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For those of you who don't know what this is all about: It's a challenge to draw or write a piece of fanfic about your One True Pairing every day for thirty days. It started with this August 2012 posting at "One Hundred Suns" and started spreading around Tumblr after that. (You can use this link to see what other people are doing with the concept: at least the ones who've remembered to tag their posts.)

My interest was casually piqued by this some time back. But not until the other morning, when I saw what the very talented Reapersun had just done with Day 1 -- raising the bar quite high -- did I realize this might be something I wanted to do too. So: I'm in it for the 30 days. And here are the links to them:

1: Holding hands | 2: Cuddling somewhere | 3: Gaming / watching a movie | 4: On a date | 5: Kissing | 6: Wearing each other's clothes | 7: Cosplaying | 8: Shopping | 9: Hanging out with friends | 10: With animal ears | 11: Wearing kigurumis | 12: Making out | 13: Eating ice cream | 14: Genderswapped | 15: In a different clothing style | 16: Doing morning rituals | 17: Spooning | 18: Doing something together |  19: In formal wear | 20: Dancing | 21: Cooking / baking | 22: In battle, side by side | 23: Arguing | 24: Making up afterwards | 25: Gazing into each other's eyes | 26: Getting married | 27: On one of their birthdays | 28: Doing something ridiculous | 29: Doing something sweet | 30: Doing something hot
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60-percent-off
It struck me this morning that it's been way too long since our ebook store offered a discount day-or-two just for the LJ crowd. So here one is.

Starting now, if you go over to Ebooks Direct and see something in the catalog that you like, it's yours for 60% off. This results in some biggish bargains, especially on the 9-volume New Millennium Editions "box set" of the Young Wizards novels. (I think it drops the price for all 9 books to something like $22.50, instead of the normal $54 or so.) Most of our ebooks are in most of the major e-reader formats, and all of them are DRM-free.

Anyway, all you need to do to get the discount on whatever you want is put in the discount code LIVEJOURNAL at checkout. (There's a walkthrough page here on how our coupon codes work.)

This discount will be available to LJ folk (and frankly, whoever else you choose to share it with... what am I, the domain police?) until Tuesday night (March 11th) at 11:59PM Hawai'ian time.

So enjoy!
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Homemade Ginger Nuts

Ginger nuts are a favorite store-bought biscuit in most parts of the UK and Ireland, but homemade ones are way better. And somehow or other I seem to have made these three times in the last week and a bit, so I think I’ve acquired some expertise.

If you want to make some holiday-ish biscuits/cookies that aren’t a lot of trouble, especially for gifts, these are an excellent bet. They're crisp and flavorful and very more-ish. They’re also a good sort of bikkie to make if you want to let children or those who are normally a little baking-challenged assist (meaning it’s the kind of thing you can do sitting around the table with a bunch of adults and a bottle of wine, gossiping while you do the slightly repetitive work of getting them ready to bake).

Making the dough takes twenty minutes or a bit more, depending on how long you spend creaming the sugar and butter and flour together. After that it’s just a matter of how quickly you feel like assembling each baking sheet’s worth of cookies / biscuits. The dough refrigerates nicely for short periods, but because ginger nuts are raised only with baking soda / bicarbonate of soda, I wouldn’t keep the dough unbaked for more than 4-6 hours. The recipe makes between four and five dozen gingernuts, depending on how large you roll the pieces. Recipe and method under the cut.

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In the Afterlife After-Hours Bar

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You know the place. It's where deities and divinities and avatars go when they've clocked off and they need a casual after-work pint or a quick remedial stiff one or some casual conversation with their peers before going home to the family.

So Christ is sitting there nursing a nice Pinot Grigio (he gets so tired of red wine, you have no idea) and he's saying to the gods and near-gods at the bar with him, "You know what really gets to me, though? The tat. The kitsch. The dashboard ornaments, the endless dodgy art -- "

"I saw that doll," says somebody down the bar past Mithras and Izanagi: a god with his hood pulled up and a long cloak that looks and flows like shadow. "With the puffy sleeves and the crown."

"The Infant of Prague, yeah. Take my advice, do not do apparitions after hours in Prague, it's something about the beer they brew there, what those people will do to you after the fact just does not bear considering. But you know what's worst? The 'Sacred Heart.'" He actually does the air quotes, which leave little traces of (appropriately) red fire. "On the front of me, outside my clothes, like I've had some kind of bass-ackwards transplant. Usually with rays of light coming out of it. Aorta and vena cava and wobbly bits all aglow. There is nothing that does not appear on. Lunch boxes. Key chains. Night lights, do you believe that? How many kids' nights have been ruined by having that thing glowing at them like a refugee from a Bill Cosby skit? You should see some of the stores at CafePress. I'm amazed they haven't done My Sacred Spleen yet. Except probably none of them can figure out where it would go." He rolls his eyes. "I have it way worse than any of you."

Mutterings of agreement run up and down the bar. Then a voice speaks up.

"I got that beat."

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image

Sometimes Nita wishes she could just open her eyes in the morning and be ready to leap right out of the bed and get on with stuff. Unfortunately, life doesn’t seem to have arranged itself for her that way.

She lies there this morning, staring at the ceiling, and wishes it again. What I need is something like in that Wallace and Gromit movie, she thinks. Where somebody pulls a lever and dumps you into your clothes and automates your putting-yourself-together and your breakfast.

She yawns and rubs the early-morning gunk out of her eyes (why is there always so much of this gunk?). She knew it had to do with eye fatigue.  Hilary the optometrist had told her so once, back in the ancient day—back when her folks were concerned enough to  take her to an eye specialist because all of a sudden she didn’t need her glasses any more.  Though it had always been a given that Nita’s astigmatism was of the kind that would clear up eventually by itself, having it happen so quickly—and take the nearsightedness with it—had freaked her mom and dad out. And unfortunately Nita wasn’t yet out to her parents as a wizard, and so couldn’t explain that she had slowly and carefully been talking her own eyeballs into changing their shape so that her eyes’ inner focus points would fall on the right place on her retinas.

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It's not scientists who find the first signs of life on Mars. It's wizards... Young wizards Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan become part of an elite team investigating the mysterious, long-sought "message in a bottle" that holds the first clues to the secrets of the long-lost inhabitants of Mars. But not even wizardry is enough to cope with the strange events that start to unfold when the "bottle" is uncorked and life emerges once more to shake the Red Planet with its own perilous and baffling brand of magic.

The good news is that the Martians seem friendly. The bad news is that now they're free to pick up where they left off on a long-dormant plan that could change the shape of more than one world… and they don't mind using their well-intentioned rescuers to achieve their goals. Kit’s long-standing fascination with all things Martian unexpectedly enmeshes him in a terrible, age-old conflict -- turning him into both a possible key to its solution, and a tool that in the wrong hands shortly threatens the whole human race.

Only Kit has a shot at defusing the threat. But when he vanishes unexpectedly from the Mars of here and now, his fellow wizards are left uncertain of where his true loyalties lie. Nita’s determination to find the truth – and Kit – soon sends her into battle against an implacable enemy who may not be conquerable except by violating wizardry’s most basic tenets. As the shadow of interplanetary war stretches ever more darkly over both worlds, Kit and Nita must fight to understand and master the strange and ancient synergy binding them to Mars and its last inhabitants… or the history that left Mars lifeless will repeat itself on Earth... Now at the online store at Ebooks Direct
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This came out of a query over on Tumblr, and it occurred that it might be useful to post it here as well for anyone who's interested.




starspangleddaydreams asked:

Hey! I'm a big fan of the Young Wizards series, and was thinking about the mythology included in A Wizard Abroad. You seem to know it very well, and I was wondering if you could recommend any reading for someone who'd like to learn about it? Thanks!



I know it well since I started studying it (along with other mythologies from all over) when I was ten. But here’s what our present Irish-myths-&-legends shelf looks like:





— This is quite basic stuff. If I needed anything really complex, rare or obscure, I’d check the online catalog for the library at Trinity College (which is one of Ireland’s legal deposit / depository libraries and has copies of every important book published here in the last couple of centuries, along with many much older ones), or the National Library of Ireland (ditto).

The listing of the above: (NB: I’m excluding the relatively modern fiction [the Stephens] and the Welsh, Scots and Orkney material from the list to keep things clear.)

LEGENDS AND TALES OF IRELAND, Samuel Lover and Thomas Crofton Croker

MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF THE CELTIC RACE, T. W. Rolleston

OXFORD COMPANION TO IRISH HISTORY, S. J. Connolly (not a book on legends, but provides context)

THE IRISH FAIRY BOOK, Alfred Percival Graves

CELTIC FAIRY TALES, Joseph Jacobs

GODS AND FIGHTING MEN, Lady Gregory*

VISIONS AND BELIEFS IN THE WEST OF IRELAND, Lady Gregory*

CUCHULAIN OF MUIRTHEMNE, Lady Gregory*

IRISH SAGAS AND FOLK TALES, Eileen O’Faolain

THE TAIN, Thomas Kinsella (a modern translation of the Tain Bo Cuailgne, and widely thought to be one of the best)

…As I said, this is a goodish basic library. There are of course hundreds if not thousands of books on Irish folklore out there, some of them excellent and some of them pretty worthless. The only way to find out which is which is to get a basic grounding in the subject and then start feeling your way forward.

Have fun!

*These three were published by Colin Smythe, who besides being Terry Pratchett’s publisher and agent, is also an Irish scholar of considerable repute.

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Possibly the most photogenic bread I've ever baked

To the right: Possibly the most photogenic bread I’ve ever baked on Flickr.

This is the bread I make when I need plain white bread for everyday sandwich or toast purposes. It has a lovely crumb and is a substantial bread, not an airy-fairy "pan loaf" of the type too damn common in British and Irish supermarkets. (Which is not to mean that it’s one of those loaves you make that refuses to rise and which you therefore desperately characterize as “substantial” so people will think you meant it to come out that way.)

The basic recipe came from the website of Bäckerei Sieber in Au, a town in Canton St. Gallen in Switzerland. The recipe itself is for Tessinerbrot or “bread from Ticino”; down in that southern canton the Roman breadmaking techniques have persisted unusually tenaciously. Since Roman bread had a deserved reputation for being very high-end indeed -- a reputation which Spanish-bred bakers brought to it -- this is a good thing.

The peculiarity about this recipe (from the home baker’s point of view, anyway) is that the recipe manages its ingredients by mass rather than volume. This is how professional bakers do things, though, at least in Switzerland: it seems to get around the problem of how much moisture your local flour is in a mood to absorb today. One caveat: this dough tends toward the wet and sticky end of the bread dough spectrum, so it’s really easier made in a mixer with a dough hook.  Also, I sometimes bake this using the bake-it-in-a-preheated-pot technique which derives from the famous Lahey no-knead bread recipe. Pot baking produces a good high rise with little work, and with a really nice crust. (Though sometimes the old-fashioned loaf pan technique produces very superior results, as above. The Bread Fairy was really sitting on my shoulder that day.)

This recipe makes one big loaf. I’ve baked this in anything from a Romertopf to a single US-style loaf pan to a 3-liter lidded casserole of enamelled cast iron. This recipe branches several times: think of it as a Choose-Your-Own-Bread story.

The ingredients:

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