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23 October 2015 @ 10:57 am
Celtic Cross, Athy, Ireland
Celtic Cross, Athy, Ireland

Celtic Cross, Athy, Ireland

Another shot from my Athy graveyard pictures. I caught the dawn light just right and the colors really were this remarkable.

I’m doing a really terrible job of remembering to post photos on Fridays. At this rate I’ll be 106 before I get through my backlist, nevermind what I’ve taken recently. Except I haven’t taken anything recently, so that’s, uh, something, I guess… o.O

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

22 October 2015 @ 01:47 pm

For some reason I was reminded, this morning, of a discussion a few years ago post-Snowden, where an acquaintance of mine who had worked in the intelligence field spoke at great length, and passionately, about why Snowden had been wrong to leak the surveillance information that he did. His reasons were (roughly) matters of trust inside intelligence agencies, safety of intelligence officers, necessity of some secrets being kept, and possibly a couple other things I’m now forgetting.

It was well reasoned and well written and I fundamentally understood and agreed with his arguments. It was a rare occasion where I could understand and agree and also think he was totally wrong.

We must have had an actual discussion about it, because in the end he told me that the intelligence communities needed people like me working in ethical oversight, so that people like Snowden would have somewhere to go. (And then it’d be me leaking the information and living in Russia, I suppose.)

The part I found odd about it, anyway, was that it wasn’t the first time I’d been told I’d make a good candidate for ethical oversight; one of my high school science teachers told me a while ago that she’d always kind of thought I’d end up doing that sort of thing for animal testing (and I have no idea what I said or did in her classes to make her think that!). Apparently I come across as highly ethical.

You people clearly have no idea what I would do with superpowers, is all I’m sayin’. :)

(My husband and my friend Emily do, though. In a discussion of such things, it was instantly agreed that Ted would obviously be a superhero, and Emily practically is one already. When it came to me, though, they both fell silent for a moment before Emily said, “Well, Catie wouldn’t be a *villain*…”)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

20 October 2015 @ 03:10 pm

About 45 minutes ago I said I thought I was going to go invent some apple pecan cookies, and did. It’s possible I should invent baking recipes more often. This is my third or so original recipe and so far I’m three for three…


Kit’s Apple Pecan Cookies
1/2 c soft butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/3 c flour
1 c chopped toasted pecans
1 c peeled, diced apple

Cream butter and sugar; add egg & vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Stir in pecans & apples. Bake 12 minutes at 350° F. Makes approximately 24 cookies.

Eat. Try to leave some for the other people in the house.

Baker’s Notes:
I used 1.5c flour and am out of vanilla; the cookies I’ve made are sliiiiiightly more crumbly than I would like, so I think the addition of the vanilla and the slight reduction of flour are probably key to making them ideal.

These aren’t super sweet cookies, which is what I was going for, but I immediately considered the possibility they needed a powdered sugar glaze/drizzle. Alternately, I might add a quarter cup of white sugar next time, to see if I can get a slightly chewier rather than cakier texture. But they’re pretty darn good. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

11 October 2015 @ 09:03 pm

We are home from a lovely weekend at Octocon, where we saw many friends and had good conversations.

I brought about eight pounds of fudge to the con, and passed it out to the attendees of the Golden Blasters film festival on Friday night. Probably the best two bits of that were saying to people, “If you’re allergic to anything except gluten you can’t eat this, but it’s gluten-free,” and having one woman LIGHT UP when she was told it was gluten-free and safe for her to eat. (Eggs, dairy, corn, nuts: basically all those things go into my fudge unless I’m making Special Batches.) The other best bit was handing a box of vanilla-and-cranberry fudge over to my friend (and guest of honour!) Maura McHugh, who doesn’t like chocolate and who put on an expression of Noble Acceptance of Not Getting Fudge when I came through waving the batch of chocolate fudge. But I was prepared for her, and she shrieked and leapt up and hugged me. :)

The next two days I put the rest of the fudge on the Dublin 2019 sign-up/support table and suggested that if they wanted to put a tip box out for supporting the WorldCon bid so people could throw a coin in, in exchange for a piece of fudge, and they did, and collected, I don’t know, €20, anyway. And I collected rather a lot of swooning admirers, many of whom were especially taken with the non-chocolate fudges. :) I also brought a few small jars of apple jelly, many of which also brought in a few quid for the WorldCon bid, so that’s cool. :)

I was on five panels, plus judged the Golden Blasters, which meant a late night and an early morning for judging purposes, and interviewed by guest of honor Emma Newman for her podcast Tea & Jeopardy, which was SO! MUCH! FUN! We had a packed audience for it, and just really enjoyed ourselves enormously. I’ll link to the episode when it’s available, and hope you all have as much fun watching it as we did doing it. :)

So it was a very very busy weekend, although strangely I mostly feel exhausted because the hotel we stayed at had really extraordinarily bad beds, so every time either one of us moved springs popped loudly and shoved into our various body parts and it was just awful, and we didn’t sleep well.

I’d gone into the weekend vaguely thinking I’d probably mostly survive on the tempura shrimp lunch they had on the menu last year, and was surprised to find the menu had completely changed. I was also mildly confused that the bar layout and whatnot seemed significantly different, but I wasn’t really sure I was remembering last year properly, so I supposed I could somehow be wrong. Somewhere around dinner time tonight, though, I realized that last year there *was* no Octocon; that it had been Shamrokon, the European convention, and that it had in fact been held in an entirely different venue, hence the completely different menu and bar layout. Heh. :)

I’m going to bed now. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

06 October 2015 @ 09:51 pm

We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:


I may have a fruit problem.

Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))

Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:


It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)

The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.


I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)

I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because


there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…

Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

05 October 2015 @ 08:41 pm

Epic disciplinary parenting fail:

Note from teacher: Young Indiana had to be spoken to in the yard for licking other children.

Me, already trying not to giggle: Indy, did you lick someone in the yard today?

Indy, full of big blue eyes and guilelessness: Remember the game we were playing where we were dogs?

Me: …yes…

Indy: I saw one of my owners, so I had to lick him!

Me: ‪*completely loses it, bursts out laughing*

I’m still giggling. I eventually managed to look solemn enough to say he shouldn’t do that, but oh dear. The thing is, the dogs game was like two or three weeks ago, and the other kid had NO IDEA why Indy was licking him. *weeps with laughter*

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

02 October 2015 @ 03:50 pm

I got quite a few words this week, actually. Twelve or so thousand, which is a whole lot more than I’ve done in a long time. I even had a 5K day yesterday, which lent some faint hope that I’m actually getting back into the habit, swing of things, and stride. I reached 30K on REDEEMER, which is probably the 25% mark (it could be the 1/3rd mark, but probably not).

It feels like that’s about all I’ve been doing, though. I’m trying to figure out how to store more frozen apples, because I have really stupendous numbers of them to freeze, and although I have at least twice as much freezer space as Irish houses usually have, it’s not…nearly…enough. I’ve got more jam jars incoming and plan to make at least two more batches of apple jelly, although I probably won’t follow it up with apple jam because I’m still healing from the napalmjam burns from the last batch. And also it’s not worth straining without a food mill.

OMG, Rescue Bots is so awesome. They keep having pop culture references. 2001 (“I’m afraid I can’t do that, Cody,” spoken by a virtual reality video game; Skyrim (“…until I took an arrow to the knee…”), and just now, best of all, Back to the Future, spoken by Optimus Prime himself: “Where we’re going, we don’t need boats.” <3 <3 <3 <3 bahahahaha <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 :) Ahem. Where was I. Talking about apples. So many apples. I’m going to go figure out what to do with some apples…

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

02 October 2015 @ 09:40 am
A rimfrosted Celtic cross glows in the sunrise.
A rimfrosted Celtic cross glows in the sunrise.

A rimfrosted Celtic cross glows in the sunrise.

This photo is basically why I’m slow and reluctant to throw out old digital images. When I first looked at this, I didn’t think much of it, and put it away into a folder of things I wasn’t going to do any post-process on. Years and years later I opened it up again for some reason and went “Holy crap, that’s amazing,” and it’s ended up one of my favourite pictures.

It also ended up as the cover for Chaz Brenchley’s wonderful DEAD OF LIGHT, which he reissued a while ago as an e-book. :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

29 September 2015 @ 08:24 pm

There’s been an unexpected benefit to having gone out and chopped my way through the nettles and brambles in search of blackberries, which is that I tromped quite a path out there and unintentionally exposed the plants to quite a lot more sunlight than they’d been getting. That, combined with a couple of weeks of unseasonably sunny, warm weather (which is due to continue for another week!) netted a startling bounty of extra berries! I got about four more cups today!


I need about two more cups and I’ll have enough for a THIRD batch of wild blackberry jam, which I’ll be making in adorable little 4oz jars and using as Christmas gifts. And there are enough unripe berries out there to get those two cups, and if I’m lucky, even more! (Actually I’m really *hoping* for more, in the name of another crumble or something, but I’ll take what I can get. :))

Given that I have two laundry baskets full of apples, I got down to the business of peeling and slicing them for the purpose of freezing. We’ve been reading up on this sort of thing, and one ought to throw the sliced apples into salt (or lemon or sugar) water to keep them from browning and to help preserve them against freezer burn, before freezing them single-layeredly on a cookie sheet (or in my case, ice cube tray) for later bagging. That way you have individual slices instead of huge blobby masses, and can take out as many or few at a time as you wish. :)

I thought perhaps the ice trays’ capacity to hold apples would about equal my enthusiasm for peeling them. I was wrong. They hold about twenty apples, whereas I reckon I’m good for about forty at a go. But I kind of suspected that, and proceeded with caution, so it worked out perfectly, and I now have the first batch of apples freezing. If I’m diligent I can probably easily do two batches a day, but I seriously doubt I’m that diligent. :)

Apple slices, displayed by my helper boy! :)

Oh, hey, I also wrote 2500 words today and got REDEEMER over 20K!

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

28 September 2015 @ 06:21 pm

We have, as I may have mentioned, several apple trees in the garden. The apples aren’t really ripe yet, but a lot of them are cooking apples that aren’t going to be any good to eat straight off the tree anyway, so yesterday we had an apple picking party and the family came out to play in the garden and pick apples and eat apple pie (made, yes, from garden apples. I forgot to take a picture but it was lovely and tasty!).

Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

Indy gets in on the action, with Grandma to make sure he doesn’t fall down.

Deirdre flies her youngest son…

…while the elder is up a tree!

Grandpa holds things steady.

Young Indiana took this one! (I cropped it. :))

The haul, which is about…a third of the apples from one tree. Perhaps. :) a href=”http://mizkit.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/appleparty020.jpg”>appleparty020</a>

Deirdre took away about half the apples in the grey laundry basket, citing plans for chutney. I, today, boiled six pounds of apples, acquired 8 cups of juice and 4 cups of pulp, made 6 very pretty, if rather taste-free, jars of apple jelly and four jars of rather ugly, if very tasty, apple jam. I don’t know if the latter would be less ugly with less cinnamon, or if it’s just ugly.

It’s certainly ugly of spirit. It’s like applesauce only with added hate. My arms are covered with spot burns from splashing jam, which sticks painfully.

Pretty, if tasteless, apple jelly :)

Tonight I’ll be peeling, coring, slicing and freezing as many apples as I can fit onto the ice trays in our freezers. Tomorrow I’ll probably be doing the same. Later in the week I may make some more apple jelly and reduce the sugar (although honestly, the apple juice I got from the boil was pretty tasteless too: kind of flat and tart all at once, but not super appley or anything), but first I need more jars! I’m out of jars! It hardly seems possible! Although I’ve probably made fifty or sixty jars of jam in the past few weeks, now that I think about it… :)

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)