Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I am off on an adventure to see and exhibit called 'Industrial Strength' at Factory 163 in Stratford, Ontario. My friend Janet runs the building and invited me to visit. Will be posting my usual Tuesday writing later in the afternoon/evening.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

March Madness Final Two

This is the final week for voting. The 64 books have been narrowed down to two.
The Judas Strain by James Rollins
For a Few Demons More by Kim Harrison
Both are available for Browse Inside on the HarperCollins website. Looks as though the full text of both is there. Click on the titles above and it will take you to the Browse Inside. I voted for "The Judas Strain" and have placed that widget on my blog.
Good luck to both books and lucky the voter who will win a copy of all 64 books.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster

This book was suggested to me via a comment several weeks ago. I looked it up and it sounded kinda interesting, requested it from my library and dug in.
I was a bit apprehensive, remembering my experience with "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella but was chuckling with the details of Jen's interview for the temp job in Chapter 1. I read on for another 80 pages. She definitely has some interesting insights into her own life but it just wasn't clicking for me. I was just going through the motions of reading.
Nothing wrong with the book, a good writing style, interesting mix between story telling and the text of various emails, and the story lines move along quickly. Lots of humour, it will keep you laughing all the way. My daughter would probably love it , she loved the movie of 'The Shopaholic'. She tells me I have no sense of humor as if that explains everything.
You can visit Jen's website and learn about her other books.

Two Trails Narrow by Stephen McGregor

This is one of those stories that right at the start kicks you in the gut to ensure it has your attention. Once you're at that point the story is enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
It starts with Ryman McGregor and 'Abraham Scott planning to escape the terrors of their residential school. The two boys, along with Dorothy, Ryman's sister, escape with the help of Joe, who is returning home from work travels. Through Joe they meet a number of people who are willing to assist the children.
While Abraham and Ryman have only known each other a short time, they have helped save each other's lives and have forged a life long bond.
I was not surprised when separately they both enlisted to serve in World War II. Their education by the priests had not succeeded to turning them into farmers and they no longer fit into their traditional Algonquin communities. As soldiers their worth would be determined by the job they did and by their survival.
I have to admit that I cried through much of the balance of the book. At time it was the description of the events and at others it was my knowledge that the events described were only a pale comparison of the realities of that War.
My grandfather was in Holland for part of his tour of duty. He only ever spoke of the wonderful and thankful people he met. The ones who would run out to the street to shout warm greeting when the soldiers marched by, or of playing lots of card games with his fellow soldiers. He never spoke one word of the other 'things' he had to do. In some ways this book speaks to me the words my grandfather could never voice.
This story may have started in the Residential school, but it did not stay there. Dorothy, Ryman and Abraham all grew beyond their experiences there. They all became successes at their chosen lives/careers. The message I got from this is that yes, the Residential schools were bad and they did serious damage to the children who were sent there, however that is not the definition of those children's lives, they have had many more experiences since then and their lives are defined by all of those experiences and have been influenced by a wide range of peoples.
This book is published by Theytus Books, the first First Nations owned and operated Indigenous publishing house in Canada.
Review in the Globe and Mail (who didn't seems to like the book)
My 11 book for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I did get busy in the sewing department in the last few days. I finished the Hummingbird block for Julie Ann's mom's quilt. At a comment from Dorte I thought I should show you how a paper piecing block goes together.

The first photo shows all the pieces have their fabrics and are loosely arranged in their finished positions. The seam allowances have not been trimmed.

In the second photo I have flipped the pieces over and trimmed the inner seam allowances to 1/4 inch. You can see the paper pattern. The drawn lines are the ones you actually sew along.

The third photo I have begun sewing the pieces together. The two head sections are now one unit as are the two tail sections. Yes I did pin to ensure that every thing lined up nicely.The two head sections are now one unit as are the two tail sections. Yes I did pin to ensure that every thing lined up nicely.

Fifth photo shows the finished block. I still need to add the eye. Somewhere in the kit there is a piece of ultra suede to use. Supposed to be real easy to applique as there is no need to turn under the edge.

In a few places the sewing thread showed through, so I took a Sharpie marker same colour as the fabric colour and coloured the thread. Now they no longer show.

Last evening was the monthly meeting of my local quilt guild, 'The Elmira Needlesisters'. We have been doing a monthly Block of the Month series based on the book "Hidden in Plain View"
which tells the story of messages hidden in quilts that were to help the slaves escape from the plantations in the United States. There is controversy of whether this is true or just the imaginings of one old woman. I don't suppose we shall ever know the truth since those who could tell are long dead.

I made up two of the Monkey Wrench blocks and took them in. I was fortunate to win the seven blocks that were submitted. Now I need to make a few more for enough for a lovely lap quilt.

Last Tuesday I showed a picture of the flower pot block that I hand pieced. The ladies at the guild were busy and brought in their finished blocks. I pinned the 9 of them on a green sheet. More will be completed for next meeting so I will take another picture at that time.

Unfortunately I didn't get any hand quilting last week, so no updates on my cousin's quilt. I have much better intentions and aspirations for this week.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Cerulean Sins by Laurell K. Hamilton

Sorry I have been silent all week. My kids were off school for their March Break and my daughter usurped the total use of my computer. She has found an innovative way to occupy her time. She writes stories with her friends. She has added a 21 century twist. She starts the story and then emails it to a friend. The friend then replies with her addition to the story. and this continues...until the story reaches it obvious end. She had been doing this with a few of her friends.. Since they use the 'reply' the whole text of the story is contained in the final email. I am curious if others are co-writing stories in this manner?
Even though I haven't been at the computer I have been reading and thinking about some reviews. This one has been sitting longest.
I caught this at a Bookcrossing meeting. Vampires and such, sounded kinda interesting. Oh it was so confusing. So many characters all being introduced at once and not only vampires and Anita (our main character) who is a vampire executioner as well as a official 'animator' of dead people, and then there are all the were- peoples. I figured this was rather complex for the second novel in the series, but I would keep reading and perhaps it would become clearer.
It did get better and I found myself enjoying the story. Anita is a very busy and complicated (oh I hate that expression) woman. Rather I should say she has a lot of male involvement. Hmm, that doesn't sound right either. Somewhere around the 3/4 point in the book I visited the website 'Stop, You're Killing Me' and found out I was very misguided. This book is actually 11th in the series. That explains my confusion. I went to my library and signed out the first in the series, "Guilty Pleasures" from 1993.
All the above being considered, I want to read more about Anita Blake who is a Federal Marshall with a badge allowing her to hunt and kill vampires, the bad ones that is. Laurell Hamilton is a prolific author with 2 book series and a comic series with Marvel based on the Anita Blake character.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Needlework Tuesday

I did spend a fair amount of time at various stitching projects, though it doesn't seem as though I accomplished much.

As I mentioned last week, I have a new to me project that I really need to get on with. I have inherited it from my friend's mother. For those who have been reading here for the past year, you might recall that my best friend Julie-Ann passed away in April of 2008. It's her mother Joan that had the unfinished quilt.

The story starts back in 1999 when I decided to become a quilter and make a 'Millennium' quilt. They were really popular that year and they involved using 2000 different pieces of fabric.

The second picture shows this quilt in progress. yes, it is finished, but stored away and can't find a photo of it. Well, I showed this to my friend and told her about the store that I was receiving this BOM from and she went there are ordered one for her mother and a different one for her step mother.

Her mother's is a set of 12 paper pieced birds designed by Brenda Groelz. This link shows some of the blocks, but as the quilt setting was put together by the shop and the shop is no longer open, I don't have that pic to share.

I am working on the Hummingbird block and the first picture shows my progress. I think I did start with one of the harder ones. It some some very tiny pieces. Will keep you up to date with my progress.

This Mock Log Block is from a pattern on the Quilter's Cache website. I pieced the one block and members of the Maple Leaf Online Quilt Guild pieced 9 more. One of them will win all 10.

The next 3 pics show some possible log cabin block arrangements.

I did a bit of stitching on my cousin's quilt. I am currently working on this cross-stitched block that my sister Shelley made. It's done on a nice blue Aida cloth and I am stitching straight up and down through the holes. Its very slow going, but looks good. I was worried about the white quilting thread covering up the cross stitches, but when I snug the stitches tight they disappear down into the fabric .

Friday, 13 March 2009

Friday Feature: Women and Gout

Gout is not fun. In fact it really, really hurts. If you have had an attack you know what I'm talking about. While my foot is much better now, I haven't recovered in my head. I am in fear of a recurrence. This has set me on a quest to better understand the ailment and how I can live with it and try to avoid future attacks.

Since gout is a form of arthritis, that was one of my first virtual stops.

The Arthritis Society has a pretty good website of information. Also a discussion board for specific questions and a small list of suggested books about gout that you can purchase.

Women are in the extreme minority of sufferers of this ailment, so most of the studies have only included men. According to the information available, gout doesn't strike women until they have been in menopause for many years, ie: 20 years later, well wrong in my case and in the few women I have spoken to, all being pre-menopausal. There is a strong genetic factor and I will agree with that. My mother has had several attacks dating back to her 30's but hasn't had any post-menopausal. Having said this, I did read the article at MotherNature.com with a couple grains of salt.

I was lucky and my Doctor, a woman, believed me about the pain and my suggestion of gout, and has given me a prescription of meds to keep on hand in the event of a future attack. In fact, she encouraged me to write this blog entry in the hopes that it might help other women. From what I have heard and read, not everyone is so lucky and they spend years in pain searching for answers. I advise joining some sort of gout forum and reading and asking questions. Your are the best advocate for your own health.

What am I doing to keep this under control? I have increased the amount of water I drink and am trying to decrease my caffeine consumption. I don't eat prepared deli meats anymore (nitrates are bad) nor organ meats. I trying to eat meats only one meal a day and have vegetarian meals more often. I take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water each day. There is some controversy over whether this really is helpful, but it doesn't seem to be hurting and besides, I like the taste.

Daily Strength: Gout Support Group

Yahoo Groups: Gout Discussion Group

Are you a woman living with gout? How do you handle it? What helps?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

10 Books That Caused a Commotion

I recommend that you visit the Savvy Reader today and find out which 10 books have people riled up.

Last week I read the first few chapters of "Wetlands" by Charlotte Roche . Not sure that I would buy it and read the whole thing, but if it came across my desk I would read more out of curiousity. I found it's very candid approach is refreshing after reading many books that tend to cloud the subject at hand.

I recently read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde and really enjoyed it.

I would read most of the other books, though I reserve my decision on the James Frey book (I didn't read his earlier book but heard bits of the controversy of whether it was true or not and that has me turned off) and the Gretta Vosper book, not that I have any opinion on whether she is correct or not, but rather that I am content with my current beliefs and at this point I don't want to rock my own ship. But, as I said above, if they came across my desk I would read them.

So, go to the Savvy Reader link above and check out the books and read any that tickle your fancy.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

March Madness continues

They are down to the final 4 books. Go and vote and earn another chance to win all 64 books.

The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway by Basil Johnston

"Manitou - Mystery, essence, substance, matter, supernatural spirit, anima, quiddity, attribute, property, God, deity, doglike, mystical, incorporeal, transcendental, invisible reality."

"Weendigo (Weendigook or Weendigoes) - A giant cannibal ( or cannibals). These manitous came into being in winter and stalked villagers and beset wanderers. Ever hungry, they craved human flesh, which is the only substance that could sustain them. The irony is that having eaten human flesh, the Weendigoes grew in size, so their hunger and craving remained in proportion to their size; thus they were eternally starving. They could kill only the foolish and the improvident."

Prior to reading this book my image of a Manitou was of a small, mystical character who could intervene in human lives in either a good or bad manner, or could sit back and watch us get into trouble. I didn't realize that the Weendigoes were also Manitou.

My first knowledge of the Manitou came through a carol I used to sing at school, "The Huron Carol" in which Gitchi Manitou is featured. This would be the same as Kitchi-Manitou who is the Creator. My other exposure to the Manitou is through books by Charles de Lint. He often has North American as well as old world Manitou equivalents in his stories.

I enjoyed reading this book. I learned about the Manitou and the role they play in the Ojibway life. Interwoven through the book are the stories of the Manitou. I like this approach, linking the short stories with explanations. Kind of tricking the reader into learning more than they might have intended.

See my review of 'By Canoe & Moccasin: Some Native Place Names of the great Lakes' also by Basil Johnston

This is my 10th read for the 2nd Canadian Book Challenge.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Needlework Tuesday

It was another good week in the Needlework department. I finished my hand pieced basket block. This is the first one, I plan to do a few more. The blocks are being donated back to the Guild and next year they will be pieced into a quilt which will be donated as our community project. The block is done in cottons and measures 8inches edge to edge and approximately 11 1/2 inches on the diagonal.

The Dutch 9 patch blocks of last week have been put away and I have moved on to another quilt. It's paper pieced birds. I don't have a block to show you at this time, but by next week I will. Come back at that time and hear the story of the quilt and why I am working on it.

I did find some time to work on the nautical quilt (still need a name for it). Below is shown the block 'Time and Tides'. It was hand pieced to ensure that I has nice 'points'. The colouring in the photo isn't quite right, but the quilting lines show up well. I have been quilting this block 1/4 inch away from the seam lines.

There was a little wrinkling in this block, but the quilting it seems to have taken up the slack.

While stitching I have been listening to the audio book "The Three Musketeers" by Alexandre Dumas.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Friday Feature: Reading Programs

It seems that lots of press is given to fitness programs and the needs of getting youth as well as adults active. We also need to keep our minds active. The Nintendo Systems has come out with GameBoy games such as Personal Trainer: Math and Brain Age 1 & 2. For myself, I enjoy the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle, a Sudoku puzzle and reading.

There are hundreds of thousands of books to chose from. Most of us has them through out our homes. If you are looking for a bit of guidance and companionship, you can chose from one of the many structured reading programs available. I will review the ones that I have come across while browsing online.

The Forest Of Reading Ontario, Canada
This program has sections for each age group including adults. It operates mostly through the schools as well as the public libraries. Each section has aproximately 10 book nominees. Canadian Authors

One Book One Community Waterloo Region Ontario, Canada
The goal of this program is to get as many residents as possible reading and discussing the same book. The current selection is "The One Hundred Mile Diet". Canadian Author willing to travel to Waterloo Region for Readings and Discussions.

One Book One Community Medicine Hat, Alberta
This years selection was announced last week, "Late Nights on Air" by Canadian Author Elizabeth Hay.

One Book One Burlington Ontario
This year's selection is not yet posted.

One Book One Community Duluth, Minnesota
Recently announced their 2009 selection, "Population 485" by Michael Perry

One Book One Community East Lansing, Michigan
The Michigan State University has not yet announced their 2009 selection,

The Big Read The United States
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. There are currently 30 novels on the reading list. You can also hear broadcasts on Sirius radio channel 117.

The Lost World England and Scotland
"The Lost World Read 2009 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin with a mass-read of the classic adventure story The Lost World."

On the Same Page Manitoba, Canada
The goal of this program is to have 1% of the province's population (12,000) read the same book which is "April Raintree" by Beatrice Culleton Mosionier. Read my review of February 19, 2009.

One the Same Page Cincinnati, Ohio
Two selections for 2009
The Soloist by Steve Lopez
Fire from the Rock by Sharon M. Draper

One the Same Page San Franciso, California
They change their selection every two months.

I hope that there are many more of these programs. Let me know if your country has a similar one and I'll post the link here.

Follow Me

I have added the "Follow" Widget. Scroll down on the left to find it. You can add yourself and then each day check on your "Dashboard" to see what I have posted. I have clicked this widget on several blogs that I enjoy and its become a very easy way to remember to check back with them. Hope that you find it helpful and thanks for visiting my blog.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

A few weeks ago I wrote about browsing inside this book at the HarperCollins site. You can still Browse Inside the first few chapters.
While out book shopping I came across a copy at the thrift store and of course it had to come home with me. I read it in short order and found it a nice break from books with more weightier topics.
The fact that we are told the main character is dead right from the first page only served to make the story more intriguing. The clincher is the absolutely gorgeous frothy pink dress on the cover. Yes, eventually the dress is described within the context of the story. Its picture is better than described.
This is a nice teenage romance without all the gushy kissing and other icky stuff (oh wait, that would be if it were aimed at pre-teens). Not as much character development as I would like in an adult novel, but perfect for the teen reader.
To find out more about this book and the following ones in the series, be sure to check out the official website . You can enter contests as well as learn about life in 1900 New York City.
the luxebooks.com

Mystica has posted a review of this book.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Needlework Tuesday

Last week was a productive one. I did quite a bit of machine sewing. Just a wee bit of the hand sewing project I introduced you to last week. Hope to have that block done for next Tuesday.

I spent quite a bit of time working on the Dutch 9 Patch blocks, one of which is shown on the left. In fact, I finished 14 of them and already had a few done. In the second picture you can see that I have grouped them in 4s. I plan to sew them together in 4s and then put sashing and corner stones. Not sure of the size yet. The intent is that this will be a wedding quilt for a nephew in a few years.

The block finishes at 9inches. This is a good scrap project. I am not repeating any fabric in a second block. As I work on other projects, I cut pieces for this and then sew when i have a bunch ready to go.

Did some good work on the Nautical quilt. I'm at the top left corner now. There are a bunch of stars to be quilted in the background. I like doing them as they fill in a good sized area. I don't know if you can tell from the photo, but the middle of the square with the yellow triangles is a cross-stitched shell. My sister did a few cross-stitches for this quilt. They are done on some sort of Aida cloth and then I backed them with a very fine cotton so that the batting wouldn't beard through over time. These are being quilted with the 'stab' method, straight down through one hole and then straight back up through the next. Rather slow but it does look good when done.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Hockeyville Canada

My local arena is in the running of the top five communities for Hockeyville Canada. Our township has approximately 20 000 residents and we have been working hard for the past several years to finance a new recreation centre. Winning this competition will give a boast to the campaign both emotionally as well as money wise.

Please click the icon to the left of the page and vote for Woolwich.