Fragmented Friday

Friday Fragments is a blog party hosted at Half Past Kissin time.

Hot, hot, hot. Tappin high 90’s low 100’s for the last few weeks. Skipped out on the Arts Council music in Murphys park as even tho scheduled for early eve, just did not want to be outside.

Still playing at Pinterest DIY – getting all my ideas for my future garden in one place. Had been planning to paint the Adirondack chairs a deep red/brown to match an eventual trim color for the house; after seeing this, I’m moving towards more color. Summer here is brown. This cheerful shot from BHG is inspiring:

Pinterest Food makes me wonder if we’re in a competition to see just how fattening Americans can make any dish. Say, take a yummy, moist chocolate cake and frosting. Most of us would be happy with that as a perfectly executed dessert, right? But the web trend is to consider it better if you add a layer that’s cheesecake (with crumbled candies in the cheesecake cause good ol cheesecake isn’t enough) and make it really tall, then smear candies into the side frosting and – oh why not put cookies on top. Really?  Do we need our candy batter dipped and deep fried or your cake a monstrosity of 12 desserts in one?  Give me simplicity where I can savor my flavors.

Eek – yes, I did cute. Ikea bib pack plus embroidery designs (mostly Embroidery Library) and some stitching. For a friend (a bit ago, but found the pic when looking for something else).

From my lack of posting, you’d think I haven’t been cooking or crafting. Just been in a mode of making my favorites – various toppings on the so quick and easy pizza dough, my fav cornmeal muffins and the yummy raspberry tart. Even made up a batch of the “best ever” chocolate mocha cookies. All can be cooked in a small batch in the toaster oven on the porch so the house stays a/c alright. The cookie batter is perfectly happy in the fridge for a few days – you don’t have to bake it all at once. I’ve also been known to put the rice cooker and slow cooker (just did up a crunchy batch of garbanzos for salads) on the porch table.


Have to write up the crafty stuff, but it’s time for another iced coffee.

Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments is a blog party hosted at Half Past Kissin time. Luckily, she leaves it open a few days as today is obviously Saturday J So my bits:

I’ve posted mucho photos of Ruth Bancroft Garden – but must add this: Puya berteroniana (Annie’s Annuals has 3 Puya’s – this, a cool blue or lime green flowered variety). There were a few flowering at Bancroft. Had to go right up to it as its color made it look like another manmade sculpture – not a color you normally find in flowers. The bloom brings it to about 6 foot tall.

Was looking for something on yet a few more blogs that did not have a search field again this week. Arrgggh, why not? Don’t all the major carriers offer a search widget? I may go one or two pages – then I give up. Do folks really think everyone will plod through every post they’ve written looking for something? I would’ve shared the item further if I could have found the post. Sigh. If you have cool pics/projects/recipes please, please, please add a search widget to your blog.

This week’s new effort – getting creative inspiration or internet time wasting? Pinterest, currently ok. I suspect not for long. What’s cool – if you’re a crafter or a foodie or whoever and save links of ideas, then install new software that messes up your browser (isn’t everything always trying to get you to a different browser) so said links are hard to find – or if they simply get too long and messed up to fuss around with folder organization – this is presently a great place to store your links. (notice all the disclaimers about good now). It saves a nice big picture – so instead of a list you’re not quite sure what your link will take you to after having it for a few years – you get a page of clickable pictures for each of your folders. Cool. I can open a file of crafts to make for Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead and scan it quickly. I can search on pallets to see what everyone is out there making from wooden pallets and become oh so inspired to make more outdoor stuff. (Really – if you take any action on reading this post – open the pallet link!). I can “follow” other folks folders if it seems as though they’re capturing the same kind of inspiration I’m interested in – and see everyone I’m following on one page full of pics. If I like what they’ve posted, I simply “repin” it to one of my own boards.  The downside? Self promotion not monitored – I’m ok with a bit of it, but you know what happens when it’s not. The easy answer is that Pinterest opens to your page of followers once you sign up – so you won’t run into this unless you go to and click their categories (I’m a fan of DIY and Food). If you’re the blogger – folks may never stop on your blog so you might not know how much visibility your post’s photo is getting over on Pinterest. But, the pallet search hooked me – especially when I then went to wine barrels….  Oh oh, too much to do.

Books, my continuing addiction

It’s my prerogative to change my mind right? If you’d asked me a month ago I would’ve sworn “yes, I only read for enjoyment these days”. Although that’s wholeheartedly true, I find myself searching out books that have a bit more literary depth. What do I mean by that? Well, I mentioned last week I like to go to the awards sites to find new books. First, I find an author that I like, then I look to see which awards that author has been nominated for, then I check that award site for new to me books. Enjoying fantasy, there is a substantial range of quality in the writing of books available. Many, whether through a deft editor or the writer, can relay a good fast-paced story. But in the rush to get series to print, so many devices regarding characters and plot line can be overdone. I’d mentioned a few of the worst devices in my post Books, My Drug of Choice.  Mush mind, after reading too many series that plug together a bunch of devices to get a story to market, is the phrase that best expresses how I feel. I can put the book down and think I might as well have couched out in front of some inane TV show. Yes the time passed. No, it wasn’t horrible. But if I could’ve only found better books, it would’ve been so much more enjoyable rather than pleasant enough. So, yes I read for enjoyment, but that enjoyment does encompass more than just a pleasant enough passing of time. The story devices I haven’t mentioned that make me want to take a perfectly lovely new little paperback and toss it across the room are: 1. An overabundance of character A doesn’t tell character B something with dire results. It’s a formula (if you have no other morale for your story, grab this “can’t do it alone” one). I tolerate some as it’s everywhere. Recent over the top examples took books from I might have liked this to simply can’t pick up another.  The worst example was “I love him – overhear the mob’s put out a hit on him – I have to warn him – try on CELLPHONE – can’t get through – must hide – go stay with my sister Friday through Monday morning – do be do be do lounge by pool to relax with cell phone handy – come back Monday morning get off plane THEN panic and try to reach him again, oh no people died, arrrggghhhh – she’s the heroine we’re supposed to like. That was one where you wish you had a line to the author so you could scream at them “You’ve got to be kidding me!”. I ran into three series in a row where this simplistic device was so overdone I won’t read another book by any of those three authors or finish those series. 2. Enjoying and following a lovely story, engrossed in the book and getting to the end is like walking in to a brick wall – they tie it up all at once and you can only think they hit their deadline uninspired about how to make it end or without enough time to do it well. This one is a horrible way to end an otherwise enjoyable book. So, coming off the aggravation of number one I was determined to find a good book to read. I’ve mentioned C.E.Murphy is one of my favorite authors for a fun read. On her MizKit website she’s noted books she’s read and her favorite books. Here’s what she had to say about Tigana“The book I love most: Tigana
I’ve read it, I don’t know, a dozen times, and it continues to work for me, which GGK either does or does not, for readers. I love its inevitability of tragedy and the moments of joy that counteract them–though largely they’re so well entwined you don’t get one without the other in that book. The doom is all *perfect*, and I just adore it”.
What’s worth reading: I‘d slated some of Guy Gavriel Kay’s works to read as he’s won some of those World Fantasy Awards I mention were bestowed on a few of my other favored authors (Charles de Lint and Patricia McKillip). Then I saw the above recommendation and immediately bought a copy. I agree with C.E. Murphy that Tiganais a lovely worthwhile read. It’s extremely well executed with a thorough development of his fantasy universe. However, I have to admit that by page 300 I was still feeling a bit disconnected – I could put the book down and not wonder what happened in the story line or to the characters. None had invested me enough by that point, about halfway through the book, to really care. That isn’t to say the first half of the book was difficult. It was interesting and moved at a nice pace. Other than the very long buy in to feel an emotional connection to the characters and storyline, it’s beautifully done. If you require fast-paced action, this is not the book for you. But, if you find joy in artistry of writing and a comprehensive tale this is certainly a book for you. Well, since I’ve gone classic with the above recommendation, let me now turn to Janet Evanovich and her Plum Boxed Set 1, Books 1-3 (One for the Money / Two for the Dough / Three to Get Deadly) (Stephanie Plum Novels). Yes, literary depth aside, but these are well written. The mysteries are light, fun and fast moving. They start with One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No. 1) by Evanovich, Janet 1st (first) Edition [MassMarket(2003)]and I have to emphasize – you MUST read this series in order. I can honestly say, with the exception of maybe two of her series, that I’ve heartily laughed out loud while reading these books. And, if you saw the movie – it was horrid – the books are truly worth your time. With series, I think it best not to review every single book individually – either you think folks should read the series and will enjoy it, or you don’t. Some fuss with one book is better than the other. I won’t bother. These mysteries make the rounds. My sister, friend Denise, friend Cynthia and her husband Karl, and friend Marian and her husband Alan – all of us read each and every one of the Stephanie Plum novels. My only regret is that I’ve sent the vast majority of my books off to share and I’d like to reread this series in another year or so. I’ll just have to get a whole new set. Sizzling Sixteen  is the most recently released of these titles with Smokin Seventeen scheduled for summer.I’ve also recently embarked on reading Sharon Shinn. Her Samaria series is considered more original than much of the science fiction/fantasy out there.Archangel (Samaria, Book 1) is the first book in that series. The tapestry of her world building is rich and detailed, yet the story moves at a wonderful engaging pace. This book received the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award (1996). Luckily, each book of the series is a standalone novel as I’d tackled Angelica (Samaria, Book 4)
, the fourth book first. Found it enjoyable enough that I immediately got the previous books – which I’m now devouring. Archangel blends an appealing romantic plot line with the fantasy world fight of good versus evil. Hers is not a traditional or Christian view of angels; those who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the bible may find it offensive. In truth, a few males I know would cringe at the extent our ’emotionally damaged in her youth’ heroine must be sought for any connection to be established. For all others, I highly recommend this series.

This Week’s Book Recommendations

While considering how to relate my thoughts on Patricia McKillip, one of my favorite authors this week, I thought I might relate to music. With stories you can have a simple plot line believable characters and decent writing. Or, you can have writing that is pure artistry. Similarly, in music you can have layers of tone and vocals that reverberate through your soul, or you can have a simple melody with lyrics that so many identify with, will want to be identified with, as to make it a bestseller. McKillip’s writing is that style of tone upon tone that speaks to your soul. Most suggest you start her readings with Riddle-Master
(which I did Love). It’s a World Fantasy Award winning piece and, as she and another few writers I enjoy have won World Fantasy Awards, I’ll often go to their website first if I’m looking for a new read. My recommendation is to start with Song for the Basilisk. Her approach to the opening in this book is pure genius. Don’t expect ‘sword and horses’ male style action adventure fantasy writing or the romance that’s overtaken the majority of urban fantasy. McKillip’s magical lyrical writings are simply original and often compared to Tolkien (for originality, she’s not a copycat Tolkien). People who write blogs write. For that reason alone, I think most of us should branch out and read the work of artists every now and again. I’ve seen others say they have writers block. My first response is always ‘sit down with a good book’. I’m always eager to get to the keyboard once I put one down. There is not one of McKillip’s writings that I could not wholeheartedly recommend. It’s only a matter of where you start. That said, if you need constant fast moving action, these books may not be for you.

  The other book I’ll recommend this week is Dean Koontz The Taking. Koontz is a master of suspense and mystery. He also ventures into horror. I pretty much wholeheartedly avoid horror. However, I have no problems tackling books where the gruesomeness is not closely related to reality. The Taking would probably be classified as horror suspense. I’m recommending this as his use of language and imagery is superb. I suppose the horror didn’t really get to me because part of my brain was watching his phrasing and admiring how he put words together to paint a picture in my mind. For those of you who enjoy noticing the turn of a phrase, this is the book for you. One reviewer was not enamored of the phrasing, preferring their action suspense to have fewer descriptors. It’s something I enjoy. My favorite Koontz books are his Odd Thomas series, but I’ll write about those another time.

I started with last week. Entered my book list, subscribed to a few groups and am trying it out. It’s too early to tell if this is something I’ll stick with. The jury’s still out. There are things I like and things I hate about this site. I found some interesting groups but I don’t think I’ve yet found the optimum groups for me. When you browse science fiction/fantasy groups you’ll find there are 776 groups. Try to narrow found to urban fantasy and you’ll find a significant number are school age (“my school doesn’t let us log into Twitter..”) and completely enamored of the most highly sexed of the urban fantasies out there. Can’t say I want the recommendations from that group. But, I haven’t made a dent in the group list or completely given it a chance yet. Still browsing to see if there are few that will match my interests. For now, I’m more comfortable searching the fantasy and science fiction awards sites looking to add books to my ‘to read ‘pile. In addition to browsing the World Fantasy Award site that I’m most fond of, you can also find respectable recommendations by going to the British Fantasy Award site, Hugo Awards, or the Locus Awards (that are reader nominated) and Nebulas.  In truth, I haven’t explored the Locus or Nebulas all that much yet. I often scan previous year’s winners, grab a few names and look them up on Amazon. If I like an author, I then continue to read all they have published – so it’s a slow process. Yet, surprisingly, I often find myself without any books on my pile that I’m dying to read. I do wander through a bunch that I call as entertaining as sitcoms. It was recommended, you bought it, it was enjoyable enough, you read it.  So many seem to be stuck reading (and recommending)what’s only come out recently. Yet, because of the success of the movie, some run to Tolkien without also realizing that other fantastic and engrossing books have been written in years past (and I love Tolkien). Have mentioned in my previous post on books, that I’m also a fan of really good mystery. Happy to hear your recommendations. On the blog I’ll write about only books I’m recommending. I’ve been more pointed in some of my reviews at If there’s nothing truly excited to see on TV, why not turn it off and grab a good book?

My Drug of Choice – Books

Books are my drug. Some become addicted to Valium or alcohol in order to relax and unwind; my drug of choice is embroiling myself in a captivating story to the exclusion of everything else. Unlike television where your mind can easily wander, the process of reading demands enough attention that all those concerns rattling about your brain are effectively quieted.  Imagination is duly engaged as you fill in images and details of characters and places the author paints for you.

From the moment I decided to blog, I knew I would write about books.  There’s been this neglected category sitting off in the right column for books and writing from the very first day my blog was published. It’s time to put something there. While looking for new things to read, I found Charlaine Harris’s website and thoroughly enjoyed her approach to reviewing books. She is committed to no negative reviews, simply covering the books she enjoys and not mentioning others. Every few weeks, she gives you only a few sentences regarding each book she’s read that she recommends.

 Before you decide whether you’d like to follow what I may babble about books, let me share a few things. One, I am the kind of person that if while waiting in line for a movie some cretinous fool exits and loudly gives away the ending – well, I’d duly love to angrily pummel said fool into unconsciousness. Don’t like spoilers. Preference is to let the author unfold the story line at their own pace. For this reason I rarely read book reviews. Too many have adopted a style that closely follows their grade school requirement for a book review detailing the story to prove to a teacher they’ve read it. I won’t even read the book jacket synopsis – they often share what you wouldn’t find out from the story until the 4th or 5th chapter. If I like something, I simply tackle everything else that author has ever written, usually in seriatim order.

My current approach to books is 100% enjoyment. Having an English lit degree, I’ve spent more than the requisite time engulfed in the writings of famous depressed and suicidal authors. Although I don’t disparage anyone from reading these classics now, I’ve no desire to read books to trigger empathetic emotions regarding life’s hardships and inequities. Real horror gives me nightmares.  What I voraciously revel in is fiction, specifically urban fantasy, fantasy and mystery. My complete addiction is to books that present the world as a place of magical possibilities, although you’ll see some books seep in that are strictly mystery. You may wonder that I’m not compelled to continuously improve myself through my reading selections. Working in a business environment, constant learning is a given. Besides, my reading is replacing the mind numbing dribble that occupies most of network TV.  Given that, I find my choices a huge improvement. If well-stocked with a pile of books or files on my Kindle, I’ll read a book a night rather than watching TV to unwind.


Pet peeves include reviewers that appear to set out to prove themselves more intelligent than the next person through their negativity or those who demand the story itself be different than the author chose. I have as many opinions as the next person (if not more). Might occasionally let myself point out certain devices I attribute to a publisher more than an author in hopes that authors can take this information to their publishers to facilitate change. Two devices I detest are the 1. The cliffhanger “tune in next week…” and 2. diluting the intensity of a story with constant repetition of previous developments. The cliffhanger annoys me as many feel forced and if I like an author I will buy the next book in the series. I don’t need them to shoot someone in the heart on the last page to compel me to return and see what happens. With repetition within a book or from previous books, it can become insulting; I wonder if some believe their readers are complete morons who have to be told points over and over.

Favorite authors include Janet Evanovich, Patricia McKillip, C.E. Murphy, Kelley Armstrong, Kim Harrison, Deborah Harkness, Charles de Lint, Charlaine Harris, Sue Grafton and Dan Brown. There are many others I’ll cover when I mention their books. If you have some that fit with the above, please share in comments. I’m constantly searching for new authors to add to my reading pile. I avoid realistically gruesome and books that put more weight on detailing sexual encounters than plot. I’m not addicted to vampires – guessing that it’s publishers denoting them popular and pushing them as the fantasy character of choice. That’s what’s out in fantasy, so that’s what I’ve been reading (and enjoying).

There’s so much more I could say about books and reading. To prevent this post from becoming a painful and tedious dissertation, I’ll stop here and add a bit with each post of book recommendations. However, sharing this as you may find my approach to book reviews unorthodox.

What’s Worth Reading:

Deborah Harkness debut into the world of fiction and grown up fantasy, A Discovery of Witches, is a truly enchanting read. There’s good reason that it’s currently number two on the New York Times Hardcover bestsellers list. Genuine, fully developed characters pursue the threads of this well written and inventive mystery. My only complaint is that I must wait for the remainder of her trilogy to be published.

C.E. Murphy is one of my all time favorite authors. Urban Shaman is first in her witty world of fantastical creatures, The Walker Papers Series. You might call Joanna a reluctant shaman, but regardless of what you call her you’ll love this character. Each book in the series is so arresting that I only pick them up when I can read them cover to cover without interruption.

As a push to get myself writing a bit more about books, I’m resurrecting this for the Gallery Of Favorites with Alea at Premeditated Leftovers.

Why Blog? My Blog

True there are a gazillion blogs out there, so why join the fray?

First:  I blog surf predominantly for inspiration, motivation and ideas. I have many favored sites, and will get lists of these up soon.  Machine embroidery is one of my new passions.  I love the projects, designs and instructions available on the vendor sites.  However, I’ve found little in the way of sites that are not vendor owned. I’ve found a few discussion boards, forums or yahoo lists – generally the type where someone posts a question and you see an answer 6 months later.  Besides, with the ease of viewing images and text within blogs and social networks, I find those venues extremely tedious. Back in the day when they were all that was available, I was pretty active in the craft, gardening and collage art forums. But today, their clumsiness and lack of ease just annoys me.

Second:  With the time for Handmade Christmas considerations upon us, I’ve been blog and web surfing more.  Time is a restricted commodity for me.  I work full time in a field far removed from handcraft. I am delighted that there are so many mommies out there that adore their children and create and market beautiful things for them or others children. But for those of us whose family and friends are not in a child rearing space but focused to late teen through adult, blog and web surfing has become a mind-numbing effort to dig past the profusion of mommy blogs and find blogs discussing the projects that captivate us.  Appears we’re a minority with a profound need to be represented. (Update 2016 – new baby in the family and I’ve joined the “isn’t this just the cutest thing?” fray – rest assured, I’ll still be making things for adults as well). 

And third:  I use Facebook primarily as a space to connect and share with family that is spread across the U.S. and globe.  I don’t want to open this space up “to the world” at large, but would like to have a space for sharing and discussing interests with like minded souls.  Thus, the origin of my new blog.

My Blog

In initiating this endeavor, I’m reminded of Disney’s Aladdin where Robin Williams first makes his appearance as the Genie. He does a witty impression of William Buckley Jr. in declaring his quid pro quo’s.  Mentioned in my About page – my focus is an optimistic approach.  I promise I won’t discuss downers, depressing topics, my own or my family’s physical maladies, problems or causes. There are many who feel more connected doing so.  As Seinfield said “not that there’s anything wrong with that”, just not here. The web and blog-o-sphere abound with places for people to discuss their physical and mental challenges or their favorite causes.

My Quid Pro Quo’s

  • I’ll apologize now for my actions.  I’ll delete comments and won’t link blogs that wander into this milieu.  My only exceptions to this pledge are that I will:
    • discuss and show any new projects I’m working on to donate and may mention/link the charity name.  I will not lecture or expound on its benefits.
    • I’m not a fan of heated debate, know many who live for that challenge, but – hey this is my blog, anyone needing that style discourse may create their own. Religion and Politics are off topic here and will be deleted.
  • I appreciate that everyone’s first accountability is to support themselves and their families, so this also falls in the “not that there’s anything wrong with that” category but I hate ads. It’s getting harder and harder with some sites to navigate the ads and find the post you’d hoped to read.  I have ventured into being an affiliate, so there will be links to items I really do use and buy.  I will generally not link folks to blogs that are heavily laden with ads. I will delete comments that are more an ad than a comment on the post.  However, those who comment may link back to their own site/blog where they sell. Some years I pay WordPress to have an ad free blog and some I don’t. If their ads ever seem “in your face” -please take a screen shot and send it to me and I’ll reconsider if I haven’t opted for ad free that season.
  • My other pet peeves are sites where music automatically begins blaring (lap kitties who are not declawed can damage one when startled by this).  Besides, I’ve generally got my own music playing; a blog or web adding to it becomes headachy noise.  I’m astounded by how many small businesses clutter their space with animations, auto play videos and music. As soon as I identify the culprit window – it’s closed.  I must already know a site has something I strongly desire if I’m going to get past any of those 3.  If you are a fan of those, so be it.  But, my blog/my links are a reflection of me and my tastes, so I won’t link to these on my blogrolls/favorite links.
    •   I am one of those on limited bandwidth.  I love my home in the mountains, but cable is not available here and the satellite connection leaves much to be desired. Music, ads, videos – chew up my available allotment of bits and bytes – not a good thing.

My Commitment

This blog is set to a haven – a protected safe space to share projects, creative ideas and interests.  Where a post involves craft, I intend it to be more of a photo essay where you can scan the pictures to glean ideas and information.  I’ve been insanely busy lately, so the initial postings will all be rather simple projects.  That may evolve.

Don’t be intimidated by the quid pro quo’s above, I would love your on topic questions, comments and discussion.