October 26, 2012


Hexaflexagons have been rolling through my brain.  Fun to say, fun to watch, fun to listen to my kiddos try to say...in any case, there will be hexaflexagon projects in the house this afternoon.  Involving tortillas if we're extra-ambitious.


October 17, 2012

What Quenya Taught Me

My post, What Quenya Taught Me, is up over on Gem State Writers.  Linguistics.  Tolkien.  Good times.

Also, Cucurbital 3 is now released and available in book and ebook form.

October 11, 2012

Sharbat, from Shadow Spinner

When I turned around, Zaynab was looking at me; she quickly averted her eyes.  A pigeon sat on her shoulder, pecked at her gray hair.  Her robes were mottled with telltale white streaks.  "Would you..." Again she seemed shy.  "Would you like a cup of sharbat?"
                    --Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher, Chapter 7

This is one of my childhood favorites -- one of those now-battered books I read in a corner over and over again.  I'd been planning all summer to make sharbat in honor of this book, but summer slipped away from me.

From what I've read, sharbat has meant a few different things over time and space, but one common meaning is a syrup, diluted by water or milk, used to create a drink.  The context of the scene matches that.  No specific flavor was mentioned, though.  I first tried to use fresh fruit, but alas couldn't get the flavors concentrated enough.  That meant I grabbed nectar instead, which, on the upside, makes this recipe super easy (it is, essentially, a simple syrup).

Apricot-Clove Sharbat
1 1/2 Cup Apricot Nectar (or an 11 ounce can -- I used the Jumex stuff available on the cheap at Winco, if you're lucky enough to have a Winco nearby)
15 cloves
1 cup Sugar

1. Combine all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  Heat on low until sugar dissolves.  If you boil it, you're on your way to making candy instead of syrup.

2. Remove from heat.  Refrigerate. This makes about 1 3/4 cup of syrup.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the stronger the clove taste will become.  I like it at about three days.

3. To prepare, strain the cloves and mix 1/4 cup of the syrup in 3/4 cup water. Or, instead of water, milk.  Or, to completely deviate from the book, club soda.  Yum.  This makes a pretty sweet drink, so dilute further, if desired.

*Special thanks to Chris for help with my broken camera problems!

October 1, 2012

Counting Pumpkins: A Candy PnP

I originally invented this simple print-and-play (PnP) game to play with Swedish fish, then realized Halloween is coming.  The new version works with most any candy.  This would be fun to play with kiddos, or to print and hand out with candy on Halloween.

The PDF below has all the rules and the playing mats on it, 2 per page.  But here's the whole thing in blog format:

Counting Pumpkins

Equipment: Candy, 1 six-sided dice, printed mats for each player. 

Rules: The youngest player goes first, taking turns in clockwise order.  Every turn consists of a dice roll.  If the player rolls their lowest uncovered number, they place a candy on top of that number.  The game ends when one player has filled all five pumpkins; everyone may then eat their candy. Example: Jan has filled her #1 and #2 spots.  Nothing happens on her turn if she rolls a 1, 2, 4, or 5, but if she rolls a 3, she places a candy on her #3 pumpkin. 

Young Child Variation: When a player rolls a 6, they may eat a candy from the supply. 

Older Child Variation: When a player rolls a 6, they may select one other player and force them to eat their highest-numbered candy OR the player may use the 6 as a wild for their lowest uncovered number for 1-4 (but not 5).

I came up with this game because my 4-year-old is very good at telling me how many there are of something ("That's six!"), but he has a hard time actually counting numbers in order.  He has an uncanny sense for overtly "educational" things, but this passes his cool test.  For little kids, it's a good way to learn taking turns, rolling a dice, and cause-effect rules.  I hope the older variation throws in a nice touch of strategy.  Enjoy! 

Click here for the PDF. 

*If you're interested in more complex games, Board Game Geek has a cool section of PnP games for Halloween.

*I can't actually draw pumpkins; my thanks to the public domain clip-art at OpenClipArt.