Friday, March 27, 2009

The impassable forest of boxes that is my workroom...

Right after I took the picture of son number two in his goofy sweatpants, I decided that I'd had enough of the boxes in my workroom. The pictures to follow can't really give the best idea of how claustrophobic it's getting in my workroom with rows of boxes (all organized by what they are & where they need to be in the scheme of what needs to get done next.... yes, organized!) but it's a start.

I try to be an organized and fairly tidy person (at least in my mind I am...) but this dilemma with the boxes piling up in the last month or so is REALLY getting to me. Usually I have two bookcases along the wall where there are now piles of boxes and only a few boxes in the room which are those currently to be added to the database. Say five boxes or so at a time....

NOT the 40 which are currently sitting out in areas I normally can walk through.

This is to the left side of the desk I built. It's a homemade L shaped desk that was SUPPOSED to make my life easier as it had more counter space to hold IMPORTANT things.... not the piles of papers, books and stuff that's there currently -- however, every time I dust, I find that there's NO WHERE ELSE to put the stuff, and drawers just fill up and get forgotten about. Now when I built the desk I though very hard about what I needed, then spoke to a few other book dealers for their input. I used the idea of having cabinets (like kitchen cabinets that you find at your local hardware supply store) for part of the base. The cabinets are sturdy, easily put together, for the most part, and can HOLD extra STUFF... but, it turns out, there are different heights to cabinets & I SHOULD have gotten the cabinets for bathroom use, not kitchen use, as there is a height difference of about two inches. It's not important unless you have to sit down at your desk & find that NO office chair in the world will raise you up high enough to be able to be comfortable. Thus, my work seat is a wooden stool. It works, but the longer one sits....

There. You can see the stool. I didn't take the time to completely tidy the work area as my photo snapping was a bit spur of the moment -- also, if I had started to clean before I took the picture, I would have spent all my time cleaning and not then taken the picture at all.

This is directly behind my stool. I have about 18 inches space behind me before the stacks start (these are the boxes with the newest collection of NON-FICTION books I'm working through). On the counter to the left here are the books that have been entered into the database during the last week & are waiting in alphabetical piles to be taken downstairs and put on shelves (or piled with the books that are going to the next book fair).

Hopefully, one of these days when the boxes are all gone (ha!) I'll take some more pictures & you can see the floor of the room...


In the next year or so... :)

what a wedgie!

Honestly, I couldn't pass up getting a picture of son number two giving himself a giant sized wedgie...

He's constantly crowing about how little he weights (which, lately, as I'm having no luck with getting rid of a bit of excess weight, makes me grit my teeth). But he's cute (most of the time) and he loves to do strange things with clothing.

If you can't tell, this is a pair of sweatpants -- yes, those ears flapping out to the sides are actually the pockets. Oh to be eight (nearly nine) again.

Don't try this at home -- unless you're very limber and fifty pounds dripping wet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Toscana in Cucina....mmm... FOOD!

Okay --

The goofy picture on the cover LOOKS like it should be a cookbook from China (I am NOT stereotyping...honest). The style of hat looks more chinese / asian than anything I've seen in Italy (admittedly, I haven't seen much of rustic farming attire from Tuscany.... but...)

I also admit I tend to stay far away from most cookbooks. They are either TOO exotic for me (which means I have to go out & BUY tons of expensive bits that I don't normally stock in my kitchen) or the recipes will take FAR too much time to make -- baseball season started this week. Time is precious and most of it is spent transporting people, compiling piles of gear, etc.

This book however, caught my fancy. Partly because it's one of the books from my newest purchase of mostly NON-FICTION (gasp!) books which I am entering madly on my website in hopes that orders will spike up and keep the bill paying thing going.

This particular book is, according to the rear cover, part of a twenty volume set (however, when I went searching for the other volumes to see what prices were running, I did not find any other titles in this series available anywhere.... is a puzzlement).

The book covers the basics (and not so basics) of Tuscan cooking from Antipasto to Dolci (appetizers to Deserts) and even a couple of local drinks to hoist back.

Again, dealing with the cook book thing.... I'm not so sure I'd really want to try spleen toasts (English instructions start: take some ox spleen and open it and scoop out the flesh -- yum!)

to Grand Duke Soup (which actually sounds interesting & not too hard to prepare. Note, the instructions on most of these recipes don't include exact measurements: "Buy some chicken breast and some meat of suckling calf and leave it to simmer in a good hen-broth...(that's from the Grand Duke Soup)

to Gnocchi di farina gialla (maize flour dumplings)

to pan de' Santi (Saints' Cake -- sounds wonderful, but the instructions assume a huge amount of prior knowledge. Here's the entire entry for Saints' Cake:
Although it's easier to find such a kind of cakes in the North of Italy than in Toscana , in the ancient Florence they were eaten according to tradition on the period of All Souls' Day: It is a genuine and simple sweet, easy to prepare. Kneed 1/2 kilo of risen dough for bread with 3 tablespoons of oil , 1 tablespoon of honey melted in bain-marie, some dried figs and dates, chopped pineseeds, raisins, some chopped walnut kernels. Give the dough an oval shape and leave it to rise for about 30 minutes. Brush its surface over with beaten egg and bake in a hot oven.

Ok -- I bake regularly. I make my own dough (several different kinds even...ha!) but this has me scratching my head. First off, lets assume a plain, unsweetened dough, but what is bain-marie? (googled it & found out it's basically a double boiler.... nowadays I MICROWAVE this sort of thing...carefully)
Pineseeds? Maybe the same as pinenuts?

Hmmm... now that I break it down, it doesn't sound half-bad, or too hard after all.

Maybe cookbooks can be my friend after all.

But I'm not going to try the spleen toasts.

PS: The newest online source for me for recipes which actually work -- which has really useful and USEABLE recipes (yesterday I made an Apple Pecan Tea Cake from a recipe that was Irish & Scrumptious!)

Keep watching for more non-fiction goodies from the stack.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Skiing with Uncle Matty...

Oftentimes, I feel as if I don't do anything fun -- most days it's work, work, work, drive, drive, drive... keep the house going, etc.

But sometimes, I do have fun.

The picture above shows sons number one & two, Uncle Matty and my niece (or the boys cousin) Ruby out on the ski slopes last weekend. (by the way, this was the best of the pictures.... I'm not the best with the camera & I found that trying to take pictures WHILE people were skiing was a disaster!)

This is the end of the day however. both my sons had never been skiing before, so the first hour & a half were filled with tortured howls of how hard & uncomfortable and rotten a sport skiing is. But after much foodage at the very expensive (and rather blah) cafeteria, the world was a much better place and actual skiing ensued.

We'll try it again another time (Uncle Matty says only once a year and that's fine with me... I still have bruises on my shins from the boots!)

I KNEW it!

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was tearing my workroom apart looking for some notes I had made (with prices I was offering) on a collection that I had looked at in November?

You do remember, right?

Well, if not, I DO.

Lo, and behold, I FOUND them.


Not thrown out (nor will they be from now on).

Not completely lost.

Just under yet another pile of books, etc. that I was getting to.

I seem to have LOTS of these piles. I keep trying to whittle them down -- hoping that one day I'd be pile free....


It's not to be, yet. But I did find my notes.

Now it's back to data entry & trying to whittle down a stack of boxes instead of piles of papers.

(One of these days, I'll be so organized I won't have piles of ANY sort in my workroom....yeah, right).

Enjoy your day. I am.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The country of Damar... oh, to be there.

This is another one of my very favorite series / authors from when I was younger. I don't know if I mentioned it yet, but my addiction to SF / Fantasy stemmed from my junior high years when I first came into contact with Lloyd Alexander and his Prydain series (see my previous post on a that subject) , and C. L. Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia (which I read in jr. High, but didn't really scope out ALL the meanings behind the fun adventure story at the time). By high school, I was fixated on SF / Fantasy and that's when the two books about Damar by Robin McKinley were first published. I had found a copy of Beauty (her first book) at the library and gotten hooked. The Damar books, however, were fantasy that made me dream I WAS Harry Crewe (the heroine of The Blue Sword), or Aerin (The Hero and the Crown) off saving Damar from encroaching baddies by wielding my sword and making magic happen...

I never got to the point of dressing up in costume and pretend whacking at my sister with verve (though there were lots of times I WANTED to whack my sister during our high school years...) but this series was one I read over and over again and never forgot, no matter what other reading material I went on to. It is one of the first books I recommend for younger SF / Fantasy readers (especially girls just starting out with the genre) and it's a series that I'm going to foist on my sons (number one son already got handed a set of Andre Norton paperbacks that he actually read when my back was turned....) when I get a couple of cheap copies. (Heaven forfend that my sons get anywhere near my first edition copies.)
I just got this pristine set in two days ago and yes, they are going on the website ( I have a set already, you see).

If you haven't read the series --- DO.

Yes, the books are generally considered Young Adult but Phooey to that. They are both wonderfully written works of fantasy and it doesn't matter if you're old or young.

PS: I know I've mentioned Robin McKinley here before and posted a link to her blog, but I'm going to do it again.

I read her blog nearly everyday & enjoy it immensely - Be warned. Robin McKinley's blog does read somewhat like her novels (how can she not?) but she is a PERSON just like any other, not a book. Robin McKinley's Blog

(I'd say I was going to sit down & read both of these again soon, but I just finished the series last December for my article... I think I'll wait to read them again til next year).

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kewl New internet stuff to play with...

That's right, you can now invent your own slogans to go on the side of a bus....

well, a virtual bus.

Here's the link: Bus Slogan Generator

I am TERRIBLE with catchy phrases. It takes me forever to think up something, and then, when I finally see it in action, I know it's a dud. A lead balloon. A total and complete flop.

But I like the IDEA of this.

I'll try another slogan another day. Maybe my family can come up with something Kewl....

I'm going to slink off back to my book pile and do work I'm competent to do.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Buck Euchre.... a game for swingers!

You can't really see it well from this picture, but the group around the card table are all dressed in their....

birthday suits.

Yup, this is one swinging book from the 1970's where playing games is SO MUCH FUN because everone is Nekkid!

Or.... everyone is GOING TO BE Nekkid sooner or later...and of course that leads to other fun.

(in groups, no less).

How 70's can you get.

The heart of the book is a game manual on the specifics of Euchre, an offshoot / variation on the card game Bridge.

But lo, this book is not written in tech speak and diagrams (like those you see in the newspaper....actually, come to think of it, I haven't seen Omar Sharif's bridge column in a while ... maybe that sort of thing is long gone).

At any rate, no, this is not tech speak but a fictional dialogue (probably not Platonic) between players as they....enjoy.... the game.

Here's part of the flap blurb:

"Just what is buck euchre? A card game for four participants, similar to bridge, and somewhat more exciting! But this is no mere description of the game. This is an entertaining - and rather quite bawdy - learning experience! The book's format is most unusual. The game is explained in a dialogue between two characters whose risque humor helps to make the game come alive."

I couldn't help myself.

I had to post it.