Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top 10 Things I'm Thankful For

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt at The Broke and the Bookish is the top 10 things you're thankful for, book-related or otherwise. I have plenty to be thankful for this year and always, and it was hard to choose just 10!
(c)Eugene Robinson(719)591-6550
1. I'm thankful for...
My wonderful family, and that I've gotten to see my mom, dad and brother twice this year. I have an awesome husband and we love our son (who just happens to be of the furry variety) like crazy. The cat's ok, too.
2. I'm thankful for...
The year and three months we've had with Conan since his lymphoma diagnosis in August 2012. And I'm thankful that we can afford the chemotherapy that's given us that extra year.
 3. I'm thankful for...
National parks. Jarrod and I have been to some amazing ones: Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; Big Bend National Park in Texas; and Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee (above). One of my life goals is to visit every one of American's stunning national parks.
 4. I'm thankful for...
Good books! There's nothing like getting absorbed in the pages of an excellent story, and there are so many different ones to choose from. I can learn transfiguration with Harry Potter, survive a WWII POW camp with Louis Zamperini, or ride along with bounty hunter extraordinaire Stephanie Plum in all her misadventures.

5. And...
Libraries. Not only do I enjoy working at one, but I've always appreciated the vast number of shelves filled with endless adventures -- all FREE for the taking (er, borrowing).

6. I'm thankful for...
Sunny days!
 7. I'm thankful for...
Luxurious, buttery soft merino wool yarn. And my ability to knit. At least I'll have one skill to contribute if the zombie apocalypse ever happens.
8. I'm thankful for...
The three years we got to spend in Hawaii. Oh, the adventures we had. Sea turtles, flowing lava, stunning waterfalls, powdery tan sand, brown sand, black sand, green sand, monk seals, coral reefs, parasailing, 80-degree weather year round. Sigh...
 9. But I'm also thankful for:
Our time in Ohio. Sure, it's frigid and dreary half the year and there's reeeeally not a whole lot to do, but I'm grateful that we get to spend three years just a couple hours away from my grandma and relatives. And Ohio does have its attributes, like an adundance of delicious sweet corn. And this state gives a new meaning to the term "fairs and festivals"!
10. I'm thankful for...
My best friend Katie. And that she taught me to make sushi (vegetarian for me) when I visited her in Dallas this summer. That was a revelation, and sushi now has a regular rotation on our meal list. Yummmmm! I'm also thankful that Katie will be here to visit in two weeks, and that I get to see her more often now that we live in Ohio.

What are you most grateful for this Thanksgiving? Happy Turkey Day!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Knitting FO: Holly Jolly Christmas Wreath

Back in August I went to visit my best friend Katie in Dallas, and on the flight home I started brainstorming some knitting projects to pass the time. I came up with some pretty random ideas before I wondered: Why not knit a "sweater" for a Christmas wreath? And so I did!
I bought a 12-inch foam wreath form, used a handsaw to cut through the form so I could slide my knitted tube on, taped it up and sewed the knitting shut. (Pattern and picture below.) I used some burlap, ribbon and hot glue to make a big eye-catching bow, and -- ho ho ho -- I had a festive holiday wreath!
Here's a close-up of the simple cable pattern I used. It would've looked better with four sets of cables  or perhaps just one instead of three, but I wanted lots of ribbing so the knitting would be stretchy and hide as much of the green wreath form as possible.

(The only drawback to using burlap ribbon is that it sheds everywhere, as you can see!)
After cutting along the seam in the wreath form, I had my husband help me slide the knitted tube on. I used some packing tape and toothpicks to secure the join, slide the knitting all the way around and sewed it shut. I planned to put a big bow to cover the seam in the knitting, but if you wanted to leave it unadorned you could do a provisional cast-on and Kitchener stitch it shut.

This pattern would be easily modified to suit any cable design. If I were to knit it again I'd probably just do one cable instead of three.

With size 6 double-pointed needles, cast on 33 stitches and join to work in the round. Repeat the following rows until the tube is around the same length as your wreath form's diameter. (I did 46 repeats.)

C4F: Put two stitches on cable needle and hold in front. K2 from left needle. K2 from cable needle.

1. K2 P1 K4 P1 K2 P1 (repeat 2 more times)
2. Repeat row 1.
3. K2 P1 C4F P1 K2 P1 (repeat 2 more times)
4-6. Repeat row 1.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Book Review: "Horns"

"Horns" by Joe Hill
First published in 2010
368 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

After a drunken night that he doesn't really recollect following the worst year of his life, Ignatius Perrish wakes up to find he's sprouted a pair of horns.

They look an awful lot like devil horns, and they come with some special powers. For instance, everyone Ig sees can't seem to resist spilling out their darkest, ugliest desires and secrets -- as if they're confessing to their own private devil. And with just a little push of willpower, Ig can influence people to act on their sinful urges.

While this is inconvenient to say the least, it's also sort of useful. The love of Ig's life was brutally raped and murdered a year ago, and everyone in the small town of Gideon, New Hampshire, thinks Ig did it even though there's no real proof. And Ig's devilish new powers soon reveal to him the true story of what happened to Merrin that night. "Horns" is one part good story-telling, one part suspense and one part horror.

"Horns" was the first book I've read by Joe Hill (who happens to be the son of Stephen King) and I was thoroughly impressed with the writing. It brought back memories of dissecting the classics in high school English; the connections and symbolism and dual meanings and minute details that tie together the various parts of the story are excellent and effortless. The plot might be a bit dark for some, and while it was a page-turner it was gripping in a more subtle way that might not be appreciated by every reader.

I probably never would have picked this book up if not for a recommendation by a co-worker, but I'm glad I did. Hill's 2013 release, "NOS4A2," another crime thriller/horror novel, is pretty popular and it's now on my to-read list. "Horns" is, like nearly every good book anymore, being turned into a movie. Daniel Radcliffe is playing Ig in the 2014 release.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Etsy Wish List: November

 Shop: lisabees
Price: $24.95 for the initial sign and set of decorations, and $14.95 for each additional set of decorations
I love these handmade wooden welcome signs! The shop has different decorations for each season and holiday, and even fun birthday and baby ones.

 Shop: WoodnDoodads
Price: $12.50
I really want to buy this set of wooden turkey pokes to stick in a pumpkin for Thanksgiving next year! You can use a real pumpkin, but I'd probably use a craft pumpkin as in the seller's picture.

 Shop: BackBayPottery
Salt and pepper shakers: $49.50
Sponge/business card holder: $32.50
Once in a while I happen across an Etsy shop where I want to buy every single gorgeous thing, and BackBayPottery is one of those shops! I've already ordered the above sponge holder, which looks beautiful and will hopefully keep my kitchen sponges from mildewing.

 Shop: scratchcraft
Price: $24
A little needle-felted knitting owl ornament would be a perfect Christmas gift for the knitter in your life. How much cuter can you get?

 Shop: originalsockdogs
Price: $95
Ok, this is pretty adorable too -- a stuffed animal made in the likeness of your beloved fur baby! And for all the work that must go into these cuties, that's a pretty reasonable price. Orders placed now will be ready to ship in May.

 Shop: anaosgoodjewelry
Price: $30
These bright, modern versions of beaded friendship bracelets are trendy and lovely!

 Shop: 716designs
Price: $10.50 for an 8.5x11 print
This shop has vintage-style travel posters of the Hogwarts Express, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, as well as Lord of the Rings and Dr. Who artwork.

 Shop: ComicBookAfterLife
Price: $115
Who wouldn't recognize the Monster Book of Monsters from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"?! This handmade version opens up to store all your Harry Potter-themed treasures.

Shop: bagsandmorebypam
Price: $17
Now, this isn't actually on my wish list since I don't own a chicken to put a crocheted Christmas sweater on, but it makes me smile every time I see it. :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Turning The Page On October

October is my favorite month of the year -- it brings changing leaves, pumpkin shopping, my birthday, Halloween and the very beginnings of the holiday season. This October was a great one, with German food, birthday cake, fiery orange and red trees, some very successful shopping trips (new sweaters, socks and sweatpants!) and a few decent books read. And we passed the halfway point in Conan's chemotherapy for his canine lymphoma, which makes everyone smile!

Books Read:

Book I'm Most Excited to Read in November:
Next up in the reading queue is the third installment in Rick Riordan's more grown-up Percy Jackson spinoff, the Lost Hero series.
Knitting Projects Completed:
101313 New Camera Pics, Knitting, Animals
What's On the Knitting Agenda for November:
I'm still working on my Splitstone Vest and Library Cardigan, and I'm anxiously awaiting the final two clues in the mystery shawl knit-along from Wild Prairie Knits. I also just started a mitten garland to hang under the mantel at Christmastime and a scarf for myself. And somewhere in there I need to knit a few Christmas gifts!

Most Listened-To Song on Spotify:

Favorite Memory:
October was filled with wonderful times, and I especially enjoyed my birthday weekend. We visited my grandma, aunt and uncle in Indiana Friday evening and Saturday, and it was a real pleasure to spend my birthday with family for the first time in several years. Sunday we were back in Ohio and we took a walk through John Bryan State Park for some fall foliage viewing. The weather was beautiful and it was so nice to enjoy being outside before the winter drear sets in. On top of that, I crushed my fantasy football opponent and my Broncos won!
Most Looking Forward to in November:
Movies! I'm excited to see "Catching Fire," "Ender's Game" and "The Book Thief," all of which, coincidentally, are based on books I've read.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Book Review: "The Bone Season"

"The Bone Season" by Samantha Shannon
First published in 2013
463 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

Science fiction and fantasy aren't among the genres that I read most often and I wasn't sure what to expect with university student Samantha Shannon's much-hyped debut novel, "The Bone Season," which came out in August. What I got was thoroughly engrossing and transporting alternate reality set not that far into the future. And after I learned the jargon of this new world I felt right at home. (Though it would have been nice to know from the outset that there's a glossary at the back!)

It's 2059 and for two centuries much of the world has been waging war against "unnaturalness," or clairvoyance. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is a rare kind of clairvoyant, a dreamwalker, and her gift has gained her the safety of the London syndicate, an organized group of clairvoyants who use their power for criminal purposes and financial gain. Though Paige doesn't necessarily like being under the thumb of her mime-lord, she's happy to be in a place where she's protected and can be herself.

But all that changes when she's captured by guards and taken to a secret prison in what used to be Oxford, run by a race of immortal humanoids know as Rephaim who make the clairvoyants their slaves. Nashira, the Rephaim in charge, takes an interest in Paige's unique gift and Paige is selected for training by Nashira's fiance, Arcturus. But Arcturus is not quite what he seems, nor -- it turns out -- is the government's longtime quest to quell clairvoyance.

Shannon really succeeded in weaving an absorbing tale of a futuristic world gone wrong, otherwordly creatures, and the ability to commune with the dead. Certainly this book would appeal to fans of science fiction and paranormal literature, but readers who like dystopias such as "Divergent" and "The Hunger Games" should enjoy it too. Just as in those novels, Paige finds out that the tyrannical government has been spewing lies about how and why things came to be; she turns out to be a bit of a badass just like Katniss and Tris; and she will do anything to help her friends. Oh, and there's a hint of romance, too.

One of the few things I didn't like about the novel was the lack of clarity on the passage of time. I'd start a new chapter thinking a day or a week had gone by and later realize that months had passed. But "The Bone Season" is Shannon's first published novel -- and the first in a planned series of seven books -- and I'm sure her writing will improve and mature with each new addition to Paige's saga.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Boo to You: Our Jack-o-Lanterns

How was your Halloween? Was it filled with adorable skeletons and ladybugs and ninjas coming to your door? Ours was extremely blustery with wind and rain, but the kids braved the elements anyway. I completely understand -- there no way I'd have ever missed out on trick-or-treating because of the weather!
We're thousands of miles from the best pumpkin patch in America (happy pumpkins live in Hawaii, don't you know) but we still had a fun time carving our pumpkins this year. Conan picked the boxer silhouette all on his own, by the way.
And I had to include this picture of our fiery red-orange maple tree in the front yard. I don't know if I've ever lived anywhere that has such a stunning array of fall colors as Ohio!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...