Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

River:

I am definitely on board. There shouldn’t be differences in speed based on whether a company paid off internet providers! So if posts are loading slowly, this is why.

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.

Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.

Net Neutrality under…

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World Traveling Bunnies ~ Free Crochet Pattern

World Traveling Bunnies ~ Free Crochet Pattern

River:

I wish Hermione, Oreo,Minerva, and Bluie best of luck on exploring the world!

Originally posted on Cogaroo Crafts:

Why World Traveling Bunnies? Because I was making some bunnies for the Bunny Drop Project, and I needed a name, and it is my hope that bunnies will eventually conquer explore the world! These were actually inspired by the Mochimochi Land Tiny Baby Bunnies, but as those are knitted, I crocheted some instead. (I modified the ears and shape though…)

IMG_2603

  • Small amount of worsted weight yarn in bunny color (3 yards maybe?)
  • Even smaller amount in ear color
  • Still smaller amount for eye color (I like doing black ears and black eyes so I don’t have any extra ends)
  • F (3.75 MM) crochet hook

Row 1: Ch 7, 2sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across (12)

Rows 2-4: Ch 1, turn, sc in each st across in front loops only

Row 5: Ch 1, turn, sc2tog 6x in front loops only, fasten off leaving…

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No Matter the Genre, Many Great Books Start With a One Sentence Idea

River:

Bob Mayer makes an excellent point here, that the kernel idea can be super-simple and still be effective. Many authors (myself included) try to make it too complex, with the result that changes are more difficult than they should be. I’m going to try distilling some of my existing stories down into a simple one-sentence idea, and maybe that will help me break out of the block I’m in.

Originally posted on Write on the River:

The kernel idea is the Alpha and the Omega of many books.  By that I mean a single idea starts the author’s creative process and it completes it.  It’s what the author begins with and at the end of the manuscript, everything in the book points toward it.

The kernel idea is the foundation of my novels.  When I say idea, I don’t necessarily mean the theme, although it can be.  Or the most important incident, although it can be.  But it can also be a setting.  It can be a scene.  It can be a character.

It is simply the first idea I had that was the seed of the novel.  All else can change, but the idea can’t.  It might be a place; a person; an event; a moral; whatever.  But I did have it before I began writing and I have to remember it as I write. …

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One Last Post ~Halloween Craft Ideas~

Wow, it’s the last week of October already!  I can’t believe that Halloween is in three days.  >.<  The month sure went by quickly. . . .

After almost five weeks of posting and waiting, the Month-Long Halloween Extravaganza! is slowly drawing to a close. . . Much too quickly for me (yes, even after 4+ weeks!), though I am quite ready for the day to arrive–in spirit, at least, even if I’m not totally prepared with the trappings of the day (candy and costumes and spooky music, oh my! . . . )  So I leave you now with  a final short selection of cool All Hallow’s crafts from around the web.  Enjoy~

Top Ten Adorable Halloween Treat Bags

From worthingcourtblog.com

Free Downloadable Halloween Book Covers

Free Downloadable Halloween Book Covers from Little House on the Corner

DIY Halloween Countdown with Free Printable

From The Mother Huddle

DIY Owls for a Hoot of a Halloween!

From That’s Vandy!

 

Don’t forget to check Cloud’s blog on Wednesday!  She’ll be posting one last time before the spookiest day as well.

And, of course. . . Happy Halloween!

~River

A Masked Ball

Just a quick post today as I’m short on time.  After thinking about parties all last week, I have come to the conclusion that there is no better All Hallow’s bash than a masked ball.  It fits into the theme from my inspiration board too, what with the Tragedy/Comedy masks and Phantom of the Opera masks I want to hang on my walls.

A Venziana mask from Verona, Italy.

A Venziana mask from Verona, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The advantages of home-made masks are the stellar fit (as compared to one-size-fits-all, which we all know is a myth) and the unique look.  The decoration is entirely up to you and limited only by available materials and your imagination!  Plus, you can customize it to your costume.  The other advantages, of course, are the satisfaction you’ll have when it’s done and a happier wallet. . . and possibly an actual Halloween costume, if you’re like me and have no idea what you’re going to go as this year.  :?

Mask Tutorials

Here’s a short list of mask tutorials I came across this week.  There’s many different techniques featured, so hopefully You will find one (or two or three) to pique your interest.

Cardboard Eye Mask by Martha Boers (YouTube Video)  While this video is for a doll mask, I love the finished look of the mask.  And the technique (covering cardboard with fabric + decorations) seems simple with gorgeous results.  Surely this can be translated to human size. . . !  I should mention here that you should check out the costumes Martha made her granddaughters this year for Halloween as well as the various doll clothing she’s sewn over the years.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

And, aha!  Proof that the doll mask can be human-sized!  Here’s a DIY Masquerade Mask (from scratch) tutorial by makocchinos on YouTube!  It looks gorgeous, and she provides several inspiration pics to get your imagination going.

Here’s a tutorial for a mask that might be easier to make: Paper Mache Mask by Daniel Mar (Video)  I don’t like the look of paper mache as much, but I think it’s a great base to start with.  Plus, with Daniel Mar’s technique of using aluminum to make a mold of your face, the mask will always have a perfect fit!  That in itself is worth the effort.

Aaaand, finally, here’s a more complicated one:  The DIY Masquerade Mask: Ice Queen by KlairedeLysdotcom on YouTube!  As I don’t have a mask mold, this one will have to remain inspiration for the time being.  It’s amazing, though, that a mold and some hot glue can make such a stunning mask!

What do you think?  Are you going to make a mask this year?

And remember!  Cloud’s continuing the Extravaganza on Wednesday!  I hear that she’s going to be keeping with the Masked Ball theme too, but in a different way. . . ?

~River

An Elegantly Spooky Soiree

Woo, three weeks in already!  Are you getting excited for Halloween yet?  I know I am.  ^^  This week’s theme for the Month-Long Halloween Extravaganza! is Awesome Halloween Parties, so I’ve been working on a plan for an Elegantly Spooky Soiree.  Unfortunately, my schedule wouldn’t allow me to host/attend any parties this year, so I figure this is a plan for next Halloween. . . Well, if I have a whole year to fine-tune it, it’ll be one awesome party!

Setting the Scene

So, for starters, let’s prepare the setting.  I’m going to be lazy efficient and say that the inspiration board I posted last week would be perfect for this.  Here is is again for your viewing enjoyment~

Elegantly Spooky Interior

Inspiration board made with Polyvore.

Yes–it’s the return of the Elegantly Spooky room!  Though some of the items I found were rather expensive for a single party (the chandelier, for example, was several hundred dollars), so I wonder if there are DIY opportunities here. . . ? Certainly the candlesticks/holders can be done at home, and the posters as well.  I will have to look into this further. . . .

*On an almost unrelated note, I think that any Halloween party would be awesome if held in a mansion with secret passageways.  And if there was a scavenger hunt using those secret passageways.  Or possibly a murder-mystery game. . . no?

Simply Scrumptious Bites

A vital part of any soiree is the menu, and here I’ve prepared a simple one using recipes from around the web. While I haven’t tried all of these recipes yet, they all sound edible (at least) and look amazing.  A battered table covered with a tattered tablecloth will present these morsels to their best advantage.

Now, I know I’m avoiding most tacky Halloween ideas–after all, the theme is elegantly spooky, not typical Halloween–but some of these foods won me over.  I mean, worms in dirt!  Blood-red cherry punch!  Frog spawn in swamp water!

. . . I regret nothing.

Appetizers

Pickled Brains (Cauliflower)

Picked Brains (from Delish.com)

Begin the evening with a selection of finger foods:  Severed Toes (hot dogs in pie crust bandages), a Saucy Spider (pizza dough art with marinara sauce), and Deviled Gremlin Eggs (marbled green deviled eggs) fill the table.  Add Pickled Brains (cauliflower floating in a murky liquid) for effect–though I hear it’s quite tasty, too!

Main Course

Worms in Dirt (hot dogs and black beans)

Worms in Dirt (from Delish.com)

Begin with Eye-Popping Soup (homemade tomato soup with mozzarella/olive eyes), then move on to Meatloaf or Burgers–easy favorites that you can add an Addams Family twist to by claiming they are made from zebra or giraffe meat. Mm!  If that’s not enough meat for you, or if you have picky eaters who just can’t enjoy meatloaf no matter how hard you entice them, or you just want to add some effect, serve Worms in Dirt (hotdogs and black beans) as well.  Take a breather from all the spooky entrees with some relatively normal sides: Sweet ‘n’ Tangy Carrots and this Apple Sweet Potato Bake both look good.

Dessert

Black-Hearted Candy Apples

Black-Hearted Candy Apples (from Taste of Home)

Spooky Fingers (pretzels dipped in chocolate with pumpkin seed nails) and Chocolate Mice make a good chocolate-y start. Add Black-Hearted Candy Apples (color them green for Poison Apples) and scatter non-spooky classics like Pumpkin Ice Cream, Butterscotch Pudding, Homemade Peanut Butter Cups, and Licorice Caramels around the room.  Don’t forget your favorite classic All Hallow’s Eve candies!  I like candy corn myself.

Beverages

Blood-Red Cherry Punch

Blood-Red Cherry Punch (from Food Network)

Of course your guests much have something to drink!  Lay out several crystal or glass bowls with different concoctions: Blood-Red Punch (cherry juice and ginger ale), Frog Spawn and Swamp Water Tea (tapioca pearls in your favorite green liquid) add the ghastly element we’re going for, while Apricot Iced Tea keeps the setup from looking too Christmas-y.

Alternatively, set up a mad-scientist-inspired table with soda water and different-colored fruit juices and syrups such as cranberry, grape, and orange juice and grenadine syrup.  And if you’re in a Harry Potter mood (always a good mood to be in), add homemade Pumpkin Juice and Frozen Butterbeer.

The Finishing Touches

So the decorations are put in place, the menu is planned, and you’re already working on your costume.  What remains for our party?

Hmm, well, there’s games and entertainment, of course.  I think that would best be covered in its own post, so I’ll leave it for now.  Otherwise, what about music?  I know that Cloud did a cute post on hiding speakers + a gallery of Halloween music last week.  Why don’t you check it out?  And while I’m on the subject, here are a few additional soundtrack picks.

. . . It’s really amazing how much classical music lends itself well to All Hallow’s Eve. . . .  And yes, there is video game music in there too.  ^^  Be warned that both the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess themes are extended to thirty minutes, so that’s a lot of repeats.

And I know Cloud posted the Overture already, but I love the Phantom of the Opera, so. . . here it is again.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the “We Have All Been Blind” part’s instrumental.  It would have been perfect. :(

So!  If you read all that, congrats!  I hope I was able to inspire, or at least entertain you, a bit.  Next up is a post on Cloud’s World Of. . . I think she’s been talking about a certain spooky dessert, so you should visit her blog on Wednesday and find out what she’s been concocting~!

~River

Won’t you step into my lair?

Whenever October rolls around, it’s always fun to see the decorations gradually pop up in stores and front yards around town.  Everyone seems to have a different style, too–from scary to cutesy to just a little spooky.  It’s made me think, a bit, about the different themes you can use to decorate your home for Halloween, so let’s talk about that today!

In the future, I’d like to do some all-encompassing post about every single style you can draw upon, for both indoors and out.  However, as I’ve been watching The Addams Family (the classic TV series, thankyouverymuch) and have a certain love for the Victorian era of architecture/decor, let’s look at the Elegantly Spooky style, shall we?

I wanted to stay away from any obvious Halloween decorations, much as I love them, so I tried to think of things other than witches crashing into trees and bright plastic bowls filled with candy.  It was a good brainstorming exercise!  I did cave a bit when I found a pic of scull candles and a neat little cauldron, but other than that I tried to resist. :D

While the following scheme would be too extravagant for a normal All Hallow’s Eve celebration, I can imagine hosting a bal masque in a room like this one. . . .

Won’t you step into my lair?

Elegantly Spooky Interior Inspiration

Inspiration Board made with Polyvore

Colors: When you invite your victims–er, guests–inside, greet them with a simple color scheme that emphasizes the creepiness of the decor. Black should be the base shade for this house, with touches of red for an intense touch.  Bronze and gold highlights break the monotony, while the creamy color of the skull candles and Phantom of the Opera mask round out everything nicely.

Windows: Hang drapes made from heavy black or red velvet at your windows.  Or for another look, go with sheer or lace curtains and valences. Either way, mouldering or tattered curtains work just as well as ones fresh from the store (or sewing machine, if you have an addiction to Joanns’ remnants bins. . . not that I would know anything about that ;P).

Lighting: Candles are great for more than romantic dinners!  To provide a spooky atmosphere, turn off the electricity and light the way with smoke and fire.  Skull candles mingle with simple black-globed candle stands and a fogged glass candle holder.  Hanging from the ceiling should be a black chandelier, from which shadows emerge to dance on the walls.

Statues: A raven statue or two will add a Poe-ish touch, especially if you mount ‘em above the chamber door.  The Egyptian-looking cat statue, on the other hand, adds a twist to the classic black cat meme.  A few other points of interest such as one of those Italian globe replicas like this one on Amazon would add a slight air of sophistication.

Finishing Touches: Maybe it’s just me, but I was always creeped out by the Greek Tragedy and Comedy masks, so I would bring them into play here.  Joining them is the Phantom of the Opera’s 3/4 mask.  Don’t you think this trio would be the perfect finish to an eerie parlour?  You disagree? Then print out a few ominous posters, wear them out a bit, and hang them haphazardly on the walls, or leave a few antique books lying around–you could even give them new titles like “13th Century Spells” with book covers.  Bonus points if you design your own posters and books covers!

So, how are you going to decorate this year?

~River

Psst!  Don’t forget that Cloud is posting on Wednesday!  What spooky things will she do this week?  I can’t wait to find out~!