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A couple of story time videos

December 21st, 2016 — 8:27am

Youtube closed down my main account a few months ago. (I was bad; I shared The Great British Bake-Off — but still, they could have given me some warning…) I thought that these two storytime videos were lost, but my nephew pointed out that there were copies on! (I’ve recorded so much stuff, I can’t keep track of it all, hahahah) So here they are, on my new youtube account. Quick, watch them before youtube gets mad at me again! :)

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

The Little Engine That Could

1 comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor!

December 17th, 2016 — 10:15am

Look at this wonderful thing: Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer in Anglo-Saxon.

Incipit gestis Rudolphi rangifer tarandus

Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor –
Næfde þæt nieten unsciende næsðyrlas!
Glitenode and gladode godlice nosgrisele.
Ða hofberendas mid huscwordum hine gehefigodon;
Nolden þa geneatas Hrodulf næftig
To gomene hraniscum geador ætsomne.
Þa in Cristesmæsseæfne stormigum clommum,
Halga Claus þæt gemunde to him maðelode:
“Neahfreond nihteage nosubeorhtende!
Min hroden hrædwæn gelæd ðu, Hrodulf!”
Ða gelufodon hira laddeor þa lyftflogan –
Wæs glædnes and gliwdream; hornede sum gegieddode
“Hwæt, Hrodulf readnosa hrandeor,
Brad springð þin blæd: breme eart þu!”

And rendered into Modern English:

Here begins the deeds of Rudolph, Tundra-Wanderer

Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer –
That beast didn’t have unshiny nostrils!
The goodly nose-cartilage glittered and glowed.
The hoof-bearers taunted him with proud words;
The comrades wouldn’t allow wretched Hrodulf
To join the reindeer games.
Then, on Christmas Eve bound in storms
Santa Claus remembered that, spoke formally to him:
“Dear night-sighted friend, nose-bright one!
You, Hrodulf, shall lead my adorned rapid-wagon!”
Then the sky-flyers praised their lead-deer –
There was gladness and music; one of the horned ones sang
“Lo, Hrodulf the red-nosed reindeer,
Your fame spreads broadly, you are renowned!”

This delights me :)

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oops! RotK Book 2

December 14th, 2016 — 2:49pm

A kind listener just emailed to ask if I was planning to record RotK book 2 and I had a panicky moment — did I never finish LotR? Did I only imagine that I had finished? I’m pretty sure I finished the entire trilogy; I have no clear memories of recording that book, but that’s par for the course…

So I did a search of my own audiobook archive, and there were the files. *Whew*. Checked my various collections on and found that I had indeed uploaded the files when I finished the book. *Whew* again. Looks like I just forgot to post the links on The links are now there.:) Thanks, Arnold R.!

1 comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

Brand new Mixmas!!

December 13th, 2016 — 9:16pm

I discovered DJ Riko’s Christmas mixes in 2007. I’ve loved them ever since, and listen to them all, over and over, starting on the first day of November. Yes, that’s too early for Christmas music but I allow myself to start early with Mixmas because it is so special and wonderful and makes me so happy.

Every year I wait and wait and wait for DJ Riko to post the new mix for that year. And he just tweeted the link for Mixmas 2016! I’m so excited! It’s taking ten minutes to download, so I have time to write this post while I watch the download progress meter.

One minute to go!

You can find all the Christmas Mixes here:

Merry Christmas! DJ Riko, if you ever bump into this post — thank you thank you thank you for filling our Christmases with wonderful, awful, beautiful, terrible, tacky, glorious Christmas music :)

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The Seventh Annual James Garfield Miracle

December 12th, 2016 — 7:04pm

Jenny Lawson, @TheBloggess on twitter, is a hero of mine. She has a variety of health issues, both mental and physical, and she has written a couple of hilarious and moving books about dealing with mental illness and crazy childhoods and such. I HIGHLY recommend Furiously Happy and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened if you have depression and anxiety (or know someone who does, and trust me, you know someone who does, even if they hide it well) or if you had a very strange childhood. Lol. Check, check, and CHECK.

Anyway, because of a taxidermied boar’s head named James Garfield (long story), every year she does a blog post where she lets people who are struggling to buy Christmas presents for their kids post their Amazon wish lists in the comments. People who have a few bucks to spare can choose to buy something anonymously for a needy family.

Read her post here:

The Seventh Annual James Garfield Miracle

Then scroll down to the comments and help someone make Christmas a little better for their kids. Or ask for some help yourself, if you need it. You can pay it forward when things are easier.

I’ve just bought some adult stress-relief coloring books and colored pencil sets for Cora, the woman who works with needy families and homeless teenagers in Florida. Merry Christmas, Cora!

Comment » | Blog

Amazing mince pies, USA-style

December 4th, 2016 — 12:57pm

Anyone who loves British books and culture has heard of mince pies, but they’re not really a thing here in the States. A few years ago, Henry and I bought a bottle of mincemeat and made our own version of mince pies. They were very good. This year, since I’m feeling energetic enough to make Christmas treats, I wanted to make mince pies but I couldn’t find mincemeat in any stores so I made my own. I combined and tweaked a few recipes and made my own version of mincemeat. My recipe is easy and tasty and uses ingredients you can find in any store.


Here’s my recipe. Note: mincemeat contains no meat.

Kara’s Mincemeat

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup each raisins, golden raisins, and dried cranberries, roughly chopped (you can substitute other dried fruit if you want, but keep it heavy on the raisins)
  • 2 tablespoons marmalade (should be bitter)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 green apple, peeled and grated
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan, mix everything else in, cover, and simmer over very low heat until the liquid is mostly absorbed and the fruit is plump and soft, stirring frequently. Add another big splash of brandy if you want! It’s only once a year. This turned out SO good — way way better than the bottled stuff. The bottled stuff probably didn’t have brandy in it ;-)

Let the mincemeat sit overnight or so.

Ok now you can make the PIES.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Make piecrust or, if you’re like me and don’t want to bother, buy some ready-to-use raw pie dough. Roll it out a bit thinner and use a glass or something to cut circles that are a little bigger than the bottoms of your muffin tin cups and press them into place. You don’t want the dough to go all the way up the sides of the cups — maybe a 1/2 inch or so.

filling the pies

Fill with just a spoonful of mincemeat. Not too full! The mincemeat will boil and you don’t want it to boil over the edges of the dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before trying to remove from muffin pan. Devour. Make more.


Save some for Santa!

3 comments » | Blog, Recipes

Happy December!

December 2nd, 2016 — 12:00pm

Hey everyone! Happy December. We need a little Christmas this year, huh? I recommend DJ Riko’s Christmas mixes: Scroll down and download them all.

My mood continues stable and I feel cheerful most days. I recorded a chapter of “Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown” last week and I’ll do more soon. Oh, and I went to the movies last night with my friend Uwimana to see “Moana”, the new Disney movie, and it was such fun to go OUT with her and to see a movie with a beautiful message of hope and courage. Just what we needed in this dark year.

And: a believable heroine; a Polynesian teenager who isn’t Barbie-shaped, whose quest depended on courage, determination, trust, and choices — not romance or a handsome prince! I didn’t think Disney could do it, but they did.

I don’t know if you men out there, no matter how enlightened and feminist you are, can imagine what it feels like as a woman to see a “Hero’s Quest” movie with a truly female hero — not a male personality in a female body, but a believable, flawed young girl on her way to womanhood. She didn’t flirt, she didn’t bat her eyes; she used her heart and her mind, her wits and her strength. It was amazing to see, and to know that kids everywhere will see a new kind of Disney heroine; a chief’s daughter who will someday be a chief herself, and who makes a /choice/ to continue her quest even when it seems impossible.

The animation was glorious, particularly the “voyagers” sequences. I got choked up in the same way that I get choked up watching films of the Apollo missions. Humanity’s drive to discover!

2 comments » | Blog

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