Tuesday, December 29, 2009
As a pre-teen and early teen, I read a lot of novels about girls with eating disorders, and really felt like there was nothing new to be said on the topic. Because the author includes myriad other "issues," and this is not a typical anorexia/bulemia novel.
It's fascinating how some authors are able to make me relate to characters with whom I share no common ground. Halse-Anderson has that gift.
I'm wishing some of my seniors hadn't graduated this month. I'd love to pass this book along to one who's found her way out of eating issues, near-death scenarios, and the related hospitalizations.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Now I just need to wait for weather warm enough to wear a thin cotton blouse.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I made the blouse from an unusual fabric: stretchy, ribbed linen. It's a fabric I had a lot of, and I wanted to test the pattern on excess fabric because it would break my heart to make mistakes with the beautiful prints I have set aside for this blouse. Here is a detail shot of the fabric.
My comments on the pattern:
- Unlike others, I did not cut a larger neckline.
- I did hem the sleeves four inches, and they're still lengthy.
- I lengthened the shirt by two and a half inches, made a tiny hem, and it's just the right length.
- I made the medium, but might just try the small. If not, I will narrow the shirt body by an inch and a half next time. It's not as maternity-looking as I feared, but it's a bit trapezey.
- I shortened the placket, but not quite enough. Like others, I see no need to cut that far only to sew it up again.
- I sewed the sleeves to the shoulder pieces, then sewed straight up from the wrist to the armpit to the bottom hem. It seemed quicker and I can see no reason not to. It was easy to press the seams this way, too.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Whether your celebration of Hanukkah ended a week ago, your Solstice table was set earlier this week, or your Christmas festivities are now drawing to a close, I hope your celebration was filled with love and joy.
The chill darkness of winter has settled in, but I'm looking forward to each incremental increase in daylight as we creep toward spring.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
One conviction I hold is that I am responsible for my own happiness. Therefore, I must recognize and change any aspects of life that impede joy. Cutting back on sewing to create only what interests me (right now that's clothing, decor, and gifts) will allow me to feel less like a factory, and to pursue other interests:
- I'm taking classes next semester (yeah!) for the first time since becoming a parent (yikes!).
- I'm writing. (Any volunteers to critique me along the way?)
- I'm reviving some fitness goals now that my knee is allowing moderately regular poundings again. (Running and riding partners are welcome.)
Recently, I bundled much of my "merchandise" to give away, which feels great--I'm shedding a skin and ready for something new.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Although I'm not the narrator's age, I was easily able to identify with her, and to root for her. I was also enamoured with Kate, her employer, and enjoyed dissecting the dynamics among characters. The segments written about food and cooking were mouth-watering!
Wildgen neither shies away from nor sensationalizes sex scenes, recreational drug use, or masturbation. These matters are a part of the novel just like they are a part of life.
5 reasons I love Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury:
1. I love bicycles as art, as machinery, as transportation, as recreation, and as conversation.
2. I have been to many of the locations along the journey taken by the characters.
3. I have always yearned to undertake a coast to coast ride.
4. It's written by an English teacher.
5. The characters are real, and just plain likable. The parents are great, and I especially like the characters the boys meet on their travels--reminiscent of Travels with Charley in Search of America.
Right behind You was SUCH a swift read, I can barely remember it and I only read it yesterday. Engaging, psychologically interesting, and fast-paced, I'll be recommending it to my students.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Today, I made an orange scarf as a gift for a friend who complimented my brown one. The tutorial I followed is found here.
This part can be worn with the ruffly scarf, or on its own. It's simply two braided strands of the same fabric.
Here's the scarf I made for a friend.
And here's the mass all together.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
This weekend I read Perfect Family, by Pam Lewis, and am already on the waiting list for her other novel, Speak Softly, She Can Hear.
I'd describe Perfect Family as a literary thriller. The characterization is strong, the pacing even, and the denoument just right.
One simple thing that I really enjoyed about this book were the character names. Pony, Tinker, Jasper, William, and Mira were embodiments of their monikers.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac was a solid book. It bogged down a bit in the middle, but everything in the story happens for a reason. I'm looking forward to the March release of this author's next book for adults, and I'll be reserving copies of her other two existing books. (Gabrielle Zevin also wrote the script for Conversations with Other Women, a neat conversation-driven movie with the fascinating actress Helena Bonham Carter.)
The Penny Pincher's Club was a fluff of a story with a whole lot of believable characters. It seemed to be more motivational than entertaining, yet it sticks with me. Sarah Strohmeyer is the author.
If this feeling sticks, it leaves me with the question of what to do with my inventory and craft show paraphernalia. Suggestions?
Monday, November 2, 2009
In But Enough about Me, Dunn writes about her family, her phases, her eccentricities, and her encounters with famous people while working for Rolling Stone, MTV2, and Good Morning America.
In chapters that alternate between personal and professional life, she tells the stories she must have told a million times already.
This was a super-quick, fun book to read.
I reviewed her novel just a few weeks ago.
Monday, October 26, 2009
It was a nice indulgence to make something for myself. I think I could easily fall away from the workhorse, selling mode and begin to craft items for my family and home instead.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Based on the jacket flap, I thought I knew what to expect from this novel. The story arc appeared to be straightforward, and for the first 99 pages it basically was. Beyond that, all of my predictions proved incorrect. This makes for a great reading experience, but (in order to avoid spoilers) a sparse review.
Let it suffice to say that the characters are entirely likable and their problems are entirely plausible. I commend the author for creating extraordinarily likable, friendly underdog characters, and then forcing them to endure trauma, trials, and tribulations. I struggled along with them, wanting only for them to be safe, happy, and confident.
There were a few areas where I felt the passage of time was unclear, and that Sage's character was described too overtly, but neither bothered me as much as the cover art (though it is nicely done). Males and females will enjoy this book, but the sensuous cover may deter some guys from carrying it around.
The bottom line is that Brian Katcher writes entertaining and realistic stories that adults can enjoy as much as teens. My students adore Playing with Matches and they are already raving about Almost Perfect.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Catching Fire is book two in a trilogy that began with The Hunger Games. Click here for my review of book one.
I finished Catching Fire early Saturday morning. As much as I loved the first book, this sequel took over 60 pages to catch my attention. Even then, there were so many twists and turns that I lost interest occasionally. Every time I'd get drawn in, the character's circumstances would change abruptly and I'd have to refocus.
In spite of its weaknesses (repetitive ideas, maze-like plots, and limited exploration of the coolest aspects: the uprising, fugitives, rebels, and mockingjay connections) I became engrossed, and will look forward to the next installment.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Although the topic and setting might appeal to at-risk kids, the main character represents only one fraction of that audience. He's prodigiously gifted, extraordinarily wealthy, and one half of an anomalous relationship. He's as big a misfit (largely due to his honesty) at the boot camp as he is elsewhere. In spite of (or because of) his advantages, Garrett is an extremely sympathetic character, and that makes the story work.
The events of the book are unsettling and believably rendered right up to the end.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The words, "I'm just kidding" should be eradicated from our collective vocabulary.
Hearing the phrase "just kidding" doesn't erase the hurt, but it does erode trust. Speaking the phrase doesn't soften harsh words or retract what's been uttered. The impulse to tell someone I was only joking simply means I should have kept quiet to begin with.
If we don't mean it, we shouldn't say it, and if a truth needs to be told, it shouldn't be masked as meaningless ribbing. I'm willing to bet that "I'm just kidding" is the most often told lie. And it's no joke.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
For many chapters, I wondered why Impossible, by Nancy Werlin, had been labeled a fantasy. At most it seemed like magical realism. By now I've decided that there simply isn't any better label available.
I had looked forward to this book for some time, having enjoyed The Rules of Survival and Double Helix, and Impossible did not disappoint. If you have a hard time getting into books outside the realm of realism, here's your entry point. Werlin is not the kind of writer who ends up in a rut; each story she spins is different from the last.
P.S. If you're a Simon & Garfunkle fan, you'll have other reasons to like this book.
I picked up Jancee Dunn's book, Don't You Forget about Me for three reasons: first, the cover is hard to resist; second, the title's reference to the Breakfast Club appeals to my generation; third, it's by Jancee Dunn! (Dunn wrote many a cover story for Rolling Stone, and VJ'd for MTV2.)
The story itself concerns a woman whose life is much different than mine, but with whom I can easily relate. It's about a 38 year old woman's selective memories about her teen years, and the chance to resurrect those good parts. Her class reunion, and her adolescent diary remind her that those glittery memories aren't so golden after all.
Who among us doesn't wonder about the embers of past flames? (Oh hush. Of course you do; it's just that most of us know to leave the past alone.)
Jennifer Weiner's latest book, Best Friends Forever, also hinges on a class reunion. There aren't any surprises in store for readers of this one, but it's still entertaining to flip pages as the story unfolds.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I had expected the changing area in the rear of my tent to draw more t-shirt sales, but ended up taking it down on Sunday. The openly visible mirror seemed to attract more people.
The t-shirt rack definitely welcomed more attention after I hung several examples along the walls. The fabric in the corner is hiding my tent weights, which were five gallon buckets filled with sand ($26 for all four corners combined) The front pair were masked by drapes, and the other corner weight was behind my counter.
Below is a glimpse at the view behind the scenes. Here's where the vendors in my row took a breather now and then. The folks on either side of me were friendly non-smokers, for which I was grateful.
The weekend was a fun retreat and a successful venture, with visits from friends and family who were enthusiastic supporters that were careful not to impede business.
I'm hoping for the opportunity to return to this fantastic festival next year.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The grid wall panels were also a Craigslist bargain. They will hold bags and purses for sale. The spinner rack is for headbands, key fobs, and wrist cuffs. The extra white walls in the back corner are to create a changing area, where there will also be a full length mirror and hooks. The "counter" will hide supplies for transactions and re-stocking. On the right hand side of the booth will be racks of clothing I've appliqued.
Now, we are just hoping that the weather forecast changes for the better before next weekend. Rain would be a real drag on my family's fun, and income.
At a party over Labor Day weekend, I mentioned my yen for an old work truck so that I could haul my own mulch for the garden. Cooincidentally, one of the guys I was talking with said he was willing to part with this 1982 truck for a mere $300. With Strange Folk next weekend, my husband was eager to go pick up the truck so that hauling all my gear and merchandise would be simpler.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Today, Autumn Wiggins, the woman who invented and runs the Strangefolk Festival in O'Fallon, Illinois, appeared on KMOV's Great Day St. Louis to publicize the most amazing and fun craft festival in our region. See the video here. Autumn's segment begins 10 minutes into the show, and my jacket's moment comes around 12:45.
This is exciting for three reasons: the more exposure and advertising this event gets, the happier I'll be in my little vendor booth; it means that Strangefolk is just around the corner; and she wore one of my jackets on TV! It's barely visible in the shot above, but this is the jacket she chose to wear.
Thanks, Ms. Wiggins, for putting one of my products, and my shop name, under the limelight!
Monday, September 7, 2009
Between laps, we explored the merchandising areas, scooping up free cowbells, bike pins, bumper stickers, back packs, wholesome food samples, and other goodies. We also explored City Garden. (More photos of that sculpture/fountain/garden/play area another day.)