Dwarven Advent

My friend Liz, who shares my interest in Thorin Babenshield, said there ought to be a dwarf-themed advent calendar, and so I have made one! Enjoy.

(I will activate each link as we get to the day. This is about as low-tech as a digital advent calendar gets, so bear with me please.)

December 1

December 2

December 3

December 4

December 5

December 6

December 7

December 8

December 9

December 10

December 11

December 12

December 13

December 14

December 15

December 16

December 17

December 18

December 19

December 20

December 21

December 22

December 23

December 24

The Meal I Didn’t Cook

So…I cancelled Thanksgiving. I mean, not for everyone else. But I am not cooking.

The main reason is the paramedics who checked me out on Saturday night, and I don’t mean they thought I was cute. (I mean, maybe they did? But probably not.)

I’d worked all day at a roller derby tournament. I ate and hydrated (though I maybe could have hydrated more) but around 10:00 I very abruptly felt like I was going to fall asleep immediately. My friends helped me lie down and got the in-house medical staff, who determined that I had zero blood pressure. Someone called Will, and someone else called 911, and more paramedics showed up. (What up, Dan O’Bannon zombies.) I was hooked up to an EKG, which determined that I was probably not having a heart attack. The dizziness passed and my blood pressure went back up to normal-ish. At that point, I just felt tired, so I declined a ride to the hospital, where I know from experience you can’t get any sleep, and went home.

I feel…not great, but not terrible. I’ve decided to avoid driving or going very far from home without another adult for a few more days. (Grace is angling for a trip to Starbucks. I might try it. It’s only four blocks.)

So, I need to find a doctor. I haven’t had one for a few years. Ugh, what a drag.

I’m a little sad about not making this amazing feast, but not at all sad about not doing the actual work of making this feast, since making rice yesterday was a little challenging. Hi, I need a break. Anyway, I thought the menu was pretty excellent and wanted to share it.

Hors d’oeuvres
Cranberry chevre
Toasted baguettes

Roast turkey
Cornbread dressing with onion and sage
Baked macaroni & cheese
Cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes
Dinner rolls (I was going to buy these)
Creamed spinach
Roasted Brussels sprouts

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Applejack (homemade apple-cinnamon whiskey)

Man, now I’m really hungry.

We are still making mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie. Will is going to have a steak and I am going to have macaroni and cheese that I bought at the store. (Actually, Will bought it at the store.) The children can have anything they want.

LOW STRESS HOLIDAYS. Let’s make it a thing.

(Also, there’s more applejack for us this way. Ha.)



That was a very difficult three hours.

Dot was on the bedroom windowsill, where Grace has never before put a toy. It was a total fluke that I found him at all–she was helping me put some craft supplies away and I gave her a little butterfly bracelet that was in with my beads. She decided she didn’t want to wear it, and I went to put it away. I saw one of her necklaces laid out on the windowsill, and when I moved the curtain to pick it up I spotted Dot.

In the interim, I discovered (with a lot of googling) that Dot is a Beanie Baby named Hydrant. I am filing this information away in case anything ever happens to Dot, so we can get his “sister” for Grace. (I would never try to pull a switcheroo on her. She is too smart.)


Grace’s favorite toy is missing. She doesn’t know yet.

We realized after the children were in bed that we hadn’t seen Dot, Gracie’s stuffed puppy and constant companion, since we got home from hiking this afternoon. She and Sam (and Dot) took the stairs while Will and I took the elevator. Grace was carrying Dot and her jacket.

We don’t remember seeing Dot at any time after that, so we assume she dropped him and didn’t notice because she still had her jacket.

We checked the stairs, all the landings, the car, all around the car, our entire apartment, and even the dumpsters. No Dot.

I made signs and put them on every landing, describing Dot and asking for his return. Surely he was picked up by a neighbor’s child. But what if they don’t see the signs? Or don’t care?

I can’t remember ever feeling this devastated over anything. My stomach is in a knot thinking about how Grace will feel tomorrow. I’ve cried twice and I’m pretty sure a third time is imminent.

Fall Down

Autumn has always been my favorite season, so it’s been very confusing to feel discontent every fall since I moved to LA. But I finally realized–I just hate fall here. Northeast autumn is for me, southwest spring is the place to be. (Sorry, I saw the rhyme coming but I couldn’t do anything to stop it.)

It’s been 90+ degrees and hurt-your-eyes bright and sunny for the last week. I have hated every minute of it (driving is particularly painful). Today is is in the 60s and was a little rainy earlier and I feel SO MUCH BETTER.

I always call bullshit when someone tries to claim that SoCal has no seasons. We do. But this one kinda stinks.

Conversations with Sam

Sam: Hey, what is that picture?
Me: That is for Assassin’s Creed. It’s a video game, but it’s for grown-ups.
Sam: YOU are a grown-up!
Me: Yes, but I am not very good at video games.
Sam: You aren’t?!?!?!
Me: Well, I don’t play a lot of video games. It is hard to be good at something you don’t do much.
Sam: Oh, like practice!


Sam: Mom, when I am sixteen years old, I will practice to drive, right?
Me: Yes.
Sam: And I will keep practicing until I am a man, not a little kid, right?
Me: Um. Well, sixteen is much closer to being a man than a little kid.
Sam: Oh. Okay.

Doomsday Knits: Fission

Nuclear Fission (splitting the atom): In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is either a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process in which the nucleus of a particle splits into smaller parts (lighter nuclei).


If you are a knitter or survival enthusiast, you may already be aware that Alexandra Tinsley has a book coming out with Cooperative Press next month titled Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After.

What you might not have known until just now is that I have a pattern in the book.


Fission is a fingerless mitt pattern that will keep you warm in the nuclear winter. The fabric background suggests corrugated iron. Cables travel across the back of the hand, come together, and then split. (Get it? Fission.) The cables end in i-cord ties.

See them on Ravelry.

I didn’t originally design these for the apocalypse. In fact, I originally intended them to be kinda steampunky. I came up with the idea in response to a call for submissions for a steampunk knitting collection, but it didn’t quite fit there.

I considered a few other possible homes for the pattern before deciding to self-publish. Beth at Lorna’s Laces kindly supplied yarn for me, and I had gotten as far as a preliminary chart when Alex put out the submissions call for Doomsday Knits. I couldn’t resist, and threw together a quick proposal. Lucky for me, she saw the same potential I did, so I knitted the gloves and sent them off for photography. (I think you will agree that photographer Vivian Aubrey did an AMAZING job!)

IMG_4564 (1)

See the rest of the Doomvember blog posts! There is a list here, and you can see yesterday’s post, about the gorgeous green hat that appears above, here. The book will be available next month–more information here.

My United States of Whatever


I made this map here. Red is for states I’ve never been to or have only driven through (without stopping). Amber is for states I’ve slept in and/or done some sightseeing. Violet is for states I’ve spent some time in. Green is states I’ve lived in.

EDIT: See the comments for my extensive attempts at correcting this map.

Cover Reveal: RELEASED by S. J. Pajonas

I’m not going to tease this out.



So, my friend Stephanie writes books. (Actually, I have more than one friend named Stephanie who writes books. But we’ll just talk about the one today.) She is an author-publisher and created her own press to publish the Nogitu series, new adult sci-fi with some romance and a ton of Japanese culture. The first book, REMOVED, is my current read. I read earlier versions of it and RELEASED and I tell you, this world is addicting.

Here’s the official blurb, but BEWARE! It contains massive spoilers for REMOVED.

Left in the desert to recuperate from her injuries, Sanaa Itami paces the floors and contemplates her mistakes. She trusted too easily, and now people she loved are dead, killed at the hands of men coming to assassinate her. Sanaa feels beaten, but life awaits her at home. While Nishikyō recovers from the earthquake, negotiations for Sanaa’s eventual rule on Yūsei continue. New allies must be made, new friendships brokered, new skills acquired — at all costs.

Life at the top of the chain is complicated and lonely, though. With relations in Sakai clan rocky and uncertain, Sanaa must learn to trust others again more than she’s willing. Who amongst the clans is left holding a grudge? And will the new family Sanaa has found with Jiro support or betray her?

From Nishikyō to Yūsei, RELEASED, Book TWO of the Nogiku Series, is the second book in a captivating New Adult post-apocalyptic romance series that harnesses the cultures and traditions of Japan and sweeps them in the future.

WOW AGAIN, amirite?

So, listen. You want this book. You do. Trust me.

Queue it on Goodreads

Visit http://www.spajonas.com for more information.

Read the first book in The Nogiku Series, REMOVED:
Amazon (Paperback)
Amazon (Kindle)
Barnes & Noble

AND! You can win a copy of REMOVED (Kindle or e-pub) along with a $10 Amazon gift card. (Hint: you will be able to buy RELEASED with it when it’s, um, released. If you want to. You can also buy something else. No judgment.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Cabin In The Woods

I kind of stopped enjoying horror movies. The oversaturation of the two years I spent reviewing them, combined with the having of children, which made me more sensitive, just kind of ruined them for me. I no longer like being uncomfortable!

But I agreed to watch Cabin In The Woods with Will last night. And, well. It was great.


There was a bit in the middle when I was pretty uncomfortable with the horrific stuff, but the other stuff (being vague to avoid spoiling anyone who hasn’t seen it yet) was so compelling/fun/fucking brilliant that I kept quiet and kept watching.

I felt like I was watching a movie that Will and I could have written. It subverted the genre in ways that maybe shouldn’t be new but really really are. The cast was phenomenal (and almost diverse!) and the number of references packed into the movie were…well, I lost count of the references just to The Evil Dead, so…

One of my favorite things about the movie–Will and I actually paused to discuss it–was the fact that although the five leads were deliberate archetypes, they actually made sense as friends! That is practically unheard of!

I also loved the number of turns the movie took. Not twists–it was pretty obvious what was going on from the get-go–but the way it kept seeming like it was nearly over and then it kept going. And not in a bad way, like some movies.

Also awesome: toward the end when I turned to Will and said, “It eats you, starting with your bottom.”

But the very best thing about the movie was the way Will reacted. I have not seen him this excited about a horror movie in ten years. (Well, maybe The Descent, so let’s say seven years.) He squealed like a little girl when he heard [redacted]‘s voice, and during the closing credits he said that if we weren’t watching on Netflix, he would start it over immediately with commentary. This from a man who couldn’t stay awake through an entire episode of Supernatural the night before.

We are totally getting the blu-ray and watching all the special features.

Spoilers are totally okay in the comments if anyone would like to discuss! I know you all saw this one ages ago and I am way behind, but I want to talk about it!