• day two books!

    Octocon 2017!

    Octocon was this past weekend, and a fine Octocon it was!

    I decided to do a dealer’s table at the last minute, and it went…well. I brought jam and books. About…70 jars of jam, and 30-40 books. In fact, I had to restock for the second day, because what I’d brought on day one had sold out to the tune of about 80%, which was sort of Beyond My Expectations. I don’t seem to have gotten a picture of the books on day one, but (first photo courtesy of, by which i mean ‘nabbed from the twitter feed of’ Octocon :)):

    day one jams!
    day one jams!
    day two books!
    day two books!
    day two jams!
    day two jams!

    This is what was left at the end:

    This morning my Twitter timeline was full of people full of jam (pics courtesy of Shelly!):

    pear and blackberry jams!
    pear and blackberry jams!
    all gone!
    Good news: @ce_murphy makes amazing pear jam.
    Bad news: I ated it all.

    So…yes. That went well! Next year I need to bring sampling jars (and a toaster, someone said *laughs*), but it certainly went well enough to do it again. (One of the other vendors said he’d had a friend in the dealer’s room last year, and the friend had said to him, “There was a woman beside me selling JAM,” which he obviously thought was baffling, and the vendor relating this story said he’d said, “*Jam*? You’re pulling me leg,” but the guy had sworn that no, there was someone selling JAM, and look: here I was again!

    Then he bought five jars. :))

    I also handed out fudge:

    fudge for octocon
    fudge for octocon

    and I tell you what, it was a spectacularly good batch and the only reason I shared is because I am a MAGNIFICENTLY NICE PERSON. A number of people asked if I was selling fudge. I wasn’t, just handing it out, but IDK, guys, what do you think, a cottage industry? Miz Kit’s (or Mrs Murphy’s, for Added Irishness) Jams & Fudges?

    kate and kit and fudge :)
    kate and kit and fudge :)

    OMG my friend Kate (pictured above) was ROCKING her Rogue look this weekend, O.M.G!!!!

    Kate rocks a 1950s Rogue style!
    Kate rocks a 1950s Rogue style!


    There was also a perfectly stunning Agent Carter in a perfectly stunning blue dress the EXACT SAME COLOR as mine, like, to the point that I caught a glimpse of the *color* from the corner of my eye and thought: That woman is an Agent Carter! And she was! So we bonded. :) And then she saw my name badge and was like “! You’re CE Murphy! I loved your gargoyle books!” So we bonded more. *laughs* It was really lovely to meet her and I’m feeling inspired to do cosplay because of her. ♥

    I did a few panels (fewer than I was supposed to, because there were a couple late night ones I was meant to do on Saturday but I decided to check the train times at the last minute and it turned out if I did the late panels I wouldn’t be getting home until 1am and nooooo. I was much too tired for that.). They were all a lot of fun, and to my UTTER DELIGHT, the reading Saturday morning netted at least 3 sales of BEWITCHING BENEDICT. I wasn’t at *all* sure how a comedic Regency romance would go over at a SF convention, but I gave it a shot anyway. I read the lemonade scene and got a lot of laughs, and then people came to buy the book! I was so happy! Several people who bought it said “I don’t usually read romance, but the reading was so funny/I like your writing/I’ll give it a shot,” which just fills me with joy. ♥!

    An advantage of being at the dealer’s table was people came to me, which was wonderful! And I got to chat with a lady I’d just met on Twitter who is a CE Murphy reader and who runs a collectibles business (Uncanny Collectibles), so that was wonderful, and it was just a really nice weekend. And I’m super tired and have to get to work now. :)

  • crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    Daily Life

    i got nothin’. or too much.

    I keep doing things and not having time to blog about them. Or not thinking to. Or thinking to but deciding sleep is better. Or that making pear jam is better.

    (It turns out making pear jam is a GREAT idea.)

    yeah, so the thing is that I have, like, a ton of jam-making posts to do, except they’re all just pictures of jam in the process and that starts seeming boring and…anyway, I made crabapple jelly that’s perfectly gorgeous and I made…in fact I made 4 kinds of jam last Sunday. Pear, blackberry, peach, and crabapple. Jelly. I made crabapple jam the next morning. It’s very tasty.

    I made spiced pear jam from a friend’s recipe before that, and it’s GORGEOUS, omg. And we got a pressure cooker so I can make and preserve applesauce, which doesn’t keep well unless pressure cooked. And we’re having an Apple And Pear Picking Party (although I think it’ll be primarily apples by then, as most of the pears seem to be coming down) in mid-October but we have So Many Apples. Mmm. Applesauce, tho. And perhaps cider. Mmm.

    God, it’s nearly October. I have so much work to do. I wish I could give up sleep for 3 months and get caught up. Not that I’d get caught up, but I’d be closer.

    I…dang. What was I going to say. Something about work. Nope, dunno what. We watched s3 Killjoys and didn’t expect that ending. We each expected something different from each other but neither of us expected that. :) Went to American Made, which was pretty good although not nearly the comedy it was billed as. I’ve probably seen some other things too, although the television has not been on much at ALL lately so I might be wrong. We liked the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery althouogh I also do not like the thing that happened that many other people also did not like. The Klingons were fine, though. (In fact, it looked to me like every House was distinctive in feature style, which I thought was cool.)

    There was a long terrifying saga about my captain’s chair keyboard stopping working and the quest to fix it, but it’s fixed now and typing it all up seems like too much work. I’m really relieved it’s working now, though.

    I re-read THE BLUE SWORD, which, 34 years on from my first reading of it, remains one of my very favourite books. I will always wish there were more Damar books.

    I’ve gone to the gym a couple times this week. All my parts are tired.

    Yeah. That’s it. All and nothing. ♥

  • Actual Manor House

    Blackberries: from bramble to bread

    I went blackberry picking this morning, which I’ve been feeling torn up about having had no time to do. (I genuinely feel better for having gone.) I’d found a good run of them a couple weeks ago and went to check it out, to great success:

    That’s over a kilo of berries picked in about 45 minutes, which I felt was a pretty good haul. While I was picking, one woman walking by said, “Good day for picking!” and another one who had been out picking yesterday actually stopped to talk to me (Her: I always feel SO GUILTY when I drive by these berries! Me: YOU UNDERSTAND ME!!!!), and that was really nice because almost everybody who’s spoken to me about picking at all thinks I’m bonkers.

    So I came home and washed the berries

    and got them into the pot

    and made jam

    and three hours after I started picking blackberries, I had homemade blackberry jam on fresh homemade bread.

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. :)

    I then made PEAR JAM because we have STUPID NUMBERS of pears on our pear trees (there are by far more pears fallen to the ground than we have had at all, in previous years at this house), and it is wonderful. I had no idea if it’d be any good because I’ve never had it, much less made it, but it’s pretty splendid. It starts out sweet and kind of apple-y and then suddenly it’s like NO WAIT THIS IS *PEAR* JAM!!! and it’s really good! And Ted, who likes pears (or at least processed pears) thought it was wonderful, so I’m very pleased with myself.

    Tomorrow I have ambitions of making pear jelly, because I have An Awful Lot Of Pears here, and I bet that’ll be really nice too. And I gotta start doing something with the crabapples and the appleapples and…*despair*

    (I mean, I gather other people can just walk on by fruits of the trees and whatnot without even flinching, but me and that lady from this morning, WE JUST CAN’T DO IT.)

    (We’re gonna get a pressure cooker. That way I can make applesauce and canned (or at least jarred) pears and…other stuff…that will last if pressure-cooked but won’t otherwise.)

  • crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    Actual Manor House,  Cooking,  Daily Life,  Food,  Gardening

    apples apples everywhere

    We picked apples on Sunday. This warped panorama does not do justice to the numbers of apples currently residing in our entryway:


    The bag in the back corner, and the white box, which is like 2×3′ or something, are also full of apples. There are So Many Apples. There’s a fairly large bag already missing, too, as I sent one home with my sister.

    A friend just dropped by and took away the small box next to the plant pots and the black bag at the foot of the photo, which made a small but visible dent. Ted said, “I can fix that. Want me to go pick more apples?”

    I gave him the look he deserved. :)

    I’ve been making apple jelly and jam almost daily. Now that we have ALL OF THESE off the trees I need to start apple butter, but it requires peeling so many apples I have to get started early or I’ll be doing apple butter at midnight.

    Here are the jams I’ve made so far. Soon they’ll be available on Etsy. Soon!

    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam
    crabapple jelly & jam, blackberry jam / apple jam & jelly, strawberry jam, raspberry jam

    This weekend I’m going to be bringing some to Octocon. If you happen to be going and see this post, there’s a poll here to ‘pre-order’ the jams you’d like, just to try to give myself a sense of how many I should bring. (Don’t fill it out if you’re not going to Octocon but want jam. The Etsy store will be up soon!)

    There are still so many apples on the trees, omg. Oh, the crabapples:


    13 pounds picked in half an hour, and that was literally only the low-hanging fruit on the tree. There’s got to be at least twice this again. I’m thinking of making crabapple butter, which I’ve never tried. I bet it’ll be an amazing color.

    Anyway there’s still hundreds of apples on the main tree and we DISCOVERED a random fifth apple tree in the front corner of our garden a couple of weeks ago and there’s the one tree that fell half down and IDK if it’s worth trying to shake the apples out of it because most of them are growing over a hedge, and there’s the other tree that hasn’t fallen down and we haven’t even made a *stab* at it yet.

    I’ve got so many apple recipes, but we can’t EAT this much!

  • Actual Manor House,  Food,  Gardening

    a fruit problem

    We discovered we have a crabapple tree in the front garden. Chaos immediately ensued, resulting in this:


    I may have a fruit problem.

    Today I washed and chopped and boiled and strained all EIGHT POUNDS of those, and by the time I was done I was too tired to make jelly even if all I had to do was pour it all into a pot and boil it with sugar for fifteen minutes. And actually jar it. That was the part that seemed too hard. But the juice is an amazing shade of red and it’ll be interesting to see what color (and flavour) the resulting jam is. I hope it’s nice, because chopping all those up was a real you-know-what in the ass, as a teenage friend of mine once said to her mother. (“Honey,” her mother replied, “it’s all right to say ‘pain’.” :))

    Yesterday I made more wild blackberry jam and apple jelly with cinnamon. The cinnamon apple jelly is a completely different color than the other two batches, and I don’t know if that’s because I boiled the others longer or if the cinnamon had some kind of dramatic effect on its gelling (because it seemed to gel a little faster) and color or if the two or three not-Bramley-apples that are more yellow-skinned than the Bramleys affected it or what, but it’s very pretty:


    It’s got a faint pinkish tint I can’t get the phone’s sensor to register, but it’s very pretty, anyway. :)

    The other day I found an apple dessert recipe that I thought looked good, and then I made it and it wasn’t so much good as “I think you could probably get out of a prison sentence with this stuff” delicious, so I made a second batch and yep, it’s that good.


    I’ll post the recipe in a couple days. I’m too lazy to do it tonight. :)

    I’m down to the last half basket of apples to process. I have about 12 pounds of frozen apples, four pounds of frozen apple pulp to turn into jam (because after overhearing me mumbling to myself about whether it was worth saving to make into more apple jam, which is what gave me the napalm-style burns, Ted got a spoon and tried the apple jam that was in the fridge, then left the room eating it straight from the jar, implying to me that it was worth saving…!), currently about 8 cups of crabapple juice and probably four pounds of crabapple pulp to turn into jelly and jam, another batch’s worth of wild blackberries, and half a batch of strawberries that I need to get rhubarb for so I can make one more batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

    The weather is supposed to remain unseasonably nice for the next few days, so on Friday I’ll probably go out for a last foray into the blackberries because


    there are still some ripening out there, and a lot down in the park where I got a couple of other big hauls. And then I’ll be done with the berries, I think, but we’ll have another apple-picking party soon and I’m going to have to figure out what the hell to do with all of them then. Like find out if there’s a local cider-maker or something…

    Oh, I also got a new Old Races short story finished for the Patreon patrons, and should get that posted tomorrow. :)

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