Friday, April 20, 2012

The Bone People

Goodreads has a 'blog your review' feature, thought I'd give it a go :)

The Bone PeopleThe Bone People by Keri Hulme

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A reread of one of my favourite books for a challenge in the book loving kiwis group. I was going to take it slow and savour but I ended up reading 400 pages of it today and that is 400 pages of densely packed small type. It's currently 6.30pm and I've only just emerged from my book haze to chuck some fish fingers in the oven for the kids. The Bone People once again cast it's spell and to struggle was futile.

It was interesting to reread this -I must have read this for the first time over a decade ago - and to clearly remember passages and descriptions. Interestingly there were also whole swathes that I had forgotten (or perhaps tried hard to erase from my memory). I didn't remember the extent of the brutality for instance.

The book remains a 5 star read for me,a haunting beautiful angst filled break your heart read. A memorable and unique blend of mythology, poetry, and fiction that remains in a class of it's own.

View all my reviews

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lacing your Isabelle shawl

There is an Isabelle KAL going on in the Tri'Coterie group at the moment and I promised the girls some better photos showing how I laced/ribboned my shawls, so here it is.

First up, the lovely Sarah took this great photo of her shawl blocking. It is really important you block this design HARD. The edging is stocking stitch and it curls under as you knit it - it really needs to be stretched out when you block it. Blocking wires are really a good investment. I bought might from a welding supplies shop for $2 (stainless steel 1-2mm TIG wires) so they also dont need to be expensive to do the job.

Step 1: Block you finished shawl
Step 2:
With your thin ribbon (about 7mm width) lace along the top edge. Go along in/out (like running stitch) till you get to the middle

Step 3:
Now you will be taking this ribbon down the middle panel. Use the column of small (single yo) holes sitting between the purl ridges.

At the corner (on the wrong side) you will need to twist it around a little bit
Step 4: Repeat the same in/out running stitch style lacing that you did along the top edge till you get to the bottom.

Step 5: At the corners of the shawl (where you started lacing) make a small bow around the knitting itself to secure this edge

Step 6: At the bottom of the shawl thread your ribbon end through to the right side. Later you will tie these in a bow with your thicker ribbon.

Step 7: Repeat for the other side of the shawl using another length of 7mm ribbon.

Step 8: With your thicker ribbon (about 15mm width) thread it through the larger (double yo) holes that run down the middle of the shawl. On the front side of the shawl criss cross it over, corset style. On the back it should look like running stitch again.

Step 9: When you get to the bottom run the ribbon through to the front side. You may have to loop it round the back of the last hole to do this.  Tie in a bow together with the ends of your thin ribbon. 

Step 10: Trim the ribbon to length desired and if you want to prevent fraying you can seal the ends with a naked flame.

In the photos I've used satin ribbon because it stands out better for the purposes of photographing but satin tends to slip and pull and the bows fall out - organza works much better at staying put. Velvet would work well too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beetroot Chocolate Cake

I borrowed a book from our Playcentre library called "Food for Funky Families - the playcentre kitchen book". Not sure we are a funky family but I've been feeling a bit blah with my usual baking, meals and lunchbox ideas so some new ideas were welcome. It's a great book with some yummy sounding recipes, including a selection of gluten free recipes and like any good Playcentre publication some recipes for play (finger paint, gloop and other messy fun stuff).

Tonight I tried "Gabrielle's Beetroot and Chocolate Chip Cake". I love love love the zucchini chocolate cake recipe I have so figured this would be similar in texture and a chocolate cake that has veges in it has to be healthy, right?

Happy to report this is YUM. Very moist with a rich chocolatey taste. The batter is burgundy but you can't really see the colour in the cooked cake (sadly), but you also can't tell there is beetroot in it at all which is good if you're at the hiding veges stage with the kids. I will definitely be making this again :)

Here's the recipe:

2C flour
1/2t salt
2t baking powder
1/4C cocoa

Mix dry ingreds and set aside.

2 eggs
1 C sugar
1/4C orange juice
2t grated orange rind (next time I'd put even more in I think)
1/2 C oil
1 C cooked, cooled and grated beetroot. (I didn't measure this, I just steamed 1 beetroot and grated it all, incl skin)

Beat eggs and sugar till fluffy then add other wet ingredients. Mixture is a pretty pink colour that had my kids very intrigued.

Mix wet and dry together until just mixed. Then add 200g choc chips and fold through.

Bake 180C for 45min. Yum!

Monday, April 2, 2012

52 Books in 52 Weeks...again.

I've challenged myself to read another 52 books this year. Like last year, I'll easily surpass this goal - so just quietly I'm really aiming for 100. Last year I got to a very close, but not quite, 96 so I think it's do-able. I'm currently at 40 odd and it's only April.

So far I've read quite a bit of Young Adult Literature. This has included some very popular (and possibly overhyped) books, and some excellent stand outs.

The best:

Feed by Mira Grant, Deadline by Mira Grant. Books 1 and 2 in the Newsflesh Trilogy. Although these are post-apocalyptic zombie books they are actually more about personal freedoms, the power of the media (particularly 'new' media like blogs) and politics. I was excited to read Feed after having wanted to read it for ages, but it was Deadline that really got under my skin. I am really on a bit of dystopia/zombie type kick this year with my reading and so far, nothing has come close to these two. Eagerly anticipating book 3's release in May!!

Divergent by Veronica Roth is a YA dystopian thriller in a similar vein to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, though not as violent or harrowing. The pacing is excellent, the characters believable and a bit of a YA romance is done nicely and without the obligatory YA love triangle. The world building probably isn't quite as good as Collin's but it was thoroughly engrossing and I spent a wonderfully lazy day reading it in one go.

Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Stiefvater is perhaps my favourite YA author and I have read all her novels, all of which I loved. Scorpio Races is no exception, in fact I think it might be my favourite. The atmosphere is somewhat darker and more dangerous than her other books -the water horses are a superb mix of terrifying and awesome, and Stiefvater really brings the legend to life with beautiful descriptions of their deadly appeal.

This is not really a plot driven book as 90% of the book is lead up to the actual races mentioned in the title. It's more about the characters - a coming of age type story, where the love story is something that grows organically from a reluctant friendship between an alooof horse trainer, Sean Kendrick, and a petulant girl in over her head (Kate/Puck Connelly). I listened to this as an audio book and it was superb.

Also worth a read:  

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children by ransom riggs. A quirky and quite different little book that utilises creepy authentic photos - perhaps one to read in print.

The girl who could silence the wind by Meg Medina. Poignant in it's simplicity. Set in South America this is sweet tale with an almost fable like atmosphere (no paranormal elements in case you were wondering about the title).

A small, free kiss in the dark by Glenda Millard.  A refreshing change in style and voice. This is an award winning book from an Australian author and was an easy 5 stars from me.

Give it a miss (aka don't believe the hype):

 The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.
Matched by Allie Condie.
Across the Universe by Beth Revis.

All my book reviews are on GoodReads here