Tag Archives: blogtoberfest ’09

I know I said I’d never do it, but…

… it’s for a good cause.

I knit. I crochet. Sometimes I dye yarn. But spinning always seemed to be going just that bit too far. There are perfectly good machines to do that, I said, which are far more efficient and reliable than some bint with a bit of wood.

I still believe this.

But my NaNo is set in the ancient Mediterranean. It’s pretty hard to image a female character – in fact any character, without knowing what they would have been making or wearing. I was researching such matters when I came across this:

Lekythos by the Amasis Painter

And that was it. I decided to give it a bash. So I bought a bottom-whorl drop spindle and a lump o’ roving, and spun some yarn:

my first (almost) yarn

It’s pretty cool to think that I’m doing something that women have been doing for thousands of years. I like to think that all of them swore as much as I did on their first try as well. And I am so going to adopt the fleece-on-a-stick-like-candyfloss method once I’ve got my technique down.

Blogtoberfest < NaNoWriMo

Bad planning on their part, really. They should have put at least a month in between the two for respective recovery and preparation. It’s hard to pull a blog post out of your arse when you’re too busy researching the harvesting season of chickpeas.

Yes, I’ve decided I am doing NaNoWriMo (thanks for the encouragement!). I have a vague plot, some characters, and a setting. I’ve spent the last few days doing some ‘research’, mostly from wikipedia (it’s a novel, it doesn’t have to be that accurate, right?). I’ve made vast lists of questions that I need to answer before I can write, or while writing. I have trawled the internet for pictures related to my topic (my desktop now cycles through them to be a constant source of inspiration). I feel – almost – prepared.

However I am a teensy bit terrified. In a perfect November, I would aim for 1667 words a day. I’m already losing at least five evenings to already-planned events, so that brings it up to 2000 words immediately. Factor in my notorious inability to stick to *anything* for that long and I’m going to have to write 10,000 words a day for the five days I manage to do any writing at all. While probably being completely dissatisfied and disheartened by the entire thing because I am not allowed to edit.

However, fear not – I’m not disheartened yet. How can I be disheartened with all these pictures of goats on my desktop?


Just thought I’d share a tip I heard a while ago, and a resultant lightbulb moment.

When chopping vegetables, save the offcuts and peelings in a plastic bag in the freezer for future stock-making. It saves you using fresh new veg just for boiling, and reduces the amount of chopping you have to do. Sure, the compost heap suffers a bit, but as we can’t get into ours anyway I’m willing to take that hit.

Just the other day I used my bag of frozen offcuts and a chicken carcass to make some awesome stock. Now this was good, and I felt thrifty enough, until I suddenly thought hey, I have stock simmering, why not make risotto the way they always tell you to.


I have never seen a recipe suggesting this before. Recipes for risotto often say ‘have a pot of stock simmering’ but no recipe for stock ever says ‘Making stock? Why not use some of it as it’s simmering to make risotto for that evening’s dinner.’ Outrageous.

For each cup of stock I removed, I added one of water back in. Because it was still simmering, it continued to take up flavour from the kitchenkill and so I still had enough left for an entire ice-cube-bag of stock for future use. Not only that, but because the carcass was from a whole chicken I’d jointed myself, there was loads of meat left on it to shred back into the risotto. In fact, there was not a single item of non-waste-food used – the bacon was on its last legs and even the rice was a bag of pudding rice that had been sitting in the back of a cupboard for a year and given one last chance to prove itself useful.

I can’t say I had as much fun the other day, having cold polenta and chilli for breakfast. But the layer of thrifty smugness (and bacon) definitely made it and my day more palatable.


I’ve just learned of the existence of National Novel Writing Month. Basically, you take November to spaff out 50,000 words, and ba-baaa! You have a draft for a novel. This, as I tweeted earlier, interests me.

Like billions of other kids before me, I wanted to be a writer. I had folders full of stories. I wrote science fiction, I wrote Mills & Boon, I wrote some alarmingly violent horror. Then one day, there came that ‘careers’ day. Careers days were excellent for those of my classmates who knew from the age of five that they wanted to be a vet. They could be pointed towards the right A-levels, pointed towards the right work experience, and were generally a joy to assist. I, apparently, was not. We were told to write down a list of five jobs we would like to do. Three of mine were writer, fashion designer, and astrophysicist. I think I was asked what I wanted to write about. I didn’t know. And that was the end of it. Barely anyone makes it as a novelist. And journalism is really hard to get into. Might as well give up now.

I’m not trying to say I HAVE ALWAY WONTED 2 B A RITER AND THEY TRAMPLD ON MAI DREEMS but come on. They didn’t even try. I would try so hard to think of things I could see myself doing and every time it was greeted by ‘you can’t do that’ and no alternatives. I am so jealous of people who know what they want to do with their lives. You do not know how easy you have it.

Anyway, bitterness aside, I have several novels in me. They try to come out sometimes, before paranoia and self-doubt beat them back into submission. I get an idea. I ponder excitedly, thinking of what I can do with it. Then I do a little research, realise how little I know about the subject. I don’t want to look stupid. Then I start to wonder if anyone else has come up with the idea, and I’ve just not read it. How bad would that be? Unintentional plagiarism doesn’t look like that from the outside. And, if something has already been written, how arrogant is it to think that I could write anything better?

This is why NaNoWriMo seems like a good idea. There are no rules. Just get the words out of you. It doesn’t matter how good it is, just that it is. After that, the only way is up.

And there are signs. I have conveniently discovered its existence just before the relevant month. As I was sat wondering if it would be a good thing to do, a new concept and proto-plot popped into my mind from nowhere. As I was adding the NaNoWriMo link to the top of the page, the http text appeared in the ‘enter link here’ box before I’d even typed it.

So I’m tempted. I have nine days to decide if my idea can be expanded into a full novel with interesting characters and plot devices that would make Aristotle proud. What do you think I should do?

Solstice cake is almost ready for launch.

Last year I went into the winterval-cake-making-process in some detail, dissecting the various recipes I had and trying to establish what made a particularly wintry fruit cake. I found that Mrs Beeton had a higher cake:fruit ratio than Delia, so I tried that. It was good, but I didn’t think it was quite fruity enough. So this year, I’m going back to Delia’s classic recipe, but tweaking it for my own sordid purposes.

Right now, my dried fruits are soaking. I have 450g raisins, 175g sultanas, and 100g each of chopped mixed peel, glacé cherries (natural colour btw, none of this fake red crap) and glacé ginger, all stirred together with a glug of whisky. It smells luscious.

due preparations for the cake

I cannot wait to get started. I’ve not baked enough recently… so it’s probably a good thing that next week is National Baking Week. I would have held on to make this cake as the climactic end to the week but if I don’t make it now, I won’t be able to feed it anywhere near enough booze before it gets decorated. So instead, it can be a teaser.


Firstly: If you do not want to read a rant, or at any point disagree with my opinion, please consider the following image.

Anybody left? No? Good.

This has been an interesting week for teh internets. First, there was the amusing (and suspicious) Trafigura gagging order. Then there was some other stuff that I probably missed because I was at work but I love the tricolon auctum so I’m putting this sentence in pending some last-minute remembered story. And today, Jan Moir. I’ve been surfing the waves of outrage (twitrage?) since lunchtime, and I’ve run the gamut of emotions, from horror, to rage, to disappointment, with a sprinkling of loathing popped on for good measure.

Here is the article – but be warned that it is in the Daily Mail, so please do not blame any subsequent vomit stains or murderous urges on myself. I had to make it through a whole afternoon at work after reading it, and I managed not to kill or maim anyone.

All of the rage so far centres on her appallingly insensitive comments about Stephen Gately. Many people have done excellent hatchet jobs on that side of things, and they are absolutely bang on. But it’s not just that that makes me so angry. On its own, if I’d read her bit about Gately, I’d have chalked it up to the usual shitty attitudes condoned and endorsed by the Daily Mail, and not been moved to do anything. That’s sad enough in itself, that I expect this sort of thing for a paper with such a large circulation.

But it, she, and this specific article perfectly encapsulate everything I loathe and despise about the DM. After calling into question the character and lifestyle of someone she doesn’t know, complete with homophobic undertones fairly explicit homophobia she then tells T P-T that at 38 she is too old to show off her fabulous body. She pauses for a quick swipe at transvestites, then moves on to mock the 40+ year old Nolan sisters for being a little bit tubby. Then, after a quick diversion whining about the British summer and scones, she calls Harriet Harman a Sir and suggests that any woman of childbearing age should not be surprised – in fact, should expect and accept discrimination in the workplace. WHAT THE FUCK.

The only way this article could possibly have been worse is if she had said this Louisiana judge had a point.

The fact that this is written by a woman, with a career (and of indeterminate age and size, so I’m pretty cross at the twitragers for their unnecessarily personal insults too), is moot. Her hypocrisy spills forth like a geyser. She thinks 38 year old female flesh is old and disgusting, but just last week wrote an article leering over and featuring a picture of a largely naked Daniel Craig. He is three years older than T P-T. To mock a grandfather shows ‘deliberate, gratuitous disrespect’, but to insult a dead man is just her offering her ‘honest opinion’. She and all DM reporters can do, look like, and say whatever they want but any woman, man or child that does not live up to their exceedingly specific and contradictory ideals is open to censure.

I am aware that she has ‘apologised‘, but in anticipation of the further ‘omg free speech don’t you oppress me’ responses, I offer her last year’s quote on free speech:

“Increasingly, the cloak of freedom of speech is used as a defence for the kind of deliberate, gratuitous disrespect that Ross and Brand displayed…

How on earth could highly paid and experienced performers such as Ross and Brand think it amusing to pick on a 78-year-old man and laugh at his granddaughter?”

Mmm, quite. Cos for an experienced, highly paid writer to pick on a dead man and his bereaved husband, while also exhibiting ageist, sizeist and transphobic behaviour is classy.

It all makes me seethe. Yes, that gets bold, caps, AND underline. People (including myself in the past) have questioned the need for feminism or gay rights movements because we’ve moved on from that. You’re preaching to the choir. The only people who are interested in gay rights are gay. And aren’t feminists all lesbians in boiler suits shouting at men for still existing?

This brings me back to the original point of this post. Someone is sending me a message. Earlier in the week, I learned of the existence of an entire movement of dickless wonders men who actually, truly believe that women are amoral and fundamentally inferior to men. Today I read and saw people agreeing with someone suggesting that teh gays are inferior to teh strates, women over 30 should not show any flesh, women over 40 should not show themselves at all, and women that want a career should admit to not being female full stop. And you’re trying to tell me that feminism isn’t relevant any more?

Fuck that. I’m a newly-declared feminist. Give me my badge.

Blog Action Day: Climate change, and death by crisps.

Personally, I like Stephen Fry’s argument on this one. No, I don’t really know enough of the science to know for certain if it is we that are damaging the planet, or if the planet is being damaged at all. But I can’t see what’s so wrong with being a little bit more thoughtful about the planet. None of the suggestions made of how we can reduce our own personal impact on the environment are that taxing, or that expensive. Taking the bus is not the most horrific experience in my day – I have work to do that for me. Line-drying my washing leaves my clothes far more pleasant to the touch than the tumble-drier. While I am not exactly certain of the energy savings involved in knitting my own clothing, I do know that with the layer of smug afforded by a hand-knitted jumper, I do not need to have the heating on quite as much.

It’s a shame that so many (vocal) people react to the words ‘climate change’ by flinging their hands in the air and saying ‘I don’t believe in it and what you want me to do is slightly inconvenient to me, so therefore I’m not going to do anything that might help improve the local environment, might help my own wallet, might help prevent future fuel shortages, or might do something to help any number of other things unrelated to climate change.’ It’s rude, selfish, and if they do turn out to be right, I hope they like living in the stinking, fuelless, but normal-temperatured future they are making for themselves.

Tangent alert:

Walkers tell us that a bag of their crisps produces 80g of CO2, but what does that actually mean? The density of CO2 at room temperature is 1.799g/l, so that bag of crisps created 44.46 litres of CO2. According to my calculations, and with reference to employee awareness poster PFL309 available from the Carbon Trust, the production of 2296 bags of crisps creates enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus. Therefore, eating six bags of crisps a day is as bad for the planet as leaving your computer on for 14 hours a day. If this was in addition to your recommended number of calories and otherwise healthy balanced diet, you would consume an extra 298,480kcal and gain about 38kg (6 st) in weight. If you were to then get on the bus, you would now displace 2.64 bagsworths of CO2. And then die from asphyxiation.

You see? If you don’t start doing something about climate change now, you will die on a bus. Or something.

To read some other people’s takes, probably containing more information and fewer bizarre calculations, go to www.blogactionday.org.

Moronic relationship drama. IN SPACE!

The following article has been being bandied around my twitter all day.


Apparently science fiction should be for men, about men who do manly things with other men, but not in the sort of way that men who like men might like it because that’s just as bad.

At least now I have a clearer idea of the feminist agenda.

  • buy milk
  • destroy the family unit
  • fix hem of living room curtains
  • enslave men
  • water plants
  • ruin science fiction for everybody

What group do I have to join to destroy reality TV shows? I’d probably stop short of surgery but I’ve had a taste of power and crave more destruction.