28 August 2010

Weekend Book Review - 84, Charing Cross Road

An absolute gem of a book. Comprised of a series of letters written between Helen Hanff and the employees of a book shop. Helen writes first in 1949, requesting books she cannot get in the U.S. The letters continue over the next twenty years. The letters are wonderful. I was left wanting to know more about everyone.

Favorite lines:

I was talked out of learning Early Anglo-Saxon/Middle English by a friend who had to take it for her Ph.D. They told her to write an essay in Early Anglo-Saxon on any-subject-of-her-own-choosing. "Which is all very well," she said bitterly, "but the only essay subject you can find enough Early Anglo-Saxon words for is 'How to Slaughter a Thousand Men in a Mead Hall.'"

"The reader will not credit that such things could be," Walton says somewhere or other, "but I was there and I saw it."
That's for me, I'm a great lover of I-was-there books.

I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for. I said I'd go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said: "It's there."

26 August 2010

Blogging For Bliss - Giveaway

Product Description, courtesy of Amazon.com:

Today’s crafting community is online, connected, and blissfully blogging about their work and ideas. Blogging is hot in this highly creative world—and here is the only how-to book aimed directly at them. Everyone from knitters and beaders to scrapbookers and altered artists will find the practical information and visual inspiration they need to create an artful online journal.
Thanks to hundreds of gorgeous screen grabs from the very best blogs, a thorough introduction to the tools of the trade, and instructions that virtually take you by the hand, even beginners will swiftly go from blank screen to colorful, enticing pages. Those who already have a blog, but want to enhance their presence on the Web, will learn how to add banners and graphics, take the perfect shots, crop and size photos, establish links, and attract an audience of eager readers.
Best of all, readers will meet some of the Web’s most popular creative bloggers, including Alicia Paulson (Posie Gets Cozy), Gabreial Wyatt (Vintage Indie), Emily Martin (Inside A Black Apple), Lidy Baars (Little French Garden House), Heather Bullard (Vintage Inspired Living), and Serena Thompson and Teri Edwards (The Farm Chicks).

I found this lovely little book in a pile in my office - It can be yours! Just leave a comment telling me your favorite thing about fall (and please become a follower if you're not already). Don't forget to leave an e-mail address so I can reach you. Winner will be selected randomly.
Giveaway will close one week from today - midnight on September 1st.



Changing my space - part one is complete. Nobody, and I mean NObody had better mess this up. Probably that includes me.


I know. Wow.

Giveaway Number One - Tomorrow.

25 August 2010

Knitting Update (Rant)

I will admit it. I am not in love with making this woven baby blanket by Elizabeth Zimmerman.I am in love with how it looks, but not in love with making it. First there was the weaving. I should say, the *weave, then un-weave after an attempt at weaving* repeat from star to star 3 times.
Finally I got the weaving down. Then I decided that how to determine exactly which 19 stitches were the "middle" of 24 stitches must be purely subjective, and things got better. I mean, they got better in the sense that I made progress. On the other hand, there are a lot of strings to hide in the end, because of knitting the teeny circular decorative closure thing and hiding the holes left due to the ending of weaving and picking up of circular knitting on 20 stitches rather randomly selected in corners of squares. Then there's the deep tissue massage I need because I've been hunched over the blanket weaving and weaving. I know this probably says something about my actual knitting skills, but let's not dwell on that please?

And yes, I am alternating between holding a tapestry needle and a knitting needle in my mouth, which bothers my husband almost as much as when I hold scissors in my mouth. If only I had a couple extra hands.Maybe something like this:

I am pretty sure that if I had finished off each square and sewn them together in the traditional way, I might have actually finished this project closer to May than September. I'm just saying.

To soothe my troubled spirits, I have a few other little projects going.

The Every Way Wrap

The Cabled Purse

I know - they both look like so much ribbing right now, but they are truly beautiful, especially the wrap. I can't wait to show you how they look finished!

21 August 2010

Operation Paperback

Instead of a book review today, I thought I would review something new I am doing in the volunteer world.

Those of you who read this blog fairly regularly may have noticed that I read a lot. For the past tiny bit more than a year, I have enjoyed a membership on Library Thing. If you love to read, and you love to talk about books, you must have a look. It is book-geek heaven. Naturally, I am very happy there. I am part of two groups on LT, the 75 books in 2010 group and the 1010 group (meaning we try to read 10 books in each of 10 different categories this year). Sounds crazy no? Perhaps it is, but it is also lots of fun. My 75 books in 2010 group (or the 75ers as we call ourselves) has created a sort of challenge within a challenge. We have all agreed to send 75 books to the troops on active duty.

I signed up as a volunteer with Operation Paperback.. I was surprised how easy they make it to send books. They have pre-made labels to print, a form letter in case you don't know what to say and detailed step-by-step instructions. I was also surprised how easy it was to come up with 20 books from my own home. I am a book addict. The difficulty is that I don't usually buy a book unless I know that I want it. I also re-read books. I thought it would be hard to part with the books. Amazingly enough, I quite easily came up with a pile of books I know I won't read again. Or (gasp) had two copies in my bookcase.

Are you looking for a way to say thank you to our soldiers, or just a way to serve? Give Operation Paperback a try!

19 August 2010

A Moment of Silence

Please join me for a moment and mourn the loss of my LYS (local yarn shop). It closes next week.

It was close, it had great yarn. The ladies there helped me with many a sticky knitting dilemma. In fact, one time I went in with a hat pattern that was not turning out right. I was helped so sweetly and graciously that it wasn't until I went home and sat down to work on it again that I realized that the mistake I was making (over and over) well, I appreciate that she didn't laugh in my face.

Now I will have to travel to the next town, maybe even 15 miles for good knitterly company.

Grumble, whine. Starting a new knitting project to work out my feelings.

17 August 2010

I'll See Your Mess and Raise You Double...

Summer has really taken a toll around here. I'm not really the perfect housekeeper, I have too many projects. I promise my bathrooms are clean, and so is my kitchen. But piles accumulate. All that aside, I have a couple areas in my house that are past um, accumulated piles and on to something else entirely. 

The Office
Doors on an office may be a bad idea. You sort of have this fantasy that because the doors can close, the mess is not there. But it is. From the half finished fairy houses in the right hand corner to the start of a Biology textbook behind the door to your left to a bunch of the books I read this summer waiting to be cataloged (if you don't do this, please understand it's a compulsive-obsessive reader thing) and previous attempts at organization right there in the middle of the floor, oh yeah, it's all there.

The Garage

See the lawn mower right there in the bottom left corner? That's the pathway to the door leading to the garbage can...In theory (we have another car) this is a two car garage. I'd like it to be one again before it snows. I live in Colorado. It can snow any time after Labor Day.

Last, but not least - The Studio

I live in constant dread (notice the bed?) that someone is going to call and tell me they are on their way to visit.

You may be wondering what the point is - other than just making you feel all warm, fuzzy and organized. The point is that my kids go back to school on Monday, and change it is a-coming. 

How will that affect you?? Well, in this mess lie hidden treasures. Some of these treasures will be posted to my Etsy Shop  in a big old de-stash sale. I will preview some of those things here next week. Other treasures will be given away on this blog to my faithful (and my new) readers between now and Christmas. No worries, there really will be enough stuff to keep us going until Christmas. 

I have patterns, old and new, for sewing, knitting and crochet. I have cross-stitch kits, stamping sets, Olivia fabric, more fabric, yarn, and honestly, who knows what else? I certainly don't.

Stay tuned.

16 August 2010

Weekend Book Review - Persuasion

My first Jane Austen was Pride and Prejudice. It was my most favorite book for years. Now, I think that Persuasion may have a slight edge, but it depends on the day. Persuasion was Austen's final novel.

Seven years ago, Anne Elliot let the love of her life get away. She was persuaded by a trusted family friend that the young man she loved was inappropriate. She has never married. Now he is returning, still unmarried as well. A beautifully told story that will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

14 August 2010

Nothing Like Roadside America

As promised - some highlights from yesterday's day trip. A huge success, if I do say so myself.

Genoa, CO - The Wonder Tower - even more bizarre than we had hoped.

I have never seen so much "junk" in my life.

Burlington, CO
Kit Carson County Carousel (hello alliteration)

The perfect park
Old Town Museum

Barber Shop

 Linotype Machine - Print shop

 Permanent Wave anyone? The Permanent Wave Machine of the 1930's. I'll pass.

I highly recommend Burlington, CO, if you're heading east from Denver on I-70 for any reason, this is a stop you must make.

13 August 2010

Roadside America - Day Trip

You'll pardon my absence today - because I'm pretty sure the pictures I bring back from this adventure will be awesome.

Our big vacation plans for next week were canceled. My eldest is quite disappointed. For some inexplicable reason, he has a yearning to go to Kansas. So, to Kansas we will go (barely). On the way we will be visiting the Wonder Tower  in Genoa, Colorado. I think we may even try to have a look in at the Kit Carson County Carousel. You get a tour and a ride for 25 cents. You can't beat that! Then we will venture about 15 minutes into Kansas and see if we can go to the High Plains Museum which claims to be the home of America's first helicopter. Think we can pull it all off and be home by 5 pm? 

I'll let you know.

12 August 2010

Bulls Eye Quilt

I finally finished my bulls eye quilt. I am pretty happy with it, even if my quilting job is a bit wonky. It was really fun to make, but I didn't feel qualified to make you a tutorial, so I am adding a link to a Bulls Eye Quilt Tutorial. I hope it's helpful! In fact, I wish I had followed it, because I forgot to trim my fabric out as I went. Talk about thick seams. Now I know. Someday, maybe, I'll take a class and do one right the first time...

The back - I've got to work on this. Even with a walking foot, I still had some wrinkling. 
Mom says practice, practice, practice.

Pretty good on those corners though right?

 What have you been working on this summer?

11 August 2010

Back To School

The kids in my neighborhood went back to school yesterday. It got me thinking about whether I was ready for "back to school." My kids attend a public charter school and we have two more weeks of summer. Are we ready for this? The kids are definitely ready. Even the 3 year old has been heard asking when his older brother and sister will be done with vacation...
The end of summer is always a little sad. You know winter is coming, and sooner than you'd like, but it's still lovely, and here in Colorado, fall is the nicest time of year (in my opinion).

Here are some fun "back to school" items found on Etsy. These were also featured on the gift guide at Etsy Mom. Enjoy!

08 August 2010

Weekend Book Review - Savvy

Imagine being just a little bit different than everyone else around you. Imagine having to be home schooled after your 13th birthday because you got your "savvy" - a special skill or gift that you must learn to manage before being around other people.
A story of love and adventure and change and learning to listen to your own inner voice instead of the voice of the crowd. 
A favorite quote:
"Then I remembered what Lill had said just before falling asleep in the motel the night before. You never can tell when a bad thing might make a good thing happen. I realized that good and bad were always there and always mixed up together in a tangle. Though, at the moment, I wasn't sure that made me feel any better."

07 August 2010

Biscuits and Gravy - Comfort Food

I really like food, and I'm not too picky, but there are some foods that wrap you in a great big hug. They taste like Grandma and home and they are better than anything. One of my comfort foods is biscuits and gravy. Not sausage gravy, mind you, egg gravy. 

My Grandma's family came from Arkansas. Her dad (Pop) was the king of biscuit makers. This is his recipe. (Yes! I am giving you an old family recipe. Rejoice!) Pop was also a fount of great sayings like "Park it or milk it." and "Tastes so good, makes you want to slap your momma." That's how good these biscuits are...

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 heaping tablespoons baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
About 1-1 1/2 cups milk, half and half or cream

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add shortening and cut it in until it is well dispersed and the flour mixture looks like fine crumbs. 

Slowly stir in milk (if you use half and half or cream, the biscuits will only be lighter and flakier. What could be wrong with that?) *Warning! Stir the liquid in slowly, or you may end up with too much really fast. When the liquid is absorbed and the dough sticks together in a ball that is not too sticky - kind of feels like play-dough - you are done. 

Press dough out onto the cookie sheet you will bake the biscuits on. Flatten dough into a circle or rectangle roughly 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the biscuits. You can use a fancy circle shaped cutter, or just cut them out like I do.

After - YUM!

Egg Gravy

2/3 cube butter (really, use the butter)
1/3 cup flour
2-3 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a 4 cup saucepan, melt butter. When the butter is mostly melted, whisk in flour. Let it cook together for a few minutes. You are making a roux. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly. 2 cups milk will make a thicker gravy, 3 cups a thinner gravy. Cook on med-low heat until thickened and bubbly, continuing to whisk. Slice eggs and stir in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Technically, if you're opposed to eggs, here is where you would add your cooked sausage rather than the eggs. It's good too. Pour over biscuits and eat! Yum.

05 August 2010

Feature - Terri of Cards and Moore!

Today I am excited to introduce you to another of my Etsy friends. We work together on the Modern Mom team to promote each others businesses. She is an incredibly creative lady. I hope you enjoy our chat.

Have you always been crafty, or is this something you picked up more recently?

I have always been crafty. My favorite toys as a kid were art supplies.

How do you balance your time - mom, crafter, business woman, other things you do?

I schedule things. My first priority is my daughter and homeschooling her. I also have been doing nails out of my home for over 17 years now so that comes second. My crafting time comes last but is also a great stress reliever for me so I try to craft in the afternoons at least a couple of times a week. 

What are some other things you enjoy?

Knitting, crocheting, quilting, Watching reality TV and Food Network, Cooking, Baking and reading biographies about famous people.

What are some of your favorite Etsy shops?

Some of my favorite shops on Etsy are
http://www.etsy.com/shop/sugarpinkboutique  A paper crafters candy store.

What is the first thing you ever made?

I mainly drew as a child. I got into cross stitching when I was a teen.  The first thing I made when I got into paper crafting was a card and when I look back on it now it was horrible. 

You can find out more about Terri on her blog  Life With Terri!
While you are there, take some time to watch some of her fantastic technique videos - posted on Tuesdays. Don't forget to visit Terri's Etsy shop as well. You're sure to find something you will love.