Saturday, July 31, 2010


I checked the Booker prize-winning Possession out of the library - I'd enjoyed The Children's Book, but this had been billed as AS Byatt's best. I found it pretty heavy going, and after reading a few reviews on Amazon, decided to give up around the 100 page mark. People seemed to either love it or hate it, and as I was well along the "hate it" route, it's gone back to the library. No hard feelings. Both the lovers and the haters singled out as impressive the fact that Byatt has managed the spectacular feat of inventing 2 complete bodies of work for 2 fictional poets. Well, that's lovely, and very clever and whiz-bang, but for Pete's sake, give me a good story while you're showing me how spectacularly brilliant you are. Harumph.

Before I started my long, hard slog through the first hundred pages of Possession, I read the final Magic Thief book: Found. It was a good ending to the trilogy, and I'd definitely recommend it to the What Do I Read After Harry Potter set.

Bell-ringing news has been rather thin on the ground around here. I've been marching along through the methods, and we rang a Quarter Peal of Plain Bob Minor last weekend. I'd been having trouble remembering the work at a "single," and when I looked back at my Method Ringer's Companion, I found a tip from Steve Coleman that not only made me remember it, but made me giggle a little each time. He said to think of the single as a "thrilling handbrake turn," which cracked me up when I read it. And then, of course, the composition that Lesley called had me making said handbrake turn every time it was called. John thinks I've lost my marbles. Thrilling!

The quilt picture? It's a sneak-peek. It's been washed and is now drying but it's rainy and miserable outside, so no pictures today!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New books!

I'm now the proud new owner of the stack of books below. Unbridled luxury, methinks. And no, we're not suddenly going vegan, but it had great reviews and I'm always on the lookout for meat- and dairy-light recipes.

That's enough blogging - I'm off to do some reading!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review: The Lacuna

It was my turn to pick the book for our latest book group selection, and I'd been looking forward to the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel for quite a while. I hadn't gotten around to reading it on my own, so I suggested it to the group. I felt pretty nifty because the day after we reserved our 5 copies of The Lacuna at the library, the book won this year's Orange Prize for Fiction. ::Pats self on back::

In any event, we managed to get three copies before the hordes descended, which we're sharing. I finished the book last night, and was strongly reminded of why I like Kingsolver's writing so much. She's not page-turningly cinematic like Steig Larsson or Stephenie Meyer, but she weaves a well constructed, engaging story. She's also very good at switching narrators, which she also used successfully in The Poisonwood Bible.

The story is set in the US and Mexico from about the 1900s up to the 1950s. Her descriptions are extremely vivid, the characters are endearing (and flawed). It's historical fiction, where the protagonist is dropped into a setting with historical figures. There were a few surprises along the way, which I won't spoil by elaborating further. The first half did, however, expand my repertoire of Spanish swear words quite significantly.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Up In The Air, SuperSize Me, Star Trek

We've watched several movies lately. John and I took advantage of the £1 for 1 week awesomeness on the DVDs at the Stowmarket Library to watch Star Trek again. We both loved it as much as we had in the theatre. Plenty of action interspersed with some Actual Dialogue and a little bit of kissing. Really, what more could you want? I've seen maybe one Next Generation episode, and John has an alarmingly complete knowledge of the original series. It didn't matter - we both thought it was great (although I'm sure I missed all kinds of inside jokes). Leonard Nimoy stole the show, and had some great one-liners.

Despite the fact that they've cut down the hours at the Stowmarket Blockbuster, we managed to grab a copy of Up In The Air. I can't say that I think it was as amazing as everyone seems to think it is - John barely got through it and I thought George Clooney was playing the same aloof character that I seem to always catch him in. Oh well. Not funny at all, either, despite having "comedy" emblazoned on the front. Maybe we just didn't get it?

Then we watched Super Size Me (which I'd never seen) with James. The box said it was a "12", which should have been fine. There was no nudity but there were a few descriptions of what happens to Morgan Spurlock's love life as a result of all the fat/salt/sugar that he's eating, which were a little graphic for our semi-resident 12-year-old. And his dad and stepmom. Ahem.

In any case, he's announced that McD's is now "horrible", which I imagine will pass. However, I can't see him ever being tempted to over-indulge. Yummy. I'll happily admit that I do not feel guilty about my once-a-year McD's egg mcmuffin at JFK airport. When Edward and I were in high school (and I was playing on the tennis team and he was on the rugby team), we had McDonalds probably more than we should have - maybe once a week for a while. It doesn't seem to have done us any harm, although we WERE both running several miles a day.

As it's now definitely summer (and we're having an unseasonably English but very much appreciated warm summery stretch of weather), I'm on to iced coffee on weekend mornings. I know I'm supposed to make the coffee stronger before I ice it, but John doesn't like iced coffee, so I just use the regular stuff out of the pot.

I've started in on yet another baby quilt. This one uses most of the blues and greens from my Moda Verna jelly roll, and was inspired by this stacked coins quilt and this one. I've also used more of the off-white linen-y material from Halfpenny Home that I used in this quilt. Pictures soon!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Afternoon in Bury

We had an extremely successful afternoon in Bury yesterday. The original plan had been to go to Cambridge for the afternoon, but the thought of sitting in a hot train (or driving) for an hour each way was too much for me.

I tried on one dress in Debenhams on a whim - I have a wedding to go to in October in Maine (could be 65 and sunny, could be snowing!), and I needed a dress. Somehow, the last one on the rack was not only 50% off, but my size, exactly what I was looking for, and fit like it was made for me. SWEET! It's strapless, hazy-gray with silvery embroidery on it. It's a little below knee-length in the front with a mini-train in the back. I've scoured the Debenhams website and there's nothing. Oh well. Hopefully the weather won't be such that I have to accessorise with snow boots and mittens.

I bought some bobbins at the "open on Sunday because I had to come in and do paperwork and figured I may as well sell a few things while I'm here" sewing shop, along with a zipper. I also picked up the June issue of British Patchwork and Quilting and was spectacularly disappointed. Maybe I'm a flickr snob (I know I'm a grammar snob), but the pictures were dark and grainy, the writing was typo-riddled, and the featured projects It did make me want to visit the Seattle Quilt Company the next time I'm in Aberdeen. No, the Seattle Quilt Company is not in Seattle, it's in Scotland. Ahem. In any event, lesson learned.

After we got home, we walked down to Blockbuster to rent a movie - we ended up with Up In The Air. John thought it was cringe-worthy, predictable, and depressing. I enjoyed it but agree with him about the depressing part. It was definitely entertaining, though, although we both thought the "comedy" pitch on the box was rather misleading. Anyway, not a bad movie.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blast from the past

Baby quilt no. 2 is now with momma-to-be, who was announced that it was the best thing ever and was going on the crib tonight all ready for the baby. I nearly caused early labour yesterday by accidentally sneaking up on her at work - she didn't realise I was behind her until I spoke, and she jumped about 6 feet in the air. I figured the quilt might make up for it, so I gave it to her early.

I was inspired by some Take 5 quilts that I found on the interwebs, this one in particular. I dispensed with the sashing, though. The colours look a little washed out here, but the red and blue are picked up across all the fabrics. The cream one was part of my goodies from a few weeks ago from Halfpenny Home. I think the red might be a touch overwhelming, but I was trying not to make it too girly, since I don't know what she's having.

We went with the choir peeps last Saturday up to Burghley House and Stamford to have a day out, give a concert, and have a BBQ. Having been to Burghley quite a bit as a kid, I remembered parts of it, but they've added a lot of garden features and visitor facilities. We missed being able to see the formal garden (not open to the public), but thought the house was interesting. Look at all those chimneys!

Out in the sculpture garden (where there were some very cool and some extremely weird sculptures), I found this glorious rose. It smelled good, too.

Our concert went really well - we sang some Tallis and Byrd along with the obligatory Britten. I somehow was the only person who volunteered for a solo in the Britten Te Deum (in C), so there I was, singing my little socks off and channeling my inner English Choirboy. My parents and I thought it was exceedingly odd that my little brother had been an actual English Choirboy singing a similar solo in a very similar church about 15 miles away, 18 years previously. It was all a blast from the past being in Stamford anyway - the school I used to go to was between the church and the hotel where our BBQ was, so we walked past the front doors several times.