Monday, December 05, 2011

Turn the Page...Tuesday

It's time!  Time for December's Turn the Page...Tuesday hosted by the fabulous Adrienne of Some of a Kind.  Woot Woot! 

I read a couple of books this past month - One that left me wanting to read the next one in the series and reaching for my camera to capture the perfect light...and one that had my mind wandering away from the train that was chugging down the tracks.  Read on to see what I was reading on....
Another wonderful Jane Kirkpatrick novel! I just love her writing and this one did not disappoint. Written about Jane's very own Grandmother, this story brings Jessie Gaebele's love of photography and dreams of her own studio alive. Jessie is a young girl, working to help out her family and just happens to get a postition that she loves, at a photography studio in her hometown of Winona, Minnesota. Jessie's joy at learning her trade and expanding her talent is only dampened by her worry over her little brother, Frog, and her families growing discomfort over her relationship with her boss, Mr. F.J. Bauer. Mr. Bauer is a married man who see's Jessie's talent and spends extra time tutoring her. Mr. Bauer has re-occuring bouts of mercury poisoning which plaqued photographers of this time and Jessie proves herself invaluable in the running of the studio during his lengthy absences.

This is a beautifully written story. I loved the insights into the early photographic world and the photo's of Jessie that were included. Cannot wait to get my hands on the second in this series and follow Jessie's life for a lit bit longer!

The Gentleman From Finland: Adventures On The Trans-siberian ExpressThe Gentleman From Finland: Adventures On The Trans-siberian Express by Robert M. Goldstein

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was my dusty read - one that had been sitting on the shelf for four years or so....
You know when you read a book and you just don't want it to end? This was not that book. The Gentleman From Finland wasn't a terrible read by any means; in fact I found parts of it fun and enjoyable but by the last 50 pages or so I just wanted it over but couldn't give it up when I was that far in.

The author writes about his journey riding through Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Express on an epic journey that he had wanted to take since he was a kid and fell in love with trains. In 1987, regular tourists don't generally get to make this journey by themselves, but because Bob was the guests of friends living in Moscow, he got all the right paperwork to ride the train. Things in Russia are sort of like Alice in Wonderland, with not much being as it seems. In his quest to get paperwork to ride this train, Bob's passport came through an agency in Finland, a place he has never even been, but it seems that all of Russia now thinks that the Mexican-American-Russian-Jewish Bob is Finnish. He can't seem to make anyone understand that he is an American, so finally gives up. Throughout his journey, Finland keeps popping up in all kinds of ways, as if there is something that Bob is supposed to find out about his heritage.

Two days in to the very first leg of his journey, Bob realizes that he isn't even on the famous train. Between his extremely limited Russian speaking skills and the man at the train station not understanding him, he boarded a train headed to the same first stop. Bob finally arrives, a day early, to the hotel in the town of his first layover, but because they are not expecting him until the next day, the staff at the hotel pretty much pretends that he isn't there until the actual time that he was supposed to arrive. The scene was pretty comical, if you weren't Bob. Along the rest of the way, we meet some pretty amazing characters, some quite unbelievable really. Bob ends up getting sick along the way and the last third or so of the book is really the ramblings of his feverish mind. Believe me when I say that it was time for this train trip to come to an end.

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Now I am on the Scottish Coast with Carrie McClelland as she writes her next novel in the shadows of Slains Castle in The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  Where is your reading taking you?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Tonight I realized that I should take more time to enjoy the incredible sunsets that we have here on the coast of Oregon.  Beautiful displays of pinks, oranges and deepest blue can be had for just the looking.  I put down my dishrag - dishes can wait - and stepped out onto the deck.  Taking a seat in one of the outdoor chairs, I breathed deeply.  The long day at work, the migraine that has been pressing all day, were forgotten for an instant in the beauty surrounding me.  Gazing off into the horizon, I just sat quietly, listening to the sounds of our evening neighborhood;  the thump of the daily paper hitting the front door as the newspaper boy tosses it onto porches up and down the street;  traffic noises as people come home after their work day;  the sound of voices as others move outside to enjoy the spectacular colors;  soft footfalls of the neighbor out walking his dog.  I am in solitude here on our darkened deck, but I am not lonely.  Our evening neighborhood is full of noises, but it is not noisy, only peaceful.  The last rays of light slip behind the hills and I pick my dishrag back up, better off for the few minutes of natural wonder enjoyed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Five Little Turkeys

Five little turkey's are we -
We slept all night in a tree -
When the cooks came around
We couldn't be found -
And that's why we're here
You see!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Howling At the Moon

Last night, Shilo and I went to see Breaking Dawn with a group of friends.  (It was awesome!)  Shi's birthday is the beginning of December and it seems that since I started knitting a few years ago, I have always given her a new hat for her birthday.  I didn't realize it until she pointed it out and now that I know, the tradition must continue, right?! 
Waiting for Breaking Dawn
This year I chose to knit up this super fun wolf hat from Vampire Knits, a wonderful new knitting book that I splurged on for myself this summer.
Even though her birthday isn't for another two weeks, we couldn't go to Breaking Dawn without me giving her her hat early. 

And, seeing how we're both Team Jacob, well...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flirty Apron's Secret Santa Swap

What an adorable banner for a fun swap!  I've joined the Flirty Apron's Secret Santa Swap after telling myself that I wasn't going to do it.  I love to make handmade gifts and never get all of them finished that I have on my list, but after reading about this fun swap I just couldn't resist.  Part of the fun is the questionnaire that we are to fill out so that our secret partners can learn a bit about us~

What are your hobbies?  I love to knit, bake and sew

What are your favorite colors?  I am very "favorite color fickle".  It changes all the time, but right now I'm really loving reds

Do you collect anything?  I have a small collection of vintage aprons and also a bit bigger collection of vintage classic hardback books

Are you allergic to any fibers or animals? Yes, but not enough to stop me from knitting with wool anyway!

Do you have any pets?  We have a Great Pyrenees dog, Gus - and two cats, Boots and Mr. Thomas O'Malley

Coffee, Tea, or Chocolate? Both coffee and tea!

What do you like to read?  I LOVE to read!  Historical fiction based on fact is my favorite genre, but I read much more than that.  I also love cookbooks and craft magazines.

Do you prefer Cookies or Candies as a sweet? Cookies, but I very rarely turn my nose up at candy either!

What is your favorite holiday treat? Pumpkin pie and hot holiday coffee and tea flavors

Describe your favorite holiday tradition. Driving around looking at Christmas lights with Christmas music playing along

Did you believe in Santa as a child? What do you mean as a child?  I still do!

When do you open presents?  We have always opened one gift on Christmas eve and the rest on Christmas morning.  The Christmas eve gift started as a get together with the grandparents and opening the gifts to and from them and we have carried that tradition on

Do you put up a tree and when? If not, how do you celebrate? Yes, we put up a real tree generally the second weekend of December

Does your tree have a theme? Not really.  The last couple of years our tree has been decorated in mostly blue, silver and red because our living room walls are blue, but we also still put up some of the kids favorite traditional decorations from when they were small.

What has been your favorite gift to give? to receive?  I love to both give and recieve handmade goodness~

Hope you all are getting into the festive holiday season!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Spinning Gold

"Spinning is the simple act of drawing out a few fibers and twisting them together to form a yarn. The process predates written history, and was first done by hand and with sticks. Spinning wheels are believed to have originated in India between 500 and 1000 A.D. By the 13th century, they were seen in Europe, and were a standard piece of equipment for those making fiber into yarn. By the 17th century they were commonly found in homes in the colonies of North America, where the production of fabric was a cottage industry. Spinning was generally seen as a woman's job. Women spun yarn at home, as well as with friends at spinning bees, where food was served and prizes might be given to the person who produced the most or best yarn."
~From the website American History

On my bucket list is learning the ancient art of spinning wonderful wool into gold...I mean yarn.  Yesterday I took the first step in marking this off of my list with a beginning spinning class taken through Astoria Fiber Arts Academy.  This class is a two-part with the first two hour session yesterday and the next two hour next Saturday.  I was so excited to start and my instructor, Shannon, did not disappoint.  She did a fabulous job of explaining all of the parts of the wheel and how the energy made from turning the wheel translates the wool roving into the final golden product, beautiful wool yarn! 

Shannon brought her own personal spinning wheel to teach on - very similar to the one in the picture above.  After going over the parts of the wheel and explaining how it all works together it was time to prepare our wool.  Shannon brought wool roving that she had dyed herself then proceeded to explain how you prepare the roving by "drafting" it - gently pulling the roving in segments to seperate the fibers and get it into the thickness that you want your finished yarn to end up. 

Once we had a bit of roving drafted, Shannon then demonstrated on the wheel how to actual spin it, then it was my turn!  The hardest part so far for me is trying to figure out my hands.  I am definately not the most coordinated person you will ever meet, so getting that down and understanding when to hold the tension and when to let the roving feed in is certainly something I will have to work on.  In the beginning, Shannon spins the wheel by hand so that the student, (me!), can work on the hand skill while not having to worry about the foot on the treadle.  I learned to sew, many years ago, on a treadle sewing machine that had belonged to my great-grandmother, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my leg and foot still held that muscle memory and hopped on that treadle like I do it every day.  Muscle memory is an incredible thing.  Hopefully someday my hands will hold that same spinning technique memory!

Our two hours went by so fast and I can hardly wait until next weeks class.  I was sent home with homework - roving that I wil get drafted to the best of my very limited ability.  Then next Saturday, that roving will be spun into a two-ply yarn!  How fun!  I can see all ready how addicting this ancient skill can become.  Anybody have a spinning wheel for sale??!
So tell me, have you been able to mark anything off of your bucket list lately?  What was it? 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Happy November!  Time for Turn the Page...Tuesday hosted by Adrienne of Some of a Kind.  A time to share what you have read the last month and find out what others have been reading.  Just a will most certainly add to your long to be read list, but that's okay - we all love recommendations from other readers!

During October I read some perfectly haunting reads!
Ghost on Black MountainGhost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the perfect October read! Ghost on Black Mountain by author Ann Hite is everything the cover says it is; haunting, eerie, dark and unnerving. Told in the voices of five different women who all have different portions of the story to tell, the author did an excellent job of binding the story together in those separate voices. The story is set in rural depression-era North Carolina, we first meet Nellie, a young girl who, while serving meals in a soup kitche n, meets and falls head over heals for Hobbs Pritchard, a man eight years her senior. Nellie's mama immediately see's that Hobbs is a bad man and what she see's in her tea leaves confirms this fear. Ignoring her mama's warnings, Nellie runs off and marries Hobbs anyway. He immediately moves her to his empty, (or is it?) family home on Black Mountain.

One of my favorite quotes from this early time in the story:

'In the first days of sweet romance, if Hobbs had asked me to jump off a cliff, I would have with a smile on my face. Mama always said, "Nellie, don't love a man too much. A woman should save some feelings back to care for herself."

Nellie soon finds that the people of the mountain both hate and fear Hobbs Pritchard, but she still thinks that her husband must be mis-understood. Soon into the marriage, Hobbs cruel side starts showing itself to Nellie. According to Hobbs, his young wife is dumb, lazy and a horrible cook when in reality, Nellie is none of those things. Right away Nellie starts to see a few of Black Mountains ghosts. There is the woman who seems to live right in Nellie and Hobbs home and the man in the round glasses that is summoning her from outside. Shelley, the young girl who is hired to help Nellie clean the long neglected house, is scared but likes Nellie and slowly starts to give her some hints of Hobbs bad reputation. They say he killed a man here on the mountain and there are stories of the untimely death of his stepmother, along with a few other very disconcerting stories. As Hobbs cruelty to Nellie increases, she trys to find ways to leave, but Hobbs will never let her go. Will the ghosts of Black Mountain aid her? You'll have to read to find out.

I loved this book. It is the authors debut and I will definately be waiting for her next one to be released!

View all my reviews

Seems I spent a lot of time on mountains in Appalachia this past month. My next read was Bloodroot by Amy Greene, set on Bloodroot Mountain....

BloodrootBloodroot by Amy Greene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bloodroot is a story full of magic and maybe a bit of madness, told by several different generations of the same family as they try to puzzle the story of Myra Lamb together. The author did a fantastic job of telling the story through several different voices and perspectives.

In the beginning we meet Byrdie Lamb, Myra's grandmother. Byrdie tells us about seeing Myra for the first time. The baby born with "Haint Blue Eyes" was thought to have broken the curse that Byrdie's Grandmaw Ruth's cousin had put on the family so many years before. Grandmaw Ruth and her two sisters were "Granny Women", all with their own gifts of healing. Their cousin, Lou Ann, was a Granny Woman also but didn't neccessarily use her gifts for good. When the girls grandfather died and left the best plot of land to Grandmaw Ruth and her sisters, Lou Ann put a curse on them and their family that wouldn't be lifted until a there was a baby born in their line with haint blue eyes. Terrible things started happening right away- husbands and children dyeing, houses burning down- Byrdie was mighty glad when Myra was born with haint blue eyes. Myra's parents were killed when she was just a baby in an accident on the railroad tracks, so Granny Byrdie raised her up on the mountain. Myra loved the mountain but when John Odom from the town at the foot of the mountain came along, Myra followed him without looking back. Myra soon finds out the John and his family are not the people she thought they were. What is that smell of evil that seems to penetrate John's dads house and why is she so uncomfortable around them?

This was another story - a great October read - with a bit of magic, mystery and maybe some murder thrown in. Bloodroot had me turning pages late into the night, antsy to find out what would happen next.

From the back cover:
Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain. Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down "the touch" that bewitches people and animals alike. But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart. Bloodroot is the dark and riveting story of the legacies-of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss-that haunt one family across the generations.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Tis Near Halloween

~Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world.
     – Linus in “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”
~ Beautiful orange pumpkins ~  Towering corn stalks ~  Misty fall days ~
When the wind begins to shift and the scent of fall can be caught in the air, I cannot stand myself until we take the little people in our lives to a wonderful pumpkin patch. 
This year we choose Bob's Corn and Pumpkin Farm in Snohomish, Washington for our outing. It had everything you could want in a pumpkin patch ~

*Lots and lots of pumpkins
*A ten acre corn maze
*Pony rides
*Cow train
*Misty, foggy farmland
*Hot wonderful corn-on-the-cob
*Delishious pumpkin pie
*Hot tasty chili
and best of all
*Noah and Mazzy!

We had the best fall day, ever!  Come on, pull on your hat and join us~

~ When witches go riding and black cats are seen,
the moon laughs and whispers,
'tis near Halloween.
~Author Unknown

May you all be blessed with the most wonderful day at a pumpkin patch.  Be careful, don't get lost in the maze...

(oh - and while you're out wandering around, stop by my sister Stacey's house for a walk in her haunted wood.)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Autumn Dreams Table Runner

I actually got to spend some time in my craft room this weekend with this gorgeous fall fabric.  I found this pattern on the Moda Bake Shop blog and decided to give it a shot.  I really like how it's turning out and think I may make another one when I get a chance, as well as the table topper. 

Making bias tape always kicks my butt and this is the look you'll get if you interupt me while I'm getting my booty kicked...

~Hope you all had a wonderful autumn weekend~

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Turn the Page....Tuesday

It's time once again for Turn the Page...Tuesday, hosted by the incredible Adrienne of Some of a Kind.  Turn the Page Tuesday is a time to share what you have read in the last month and to see what other's having been turning the pages in.  It's a really fun way to start the month!

The old, dusty book that I chose to pull off of my shelves and finally read this month is The Best Known Works of Ibsen, by Henrik Ibsen.  Mr. Ibsen was a playwright from Norway whose work has been turned into several "made for television" plays and is known worldwide.  He is one of Norway's favorite sons.  I was surprised to find that Ibsen's plays, written many years ago and based in Norway, deal with so many issue's that had to be taboo at the time.   His works were known to by quite scandalous, written in an era when family life was portrayed as perfect, Mr. Ibsen instead choose to write about some of the harder realities of life.

In "Hedda Gabler", the main character, Hedda, has married the wrong man though continues to see the "right" man through business dealings of her husbands.  She actually convinces the "right" man to shoot himself and the play ends with Hedda's suicide. 

In Ghosts, Ibsen deals with arson, a child born out of wedlock and sexually transmitted diseases. 

There are nine short plays in this book;  I haven't finished all of them yet, but they all deal with equally hard topics.

Henrik Ibsen - 1828 to 1906

A friend of mine gave me this book and I'm so glad she did. Written from the perspective of Kimberly, a young Chinese girl who along with her Mom has immigrated to America via the help of her mom's older sister, Paula and husband Bob. Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob own a clothing factory in Chinatown where they immediately put Kimberly and her Mom to work to pay off the large debt of bringing them to America. It takes many years to pay off that debt, years where the mother and daughter live in an otherwise empty apartment building that should be condemned, left to the rats and roaches that run rampant. During these years, Kimberly keeps her home life private, exceling at school and earning a scholarship to a private high school that she focuses on as a way out of the life of poverty her and her mom are living.
 I believe this book may be a bit autobiographical as the author immigrated to Brooklyn as a young girl and also worked in a sweatshop. This background made for an excellent telling of the story right down to the translation of words that sometimes got so confusing for Kimberly as she tried to understand the speech of her teachers and classmates. Slang and accent's sometimes made the words quite hard to understand and the author really did a good job of descriping the words that Kimberly thought she heard.

This story was both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time. One of the passages that stayed with me the longest was the one in which, not long after Kimberly had started school in America and met her best friend, Annette, she was trying to tell Annette that she worked in a clothing factory with her mom until late in the evening after school every day. A few days later, Annette told Kimberly that she must have been making up excuses to not do anything with her because when Annette had told her dad about Kimberly working in the factory, her dad had told her that things like that didn't happen in America. Amazing how we sometimes bury our heads in the sand when we hear things we don't want to accept.

I highly recommend this book. Pick it up and read it if you get a chance!  It's one of those books, that for me, the characters stayed with me for quite some time after I was finished turning the last page.  I miss Kimberly and wonder what she's doing now!

Pop over to Adrienne's to see what others are reading.  For October, I plan to pull a dusty hardback copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe down to read.  It's just a small book with only a few of his stories in it, but quite appropriate for an October read I think!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stitchin' Weather

Fall time is in the air - the scent is strong - and with that my fingers are itchin' to be stitchin'.

At work fall time for me means inventory season.  (Yes, that IS a season and not one that makes me grin!)  The days are long and dusty and weekends are pretty much non-existant.  The company I work for has seven retail stores up and down the Pacific coast line and three warehouses in three different states.  Being the inventory control guru, it's part of my job to make sure that the stores are in good shape and ready for their counts as well as going back to the stores on the weekends that their actual counts are scheduled.  All of that to say that even with the blustery fall weather, my stitching time is very little right now.  I have managed to squeak out a darling little pumpkin hat for Mazzy Kaye and have started a Working Man's Beanie for a Christmas present.

Last night I was wandering around etsy and came across this super sweet Alphabet Tree Girl embroidery pattern.  I instantly fell in love with the little girl reading in a tree;  picturing this darling pattern on a canvas bookbag.  The pattern found it's way to my shopping cart and I checked out.  When my pattern came in my email box just moments later, I read all the notes from the seller with glee which led me here to Nicole's blog, Follow the White Bunny, which in turn led me to Feeling Stitchy where I came across a super fun embroidery contest.

Covered in Stitches is a Feeling Stitchy contest that involves embroiderying a piece of art based on the cover of a book.  You can make your piece to look just like a favorite book cover or you can interpret that cover with your own imaginings.  The sky is the limit and what a wonderful contest for those of us who are not only book lover's but embroidery lover's as well.  Pop over to the Feeling Stitchy contest post for the rules and to see what the wonderful prizes are! 

I love to embroidery in the evenings and haven't done it nearly enough the last couple of years.  I'm super excited about this and have a couple idea's kicking around in my head.  It'll be so fun plus the finished pieces will make great Christmas presents for some other book lover's I know!

Sew tell  me - do you have any fall projects going on?  What are they?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Super Hero's to the Rescue

Super Noah, Guardian of the Galaxy, just turned 4!
Super Hero's were flying all over the park in the fight against evil.

The smallest Super Hero has the power of cuteness~

Not a single bad guy would have dared come near this bunch!

Happy Birthday, Super Noah!