Thursday, 31 January 2013

Rock Hard: Sinners on Tour by Olivia Cunning & Contest

Life on the road with an up and coming hard rock band can't be easy, especially when you are engaged to the chick magnet, lead singer.  Since she was a young girl, Jessica Chase has planned to become a lawyer.  Naturally she expects that her fiancee, Sedric Lionheart, will be as excited for her she is.  She certainly did not expect his refusal of her continuing her education.  They both have big dreams for their futures, too bad they never discussed it with each other.

Skip forward two years, Jessica and Sed at once again thrust at each other.   Fireworks ensue.

This is an erotic romance novel, so I don't need to tell you that there is lots of physical activity.  At first, some of it made me uncomfortable, but when I thought about why, I realized it wasn't what they were doing, but where.  In one scene I found myself calling out to Jessica and Sed, telling them to hurry so that they wouldn't be caught.  In true erotic novel style, there is ample titillation, but it secondary to the plot lines and the character development.

When we first meet Jessica, she is a strong female character.  She knows what she wants in life and is following a path that could lead to success in her chosen field.  Two years later, when she is thrown in contact with Sed, she liquefies and loses all her strength. It isn't until another woman, who she thought was a very strong person, is totally dominated by a male in authority, that she regrows her backbone, even firmer than it was before.  She was only able to do this after she and Sed figured out them selves and each other, and what they wanted and needed in their relationship and they were able to grow beyond their physical attraction.

Much of this book is set in Las Vegas, where the band was touring at that time.  By coincidence, I also was visiting that city while I was reading Rock Hard.  Jessica and Sed antics certainly will leave me with a different impression of Vegas and puts a new spin on the moniker 'Sin City'. 

Rock Hard is the second book in the series, though can be read as a stand alone novel.  I didn't even realize it was part of a series until I was writing my review.

The Sinners on Tour  Series:

1 Backstage Pass
2 Rock Hard
3 Double Time
4 Hot Ticket due out February 5, 2013

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the use of the cover image.
Visit Olivia Cunning`s website to learn more about her books.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Needlework Tuesday - An interview with crochet artist Kelly Lynn Smith

Welcome to my regular Needlework Tuesday post.  This week, I have a special treat for you.  Recently I have become acquainted with crochet artist Kelly Lynn Smith.  I call her a crochet artist, because what she creates with yanr and a hook, are truly breath taking pieces of art.
Kelly started out designing award winning dolls, many of which have been featured in in a variety of doll magazines.  A few years ago she turned her nimble fingers toward crochet and hasn't looked back.  Last week, I sent her a few questions and I have included those below.  Kelly has included links to the works referred to.  You really do want to click them and take a look.

Heather: When browsing your site, I could help but be attracted to your lifelike dolls. How did you make the jump from doll making to crochet artist? Were you crocheting clothes for them and it then became a natural progression?

Kelly: I just started crocheting in 2011 after having a knee replacement. Due to some complications, it was not the normal recovery period and I am not one to have idle hands. To date, I have not made any crocheted doll clothing. I started with a few patterns that I purchased online and then started designing my own.

Heather: Dog snoods? This is a first for me. The afghans hounds are lovely on their own, but when you add a snood, it provokes all sorts of questions. What lead you to costume your dogs in such a manner?

Kelley: The snoods are actually a necessity for many coated (afghan hound, standard poodle, etc.) or long eared breeds such as basset hounds. Snoods protect the hair on the head and the long ears while the dog is eating or drinking. They are also great for those "bed head" days. Preparing an afghan hound for show takes several hours and obviously it is not possible to look "show best" every day. Snoods provide a quick solution to be ready to meet the public on short notice. Most of my snood designs are loosely based upon period headwear. My intent is to combine function with fashion and fun. Our show dogs Geisha & Jillian are always very happy when told to "get their hat on" as they know that this either involves food or a photo shoot and they are happy to oblige. :)

Heather: I love your sea creatures. They combine realism and whimsy. Why sea creatures?

Kelly: I love sea creatures also and if I could be anywhere, it would be on a beach. I've kept salt water tanks in the past and while gorgeous; there is a good deal of work and expense involved. My concentration is working with the dogs at this time, so the crocheted sea creatures still let me keep that interest without all of the upkeep. I've also donated several to Hyperbolic Reef Projects.

      My sea creatures were specifically requested for the Hook the Reef project in Hawaii and have been on exhibit with their display twice.

       I also have a piece currently with the Roanoke Valley Reef in VA.

(I have heard of the Hyperbolic Reef Projects before and they certainly are a crocheters dream)

Heather: Do you have a favouite brand or type of yarn/wool to work with?

Kelley: I'm not sure why but I seem to have a predisposition for selecting discontinued yarn. LOL It's a habit that I'm trying to break. I like acrylic, bamboo, silk or cotton yarns with texture and visual appeal. Unfortunately, I discovered during my explorations into spinning that I have a severe wool allergy. So, while I admire many of the wool yarns--it is now from a distance.

Heather: When designing your crochet creatures, do you start with a concrete plan, or do you let the yarn and hook speak to you?

Any hints you want to share about what you will be working on next?       
I have a very specific design in mind when I begin. I have no formal design training but have worked as a professional designer prior to marriage and have been able to envision three dimensional finished products in my mind since I was a child. It is something that I cannot adequately explain other than to say that it flows and the idea in the mind matches and comes to fruition in my hands. I can only attribute it as a gift from God.My most personally challenging project to date was the Sugar Plum Fairy which combined my love of doll making with the art of crochet. I wanted something proportionate, poseable and detailed in a small (11.5" tall) package. She required much thought and planning but I completed the prototype in a day and a half. Plum's arms and legs can be posed in a variety of ways and she has individual fingers. I want to eventually make an entire Corps de Ballet in various poses but got sidetracked on some other projects. Yes, I will give a little hint on my next project. It is a wearable and mostly worked with 2-dimensional elements which is torture to me. I want to grow as an artist, so am always trying new things and pushing the limits.

Thank- you for sharing about yourself and your works.  They are incredible.  I know that I will be following your crochet adventures via your Facebook page and encourage my readers to do so as well. 

The following video features Kelly's latest designs, the crocheted Reef.

These patterns are available individually or as a set from her etsy site Angels Unawares.

As part of my 1000 post celebration, Kelly has most generously donated a pdf copy of the complete pattern set of Wings of the Morning.  It's a  67 page Photo tutorial download with a value of $21.99 US. Contest closes Feb. 7, 2013.

 To be entered to win this fabulous prize, you have two options:

1:  visit Kelly's website and view her wonderful works, then come back here and leave a comment saying which piece you like best


2: visit Kelly's Facebook page, Like it , then return here, leave a comment including  your Facebook name.

Thank-you so much to Kelly Lynn Smith for visiting with us here at Books and Quilts and for donating the Wings of the Morning pattern set.

Angels Unawares website

Angels Unawares Facebook page

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Weekend Cooking: Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish


About two years ago, I first heard of  'raw food' and have been curious since then.  When I saw Eat Raw, Eat Well by Douglas McNish in the store, I had to bring it home and hopefully satisfy my yearnings.   Right off, I have to tell you that I wasn't disappointed and that Chef Doug exceeded my expectations in every area.  I found that each dish was a flavour adventure and that there is no reason for eating boring, flavourless foods when there are innovative chefs like Doug who are willing to share their well devised recipes.
Avocado Vanilla Smoothie
A the beginning of the book is an introduction to raw foods including a section about eating raw in frigid weather.  (spiciness does help).  After a discussion of cooking techniques and kitchen tools, Dough launches in to the recipes.

I will admit, that I had a hard time getting past the breakfast and smoothies sections.  The "Sweet Green Drink" with kale, spinach and romaine could be part of my lunch every day and I'd never get tired of it.

Sweet Green Drink

Tropical Mango Smoothie
As with all the recipes, there are substitutions suggested where appropriate.  This worked well with the smoothies as it made it easy to add in a fruit or vegetable that was available for one that was too pricey when I was shopping.

Orange Cream Smoothie
What surprised me, is that most of the smoothies start with a base of a cup of almond milk.  Previously I would have used juice, but the almond milk, or other nut/seed milk, makes for a creamier and more whole bodied drink.
Buckwheat Porridge
The breakfast porridge were a nice change of manufactured cold cereals and a lot more filling.  They do take a bit of time to prepare, but not much longer than a pot of steel cut oatmeal. 
Mixed Fruit, Chia and Flax Seed Porridge

Spicy Carrot and Ginger Soup
My family did have a hard time accepting that soup didn't come to the table steaming hot.  I tried two soups, and both were very easy to make in the blender.  Pre-chopping or shredding the vegetables helps to make for a creamier soup.  I have a good quality Waring blender and it worked well, though a larger volume jug would be better.  Using raw butternut squash in soup took a little getting used to,  but once it was blended, I was able to overlook that.  Next time, I would use a little less curry powder in the "Butternut Squash and Mango Soup".  The soup wasn't actually cold, as the speed of the blender tends to generate a certain amount of heat.
Butternut Squash and Mango Soup
Pumpkin Seed Chimichurri Dip
If you can think of a traditional spread or dip, Doug has included a vegan, raw version.  Hemp Avocado Mayonnaise, Cashew Spinach Dip, and several meatless pates.  The "Pumpkin Seed Chimichurri Dip" was full of flavour with a slightly grainy texture, (made in the food processor).  I had a hard time getting the dish away from hubby.  Most recipes have a side bar that contains tips of techniques such as how to soak pumpkin seeds.  Also included are nutritional information  about that particular recipe ie: why pumpkin seeds are so good for your body.  

Green Coconut Curried Vegetables over Carrot and Parsnip Fettuccine
Yes, you can make a filling main dish based on vegetables.  Seeds and nuts pureed in the sauce adds the protein that gives that lasting 'full' feeling.  Even though hubby was skeptical, he enjoyed both main dishes that I prepared.  The parsnip fettuccine had me totally fooled into thinking it was traditional pasta.  Marinating it in olive oil and lemon juice softened it and the colour fooled my brain as to what it really was.

Spicy Pad Thai with spiral cut zucchini
The "Spicy Pad Thai" sauce was made with hemp seeds and a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Served with the spiral cut zucchini it was  perfectly spicy, but spooned over traditional ravioli, it was a bit too spicy.  I made a half serving as I didn't think my family would be willing to give it a taste test, but they surprised me and ladeled it on. 

Chocolate Walnut Brownies
No cookbook review would be complete without me delving into the dessert section.  I decided to keep it simple and try the "Chocolate Walnut Brownies".  Three simple ingredients: walnuts, cocoa powder and agave ( I used carob and honey).  They are chewy and full of flavour and would suit the sweet tooth cravings of any diner.  There are desserts in the book that are suitable for a fancy celebration: Chocolate Avocado Torte, Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cheesecake (all gluten and dairy free) to name just a few.

I have already marked several more recipes for tasting and a few of these for repeat.

Thanks to Chef Doug for answering my enquiries as to buckwheat grouts.  They are a whole grout that has not been toasted.  Doug can be found on his Facebook Page and lives and cooks in Toronto, Ontario Canada.

As part of my 1000th Post Celebration, Robert Rose Inc. has donated three copies of their latest cookbook: 150 best grilled cheese sandwiches by Alison Lewis.  Open to residents of Canada and the United States.  To enter, leave a comment telling me your favourite vegetable dish.  contest closes February 2, 2013.

For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Meme.  She invites you to add a link to your recent food related post.
For further information about spiral cutters, check my earlier post.
Thanks to Robert Rose Inc for the use of both cover images and for the donation of the prize copies of  150 best grilled cheese recipes.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Hottest Product from CES 2013

At the beginning of January, I attend the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States.  It was a massive show featuring thousands (or was it tens of thousands) of new products, all vying to be the latest and greatest must have item.  I visited as many booths as I could, poking into all sorts of corners and then back again, hoping not to miss anything. 

While there were many interesting items, most didn't have a practical or personal application for me.  There was one that stood out head and shoulders above all the others.

Earbud Necklace

Up till now, I have been very practical when it comes to buying earbuds for myself and my family.  My kids go through several pairs a year and are always losing those little rubber bits that hold the buds in the ear.  I decreed that we would only buy one brand and the version that was on sale, and we would store all the extra rubber ear bits in the kitchen drawer.  Always one on hand should they lose one.

Now I have to re-think my approach after seeing and holding these earbuds at the XTREME booth. XTREME is a division of JEM Accessories, Inc.  These literally stopped me in my tracks, nose pressed to the display case. These are jewellery quality earbuds.  Gorgeous.  You wear them as a necklace with the earbud strands coming from the back and just long enough to hang over your shoulder as shown in the photo when not nestled in your ear.  Even the wire that connects with your player is beaded.   There were four or five different beaded version: white pearl, white and pastel   pearl, dark, and silver.  While you could wear these for everyday listening, they would also look elegant during your business commute, as well as for private listening moments at a fancy dress event.  Yes, they really are that nice that they wouldn't be out of place in a formal situation, just tuck the earbuds under your collar when you are not listening to your player.  At a glance, none will realize that they are not a string of fine jewellery.

I spoke with Sales Executive Ken Kelter and he told me that these are a brand new product, in fact, the manufacturer had delivered them directly to the conference floor the first day of the show.

I fully expect to see these gracing the necks of the best dressed listening women everywhere. I hope I've been able to convey my enthusiasm for these earbuds.  They truly are gorgeous and must be seen to be appreciated.  It was hard to leave them and walk away from the XTREME booth.  Now I am eagerly waiting the arrival of these in a store near me.  I think the pearl one first, and then maybe the dark glittery one....

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Needlework Tuesday - New Project vs Completeing a UFO

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share my last week's various needlework projects.  By sharing, I find that I get a lot more accomplished as I want to have something to share with you in each post.  You are invited to add a comment with a link to your recent needlework post.  This way we can encourage each other in our stitching.

On the weekend, I was able to deliver the twins to their new home.  My little nieces were quite taken with them and had them cuddled in bed along side them that evening.  the two are cuddled in their travelling gift bags, couldn't put them all the way in as they wouldn't be able to see where they were going. Pattern is from Bernat, Baby Jacquard Florals, free membership required to access pattern.

Two more tea wallets.  Daughter thought it was funny to use coffee themed fabric for a tea wallet.

Actually, the one on the bottom is a tea wallet, and I changed the upper one to hold those long coffee sachets.  Use a 7 x 7 inch square on the inside and sew 4 sections.

More coffee themed fabrics.  This time I am making a lunch bag.  I saw one made up on Regina's website, and thought it would be fun to sew.  I followed the link to Pink Penguin for the in depth tutorial.  The instructions are quite good, though they miss telling you to sew the boxed corners before cutting. I was able to complete the bag in a couple of hours (lots of interruptions) and no hand sewing was involved.
One side with conversation print coffee labels
Other side with little coffee pots.

Looking down inside, you can see the draw string lining, will keep anything from falling out.
As you have probably noticed, I find it easy to start new projects.  I generally find it hard to stick with them to completion.  I have boxes of UFOs (unfinished objects) hiding around the house.   This year I am working real hard to keep any further ones from joining that status.  So far so good. 
 I did start these mitts for my sister.  I have been working on them every day.  I have one more row for the second colour in the pattern.  I think they are turning out very well.  I am stitching both mitts at the same time using the magic loop method.  To keep them straight, I have pinned a note on the ribbing of each mitt that tells me which mitt and which side I am looking at.  It really has helped.  To the left of each mitt is the thumb gusset.  i have a few more rows to go before I set those stitches aside and continue just with the body of the mitt.  I'll get back to  the thumbs later.  It's not as bad working with this thin wool and 2.5 mm needles as I thought. 
I have two other UFOs that are bothering me.  Not that I don't want to work on them, but that I haven't managed to get working on them.  I am telling you about them here, so that if I don't show you progress, you will ask me about them and nudge me along.
The Bird Quilt
I am completing this top at a  request from a friend.  She bought the BOM for her mother back  1999.  Her mother worked on the paper pieced blocks as much as she could until she was stopped by her Parkinsons. My friend had asked me years ago if I would finish it.  Of course.  She wanted it done while her mother could still enjoy it.  Unfortunately, my friend passed away before she could give me the pieces.  Two years ago I met with her mother and she gave me the completed blocks and other bits and patterns.  I quickly finished the blocks and started on the sashings, and then It languished.  I found it hard to work on as it made me remember my friend and all the wonderful times we had together. 
The Scribbling Women Quilt
In April 2011, I read and reviewed the book Scribbling Women by Marthe Jocelyn.  This book cried out to me that it needed a quilt made to accompany it.  I started on it right away. It got pushed aside for some reason.  Then my nephew passed away and again it was pushed aside.  Weeks later my father became very ill and very little quilting was attempted.  Them my father passed away and even less stitching.  That brings me to today.  Much more stitching is happening and I am determined that after the Bird Quilt top is completed, this will be next on the wall.
Now that I have admitted these two UFOs to my readers, I'll need to keep at them and see them through to completion,and yes, you're allow and encouraged to remind me of this.
Even with these two on my plate, I did come across another project I want to start: The Temperature Scarf.  I immediately thought of Marie from Daisy's Book Journal and sent her and email.  Since she was already planning to write about it, I thought I would link to her post.  This is on my list and I'll get it started as soon as I find yarns.  I only need to knit two rows a day, so not a big imposition on my time.
And so it goes.  Finish one project, start another, pull out a UFO  and work on it.  As long as I am finishing and my net count of projects on the go gets smaller by the end of the year, I'll be happy.
Do you have a project that you need encouragement on? Leave a comment/link and tell me about it, then I'll encourage you while I am working along on my UFOs.
Sarah, over at Lit and Laundry, has a snow theme happening in her projects this week.  Lucky for her that they don't involve any shovelling.
ps. the contest in last week's Needlework Tuesday post is still open for entries.  Four quilt patterns from Babs 'n' Jas are available to be won.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Weekend Cooking: Eating off the Strip in Las Vegas

Hubby and I were both in Las Vegas last week to attend the International Consumer Electronics Show.  We could have stayed in our hotel and eaten all our meals there. That would have been easy, but also boring, not that the restaurants there weren't excellent, but I just couldn't stay inside, I had to venture out.
We had thought to visit one of the restaurants featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, but they didn't appeal to my  tastebuds.  I did get a little booklet from the taxi, I think it was called 24/7.  It was filled with advertisements and coupons.  ONe of these was for a place called The Egg and I. A quick search on the internet and we were looking at their menu.  Oh yes, this would work for both of us.
It was about a ten minute drive off the strip, and very easy to find, GPS does help when ever travelling.

I read the menu front to back, there are dozens of dishes to choose from, and decided upon the Fresh Diced Vegetable Skillet.  I do think that it was the bed of Ranch Potatoes that sold me.  Those are perfectly poached eggs perched on the top and hiding below the cheese are oodles of fresh vegetables.  I was in heaven.   With each dish, you have the option of toast or of a freshly baked Banananut Muffin.  Ours were warm when served and were wonderful. 

Hubby only looked at one item on the menue and he was sold, Blackened Prime Rib Benny.  This wasvariation of  eggs benedict served on a grilled croissant, with blackened prime rib, veggies, poached eggs, all smothered in hollandaise sauce.  I was allowed a tiny little bit of the prime rib and it was so tender and flavourful that I understood why it disappeared so quickly.
The service at The Egg and I exceeded our expectations.  We were seated immediately and warmly welcomed.  We both appreciated that when the waitress came and poured our coffee, she left the thermal carafe at the table so that we could refill when required.
We have marked this location on the GPS and will be visiting on any return trips to Las Vegas.
Now to Dinner.
Yama Sushi is where the local people in the know go when they want sit down sushi.  It was just by chance that we happened upon their website while looking for another sushi restaurant.  When we arrived, there was at least a half hour wait.  When I asked the next group in the line, they assured us that it was well worth the wait.  It is a small place and the seats are crowded together, but still enough space to sit and eat without being jostled.
One of the house specialties is the Seafood Salad.  We are glad that we accepted the waitresses suggestion.  Essentially, it is a sashimi salad.  Bite size pieces of raw salmon, two types of tuna and one other fish, on a bed of spiral cut vegetables drenched in a tasty, but not too spicy reddish sauce.  We couldn't get enough of this and probably would have ordered a second dish if there hadn't been so many other items to try. 
There were a number of special rolls on the menu.  I ordered the Firecracker roll.  It is grilled jalapeno pepper stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried.  Over this was poured the most amazing sauce.  After I finished the japapenos I was dipping my sushi so that I wouldn't miss a single morsel of it.  Yes, it really was that good. 
Once again, we added another marker on the GPS and certainly hope to get back to Vegas to eat once again at Yama Sushi, though knowing hubby, we would be eating there at least twice on any future visits.
Be sure to visit next Saturday, when I'll have a review of a new cookbook and a contest to win one of three copies of another cookbook, part of my 1000th post celebration.
Still open, my contest in celebration of my 1000th post.  Win one of four quilt patterns from designers Babs 'n' Jas.
For more foodie fun, be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Post.  You are invited to add a link to your recent food related post.

Friday, 18 January 2013

First Nations Friday - The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor

 Part of my 1000 post celebration.

For about the past four years I have done an occasional end of the week post I title First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays where I review a work by a First Nations author.  This all began when I joined the Canadian Book Challenge, and John , the host, suggested that we could choose a theme for our books.  Since at that time I had read very few books by First Nations authors, I thought I would try and complete the challenge that way.
At first it was difficult to find books, but then I found All My Relations: An Anthology of  Contemporary Native Fiction edited by Thomas King.  This gave me lots of authors to search for and that lead to further authors etc.  Now my wish to read list of First Nations authors is pages long. 
Highlights from past First Nations/Aboriginal Fridays posts.

Best author photo ever is that of Michael Kusugak, found in his book Curse of the Shaman: A  Maple Island Story.
Youngest author who's book I have reviewed.  The Delta is my Home by Tom McLeod and Mindy Willet.
Most touching family memoir, Crazy Dave  by Basil Johnston about his uncle.
While I was training for my half marathon, I learned about Tom Longboat, who ran and won the Boston Marathon, but I knew next to nothing about him till I read The Man Who Ran Faster than Everyone by Jack Batten.
And finally, there is the book that got me interested in reading humour and short stories, (and the best book title) Furious Observations of a Blue-Eyed Ojibway: Funny you don't Look Like One Two Three by Drew Hayden Taylor.
To find more First Nations books that I have reviewed, check the list of tags in the side bar where they are also listed by Tribe membership.
One of the most satisfying parts of reviewing books by First Nations Authors, is that a large number of students visit and read these reviews.  I can tell when a book is being studied at some school/college or university.  All of a sudden I have dozens of visitors to a particular post and then none again for a few months.  I do wish that they would occasionally leave a comment telling me which school they are from, I do have a curious nature.
This week's review: The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel by Drew Hayden Taylor
Pierre L'Errant is a secretive man.  He is travelling to the Otter Lake Reserve, but his is exhibiting mysterious behaviour such as hiding in the airport all day and only leaving the buildings when it is night time.
On the Reserve, sixteen year old Tiffany Hunter has been told by her father that she must move all her belongings to the room in the basement; no explanation is given to her.  Being a teenager is tough enough when your mother runs off with another man and you are a visible minority in your school.  Now her father doesn't appear to want her in his daily life.
This book has all the earmarks of a Modern Gothic novel: mystery and horror.  Next, add in a little romance and the angst that accompanies all teenage affairs of the heart and the stage is almost set.  We also learn, that the swamp at the north end of the reserve is believed to be populated by unseen monsters and demons.  Thank goodness I wasn't sitting home alone while reading this. 
I can't tell you any more about the story as I'm sure I would spoil the suspense and mystery.
We do spend a lot of time with Tiffany and learn of her troubles of coming of age while living first, in a broken family and then by being the outsider at school and in her boyfriend's group of friends.  She also is dealing with the heritage of the Hunter Clan.  Her grandmother speaks to her in the language of the Anishinabe, of which she is the last fully fluent speaker on the Otter Lake Reserve.  Tiffany hardly understands a word, but her grandmother continues to do this.  How is it that Pierre understands her?
This novel is clearly written for a young adult audience.  It is just creepy enough to keep their attention, but not too scary to cause nightmares.  Much of the focus is on Tiffany and her boyfriend, with that story running parallel to that of why Pierre is visiting the reserve.
I continue to enjoy the writing of Drew Hayden Taylor and look forward to another of his works.
Additional books by Drew Hayden Taylor:

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Needlework Tuesday - 1000 post celebration and contest

 This is part of my 1000 post Celebration
When I started my blog, I didn't really know what I was doing.  When asked for a title, I typed in the first things that ocurred to me, Books and Quilts.  Little did I realize that this would become the recognized name of my blog.  As it has turned out, it is a title that works; my readers don't have to guess what I write about.  At first I wrote what I felt like on any given day.  About three years ago, I decided to make a weekly needlework post.  It was easier for me to gather photos from my week of stitching and I imagined that it would be more convenient for my readers who enjoyed needlework to know which day of the week they should visit.  Hence, Needlework Tuesday was born. 
I have invited my fellow stitchers to join me with their needlwork posts.  I have been encouraged by them and hopefully have done like wise for them.  The following bloggers have frequently linked with me:
Sherrie at Just Books - Sherrie will be ending her blog at the end of the month due to family considerations, I'll be sorry to lose her online companionship.
There are dozens of other needlework type blogs that I visit on a regular basis, many of which can be found on the left hand side bar of my blog.  When I am feeling in need of inspiration, I visit a few blogs, leave a comment or two and it revs me up and I'm ready to go again.
 I 've had lots of fun with my needlework.  One of my most memorable posts is about the yarn eating vacuum, it finally answers the question of how much yarn your vacuum can consume before you can hit the off button.
There are two posts that hold special significance with me.  They are  One Woman Quilt Show and One Woman Quilt Show part 2.  My father was very ill at this time and I was spending much time at my parents.  It brighten dad's day to watch as mom and I pulled out all of her quilts and took pictures of them for these posts.  Even on dad's sickest days, he still insisted that mom sew or that I take her to her quilt guild meetings.  Mom is still quilting up a storm and will be donating a fabric postcard in a contest later this month as part of my 1000 post celebrations.

Wandering the net, I have found and printed dozens of patterns.  In November, I decided that it was time to make some of them.  I wrote about these tea wallets in "A Small Project" on November 13 2012.   I love making them and have fabric cut for at least two dozen more.  The most fun is in selecting a fun/funky/chunky button for the closure.
While I was in New Zealand this summer, I bought two balls of this gorgeous tweedy wool. I  wrote about the wool and pattern in the post "Kiwi Crafts".  I  did change the pattern a bit as the hat didn't come down over my ear lobes.  Four extra repeats of the pattern were enough.  Now I am all set for the return of the winter weather.
My sister Nancy, tells me that years ago I promised to knit her some patterned mittens.  She reminded me in the fall.  Fortunately Knit Picks had a sale on kits for their Woodland Winter Mitts.  I ordered it and have started with the ribbing.  I am using the magic loop technique (first attempt) so that both mitts will be the same tension and length. A good method for  learning about the magic loop method is from a Youtube video. I don't have a specific one to recommend.  I have no idea how long these will take as the wool is quite fine and I am using 2.5 mm needles.


Now for the contest.  In September 2010, I had the opportunity  meet Barbara Haworth-Attard and Judy Ann Sadler.  The writing/quilting duo visited my local quilt guild and brought a wonderful trunk show.   You can read about that visit in my post "Authors Who Quilt".  Since then, I have joined my mother's guild, where Barb is also a member. 

IN the past few Needlework Tuesday posts I have shown your photos of the Razzle Dazzle table runner that I was stitching.    The instructions were well written and easy to follow.  I have several other patterns of theirs that I am looking forward to trying particularly the "skinnies".

Barb and Judy have kindly donated four patterns, pdf format, as prizes.

Quilt - Bubbles of Hope
Skinnies - Presents
Quilt - In or Out (special, only available directly from the designers, think arrows)
Skinnies - March of the Penguins

Contest open internationally, winners will receive a pdf of one of the patterns listed above.  To enter, you must visit Babs 'n' Jas Designs, view their patterns and pick a favourite from any of them, not just the four prizes.  Then come back here and leave a comment at this post, telling me which is your favourite.  Contest closes January 26, 2013.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Reading Bingo

Have you fallen into a rut and are reading the same genre of book again and again and the plot lines are looking the same.  Time to shake it up.  Random House has introduced Reading Bingo.  Follow this link, print out the Bingo card and start filling it up. 

I am going to read one book per square, no doubling up.  Hopefully most will come from my overflowing book shelves.  I might have trouble with "A book recommended by your barista" as I rarely purchase specialty coffees, but I'll figure that one out.

The prize is that you should have a fun filled year of reading that leaves you energized and wanting even more variety and excitement in your future reading.

ps, if you happen to be a barista, which book would you recommend?

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons was this months selection by my in person bookclub. 
In a far future time on a very distant planet, seven travellers are trying to determine why they have been selected to undertake a very difficult and most likely deadly pilgrimage.  The six men and one woman each have very complicated backgrounds and each of them has some sort of tie to the planet Hyperion.  Their destination is the mysterious Time Tombs.  For centuries, the Tombs have defied explanation and now it is widely believed that the Tombs are opening and that opening could spell the end of worlds and civilizations.
The pilgrims are at a loss to explain why they were selected and what is expected of them.  They hope that by sharing their stories, they will gain some sort of understanding of what might be expected of them and how they can help each other.
Five members of my bookclub were present for our meeting.  The other four all said that this book strongly reminded me of The Canterbury Tales by Geoffry Chaucer.  Not that the pilgrims stories were alike, rather that they each were told in a different style.  One horror, another tragedy, a military/romance etc.  I haven't read the Canterbury Tales, so can't comment on that.  The six tales that were related to us, were very different from each other.  The most moving of  them, was that told by Sol Weintraub about his daughter Rachel.  None of us were ashamed to admit that we were brought to tears by Rachel's illness and the effect it had on her family.
I was once again the standout, when the group was asked who was looking forward to reading the next book in this series, The Fall of Hyperion.  I have no interest in reading more.  I felt cheated by the end of this story.  It was almost 500 pages of introduction and when it was time for the plot to advance, it was done.  Nothing was resolved, how disappointing.  I feel that I have invested enough time in these characters and don't want to risk reading another book only to have it also with an unsatisfactory ending.
Thanks to Mr. Simmons for the use of the cover image.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Reading with the Nook Simple Touch

For the past two months, I have been playing with my Nook Simple Touch.  It is sold in the United States by Barnes & Noble.  For product specifications, follow this link.  

The light weight unit makes it easy to hold for extended reading sessions.  The e ink technology is easy on the eye and accomodates reading from any angle, including laying down.

I have found it very easy to access wifi and shop directly from the unit.  Once you have set up your account, it is simple to select and purchase a book.  Note, that at present only Americans can purchase ebooks from B & N.  However, if you register your Nook with an American shipping and billing address, you can purchase books from most anywhere in the world.  Since I am in Canada, I have registered mine to  a cousin's address.  It works perfectly.  Books are immediately available to download.  I can also browse B & N using my laptop and add books to my library for later downloading.

It is also easy to purchase books for other sources.  To do this, you need to install Adobe Digital Editions (a free software package) .  After purchasing your book, download it to this software following the vendor's directions.  Next, plug your Nook into your computer.  It should show up as a 'shelf' in ADE.  From there, it is simple to drag and drop books onto your Nook shelf.  I have Windows 7 on my computer and it does  not work.  Windows 7 views the Nook as a device that needs drivers.  ADE wants to treat the Nook as a removable storage drive.  To download books, I have to go to my ancient desktop where everything works as it should, just slower.

I have used B & N's online help.  There are lots of answers to common questions.  If you are having difficulty, that is the first place to look.  If you need further assistance, scroll further down the help page and look for the 'Need Help, Chat Now' logo and click there.  Depending on the time, you can message directly with  a knowledgable technician.  I have done this twice.  While they weren't able to help with the Windows 7 issue, they did help me connect with my old desktop. 

Further information about the Nooks, can be found on the B & N Nook  blog.   From the blog you can also access the forums/discussion boards, look to the right near the top of the page for the 'Choose a Discussion' drop down menu.  I have been there several times searching for help and have found some very knowledgable users who have been most helpful.

One feature I really like is that I can define my own shelves. To do this, go to the library screen, in the left hand menu, select 'Shelves'.  On the right of the screen is a button that says 'Add Shelf'.  Select that, name your self and then 'enter'.  Next will show a list of all your books with a check box.  Use your finger to select each book that you want to move to that shelf .  When you are finished adding books to your shelf, 'save'.  This is a great feature if more than one person is using the Nook.

One feature you won't want to miss is Free Fridays.  Each Friday, B & N offers one complete title for free.  From your Nook reader, go to the Shop page.  the bottom half of the screen shows the current advertisements.  On Fridays, one of them will be the offer of  a free book.  Select it to get a description of the book, and then decide whether you want to purchase it for free.

Storage.  I currently have about 85 books with space for 10-15 more.  A micro SD card to a maximum size of 32GB  can be purchased.  1GB allows for the storage of approximately 1000 books.

Daughter has been using the Nook more than I.  She finds it very easy to use and great for on the school bus.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Needlework Tuesday - I'm seeing Triangles


Welcome to my first Needlework Tuesday post of 2013.  Yesterday I celebrated the New Year with my 1000th blog post.  That's going to be a lofty milestone to top, but I sure am going to try.  Have you been stitching in the new year?  Be sure to leave a comment with a url to your recent post and I'll add a link a thte bottom of this post.

My sister Nancy is rather pleased that I have been stitching.  She was visiting from Calgary for the holidays.  She really wanted an Easy Bake oven, but it didn't happen.  Instead she got fabric.  Well, I was showing her what I had been working on, and she liked it.  So, both items found their way into her luggage.  First, is the serendipity Bag from Fabric Palette. It's called the Round Trip bag on their website, but same item.  It uses 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric.  I used the leftovers from the table runner that you'll see next, so I did have to piece some of my strips.  No big problem.  Looking forward to making more of these.

 Nancy also took home this table runner.  It's from the Razzle Dazzle pattern by Babs n Jas, two local designers from the London, Ontario area.

 After sewing the above two projects, I still had a lot of scraps left.  Standing at my cutting board, I decided that I would use them along with part of a new Marti Michelle template set.  I am using the 2 1/2 inch Strippers templates.  Cutting diamonds and triangles.  The pattern for this giant triangle was on the back of the instruction sheet.  All are cut from the same 2 1/2 inch strip.  There are no sewing directions, so I have included a visual guide for you.  Lay out your pieces so that you wil not confuse them while sewing.  I have set them so that the straight grain lies to the outsideof the block.

Starting in the middle, piece in strips.  I pressed all one direction so that the seams will spiral around the centre point. 
Prepare the next row to expand the triangle. 
Add another row, keeping the triangle shape.

Final row ready.  Yes, I did pin each of the intersections so everything matches up and no points are cut off.

Finished triangle.  I was able to piece three of these using mostly the left over fabrics from the table runner.  As I work through the year on various projects, I will cut more pieces, sewing triangles when ever I have enough.  Some quilters say they sew and extra block for each quilt they make, using that in a sampler at the end of the year.  That doesn't appeal to me. Each block a different pattern and different fabrics.  With this approach, I will have one block but a huge variety of fabrics.  I'm thinking of plain alternate triangles.
While on vacation in New Zealand, I bought a little knitting kit to make these adorable fingerless mittens for daughter.  I bought the kit at Wild and Wooly in Devonport.  They really don't have much of a web presence.  There is a blog, but it has one lone post and no response to comments.  It's a lovely little store with lots of wool.  My chriteria for shopping, was that it must be kiwi wool.  It is wonderfully soft merino from Touch Yarns.  I will definitely by purchasing more of this.  The kit showed a floral embroidery on the top of the mitts, but that didn 't suit daughter, so she drew me these little ghosties. 
 At the same shop, I purchased two balls of  a tweedy orange from Naturally.  it's shade 89.  This time it's a winter hat.  Photos next week.  I need to knit quickly as it's been cold here lately.
As I wander around the net and visit with my online friends, I find that many of them have also been busy with their various needles.  I have tried to leave comments and messages of encouragement every where I visit.
Marie, at Daisy's Book Journal has finished her afghan and continues to work on two scarves.  The sky scarf is most unique.
It's never too soon to get started on items for Christmas 2013.  Visit over at Lit and Laundry and get a first glimpse of Santa's Village.