Wednesday, December 13, 2017

{I've Been Reading} Fierce Kingdom and Historically Dead

New socks on the needles and some fun books to read. I'm happy.


Historically Dead by Greta McKennan

Seamstress Daria Dembrowski is working her fingers to the bone to ensure that the (mostly) hand-stitched dresses and curtains are perfect for her client's appearance on My House in History. That's not quite enough to keep the bills paid, so she's still doing wedding dresses and the latest bride-to-be brings a very unwelcome visitor along to her fittings.

I love this series, which lets me vicariously experience a type of sewing I'm not likely to tackle myself. If My House in History was an actual show, we'd definitely be watching it at our place. The book develops some of the relationships that began in the first book and Daria and her friends are fun to spend time with. Too bad avoiding spoilers means I can't tell you what I loved most about the plot.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

A mother rushes her  four year old son towards the zoo's exit, trying to make it through the gates before closing time...then hears the gunshots and sees the bodies and starts desperately searching for a safe hiding place. After the first few pages of Fierce Kingdom, I was absolutely hooked. Joan is the most realisticly depicted mother I've come across in a long time. This was such a good book -- until it suddenly wasn't. I started to lose interest when the book switched from Joan's point of view to a different character. And  I didn't like the ending.

I hate to say it, but the Amazon reviews were more fun to read than the last quarter of the book. How these readers imagine that Joan can just tell her hungry, exhausted preschooler to be quiet when they're hiding in the dark is beyond me. I'm guessing they've never spent a full day at the zoo with a very young child.

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copy of Histocially Dead by the publishers. Fierce Kingdom is a library book.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

More Changes at the Library

I'm not a big fan of change and tend  to avoid new things until they're forced on me (Except for ebooks. I can't say enough good things about those!) 

It seems like our local library is constantly making big improvements. I wasn't happy when they completely rearranged the children's section after twenty years. I knew where everything was and they moved it all. It's been a couple of years and I still can't find what we need. 

The new card catalog is an absolute nightmare. 

When this happened a few weeks back, I thought we might give up on the library entirely. How could they do this?!


They've had self checkout as an option for years and it's been awful. Now they're making all of us use it all the time. How can they do that to parents juggling multiple toddlers and fifty picture books?

I tried the new system because we had no choice and I can't believe how much better it is than the self check out, or even having the librarians do it for you. Put your card anywhere near the scanner and it pulls up your account. Put the book anywhere on the pad and it checks it out and demagnetizes the strip...most of the time. We set off alarms this week, but that happened with the old system too.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wandering All Over the Village

The plan was to start in the upper right hand corner and work my way across, carefully parking threads as I went. Instead, I've wandered from building to building, stopped to play with the horse and rider, then crossed the bridge and worked my way through the flowers. And I've decided that parking threads doesn't work for me at all. 

Dimensions Gold Petites - Village Serene

I've spent two months avoiding the flowers that I should have stitched near the beginning and, as soon as I finish that little house and the trees behind it, I'm gong to have to finally get them done.

Either that, or I'm going to play in the muddy road. Mud sounds like it'll be easier.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Acorns and Threads

The most shocking thing about digging through my stash of cross-stitch charts is how I'm still excited about most of the same things I absolutely loved almost fifteen years ago.  While I was sorting through the latest batch of boxes, this magazine turned up. For me, the May 2001 issue of Stitcher's World was a complete and total game changer. 


I'd only been stitching for a couple of months and up to that point my entire stash had come from big box craft stores or thrift shops. This was the first cross-stitch magazine I bought and when I  read the article about Birds of a Feather I fell in love with these two patterns. They were among the first non craft store patterns I bought. I still haven't stitched them up, but I can see that changing soon.


That same article mentions Acorns and Threads in Portland, Oregon and as soon as I read  their description of the shop I was planning a road trip. There was lots of pretty cross stitch stuff at Michaels at that time, but I had no clue how many other gorgeous possibilities there were. I bought a lot of patterns there over the years.

On Thursday, I was up at Acorns and Threads for the first time in years, hanging out with some of my favorite Flosstubers. It was all kinds of fun and I fell in love with dozens of new projects, especially after switching to a sock to give my eyes a break, which also freed them up to take in everything that was hanging on the walls.


Someone please remind me that I absolutely hated the last Mill Hill kit that I stitched and really don't want the haunted barn or haunted hotel.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Sequins and Felt

Apparently I'd never worked with sequins and felt until last night. 


Years ago, Grandma had a tree full of sparkly, intricate felt ornaments she'd stitched. I'd forgotten them entirely until the felt jungle animal kit turned up, tucked inside of  one of those vintage crewel kits I'd bought from the thrift shop. A week or two later, I found the other kit at the thrift shop for a dollar and decided that I'd practice on those ornaments before I tackled the animals, which have more sequins and parts.


How are these so intimidating?  I  can knit a lace shawl or pair of socks and free-motion a quilt, but I'm stabbing my fingertips and dropping sequins left and right.

Ever tried these? Have any tips for me?

Friday, December 08, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/8/17}


Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.





Thursday, December 07, 2017

{Estate Sale Temptations} Needlework and Old Trucks

You ever find yourself at one of those estate sales where you'd just like to move into the house and keep all of the stuff? On Saturday, we found one of  those. 

Just look at this kitchen! 


The cupboards and drawers were all full, with strips of tape urging us to look inside. I found some pretty old embroidery and a calendar tea towel, which will both wind up in future projects. And a whole stack of metal mixing bowls. Do you  see the box of pretty sparkling serving plates with matching cups? I think there were at least four sets.

There was lots more pretty embroidery in the back bedroom.


This tablecloth (or whatever it is) was dated 1914. It looked old, but just way too good to be true. There was soooo much really old needlework stuff. I picked through the ten cent zippers and bought the nice black and white ones.


Please remind me that I don't need creepy baby dolls, although when I misread the price tag on the big one of the left I briefly thought it might be coming home with me.


Look at the stroller behind that chair -- nine dollars and I'm kind of glad it was already sold because I would've had a hard time convincing my husband that we needed it and finding a place  to put it.

And look at the chair itself -- I swear that's something with teeth holding a bone. It almost came home with us.


I liked the vintage autograph dog, but not enough to check the price.


They had a bathinette! I still want one of these and someday I'll find another one at the right price and not have my husband with me. It wasn't worth trying to explain what a bathinette is in the first place, let alone why I think I need one. And it was kind of ugly.  If I ever do find a doll bathinette like the one that I played with at Grandma's house once....that'll be coming home.


I didn't get any pictures of the garage or the multiple outbuildings. They had a 1933 flatbed Ford in pristine condition and were supposedly the original owners (although if the estate belonged to a 96 year old man, the math doesn't quite work) and all of the tools and intriguing old stuff, including a couple of raccoon pelts and an old telephone that's now plugged into my wall. I love my smartphone, but this is what a phone should be.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

{Yarn and Books} Finally, Some Progress

Have you ever had one of those projects where you keep knitting and knitting and seem to get absolutely nowhere? I started this pair of socks almost a month ago and they've been absolutely dragging. The break I took to knit Another Cake Shawl didn't help matters much, but half a sock shouldn't take nearly as long as this one did. 

Monday night I finally finished the ribbing on the first sock. Hooray! 




And Death Goes To.... by Laura Bradford

For years, Tobi Tobias has dreamed of winning the Golden Storyboard, imagining herself ascending the spiral staircase while her award winning commercial plays on the screen behind her. Watching another woman win the prize is a disappointment, but that's quickly overshadowed by horror as the platform at the top of the staircase collapses and Deidre Ryan falls to her death. Something went very wrong during the awards ceremony and Tobi is determined to find out what.

 I can finally say that I like Tobi a lot. In the first book, a really enjoyed the writing but had some complaints about Tobi herself. In the second book, her circumstances had improved and she was easier to like as a person. Now it seems that she's finally grown up and this is definitely my favorite book in the series so far.



Accessories to Die For by Paula Paul

The owner of an upscale consignment shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico find herself helping an old friend who has just escaped from prison. I picked this one up because I love the southwest and didn't realize until I finished the book and saw a list of the author's other titles that this was the second title in the series. (It was there in the book's description, I just didn't read closely enough.)
With one exception, the characters feel more like real people than cozy mystery characters and although Irene is trying to help her friend find her missing son it didn't feel like the same type of mystery I'm used to.


Disclosure -- I was provided with advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Another Cake Shawl

Actually it's my first cake shawl, but that's the name of the pattern. 

Another Cake Shawl
Yarn: Caron Cakes, White Truffle

I've been walking past the displays of Caron Cakes for a long time now, convincing myself not to buy one because even though the stuff is gorgeous in the skein I couldn't think of what I'd enjoy knitting with it. Then there was a really good sale and I  threw caution to the wind and just look at the pattern I found!

Another Cake Shawl (a free pattern I found on Ravelry) was written to use one skein of Caron Cakes and to work with the color changes. I did some tweaking and left out the zigzag stitch and diagonal lace because the shawl as shown in the pattern has eight color changes and my cake only had six. One of my color changes didn't hit in the right spot so I added a few rows of garter stitch to make it work.

This was such a fun project. It only took a few evenings and most of the stitch patterns were easy enough to do without looking at the printed pattern. The pattern is long and looked overwhelming at first, but it's really not hard at all if you take it a step at a time.

I found a long list of Caron Cakes pattern ideas over at Jen's a Little Loopy. Some are crochet and some take more than one skein, but I found this shawl and a couple of possibilities for the other colorway I bought.


Monday, December 04, 2017

Maybe I CAN Finish this by the 31st....

Remember last week, when I'd decided that trying to finish Village Serene by the end of the year was unrealistic?  It's been a week and, as of this morning, I want to just curl up in my corner of the couch and keep stitching until it's done. 


That adorable little bridge, which looked extremely forbidding with all of the confetti stitching and different shades of grey, is done. There's a big chunk of sky and river that are all half stitches so they'll go quickly. I'm not quite as optimistic about the patches of flowers and all of that back stitching, but I'm definitely in "one more stitch" mode right now.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

{Thrift Shop Temptations} A Day Out With the Boys

The boys and I had fun at the thrift shops last week. I'll be glad when they put away the Christmas stuff and there are no more noisy dancing Santas with buttons to push.  Or when someone buys those awful things or moves them to a different shelf. 

I love these lamps! 


Back when we were first married, my husband and I had a pair of lamps with huge red glass bases. I don't know what became of them, but I'd sure love to have them now. I keep reminding myself that lamps would require end tables for them to sit on and there are no electrical sockets near the ends of the couch and there are sooo many other reasons I shouldn't bring something like this home with me.

There was a vintage crewel kit, but I made myself leave it for someone else to find and love.


Settle an argument for me. That clay sculpture on the right is a baboon, not a dog, right?


I keep seeing personalized Pottery Barn items with sky high price tags and wondering who in the thrift store pricing department thinks that someone is going to come in and want to pay top dollar for that item and also has a child with that name. You'd think personalized laundry hampers would cost less than plain ones, at least at the thrift shop.

Teenage Son found this. It's his initials, but someone has taken a seam ripper to one of the letters. And my seventeen-year-old isn't in the market for a crib blanket.


Maybe I've been watching too many art appreciation videos with the kids, but it seems like there should be a story to go with this painting and we can't think of a happy one.


 I don't know if it's because I've still got Little House on the Prairie on my brain or it it's the oval shape, but this one really appealed to me.

We left behind the sad painting and clay monkey and came home with a ceramic owl and a ten foot long purple plush snake.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

{Saw it on Pinterest} My Little Mid Century Christmas House

Why does knitting a lace shawl seem so much more manageable than gluing little cardboard walls together?


I have a couple of singed fingertips and a new understanding of how the glue gun once found itself adhered  to the carpet, and a whole new level of appreciation for the rickety tower...and a partially complete little mid century modern putz house. It still needs a base and some decorations, if I get motivated enough for that.  

Friday, December 01, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {12/1/17}


Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.





Thursday, November 30, 2017

Old Fashioned Shoes and Burlap



This shoe print has been in my stash for a long time, although I looked up the blog post where I first mentioned them and it's not nearly as long as I thought it had been. It's a cute print but the fabric itself is almost like burlap and definitely not something that belongs in even the scrappiest quilt. 

I thought it would make a nice zipper pouch and set it aside until I conquered my zipper phobia. And then I forgot about it. It surfaced again when I was stash diving last year and I added it to the pile of fabric that's supposed to become bags. 

Last night,  I finally got around to sewing it up and in my tradition of grabbing whatever is suitable and closest to me I found the absolute perfect lining. I probably did have that when I first bought the scrap bag with the outer fabric in it, but it wasn't in a place where the two of them would have come together.

Sometimes waiting works out well.  


This post is linked to Crazy Mom Quilts and Bag It.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

{I've Been Reading} Poison




Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

The story of Cass and Ryan Connor gets off to what feels like a slow start and the writing style keeps the reader at a distance from the characters.  It took a while to get caught up in the story, but once I did I couldn't put it down.  And I hate that I can't tell you what I loved most about the book without giving too much away. There's a lot here about whether or not women are believed and the author refers to current events where accusations were dismissed....and at times I found myself unsure whether or not I believed Cass's interpretation of events. This is one of the scariest domestic thrillers I've ever read. I didn't love the ending, but I sure enjoyed the process of getting there.





Etched in Tears by Cheryl Hollan

This book has everything I've come to expect from the Webb's Glass Shop mysteries. Savannah is working hard to keep up with her busy schedule. She's got orders due and a new class to teach and a malfunctioning kiln...and then her high school boyfriend is found dead after his show at the Salvador Dali museum. The book kept a good balance between Savannah's everyday life and her investigation and the mystery. There's plenty of time spent with the continuing characters and their relationships, a chance to learn a bit about etching glass, and an interesting mystery that fits in with the glass shop theme. I really enjoyed this one.



Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

I love haunted house books. This one takes the usual house with a tragic past and makes things a lot more interesting by bringing four horror writers together within its supposedly haunted walls. I've read an awful lot of horror novels over the years and loved seeing how each character interpreted the house's tricks, influenced by the style of horror they write.  There are a few genuinely chilling moments and the whole thing is a fun read.



In Cave Danger by Kate Dyer-Seeley

As soon as I saw the description of this book, I requested a review copy. With Lava River Cave as part of the plot, I definitely wanted to read it. Our family tried to visit last summer, but there wasn't a single space left in the parking lot so I figured that a vicarious visit through one of my favorite genres was going to be the closest I came until at least next spring.

I had a hard time getting through the book. There is soooo much beer, and so much time spent describing the types and flavors of different brews. I was there for the cave, not the trendy restaurants and the other mystery that seemed to get more story time than the murder that this particular book is about. Maybe if I'd started with the first book in the series, I'd have been more involved with the main character and her life.  Or maybe if the author had invented her own cave instead of taking one that's found in online lists of places to go with young children and trying to make it frightening....

Disclosure -- I was provided with an advance review copies by the publishers. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

More Digging Through the Sewing Room

In case anyone noticed that there were two posts on Sunday and none on Monday, I had a post written for each day and manged to schedule both to post at the same time on Sunday morning.   By the time I found the problem they'd been up for eight hours I figured it was too late to try fixing it. I check and double check and sometimes I still get it wrong. 

Monday afternoon, I dug around in the sewing room for the box of cross stitch kits that might or might not exist. I know that I'm missing at least two kits (three, if you count the old crewel kit that I'm sure isn't in that box.) Over the weekend, I saw another kit on Instagram I'm pretty sure I might have bought at some point... that seems like more evidence that there could be another box, right? 


I knew that there was a box of projects I'd kitted up, and some UFOs that might or might not be in that same box. I've been trying desperately to find Circe (the one on the right) and had found the floss (the only time I've bought that brand for a project, so it had to be hers) and what I'm reasonably sure is the gridded fabric and --finally --  the magazine. All in completely different boxes for some reason. In the same box as the magazine was the bow kit. I know that at one point that one was in my sewing box, so I'm not sure how or when it migrated back. 

When I found them, the boxes were in the far corner behind the built in desk, which meant that to get to them I had to clear everything off of the desk and crawl over the top of it. If I broke my neck, the boys would come out to look for me eventually wouldn't they?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Village Serene Update

Part of my would really like to get this finished before the end of December. Another part of me realizes that although it's not a completely unreasonable goal I'll make myself crazy trying to get it done in time. 


There are sections that go quickly, and sections that are filled with confetti stitching, and miles and miles of back stitching to outline those windows and the thatched roofs....and a whole lot of other projects that are calling for my attention... 

{Antique Shop Temptations} Would you Paint a Treadle Sewing Machine?

It's pretty, but I don't think I could bring myself to do it. What about you?

Red Painted Treadle Sewing Machine

What I really really love is this display of old zinc  canning jars. Makes me want to gather all of mine up and give them a bath. (How silly would it be to take out the buttons just to wash the jar and put them back where they came from?)


Trust my boys to immediately spot a two-headed calf. Happily, it belongs to the city and isn't for sale. So I didn't have to have that discussion. (Pretty sure it's out of the budget anyway.)


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Weekend Knitting

I think I'll just set all of my other projects aside and work on this one for a while. It's, Another Cake Shawl, a little shawl that changes stitch patterns every time the color in my Caron Cake changes. 


The first color change went off without a hitch and I'm hoping the others will go just as well. Cross your fingers for me!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Let's Make Baby Quilts! {11/24/17}


Let's Make Baby Quilts Linky Party Rules: 
Link directly to your post or specific Flickr photo. Your post can be about a baby quilt that's finished, or in progress, or you can be writing about what you have planned,  as long as it's about baby quilts. You're welcome to link to baby quilt posts that aren't brand new, but please don't submit the same post or picture more than once. I'd love it if you linked back to my site, either with a text link or the Let's Make Baby Quilts! button.





Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sock Knitting Update

I started in mid-August with enough yarn picked out for ten new pairs of socks. Now it's the middle of November and I've got seven pairs done. 
Normally, this is the point where I'd empty my little train case and stock it with different yarn to knit over the next few months, but I'm still feeling kind of burnt out on the whole sock knitting thing. I threw in some new yarn just so I'd have something to grab if the mood strikes, but I think I'll let this little project go until the new year.

I've also decided it's time to give up on Super Sock Scarefest for the year. I finished two pairs, Convoluted Clues and Charlie McGee, and made a decent start on two others, Dance Academy and Tales from the Crypt.  That's more than I managed last year.


I haven't pulled Dance Academy and Tales from the Crypt off the needles yet, but they both seem to be headed in that direction. I'll make the final decision when I need either the yarn or needles for another project.

Right now, I'm knitting away on that bright pink Paton's Kroy I showed you last week and looking at one of the Caron Cakes. I think I've found the absolute perfect little shawl that will take advantage of the color changes and make me a very happy knitter. The stitch patterns are written out, not charted, but I think it'll be worth the hassle. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

{I've Been Reading} Caroline: Little House, Revisited


I can't remember where I first saw Caroline: Little House Revisited Sarah Miller mentioned, but as soon as did I wanted to get my hands on a copy. After the first few pages, I was absolutely hooked.
The book covers the events of the original Little House on the Prairie so you probably already know the story. What's different here is the perspective and the details.If you've ever wondered how women managed to care for their children in covered wagons or on homesteads, this book provides a  window into those days...but somehow skips the diapers. (Seriously, how did mothers manage in the days before running water and electric dryers?)

There is a scene near the end of the book that left me very uncomfortable. It's handled delicately, but I didn't need or want a glimpse into the bedroom of Caroline and Charles Ingalls. In any other book, I wouldn't have minded it, but it felt like the author went farther than she needed to and that the book would have been better without that part.




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