Monday, 30 April 2012

The Secret Me Book by Rachel Kempster and Meg Leder

  I love this book and it's cover. It is so bright and cheerful that it begs to be picked up and hugged. 

A few weeks ago I received a review copy of this journal.  As I was opening the envelope, I called out to my daughter that I had received a new book.  Being a teenager, she usually rolls her eyes and says "whatever" with a emphatic Kiwi accent.  This time she actually walked into the room, took one look at the book and grabbed it out of my hands and said, "this one's for me", then left the room with while fanning through the pages.  I didn't see the book for over two weeks.  I had to go and excavate in her backpack to find it again.  I noticed that she had boldly inscribed the inside cover in the area that says "This secret book belongs to _________" with her name.  Several other pages are covered with her distinctive script in various bright coloured inks.

Don't be thinking that this book is only for teens, it will appeal to all ages.  It gives you a chance to explore and celebrate what it is that you truly like.  Do you have a ready answer for when you are asked about your favourite movie, book, meal.  The pages in this journal will ask you dozens of questions and leaves you space to write, draw or doodle your reply. Use it how and when you want in the order of your choosing.  There are also survey pages where you will read the responses from others. 

You can keep this book a secret from everyone, or share it with your dearest friends, or leave it as a memory for your children and grandchildren.  However you use, have fun, and I would suggest buying an extra copy as you'll probably want to have a copy to give away to your favourite friend/teen/mother/aunt/son/nephew/niece etc.

Rachel and Meg's website

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy and use of the cover image.

Friday, 27 April 2012

First Nations Friday: Cradle Me by Debbie Slier

I was immediately attracted to the bright colourful pages in this board book.  Each page features a baby in  a cradle board.  This is the traditional method of many American Indian and other First Nations tribes for safely securing and transporting their babies.  While each cradle board serves the same purpose of keeping a baby safe, that's where the similarities end.  Each is shaped and decorated in a style of that particular tribe.   At the back of the book, there are thumbnail pictures of each board indentifying to which tribe it belongs.  The colours are bright and inviting.   The babies have been photographed with a different facial expressions and the description is printed large at the bottom of the page.  There is a space for the reader to write in the translation of that word into their language.

My children loved board books with photos of babies.  They would look at them again and again, never seeming to tire of them.  As a parent, you could use this book for further activities such as asking your child to point out particular colours,  comparing what is the same in the various cradle boards and then what is different.   It would be fun to draw an outline of a cradle board and then help your child decorate it either your tribal or cultural designs.

Thanks to Starbright Books and Netgalley for my digital copy of this book.

Thank -you to Starbright Books for the use of the cover image.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

National Poetry Month - Swimming to the Surface by Saskia Maddock

It's National Poetry Month and I have been browsing and reading through a couple of my poetry books.  This morning, I once again picked up my copy of Swimming to the Surface by Canadian Poet Saskia Maddock.  It was a pleasure to have met Saskia at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in September of 2011.

Every now and then, this book finds it's way to my hands and I read a sampling of poems.  I find it intriguing that the same poem can have a very different impact on me depending on my mood, time of day and overall situation I find myself in.  For me, most books are a read once item, once I finish the story, I am done, but poetry books are a repeat read.  I don't usually read cover to cover, but in bits and bites.  A little bit here and now and perhaps a totally different selection the next time I open that volume.

This morning it was the following poem that stopped me.  I am left pondering who or what is that dragon.  Depression or alcoholism. 

The Dragon

It lies in the corner, in the darkness, breathing softly, quietly
Its presence a comfort---almost...
It slumbers seemingly dead to the world but not to me

I sense it waiting patiently, biding its time
I know it wants me; I feel its need

The awful familiarity of its fire pulling on my soul if I let it,
its tongue flicking ever so gently against the muscles of my belly,
that haunting warmth spreading through me, shockingly
recognizable even after all this time...

I must stand vigilant against the dragon,
against its subtle emissaries who strive to break me;
it drowses quietly in the corner...

I keep watch.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

There has to be a way out; every maze must have a solution.  They have been searching for two years, yet the boys are no closer to solving this maze than they were when they first entered it.  Thomas's arrival in the glade, at the centre of the maze, appears to follow routine, at least for the next twenty-four hours, after which every pattern is broken and things start going crazy.

Thomas arrives in the maze with no idea of who he is and where he's been.  He feels totally lost and confused.  No one answers his questions, they brush them away with the excuse that he is the newbie, he just doesn't understand.  Of course he doesn't understand, none of the boys answer his inquiries.

While reading this novel I felt as though I was trapped in the maze with the boys.  I found my heart starting to race while Minho and Thomas were running to escape the grievers. I still don't know what grievers really are, but they are horribly nasty creatures.  I felt anxious each time they approached a corner of the maze.  In fact, I felt like Thomas, so many questions and very few answers. 

The glade itself is a fairly straightforward place.  Rather simple in fact.  It has housing, farming, and a forest with a burial yard.  The maze and it's reason for existence is complicated.  Then there is a world beyond.  What is happening out there and how does it  result in the boys being locked in the maze.  This story gives me lots to ponder and look forward to.  There are two further novels in this series: The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.  Coming in August 2012 is the prequel The Kill Order.
Thanks to Random House for the use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Stitching Bit by Bit

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

 My Amalia scarf is growing slowly.  Since I reached the halfway point of the edging, I am getting a bit excited.  I can see that I will get this section completed.  Yippee.  For a while it was seeming as though it would never get done, but now I can see into the future (I wish) and imagine it being completed.  I am in the middle of motif 16.

Yesterday I went on a short road trip with a friend.  She is not a knitter, but she was game to go to Listowel and visit The Yarn Factory Outlet.  They carry a huge assortment of yarns by Bernat, Lily, Patons and Phentex.  Of course, I had to make several purchases.  Almost immediately upon arriving home, I started o n a scarf for my daughter using Bernat Twist & Twirl.  These ruffle scarves are cute, though I must admit, that they really don't work for me.  i can't imagine myself wearing one.  This style knits up very fast. 

 A few weeks I showed you the start of my Faded Charms quilt.  I have all the sections pieced and after a week or two of hesitation, have started the machine quilting.  I am using a technique described by Keryn Emmerson in her book Beautiful Quilts as You Go.  I am doing the "Sew and Flip" method.  In this first photo, I have the centre part of the top layered, I have ironed on some freezer paper motifs that I will outline quilt and have used a blue disappearing marker to trace the lines for the pale mauve border.

On the top side I am using a variegated mauve to purple thread from Guterman and on the back a dove grey from Wonderfil.  The quilting motifs are from The Quiltmaker Collection: Quilting Motifs Volume 8.  The one shown by the freezer paper is titled Plump Plume, page 57 and the border is Curled Up, page 58.

After Quilting
Reverse side

 Next step is to add the next section.  In this case, I am adding a section of four rows of charms and a strip of mauve border.  I am going to use the same motif from the centre, though they will be oriented along the length of the strip.  I'll have more photos for you next week.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Giving a Book a Fair Chance

The Crystal Warrior

I had decided  that I wasn't going to review any more romance novels since I get very few readers of those posts.  When I finished reading the paranormal romance The Crystal Warrior by New Zealand author Maree Anderson I felt so refreshed that I had to change my plan.  After all, this my blog and I get to write what I want, when I want, and you can choose whether to read or not.

Why did this book change my mind.  I read a lot of books in a wide variety of genres.  My Friday evening is for free reading, works that I don't feel compelled to review; most of them are romances.  This week I started reading The Crystal Warrior.  I had read about fifteen pages, but it wasn't really working for me.  I called it a night.  The next day I felt that I had dismissed the book without giving it a fair chance. As Maree is a Kiwi author and I really have a thing for New Zealand (we'll be travelling there in less than three months, for our third trip), I picked it up the next day and continued reading.  It wasn't very many pages before I was submerged in the lives of Chalcedony, Wulfenite and Pietersite. 

Don't those sound like rock/crystal names.  Exactly, main characters with the name of crystals. Chalcedony, known as Chalcey to her friends, wants nothing more than to open her dance studio.  On her way to a meeting with a potential backer, she is sidetracked into an odd little shop that she had not noticed before.  Pieter, the shopkeeper, asks her to select a crystal from a display.  She feels attracted to one particular stone.  This stone is Wulfenite.

Wulfenite, or rather Wulf, was the leader of a band of warriors that was intent on abducting all the suitable women from the village where Pieter lives.  With no one from the village willing to take a stand against these warriors, Pieter determines he has to take a stand.  Using the most powerful magic he has at his command, he traps the eleven warriors in their namesake crystals and locks them inside until they are released by their true love.  Enter Chalcey into Wulf's story.

I found this story refreshing.  Chalcey wasn't looking for love, she was intent on her business.  She was an accomplished dancer with a dedicated staff and willing clientele.  All she was missing was sufficient financing.  I've read quite a few time travel type romances, and it is always interesting to see how the out-of-time person integrates into the new time.  Wulf handled this well.  He approached it as a warrior would a battle, just a different type of battle.  It was interesting to watch.  I am not a dancer, but I did enjoy the descriptions of the studio and the demonstration dances that Chalcey did with her dance partner.  Almost made me want to sign up for a dance class.

There are currently three books in the Crystal Warrior series.

chalcedonyChalcedony - from Bernardine Fine Art

WulfeniteWulfenite - from Minerals Zone  (yellow)

Pietersite - from Shimmerlings Jewelry

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Storybound by Marissa Burt - open text available till the end of April

Storybound By Marissa Burt

It was a real treat to read Storybound by Marissa Burt.  This YA novel is currently unlocked and the entire text is available to be read on the HarperCollins website.  HarperCollins Canada  HarperCollins USA  Choose the appropriate site and start reading today.

Una is a foster child who has no idea of her history.  All she knows is that she has lived in a lot of families yet not been considered a part of any of them.  She feels invisible at home and at school.  To escape the torments of school, she seeks solace in the library basement.  One day she is forced to sit at a different table and ends up reading an unusual book. It is unmarked and untitled.  Inside the book it has a title "The Tale of Una Fairchild"; what are the chances that their was another person with the same name.

Somehow, this book magically transports Una to another place/school.  In this place, people are referred to as characters, and the students are preparing to become characters in books.

By this point I was totally immersed in this story.  I could hardly put it down.  How could there be a world where students trained to become the beloved characters as well as the evil villains in the books I read. Wow.  Great concept. 

I am not going to tell you any more about the story as I don't want to give away a thing.  I will say that I did not figure out what was going to happen next and was racing through the book to find out.  I didn't want to story to end, but I wanted to know what had happened to create the current situation that pulled Una into that world.

This would be a wonderful story to read with your pre-teen. The cast of characters is quite diverse with heroes, villains, talking animals and ladies in need of rescue, and don't forget Una, who is quite capable of rescuing others.   I know my ten year old nephew would love it.  What are you waiting for, click the HarperCollins link above and start reading.

Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Flannel Pillowcases in Spring

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
It was a much better week for stitching.  I spent a bit of time on my Amalia shoulder shawl.  I am on repeat 15 of 27.  Yippe, more than halfway, though I am still on the first skein of wool.  It's pretty small now, and I suspect that I'll be winding the next one later today.

Years ago I bought several metres of each of two flannel prints.  Thought the kids would love for me to make them some sleep pants.  Only problem is, is that flannel has no real stretch, thus the kids find it isn't comfy for sleeping. 

The kids still love the fabric, what to do with it.  I had about three metres of each.  Several weeks ago I had promised my son's girlfriend that I would make her a pink pillowcase.  I can't recall how the topic of pillowcases came around, but she was the only one in the room who didn't have one made by either myself or by my mom.  Hey, this is an awesome pink.  I decided to use the two fabrics to make her case.
The two of them are a bit much together.  Fortunately I had several other large pieces of flannel in my stash.  They are for a quilt for my niece, but I bought way more than I needed.  They had already been pre-shrunk, only needed pressing, and more pressing. 

The colour combos are wonderful.  I still can't decide which is my favourite.  Girlfriend will get first pick and then the other kids can fight it out.  I don't know how much they will use them now as it's getting warmer here, but they do look good.

Numbered 1-7 starting at the left, which is your favourite combo?

1 Black skulls and red
2 Green with black skulls
3 Pink skulls with blue
4 Red with pink skulls
5 Black skulls with Orange
6 Green with pink skulls
7 Black and pink skulls 

Send me a link or photo of your favourite pillowcase photo and I'll add it here.

Other pillowcases I"ve made:

You'll want to pop over to Lit and Laundry and see the progress on the wonderful "Henrietta Whiskers Quilt".  All the little animal characters are totally enchanting.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Memories Ain't What they Used to Be

My sister indulged us on Easter weekend with boxes of Lucky Elephant Pink Popcorn, from the Poppa Corn Corp.  What a stream of memories that brought.  Unfortunately the flavour is nothing compared to what it used to be forty plus years ago.  Back then it actually tasted pink.  Now it is a glazed candy coating that tastes sweet and nothing else.  The box and the look of the popcorn brought back the most pleasant memories, but the taste was something new and not memorable.  I do like that the box contains a nice sheet of glittery stickers instead of a useless plastic toy.  Oh well, guess I can't have everything.

Over at the blog Halfway Between Here and There, the author felt opposite to me.  Didn't like the old flavour and much prefers the new one.

Have you ever been excited to find a food that you haven't eaten in years, and then when you buy and taste it, it has changed, it no longer evokes the feelings you remember?  Leave a comment and share those memories.

For further foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking post.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ashes Ashes by Jo Treggiara

Cover of Ashes, Ashes Audiobook

Global warming has wrecked havoc on New York City.  Streets and highways have been turned to rivers and Central Park now has an ocean view.  Four years later, a virulent plague strikes and wipes out much of the world's population, leaving a remnant of less than one percent living.
Lucy is the sole survivor of her family; everyone she knows has died.  Now she makes her home in the wilds of Central Park.  For a while she lived in a city shelter, but the Sweepers kept abducting people for some unknown reason.  She was scared and fled.  Thankfully she had a survival manual and the gumption to make it on her own.  One of her survival techniques was to avoid other survivors .  This worked well until the day when she was surrounded by a pack of vicious dogs with no obvious escape. 

Aidan to the rescue.   He has been living with a large group of survivors a few miles away, and he has been keeping an eye on Lucy.  Lucky for her, as he helps her escape the dogs.  A few days later, when disaster strikes yet again, Lucy has no choice but to seek out Aidan and the community he lives in.
This book started with a plausible premise.  The population of the world has been decimated and there is an ongoing threat that the plague will re-surface.  Where it fell apart was due to several factual errors.  These were so distracting that I couldn't enjoy the rest of the book.  I started by listening to the Oasis Audio book version of this story.  It was read by Cassandra Campbell.  She did a wonderful job; it was easy to differentiate between the different characters and to feel their excitement and anxiety as the story progressed.  Nine hours 46 minutes.  While listening to the book, I was driving on the highway and thought that I had mis-heard a passage.  I was under the impression that there was still a large remnant population:
it was the resurgence of a killer disease that had reduced the global population to less than 1 percent of what it had been within three short months.  page 4
This would mean that there was approximately 70 million population of the world, of that 5 million in the United States.   A few chapters later:
most people had contracted the plague in the first wave of contagion.  Out of every one million people, 999,999 had died.  Most of the survivors were picked off by the second wave.  page 53
This means that from a population of 500 million (I don't know the dates when this story starts nor what the actual population of the United States would be on that date, so I am making an assumption), there would be less than 500 people surviving the first wave in the United States, and that  most of them would die in the second wave.  To be generous, lets say 20 % of them survived, that leaves 100 survivors in all of the United States. I'm being really generous as on page 140 we are told that "Of those who contracted the mutated hemorrhagic smallpox in the second wave, maybe one in a million survived."  Well, there are now no survivors.

Having been told on page 39 that "People had left the cities in droves" it seems unlikely that almost all of those survivors would be living in the area of Central Park.  On page 126 we learn that "There were close to seventy-five when I first came," living in Aidan's settlement.  Add to this the number living in the shelter that Lucy had been living in, that would be all the remnant population for the entire country.  This doesn't include the Sweepers and anyone else that are living with them.

As I said, I was listening to the audio book while driving and figured that I must have misheard the survival rate and that instead of one in a million people surviving, it must have been one in a hundred thousand.  I borrowed the book from my local library to check the facts.  That is where I obtained the above quotes.  From this point on, the story was ruined for me.  Two more factual errors turned the story into a poorly researched and written book.  Where was the editor and the fact checker?

Anyone who has ever used a mercury based thermometer knows that you shake the thermometer before you put the instrument in the mouth.  Well, not in this book, they must have used some new style thermometer that no one I spoke with has ever heard of:
When he turned around again, he held a thermometer. "Open again." She opened her mouth and he placed it beneath her tongue....and removed the thermometer.  He shook it a couple of times and, squinted at it, trying to read the numbers."  pages 105-106
 According to the dozen or so mothers that I consulted, the shaking would have moved the mercury back to the bulb and there would have been a very low temperature to read, yet Lucy's reading was normal.  The teens that I spoke with had no idea what a mercury thermometer was.

Later the same day in the story, Lucy is helping to cook dinner.  She has chopped up several rabbits for the soup pot.  The onions and carrots are already cooking in the bottom of a huge pot over an open fire.  They are feeding approximately 40 people, thus a lot of soup is required.
He led her to where the others were standing around a large pot on the fire....About forty pounds of carrots and onions simmered in the bottom  page 145
They added the rabbit, chopped potatoes and then a large bucket of water.
The good smells were making Lucy woozy.  She sat down on a bench and closed her eyes, letting the fragrant steam wash over her.  Aidan sat down beside her.  "About fifteen minutes,"  page 146
There is no apparent lapse of time between when the rabbit, potatoes and water go in the pot and when Aidan tells her dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes.  There is not sufficient time for the water to come to a boil, let alone for the potatoes to cook.  As any cook will know, after the water comes to a boil, it will take at least 20 minutes for the potatoes to cook.  I consulted several home cooks and The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, and they stated that at least 1 hours, but more often 1 1/2 to 2 hours is required to safely cook rabbit.  It must be cooked long enough to kill the medium causing tularemia and trichinosis.

I admit that teens reading this book will mostly miss the information about the thermometer and the rabbit cooking, but there is no reason that they should not be baffled by the survival statistics.  I have read dozens of reviews of this book, and only one other reader has commented on this confusion.  I can't understand how the editor missed these factual errors.    The book copy that I checked this with is a first edition, it is possible that corrections have been made in subsequent printings.

I find it disturbing that this book has been selected for the Forest of Reading program in the White Pine category in Ontario.  This means it is widely promoted in the schools and public libraries.  Yes, I will be sending an email to the Chair of the Selection Committee responsible for selecting this title.

Update: April 17, 2012

I did write to the chair of the White Pines book selection committee and she sent a very helpful response. She stated that in the case of fictional novels, they do allow for the authors to create their own worlds, giving them a certain amount of leeway to depart from the 'rules' of our world. She said that the books are selected by the committe with consideration to "literary quality, audience appeal, accuracy and relevance, and balance". Judging by the comments from my local librarian, this book defintiely has audience appeal.

Thank-you to the various committee members for their hard work in organizing The Forest of Books reading program. My children participated many times during their school years and read many enjoyable books.

How are you affected when you find factual errors in books.  Do you contact the author or publisher.

Author Jo Treggiara's website.

Thank-you to Oasis Audio for use of the cover image.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Winner: Mrs. Delany's Flowers Postcard

Thanks to all who entered this contest.  It was a pleasure to share this amazing work by Mrs. Delany with all my readers.

Winner of one of these postcards is:

Petty Witter. 

To Kill a Mockingbird vs The Given Day

To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee
The Given Day By Dennis Lehane
This is it, the final championship game.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is facing off with The Given Day by Dennis Lehane. 

As I have said previously, I haven't read either of these books, though I do feel that both warrant further attention in that department.  In both stories, the characters are living in a time when social mores are changing.  Equality between colours of skin is still a major issue.  Events that impact one person are not isolated to that person, but affect entire families and communities.  Can there be justice in an unjust society? 
Have you read both these books? Please leave a comment and let me know how these two books compare.

To vote, visit and make your choice.  You will then be directed to Facebook where you can enter to win all sixty-four books that were part of this years March Madness.

Thanks to HarperCollins for the use of both cover images.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Needlework Tuesday - Dropped Stitching

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.

I had a good but busy weekend which left little time for needlework.  I did sew on my Faded Charms quilt, in fact I got sew carried away that I sewed sixty too many four patch blocks.  oops, lots of un-stitching.  Next I stitched the border that is one block wide and I had way too many 2 1/2 inch charms left over.  I haven't laid out the entire quilt, so not sure what happened there.  I am still pondering whether I want to make the quilt longer.  Have to check the standard length of a twin size quilt and decide. 

I have decided to use a stitch as you go method for quilting, but darned it I can find the particular book I want to use.  It is titled Beautiful Quilts as you Go by Keryn Emmerson.  Now if someone could direct me to where I have it safely stored in my house, I'd be ever so grateful.

No knitting this week, though  I did carry it with me when I went to my parents on Thursday and Friday, even pulled it out to show it to my mom, but didn't some much as knit one stitch.  Guess it won't be hard to do better this week. 

I'm not concerned about putting the stitching on the back burner.  It was great to have the family for Easter dinner and then to have more friends over on Monday for lunch.  I did show my friend the chicken/rooster fabrics I have been collecting to make her a quilt or two.  She will have to help as she is a quite capable seamstress, though she hasn't sewn a quilt, yet.

I cleared all my sewing supplies off my dining room table in order to set it up for eating.  Mom and I tried to keep the supplies for each project together, but who knows until I start sewing again.  They could be in any of four rooms.  Perhaps I'll find the missing book as I search out the various pieces.  I'll keep my fingers virtually crossed.

Good to hear some comments from my readers last week.  Seems that quite a few of us use our various stitchings to relax.   I am curious whether you have been working on any projects specifically with spring in mind?  It won't be scarf season for much longer (in the northern hemisphere) though shawls work well all year long.  What do you have on your needles?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Storm Front: The Dresden Files Book 1 by Jim Butcher

Storm Front Audio CD-MP3 Edition by Jim ButcherBook 1 I was wanting to continue reading this series, but it had been two years since I read the first book; I wanted to re-read.  Fortunate me, my library had Storm Front as an MP3 download.  I loved the audio version.  Since I already has a mental image of Harry, it was quite easy to slip right into the story.

This version is from Buzzy Multimedia. 8 hours 2 minutes unabridged.  Read by James Marsters (Spike from Buffy and Angel).  This is the first audio book read by Mr. Marsters that I have listened to.  I liked the way he takes the occasional momentary pause .  These drew my attention back to the dialogue if my attention had started to stray.  Would definitely listen to more of his work.

I am not doing a full review here, but should you want to know more about the story, read my 2010 review of Storm Front.

Thanks to Buzzy Multimedia for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Needlework Tuesday - A Charming Invasion

Needlework Tuesday is open to all readers looking for inspiration, encouragement or who want to share their recent needlework project. Introduce yourself in the comments and be sure to leave a link to your current post. Feel free to grab the cute little mouse for your post.
There are days when I just can't wait to pick up my stitching and lose myself in whatever I am working on.  There were a couple of those days last week.  With Easter almost here, I was reflecting on the loss of my nephew.  It will be difficult sitting down to dinner and have no takers for the drum sticks.  Since he was small, he was the one that always asked for the turkey's drumsticks.  As he got older, he would eat one for dinner and then take the other home in a big baggie.  No one else ever ate them as we all knew how much Alex enjoyed them.

Many of us help deal with our emotions by directing them into our needlework.  Having this focus sure does help. 

Two evenings of knitting have brought me to repeat 11 on my Amalia shawl.  Almost half way on this section.  Soon it will be time to wind the second skein into a ball.  Not my favourite activity, but easy to do while watching TV.
To further distract myself, I put a new book on my player.  I am listening Storm Front by Jim Butcher.  This is the first book in the Harry Dresden series.
Stitching busily on my Faded Charms quilt top.  Most of the squares are now stitched into pairs and pressed open.  Time to sew the centre panel.  I am enlarging mine quilt, so the centre is 10 x 16 charms.

Next round will be 4 x 18 charms and 4 x 20 charms.

The next round after the 4s are 2s.  Lots of 4 patches to be sewn and then pieced in long strips of 2 x 28 and then 2 x 26.
The centre and the first round are completed.  I found a white and mauve print that I had set aside for another quilt, though it is going to look very good in this quilt instead.
I ran into a few problems when sewing these charms together.  As I mentioned last week, I had traded for a lot of charms around the turn of the millennium.  This was the first time I dug into that stash.  Seems that several women had it in their mind, that 2 1/2 inch squares really needed to be cut at 2 5/8 inches.  Dozens of charms had to be re-cut.  Some included the selvage when cutting.  Into the scrap basket with those along with a few of very dubious heritage, those poly parents.  Yesterday when sewing a four patch, I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  Looked like a glowing spot on the patch I had just picked up.  Closer examination showed a hole.  Don't use defective fabric when you are partaking in a swap.  Garbage for that one.  I'll still swap with quilters as it's a lot of fun to meet others, but I will be careful about what I send out and ensure that it is the quality that I want to receive.

Now that I have shared how I deal with my stress, I am wondering what my readers do.  Read, knit, crochet, bake?  Leave me a comment, perhaps your method will work with another reader.

Monday, 2 April 2012

March Madness 2012: Final Four

How exciting.  Down to the final four.  My favourite, Room by Emma Donaghue has fallen to the wayside.  Though I must admit that I am not disappointed by the remaining books.  They are all worthy novels.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Little Princes by Conor Grennan  - non-fiction
The Given Day by Dennis Lehane

At this point I am confident that Ms. Lee will prevail over the competition.  Should that be the case, I will read her book as soon as I can obtain a copy and then make my own decision on it.  In light of the current Trayvon Martin injustice, it might prove to be a very timely read.

Have you chosen to read any of the books as a result of them being featured in this playoff.  Was there a book that you felt should have been included, or should have lasted into further rounds.

What titles would you nominate for next years March Madness.

Don't forget to go and vote.

Back next week with the winners who will be battling it out in the final round.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: 30 Postcards

When a friend sent me a link to this postcard book, I had to order a copy.  What could be more fun than sending classic zombie postcards to my nearest and dearest friends.  This is a visualization of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austin and Seth Grahame-Smith.

Since I haven't read Seth's novel, I can't explain why Lady Catherine has ninja's but I am intrigued. 

There are two copies of each of 15 interesting images.  They are printed in full colour on a thick card stock.  The photos shown here pale in comparison to the real thing.
This is my favourite photo from the book and I am offering one copy of it to lucky commenter.  If you want the chance to have this post card land in your mailbox, leave a comment including a means of getting in contact with you.   Random drawing to determine winner.

This card is labelled "Bennet Sisters' Pentagram of Death".

This creepy book is from Chronicle Books.