Friday Favorites: Dotan  October 31, 2014

Thanks to the boy’s satellite radio, I can actually instantly know the band for a song that catches my attention while we’re driving somewhere. This happened with Home by Dotan the other week, and I promptly bought the album it came from on iTunes when we got home. And it’s been on repeat since then. Here’s a few of my favorites from the album 7 Layers:

Dotan by Amanda Cobb on Grooveshark

I checked out his previous album, too, but I think 7 Layers is better.

What’s caught your ear lately?

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Book Review: Revelation Space  October 30, 2014

Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1)

by Alastair Reynolds.

Revelation Space This was recommended to me by a friend back in August, and I finally got around to reading it. It tells the story, mainly, of one Dan Sylveste, an interstellar scientist bent on figuring out what happened to the long-dead Amarantin alien race. Something destroyed them almost a million years ago, and Sylveste has the more-than-nagging suspicion humanity is in danger of the same. He’s up against not just the clock, but also a scientific community that has lost faith in him, a less-than-human starship crew that has its own agenda, an assassin sent through the lightyears, and the AI ghost of his own father. Very little is as it first seems, and the truth of Amarantin history is something nobody ever could’ve imagined.

This got off to a slow start for me, but once I got about 75-100 pages in it picked up and I was hooked. That’s also, coincidentally, about where all the disparate characters and plot lines start converging. The book is all in 3rd person, but the narration jumps around pretty frequently to follow different characters’ thoughts and actions- mainly Sylveste, a starship crew member, and the assassin. The characters were at least interesting, even if they weren’t all that complex or layered. Sylveste was probably the most interesting, as he’s a genius and a bit of a bastard but also generally right. The overall mystery was well paced and intriguing, and not (like some ‘mysteries’) completely obvious.

My main issue with this book was that it got very bogged down in technical science stuff that a) wasn’t necessary for the story and b) wasn’t interesting in its own right (at least to me). Yes, I realize it’s science fiction, but I’ve read good science fiction where that aspect is handled much better. The other issue was the ending. I’m not really sure how to describe what my issue was with it. It made sense, I guess, but I also feel like the author kind of threw science out the window at that point, because it felt a lot more like a magic save ending than a realistic one for that universe. It didn’t seem to fit the established structure. It is only book #1 in the series, so I don’t know if threads of it will be picked up and refined in book #2, but we’ll see.

I give it 3.5/5 stars.

Revelation Space


Tuesday Treasure Trove  October 28, 2014

Tuesday Treasure Trove: this week's round-up of read-worthy links.


Things of Note:

Well, birthday celebrations are officially over. I stretched it out as long as I could, and there may be one or two presents still on their way to me in the mail, but all of the event-type happenings are done. Game night this past weekend was fun, as was book club the next day. And I’ve been making progress on shop stuff- finally had the photo shoot for the S and some XS shirts, so there are more on-model photos for shop listings. And I’ve been printing up an xmas-themed storm. I even bought xmas-y props for when I do the photo shoot for those, which (ideally) would be Thursday this week.

And all today I’m busy with the Freelance Conference. It’s my first professional conference (i.e. not a blogging conference) so we’ll see how it goes.

What’s happening in your world lately?
 


Recipe: Easy Autumn Polenta Bake  October 27, 2014

Easy Autumn Polenta Bake

This post originally appeared as a guest post on The Crafty Side of Sarcasm.

I was telling my mom about this recipe, and she was like polenta-what? It’s an ingredient that isn’t super widely known unless you’re Italian, but is becoming more popular. Polenta is a cornmeal based substitute for pasta, rice or potatoes. It’s got a mild corn flavor, and is much more palatable than grits. This recipe is one of the most fail-proof ways to ease yourself in to using polenta in your cooking. It’s a simple chop-toss-and-bake, but is super tasty. The sausage and apples make it perfect for autumn, too.

Easy Autumn Polenta Bake

ingredients
Ingredients

  • 1 large honeycrisp apple
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 package chicken apple sausage
  • 1 18oz. tube of prepared polenta (original or flavored – we used sundried tomato garlic)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Cut up everything into bite size chunks.
  2. Toss together in an ungreased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
  3. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Enjoy!

polenta-cooking

If you want to mix it up, add your own preferred herbs/spices over top. If you want something a little more moist, add just a dash of white wine to the bottom of the baking dish, and cover top with foil before cooking.
 

What’s your favorite throw-together autumn meal? Have you ever cooked with polenta before?


31 Before 31  October 24, 2014

31 Before 31 Goals List

As promised yesterday, here is my new list of goals to (hopefully) accomplish before my next birthday.

  1. Take a vacation with just Ian (I’ve pretty much decided this will go on the list every year).
  2. Get to see my little sister.
  3. Create a lookbook for the screen printing shop.
  4. Query 6 local shops about stocking my work (breaking into wholesale!).
  5. Pay off my credit card debt.
  6. Open a retirement account.
  7. Make this blog responsive.
  8. Reach 200 sales in the screen printing shop, and 75 sales in the digital shop.
  9. Design a calendar for sale.
  10. Launch a digital papers section in the digital shop.
  11. Complete my 2014 50/50 challenge and up the goal for 2015.
  12. Clean out my office closet & desk.
  13. Paint my office purple.
  14. Come up with packaged service offerings for my freelance business – descriptions and prices.
  15. Add 6 new digital prints to the digital shop.
  16. Create 6 new screen designs.
  17. Write one new Yelp review per month for local places I love.
  18. Make tortillas from scratch and/or bake bread from scratch (not banana bread type thing, but actual, honest-to-goodness-yeast-needing bread).
  19. Apply to 2 big craft shows.
  20. Find 6 local business I want to work with and approach them about design services.
  21. Complete the Duolingo programs for Spanish and Irish.
  22. Finish my two hand lettering classes on Skillshare.
  23. Go through all of my bookshelves and make a pile of books to give away or trade in.
  24. Stainless steel-ify the fridge (finally – I’ve had the stuff to do this for awhile).
  25. Wear my Lumo Lift posture coach more consistently (3x per week minimum).
  26. Buy myself an HP Envy x360 without increasing debt.
  27. Save $1,000 for a deposit on a new car.
  28. Sew 6 new items of clothing (use that fabric stash!)
  29. Go to TxSC 2015 Camp.
  30. Find & acquire the perfect purple necklace.
  31. Make all of the hand-me-down recipes (from my mom and grandma) in my recipe box that I’ve never tried.

Specific, hopefully manageable. We shall see.

My birthday itself was low-key – just wine, pasta and the Project Runway finale. :) Our getaway to San Antonio this past weekend was my big celebration, and we’ll be having friends over this coming weekend for game night party. So birthday celebrations have been had and will be had. I told you I was milking this birthday for all it’s worth. :-D

What do you think? Good mix of personal and business goals? Did I bite off more than I can handle?


30 Before 30 Goals Recap  October 23, 2014

30 Before 30 Birthday Goals Recap

Well, as of around 5:30am this morning, Mississippi time*, I am officially 30 years old. Yup. The big 3-0. Three whole decades of life. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like that long, or that big of a deal (though that won’t stop me from milking this milestone birthday for all that it’s worth – hence 2-week staycation :-D ). A birthday means lots of things, but here on the blog it means looking over the goals I set last year for things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30. So here we go:

  1. Host 6 brunch gatherings. I hosted 5 of these, which is pretty good. I also hosted some movie nights, so I’m going to count this as complete.
  2. Make jam and/or flavored butter and/or applesauce from scratch. Yes! This happened, too. I made strawberry jam with Ian’s mom, and crockpot applesauce from scratch on my own. The jam was better.
  3. Pay off debt! I have made progress on this, but it isn’t complete. Still work to do.
  4. Paint at least 2 rooms in the house. Yes! I did 3, technically – master bedroom, master bathroom, and the loft. Still have to paint my office.
  5. Reach 100 sales in my shop. Nope. Still inching up there. I’m VERY close, if you count in-person/show sales.
  6. Be completely moved to made-to-order items in the shop, rather than one-offs. Nope, still working on this, too. I’m hoping to move some of my OOAK shirts at November’s craft shows.
  7. Start saving for a deposit on a new car. I have a savings account, and there is an amount in it. But it’s already earmarked for something else, not a car, so nope on that.
  8. Take a garment sewing class. I took several, in fact!
  9. Complete alterations on 12 items of clothing. Yeha, nope. I did make a few pieces of completely new clothing (2 skirts and a pair of leggings) and hemmed a pair of jeans. So sort of?
  10. Do a photo shoot with models for shop items. Partially done. My model for the small sizes had to reschedule to next Monday, so that didn’t happen yet. But the mediums are all done!
  11. Compete in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge again. I competed, so yes. But I wasn’t happy with my story, and unsurprisingly didn’t make it past the first round.
  12. Consistently work out twice a week minimum. Ooh. Consistently? Why did I have to put that word in there? When I do work out, it is usually twice a week… but that hasn’t been happening consistently.
  13. Find the perfect recipe for empanada dough and master it. Nope. Kind of forgot about this one, to be honest.
  14. Go on a vacation with just Ian. Yes! Our little trip to San Antonio this weekend.
  15. Get a 50mm/1.4f lens for my camera. Ian actually got me that for Christmas.
  16. Try out Supper Friends, Eden East or Restaurant Jezebel for a unique dining experience. Nope. I’ve wanted to, but haven’t quite talked Ian into it yet.
  17. Launch a digital prints section in my shop. Yes, I did this in the digital shop.
  18. Launch a blog templates section in my shop. Nope. This got put on hold once I decided to embark on craft show madness.
  19. Open a retirement account. I did start an investment account, though it’s not specifically a retirement one.
  20. Learn to drive stick shift. Nope. The boy still needs to teach me.
  21. Create 1 new screen design per month. I got 4 completed, and have two more sketched out but not finalized/made into screens.
  22. Try out other methods of screen-making. Yes! I did this. I’ve been doing photo emulsion and stencils.
  23. Get 5 new freelance clients on retainer. Nope.
  24. Design a freebie to go out with shop orders. Yes! Did this. All orders from the screen printing shop now ship with a free bookmark.
  25. Do a cool mailer promo for my freelance business. Nope. But I did just revive my business blog, so… ?
  26. Go to 6 networking events. Yes. More than 6, even. This introvert has been stretching her networking muscles, you guys.
  27. Visit a foreign country. Nope, didn’t happen this year.
  28. Volunteer at the library. Yup! Still doing it, in fact, every Monday.
  29. Figure out how to do hair stuff (braid my own hair, curl my own hair). Braids are still a no-go (my fingers just canNOT figure that out when it’s my own head) but I can sorta do flat iron curls successfully.
  30. Find & learn some contemporary classical piano music. I found some and played some, but it’s not really memorized. But I know it well enough to play easily with the sheet music, so I’m counting that.

That’s 13 completed, 6 partially completed, and 11 incomplete. That’s success or at least progress on two thirds of the goals list, which is not too shabby, and better than last year’s results. Being more specific in my goal setting definitely helped. Stay tuned tomorrow for my new list of goals

Do you do an annual goals list? What’s something you want to accomplish before your next birthday?

*I was born in Mississippi, for those curious.