Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yarnalong: Beekeeper's Quilt and "The Plot Thickens"

My book this week is "The Plot Thickens" by Noah Lukeman. I've enjoyed his other books, and this one looks to be pretty useful too. The first portion is just a list of questions to ask yourself about your characters in order to think through them thoroughly - yet it's not a boring list. I have to admire someone who can write an interesting list.

The knitting is the beginning of my Beekeeper's Quilt! I've been wanting to make this one for awhile. You use sock yarn scraps to make little "hexipuffs", which you eventually sew together into a blanket. Here are my hexipuffs thus far:

This pattern is everything I love about sock knitting in miniature. Smooth, meditative, round-and-round knit stitch. Yay!

Here's my collection of sock yarn scraps waiting to be hexipuff'd:

I'm hoping to get those all knit up, and then just knit up extra scraps as I finish each pair of socks.

More yarnalong goodness can be found over at Ginny's blog, here, and I'm also blogging today about marriage over at Regency Reflections.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ordinary Time, 2012

Our priest pointed out this Sunday that it's almost Advent - that's the next season up!

. . . of course, that'll be in about five months. :D Ah, Ordinary Time!

Now that the kids are out of school and running about the house in a happy, noisy pack, putting on impromptu plays and wrestling matches, it really seems like Ordinary Time. It didn't till now.

Ordinary Time, the time where nothing special is happening, so we just count the days. Count the days and the hours, count the books read and the rooms decluttered, count the calories eaten and the workouts completed, the words written and the dishes washed. One, two, three . . .

It's the time where we're just allowed to lead our good lives. To quote the Bard: "Serve God, love me, and mend."

And yet everything seems to crowd into these good days. Doctor appointments and trips to the dentist, conferences and camping, visits with family in town and out . . . there's hardly a space of two days together where I can appreciate the normal rhythm of our life.

Still, "Serve God, love me, and mend." That's the spirit I want for my summer. God, in your mercy, help me serve you, love my loved ones, and mend.

Peace of Christ to you all - peace, peace, and more peace, in God's mercy -
Jessica Snell

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Links: supermoms, comics, and podcasts

I often get asked, "How do you do it all?" Usually I want to respond, "What do you mean by all?"
Schlock Mercenary: It's a space opera. In comic form. It has actual stories. It's awesome.

Do I Dare to Eat a Peach? Podcast -  I like listening to podcasts while knitting or doing the dishes. This is a new find for me - two author brothers discussing literature and other bits of pop culture.

Have a good weekend!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, June 18, 2012

Knitted Finished Object: Adam's Cowl

My husband wanted something to keep his head and neck warm while walking to work on winter mornings. So I dug out some yarn recycled from a thrift store sweater and cast on for the Pelham Bay Cowl (free pattern - and it's so easy) back in February. Aaaaaaand . . . finished it just time time for summer, when it's not useful at all. :D

Oh well! He's still happy with it, and it should do the trick nicely when it gets cold again.

In these pictures he's wearing it looped over twice; it's long enough that he can pull a loop up over his head like a hood and still have a loop wrapped around to keep his neck warm.

This is probably the simplest thing I've ever knitted - it's just a stockinette loop with ribbing on either side - but it took forever, because even though it doesn't look it, the thing is huge. Next time I make something that big, I want to use a more interesting yarn. But I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, June 17, 2012

gestating a book

I feel like my brain is hungry. (Braaaaaaainss . . .)

No, but seriously, when I'm writing a book it feels like I need to take in a lot of intellectual fodder in order to put out more. I need some fuel. I want to read and read and read.

I want to gobble up a ton of good stuff so that I can digest it and transform it and put it back out into the world as something new and beautiful.

Eat those extra calories to grow that baby big and fat. Grow, baby, grow.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Notes: "Partials" by Dan Wells

Partials (Partials, #1)Partials by Dan Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend of mine complained recently about the passivity of YA heroines. My suggestion to her? Try "Partials" by Dan Wells.

I just finished this post-apocalyptic novel - and yes, it's another post-apocalyptic YA novel, but it distinguishes itself from the pack by being good.

What's good about it? Well, to start, the proactive heroine. Kira's strongest characteristic is that she does what she thinks is right, even if it costs her. Does she always have enough information to choose the right thing? No, and that's why we have a plot. But I liked reading about a girl who was actively doing her best to fix the problems in front of her, and that without being idiotically headstrong either (she takes her time to think about things - at least when events give her time enough to do so).

The plot works too. The action and complications tick over nicely, and the main story has a satisfying resolution, while still leaving plenty of interesting questions for the sequel. The setting matters, but this isn't a book with a ton of sensory detail, it's more about character and action than about all-encompassing sensory immersion in the world.

I don't know what else to say . . . is this the book that's going to revolutionize literature? No. But it was just a thoroughly good read. I liked it a lot and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

"I would/Go laughing, yes I would."

Rediscovered this, and I think it's about the best thing I've read all year.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


"You don't put your life into books. You find it there."
At a certain stage of writing, I have great difficulty reading other fiction. But this is akin to saying “I have great difficulty breathing oxygen.” And when, as now, the intense writing stage stretches out somewhat longer than expected, I begin to get…squirrely. I’m crafting my own story while holding my breath. I crave a nice deep inhalation of fiction.
"Tim Keller's Top 10 Evangelism Tips" (Hat tip: Challies):
A while ago on our elder retreat we listened to a talk Tim Keller gave at Lausanne. As part of that talk he gave 10 tips to help our lay folk in their evangelism. They were so helpful I wanted to put them down somewhere, so here they are . . .
St. Patrick's Breastplate:
The Breastplate is an odd song with an odd tune and it comes from an odd people. Chesterton talks about the Gaels of Ireland as the men that God made mad, for all their wars are merry, and all their songs are sad. Growing up among the Irish in America, I'd say that's about right. There's a fierceness, an a mystic tenacity about St. Patrick's Breastplate that's quintessentially Irish. It's a hymn for those who see the supernatural as a plain fact, as plain as potatoes. 

Finally,'s free download this month is "Hearing God" by Dallas Willard. This is a great book (you can read my review of it here) and I encourage you take advantage of this offer (I did!).

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, June 8, 2012

Movie Notes: Mirror, Mirror

There are two excellent things about this movie, and I don't know which to start with, because I don't want you to miss either point. So, let's go to bullet points:

-It's a family movie. Like, really. You can take your kids to it without fear*.
-It's a good movie. Funny, engaging, and gorgeously shot.

In the midst of several good performances the stand-out is, hands down, Armie Hammer as the Prince. He was great, playing the part so earnestly that all the funniest parts weren't just laugh-out-loud funny, they were endearing. I love it when actors decide to really serve the part and not their vanity, and he's got to be this year's model for that sort of honest triumph.

Hmm, other things I liked? Snow White's fightin' outfit, the Bollywood-style dancing, the sweet love story and, oh yes, surprise Sean Bean (always a good sign in a movie).

So, if you're looking for a family movie night rental (or, dollar theater outing), this is a good one to try.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*The bad guys are, of course, bad. But my four-year-old twins weren't overwhelmed by the slightly scary scenes and there weren't any jokes I blushed to have them hear.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Notes: "The Skinny Rules" by Bob Harper

The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to ThinThe Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin by Bob Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read diet books like I read parenting books: never looking to adopt a whole new system, just looking for a few tips for tweaking the one I already have.

And maybe the reason I liked this book is because Harper's system is very close to the one I already have. What does he advise? Eat lots of veggies, don't eat fake stuff, eat enough protein, don't eat too many calories, work out. Yep.

So is it everything you've heard before? Yes. But here that's a good thing, because the same old advice is delivered well and in a voice full of humor. (Points to Harper's ghost writer, who managed to write a book that reads like Harper talks, yet has the clarity you expect from the written word.)

What else is there to like besides the good advice and good delivery? The realism. Harper points out that healthy living in our unhealthy society is *hard*, and I, for one, thank him for admitting that. I've read way too many diet books that talk about how easy their system is, and it's never true. I much prefer Harper's "hard, but worth it" take on things.

What didn't I like? Well, I thought his advice of no carbs after lunch was unrealistic. Not bad advice (the biological reasons behind it were interesting), just impractical if you're cooking for a family.

And . . . well, really, that's about it. I liked the rest, and the recipes at the back of the book look great - the few I tried were delicious, and I look forward to trying some more. If you're looking for a primer on good eating or, like me, just a reminder, this is a good book to pick up.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Knitted Finished Object: Jaywalkers

Finally finished knitting these . . . and since they're wool, I'll probably finally wear them sometime around November. :)
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell