Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reading Questions

Oooooh, the latest SSD From Our Blog 2 Yours in a series of questions about books and reading. That's my kind of blog entry!

Here you go...

Amazon or brick and mortar?
Both. I mostly buy US imports, which aren't in the standard brick and mortar stores here in NZ as we're part of the UK publishing zone. (I don't totally understand it all, but it means US books generally don't wind up on the mainstream shelves here.} So I shop through the wonderful Barbara's Books here in Auckland, who are importers of US Fantasy, SF and Romance. However, book prices are high here because of the shipping requirements, so I buy my paperbacks from Barbara (whom I also call my "pusher" as she keeps finding new things for me to read) and if there are hardcovers or trade paperbacks I really want, I get those from Amazon through a friend of Dave's who can get them to us here for essentially free shipping, which makes them affordable. That said, I can never resist the urge to browse in a bookshop, even if I'm not going to buy.

Bookmark or dog ear?
Bookmark! Dog earing is the eighth deadly sin. Of course, a bookmark is any scrap of paper or other non-sticky substance I can get my hands on when Marcus is demanding my attention and I need to mark my place. After he managed to break Giles (BtVS) in half, I stopped using my good bookmarks. (I have collected bookmarks in the past.) I'll get them out again when he's older.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
By author. You mean there's another way?

Keep, throw away, or sell?
Keep. I love books. I am fundamentally incapable of throwing them away, although I do go though and do a cull occasionally and then I give them away or sell them. The current number of books in my book catalogue (which is basically complete barring some of Marcus' books I've forgotten to add in) is 2265.

Keep dust jacket or toss it?

Read with dust jacket or remove it?
Remove it. I need to keep it pristine and pretty.

Short story or novel?
Novels. I know there are some fantastic short stories out there, especially by NZ authors who seem to thrive in that form, but I really struggle to read them. I can read a 500 page novel more easily that a 90 page short story.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
Harry Potter.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
When I'm tired or when I need to do something else - which is usually Marcus grabbing the book and saying "Close!" in a very determined voice. Occasionally chapter breaks, but usually not.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?
Can I have "Once upon a time it was a dark and stormy night"?? If I have to choose, it would be "Once upon a time".

Buy or Borrow?
Buy. If I could afford it (and the space in the house that would be required) I'd buy everything. I love books and I love having them around me in the house. For me, a house without books is missing a soul. And if I visit you, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to resist checking out your bookshelves.

New or used?
So long as the quality is good, I don't mind.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
Some recommendations, some browsing. A lot of books I buy these days are from tried and true authors I love.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy ending please. I don't mind a few threads left to carry on with, but I like to know how everything is going to work out. That said, if it's a series, I want that tidy ending for the series, but don't necessarily need it for each book. Open ended series that go on forever without resolution drive me nuts though. It's okay if the end is a long way away, but I want there to be an end, at least to the current story arc.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?
Any single moment I can manage. I'm one of those people who buys my handbags based on whether or not they can fit a book in them and carry one around with me all the time. (Plus a couple of extras on my PDA as ebooks if I want something different.)

Stand-alone or series?
Either works for me, but I do love revisiting great worlds and characters, so series probably edges out stand-alone by a nose.

Favorite series?
Catherine Asaro's Skolian books.

Favorite children’s book?
"The Little White Horse" by Elizabeth Goudge

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
"Sword of the Lamb"/"Shadow of the Swan"/"House of the Wolf" by M. K. Wren (it's a trilogy that tells a single story, so I've put them together)

Favorite books of all time?
Impossible question to answer, but here are a few favourites:
"The Changeling Sea" by Patricia A. McKillip
"The Radiant Seas" by Catherine Asaro
"Venetia" by Georgette Heyer
"Gaudy Night" by Dorothy L. Sayers
"Memory" by Lois McMaster Bujold
"Checkmate" by Dorothy Dunnett
"The Blue Sword" by Robin McKinley

Least favorite book you finished last year?
So that knocks out the ones I didn't actually finish, huh? Let me see...
"Embroidered Truths" by Monica Ferris according to my Library Thing reading list. The absolute worst, that I didn't finish, was "Dexta" by C.J. Ryan.

What are you reading right now?
"Spellbinder" by Melanie Rawn

What are you reading next?
Probably "Heir to the Darkness" by Anne Bishop, but I won't know for sure until I finish the current book and select the next one off the TBR shelf.

Little Things

Little Things
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Sugar Free Challenge #8 (21st Mar 2007)

I know it's silly, but these little scars on your hands make my heart hurt each time I catch sight of them. You have them on both hands, and on both your feet as well. They are from all the blood tests, IV lines, heel pricks, blood transfusions and the like that you've had in your little life. When I see them, I remember how hard it was to let people stick so many holes in you, even though I knew how important it was. The very worst was the silly doctor who tried three times to give you a lumbar puncture and three times to put in an IV line and failied at them both. Every time. I know it isn't very Christian of me, but I think there's a small piece of me that hasn't ever forgiven him for that. I know every little scar is a reminder of a procedure that helped ensure you're so big and strong today and that's what I should remember, but a part of my heart still cracks each time I see them. 22nd March, 2007

Papers from "Natural Beauty" by Amy Knepper; paper curl from "Curled Paper Edges" by Anna Aspnes; alpha is "Mini Clothes Peg Alpha" by Angela Barton; flower from "Scrap Street Simple Florist" by Jen Wilson; gem is from "Opalettes" by Anna Benjamin; tie down, frame and butterfly from "Be Inspired" by the Sweet Shoppe Designers and Gina Miller; fonts are FG Lova and Gotham Nights.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Sweet Inspiration Challenge #8 (21st Mar 2007)

We bought some swan plants and put them on our deck earlier in the month. Marcus has been fascinated watching the caterpillers grow, then watching each chrysalis until a butterfly appears.

Flowers from "Itty Bitty Dotted Blooms" by Melissa Bennett; fonts are Papyrus and Century Gothic.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Recipe Challenge # 5 (21st Mar 2007)

Heart from "Everyday Romance" in the "This Love" collection by Dani Mogstad; ribbon from "Loop 'D' Loop" by Paula Duncan; bow from "Mini Bowz" by Anna Benjamin; title art from "Layered Titles - Baby" by Robin Carlton; everything else from "A Baby Boy Story" (both versions) by Jen Reed; font is Mom's Typewriter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Where I Live aka Playing with Google Maps

This was inspired by the Our Blog 2 Yours post over at the SSD Blog. I read it and decided this was my chance to play with the Google Maps satellite images of my area. So here you go, for anyone who doesn't live around here and is interested in where I live.

We moved in July 2006, to this house which has a backyard for Marcus to play in and the living area and bedrooms all on the same level, something we didn't have at our last home. We moved in there when I was pregnant, but we didn't know it at the time and didn't have plans for children at that point, so we didn't take bedroom locations for a baby into account when we made decisions.

It was okay while Marcus was a baby and in a basinette in our bedroom, but once he was ready to move into his own room (which was downstairs) and old enough to want to play outside (which was a bit of concrete courtyard or a patch of grass beside a shared driveway) we decided it was time to look for somewhere else.

We found this house through a friend and it's working out beautifully. We'd still like to buy our own place one day, but with the outrageous house prices in Auckland at present and the fact I can't work, it's not in our present budget plans.

So here are some pictures, zooming in on our house.

(Click on this one for a bigger version)

Yes, that's our house. We're the one on the corner. That little blue spot is the swimming pool, with the bedrooms at that end of the house and the living area facing the street where the house takes on a T shape.

Just be aware that this last photo (taken from the side street, showing the living room over the garage and Marcus' bedroom to the right behind the tree and the little outcropping sunny spot in our bedroom to the right of that) was taken before we moved in, while the previous tenants were still living here. They didn't take care of the place properly and the messy lawns, rubbish in view etc, is due to them, not us. We do take proper care of the place, I swear. (I don't understand how people can fail to take care of and pride in where they live, whether they own it or not, but obviously it happens.)

All My Layouts

I'm kind of embarrassed to post all my layouts here - not because I'm ashamed of them or don't like them, but because I don't want to bore any of the people who read this blog (and I realise there are probably only about three or four of you) - so if you ever want to see what else I've done, you can check out my Flickr gallery.

My layouts on Flickr

Tree Repair

Tree Repair
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Inspiration Challenge #6 (7th Mar 2006)

Be inspired by your car. Our dash is dark grey, with green numbers on the clock and orange on the pointers on the dials. So here's a dark grey, green and orange page.

Stitching comes from "Fab" in the "Back in Black" collection by Amanda Rockwell; black and green papers from "Fresh" in the "Back in Black" collection by Amanda Rockwell; orange papers from "Fun" in the "Back in Black" collection by Amanda Rockwell; tree from "Felt Christmas Trees" by Amy Martin; alpha is "Between the Lines" by Katie Pertiet; frame from "Island Blues" by Lynn Grieveson; font is Sketchbook.

Too Cool

Too Cool
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

I loved this photo when it was taken and I love how the LO turned out.

For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Recipe Challenge #4 (7th Mar 2006)

Alpha (recoloured) is from "Crazy Little Thing" by Dani Mogstad; ladybird is from "Flitter" by Amanda Rockwell; everything else is from "Spring Collection" by The LilyPad Designers; font is Century Gothic.


Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

I got myself caught up loading my LOs to Flickr yesterday, so thought I would share a few favourites. I've had the idea for this one ever since I scanned some old photos for my mother, including the ones of her and her mother on their wedding days.

We carry different names, yet we are linked, back through the ages, daughter to mother to grandmother and beyond. Peggy Hazel Johnstone became Peggy Hazel Carpenter. Pamela Ann Carpenter became Pamela Ann Blackwell; Kerry Anne Blackwell became Kerry Anne Dustin.

Background paper from “9th Avenue” by Iron Orchid Designs; frame from “Vintage Frames” by Andrea Burns; lace from “Fun” in the “A Mother’s Love” collection by Amanda Rockwell; swirl is from “Warm” in the “A Mother’s Love” collection by Amanda Rockwell; dried roses from “Beloved” by Josie Celio; paper flower from “Chelsey’s Dream” by Michelle Coleman; clock face from “Margo” by Eve Recinella; fonts are Mutlu and Edwardian Script ITC.

Butterflies and Books

We got ourselves a swan plant a month or two ago, in the hope we'd attract a monarch butterfly or two and get ourselves some caterpillers for Marcus to watch grow and turn into butterflies.

We're now on swan plants numbers 4 and 5 as the first two have been eaten to bare branches and the third is quickly going that way. We've had 2 butterflies hatch now (on is currently sitting on the deck railing getting ready to fly away and looking beautiful), we have 2 chrysalises (or whatever the plural of chrysalis is) and about another 9 caterpillers so this experiment has been a great success. Marcus is fascinated and Dave and I find ourselves rather captivated by the whole process as well.

If this keeps up it will have been a little expensive on swan plants at about $6 a pop, but otherwise most satisfactory.

I remain exhausted and while I've been doing some reading, there hasn't been much else going on. I thoroughly enjoyed my week away staying with my parents - especially teh 24 hours spent on the way home with my niece who is adorable - but I'm paying for less sleep now.

I picked up two new released before leaving town (copies for me and my best friend down in Palmy) and we both read them and got a chance to talk books, something we don't do much now we live so far apart, although we did constantly when we lived in the same town. I loved J.R. Ward's latest, Lover Revealed (along with a whole lot of other people) and also Nalini Singh's second, Visions of Heat. I also skim read my way through C.E. Murphy's Thunderbird Falls and I'm still not sure if it was worth it or not. A pity, as I really enjoyed the first one. Getting tired, I've read a couple of quickies, including Stephanie Rowe's Date Me Baby, One More Time, which was silly, but fun, quick and perfect for that moment. Now I'm on a reread.

I loved Tanya Huff's Vicki Nelson books when I read them (as they came out in the nineties), so I got my hands on Lifetime's new show based on them, Blood Ties. The pilot was based on the first book and I thought they pulled it off quite well. I'm sorry they took out the whole joke of Henry being a bodice ripper romance writer to update it to creating graphic novels, but can understand why. I think the casting for Mike was great and Vicki and Henry are both quickly growing on me.

So I went and pulled out Blood Price, the first book in the series. I'm totally loving reading it all over again, both because it holds up nicely after 15 years and reamins a very good book, but also for the back-to-the-past feeling it generates. Maybe, especially when I'm tired, I should try rereads more, instead of feeling guilty about the growing TBR and thinking I have to read from that. I don't know yet, but I shall continue enjoying Blood Price all over again.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Silly, but it was fun

Guilty Pleasure
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Guilty Pleasure
For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Sugar Free Challenge #6 (7th Mar 2006)

Guilty Pleasure

I was just reading the lastest book in this series this week and reflecting that I look on them as a guilty pleasure and then along came this challenge. What else could I do?

I know these books aren't exactly literature. The writing is capable and competent, but isn't going to win any poetry competitions. I admit they're a bit over the top - okay a whole lot over the top. Well into soap opera territory even sometimes, filled with immortals and demons, gods and goddesses, Greece and Ireland and Alazka and Atlantis, good and evil and even some shades in between. There's a hunky, tortured hero who's 11,000 years old and a whole variety of couples with enough obstacles keeping them apart to build a mountain to rival Everest - and still they all get their happy ever after ending. There are embarrassing covers I wouldn't want to be seen in public with (although the more recent releases are generally more decent that the awful early ones) and some rather tacky titles. There are confusing and complicated family trees that really do rival thoses on most soap operas, rivalries and plots and evil machinations. But you know what - I don't care. I can dive into this complicated, crazy world and have a great time reading the latest installment (or rereading a previous one) and enjoying every word and every moment. I like trying to figure out what is going on in the bigger picture, who is really who, what is going to happen next to a whole cast of characters and, of course, the big questions of who Ash is going to end up with and if Artemis is going to get her comeuppance.
These are my guilty pleasure.

Background paper and fill paper for title from "Be My Valentine" by Lisa Whitney; photo cluster is "Realistic Shadow Cluster 1"; single frame cut from the same cluster; heart from "Genuine Spirit" by Michelle Coleman; flower from "Joshua's Day in the Sun" by Michelle Coleman and Diane Rigdon; stitching and flowers from "Stitches and Flowers" by Mindy Terasawa; ladybird from "Flitter" by Amanda Rockwell; fonts are KGD Butternut Script and Unnamed Melody.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blood Lines - Eileen Wilks

The "e" in the author's surname is a typo that was on early promo pics including this one.

Blood Lines
Eileen Wilks
(Moon Children, Book 5 - that's counting the short stories, which Wilks does on her website -

I thoroughly enjoyed this. I wasn't so keen on the previous book in the series - still a great read, but looking back the story wasn't so much my thing. Now, we're on track with what is now clearly a long term story and our main characters are beginning to find out how serious things are.

The action here is shared between Lily and Rule and Cullen and Cynna. Clearly, Cullen and Cynna are going to get more "screen time" as their roles in the coming future build. That's fine with me - I like both pairs of characters and I'll be happy to spend time with Cullen and Cynna - so long and Lily and Rule don't get dropped completely.

The world is changing - magic faded out of the world about 400 years ago and now it is coming back. The goddess who is the Lupi's enemy is determined to take and gain power and needs Lily to do it. And things are only going to get more complicated.

I really liked this book, because the series is going somewhere now. I guess for Wilks it always was, but the readers can see it now. I can't wait for more.

Oh, and some of Grandmother's secrets are revealed. There are dragons. And it looks like we should see more of Molly and Michael eventually. That will be great as I loved them. The last line of their short story is the best last line I've ever read, I think.

The City, Not Long After - Pat Murphy

The City, Not Long After
Pat Murphy

I really enjoyed this. It was kind of weird and quirky in a most delightful way. My only disappointment was that the ending didn't seem to match the rest of the book. More accurate, the very end did, but the few pages before as the "current time" action ended, just sort of ran out of steam without the delicacy of the rest of the book.

The characters were all delightful - and the descriptions of their art and their weapons, both variations on the same thing, were beautifully done.

Each person was well described, not only in who they were at the time of the story, but in how they came to be that way.

A lovely story, if not exactly straightforward, kind of like the title, which I love.

Our weekend

We've had a busy weekend, this time around.

On Saturday, in what was close to a spur of the moment decision, we decided to go to the Airforce Open Day at the local Base. We had a lovely time - Marcus loved the planes and coped surprisingly well with the noise. Dave took a number of photos, but unfortunately discovered when he came home that Marcus had changed one of the settings on the camera and it wasn't set up properly.

The photos still came out okay, but they were Kerry-quality photos rather than Dave-quality photos. I'm planning to do some layouts using them, but I've been very tired since my busy weekend, so I haven't done much of anything since, but here's one to whet the appetite.

I got sunburnt on one arm, but otherwise we were pretty well sorted for an impromptu outing. We all had sunglasses (Marcus didn't wear his), Marcus and I had hats, we had the stroller and my stick and everybody had shoes (not always the case in this family). We stayed a couple of hours, but by lunch time it was getting very full of people and we were getting tired, so we decided that was a good time to head home.

Sunday, we considered taking Marcus to a train open day, but decided he had done enough the day before - besides, as much as he loves looking at trains, reading about trains and playing with trains, he's afraid of the real thing, so we're going to wait until he's a bit older and will actually enjoy a train ride.

Instead, we went for a drive to Barbara's Books, retail home of my pusher (she pretends she's a bookseller, but it's all about giving out the next fix) to pick up a couple of books for me. This is a specialty bookstore that carries US release SF/Fantasy/Romance and Barbara keeps a lot more people than me in books. So this means I visit there quite often. Often enough that as we turned into the carpark, Marcus announced "Barbara's House". I guess I really do go there a lot!

For the curious, I picked up:
The Dream Hunter by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This series is so my guilty pleasure. If I wanted to, I could pick huge holes in them all, but I don't. I just go along for the ride and have a great time as I do.
Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur. Barbara conned me into this one. It's the first in a series, so if I like it I'm in trouble.
Must Love Dragons by Stephanie Rowe. Another Barbara recommendation, this is actually the second in teh series, but she assured me it stood alone and I didn't need to read the first.

We got home again to find - to my huge embarrassment - that the friend I'd invited over had been there for a hour and I'd forgotten all about it! Happily, she'd settled in a chair by the pool and read happily. She was just getting ready to head home when we got back. So we did what we had originally planned - watched the latest two episodes of Grey's Anatomy to get all caught up. We'd known the last three were a group and had watched the first, then decided to wait until we had both of the next two to watch. I'm very glad we did, as if we'd got to the cliffhanger ending of the first one without the next, we would have been very stressed. (I don't want to spoil anyone still to watch the eps, especially friends here in NZ where the show isn't up to that point yet. If you've seen them, you know what I mean.)

That was quite enough happenings for one weekend for me.

Paper Moons' March Madness Day 4

Anna has the most beautiful little wings on her blog today. Go and take a look.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Do I have a cute son or what?

Sleep Anywhere
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

Sleep Anywhere
For the Sweet Shoppe Designs Sweet Inspiration Challenge #5 (1st Mar 2007)

This was inspired by this page. The border has only been added to show the edge of the page.

The word I've replaced in the poem is "cats".

After I spent ages trying to get you to take an afternoon nap, you fell asleep on the floor all by yourself, in the middle of your toys. You were so cute I had to take your photo.

Paint and paper strip from "Gettin Edgey" by Lauren Grier; journalling strips from "Journaling Strip Templates" by Kimberly Geswein; stitching is from "Traditional Stitches" by Melanie Willmann; white out was made for me by mamacrina at DST (thank you very much); fonts are Century Gothic and KGD Kerry Print.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Dawn Star #009

Dawn Star #009
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

This is my progress after the February SAL with the CC bulletin board. I can see the top of her head now and I'm really pleased with how it is looking.

See my comment about Alpine Seasons. I look at this and just want to stitch more, but I know I can't at present.

Alpine Seasons #014

Alpine Seasons #014
Originally uploaded by rocalisa.

The beginning of part 9. I look at this and want to stitch more now, now, now! But I'm sticking to my hiatus. I have to. Don't want to, but have to. I hate being chronically ill.

Stitching (lack of) progress

I am very, very (very, very, very, very, very, very) reluctantly taking a break from stitching. I love it, I love all my projects, but the physical effort involved is too much for me at present. It's not that I am totally flattened no, but that I feel the need to be proactive and once I start stitching I get pretty obsessive about it and do too much at once.

I think that must be why I was only getting in one or two stitching sessions in a week - becuase I went at it too hard and too intensively once I sat down to do it. So I'm going to take a break and do some reading and scrapping (I can't stop, really I can't) and hope to come back to the stitching in a few weeks at a more healthy pace.

The downside of this is that I think I already have the stitching DTs. I miss it and desperately want to pick something up, but my physical reaction to that desire is just to feel tired. Which is why I've made this decision.

Of course, that doesn't mean I'll stick to it. I make a lot of plans and don't stick to them. (Have you noticed that?) I am going to say it is because the reality of my life and health changes them, but it's probably just that I'm fickle and have no stickability. Or both, of course.

Llama and Alpacas

Someone has just posted the cutest layout over on DST about llamas and alpacas. Do go and take a look. It's brilliant.

Scrapbooking Stuff

I've just downloaded a lovely freebie from Anna Benjamin's Paper Moons blog. She's having a "March Madness" month and giving away something each day. Yesterday was a lovely paper set and today some matching little circular frames shaped like flowers. Go and take a look, give her some love and take home some really pretty goodies.

I applied for a scrapping creative team today. I've never done anything like it before, so my stomach still feels a bit fluttery, but there's a first time for everything, right? Teresa Ferguson, who makes fantastic layered templates - I've been using them for some of the SSD challenges - is looking for a team to use and promote her templates. I don't know if anything will come of it. I suspect getting chosen the first time to try applying is kind of like getting a book published the first time you submit it and that rarely, if ever, happens. All the same, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and see what happens. I did feel I needed to explain about my health, so I don't know if that will count for me (I'm honest) or against me (I might be unreliable) but I wouldn't have made the application if I didn't think I could handle it.

I've been way behind posting layouts here - do people even want to see them? - but my Flickr gallery is finally up to date, so if you want to take a look at what I've been up to, have a look at my Layouts photostream. I'm not going to inundate the blog with all the backlog, but may post a few favourites.

I did one I just love of my brother and SIL and niece, but I don't know if they'd want me to post her baby pictures, so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you it turned out really lovely. I'm going to see my SIL in two weeks, so I'll print the few layouts I have that feature their family and give them to her.