Happy birthday, MayMay!

On Sunday, my baby girl turns three. *sniff*

She was a wee mite of three months when I brought her home from the rescue org in September 2006, but that never stopped her from taking on the big kitty:

“Take that, big kitty! I’m not afraid of you!!” – Mayhem
“Good grief!” – Chaos

She’s still as sassy and energetic as ever. Happy birthday, MayMay!

“Oh, goody – presents! Bring ’em on! I better get a Panther Princess Tiara this year. Sparkly, furry, and hot pink, if you please.” -Mayhem

Reading our lives away

For your chance to win a set of six classic short story collections from authors such as Willa Cather, Leo Tolstoy, and Herman Melville), leave a comment at Largehearted Boy by midnight CDT, May 29.

If you’d like a chance to win an audiobook copy of James Patterson’s The 8th Confession, leave a comment at J. Kaye’s Book Blog before June 27. Please remember that J. Kaye doesn’t notify winners – you need to keep an eye on the blog to see if you’ve won.

Free download of The Guide to Pirate Parenting!

Smart Bitches had some great links recently, including to free audiobooks.

I definitely don’t write as much as I used to (since I seem to type most things now), but when I do handwrite something, it doesn’t take long for my hand to hurt. Maybe my grip is part of the problem.

Use six books (that you don’t like) to make invisible speakers.

How to make your very own book pillow to help you read in comfort.

Dear Author’s weekly tech roundup has some good stuff this week, including info on colorful new ebook readers and an ebook price comparison website (I’m definitely bookmarking that one!).

I thought these seven organization tips to help you reduce your TBR (to be read) pile were great in theory, but… I know I won’t do any of them. 🙂

If you’re trying to read more, maybe these 16 ideas will help – I know that not watching tv and speed reading probably help me the most. Missing from that list was making sure you always have something to read with you so you can take advantage of unexpected free time (such as when waiting in lines).

A look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Kindle 2.0 from an avid user after 100 days of use. Also, Kindle owners can now view their notes and highlights in a web browser and not just on their Kindles.

Reading Update
Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James. This was a great contemporary romance about a Chicago lawyer who’s in LA to work on a big case when she gets stuck providing legal insight to a handsome movie star who’s researching his role in a legal thriller.
Undone (Outcast Season, Book 1) by Rachel Caine. This is a spin-off from Caine’s Weather Warden series. It features Cassiel, a fallen Djinn. Lots and lots and lots of open questions at the end of this one. *sigh*
The Immortal Hunter: A Rogue Hunter Novel (Argeneau Vampires) by Lynsay Sands. Ack. More of the lots and lots of open questions thing here. Hmph.
Dead Girls Are Easy, A Match Made in Hell, and You’re the One that I Haunt (Nicki Styx, Books 1-3) by Terri Garey. Nicki was dead for a few minutes in the ER and when she came back, she could see ghosts. Ghosts who want her to do things for them, ranging from the innocuous to the deadly. Overall, I enjoyed these, although there was a story arc that I found annoying and which I really hope was completed in the third book.
Witch Fire (Elemental Witches, Book 1) by Anya Bast. This book starts in Minneapolis! I’m always a sucker for that. I thought this was a good completely vampire and werewolf free read (also very steamy) – the next two books are already on my TBR shelf and I’m planning to pick up the latest book on June 6 at Uncle Hugo’s, when Ms. Bast will be there signing it.

“Wait, why did I think I missed you again? Obviously I forgot about the infernal flashing.” -Mayhem

Linkity blowout

Leave Kristi a comment by midnight EST, May 31, for your chance to win a pdf of one of her cute kids sweater patterns.

Clever DIY idea for making a light box in a suitecase.

Like to build things from cardboard? This article has links to ten things you can make from cardboard, from a kitty chaise to a laptop stand to a starter macro photography kit.

Whoa. Good question.

Although the Gizmodo article’s a bit snarky, check out the pet photography tips from Li of Fat Orange Cat Studios. Yes, she does also blog at domesticrafts.

Oh my – a USB drive that transforms into a panther!

More IKEA hacks for hiding litterboxes.

Make your own deluxe kitty windowsill perch.

Hmm. Who does this print remind me of?

Doesn’t this look tasty? Gluten-free chocolate rootbeer cake. *nom nom nom*

You’re at the theater, watching a movie and you desperately have to pee but don’t want to miss anything. This website will help you figure out the best time to take your break.

Rest easy, citizens of Boston – your police department promises to alert you when the zombies attack.

I had no idea LEGO was making an Architecture line – check out the Fallingwater kit!

Feline Strategy #2 for Dealing with Unexcused Human Absence:

“Oh, did you go somewhere? I didn’t notice.” -Chaos

Back! Buried!

It was a great weekend up north at the cabin! Sunny skies, low humidity, comfortable temps in the low 70s, and the bugs (tiny black flies at this time of year) weren’t too bad (I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my brother for being such a tasty flavor for bugs, making things much more pleasant for the rest of us). A great weekend, even though I didn’t knit at all and only read two books. The only pictures I took were pictures of family, who have requested that I maintain their anonymity. (But you can go look at lovely cabin pictures from the archives, should you desire.) (Oh, and I owe many thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law, who always comes up with the tastiest gluten-free creations – her gf Mexican pasta salad was delicious!)

I came back to over 500 entries in Google Reader, so I’m going to try to get that under control right now and get back to more normal blogging tomorrow.

“I’m still mad at you, Mom. Meanie.” -Mayhem

Bleeding Hearts Club Band

Another picture from my rambles on Sunday:

I love bleeding hearts. I can remember being fascinated by them when I was three or four years old.

Any big weekend plans? It’s a long weekend here in the US. I’m heading up north to the cabin the tomorrow morning (returning sometime Monday), so I’ll be packing tonight when I’d usually be writing a blog post. SoC will resume publication on Tuesday.

“I’m hot.” -Chaos

No surprise, Chaos, as it was in the 90s again yesterday. Since the humidity was only about 16% (i.e., about 70% lower than it usually is at those temperatures here), I just couldn’t bear to close the windows and switch on the air. The kitties didn’t seem to find the fans as refreshing as did I.

Turrets Syndrome

AnotherPurl’s giving away a copy of the urban fantasy book  Spiral Hunt, which was written by her friend Margaret Ronald! Leave a comment by 5 pm, May 22, for your chance to win.

Ruth’s having a two-part Yarn Will contest, for those of us who have achieved SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy). The contest runs through July 4, so you have plenty of time to get the details and participate.

Dear Minnesota weather – Did it really need to reach +97F yesterday? That would be, what, 40F warmer than it was on Saturday, and that’s not even taking Saturday’s wind chill into consideration. (I swear, it felt like it never hit 50F on Saturday.)

Besides being a lovely day for the Lyn-Lake Rites of Spring, Sunday was also a lovely day for walking around my neighborhood and looking at turrets. Well, actually, I think that most days are good for walking around and looking at turrets! 🙂

Although it did make me sad to see how shabby some of them are getting.

“Bet you wish you could wipe your noses with your tongues! Ha! Humans drool and kitties rule!” -Mayhem

Reading and reading and, well, reading

EeeRotate rotates your Windows laptop screen for easier book reading. Based on the comments, this will be most useful for lightweight netbooks and laptops that don’t run too hot.

Oh, isn’t this a cute little ebook reader?! Not available in the US until next month.

Apparently paranormal romance is so successful that Amazon’s created a niche store for it. I plan to just use said niche store as a resource for reserving library books and shopping at Uncle Hugo’s or other indies. 🙂

Another perspective on how ubiquitous Nathan Kamp is on romance novel covers…

Danger: the AllRomance Ebooks store. Other good ebook stores (not quite as targeted as AllRomance) are Books on Board and Diesel eBooks. Make sure your particular format is available through a particular store for a particular title before you get too far with it!

If you’re ever looking for a teensy bit more detail about what I thought of a book (in the form of the number of stars, one through five, that I rated it), you can always head over to LibraryThing and search my library.

You may or may not see the cover images when you read this post – looks like the image server for IndieBound is a bit cranky today.

Reading Update
The Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint. I love Charles de Lint’s work. It’s thoughtful and evocative and lyrical and always gets me thinking about the deeper things. Pretty impressive for urban fantasy, hmm? But then, this is urban fantasy of the old school – a fantastical twist to our world, rather than the newer sort of urban fantasy, which seems to primarily be gritty and about a kickass hero or heroine.
The Mystery of Grace is set in the Southwest, rather than in de Lint’s mythical Canadian city of Newford. It’s the story of Grace, a tattooed mechanic to fixes up hotrods and has been at loose ends since her grandfather’s death a few weeks before. One of my favorite quotes from the book was attributed to her grandfather: “‘Tattooes,’ Abuelo once said, ‘are the stories in your heart, written on your skin.'”
If you haven’t read any de Lint, my favorite book is Someplace To Be Flying and you can go read an excerpt if you’d like.
Lover Avenged (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 7) by J.R. Ward. After the fiasco of Book 6, Lover Enshrined (hint: devoting an entire book to the whiniest, most annoying vampire ever is not a good plan), Ward fortunately revitalizes the series with Lover Avenged. This is Rehvenge’s book and it was, at times, a very hard and intense read. I had to put it down and get some space from it more than once. But, overall, I was satisfied. Ward managed to, hopefully, thin out the number of story arcs she was trying to keep going, as well as spending much less time with the pesky Lessening Society (i.e., the baddies). Bless the library – I’m perfectly willing to buy these as new mass market pbs, but not as hardcovers.
At Grave’s End (Night Huntress, Book 3) by Jeaniene Frost. Now waiting for late July, when the next book comes out. Recommended paranormal romance series.
Blue Diablo (A Corine Solomon Novel) by Ann Aquirre. This urban fantasy/paranormal romance is the first book in a new series about Corine Solomon, who can touch an object and see its history. In this book, her ex, Chance, tracks her down to help him find his missing mother. Chance has fabulously good luck, which unfortunately tends to mean that people around him have very bad luck. (Bullet miraculously misses him? Sucks to be walking next to him…)
Queer Wolf, edited by James EM Rasmussen. ebook. Review is up at Fang-tastic Books.
Wanting Something More (Stepp Sisters, Book 3) by Kathy Love. This is the last book in the very good contemporary romance trilogy about the Stepp Sisters of Milbrook, Maine. I could tell from the earlier books who was going to be Marty’s love interest, but I couldn’t figure out how it was going to happen…
The Trouble with Valentine’s Day, Not Another Bad Date, Lola Carlyle Reveals All, I’m in No Mood for Love, and Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson. Gibson always dishes up a reliable contemporary romance, frequently located in Idaho. I do wish some of her heroines had a titch more spine.
Midnight Sins (Midnight Trilogy, Book 2) by Cynthia Eden. This is the sequel to Eden’s Hotter After Midnight, which was about Atlanta cop and shifter Colin Gyth, who suspects psychologist Dr. Emily Drake of being a murderer. Midnight Sins is about Todd Brooks, Colin’s human partner on the force, who isn’t quite ready to believe that the monsters are real, and the woman he suspects of being a murderer, singer and succubus Cara Maloan. Book has high steam quotient.
Immortal Danger by Cynthia Eden. I’m definitely enjoying Eden’s books! Maya Black used to be a cop, before a vampire attacked her. Now she’s a vampire vigilante, helping the mysterious Adam Brody find the vampires who kidnapped his niece. Very high steam quotient here, too.
She’s No Faerie Princess (The Others, Book 2) by Christine Warren. Yes, yes, I know – I read the rest of this series before reading Book 2. Whoops. This is a fun, not too heavy paranormal series and this particular book features a faerie princess, some werewolves, a werejaguar, a witch, and a few stray demons. Plus, Warren has a way with a turn of phrase that regularly has me laughing out loud (although many of said phrases are definitely R rated.)

“Why won’t you just let me sleep unblinded by that accursed flashing thing? Is that really too much to ask?” -Mayhem

Lyn-Lake Rites of Spring

Yesterday was the first Lyn-Lake Street Fest in several years, since the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street has been under construction for a while.

It used to be a lot more crowded. Maybe things picked up later in the day.

There were just a few artcars on display – nothing at all compared to the turnout for the Artcar (and Artbike) Parade in July.

Car #1

Car #2

Car #3

This wasn’t an artcar, but I’m a big fan of our local company, Peace Coffee, so…

The Peace Coffee Mobile was right across from this amusing sign. Feel free to speculate wildly amongst yourselves as to what it might mean. 😉

I was also mightily amused by the location of the biffs. I know what my first redevelopment action would be! Heh.

Hmm. That definitely seems like more than enough pictures for one post. I guess I’ll save the fire juggling pictures for another day.

Meanwhile, back at Casa de Chaos y Mayhem. (Presumed not dead…)

*zzzzzzzzzzz…* -Mayhem


Wendy’s giving away some of the new Lorna’s Laces WendyKnits Sunrise sock yarn – leave her a comment by 4 pm EDT, May 21, for your chance to win.

Head over to moderncat before May 17 for your chance to win a year’s supply of the World’s Best Cat Litter. You can leave a comment on this post if you’d like the chance to win a kitty catnip boomerang, too.

Confused about sunscreen SPF? You’re not alone.

An interesting option for those holey old handknit socks that you can’t bear to throw away.

Heh – ya think?!

Yet another option for a homemade laptop stand – this time from cardboard.

*tilts head quizzically*

Thanks to Karen for alerting me to this photo of an adorable black jaguar kitten! Look at those clodhoppers, eh?

Whoa. This is my household! Can you figure out who’s who? 😉 (Today’s kitty photo caption won’t make sense unless you follow this link.)

“I hope you recognize that I’m not the silly one. I’m the thoughtful one!” -Chaos

A post with no name

Here are a few final pictures from that sunny walk, now nearly two weeks ago. Best to post them quickly, since we definitely have more greenery now.

I still can’t decide if this is a sculpture of a propeller in an evil wind storm or petals or… What do you think?

A very happy sun

A seahorse birdbath

A classic fountain with some of the first tulips I’d seen this spring

A much more modern fountain

And a lovely guardian cougar?

“Don’t you think I’d be a better, more fierce guardian than that silly cougar?” -Mayhem

“Mom, you’re so mean. Fierce Guardian Panther Princesses can too sit in the trash and still be fierce!” -Mayhem