Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In The Mail: Birthday Surprise

Like most people I love to be spoiled on my birthday but this year I got the crazy idea to go away so I really didn't get very much of that.  So you can imagine my surprise when I got this super awesome package in the mail from my pen pal Anna.  (I shouldn't have been surprised, she is rather awesome)


Check out that card, how awesome is that card?


Turquoise butterfly wrapping paper...how full of happy is that?


Clearly she gets me.


And chocolate that smells SO GOOD!  I am saving it for Friday night and my Diablo 3 marathon.


See, Fluttershy fits right in.

Thanks for the package full of birthday happiness Anna!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I is for Igloo

As a kid I had a huge fascination with Igloos and every winter without fail I would be out there in the snow trying to make one.  Sadly, my snow shelter attempts never made it very far off the ground.  I blame the fact that I live too far south but I am willing to bet if I'd tried to build one this winter I would have met with a lot more success.

Igloos were predominantly constructed by people in Canada's Central Arctic and Greenland's Thule areas.  Some neat things I learned about Igloos include:

1) It's mostly outside the Inuit society that igloo refers exclusively to shelters constructed from blocks of compacted snow.

2) Snow used to build an igloo must be sound enough to cut and stacked in blocks.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Twelve Books Kids Should Read Before Twelve

A few weeks ago I posted Chapters list of twelve books they thought kids should read before they turned twelve and my thoughts on it.  The main thing I thought was that there were some books missing from their list and as promised I complied my own list of books that were a huge part of my childhood and I think all kids should read.  Adults too if they haven't.

This list is in no particular order other than possibly my own preference.


This is on my (very long) list of favourite books, it was the book that started my lifetime love of all things science fiction.  I actually give people a funny look when they tell me they haven't read it, kind of like the one Ace gives people when they say they don't play Minecraft.


For those who aren't aware this is the first story in The Chronicles of Narnia, in my humble opinion it is the best.  At the very least it is not one to be skipped.


I'm more than a little surprised this one didn't make their list, as far as I am concerned it is a childhood classic.  It was definitely one of my favourite books as a kid and I still love it very, very much.


I first discovered this book back in the days of being read to in class by supply teachers, you know rather than actually doing work.  Side note, if you are a supply teacher that is totally the kind you should be.  I have read it many times since.  As I kid I thought it was deliciously frightening.


I am a great lover of Dr. Seuss (aren't we all?) and this is one of my very favourites.  (along with The Lorax)  I think all kids should read it and any other Dr. Seuss books they can get their hands on.



I might be a bit partial to this one because I am from the East Coast of Canada, we were pretty much raised on tales of Anne of Green Gables.  I mean my first (and only) summer camp experience was on Prince Edward Island and the big highlight of the camp was that they took us to Green Gables.  Canadian or not though I recommend this book, it is a great read for kids of all ages.


This is another on this list of good, old fashioned, great stories.  I loved these books, I think they are great for family reading time, which is a very popular time in our house.


Oh the deep things Tolkien brought out in my imagination when I was a kid.  I spent a whole summer exploring parks and pretending to have my own little Hobbit hideaway after reading this book.  It's a must read for kids as far as I am concerned.


As my kids know I am obsessed with all things Wizard of Oz, it's up there with Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit for me with stuff kids should read.  It helps to expand their imaginations.


This is just a great book.


This is one of my favorite animal books ever, I loved it as a kid and I love it now as an adult.


This is not aimed at the same age range but Mike and I found it one day at the bookstore (because we are that weird couple that reads each other kids books in the bookstore) and brought it home to Cat and it was a huge hit.  Ace loves reading it to her and they have great discussions about it.

In my opinion though, any book that gets your kid reading is a good book.  Cat likes superhero comics and princess stories, Ace likes Archie comics and fact books.  Me well I like everything.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Cephalopod CoffeeHouse April

Wow, my first month back and I am a day late posting, not a good start.  I would love to say I have a great excuse for it but the truth is I just got so caught up in my spring cleaning yesterday that I forgot.  Anyhow, my post today is a double post because the best book I read in April was also my book swap book from February.

As you may have heard if you have been around here for a bit I belong to a lovely group called The International Geek Girls Pen Pals Club.  Along with acquiring myself an awesome pen pal or two, I have joined some pretty awesome swaps.  Which of course feed my favorite addictions, stickers, postcards, and books.  Yay books!

February was the first round and there was no theme.  My partner was the wonderful Doctor Cumber Moose and she sent me Muriel Barbery's 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' which I had not read.  It's really not the sort of book I would pick up on my own as I tend to stick to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres these days.


I don't know where to begin with this book, it was absolutely brilliant and beautiful and heartbreaking.  I am not usually a fan of books written in a diary type format as I usually find them to be a bit dull.  This hooked me however and wouldn't let me go.  The two narrators, Renee and Paloma, alternate in relatively short chapters and you get to watch their growth throughout the book.

There are so many references to things in this book, art, movies, music, books etc.  It's a treasure trove of references that if you get you're like oh cool and if you don't you're like hey, I should check that out.  Or maybe that's just me.

The development of the minor characters in the book is extremely strong given the style of writing, they really come to life.  Which is a part of what makes the book so good.  I highly recommend reading it to anyone who hasn't.

Also, check out the other participants this month:

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Photo Challenge Week Eight: February 19 to February 25

So I only have about a zillion photos to catch up on posting, not exactly my idea of fun.  Still I have to be proud of the fact that I have still be taking them every day, even if some of them have been reaching a little for subject matter.  Anyway, on to the pictures:

February 19, 2014:


Super awesome postcard from my super awesome pen pal.

February 20, 2014:


My first foray into juicing, what's become an obsession since then.

February 21, 2014:


The view from my bed, mostly cos-play odds and ends.

February 22, 2014:


Shiny new nail polish. (with badly done nails, I need more practice)

February 23, 2014:


Fancy new lettering for my letter writing.

February 24, 2014:


My monkeys at daycare.

February 25, 2014:


One of my favorite juicing recipes so far: Carrot, apple, sweet potato, beet and orange.  Yummy!

The prompts for Week Nine in case you get stuck are:


Monday, April 21, 2014

Book Review: 1984

This was more of a well it's there so I will reread it sort of thing than a conscious choice to read it again after so many years.  What happened was I decided to borrow Ace's e-reader for the trip to Cuba since it has a longer battery life than my new one and is touch unlike my old one.  So I just plugged it in to the computer and synced it to my Kobo account, which immediately dumped 1800 and some odd books onto it. (not the best idea ever)

Apparently there is a bit of a learning curve to the thing because I couldn't figure out how to get off the first page of books at first, hence deciding to read 1984.



It came across both better and worse than I remember it being when I read it in high school.  I found Winston easy to identify with, on the surface going through the motions while underneath you are questioning what's going on around you.  Julia also felt very real to me but for very different reasons, she seemed very callous to me, reminding me of a lot of people I interact with who operate on the "me first" principal.

The whole idea of being constantly watched to the point where even your thoughts aren't safe...that's a bit terrifying but less now than I found it in high school.  At some point I guess you learn that there are things scarier than being constantly monitored.  The rewriting of history so it says what they want it to say...much scarier.  The control of the media we ingest so we are pretty much only exposed to what they want us to see...

All in all it's not a bad read but as far as Orwell's work goes I still prefer 'Animal Farm'

Monday, April 14, 2014

H is for Hell

The idea of Hell is one of those things that varies it's mythology from religion to religion.  In most cases it is a place of torment, punishment for the sins we commit in this world.   To me as a relatively non-religious person, looking at the world around me I find it a lot easier to believe in Hell than in Heaven.
Linear religions often depict Hell as being endless whereas in cyclic religions it is a stopping place between incarnations.  Other traditions merely consider Hell as a neutral place, a housing for the dead so to speak.  Regardless I learned some neat things about some of the mythology surrounding Hell and I would like to share them with you:

1) Though the word Hell generally brings to mind visions of fire and brimstone a number of religions including Buddhism and early Christianity also include portrayals of Hell being a cold place.

2) In Ancient Egypt a guilty person was taken by a 'devourer' and would be subjected to terrifying punishment and then annihilated.

3) The Mayans have an underworld of nine levels of hell, the worst of which is also of course the lowest.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An Aside

A few days ago I can down with what (at least in my opinion) is one of the worst stomach flues I have ever had.  On a positive note I have lost a few pounds, on a negative note, as you may have noticed I have fallen behind on my A to Z Challenge posts.

I was debating not continuing this year as it is not the only thing I am behind on at the moment but as the doctor feels semi confident that I will be fit as a fiddle within a few days I have decided to take the weekend to catch up with my posting and continue to move forward with a positive attitude.

So a apologize for the tardiness of the forthcoming posts and hopefully everything shall be back in sync by Monday or Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is For Geisha

 Geisha are traditional female Japanese entertainers whose skills include classical music, dance and games.  There is so much here to be fascinated with that it's like being a kid in a candy store...you don't know where to look first.  I learned some really neat stuff and I think there are great stories there.

The most interesting thing I learned is that there is (like most things) a process of apprenticeship for becoming a a geisha.  As, they progress towards becoming a full geisha their dress, hairstyle and makeup all become simpler.   Other things I learned are:

1) There were (and still are a few) male geisha.

2) Geisha must retire if they marry.  

Geisha can work well into later life which is just fascinating to me as I said. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

F is For France

 As part of my family history France has always held a special place in my heart as far as places I want to write about go.  My great grandparents met and fell in love in France, it was my great grandmother's home and one day I want to travel there and see where my things got started for my family.

I had a very hard time even beginning to narrow down all the interesting things there are to say about France because really being that it has so much history, and is a major power center in the world how do you say only a few things? 

1) The oldest traces of human life in France date from approximately 1.8 million years ago.  (that's flipping awesome)

2)  France was one of the first countries to have an environment ministry in 1971.  

3) There are 47,000 religious buildings in France 94% of which are Roman Catholic.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

E is For Emu


So I discovered a few years ago that Emu farming is actually this HUGE thing here.  I'm not entirely sure why, but it's like insanely popular.  Which whatever, I love a good edible meat.  I also saw on a morning show I was watching with my mom the other day that you can feed something like 8-10 people with an Emu egg.  At which point I totally wanted to get one for home because with Ace heading into puberty he eats like a horse and could probably eat an Emu egg in a sitting.  
Anyhow, other interesting things I learned about Emus are:
1) They are nomadic and may travel long distances to find food.
2) They can live between 10 and 20 years in the wild. 
3) Females are a small amount larger than males and have a wider rump. 
4)  They require pebbles and stones to assist in the digestion of plant material. 



Friday, April 4, 2014

D is For Demons

 A demon is a supernatural being, often malevolent prevalent in religion, occultism, mythology, fiction and folklore.  In some religions they are considered unclean spirits often fallen angels or deceased humans.  In other religions or occultism demons are spiritual entities that may be conjured and controlled. 

Like most of the things I am writing about for the challenge this year I have always had an intense fascination with, not necessarily demons themselves but with all the mythology and lore surrounding them.  I think they are a great  subject for stories much like vampires and witches because there is so much there to work with.

Some interesting things about demons are:

1) The Ancient Greek word daimon refers to a spirit or divine power with no connotations of evil or malevolence.   

2) Popular Hebrew mythology has demons that are believed to come from the nether world and have various physical ailments ascribed to them such as headaches, epilepsy and nightmares.  (suffering from migraines I totally see how they could come from the nether world)

3) There was a demon, 'Shabriri' who rested on still water at night and blinded people who drank from it.

4)  Demons are often shown to be under divine control despite typically being associated with evil. 

5) Grimoires contain that names and abilities of demons as well as instructions for conjuring and controlling them.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is For Cat

I find cats to be utterly fascinating creatures, they are just so adorable and mysterious.  My own cat especially, you can just never tell what the little angel is thinking.  The unusual look she gives us when she isn't demanding food or attention is one of utter disdain and I can only imagine what can be going on in her mind.

You aren't actually leaving the house dressed like that? 

There are many excellent stories that include cats, revolve around cats or just have a little tiny dash of cat in there.   My personal favorite cat quote comes from Terry Pratchetts's Sourcery.   

"I meant," Said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"  
Death thought about it.
"CATS," he said eventually. "CATS ARE NICE."

As you may know Terry Pratchett's Death is my very favorite written personification of Death ever.  But that is another post entirely.  

Now, on to the neat things I learned about cats:

1) Domestic cats are descended from African wildcats.

2) A group of cats is called a clowder or a glaring.  ( I think that's funny, we have a gang of cats that roam our neighborhood, we call them trouble)

3) Cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones which allows them to pass through any space that they can fit their head into.

4) Cats can see at one sixth the light level required for human vision.

5) Cats sleep an average of 13-14 hours a day.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Ballerina


I was always more than a little fascinated with dance even though I have less than no rhythm.  What little girl doesn't?  The long graceful lines, the glittery costumes and the adoring fans.  Turns out not only did I not have any rhythm I have massive stage fright as well.  So no dance career for me.

Naturally, wanting to be a dancer I wanted to be a ballerina because they are the best of the best.  Anyhow, I did some research and learned some neat things about ballerinas:

1) The term ballerina is a critical accolade reserved for well-trained and highly accomplished female classical ballet dancers.

2) The rank of Prima Ballerina Assoluta was bestowed on a ballerina who was considered to be exceptionally talented and above the standard of other leading ballerinas though now the title is rarely used and is mostly symbolic and used in recognition of a notable career.

I know when I think of ballets I usually think of Swan Lake or The Nutcracker but the Grade Threes at my sons school were treated to seeing a ballet of The Velveteen Rabbit.  (Oh how I wish I could have gone)  He was thrilled and said it was just wonderful.

I am (naturally) dying to see Alice in Wonderland as well.  What's your favorite ballet?  



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A is for Antarctica

I have always had a fascination with Antarctica, and not just because it is fun to say.  There's something about this large mass of virtually uninhibited land that just begs to be written about it.


So here are the neat things I learned about Antarctica:

1) It is considered a desert with an annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast and less inland.

2)  The temperature has reached a bone chilling -89 degrees Celsius (-129 Fahrenheit).

3) There are no permanent human inhabitants but 1,000 to 5,000 people are stationed there doing research depending on the time of year.

4) There is a treaty signed but 49 countries that prohibits military activities, mineral mining, nuclear explosions and nuclear waste disposal.  This same treaty supports scientific research and protects the continents' ecosystem.   

5) Antarctica contains 90% of the world's ice and about 70% of the world's fresh water. (crazy!)

6) If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to breakdown the world's oceans would rise several meters in mere centuries.