Friday, 28 February 2014

Introducing Diva Shannon Pearson

Today, I have a very special video to share with you.  My daughter has been studying voice with soprano Angela Burns for a few years and she has finally allowed me to video her.  In this performance she is singing "Nel Cor piu non mi sento" (Why my heart feels so dormant), a soprano aria  by Giovanni Paisiellio's  1788 opera L'amor contrastato, ossia La molinara (La Molinara).  Considering she is only 17 at the time of this recording and I can only look forward to her future.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tangled Thursday - Sealing Jars and Such

I'm a wee bit late this morning.  A storm blew out of nowhere this morning about a minute after daughter left for school and a situation developed.  When your daughter calls moments after she's left, you start to worry and then when she uses the words ' pile up', you really get anxious.  Well, it was the cars in front of her and she was safe.  All this within a couple hundred metres of home. 

Now for tangle time.  The theme of  JARS was posed by Elaine.  When I was talking with her the other day, she said that she imagined a Mason jar with a layered mix in it.  I couldn't get it out of my head.  I think this would be a cookie mix, and the lollipop layer would be large candy coated nuts.  Tangles used: floating disks, Asian fans, cubine, lollipops and static variation.  My drawing is about 5 inches tall.
Welcome to Tangled Thursday.  A few of my local and online friends have joined me in an occasional Zentangle challenge.  We'll take turns choosing a theme  and them post our drawings in about 2 weeks time.  All are welcome to join in the fun.  If you are new to Zentangles, then visit the website for a complete explanation and all sorts of online resources.  I'm also a big fan of

I had been thinking along a different line, a line of jars.  These are supposed to be jars of jam, hence I chose tangles with circles which are to represent the berries.  Now that I'm looking at them in the fresh light of morning, they look more like Ben &Jerry icecream cartons.  not that I have any trouble with that at all.  Tangles used:  rain variation and culdesac, kings crown and andaluthia, papyrus and printemps.  Each measures about 3 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches .

I hope that you've been finding a bit of time to tangle.  It's a fun and relaxing adventure.  You can keep what you draw to yourself or you can post it online and add your link to Mr. Linky below.  Leave me a comment and let me know how you express yourself artistically.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What Happened to Ivy by Kathy Stinson

This is the type of fiction that should be read and talked about in every home and classroom. While this story is fiction, the events are ones that could impact most every family, not just those with disabled children, but also those with terminally ill family members.

Fifteen year old David has had to live most of his life in the shadow of his younger sister Ivy.  She was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy and takes up most of her parents' attention.  He loves his little sister, but he at the same time, he wants some time with his parents.

This novel explores the range of emotions that David goes through when he considers how Ivy has changed his life.  This is a very non-judgemental approach.  There is no right and wrong to David's feelings, just acknowledgement of their existence. 

During the course of the story, David had to confront some of the same questions I did when my father was facing  terminal illness. 

What Happened to Ivy is directed at a teenage audience, though I feel it would be most effective if it is also read by parents prior to a family discussion.

Thanks to author Kathy Stinson for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Stitching Interrupted

Winter doldrums and Olympic viewing have conspired to keep me from much stitching the past two weeks.  The wonderful winter sporting events have kept me on the edge of my seat for hours.  Love the newer ski and snowboarding events.  The persistent cold weather, often hovering around the -20C mark has also keep me from wandering far from home.  Most of my walks have been cut short so I can avoid frostbite. With it being so cold, I have to wear my Sorels, and they are heavy and not really meant for walking long distances, but they do keep my toes warm.   The cold does make it appealing to sit inside, bundled under a quilt or two, and knit and crochet.

I am making a concerted effort on completing the salmon coloured afghan.  The four long strips are complete and I am working on the little squares, 26 of 36 completed.  I might even get this finished before it warms up. yippee.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
The third pattern is out for the Red Heart Checkerboard Textures Throw.  I have printed it and am ready to work on it.  I bought this bright green to add to the project.  Still looking for a lemon yellow which is in the variegated and maybe the teal as well.  Must be a lot of crocheting and knitting going on, as lots of the worsted weight yarns are sold out in my local stores. 
I did manage to find the last four skeins of Red Heart Super  Saver Chunky yarn in the area. These are destined to become a floor matt for somewhere in my house.  I found a nice pattern that crochets in rows .  I think it is within my skill level.  I am trying not to start it until I get the salmon afghan finished.  The pattern is called Hearth & Home Rug.   I do have several floor matts around the house, but they all have that foam backing that deteriorates after a few years and leaves and annoying grey dust.  Since they need replacing, I figure I can crochet the replacements and get some colours and textures that I like.  There are quite a few patterns available on the internet and such yummy yarn colours are every where.  I am also intrigued by the idea of using a chunky yarn to crochet a doily so that it turns out as an area rug.  That one is further down my list.

Have any of you crocheted/knit rugs?  Please leave me a comment with your thoughts on this, and a link if you have photos or pattern suggestions.  Mr. Linky is awaiting you.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Tangled Thursday - Book Review

Somehow I managed to get a bit behind schedule this week and am only now getting my regular Thursday post ready.  Instead of drawing some tangles, I thought I would post a review of my favourite Zentangle book.

Zentangle Basics by Suzanne McNeill has remained my favourite even though I own four other related book.  She starts from the beginning listing the few materials that you need to get started and what ages this art form would be appropriate, ages five and up.  Very quickly, Suzanne gets you started with your first drawing.  She shows step by step illustrations of how to draw each tangle, both as a full square of each and then as part of a mulit-tangle drawing.  In all she show 24 step by step tangles.

One of the best features of the book, are the images of completed tangles drawn using the illustrated tangles.  She also gives lots of ideas of how and where to use Zentangles in your daily activities. 

No matter that I own several other Zentangle books, this is the one that I keep coming back to time and again.  I highly recommend Zentangle Basics for anyone wanting to start this type of drawing.  This book is widely available from most book retailers and even from some quilt shops and art stores.

For those who are following along with our weekly challenges, Elaine has suggested that for next Thursday we draw a Jar full of Tangles

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Needlework Tuesday - Hooking like Crazy ... Crochet hook that is

Work on the Red Heart Checkerboard Textures Throw is progressing.  I have two of the ten granny squares complete.  I don't think I have made a granny square in 30 years.  I like the little twist that the designer employed about turning the block after every row.  It emphasises the square line in every other round.  This colour is called Banana Berry.  All the granny squares will be made with this.
Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

Work on my sister's afghan is proceeding at a good pace.  I have almost finished the four long rows.  7 more pattern repeats to finish row four.  Then I have 18 squares to make and finally, sew it all together.  Actually, I am going to get started on the sewing as soon as I finish these last repeats so it's not all left for the end.  That is my least favourite part of the process.  I really need a friend who lives nearby, who doesn't knit or crochet, but likes to stitch things together.  I'd be so happy.
One of my long time friends, Kathy,  was visiting on Sunday.  it was a great catch up visit as we've lived quite a distance apart for the past several years.  During that time, she's started designing knitting patterns.  One is for a most unique scarf that she titled The Knitters Code.  You can make this scarf as long or as short as you desire, or add to it at any time.  What determines it's length, is your experience as a knitter.  Each technique you try, you get to add a technique square , each garment you knit, depending on technique, you get to add another square in a per-determined colour.  For example, if you have knit the brioche stitch, then you add a square of brioche in beige,  if you knit a cabled hat then you add a red square with cables, and if you knits mitts with ribbing, then you add a pink ribbed square.  You can bind off at the completion of each square so you can wear your scarf.  After earning another square, you pick up stitches at one end and knit your new square.  As one knitter said, it's like earning merit badges. 
I was with Kathy at a knitting show, and every few feet, she was stopped by a fellow knitter to ask about her unique scarf.  Makes me want to have my own.  Next I need to purchase some yarn, decide which squares I have already earned and am eligible to knit right away.  Later I'll work at learning some more techniques and earn a few more squares.  Kathy will join with me in the spring for a guest post/ q&a and if you're lucky, she'll offer a copy of her pattern for a random  drawing.
The Knitter's Code pattern, all 41 pages,  is available for a very reasonable price at Ravelry.
Have you been putting your Olympic watching time to good use by getting some stitching done at the same time?  Visit Mr. Linky below and add a link to your recent post showing your Medal watching projects.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Daughter of Smoke and Bone byLaini Taylor

This is one of those stories that reeled me in, the longer I listened to it, the more I wanted to just sit there and listen.  It wasn't any one incident but rather an accumulation of little mysteries, intrigues. 

The story starts with Karou, a seventeen year old girl who is attending art school in Prague who has a compelling encounter with a beautiful man on the street.  Soon we meet her unique 'family', involving seemingly whimsical characters or Chimera we are told later.  Then there is her father  figure Brimstone, who is best described as a demon.  Finally, there is Akiva, a too beautiful man, who casts aside reason and his most important task once he sets his eyes upon Karou.

With this intriguing assortment of characters, I had no idea of where this story might travel, and travel it did.  Karou could move around the world through a series of magical doorways that all started at Brimstone's shop but opened around the world.  I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Marrakesh, which evoked for me the feelings of the markets there.

I listened to the audio book which was read by Khristine Hvam, for which she won and Audie Award.  She has read for over 100 audio books.  The voices that she made for these varied characters really did bring them to life for me.  This unabridged edition is 12 hours 33 minutes.

The end of this book does answer some nagging questions about Karou and her history, but it leaves many more open.  The story continues in Days of Blood & Starlight and then in Dreams of Gods & Monsters which is due for release April 8, 2014.

thanks to Hachette Book Group for use of the cover image.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Hyde: An Urban Fantasy by Lauren Stewart

I reached a certain point in this book and I just couldn't put it down until I was finished in the wee hours of the morning.  I don't regret staying up that late at all.

I believe that we all have our good and bad sides, but for Mitch Turner, his good side is rather nasty and his bad side is super bad, bad, bad.  He has turned bad into a career as a successful life coach, not a life is sweet and apple pie kind but a nails and daggers one. 

The sweet and apple pie belong to Eden Colfax.  She is the type of girl that you want to introduce to your mom.  She doesn't lie, curse or party her nights away.  Life seems to be everything she wants until she wakes up one morning  in bed with Mitch.    I was hooked from that moment.  How could such a good girl pair up with him, OK, with gorgeous him.

Since he was a teen, Mitch has known that at certain time, he transforms into a brutal persona he's named Hyde.  He does whatever it takes to keep him at bay, even enlisted the aid of his secretary Jolie (she has secrets of her own).  His well structured life is thrown into chaos after meeting Eden and all he wants is to get her out of his life, but she keeps barging back in.

This is not a re-telling of Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886  book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Rather, it is a love story, a story of trust and betrayal, and a story of secrets.  Note that this is an adult novel and is not suitable for younger readers due to mature language and sexual content.

Mitch and Eden's stories continue in Jekyll and concludes in Strange Case.

At the time of writing this review, the ebook of  Hyde: an Urban Fantasy is free from a number of  online retailers.

Thanks to author Lauren Stewart for use of the cover image.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Tangled Thursday - Seeing Rings, Olympic Rings that is.

Inspired by last week's theme of the Olympics, we stuck with rings again. Any tangle could be used as long as it involved circles/rings.  I returned to string 58, which we played with a few weeks ago.  Here's the link to that earlier post.
Tangles used this week: Printemps, Beelight, Bubbles, Chads, Dandelion Seeds, and Nipa
Welcome to Tangled Thursday.  A few of my local and online friends have joined me in an occasional Zentangle challenge.  We'll take turns choosing a theme  and them post our drawings in about 2 weeks time.  All are welcome to join in the fun.  If you are new to Zentangles, then visit the website for a complete explanation and all sorts of online resources.  I'm also a big fan of

I was no where near done playing with circles after one tile.  I thought the arcs of string 89 lent well to this week's theme.

Tangles used: Bales, Flutter, Kings Crown variation, Twilight Zone, and Knightsbridge variation.
And finally, one of my favourite strings, a stylised Z.  Tangles used: Unagi, Wabi, Soup Bowls , and Pintemps.

Many of the tangles I used this week were new to me.  I have been working my way through the 100 tangles illustrated in Joy of Zentangle : Drawing Your Way to Increased Creativity, Focus, and Well-Being by Suzanne McNeill, Sandy Steen Bartholomew, and Marie Browning.

I hope that you had a chance to work through the lessons that I posted last week.  They are a good place to start your Zentangle journey.   I'd love to hear back whether they were helpful.

For those who have joined us on our tangled journey, I hope that you'll join below and add your link to Mr. Linky.  I'll be sure to visit and leave a comment.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Needelwork Tuesday: Help needed with Antique Tulip Quilt

Today I have a special Needlework Tuesday post.  This lovely double tulip quilt belongs to my daughter's voice teacher.  It was made by one of her great grandmothers in 1937.  As expected, it is in need of some careful attention.  It has already been treated to some replacement patches by her grandmother, and now Angela want to replace some more.

This is the sole remaining original block.  It appears to be a double tulip. If you look carefully, you can notice that the tulip has a second set of petals in pale pink. In all the other blocks, they have been replaced with a single unit and the curved petal behind the middle one has disappeared.

I've done a little colour manipulation in this image to try and bring up the pale petals.

Most of the blocks look like this one where the applique is almost totally worn away.

The blocks are about 11 inches square and are set on point, alternating with a plain block.  This corner triangle in a replacement.  The originals appear to have been a pale pink.

Both grandmother's signatures embroidered in pale pink.

I don't have any books on antique quilts and my online research hasn't yielded any info on this block.  I have seen one similar one but the stem is very different.  Any help in identifying the pattern would be appreciated.

Also, We are going to replace the binding, actually add a new binding over the top.  Should we stick with the ivory/white or go with pink or green?  I don't want to remove the original binding as I'm afraid that if I remove it it will weaken the edge and perhaps some of the quilting threads will come loose.  The quilting is in very good shape with few breaks.  As a side note, many of the knots are on the outside of the quilt and not buried inside.  The threads have been cut right tight up to the knot.  The quilt measures approximately 65 x 78 inches.  It is well loved and cared for by Angela.

Did you do some needlework this past week, perhaps while watching some of the Olympic events?  Visit Mr. Linky below and add a link to your post.  i'll be sure to stop by and leave a comment.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Gargoyles: 30 Postcards

What's not to love about a book of purposely ugly characters.  Each card is 4 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches and is printed on a good quality card stock.  The front is glossy and the back is matte.  All photos are by Dr. Janetta Rebold Benton, a Professor of Art History at Pace University in New York. 

These old world gargoyles are found on cathedrals and other significant buildings in Great Britain and Europe.  Your friends and family will love receiving these quirky characters in the mail.

From Abbeville Publishing Group.
Funny face, found on a cloister beside the Oviedo Cathedral, Spain.

Green Man found at Salisbury Cathedral, England.  There are currently 14 green men reports at Salisbury Cathedral.

Human face on a monstrous body, Lichfield Cathedral, England.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

How to get started with Zentangles

Welcome to Tangled Thursday.  A few of my local and online friends have joined me in an occasional Zentangle challenge.  We'll take turns choosing a theme  and them post our drawings in about 2 weeks time.  All are welcome to join in the fun.  If you are new to Zentangles, then visit the website for a complete explanation and all sorts of online resources.  I'm also a big fan of

Quite a few readers have commented that they don't know how to get started.  Your best bet is to find a Certified Zentangle Teacher and take a class.  It will be money well spent.  If that is not an option,  today I have prepared some lessons for my readers.

Get out a fine point marker, some paper and a pencil.  Use the pencil to lightly draw a 3 inch square (free hand is good) on the paper. Start with the first lesson, work through all four, and then lesson 5 you put them together.  YOu can use small pieces of paper or use a larger one and draw several squares (referred to as tiles) on it and your lessons will be all in one place.  Then take a photo and post it on your blog, and then come back here and add the link to that post to Mr. Linky.  or if you don't have a blog, email me a photo of your artwork from  lesson 5 and I'll post it next week.
My email  heatherdpear at Hotmail dot com

** note- I have shown broken down the tangle to individual steps.  The red lines are what is added at each step.  You will only draw one square and do all the steps in that square.  Yours will look like the final block in each lesson.  
Lesson 1 - Static ( I added some shading in the final block to make it look more 3D)
Lesson 2 Knightsbridge

Lesson 3 Keeko

Lesson 4 Corn Rows

Lesson 5 Putting it together

This weeks challenge, posed by Tami, was the Olympics.  Since I spent my time drawing lessons, I didn't get much done, but I did incorporate two of the tangles, Knightsbridge and Static in my drawing.   It as fun using tangles with circles, and there are a lot to chose from.

Next week's challenge is still keeping the Olympics in mind, use tangles with circles.

Do you have a post to share, add your name and link to Mr. Linky.  i'll be sure to drop by for a visit and will leave a comment.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Without by Glenis Stott

It was the cover of this book that caught my attention.  It's clean and to the point and, being an environmental studies grad, I couldn't pass by.

Daily life in England some 30 years after the Upheaval is still recognisable, but there are some noticeable differences.  There is nothing new, everything is used, re-used and then re-used again and again.  All manufacturing has ceased and residents of England are dependent on the cast offs of their neighbours, but many items are becoming un-usable.  The structure is pushed to the limits and something is bound to break.

Celia and her husband Robin have been feeling this strain and are no longer complacent about their lot in this well ordered life. 

This new society didn't really seem like much of a stretch from being possible.  Some people would come out better and others would be worse off, but on average, would most people really notice especially after a few decades.

I liked the way that author Glenis Stott introduced the concept of no choice in your life and that there was no benefit to people taking initiative.  Even that the population in the cities were losing the basic skills of how to care for their belongings, since nothing belonged to them.

This novel is an example of the characters within the book carrying a good concept too far.

website for Glenis Stott

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Needlework Tuesday - A Really Cute Tea Cosy

My second tea cosy of the year is perfectly timed for the cold snowy weather we've been having.  It is from the pattern Purple Teacozy of Sex by Suzy Gonzalez.   It turned out great, though it is too big for any of my teapots.  It is supposed to fit a 4 cup pot, but using two strands of worsted weight yarn together is obviously bigger than chunky.  Oh well, some one in the family is bound to have a larger pot.  Daughter helped me select the fun buttons for the front.

This month I'll be working on the Scallop Tea Cosy  by Crochetroo from Australia.

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
The temperature scarves and getting long; they are as tall as I am now.  On the left is mine for Waterloo, Ontario and on the left is the mystery location which I'll be revealing in October.
Last week I mentioned that I have once again signed up for the 350 Block Challenge hosted by Shelly at Prairie Moon Quilts. see the link in the side bar to the left of this post.  This month I pieced 20 fabric post cards and two more traditional blocks.  The construction of the postcards will be more fully discussed on my postcard blog Send a Postcard a Week.  ps. if you like to receive postcards,  I currently have a contest running to have a Nancy Drew postcard mailed to you. click this link to be taken to that post where you can use the Rafflecopter to enter.
Red Heart Yarns is hosting a Crochet Along this year.  Every two weeks they will be releasing a new pattern stitch.  There will be ten different blocks along with ten granny squares to compete the quilt.  Cross stitched Square is the first block, so if you haven't started, it won't take you long to get caught up.  My block is a bit small even though I increased my hook size from 3.75 to 4.25 mm.   I'm looking forward to the  next pattern which will be on Red Heart's blog on Thursday.
Did you have a chance to do some stitching this past week.  Add a link to your recent post to Mr. Linky and I'll be sure to drop by for a visit.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Secret of the OldClock: Nancy Drew 30 Postcards

Nancy Drew novels were very popular when I was a teen.  I spent many hours reading  and talking about them.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the publisher had released a postcard collection of some of the original titles.
They are printed in full colour on sturdy card stock.  The cards fit into three groups.  The first, are reproductions of covers from circa 1939.  The covers from this period were illustrated by Russell H. Tandy. These first books were penned by author Mildred A. Wirt Benson.  For decades I had thought they were written by Carolyn Keene. I'm glad I didn't find this out when I was young, I would have been dis-illusioned.
These covers, that I am familiar with, are were introduced in 1962 and featured the iconic yellow spine.
This cover was introduced in 1962.

Regardless of the cover style, the intrigue and appeal of the books remained the same.  It will be wonderful to send these cards out to my girlfriends and trigger fond memories of when they were young.

To read more about the Nancy Drew series, visit the site Nancy Drew Sleuth.

 See the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win one of these postcards to be addressed and mailed to you.  Open to international entrants.

a Rafflecopter giveaway