagio Teas Sherlock Sampler 2014

Molly Hooper
A sweet-ish blend of chamomile and rose hip with a hint of cherry and apple. This is basically a fancy version of the rose hip tea I would drink as a kid, which may play a role in how much I like it. But it's generally a really lovely herbal tea, especially with the fruity notes.

Mycroft Holmes
I mostly like this, but it had a weird sharp aftertaste I couldn't identify, but that wasn't working for me. Turns out it has both cloves and ginger, sadly. Otherwise, this is delicious. And really, some sugar and milk take the edge off the ginger enough where I can drink it just fine, even if it's not something I would order again. The chocolate and orange notes are delightful, and it smells divine. Maybe I'll have to get into potpourri instead of tea with this one :-) I wonder how Mycroft would feel about potpourri.

Mrs. Hudson
It's like a hug from your favorite medicated landlady. Grab a cuppa, have a seat, and listen to her tell stories of running away with cartel accountants.
But for reals, this is delicious. With cream and a sprinkle of sugar, it's like drinking an almond cookie. So good.

John Watson
I actually like the cinnamon in this, for a change. Adds a nice warmth to the Irish breakfast flavor, and the Earl Grey green tea is an interesting development. Quite lovely, in a delightfully British sort of way.

Sherlock Holmes
I can't even. And by that, I mean I can't even turn this into actual tea. I sniffed the tin and actually recoiled. Whatever "oriental spice" is, it needs to be banned to the seventh circle of Hell. And I may still feel bad for the damned.

Greg Lestrade
I would like this if it was Earl Grey or English Breakfast with the hazelnut notes. As is, I hate both Gunpowder and Pu Erh tea (the latter tastes like seaweed, which is only good in sushi), so sadly, this is a no as well. Though it does, for weird reasons, make for the perfect Lestrade tea. It just... makes sense. As do most of Cara's blends, really. She's very good.

A note: I do have to say that I hate the new sample tins these teas came in. They're smaller, and instead of a lid on a hinge, they slide open. Which means the tea is more tightly packed in, making it hard to scoop out with a spoon, and the lid isn't as tight as it could be. Not a fan.

However, Adagio actually responded to me telling them that, and apparently I'm not the only one who's not a fan. So this may change again after the holidays. And either way, I feel like they at least cared enough to read my email. So that's awesome.
... so I got Legos. Specifically the Research Institute, before it sold out again. My local store had them in stock, and were nice enough to put one aside for me, so I put everything together this weekend :-) I've missed Legos and didn't even realize it.

Obviously, we're seconds away from a major lab accident.

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There's actual syringes in the actual functioning drawers behind her. I love it.

I also love that there's a way to build a simple T-Rex skeleton out of Lego pieces. It's so fun.

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I think the tile floor for the astronomer is my favorite though.

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They sure look good in front of the magazine rack with my science writing clips.

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I think what I found the most interesting, weirdly, is that each figure has an actual feminine hairstyle. They're not just standard Lego minis with lipstick, but were molded to be individual characters. I love it.
May you always have a light shining for you, even on the darkest of nights.

Solstice 1 2014

Solstice 2014 2
La Crema Button Nose Buttered Rum coffee, donuts from Destination Donuts (I promise I'm not having them all for breakfast), and catching up with Cast On just in time for it to end.

Advent 4 2014
This year's holiday season seems to be a rollercoaster between "bah humbug" and "OMGSPARKLYLIGHTSANDHOLIDAYMUSICANDSTUFF!" So yeah. That's interesting :-) I decided not to invest in much in the way of decorations, which is fine, but on Saturday, I decided I needed some holiday lights. So I went to the fancy mall and enjoyed their complete waste of electricity money :-D

Easton Christmas 2014 (1) Easton Christmas 2014 (2) Easton Christmas 2014 (4) Easton Christmas 2014 (3)

Maybe next year I'll get my own tree. Speaking of which, I should see if Jess still has the tree skirt her mum made me. I don't think I would have given that to Goodwill in the "must leave the country" depression of 2010.

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