Embrace Your Inner Mooch

Ten years ago, I became an empty-nester and got serious about my extracurricular reading for the first time in nearly two decades. I resurrected and applied for any local library that would let me. I purchased a Nook ebook reader, which was actually an early Android tablet, and decided to try book swapping using BookMooch web portal. For many years, I added books I’d read and no longer desired to gather dust on my shelves to my BookMooch inventory and placed books I wanted to read on my wishlist. When someone requested a book from my inventory, I mailed it via USPS Media Mail and earned a point, which I in turn could use to request a book to mooch, usually from my wishlist. All of this was before ebook lending was widely available and I was involved in several online (thanks to the rise of GoodReads) and real-world book clubs (thanks to all the libraries I received cards from).

What is BookMooch: http://bookmooch.com/about/overview

But once ebook lending became widely available and ebooks also came down to a more reasonable price, I completely stopped purchasing print editions. I put my BookMooch account on semi-permanent vacation. Once or twice a year I’d get an email alert from BookMooch advising me that a book on my wishlist was available for mooching. The last books I mooched were five of the seven Nausicaa graphic novels by Miayazaki, which was an incredible mooch.

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Giveaway: Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 will be to reduce the number of physical books I keep in my home.  Books not on the chopping book include first edition hardcovers signed by the author and classics that I always want to see staring at me from the honored top shelf (The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, etc.)  But print editions that are not first editions and where I have little to no chance of ever meeting the author, are all giveaway possibilities.

Since this is the first time I’ve tried this, please bear with me as I work through the kinks of offering a book up as a giveaway.

My first giveaway offering will be my hardcover edition of Guy Gavriel Kay’s Ysabel (see my review here).

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Fifth Saturday Wrapup

Funny how things snowball once you get rolling.  I had no idea when I woke up this morning at 5:45 a.m. that I would accomplish so much today.  I had hopes of a quiet day at home, cleaning off the DVR and actually started on this endeavor before getting sidetracked.

I watched the Smithsonian Channel’s Aerial America Vermont episode, wishing I could visit, especially during autumn.  That state has more than it’s fair share of spectacular scenery and vibrant foliage.   By the time I was nearing the end of that episode, Terry had woken up and mumbled something about an omelet.

I got up to brew some cranberry tea and remembered I had recently purchased a cranberry scones mix from the Queen’s Pantry.  So, I quickly whipped up the scones mix and preheated the oven.  While they were baking, I decided to continue stacking firewood my dad had helped deliver earlier in the week.

Once the scones finished, I sat down for a proper British breakfast and surveyed the new Sherlock Holmes airing from BBC via PBS and Masterpiece Mystery.   Fun and updated for our times, with only a slightly annoying soundtrack.  I’m looking forward to the other two episodes (tomorrow night and a week from tomorrow).  It’s a pity the BBC could only afford three episodes for this new series … it looks promising.

I packaged up a couple of books to send to BookMoochers, one in California and the other in South Carolina.   While waiting in line at the post office, I ran into an old friend, which made the long wait pass quickly while catching up with kids news, etc.

I spent way too much at the grocery store today, but did save ninety cents on gasoline and filled up both Pontiacs with premium for only $1.899 per gallon.  I got back home with the groceries (second trip) and finished stacking the firewood.  Then we made a trip to O’Reilly’s because they have a sale on gallons of Mobil One synthetic motor oil.  We bought enough to change the oil in both cars.

Once back home, we determined we needed to recycle all the oil we’d accumulated and stored in the garage when the kids lived here and we had four vehicles to maintain.  We transferred the used oil to a couple of containers without making too much of a mess on the garage floor.  Then we packed up the dogs, planning to stop at the dog park on the way back from O’Reilly’s.

With all the walking, stacking, grocery toting (including the forty pound bag of dog food) and oil purchasing (four gallons) and recycling (five or six gallons), I’m already started to stiffen up and feel the aches and soreness setting in.  I’ll definitely be soaking in the hot tub before retiring tonight.

Terry and I enjoyed home-made pizza for dinner and will relax to the hilarious Halloween hijinks of Right Between the Ears live from Liberty Hall in Lawrence via KANU in just a few minutes.

Not bad for the fifth and final Saturday of October 2010.

Sourdough Saturday Ends With Jumping Jupiter and Magnificent Moon

I woke up five minutes before my five o’clock alarm this morning.  Not unusual, except for it being a Saturday.  But I needed to hit the ground running if I was going to get all the bread baked today.

First thing, I pulled the sourdough crock out of the refrigerator to get it warmed up to room temperature.  Second, I quickly mixed up my favorite Honey Wheat bread recipe.   While waiting for the bread machine to mix, knead and rise that recipe (elapsed time ninety minutes), I started recording to DVD from the DVR the Belgian Grand Prix (since I’m five GPs behind and only three left for the 2010 season) .  I managed to read a few chapters of Cryoburn concurrently.

I shaped the Honey Wheat dough into a loaf and set it to rise for anther forty-five minutes. I took a short break to visit with friends for brunch at Santa Fe Depot.  Probably a good choice since the new IHOP in Lansing was overflowing at ten o’clock.  After a great visit, I rushed to the Leavenworth Post Office to mail off eight mooched books to various states in the lower forty-eight.   I also stopped at the Book Exchange in an attempt to trade some hardcover science fiction novels, but she declined my offerings stating they were currently overstocked with hardcovers.

I returned home, completed my BookMooch and BookCrossing data updates and posted three of the hardcovers to my BookMooch inventory, one of which has already been mooched.

Now the sourdough starter was ready, all bubbly and soury.  I modified my Rustic Sourdough bread recipe to work in a bread machine on the dough cycle.  My modifications included the following:

1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast

This reduces the original recipe to a single loaf variation and rather than shaping a traditional round or oval loaf, I used a regular bread pan and scored it like you would a split top loaf.

After I got the Rustic Sourdough into the bread machine, I immediately started the Rosemary Sourdough recipe in the Kitchenaid stand mixer.  This recipe should not be over mixed nor kneaded, so it’s a very sticky mess when you scrape it into a glass bowl (generously coated with cooking spray) and covered with clear plastic wrap.  Let rise for ninety minutes or more until doubled in size.

The Sourdoughs kept me busy all afternoon.  I was able to start another, final loaf before three o’clock, which was one of my family’s favorites: Honey Wheat Black Bread.  I shaped it into a braid and waited for it to rise.

With the last loaf still cooling on the rack, I rushed down to Bonner Springs to slip into the KC Ren Fest just before it closed.  I have a collection of mugs, steins and goblets going back to 1988.  The person at the Will Call window was kind enough to let me into the festival for a few minutes to buy a mug and a goblet.  Pickings were slim (this being the last weekend of the festival), but I found a goblet and a stein I liked and quickly returned home.

I was surprised to see my dad’s car parked in the driveway as I thought I had told him to call me if he was going to stop by to partake in some star gazing this evening.  Apparently, he arrived at the house just minutes after I left for Bonner Springs.

We waited for the sun to set and started setting up the the telescope in the great room in a polar mount orientation.  We moved the equipment out front to the driveway, since Jupiter is not visible from my backyard until around ten o’clock.  We determined the sidereal tracking in polar mount worked well and kept Jupiter and it’s three visible moons centered for an hour or so.  Feeling confident, we attached the Pentax K100D to attempt a better photo shoot of Jupiter, but quickly realized the weight of the camera was too much for the motors of the telescope.  We removed the camera and went back to viewing Jupiter with various eye pieces and barlowes of varying magnifications.

Just before dad was leaving and as we were contemplating putting the equipment back in the great room, the moon (more than half full now) peaked out from behind the pin oak in my side yard (which also shields the driveway from the annoying streetlight planted next to the stop sign in my side yard at the corner of Bambi Court and Fawn Valley.  We reoriented the telescope to the moon and began viewing it with various eye pieces.  We also tried the moon filter, which helped tone down the incredible brightness funneled through the telescope into our eyes.

After a few minutes of moon gazing, we packed up the equipment and returned it to the great room.  We said our good nights and I’m grateful to be off my feet finally.  My knees have had enough today.

Sunday will be easier since I only need to make one more loaf (possibly two) and then figure out how to transport six loaves to work via the vanpool without smushing any of them.