Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Gardener Greenhouse

I know, I know, this is a book blog. So, what am I doing posting about greenhouses of all subjects?

Well, now we have the house with lots of yard-space and a vegetable garden under construction. So, I've wanted to have a greenhouse for a few years now - especially now I'm planning to start growing things from seeds, rather than buying everything in pots in order to save money.

There was no way we could easily build one from scratch, but we saw a nice little kit at the store: the Spring Gardener Greenhouse kit, which bills itself to be easy to assemble with no tools needed.

Two windows open, showing the bug netting
that covers the inside.
 Of the three sizes available, we decided on the middle one: 8 feet wide by 10 feet long by 8 feet high in the middle. The other two sizes were 6x8x7 and 10x20x9, which we decided would be way too large for our needs.

Our initial impressions of the setup:
Very simple and easy to do, although even with the labeling of the poles and joints, it is possible to connect them wrong. It's easy to fix though, as all the pieces are connected by wing-nut bolts - as they say, no tools (other than a stepladder) needed.

Overall, it took us about at most two hours to assemble and pull the covering fabric over the frame. And then, the two of us were easily able to lift and carry the greenhouse for short distances to get it put in exactly the spot we wanted it. The ladder was used in two places: tightening the bolts along the roof-line, which were out of my reach, and also for making it easier to lift the cover over the roof.
The Spring Gardener Greenhouse end view
with both doors rolled open and fastened up.

We've anchored it down with tent-pegs, and that seems to be holding the greenhouse firmly. One very important thing while anchoring the greenhouse: make sure that the legs are not splayed outwards at all, or the zippers on the doors won't close.

Other than that, which was about a ten minute fix at most, everything with the greenhouse is working as it should be: the doors zip and unzip nicely, the velcro for the windows works, and what's more, it's definitely warmer inside the greenhouse than it is outside.

Now I just have to come up with some plant stands and or a workbench/table for inside so I can work in there as well as having a place for all the seedlings and their little pots to sit.

Once seedling season is over, I'm planning to use the greenhouse for growing tomatoes and peppers - neither of which I've had much luck with in the past in other gardens. On balconies though, it's been a slightly different story - so maybe the extra warmth of the greenhouse will be the trick.

What are your favorite vegetables to grow in the greenhouse? I'd love to know, because I'm sure it's useful for more than just tomatoes and peppers.

I'd also love to know how effective or not a greenhouse is at extending the growing season into the fall and winter for things like lettuces and other greens.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Current Projects

Of late I've been really into spinning and working with fleeces. The current enthusiasm, I think is partly because spinning and yarn-craft is something that works well with the lifestyle I'm trying to encourage in my new home, but mostly I simply enjoy it. The regular arrival of Spin-Off magazine, and other new spinning-related items, including a fleece I have to process and card before I can spin it are also keeping my mind geared towards spinning.

Above is my current project, a 50g Fleece Artist braid of silk and mohair that I got quite a few years ago now. I'm spinning it as finely as I can, with an eye to attempting a chain ply once the singles have been spun.
This is the first of three skeins (two full-size from my jumbo bobbins and flyer) and the third only half the length, yardage unknown that I spun and chain-plied from a pound of shetland rams' fleece - the same ram that I have the last fleece from.

Aside from spinning, I've also been doing a lot of work outside, fencing in an area to use as a vegetable garden and putting up a green house from a kit. The last few things I need to do before we can start planting are to put in the frames for the raised beds, get the soil to fill them and to make a table for inside the greenhouse.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Outlander TV Show Trailer

I'd heard rumors that Outlander, the first novel in the series by Diana Gabaldon was going to be made into a TV show. It definitely looks like it's gone beyond the rumor stage, as I've just seen the first trailer for the series:

I have to say, it looks really good, although that's a bit hard to determine based on only 48 seconds. Still I think I'm going to try and watch it when the show comes out this summer.

It's been a long time since I've been actively interested in watching a TV series.

I have to ask, what are your thoughts on the trailer and the forthcoming series?

Storm Rising - Mercedes Lackey

Storm Rising - Mercedes Lackey
Storm Rising
Mercedes Lackey
Daw Books
Copyright: 1996

The product description:
In Storm Rising, mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on Valdemar, Karse, and all the kingdoms of the West, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs - terrifying creatures out of nightmare. Both Valdemar's Heralds and Karse's Sunpriests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts. But as the situation becomes bleaker and bleaker, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the creator of the storms, they may see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.
Storm Rising is the second book in the Mage Storms trilogy, following on Storm Warning. This one and it's sequel are two of my favorites as well. One big reason for that - and the reason I spent several years tracking down the hardcover editions of the whole trilogy: some of the best artwork inside. My favorite is the image from chapter seven of the two firecats. Unfortunately, in the paperback editions (which I'd bought first), these beautiful grayscale illustrations had pretty much become obscured into gray squares.

So, for this trilogy, I highly recommend getting the hardcover editions.

Another fond memory from this series: these were the first books I was reading and having to wait for the next book to be released - the same year I started reading Mercedes Lackey's books altogether. I remember that waiting to know what was going to happen next and knowing it was likely to be at least six months, if not a year before I'd find out. On the up side at that point, there were two series on the go. IIRC, this was the same time the Mage Wars trilogy was being released.

Storm Rising picks up with Karal having been confirmed as the Ambassador from Karse after the death of his friend and mentor Ulrich and the effects of the mage-storms have been temporarily halted. That's on the Valdemar/Karse side of the story. Grand Duke Tremaine has settled into Shonar for the winter, still feeling the growing effects of the Storms, including some truly horrific weather.

This is where the story really starts tying the "prehistory" of the world together with more "current events", as more and more connections with the end of the Mage Wars and the Cataclysm are being made. Hints of it were made through the earlier trilogy of the Mage Winds series, but now it's all being put together.

In terms of reading, I strongly recommend starting with Storm Warning for this trilogy, otherwise it's going to be confusing. I got away with it this time because I've read the whole series several times now, but even so, I found myself trying to remember events every now and again - usually with little luck.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday - March 17

Since I last did a Mailbox Monday post (it has been a long time), the home for this meme has moved. Now, Mailbox Monday has it's own blog!

The goal of the meme hasn't changed though, and neither has the warning about the increases to readers' TBR piles.

In the last week I've received two items, one of which is not properly a book - I've been looking forward to it for long enough though that I wanted to say something about it anyway.

Spin-Off Magazine - Spring 2014 Issue
Spin-Off Magazine - Spring 2014
The theme of this issue is all about colour: dyeing, plying, blending etc. I'm really looking forward to the read, although I haven't tried any dye-work yet. I'd like to in the future though. At the moment, however, I'm more focused on finding the best way to clean up my first sheep fleece and preparing it for spinning. A definite challenge, given that I had to pick a ram's fleece.

Individual articles include a couple on dyeing with natural dyes - one of which is about using weeds from the writer's back yard. There's also an amazing shawl pattern - the waterfall shawl that I hope to one day attempt now that I'm slowly teaching myself to knit.

The other item is a book:

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years - Elizabeth Wayland Barber
Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years
Elizabeth W. Barber
W. W. Norton and Company
Copyright: 2005

The product description:
New discoveries about the textile arts reveal women's unexpectedly influential role in ancient societies.

Twenty thousand years ago, women were making and wearing the first clothing created from spun fibers. In fact, right up to the Industrial Revolution the fiber arts were an enormous economic force, belonging primarily to women.

Despite the great toil required in making cloth and clothing, most books on ancient history and economics have no information on them. Much of this gap results from the extreme perishability of what women produced, but it seems clear that until now descriptions of prehistoric and early historic cultures have omitted virtually half the picture.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber has drawn from data gathered by the most sophisticated new archaeological methods—methods she herself helped to fashion. In a "brilliantly original book" (Katha Pollitt, Washington Post Book World), she argues that women were a powerful economic force in the ancient world, with their own industry: fabric.
One thing I need to make clear about this book - which is highly recommended - is that it only covers as far forward as the Mycenaeans according to the table of contents. I'd like now to find something similar for Classical Greece on forward into the Medieval times.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Indexing Names - Edited by Noeline Bridge

Indexing Names - Noeline BridgeIndexing Names
Ed. Noeline Bridge
Information Today Publishing
Copyright: April 2012

The product description:
Don't be deceived into thinking names are easy to index! They can present a challenge that consumes a disproportionate amount of an indexer's time. Now at last we have a book wholly devoted to the subject. Coverage includes names from classical and medieval times and those belonging to particular ethnicities and nationalities, along with those peculiar to specific genres, especially biography, religion, and the performance and fine arts. Fictional, corporate, and geographical names as well as those of royalty and nobility are discussed. You'll find advice on when and how to index names mentioned in peripheral ways and guidance in avoiding the pitfalls of automated name indexing.

With Indexing Names, Noeline Bridge and her contributing experts from around the globe have created an essential reference for all indexers working in the English language and an instant classic within the field.
Names are a key element in indexing any book and it's absolutely integral to make sure that they are indexed correctly. This may seem to be the easiest part of any index, but as Indexing Names soon proves, the job is far more involved than it seems at first glance. The table of contents alone quickly proves that:
  1. The Seven Problem Approach to Indexing Names by Noeline Bridge
  2. Classical and Medieval Names by Kate Mertes
  3. Arabic Names by Heather Hedden
  4. Dutch Names by Jacqueline Pitchford
  5. French Names by Noeline Bridge
  6. German Names by Jacqueline Pitchford
  7. Spanish and Portuguese Names by Francine Cronshaw
  8. Chinese Place Names by Liquan Dai
  9. Hawaiian Names by Ruth Horie
  10. Hmong Names by Madeline Davis
  11. Indonesian Names by Madeline Davis and Noeline Bridge
  12. Te Reo Maori Names by Elaine N. Hall
  13. Thai Names by Sue Lightfoot
  14. Names in Biographies by Martin L. White
  15. Religious Names by Kate Mertes
  16. Titles of Royalty and Nobility in the United Kingdom by Auriol Griffith-Jones
  17. Names in Art Books by Enid L. Zafran
  18. Names in the Performing Arts by Linda Dunn
  19. Name Problems: Dispelling the Simplicity Myth by Sherry L. Smith
  20. The Hurdles of Automated Name Indexing by Seth A. Maislin
  21. Names in Fiction by Enid L. Zafran
  22. Corporate Names by Noeline Bridge
  23. Geographic Names by Noeline Bridge
  24. Using the Library of Congress Authority File by Janet Russell
  25. Resources for Personal Names by Noeline Bridge
Indexing Names is a very substantial reference work covering naming conventions through history as well as in different countries and languages. Definitely worth the price (this is not the least expensive reference work I've bought, but I believe it's well worth it).

Each of the essays in the book is well written and interesting - some of them from more than an indexers point of view, I have to admit. I found the chapter on Classical and Medieval names to be a particular favorite and a fascinating addition to my historical reading too.

Another bonus is that each essay has its' own bibliography and reference list if you need more information on a particular sub-topic. All of this is added to comprehensive examples and tables and clear writing.

This is a book that will be useful for more than the novice indexer - I've seen a couple of reviews from indexers who admit that the book spends more time on their desks than on their shelves, which is something I think I'll find too.

Well done everyone!

Monday, March 10, 2014

New DVD Arrival

A few weeks ago, I ordered myself a copy of From Wool to Waulking: Spinning Wool And Creating Cloth by Norman Kennedy, and it finally arrived today.

This is a short snippet of what's on the DVD (which I am looking forward to watching over the next few days.

I have to say that it was a really pleasant surprise too. I was expecting something that was maybe an hour in length. What I got instead is two DVD's which are an hour and a half each, so I now have three hours of information on spinning and wool.

My thoughts on this DVD after watching it though once.


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