Showing posts with label books/reading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books/reading. Show all posts

Thursday, July 03, 2014

One-a-day Again

Yesterday, I made patterns for the doll heads I finished painting.  I cut out, sewed, and stuffed the body for the witch, and luckily didn't have to make many adjustments.  I have a pattern for the Frank N. Stein's body, but am not at all sure what fabric I'll use...or even if I'll use the pattern.  

I'm getting into the studio each day, and most days, now, I'm getting a lot of hours in.  With dolls, it is "hurry up and wait" - for  clay to dry, for paint to dry, etc.  But since my studio has a door to the attic, I can use it as an oven in the summer :) -- which speeds things up a little.  

Fortunately, the heads look a lot better now.

Another flower brooch a la Julie Arkell and Mandy Patullo.


I picked the following up somewhere.  Eliminated most of them, but these ring true for me.

You Know You Are from Louisiana if...

 You can properly pronounce Lafayette, Bossier, Natchitoches, Opelousas, Shongaloo, Pontchartrain, Ouachita, and you know that New Orleans doesn't have a long “e” sound anywhere in it.

You know that the true value of a parking space is not determined by the distance to the door, but by the availability of shade.
 Someone you know has used a LSU football schedule to plan their wedding date.
 You know everything goes better with ‘Tony’s’.
I have about 20 books in the TBR que, and I've read several lately that I've really enjoyed. Some reviews I've already posted, some I haven't written yet, and several are scheduled closer to publication dates.  My book blog stays busy.

It is too hot to do much gardening now, especially with humidity ranging from 50-85%, so I'm glad to have fabric to play with and books to read.

Have a Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I've been absent for a while.  
Trip to Hot Springs for Thanksgiving, reading, and a little embroidery.  
Then my iPad died and had to go to the iDoctor. 
 An unpleasant story that I will skip 
as I've complained ad nauseam  on my book blog.  

To catch up a little, I never showed the all the blocks I quilted from Bryce Eleanor's drawings.  Here are a few more.

I saw a neat idea on Pinterest about attaching lace (or fabric) 
to windows or walls with corn starch.
Which is easily removed.
I tried it with lace on the bottom window panes on the door.
The photos don't show the pattern of the lace,
which is easy to see in reality.

I like the additional privacy,
but it is difficult to take a good picture.

Even with the light on....

It may occasionally frustrate the cats,
who have always spent a great deal of time
on the chest and looking out the window,
but they manage to get over it.

While I fidgeted 
because I didn't have my iPad,
I embroidered scraps.

I don't know what I will do with them,

but they kept my hands busy.

May use them to patch something.

I also embroidered some hearts,
which I'll take pics of later.

Without my Kindle, which was on my iPad,
my reading led to books with actual pages.

I read an ARC by Anita Shreve--
Stella Bain, a story set during WWI.
I really enjoyed it!

Fee had a copy of Sycamore Row by John Grisham
that I confiscated.
I liked it, too.
It is not a sequel to A Time to Kill,
but it does feature Jake Brigance and Clanton, Mississippi.

Then Fee gave me an early Christmas present,
a Kindle Fire.
I downloaded all my books from NetGalley,
and I'm back in business!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Cloth to Clay

Almost a year ago, I started 4 cloth dolls (actually more than these 4, but the 4 I'm talking about are in the top right-hand corner.  I only finished two of them at the time (here and huh?  I never posted a picture of the other one?).

Recently, I finished the Santos style cage doll that you've seen recently with her beaded bodice.

The one below is still in progress.  When I covered her with paper clay, I intentionally left her pretty rough, but the paint and sealer have smoothed her out some.  Hmmm.  Not sure if I should have gone this dark.

I'd made her hands last year while I was making hands for the other dolls, but I used her hands for the Baker.  Now I'm not even giving her arms.

I didn't like her.  I've gessoed over her again and added clay to her hips.  Not sure if I'm going to like this version any better.  Because this one has no arms or leg, she is really just a bust. (Ha! didn't realize the play on words until I saw it).

Don't like her new look either.  One more thing to try, and if I still don't like her, she goes back into the land of neglect and abandonment.

I'm thoroughly enjoying  The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving:  A Novel by Jonathan Evison.  Love his writing; he reaches you emotionally and involves you in the characters and their situations.  Witty, human, funny, touching.  Don't want it to end, which is why I've taken time with it, savoring the writing and the characters, who don't feel like characters, but real people.  (warning:  language.  One character is an 18 year old boy and his conversation frequently focuses on sex--despite the fact that his crippled body ( an advanced state of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy ) is confined to a wheel chair, his male adolescent mind is definitely in working order.  I don't even know exactly what a lot of the expressions mean...but I get the gist of it)

The novel was an Advanced Reader's Copy from Algonquin, and when Suzie was here, I promised to send it to her when I finished.  Then I found another copy (it may have been an uncorrected proof) that Algonquin had sent earlier and gave her that one.  Can't wait to see if she feels the same way about it.  We both loved West of Here, also by Evison, but we don't always enjoy the same books.  I'm a greedy and eclectic reader, reading from every genre including fantasy.  She is more focused in her choices, but we  frequently land on the same wave-length and share the same enthusiasm for certain books.

Finally, two basils rooted.  Out of about 10 or 12 cuttings, only two rooted in water.  The others are still fresh looking, but no sign of roots.  This is really a pretty good per centage for my experience of rooting basil.  Coleus and sweet potato vine cuttings root beautifully and quickly in water, but basil is slower, and I have a mixed success rate.  Begonias-- nothing.    The two rosemary cuttings I put directly in soil are doing well, but those in water, nothing so far.

Some of the perennials I've ordered from Wayside Gardens will arrive mid-September.  Wayside ships at planting time for your zone, and I'll have to wait until spring for other plants I've ordered.  Locating some of the dye plants I'm looking for has been more difficult.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Discovered a new Etsy shop with some great patterns and labels--
check out Sweetwater's shop-! 
Jar Sewing Kit- Pattern Only

Sewing Kit Iron On Label
A few more pics of encrusted pieces, including the work in progress.  I've used buttonhole lace on several pieces.  Love the Sassalynne perle cotton threads.  Beautiful variegation!

A rainy day!  A blessing in so many ways--a gift to the garden, the pleasure of watching and listening to the sound of falling rain, a great excuse to curl up with a book (I'm reading two ARCs right now--The Brain Fix by Ralph E. Carson  and Night Watch by Linda Fairstein), or retreat to the studio and work on a doll or embroider while watching a Kdrama.  

Lovely choices, and I'll take advantage of all of them--especially since the house is clean, the laundry done, and left-overs available for supper!

What are you up to?  Plans for the weekend?

Friday, July 06, 2012


I love this!  Inspiring doesn't cover all the emotions this remarkable man evokes.

An interesting article about photoshopped images of girls in Seventeen Magazine and an eighth grade girl's mission to change the practice.  Way to go, Julia Bluhm.  (found via Read in a Single Sitting)
Work on the boro jacket continues.  It has proven more time-consuming than I initially imagined.  I've worked all day on it several days.  It doesn't require much thought, and I can watch television while sewing, but is taking MUCH longer than expected to finish.

During breaks from stitching, I do chores.  All the mundane parts of life.  I set the timer for various chores and when the timer goes off, I reward myself by going up to the studio for another couple of hours.

During shorter breaks, I sit outside and read in 5-10 minute segments.  Right now, I'm reading The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park.

It is an engrossing read, not at all dry or difficult.  The bits about Alan Turing are so funny; it is tragic that his life was so short and that he received such shameful treatment after the war because he was homosexual. In 2009, the British Government issued a public apology for "the appalling way he was treated."  A brilliant and eccentric man, Turing's work laid the foundation for modern computers and helped shorten the war.

But Turing is only a part of the fascinating story of Bletchley Park; Sinclair McKay has done a brilliant job in painting a picture of the unsung heroes who spent the war doing highly secret work.  The entire story of Bletchley Park is inspiring.

The book is due out in September, and I'll post a full review on my book blog closer to the publication date.

Looks as if this summer is going to be as hot and dry as last summer.  I'm prepared to lose plants, especially those that weren't well established.

HI HO-- time to do the laundry!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Continuing to work on these blocks.

I've been reading like a maniac again.  Two favorites in the recent batch of mysteries:  As the Crow Flies, a Sheriff Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson  and The First Rule of Ten a mystery about an ex-monk who joined the LAPD and has recently resigned to become a private investigator-- by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay. Both were great reads. I've just posted a review of  As the Crow Flies on my book blog and The Rule of Ten is scheduled for next week.
Our friend Teresa has been busy for the last few weeks preparing for the Highland Blooms Garden Tour which was held this past weekend.  The Highland area in Shreveport is an older neighborhood with many Craftsman-style homes, and complete with an old-fashioned/quirky/creative atmosphere.  Teresa and Ricky have been active for several years with the Highland Restoration Association for several years, and Teresa is the current president of the association that seeks to restore and revitalize the area.

Since I was unable to attend the Garden Tour, I've enjoyed seeing the pictures Teresa posted on her blog, Views from My Highland Cottage.  Stop by and visit!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Novel Introduction to Dye Plants

January-April found me stitching almost every day--until the last week of April, that is.  At some point, I lapsed into a reading cycle and began neglecting the stitching.

I've got several books yet to review on my book blog.  One of them is Hush by Donna Jo Napoli, which I'd hoped to count for the Once Upon a Time challenge.  Napoli writes for young adults, and her Zel (a retelling of Rapunzel) is excellent.

As it turned out, I'm not sure that Hush qualifies for the Once Upon a Time challenge, and while it is by no means as good as Zel, it caught my interest immediately because on the first page it mentions Brigid's cloak, dyed with woad.
woad from Wikipedia
madder - Wikipedia
weld- Wikipedia
A few pages later it mentions Melkorka's red cloak, dyed from madder root, and her linen tunic, dyed yellow "from the weld plant."  I couldn't locate the passage where Melkorka describes the treatment of woad to create the blue dye, but it is brief and accurate.

 I love it when a novel serendipitously evokes my other interests.   As a novel, Hush had some disappointments, but the historical tidbits of Eire in the 10th century, dyeing and knitting references, the making of vellum and illuminated manuscripts, the Viking attacks and Norse lifestyle...make this YA novel well worth the reading.
A slow cloth on eco dyed fabric that I've been working on when I don't have another project going.  Working on projects requires thinking, but working on this slow cloth in between projects allows me to stitch with no destination in mind.

Karen Ruane's May class has begun, and I haven't even watched the first video!  I'm really going to have to put my books and gardening on hold and work on the class.

Monday, April 02, 2012

New Prayer Flag Finished

Satya - a commitment to truth in our thoughts as well as our speech;  being honest with ourselves and others.  It does not take precedence over ahimsa (non-violence) so being honest or truthful with the intention of being hurtful is wrong.  Ahimsa, the precept of compassion, comes first.  (satya is the second of the yamas as set forth by Patanjali)

Unbleached muslin, beads, various stitches, appliqued leaves.

 I participate in two reading challenges a year on my book blog:  the Once Upon a Time Challenge in the spring and R.I.P. in September & October.   Once Upon a Time is fairy tale, fantasy, folklore, and myth; R.I.P. is gothic, scary, witches, vampires, mansions, murder, or anything suitably Halloween-y.  These challenges provide the perfect opportunity to indulge oneself, and I do.  

If you like to read and enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, etc. check out the Once Upon a Time Challenge.  A lot of the books are fairy tale re-tellings and many are written for young adults, but some of these authors are just good, not matter how old or young you are.  

I'm tired of writing my return address, so I've ordered return address stickers from Moo Cards.  I have some "business" cards that I ordered a couple of years ago, but always forget that I have them.  Oh, yes, and even before that, I had mini cards made from my photos.  Making the cards/stickers is fun, and I always get compliments (when I remember to use them).  This is my first time with the stickers, but I'm looking forward to using them!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Erin go Bragh

And top of the morning to you on this St. Patrick's Day!

 I gave our daughter Erin a tee shirt with Erin go Bragh on it when she was small with the phrase on it.  At school, bragh became bra, and our little Erin was not very happy with me.  What if I'd given her one that said, "Kiss me, I'm Irish"?

My allergies have been giving me fits lately.  Which means it must be time to garden.  I hope to check some garden centers this afternoon, and my eyes will probably be all itchy and unfocused.  This is a little early, but it has been so warm this year that the plants are coming in, and I must have some basil.

I watched Looking for Richard with Al Pacino recently.  I had this on my list of documentaries that I wanted to watch for a long time, and the reviews were all pretty positive.  I wasn't much impressed, however.  It seemed so self-indulgent.

Anyway, I started thinking about Josephine Tey's mystery Daughter of Time, which I read over 30 years ago, but which has stuck with me.  I have looked for it in the library several times, but it was evidently culled.  It was published in 1951, I think.

Watching the documentary, which deals with Shakespeare's Richard III, made me think of Daughter of Time again, and I ordered a copy from Amazon.  What a pleasure!  I enjoyed every minute of it!

Although I was unimpressed with Pacino's documentary, I'm really glad I watched it because it made me reread Tey's book with a point of comparison.  Shakespeare's play is full of inaccuracies, to say the least.  He was writing for the Tudors, and the Tudors reviled Richard. Did Richard have the princes in the tower killed?

Oops, I've gotten carried away, and I haven't even begun my review of the book for A Garden Carried in the Pocket.  I'll have a lot to say about it.

Have a great St. Paddy's Day!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I'm Babbling

I won the quilt I was bidding on!  The title is Autumn Came Too Soon, and the quilter is Lisa Dobson.    Artist Statement: My mother-in law suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s. Fall and then winter came too soon in her life. 

Isn't it lovely?  I'm thrilled to add it to my collection.  Did you guess right, Michele?

I love Penny Beren's stitchery (Tanglewood Threads).

More guerrilla art! I found these on Annette's blog, Thread Addict.  Too funny!

Annette has more pics on this post.

An interesting article about Daylight Savings Time.

Started a new book, All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones.  It's an Advanced Reader's Copy from Algonquin, and so far, is very good.  Book description:  "This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts—with chilling accuracy—life behind North Korea’s iron curtain."  I know it is going to get very tense, but the characters are well drawn, and the insight into life in North Korea is compelling.

I'm still enjoying Moonwalking with Einstein, but the books of essays (all three of them) are being seriously neglected.

The Triad is acting unusually crazy!  They sound like elephants clumping through the house at top speed with occasional "meows" and odd screeching.  Edgar must be bored and torturing his sisters.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March Auction and Good Mail

I have my bid in on this month's Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative Auction, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  There is always something exciting about an auction!  Especially an auction where the profits are dedicated to funding research for this awful disease.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I'd won a give-away.  Well, my package arrived yesterday!  Oh, the lovely things I received from The Warp and the Weft!  Now, I have to put my mind to making something with them!
 So many goodies!  Tags and papers and ephemera all wrapped in beautiful toile tissue!
 This is evidently a new line from Jolee's Boutique for French General.

Yesterday, I ran errands all morning, spending most of my time at Michael's and the grocery store because all the other errands were quick ones, except for the one I looked forward to the most, the library-- which was CLOSED!

I had intended to check out a bag full of mysteries to read in between all of the nonfiction.  I needed a fix.  Frustrated.  So when I got home, I downloaded The Snowman by Jo Nesbo on my Kindle.  And read the entire book.  Which was, as usual, far-fetched and graphic; but I continue to read Nesbo because I love Inspector Harry Hole.  Those Scandinavians have dark imaginations for a country that looks so bright and cheerful.

Not a stitch taken all day!  And I was supposed to finish the latest prayer flag using the running stitch.  Did not happen.

Maybe I'll get it done today.

What does your weekend look like?

Friday, March 09, 2012


Stephie is having a give-away over at Peas in a Pod-- a pattern for a beautiful tote bag.


And generous Mary has been making little gowns for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Here is a link to her tutorial for the tiny things.

I've just finished watching Craft in America (Season 1).  If you haven't seen it, check it out on Netflix; it is a delight to watch.  Not the kind of craft stuff I do, but the real artisans, the craftsmen and women whose work ends up in the Smithsonian -- both of the basket makers who were interviewed have baskets there.

My favorite individual (and it is a difficult choice) is the 90-year-old furniture maker, whose loving tribute to his wife is so touching.  My favorite story is the blacksmith who had parishioners bring iron objects which he then used when making a baptismal font for their church.  I loved the way they honored tradition, but branched out, using their own creativity, sense of beauty, and sense of humor in their creations.  Well worth watching!

Along with my slow progress through the books of essays, I'm reading Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer.  Fascinating.  Actually, the essays are being neglected as I immerse myself in Foer's book.

Another encrusted piece and a prayer flag are in the works;  I've been working on them for several days, but today-- I'm not in the mood for them.  And yet, I need to finish the prayer flag for TAST.

It is another windy, stormy day, and what would be the most fun is staying in and reading a good mystery.  Unfortunately, I need to go to the bank and to the grocery store.

Hope everyone is having a great Friday...good weather or bad!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lovely Photos and Nora Ephron

If you'd enjoy seeing some gorgeous photos of almost anything, check out Pink Is the Word.

Like the contrast of winter/spring in these two

I've just finished reading Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck and loved it.  I haven't reviewed it yet on my book blog, but Ephron's voice is so engaging and her short essays have both universal and personal appeal.  Some of the essays are so funny and truthful, and the last one is so touching and so honest about the loss of friends and loved ones that inevitably become more frequent as we grow older.  

Ephron takes such mundane topics as maintenance requirements of women of a certain age and makes us laugh at our own personal challenges with aging and our regrets about the process.  Who doesn't, after a certain age, regret the need for reading glasses and our inability to locate them (despite having multiple pairs), the temptation to dye our hair or resort to Botox, the effort to maintain our physical fitness, and more--whether we succumb to these temptations or not?

In one way, some of the essays are superficial; Ephron highlights some of the common situations women encounter (finding the perfect purse and then being able to locate anything within the dark recesses of said purse), but although this may be superficial and not an earth-shattering situation, it is, at least for me, a search that continues--both for the perfect purse and for locating anything in that black hole of necessary objects.  The real problem is more that disorganized people like myself believe that a purse will solve the problem that results from stuffing everything from lists, receipts, old tickets, another chapstick, books and notebooks, etc. into a purse.  No purse will solve my disorganized tendencies, and yet....

Anyway, thanks Nancy (of Pomegranate Trail) for recommending the book!

Still reading two other books of essays and a couple of novels, but couldn't resist celebrating Ephron's witty essays because they made me laugh and, truthfully, even think.  Maybe not always about important topics, but certainly about the vagaries of our culture.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nancy, over at Pomegranate Trail,  has a great post on prayer flags.  Lots of information and some great links to some prayer flag sites that were new to me--go check it out!


via May Your Bobbin Always Be Full.

You can make a contribution here.  Very cool!


I'm doing more reading again.  Still, slowly working on 1Q84, and strange as it is, I'm enjoying it very much.  It is, however, slow reading.  Very dense and very strange.  It isn't a page turner in the usual sense, but rather, a "read a while then come back later" kind of experience.

I went to the library on Friday (I wanted some "in between" books), and Deborah Lawrenson's The  Lantern had finally arrived on the new book shelf.  I checked several times last fall, and it was still on order each time, so finding a copy was a nice surprise.  Sadly, however, despite many glowing reviews, the book wasn't grabbing my attention.  It may work better for me later, but it wasn't what I wanted right now.

I wanted a book that immediately drew me in, one that would read quickly.  Rummaging through my library bag, Lars Kepler's The Hypnotist found its way to my hands.  Another book that I checked on several times, only to find the library didn't yet have a copy and another pleasant find on the new book shelf.

Amelia had read and liked it.  It is another Scandinavian mystery/crime novel (last year was a big one for me and Swedish crime novels--Hakan Nesser, Kjell Erikson, Asa Larsson, Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Johan Theorin, Jussi Adler-Olsen, and Camilla Lackberg were some of last year's reads-- thank heavens for translators).  The Hypnotist begins with some  gruesome murders, but certainly grabs the attention.

Two and a half hours of yoga this morning.  A Yin yoga series and later, a Kundalini series; slow, relaxing, emphasis on breath--just what I needed on a Sunday morning.

This evening, more work on prayer flags.  Tomorrow? More of the same...unless Fee doesn't have to go out of town, and we have a chance to do something.  We had planned to go to the Robinson this weekend for the Bollywood Film Festival, but he ended up in Texas and didn't get back until tonight.

Damn good thing I'm so easily entertained with my little projects!  Reading, yoga, planning my garden, and working on prayer flags-- the weekend has flown by.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 I've finished Rowan, the witch doll.  She was almost done when I abandoned her for other projects.  Then I noticed her again and felt a little guilty, so I made her some shoes,  mounted her on a wooden block, then finished painting and sealing her.  She is holding a little ghost poppet, who looks a little tired.

Another cloth and clay doll in the Izannah Walker style is also being neglected.  All she really needs is clothes.  Her head and body are done, face and hands painted and crackled, but choosing fabrics for her clothing stalled her progress.

Inspired by Akira Blount (my favorite doll maker), I've been working in cloth for the last four or five days.  Long days, too, as the process (learning, making mistakes, etc.) is relatively slow.  Pulled out my Susanna Oroyan books and have been giving them a great deal of attention.    Ordered a DVD by Akira Blount and found even more enthusiasm for cloth dolls and needle sculpting.

There are four dolls in various stages of progress.  I plan to handle all of the heads differently, but have gotten one head through all the stages except for doing something about the baldness.  She has a light coat of paper clay over the cloth.  The other heads be finished differently without paper clay, as I experiment with various methods, including a "skin" of gauze.

I've made quite a few patterns lately for the stump dolls, the Izannah style dolls, the Bitter & Boo twins.  Now, I've made dozens more for these newer dolls.  The arms...too big, too small.  Try again.  Hands too big.  Try again.  And again.  Shape of the heads, shape of the torsos.  Keep trying.  I've discarded a lot of versions and am still not happy with what I've got, but I'm getting closer.

  Haven't even decided about legs yet.  And clothing and hair,hats, or head dressings of some kind.

The pattern I made for the neck needs changes.  I liked the way Cindee Moyer made the neck part of the torso, but all of the above have separate heads, necks, and torsos that have to be sewn together.  All of the heads and necks have been sewn together, but I still have two heads/necks left to attach to torsos.  They are all pinned and waiting.

  I'm reading The Tin Ticket:The Heroic Journey of Australia's Convict Women and discovering the horrors of the poor in Scotland during the early 1800's and the unbelievably dreadful conditions that existed in the factories where children as young as five were put to work for 12-18 hour days.  The book follows the lives of four of these women who, for the crime of poverty alone in many cases, were shipped off to Australia where they were imprisoned in another factory.  

I have to take it in small doses because what happened in the "civilized" world during the 1800's is so sad and shocking, but the book is fascinating, and I know will be ultimately triumphant because the descendants of these women have been interviewed.  The book was sent to me as an ARC and will be released Nov. 1.

Enough of this, there is housework, laundry, and grocery shopping to be done.  Have a great day!