Saturday, August 01, 2015

PBW's Book of the Month

My pick for July's book of the month is Ithaka Rising by LJ Cohen, which blew away the competition so completely my bookcase should have blast marks all over it. This is the second novel in LJ's Halcyone Space series, and it was, in a word, brilliant.

Just as Derelict, the first book in the series, made my whole summer last year, Ithaka Rising was worth the wait. Usually I can point out one or two reasons why a novel wows me, too, but this one was just cover to cover awesome. Expect great characters, who actually grow and change and have to deal with new problems; a nail-biter of a plot, that manages to be both twisting and absorbing at the same time, settings that expand to take us to new and scary-thrilling places in this universe, and the kind of SF adventure you probably haven't read in a very, very long time (if at all.) I still miss the SF I used to read when I was younger, those stories that grabbed you and held onto you for the full ride, and this is that kind of story.

It's not for everyone, of course. If you're a homophobe or a racist this is definitely not the book for you (because there are gay characters in it. And characters who are not white. Several characters who are not white, in fact. I know, shocking.) Likewise those of you who don't think women writers can write great SF; this is absolutely not a novel that's going to make you feel real comfortable in your little pinhead zone. I also think it's not a read for the cynics, the nihilists and the self-appointed SF police out there. But: if you love to be swept off by a story, and you want to become emotionally invested in its characters, and you enjoy exploring a fully-developed future universe filled with intrigue, danger and surprises, this should be your next new book purchase.

Here's where you can get a copy:


Barnes & Noble

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Art of Recycling

This film about community & art recycling in Mexico comes with a lovely explanation (below) that describes everything better than I can (with narration and background music, for those of you at work):

Recycling as Art in Mexico - Permacyclists #5 from Permacyclists on Vimeo.

Entre Amigos is just one of those organizations that gets what sustainability is all about. They are not an environmental organization so much as a community organization where, as founder Nicole Swedlow put it, "Everything we do is in some way focused on the environment."

Their work is infused by the values and ideas like those of the Earth Charter. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - sure, that's environmental kindergarten at this point and Entre Amigos has it down pat. Not only do they supplement their funding with sale of recycled artwork, but wandering through their main building (itself built almost entirely from recycled materials) is like seeing inside the mind of some crazy recycle-genius. There's a chair made from a surfboard - then another made from wooden shipping pallets - and then another made from used soda-can tabs. Not to mention the egg-carton lampshade, the road-sign table, the fruit-crate bookshelf, the propane-tank lamps, the dozens of beautiful glass products made from old bottles - or the community-built recycle park built for a local school that had won a recycling competition.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf) with new material beginning on page 101.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Yes, Europeople, We Have Cookies

A notice from Blogger popped up on my dashboard this week, and I thought I'd share the wealth just in case some of you have inactive blogs on Blogger:

"European Union laws require you to give European Union visitors information about cookies used on your blog. In many cases, these laws also require you to obtain consent.

As a courtesy, we have added a notice on your blog to explain Google's use of certain Blogger and Google cookies, including use of Google Analytics and AdSense cookies.

You are responsible for confirming this notice actually works for your blog, and that it displays. If you employ other cookies, for example by adding third party features, this notice may not work for you. Learn more about this notice and your responsibilities."

Okay, so here's the deal: Blogger wants to help out with this requirement, so they have attempted to add a notice to everyone's blog. Your end is to make sure it actually shows up on your blog. Easy way to do that: type your blog URL but change it to a Euro URL (i.e. mine over in the UK is -- and yours probably has the same end extension.) When your blog comes up it should look like this:

If you don't see that notice bar at the top of your blog (or anywhere else) then you have to put up a notice and consent button, and more information on that can be found in the middle of the help page here.

To my knowledge I haven't installed any cookies on PBW (unless it was inadvertant) and since I have no idea how to I'm not planning to any time in the future. That said, Blogger does use some sort of cookie thing on here to create that dashboard junk data that I never asked for and generally ignore that dates back to when Google ate Blogger and messed with the whole set up. Anyway, since this is like that FTC notice thing I thought I'd pass along the headsup.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mini Quilt Recycled Watercolor Journal

My fifth and final project for Recycled Journal Week began with this mini quilt I picked up at a show some years back:

It's made of wool, and really too small to be anything other than decorative, so I thought it would make a great cover for a little pocket watercolor journal. I went into my painting drawer and found a pad with a few sheets of unused 140 lb. watercolor paper leftover from a painting class I took, and then grabbed some old wrapping paper from the recycle bin:

First I cut my wrapping paper to size as end papers, and then tore the watercolor papers from the pad and trimmed off the preforations:

I then folded everything into signatures:

I didn't want to use the sewing machine for binding the signatures as that would show on the outside of the quilt. I dithered around for about an hour at this point because I didn't have a lot of other options -- and even though about going out to buy some sort of binder clip piece to use -- and then while I was straightening up the sewing room I found some leftover ribbon and decided to use that as the binding.

To do that I first punched two holes in the signatures:

I took two long pieces of the scrap ribbon, threaded them through a tapestry needle, and drew them through the signature holes on both ends:

I then used the needle to work both ends of the ribbons through the mini quilt in the center:

Once I knotted the ribbons and tied them together everything was bound nicely:

I also left enough slack in the ribbon while I was knotting it to allow the pages to stay flat:

The finishing touch was a piece of stiff, heavy cardboard to tuck in the pages, which will support them as I work in the journal:

This project taught me that I can come up with a solution to a problem (just not instantly) and that sticking to my objective is worth a little dithering. Total project time: 4 hours.

This has been a fun week for me. As you may remember I started out with this collection of unused stuff:

Without spending a dime on new materials I turned the stuff (plus an extra calendar) into these six handmade journals:

You can do this too, you know. Look around your home, see what unused junk and paper you have sitting around, and apply some imagination to transform it into your own unique recycled journal.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gift Box Recycled Unbound Journal

My fourth project for Recycled Journal Week was to repurpose this slim 7" X 5.5" gift box, and I really didn't fuss with it too much:

Rather than try to cut down the box I decided to keep it intact and use to to hold individual sheets of leftover paper as journal pages, and since it's a box I didn't have to bind them. The lining inside the box was like quilt batting, so I started working with that and some fabric:

I quilted the fluffy lining between a piece of scrap muslin and a remnant of hand-dyed silk; both cut to fit the top of the box. Once I had it sandwiched together I added a Venise lace flower, metallic thread quilting and some seed beading:

Once I finished the piece I had a nice cover for the top of the box:

Because the box sides were too thick to take stitches easily I hot-glued the quilted cover to the top of the box:

I lined the inside of the box with some interesting scrap papers:

I then gathered up a bunch of pretty scrap paper from the recycle bin to put in the box, and was able to fit all this inside:

The box will keep the paper from wrinkling now, which is a nice bonus. Once I do use up all the pages I can permanently bind them (or even slip them into my pocket journals), refill the box and start again. I've also just run out of paper book marks, which I try to stick in every book I lend or give, so I'll also be making the smaller strips of paper on top into those:

I admit this isn't a traditionally bound book-type journal, but the whole point of making your own is to suit yourself. I like how this one came out, but more importantly I know I'll be using (and refilling) it a lot. Total project time: 5 hours.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Bakery Box Recycled Prompt Journal

My third project for Recycled Journal Week involved the smallest of my materials, this wee bakery box:

I really like journals that have cards instead of pages, and I just happened to have a stack of outdated but otherwise pristine business cards that I need to recycle that fit perfectly inside the wee box:

To recycle the business cards I decided to remake them into creative prompt cards using images, words, and other kicks my muse always needs. As with the brittle journal project I first unfolded the box to see what area I had to work with:

I really liked the cardboard handles, and decided to leave those alone. Across the body of the box I stitched a frayed holiday trim remnant stamped with the word Believe:

I then stitched and glued the box back together:

The prompt cards are going to take longer to make (I think I can fit about a hundred cards in the box), but I put together the first six by sewing some stamped fabric and a piece of paper towel to them to cover the print side of the cards:

One thing that's important to me when I work on a project using recycled materials is to use things I have on hand that versus buying new materials. I've wanted to do something with those old business cards for a long time, and this gave me the chance to give them a second life. Total project time (for the box and six cards): 1 hour.