Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pepper, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

My husband made this on Saturday night. We'd never made leg of lamb before, so we just used a recipe out of our Betty Crocker cookbook. It turned out so succulent and savory, I have to share it.

French Leg of Lamb with Herbs


5-7 lb. Leg of lamb
3 cloves Garlic - minced
2 tsp. Rosemary
1 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Sage
2 tsp. Pepper


Combine spices and garlic into a dry rub. Rub over entire surface of lamb leg. Place lamb leg fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes per pound. Meat thermometer temps: 140 = rare, 160 = medium, 170 = well done.

(Next time, we're going to add parsley so we can sing "Scarborough Fair" correctly while we cook.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Last Year's Books

So, here's the list of books I read in 2009. It's a bit later than usual, due to a Major Life Event commonly known as a new baby. But here it is all the same. Listing all the books I read in the past year is something I started doing on my Inscriptions blog several years ago, and I'm posting this list there as well. Some of my book reviews I've linked to are on that blog, not here.

  • Women of Valor: The Rochambelles on the WWII Front by Ellen Hampton
  • I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnik
  • Thursday Next: First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Complete Short Stories of Jeffrey Archer by Jeffrey Archer

  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Darker Place by Laurie R. King

  • Not Quite Dead Enough by Rex Stout
  • Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien


  • Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier
  • Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs





  • A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King
  • By Myself by Lauren Bacall

  • The Watcher's Guide: Volume 1 by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder

Pretty different mix from the year before in one major way: in 2009, I read six books I'd read at least once before; in 2008, nary a one. A lot of old favorite authors this year: Jasper Fforde, Rex Stout, Laurie R. King, J.R.R. Tolkien. And two new authors who quickly gained my appreciation: Jeffrey Archer (for his mad plot-twisting skills) and Kathy Reichs (for her plotting prowess and technical knowledge). Two non-fiction books, one memoir, one play, a healthy dose of fantasy, several novels, and gobs of mysteries. A satisfying year, for sure! If a somewhat scanty one -- the older my son gets, the less time I have to read. Now that I have a baby daughter too... who knows what 2010's list will look like!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Flight of Time

Mercedes will be a month old on Monday. How is that possible? Two weeks, that I could believe, but a month? Where did those four weeks go? Sure, I've changed about 900 diapers, sung a million songs, taken her on lots of trips to the playground with Daniel, emptied and refilled the dishwasher a few times, folded some laundry... but a whole month?

Honestly, this makes me feel terribly unproductive. I've been neglecting my shop a lot -- despite working up and taking photos of 20+ new items before Mercedes was born, I've managed to list six. I have a brilliant (I hope) idea for a new product, but I haven't managed to make a prototype yet. I bought incredibly cute fabric to make a new ring sling to carry her around in so I don't have to use the plain blue one I made for Daniel (and thus I won't get any more questions about how old my baby boy is. He's 2 1/2, thanks -- the baby in my sling is a girl, see the pink sleeper?), but I haven't managed to do that either. I did make some brownies today, at least. And I've been doing some writing. But I have all these projects I just can't seem to get around to. ARGH! Very frustrating.

On the other hand, I've done an amazing amount of snuggling with Mercedes, I've built Daniel umpteen bridges and tunnels for his trains, and I've even read a couple books that have more than 20 pages and don't star Winnie the Pooh or Thomas the Tank Engine. So my time has not been wasted, I guess. And the new product idea and ring sling aren't going anywhere -- maybe I'll get to them this weekend.

No, this weekend I should box up all the clothes people have given us for Mercedes so we can actually walk in our bedroom again without knocking over some pile or other.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Interview with TrinketsnCharms

Today I'd like you to meet the crafter behind the Etsy store TrinketsNCharms, a shop full of handmade beaded items and cards.

What is your name?

Katie Collins.

Where are you right now?

In my Mum's kitchen, eating my breakfast (in England).

How did you choose the name of your Etsy shop?

My Dad suggested it. At the time I was going through a different name every day. The closest I got was "Katies Charms" until someone pointed out that that could be viewed as an entirely different kind of product. And then my Dad suggested Trinkets And Charms, when I shortened for Etsy.

When did you learn to create the things you sell in your shop?

Three years ago in the summer between finishing my BA and starting my MA. I was browsing Ebay one day when I saw the "Crafts" section and decided to have a look. The first section I clicked on was "Beads" and I just fell in love with the colours and styles and shapes and sizes, and the rest is history!

If you had to choose one craft to do for the rest of this year, what would it be?

Umm...probably jewelry, I've had more practice at that than card making. But a big box of card making supplies arrived on my doorstep from the Postman this morning so that's a very difficult decision to make.

What book are you recommending today?

Today I am recommending Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris. Harris shot to fame after her novel Chocolat was turned in to a film with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.

Why do that book and author appeal to you?

I like Joanne Harris as a writer because the majority of her books tell the same story but from several points of view. A lot of books involve one character and they describe what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. But Harris deftly weaves the story lines of multiple characters together, so you get the different reasons and motives for each character from their own minds. Each chapter covers a different character, and she ends each one in a way that makes you go "and!?" -- forcing you to continue reading so you know what is going on.

This is a decent enough read, but it is one of Harris’ early works so do not expect the same level of writing that we get from her other books. And definitely do not expect the same warm, domestic magic you’ve seen in Chocolat.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Tea cures everything! Now where's my mug?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"A Farewell to Arms" by Ernest Hemingway

I didn't start reading Hemingway until I was in college, which was probably good, as I don't think I was ready for him any earlier than that. I really liked the movie City of Angels (1998), in which Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast played a crucial role, so one summer I looked for the book at the local library. They didn't have it, so I got The Sun Also Rises instead. I remember I chose that one because the title comes from the book of Ecclesiastes, my favorite book in the Old Testament.

Ever since, I've been a Hemingway fan. Over the last decade, I've been slowly working my way through his works. It's been a while since I've read any of his novels, so when the book I was hoping to read wasn't in at the library a couple weeks ago, I picked up A Farewell to Arms. I started reading it a couple days after we came home from the birth center, and like most Hemingway, it was a quick read. (I only get a few minutes a day to read right now, so anything I finish in less than a month feels quick these days.)

A Farewell to Arms, as you may know, was inspired by Hemingway's own experiences during WWI. If you've ever seen the movie In Love and War (1996), you know something about them. Like Hemingway, the protagonist in Farewell is an American driving an ambulance in Italy. Like Hemingway, he gets wounded and falls in love with a nurse while recuperating. Unlike Hemingway, he deserts from the Italian army and runs away with the nurse.

Much has been written, said, and argued about Hemingway's "iceberg theory" of writing -- he tried to record the outward motions of his characters and let most of the emotions ride below the surface, unwritten yet tangible. It's a style that I dig, but not everyone does. Still, if you've never read him and would like to, Farewell is a good place to start, as it's more accessible than The Old Man and the Sea, more engaging than The Sun Also Rises, but not as long as For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Interview with EmbellishYourPage

This week's interviewee runs the Etsy supply shop EmbellishYourPage, where you'll find handmade paper embellishments and other supplies.

What is your name?

My name is Lacey Noel.

Where are you right now?

I'm at work right now. Super slow!

How did you choose the name of your Etsy shop?

I picked my shop name because that is what I would like people to do, embellish their creations with items from my shop.

When did you learn to create the things you sell in your shop?

I was originally a cardmaker and I had a different shop. I listed cards, borders, quilled items (twirled paper), some paper punches, and knitted items. I am self taught (books helped alot) starting in 2005. I was addicted to EVERYTHING. Eventually, I went to smaller handmade items since cards and scarves didn't seem to sell and changed my shop to be focussed on scrapbooking and cardmaking. I love buying punches and stamps for myself as much as for my shop.

If you had to choose one craft to do for the rest of this year, what would it be?

I think if I had to stick with one thing, it would have to be knitting, but deciding is so hard! I couldn't stick to one thing unless someone made me.

What book are you recommending today?

I am recommending Flirt by Laurell K Hamilton.

Why do that book and author appeal to you?

I really love first person work since you can get inside a person. All the things that people censor for the world are right there, take it or leave it. This is one of her shorter works (some are over 600 pages!) that really focused on the main character, Anita Blake, and her men issues. She has several sweeties that she juggles, but never really mastered the art of flirting. She gets into trouble mastering the art and endangers some innocent bystanders in the process. With her usual flair, there are fight scenes, love scenes, hard choices, and mostly happy endings (things don't go well for the bad guys).

This particular book is almost exclusively Anita-focused, probably because of the length, but there is still a good dose of the supernatural with a pride of werelions, zombie raising, and her menagerie of werewolves, wereleopards, and vampires. Anita puts all her supernatural powers to good use to save the day (and collect a new man).

All in all, a fast, fun read for Anita Blake fans. There is some fun personal info about the author as well that gives insight on how she collects ideas and fits them to her use. I really do think that a good author leaves a little piece of themselves in every work.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I love to connect with people! Tell me your special crafting needs or your story. I love it all! I get a wonderful kind of thrill from every order, no matter the size or type. Sending overseas has been especially thrilling as I tell my friends and family the new country that I am sending to now.

Please take a look around my shop and take advantage of any specials that I will be running. Something new every month.

I am also offering a special discount for readers of this blog, 15% off your order, including shipping costs! Go ahead and combine this with specials for extra savings. Please use the code "huggermugger" in the message to seller field and I will refund your savings through Paypal. The code never expires.

Thanks so much for reading and happy crafting!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin

My friend Julie (of Etsy shop ThisCosyLife) recommended Ina May's Guide to Childbirth to me when I was pregnant with my son Daniel. Reading it prepared me for giving birth more than anything else I read or watched or was told during my entire first pregnancy. Naturally, I turned to it again while pregnant with Mercedes to refresh my memory. If you or someone you know is pregnant right now, even if you're/they're not considering a midwife-assisted birth, I strongly recommend this book as an excellent preparatory tool.

Ina May Gaskin is widely recognized as the nation's premier midwife. She's attended more than 1,200 births, so I think you'll agree she knows what she's writing about here. In this book, she guides the reader through the birthing process with a friendly, knowledgeable style.

The first 120 pages are filled with birth stories told by many, many mothers from all walks of life and spanning decades. Some of them gave birth in a hospital and had a later child with a midwife, while others turned to midwives right away. I especially found this first section to be helpful because it illustrates how different every birth is, and how following your body's signals and doing what it seems to need can lead to a quicker, easier birth.

The rest of the book is a guide to pregnancy and birth, from advice on how to choose a practitioner that's right for you, to a step-by-step explanation of the stages of childbirth, to a discussion of modern midwifery.

While this is definitely a pro-midwifery book, it does not take the stance that all hospitals are bad places to give birth. Not all mothers are suited to natural childbirth, and at-risk pregnancies are generally better off at a hospital with emergency medical intervention at hand if needed. But for someone like me who wants to have natural births, a midwife-assisted birth is definitely a sound option.

Monday, March 1, 2010

One Week Old!

I had my baby last Monday! As I had suspected, I had a girl. Why suspected? When I had my ultrasound at 20 weeks, she wouldn't uncross her legs, so we never found out what I was having. But back in early June, I woke up one morning with the firm conviction I was pregnant and having a girl. The pregnancy test confirmed the first fact, but I'd had to trust my gut on the other. I was convinced last time around I was having a boy, and I did, so I was pretty sure I was right this time too.

Daniel is getting pretty well adjusted to life with his little sister now. The first few days were really hard for him because Mommy can't do everything for him that she usually does, like pick him up and carry him. But he's starting to enjoy his new role as a big brother now, and loves bringing toys over to show to Mercedes, especially the new wooden tracks he got this week for his Thomas trains. He even kissed her on the head this morning!
So now you know why I haven't been updating this blog or my shop for a while. Hoping to ease my way back into both now that life is settling down a bit....

Interview with ByCinByHand

Today I bring you the woman behind the Etsy shop ByCinByHand, where you can find handmade knitwear and vintage goodies.

What is your name?

Cinthia Singleton

Where are you right now?

New Mexico. I live in a neighborhood of old Victorian homes all built as the railroad expanded West. My home is 1908 and a labor of love, and home too.

How did you choose the name of your Etsy shop?

My shop started out as a place to feature my knits. Since I've been knitting and designing professionally for decades now, I just used that name - bycinbyhand. "Cin" is short for Cinthia. "by hand" because all the work's done with my hands. Then I started selling my vintage finds and book...but the name stays, even if I use more than my hands to keep the shop running.

When did you learn to create the things you sell in your shop?

My grandmother was an expert knitter. She knitted my grandfather's cardigans, dresses for my aunt as well as her Barbies. When I went to Gramma's house, I did what she did but in my own child way so I had my own ball of yarn and needles and a book called "How to Knit." I had to have been in 2nd grade. By the time I was 9 I made a vest which I still have that won 2nd Place at the county fair.

If you had to choose one craft to do for the rest of this year, what would it be?

I'm a knitter but I've been using more embroidery this year than ever before. It makes a piece so interesting!

What book are you recommending today?

I am recommending my book, The Soul Companion Exercise. I wrote it as a result of a manifestation exercise I worked on with my astrology clients... how can you be clearer about what you want so you aren't compromising when seeking a love? I had gotten a very abbreviated version of this exercise about 30 years ago during a tarot reading and just thought long and hard about it, did it, then expanded upon it. I self-published it last year and have been selling it here on etsy, on amazon, as well as consigning it to some very sweet little boutiques around the country.

Why does that book appeal to you?

It's a fairly simple approach to manifestation...put the desires to page and think about them once you see them there. There's something special about the written word and journaling, even in this cyber age. Another appeal for me is that I myself did the exercise and it did work. Oh, and I love the book's design. Worked very hard on that with a great graphic designer who's here on etsy as well, 240inc - http://www.etsy.com/shop/240inc

Anything else you'd like to add?

The hoodies - one in kids size and one in adults - are 20% off this week!