Sugar-free Chocolate!

Also, in other (much more exciting) news, I am now making sugar-free chocolate by the block, and you can have some, if you’d like. Check it out at http://cobbettandpaws.wordpress.com 🙂

In fact, because I am excited about my chocolate, how about I offer you a block? Comment below with your name and some way to get in contact with you (email, facebook, twitter, phone if you live in Australia, whatever), and on Friday I’ll draw the names out of a hat. Metaphorically speaking. Winner can choose a block – at the moment I have 60% dark (all blocks are based on this, so they’re all dark), almond, coconut rough (dark with a touch of milk), and mint (not pictured). Go to, and if you spread the word somehow and let me know you can have an extra entry 😉

Five Pack of Cobbett&Paws Chocolate

Randomly, Wet Wipes

Another baby-paraphernalia post, but in case anyone is a) interested and b) in Australia, Woolworths Select brand wet wipes are the free-est from chemical nasties. I wouldn’t advise munching on them (much to Small Boy’s intense displeasure – he loves the things and will hunt down the packets with ridiculous focus), and there are a bunch of ingredients listed as skin irritants, but nothing actually toxic in and of itself, and nothing carcinogenic, and nothing listed as an environmental toxin.

 

Double check for yourself at www.ewg.org/skindeep, of course, but I’m happy enough with this as an alternative to flannels and spray (which I do still use, but let’s face it, there are some nappy changes where you really want to be able to just toss everything away >.<).

Happy = Unrealistic

In response to Michelle’s fabulous post here.

Actually, I reject the notion that endings can be divided into ‘happy’ and ‘more realistic’. This is a topic of frequent debate at work (i.e. in the English faculty), because there are certainly those in the faculty who despite any kind of popular or populist fiction as ‘trashy’, those of use who take a more midline approach, and those of us who would be more than happy to teach Twilight for its literary merit. I am refraining from commenting on that one, because we are all entitled to our own opinions, but suffice to say I am in the midline group.

One of the most interesting characteristics that delineate the approximately two groups (teach only highbrow lit fic, and teach more accessible texts that have equal merit too) is that it more or less ends up being a discussion about teaching sad endings versus teaching happy endings. Many of the classics are quite bleak, and it is entirely possible to get through several years of schooling and not read a single happy ending.

Personally, I protest. WHY are sad, bleak or depressing endings more valuable than happy ones? One argument is that they are ‘more realistic’, but that entirely depends on whose reality you are living. I have ups and downs in my life, as we all do, but honestly, on balance, my endings are happy. I have a great job, a wonderful family, a lovely home… I am privileged and (by global comparison) wealthy. My endings are happy. A bleak book does NOT reflect my reality, not at all.

I’ve talked about this before – why I don’t believe in depressing fiction.

I’m not saying that we should abstain from sad, depressing endings. I’m not saying that endings should be saccharine. Personally, I find the most satisfying endings are the ones that are bittersweet, or the ones that are happy, but where the happy ending was hard-won. No, I’m pretty sure most people don’t have saccharine endings. No, I’m pretty sure that for most of the world, things do not just appear out of the blue to give you a happily ever after. Some people like those books, and that’s great – whether because the books are wish fulfilment, or because for a small minority they really truly do reflect their reality, it doesn’t matter. Some people like sad, bleak and depressing endings too, and while I’m pretty sure that’s not wish fulfilment, and I acknowledge that it’s the reality for a much larger percentage of the global population, it’s still not the norm for the average voracious western reader, which, let’s face it, is the target market for a ridiculously high percentage of these books.

Ultimately, I couldn’t care less which kind of ending you prefer. I am free to teach ‘happy books’ in my classes, and my colleagues are free to teach bleak fiction in theirs, and you as a reader are free to prefer whichever the heck kind of books you want to. But please: can we all stop pretending that happy endings are less realistic than bleak ones? Because for the majority of readers, that’s just not true.
Thanks.

Clothing Disposal

It’s funny how once you begin to question what you put in your mouth, on your body, and into your environment, there comes a point where one day it’s just a habit. The other day, I did another big sweep through my clothing – I’m a little sick of the floordrobe, but the primary reason for it is the lack of space to really put everything away. Might as well stay on the floor, right?

So anyway, as much fun as the facebook clothes declutter was last time, where I took pics of all the clothes, posted to FB, and people commented to claim the clothes, it took forever to get all the unwanted clothes out of the house. So this time I just bagged them all up and sent them to the wotsie shop. Charity. Secondhand clothes. You know the place I mean.

But, I still had a small pile of clothes that really weren’t fit for the charity bin, so I was just going to toss them. I was putting away Small Person’s folding earlier today and did some reshuffling of the drawers to fit in his cloth nappies. Dude, the kid has more bibs than hairs on his head. I pulled out all the small ones and tossed them in the ‘small clothes’ box behind his chair, but a couple were manky enough that I figured the fastest means of disposal was the rag bag. I have to keep up the supply of rags to the rag bag, see, or darling husband does things like nabbing good teatowels for the purpose. Or my singlet top. Though granted, that had somehow been mixed up IN the rag bag, so he’s forgiven for that one.

So. I chopped the straps off the bibs to make is super clear that HELLO, THESE ONES ARE THE RAGS, and while I was doing so it occured to me that I could do the same to the clothes I was otherwise going to bin. I picked them up to begin chopping – and stopped. Could I really condemn these clothes, just like that? Some, apparently yes. A bra went in the bin, because no one wants a secondhand bra and they’re not really great rags, but everything else I forced myself to take a second look at.

Pair of pants that are wearing out in the thigh seams? Well, they have to be rags, right? *snipsnip*, off came the legs – and I realised that I was now left with a perfect good pair of brown cut-off shorts, only in need of a hem.

Black knitted 3/4 sleeve top, with a cute keyhole in the back? REALLY didn’t want to toss this one, as i’d only worn it once, but the fabric had broken under one of the arms. probably, I could learn how to darn and fix it – but that’s a little too much effort. So, the sleeves had to come off at least – and after they did, I realised I had a sleeveless tank top, if I could bind up the armholes again. Or, I could buy a little bit of black chiffon or something nice and floaty and make some pretty ruffley cap sleeves for the top.

Ditto the pink turtleneck jumped that’s seen better days and is nearly worn through under the arms – off with the sleeves, and I’m going to investigate about putting in some new ones (or just leaving it sleeveless). I might not keep this one, but at least I’ll have made something nice enough to go to the op shop :o)

A cotton t-shirt that was worn through became a genuine rag, as did a pair of fuzzy socks (snipped through at the heel so Husbands can confirm their rag status!!). Two 3/4 sleeve knitted tops that I love, but that were looking daggy, were slated for the bin, but I realised one of them will probably be okay with some serious depilling, and one, which is luckily white, might actually come good with a bit of a soak in some bleach.

I don’t really have much more of a point to this post, except to say – hey, you know what? Of all the items of clothes I was just going to bin, I actually found a use for all but the bra. And if the sewing works out, I might even have a couple of ‘new’ items of clothing that I’ll actually like wearing :o) Now there’s a happy declutter win! 😀

Life and Wasted Drafts

Veronica Roth (here), an author whom I adore, noted recently in her post about NaNo (here, here) that there is no such thing as a wasted draft. I needed that tonight.
It’s truly bizarre, how you can hear a thing over and over and over again, and yet somehow it doesn’t sink in until we’re really READY to hear it. Toinght, I was finally ready to hear that. You see, I’ve been working on Jesscapades since November (or maybe October) of 2008. It started with a dream that I had, of a girl entering her dorm room to find a teacher sitting on her bed, waiting to tell her that her best friend was probably trying to kill her, and that she needed to kill him first.

You guys, this story has ben giving me FITS. **FITS**.

You see, the original draft is trying to be two stories at once. And, for like forever, I tried to revise and rewrite replot the story so that it could fit the two stories in it. Recently, as in maybe a month ago, in conversation with my soul-twin Liana Brooks a flash of insight slammed me over the head, and I realised – yeah, I’m an idiot, I know – that maybe, y’know, IT NEEDED TO BE TWO SEPARATE BOOKS.

Insert many sighs of frustration, and hair-tearing at the thought of so many ‘wasted’ drafts.

But as Ms Roth says: no draft is wasted. You get to know the story better, and differently, each time you draft it – and apparently I needed to get through all those drafts in order to have my moment of blinding (ly obvious) epiphany.

So. You know. No wasted drafts. No wasted life experiences. Each one teaches us something, if we’re open to it, and helps us figure out better where we’re going.

What To Do When You’re Feeding An Army…

…at home, and you lack the flatware for everyone to eat off. Seriously, guys: this is an AWESOME IDEA. If we hadn’t just had a massive dinnerware set donated to us, I’d totes be doing this next time I needed to feed a bunch of people 😀

(seriously, read the link – it’s cheaper than disposable plates and so insanely clever it almost feels like you’re doing something illegal…)

http://theyearofless.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/day-87-better-than-disposable-dishware.html

What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank…

…is the highly awesome title of a highly awesome book by a highly awesome person, aka Krista Ball, which was just released yesterday. Ish. Time zones confuse me. Anyway, here’s the blurbage:

Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should look like when your heroine is seducing the hero.
 
Learn how long to cook a salted cow tongue, how best to serve salt fish, what a “brewis” is (hint: it isn’t beer), how an airship captain would make breakfast, how to preserve just about anything, and why those dairy maids all have ample hips.What Kings Ate will give writers of historical and fantastical genres the tools to create new conflicts in their stories, as well as add authenticity to their worlds, all the while giving food history lovers a taste of the past with original recipes and historical notes.

And isn’t the cover so pretty-shiny?!?!

What Kings Ate

I’m really excited for the release of this book. I had the privilege of reading it before it was released, and you guys, it is seriously awesome. Don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this is notionally pegged at writers: I promise you, ANYONE with an interest in food history will get a kick out of this shiny, shiny book. Krista writes with a casual, easy-to-read style, and the book is informative, comprehensively researched, and very entertaining, with lots of quirky tidbits and personal anecdotes.

Congrats, Krista, on a really fabulous release :o) YAY!

Book links: Amazon, the publisher’s website, news about the paperbacks, list of other venues where it will be available in lots of other formats soon :o)

Krista was born and raised in Deer Lake, Newfoundland, where she learned how to use a chainsaw, chop wood,and make raspberry jam. After obtaining a B.A. in British History from Mount Allison University, Krista moved to Edmonton, AB where she currently lives. Somehow, she’s picked up an engineer, two kids, six cats, and a very understanding corgi off ebay. Her credit card has been since taken away. Like any good writer, Krista has had an eclectic array of jobs throughout her life, including strawberry picker, pub bathroom cleaner, oil spill cleaner upper and soup-kitchen coordinator. You can find her causing trouble at http://kristadball.com.