Thursday, September 29, 2011

Inspiration: DIY

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I'm so excited about this week's Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop because the prompt is DIY. I'm looking forward to viewing all the other entires and getting lots of fun do-it-yourself craft ideas! My favorite DIY project -- a photo frame with a map-covered mat -- is perhaps the easiest I've done. I made it a couple years ago and I can't remember where I got the idea... a magazine, I think.

Simply buy a photo frame that comes with a mat (I love Hobby Lobby's frame sales... sigh, too bad we don't have a Hobby Lobby in Hawaii!); I chose an 8x10 frame matted for a 5x7 photo. Then take a map that's got some significance to you and use an X-acto knife to cut it to fit the mat. Use a glue stick or double-sided tape to affix the map to the mat and, voila, you have a super-cool picture frame!

I used a park map from Rocky Mountain National Park because the photo is from a hike Jarrod and I did there and I made sure that our hike  (Bear Lake) made it onto the mat. You could use a national park map like I did, a city or state map, a map from a zoo or amusement park -- the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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Aloha, friends! Hope this wonderful Wednesday finds you well! My week has had its ups and downs. The weekend with Jarrod was relaxing and fun, but I'm starting to get in a funk sitting at home all the time. I really need to step up my job hunting efforts or at least make it a point to get out of the house more often! Though one upside of having endless free time is that I knit two fun projects this week and used both Malabrigo and alpaca yarn for the first time. So soft and luxurious... sigh. I think I'm a fancy-yarn convert now! Anyway, as always I'm linking up with Lindsey from The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday. This week was a moderate success. I straightened my hair several days (yay, Jarrod's always happy when I look like an actual 25-year-old) and I wore necklaces all five days that I dressed nicely. What about the other two days? Monday and Tuesday were spent in athletic shorts and t-shirts, I'm sorry to say.

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Wednesday
Top: Target
Camisole: Kohl's
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: Forever 21

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Thursday
Tank tops: Target
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: The Pleated Poppy

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Friday
Floral tank top: Kohl's
White tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl (I'm dying to order another necklace from there!)
Earrings: Bealls Florida
Flip-flops: Target

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Saturday
Pink tank top: refashioned by me!
White tank top (again): Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Necklace: The Pleated Poppy
Flip-flops and purse: Target

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Sunday
Tank top: Old Navy
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl
Flip-flops: Target

pleated poppy

The Saturday Morning Knitting Shop Reality Check

It's funny how much novels can influence your perceptions of reality. Though I've been knitting for over two years now, I've never been to an LYS (local yarn shop, for you non-knitters) because I didn't even know there were any yarn stores on Oahu until recently. I finally made it to one last weeked and I have to say that I was rather disappointed. The teeny tiny windowless shop was stacked floor-to-ceiling with yarns of every shape and size and color with no organizational system apparent to me. (I do have to say the proprietor was very helpful, and when I told her vaguely that I wanted a soft gray worsted weight she knew exactly where to pull some skeins out of the piles for me to look at.)


I had always envisioned yarn shops to be like the ones in "The Friday Night Knitting Club" or Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street series. I pictured an airy but welcoming boutique with wood floors and cozy area for knitters to sit and chat and sip lattes, with shelves of yarn organized by color along the walls, baskets of yarn fitting the season displayed in the middle of the floor and inspiring knitted samples scattered around. I imagined a warm atmosphere with holiday decorations and maybe some free homemade cookies for the customers. I thought my first trip to an LYS would be a sensory feast where I could walk around idly feeling the different textures and admiring the stunning array of colors.


I had this image built up in my mind because I've read about quaint, charming, idyllic little knitting shops and that's what I hoped for. Though I'm pretty sure there's no shop like that on Oahu I figure the stores in the books must have been inspired by knitting shops somewhere, and I hope someday soon to happen upon one of those gems.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Plumeria-Scented Monday & Literary ADD

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Aloha and happy Monday! There are some gorgeous flowers in bloom in my neighborhood right now and I've had my eye on two vibrant pink plumeria trees for a week or two. I finally toted my camera along for my walk with Conan this morning and thought I'd share the pictures with you.

The past week I've been sufferring from an ailment I'd liked to call Literary ADD. No book I picked up was able to keep my interest. I started with "Olive Kitteridge," a novel with a positive review from "O: The Oprah Magazine" right on the front cover. Unfortunately, I found it to be dreary and abrupt and not at all what I was in the mood for, so I marked my place and set it aside for later reading after two chapters. Then I began a book I'd had on hold at the library, "Books Can Be Deceiving" by Jenn McKinlay, the first in a murder-mystery series involving a small-town library. Sounds exactly like something I'd enjoy, but (sorry Ms. McKinlay) I found it to be dull and slow and boooring and gave up (for good) a couple chapters in. After that I picked up the next book I need to read in Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series, thinking some fantasy might be what I as craving. No luck.

Finally I selected Julia Child's autobiography, "My Life In France," which I got for a steal at the Border's going-out-of-business sale. Instantly I was hooked. I'm only on page 42 but Julia's descriptions of France have already made me pine to go there. The sights, the sounds, the food, and the fascinating post-WWII lifestyle have me hooked.

Bye for now; I'm off to join Julia in Paris!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Furry Friday -- The First Day Of Fall

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Today is the first day of fall, my favorite time of the year. When I was a kid I loved fall because it meant school was really getting into gear, my mom would take me shopping for new winter clothes, I could munch on popcorn balls and caramel apples, and I'd be anxiously awaiting my October birthday.

When I got older, fall became more of a feast for the senses -- the golden yellow of the Colorado aspen leaves and later the satisfying crunch of their dried remains underfoot, the briskness and crisp smell in the air, the softness of a new scarf warming my neck, the mouthwatering scent of apple dumplings or pumpkin bread coming to life in the oven, the anticipation of the first snow.

I love the holidays that fall during fall -- Halloween, Thanksgiving and the build-up to Christmas (which, in my opinion, is more exciting than Christmas itself). I've always enjoyed carving pumpkins and was thrilled when I learned last year that Oahu has a real live pumpkin patch where you can walk through rows upon rows of round orange pumpkins and pick your selection right off the vine.

I also like Halloween because I always end up laughing until tears come to my eyes when we dress poor Conan in some type of humiliating costume. The picture above is one of my all-time favorite shots of Conan. We were living in Del Rio, Texas, at the time and it was still probably 100 degrees out in October. The costume was too small. The eye goobers just add to the patheticness. I chuckle every time I see this picture and I hope it brings a smile to your face too. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I Wore, And What I Want To Wear

Aloha, Wednesday friends! I have to say I did pitifully this week at taking pictures. But it wasn't a complete fail because I did wear some cute outfits, I just didn't have a chance to photograph them. I like how What I Wore Wednesday has motivated me to dress nicer even when I'm not able to take pictures to keep myself accountable. As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.

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Tuesday:
Top: (new, clearance!) American Eagle
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Necklace: Bead for Life
Earrings: Bealls Florida

 
Since I only have one outfit to share this week, I thought I'd also show you something I'm pining after. I desperately want some brown boots. I found several pairs I like on Zappos, but the nice ones are all $100 or more. (The Calvin Klein ones pictured are $159.) If I knew I'd wear them all fall and winter, I wouldn't mind paying that much. But I live in Hawaii where the winter temperature spans the wide range of about 80 to 83 degrees, and I just don't know how often I'd wear them. I really can't complain too much about living in Hawaii, and as soon as we move I'm sure I'll be complaining about the cold temperatures (i.e. anything below 75 degrees) but it's hard missing out on the cute fall fashion trends.


pleated poppy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knitting: Newborn Elf Hat

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My friend Melissa is expecting her second baby, a little girl, in the next couple weeks. She was a recipient of one of the newborn pumpkin hats I made, and she asked me last week if I could also knit an elf hat for her newborn pictures. And elf hat? Huh? Well, after looking online, it's apparent that these elongated elf hats are all the rage for newborn photo shoots -- which are also apparently all the rage. The elf hat looks a bit strange by itself, but I think it'll be really cute in the pictures. (Here's a good example on Etsy.)

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The hat was pretty simple to make, although since I winged it my decreases are a bit wonky-looking. I used size 7 DPNs and cast on 64 stitches. I knitted for a couple inches and then began decreasing, but I spread the decreases out over a lot more rows to make a cone shape. Once my cone was the length I wanted, I did a few decrease rows to attain a tube shape, which I knitted for several inches until I thought the hat was long enough. I did two more decrease rows at the top to make it pointy-looking, wove in my gazillion ends from all the color changes and then added my giant pom-pom.

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Attaching the pom-pom was the hardest part of this project for me. It was really tough to turn the hat inside out with the pom-pom on top to sew it in. I did the best I could (with my limited patience after weaving in 12 sets of yarn ends), and I was dismayed to see that the pom-pom didn't attach directly at the top like I'd planned. But then, after looking at it some more, I decided it looks really cute with the pom-pom hanging off the top of the hat a bit.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kauai In Pictures

Jarrod and I had such a fantastic time on Kauai earlier this month, and can you believe that we took over 1,200 pictures?! I spent the weekend using the best ones to make a photo book from Shutterfly, and I thought I'd share a few of my favorites.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Me + My New Pie Plate = LOVE

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I've been pining after a pretty red scalloped pie plate for ages, but I kept putting off buying it because of the price. But then, on Friday night, I happened upon the clearance aisle at Wal-Mart and what did I see? A red scalloped pie plate even better than the one I'd been eyeing because it's Paula Deen brand and matches the rest of my cookware! Of course I snatched it up, and by Saturday morning it was just begging to be used.

Since it's almost time for apple and pumpkin and pecan pies, I decided to try a new recipe and go for a last-gasp-of-summer feel (even though it's perpetually summer in Hawaii) with Rachael Ray's rustic tri-berry pie, which includes blackberries, blueberries and strawberries (oh my!).

This pie was a lot of firsts for me -- my first time using tapioca in a pie, my first time using a homemade pie crust and my first time using blackberries in a pie. I guess I did something right (or the recipe is just fool-proof) because the pie is DIVINE. And (aside from the major leak the pie crust sprung) doesn't it just look so pretty in my new pie plate? :) 
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What I Wore On Kauai

One of the best things about being stationed on Oahu is that we can take island hops to all the other Hawaiian islands, which are each distinct and different in their own way. We held off on going to Kauai for a long time because we had a hunch it would be our favorite island and we wanted to visit for several days. Turns out we were right. It was so stunningly beautiful, so uncrowded and open, and so relaxing! My outfits aren't all that spectacular this week but the photo backgrounds are! As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for WIWW.

Day 1: Ziplining
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom

Day 2: Waimea Canyon (aka "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific") for hiking and scenery
Top: Kohl's
Shorts: American Eagle

Day 3: Helicopter tour, enjoying the amazing beach on which our cottage was located
Tank top: Target
Shorts: Bealls Florida
Necklace: Bead for Life

Day 4: Zodiac boat tour of the Napali Coast
Tank top: Kohl's
Swimsuit: Target
Go Broncos!

Day 5: Exhausting but gorgeous 8-mile roundtrip hike to 300-foot Hanakapi'ai Falls
Tank top: Old Navy
White shorts (Very bad choice! I still haven't gotten all the red mud stains off them!): Bealls Florida

Day 6: Cruising around in our awesome rental car, taking in the gorgeous sights!
Dress: Target
pleated poppy

Knitting: Adapting a Bookmark Pattern to Make a Headband

Lately I've been trying to do some different things with my hair. That goal includes utilizing hair accessories, which I seldom ever wear but -- in a perfect world -- would like to. I decided to knit myself a cute headband in hopes that I would actually use it if it was handmade. I'd been eyeing a bookmark pattern in Veronik Avery's "Knitting 24/7" (the sea crest bookmark) that I thought was would make a very pretty hair adornment. So I knitted the bookmark to the appropriate length for my head and added i-cords to each end for ties.
You could really make any bookmark into a headband, or use a pretty cable or any small section of a pattern you found like. Though it's pretty simple to do, I figured I'd share my method with you anyway. Maybe it will give you some inspiration!
I started by knitting an i-cord for 12 inches, which ended up being way too long. I'd recommend making your i-cord no more than 10 inches. The bookmark pattern was 16 stitches across, so I needed to increase from my 3-stitch i-cord. There are many ways to do this, but I did:
1. kfb, k1, kfb (5 stitches)
2. (and all even rows) purl
3. kfb, k3, kfb (7 stitches)
I continued in this fashion until I had the number of cast-on stitches called for in the bookmark pattern. I began knitting the bookmark, measuring against my head as I went (I ended up doing 8 repeats of the 10-row pattern on size 4 needles). When it stretched across my head to about the top of my ear, I began decreasing in the same manner I increased -- ssk on the first two stitches of the row and k2tog on the last two stitches. Once I decreased to 3 stitches, I made another 12-inch i-cord. And voila! Now you're holding a pretty headband!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: "Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter"

"Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter" by Lisa Patton
Published in 2009
My rating: 4 out of 5

Lisa Patton's debut novel, "Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter," surprised me. The writing wasn't all that spectacular and the story was rather predictable -- two things that normally turn me off a book -- but I still loved it. I was attracted by the charming title, which suggests a Southerner out of place in Yankee country, and by the cover picture depicting hand-knitted mittens. (I might as well admit that, when simply browsing for books, cover art has a HUGE impact on what I'll pick up.) And that's just what the novel turned out to be -- cute, heartwarming, funny. It was an easy, pleasurable, cozy type of read.

The main character, Memphis-born mother-of-two Leelee Satterfield, follows her husband to cold country after he gets it in his head to leave the insurance business and buy a Vermont inn. Leelee's journey to become a Vermont innkeeper is filled with adventures, mishaps, culture shock, temperature shock and, of course, some heartbreak. The novel follows Leelee as she transforms from a softspoken, confrontation-avoiding, always-pleasant Southern belle to a strong woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself. Readers might be annoyed with Leelee during the first segment of the novel, when she's basically a doormat. But you'll be proud as she struggles through adversity and comes out on top.

I didn't find the ending of "Whistlin' Dixie" to be completely satisfying, but then I saw that Patton has a sequel, "Yankee Doodle Dixie," which is (coincidentally) due out tomorrow. I'm already looking forward to diving into Leelee's next adventure!

Leelee's character reminded me of myself in several ways, some serious and many humorous. I thought I'd leave you with my favorite passage from the book, which descibes something I would do exactly. Both my husband and I had a good laugh over it! This event happens while Leelee and her husband are driving from the airport in Albany up to Vermont to look at the inn for the first time.

On the way between Bennington and Fairhope I got a thrill that made the whole trip worth it. If I had been looking down at my map, navigating for one more split second, I believe I would have missed it. There, on the right hand side of the road, was the most extraordinary road sign I had ever seen.

"OH MY GOSH!" I shrieked.

Baker swerved our rented Blazer over to the right like he was trying to avoid hitting something in the road. Gravel on the shoulder kicked up underneath the tires and spit off to the sides.

"DID YOU SEE THAT? GO BACK!"

"What? See
what? Dammit, Leelee, are you trying to get us both killed? You scared the shit out of me. What is it?"

"The sign back there. Didn't you see it? It said moose crossing. Turn around, Baker, please. I want to get my picture made in front of that sign. Virginia and them are gonna die! Turn around."

"Okay, I'll turn around. But I don't want to be late for our appointment." I knew he didn't want to turn around at all, but he was trying to be extra nice.

"Why didn't you tell me I was gonna get to see a moose? I've never seen a moose
in person. I can't wait."

I jumped out of the car and Baker hopped out to take my picture. "Smile," he said. I stood right next to the sign and put my arms around it. It was the most unbelievable sign
I'd ever seen and I knew my friends would feel the same way.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Inspiration: (240) Books

This week's Gussy Sews Inspiration Workshop prompt is books. Since I absolutely adore books and the original point of this blog was to share my book reviews, I was thrilled!

When I was deciding which direction to go with this post, I asked my husband if he thought I had a favorite book because I couldn't pinpoint one. With raised eyebrows, he looked and me and said, "All of them?" And he's right!

I love books simply because they're books. Each one holds the promise of an adventure. I get to be a detective, a CIA agent, a bounty hunter, an unfortunate wife of Henry VIII, a knitting shop owner, a dog, a wizard, a girl in love with a vampire. I love the look and feel of books, the smell of fresh ink and the sound a book makes when it's cracked open for the first time. I love the cover art and the author's acknowledgements. I have an insane amount of books. I actually counted, and the number of books currently on shelves in my house is... 240!


One of my favorite things to do is curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee. These books are some of the 13 that I purchased from Borders' going-out-of-business sale.

I've loved books for as long as I can remember. While all my "Babysitter's Club" and "Nancy Drew" novels are gone or packed away, my shelves still display Shel Silverstein's "A Light in the Attic" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends."

I have such varied tastes in authors and genres. My bookshelves hold everything from "Harry Potter" to Philippa Gregory to James Patterson to Jane Austen to Debbie Macomber, whose books I read along with my mom.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends! I'm still linking up with The Pleated Poppy this week for What I Wore Wednesday, but it's going to be a short edition because Jarrod and I are have been on an island hop to Kauai since Sunday, ziplining and helicopter riding and hiking and lounging on the beach. (If you feel at all jealous, don't worry -- I'll be insanely jealous of all of you in a few weeks when autumn hits and you get to wear sweaters and boots and watch the leaves change and warm yourself up with a hot bowl of chili on a cool day!)

Wednesday
Top: Target (just barely escaped the donation pile the weekend before last!)
Jeans: Rock and Republic, Pearl Harbor NEX
Necklace: Bead for Life
Earrings: Kohl's

Thursday
Top: Bisou Bisou, JC Penney (on clearance when I visited Colorado in July!)
Jeans: Rock and Republic, Pearl Harbor NEX
Earrings: (same as Wednesday's) Kohl's

Friday
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Purse: Target (I think I'm going to buy a new brown purse for fall; I've been using this one since college!)
Earrings: Made by a friend
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