Saturday, December 6, 2014

Price Check in Stillwater, Minnesota -- Historic Restaurant Hamburger

I'm talking about Brine's on Monday Burger Night. Get a 1/3 pound ground beef patty on a homemade butcher bun for $2.50. Add one more for your date, and throw in the order of fries (large, enough for two people), and voila!, a great dinner for two for around $10. If you sit upstairs, in the back, you have a nice view of the historic lift bridge. Seriously, this place has the stuff.

That Jerky Feeling

You know, the one you get when riding in a car, with a driver who has an on-off foot on the gas, and your head drifts forward, then Mr. flippety-foot punches it, and your noggin snaps back, and then he decides to coast for a quarter mile (maybe to save gas? my husband's Scottish uncle used to do this), and when the car starts to slow the foot goes back on, and after about five miles your nausea sets in, and you make a mental note to offer to drive next time.

Yeah, you know that feeling, right?

I'm reading The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham, and, honest to pete, I'm on that ride. Cunningham is the modern master of the fifteen comma, one sentence paragraph.

I'll give it my best shot. This is a book club pick.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Price check in rural Wisconsin -- Horehound candy

Blain's Farm Fleet has horehound candy (Watertown, Wisconsin) for $1.49 a pound. This is made with horehound tea, comes with medicinal properties and is soothing to the throat.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Busy Writing, No Time to Cook

I came up with this one day when I was short on just about everything (butter, flour, sugar), but husband had a couple of these granola bars in his golf bag.

Creative Double Secret NonFiction Fruit Crisp
by Anna Murray

Slice two apples or pears into a shallow pan. Take the granola bars (Nature Valley, Crunchy Oats and Honey) and soak in 1/4 cup hot water for a minute, then mash with a spoon. Throw in a handful of raisins, a pinch of vanilla, and spread over the fruit.

Bake in 350 oven for 20-30 minutes to desired crispness.

Serve with ice cream or frozen yogurt on the side.

Two servings, 150 calories each.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Paul Bunyan Double Crust Apple Pie

It's apple season, and no, I'm not talking about the iPhone 6.

My masterpiece (shown below) is a bipartisan pie recipe available online. Apparently both sides of the aisle agree that Frannie Franken makes the best pie.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Mitt Mania, the sequel to the sequel

I promise this will end soon. I'm stockpiling gifts for the women in my life, and somehow they are reproducing faster than coat hangers on viagra.

These are BonBons (free pattern here). I made them from micro spun in a colour called "French Vanilla".

Thursday, September 18, 2014

For the person who has everything . . .

I was hoofing along the Stillwater ladies night when I saw this gem in the Art 'n Soul store window. I'm thinking this has "stocking stuffer" written all over it. What do you think?

Thoughts on Scottish Independence

I met a good number of young Brits while I was travelling alone through Australia this past spring. My contact with young people was constant and intense, as I stayed in youth hostels. When you travel alone, and the choice is $250 a night for a Hilton-type room in the centre or $40 a night for the upscale youth hostel in the same location, well, it's a no-brainer. A bed and shower were all I needed. Besides, there is a security in having people around, and young people bring energy and spontaneity to the party.

My first night in Sydney I had to take a "mixed" room (men and women, six beds). I landed with two young men from the English countryside. They were 23 years old, and had purchased the work visa. We had a lively discussion during which they referred to themselves as "POHMES" (Prisoners of Her Majesty's Empire), and yes, they were impressed that this yank immediately knew the acronym from reading "The Fatal Shore" by Robert Hughes.

Anyway, there was an anger and bitterness about these men, and I met more like them as I travelled, seemingly under the impression that, unlike back home, jobs were plentiful in Australia. In Melbourne I stayed with a young British woman who called her parents and cried on the phone. She had made her contacts with shirttail relations, but it appeared that none could help her with finding employment. My heart broke a little for her. It takes courage and desperation to travel half way around the world without a job in hand, in the hope of making a better life, but that's what these young people were doing.

Unfortunately, jobs are a mixed bag in Australia, and not easy for foreigners to obtain. There is "under the table" work, and plenty of free foreigner labor (Woofers), and these youth hostels were full of 20-some backpackers seeking employment. Without a serious in-demand skill it is difficult to obtain a post, yet those that could land something benefitted from Australia's higher minimum wage.

So yeah, I get why young Brits are frustrated. It will be interesting to see how this independence vote breaks out along age demographics.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Where I'm Meant to Be

This beauty unfolds daily, just a few steps away from my home. Husband took this video when we were walking back from post-dinner coffee.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mitt Marathon

Another day, another pair of fingerless mitts. These are made of micro spun, using the Fetching pattern.

I didn't like the picot bind off, so I bound off in pattern.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Judge a Book by the Cover

I'm experimenting with new cover art for TAKEDOWN. I like the typography on this one (dark ops).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Knitting for Humans

Yes, I do knit for homo sapiens from time to time. These are Susie Rogers' Reading Mitts. I love this pattern; the whites are Cascade Eco, an undyed blend of baby alpaca and merino. The expert knitters at Darn. Knit. Anyway. put me onto this one, and it is fabulous.

Rocko's Modern Sweater

I just got back from Stout's Island. When I wasn't being entertained by loons, kayaking, or hydro cycling, I was knitting dog sweaters for Rocko. Rocko, as you might guess by the name of his sweater, is an Australian dog, and it's winter these days in Rocko's upside down land. He needs a sweater. Or two.

I started by using this easy pattern, and modified it somewhat, because Rocko is a classy dog. He deserves a bit more than simple.

The striped version was easy -- just knit the pattern using a different colour every four rows.

The red sweater with razorback cable (my husband calls it the "mohawk design") and ribbing took a bit more modification. For starters I used stockinette stitch. I added two inches of 3x3 ribbing at the beginning and end of each piece. I cast on 36 stitches for the back piece, and then worked a cable down the middle of the back, worked over 12 stitches. To do this I added markers after the 12th and 24th stitches, and proceeded thusly:

Row 1 (RS): Knit
Row 2 and all even (WS) rows: Purl
Row 3: Slip 3 stitches to cable needle and hold in back, k3, k3 from cable needle. Slip 3 stitches to cable needle and hold in front, k3, k3 from cable needle.
Row 5 and 7: Knit
Row 8: Purl

I used size 13 needles and Lion Brand Thick and Quick yarn.

These dog jumpers are heading to down under, but now that I've mastered the pattern I'll try making a few more to donate to a local dog shelter.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tie Me Kangaroo Down

. . . to the chair to start some serious writing.

Some of you know that I waltzed Matilda through Australia earlier this year (March-April), and since then I've been enjoying my new home and activities (swimming, knitting, learning to play the ukelele, doing good in the community) along the St. Croix river.

As I travelled alone through Australia, managing to keep my hands busy (and off the hot men), I knitted eight penguin jumpers for the critters at Phillips Island in Victoria.

The best part, of course, was listening to the amazing stories of the people I met on trains, planes, in hostels, and on the street.

Kindle Unlimited

My books are getting lots of reads via the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. July income was eight times previous earnings.

A reader subscription to KU is free for the first month and $9.99 per month after the trial period. KU gives access to over 600,000 ebooks.

I've read a number of them already ("Flash Boys", "Capital in the 21st Century" (yes, I read the whole thing), romances, a few Kindle shorts, etc.)

Please read 10% of any book my books, which is required for the author to earn the royalty. Click to learn more about KU.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Black Sea

Black Sea: A Naval Officer's Near East Experience is now available on Amazon.

Book Description: The years following WWI were a time of revolution, mass displacement of populations and boundary skirmishes as the former Ottoman Empire was reshaped. An often overlooked period in history, these events transformed America’s military mission in the Near East and beyond. Awarded the Order of St. Stanislas by the Russian government-in-exile for aid given to the imperial Russian forces, Arthur Murray gives eyewitness accounts of the US Naval fleet activities. Tasked with protecting American interests and providing humanitarian relief, this naval officer recorded gripping descriptions of the evacuation of Crimea, and, later, ethnic cleansing atrocities in the Greco-Turkish War.

Black Sea contains the letters of my grandfather-in-law, Lt. Commander Arthur D. Murray.