Sunday, October 11, 2020

On Oh So Many Pumpkins!: A Photo Post

The past two weeks have involved oh so many pumpkins...

Plastic pumpkins!

Oversized pumpkins!

And a wonky little fabric pumpkin patch that goes with one of my wonky little mice!


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

On "Monster, She Wrote" : A Book Review


Title: Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction
Authors: Lisa Kr
öger and Melanie R. Anderson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reference, Reader's Guide

About the Book...
The genres of horror and speculative fiction includes a wide span of authors, many of the most influential being female. This book explores the lives of some these women, their work, and the lasting impact they've had on these genres over time. 

What I Think...
This, while small and fairly short, is a very informative book. While my reading veers towards the classics in these genres, I enjoyed this entire book and added a few new names I hadn't been familiar with to my reading list! 

I really liked the way they broke down the information in this. For each author they include a mini biography, a look at some of their most notable works, and then provide a reading list that consists of the sections "not to be missed," highlighting the works they are best know for; "also try," which lists some of the lesser known works; and "related works," which focuses on other things that were inspired by or that relate to the author and her writings. I felt that this provided a quick, yet well-rounded look at each author and really showed the relationship each has with their genre as a whole.

Throughout the text, what I think of as "fact boxes," add to an understanding of what defines each genre (such as "Spotting the Gothic") and provide further insight to the topic. I also loved the illustrations and how peppered throughout are quotes from the works discussed.

To Sum it All Up...
A great book when it come to learning about some of the great female writers in the genre and a fun way of being introduced to some new ones! (As an added note, a companion book called Women of Weird Tales is coming out soon!) ♥️

Saturday, September 19, 2020

On Making Fish Skin Parchment

Yes, you read that title correctly--I made fish skin parchment.

In April, Peter D. Verheyen provided a webinar on how to go about making parchment from fish skin, which I finally got around to watching last month.

My initial response to watching it was that while it was certainly interesting, I didn't know that I'd actually ever want to try it. But then the more I read about its history and the process of making it and fish skin leather, the more intrigued I became and ultimately decided that I really did want to try!

Having finally had salmon for dinner, I gained three small skins and, following the video and Verheyen's ""Fips" and His Eels: Fish Skin in Bookbinding", began the process. I started out by placing my three small skins in dish detergent filled jar in the refrigerator to rinse. Having no unscented detergent in the house that wasn't also dyed, I ended up having to use undyed, lemon scent, which I don't think had too big of an impact (though this being my first attempt I might not have noticed if something was amiss).

The next day I took them out for their first scraping, which I did with the back of a butter knife and the side of a spoon. A considerable amount of meat came off, as you can see!  

Over the next few days I repeated this process to get any remaining meat off and with changes of the sudsy water in between.

Not sure how it would go and with the risk of a rather curious feral cat in the yard, I decided to spread out my drying days, which I probably would have done anyway given that one of the skins needed more scraping than the other two even after soaking a few days. I'm not sure if part of this was using slightly warmer water one day in the rinsing process, as it seemed a littler fibrous, but overall it dried out just fine with nothing noticeable about it.

To dry them, I covered a small piece of corrugated cardboard with plastic wrap and then stuck another piece of cardboard underneath to ensure the pins would hold in place. Then with scale side down and pulling the skin taunt as I went, I put pushpins around the edge, and out into the sun they went. Each skin was outside for somewhere between three to six hours. In the case of the first skin the pins pulled up a little as it dried, but having experienced that I did a better job pinning with the other two. 

My drying process involved putting them on the armrest of our glider and putting a piece of tree branch atop the cardboard to keep it in place (also to create a noise so I'd know if the cat got nosy-which thankfully didn't happen). 

Fish skin #1

Fish skin #2

Fish skin #3
And here's what I ended up with! While I didn't notice a smell when I was scraping them, being in the sun and the heat brought out the oils, which have made the skins somewhat smelly (although it has dissipated over the course of the two week since I dried them), so I'll be wiping it them down with alcohol before I use them.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first attempt at doing this!
At this point, I'm undecided about what I'm might want to use them for, but I do have a few ideas for mini books in terms of both using them as part of the cover and as "textured paper" elements, so eventually there will be a another post about them! ♥️  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

On "Mud Pies and Other Recipes": A Book Review

Another month of trying to get a book review for a Dumas book posted and once again deciding to go with something happier...

Title: Mud Pies and Other Recipes

Author: Marjorie Winslow
Genre: Children's, Cookbook

About the Book...
A collection of recipes for dolls with contents including Appetizers, Soups, Salads and Sandwiches; Main Dishes; Pasteries and Desserts; Beverages; and Suggested Menus. First published in 1961.

What I Think...
This is one of the nicest cookbooks for imaginary dishes I've ever come across! It's written as seriously as any real cookbook, never taking on a tone of being overly cutesy or talking down to the reader. Most of the dishes are very simplistic and perfect for the beginner doll chef allowing them to explore what might be available to them in their yard and around the house. I feel like Winslow presents the reader with an opportunity to use their imagination to build on the recipes as well, which in my opinion is always a plus when it comes to children's books. 

The illustrations by Eric Blegvad, whom I adore, are perfectly suited to the content and, from a contemporary perspective, add to the nostalgic charm of the book. 

And, for some reason, I am tickled pink that most of these are recipes that humans would avoid eating!

To Sum it All Up...
An utterly delightful trip into the imaginary world of cooking and happy days of holding parties for toys!