Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Fairest of All - Whatever After Book 1 by Sarah Mlynowski

 Abby is not happy about moving and she is certainly not happy about having to change schools.  When her brother's night time prowling around the house wakes her up, she is mad, mad enough to get out of bed and find him.

When she does, he's in front of an old mirror that was left in their basement by the previous owners.  They are about to find out that by knocking on the mirror three times they will be launched into a fantastic adventure.

The Whatever After series is a wonderful middle grade set that will entertain boys and girls alike.  For children who are familiar with the classic fairy tales, they will have fun trying to figure out how Abby and Jonah can help the characters get their tales back on track.

Parent note, this is suitable for younger children who are reading at a higher level.

I enjoyed listening to the audio book as read by Emily Eiden.  Unabridged edition 3 hours 20 minutes.

At present there are ten books in this series by Canadian author Sarah Mlynowski.  She is also the author of the Upside Down Magic series.

Cover image courtesy Scholastic Books Canada

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday: Progress in Baby Steps

Last week I talked about the small things that held me back in a project.  That got me thinking more about small things.  Often, a project can be overwhelming when I look at it in it's entirety.  There is just so much to do before I get to that finished piece.  Taking advice from my valued readers, I found success with small things.

First, I took Lin, at St. Victor Quilts,  suggestion, and moved the socks from the single double pointed needle onto two sets of needles.  I untangled the four skeins of wool and am now ready to review the pattern and start on the heels.  once the heels are turned, I can move the socks back to the original needle and continue knitting two at a time.  Thanks Lin.

This might not seem like a big step, but when you consider that these socks have been sitting for over six months with no progress, this is a monster step.

 My Canada wall hanging has finally left the starting gate.  I was shopping with daughter for some darning needles that would work with worsted weight yarn, and spied a package of red buttons.  Should be just enough to complete my project in the original size I wanted.  Happy dance in the store aisle.

First step, iron freezer paper to the back of the background fabric.  Next, trace the maple leaf design with a fine pencil.  Then I outlines with a Prang brand red crayon and coloured it in.  I didn't go too dark, since that might interfere with the effect of the buttons.  After colouring, I covered it with paper towel and pressed well with  a hot iron.  You can actually see on the back of the fabric when the crayon has seeped into the fabric.

Next step is to embroider using the stem stitch with red thread all around the outside.  I feel that will give nice definition to the leaf when it it done.  I won't worry about few places I went outside the line; I'll just cover those areas with buttons.

I am pleased with my small bits of progress.  They helped me along when I was stalled.  I employ the same technique when I am stuck in a book.  I'll tell myself that I'll just read one chapter and can then move the book mark ahead a few pages.  It feels so much better knowing that the bookmark is that much closer to the back of the book.  When I think about it, I use that same technique in other areas of my life.  Laundry and housework being of major note.  I am not a fantastic housekeeper, though I do find I can get a lot done if I break it up into small tasks. Seems a lot less overwhelming that way.  I load of laundry here and there, and before I know it, it's all done.

Do you find an area in your life where it works well for you to approach tasks in small bits?

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.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday: On Starting a Canada Project

In less than two weeks, there will be flag waving, poutine eating and lots of fireworks and I have yet to start stitching my Canada Day quilted wall hanging.  eeks. I guess I should step up my game.

I did print out the outline of  a maple leaf and have scattered my buttons on the paper.  oops, I don't have enough buttons.  Plan two, I will make the maple leaf smaller and perhaps use some clusters of beads to fill in spaces.

This is one of those projects where size is not really an issue.  It will look terrific on my wall regardless if it is an inch or two shorter. Who will know or even care.

Often times, I get caught up on the small details of a project and it will delay me for days, weeks, months or even longer.  In this case, any further delays will spoil the concept of the project.   If there are gaps left between buttons, so be it, they can be filled in later.  I can add beads, but I could also add some silk ribbon flowers or embroider clusters of french knots (which to my surprise I have found I enjoy stitching).

I have another project that has sat languishing because I am held up by a small detail.  I am knitting socks for my sister and I need to shift the stitches around on the needles so that I can turn the heels.  Slight complication, I am knitting them on one needle (magic loop) but the pattern is not written that way.  I\m sure it will only take me a half hour to make the shift along with a wee bit of knitting, but why have I been stalling for several months.  I think what I need to do, is shift the socks to double pointed needles, then get them oriented properly for doing the heels and then put them back on the magic loop needle.  That would be so  much easier than trying to figure out how to do it using on the one long needle.  Arg.  The second step will be to purchase a book with patterns for knitting two socks on one needle.

It's wonderful to have a place, such as my blog, where I can voice my concerns/challenges and work them out or ask for help.  I quilt with friends and can ask they help/advice, but I usually knit or crochet alone.  Here I find the companionship I enjoy.  Thanks for all sticking with me and supporting me.  I greatly appreciate it.  I hope in turn, that you are getting the support/encouragement that need to continue in your stitching projects and in working out those small details.

Cheers to not letting small details continue to stump us.

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.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Monday, 19 June 2017

More of Me by Kathryn Evans

As my daughter travelled through her teenage years, she tried on all sorts of personas in an attempt to determine who she wanted to be.  Punk, drama queen, athlete and so on.  With each change, she learned more about herself and in time, she picked and chose those bits that she liked and melded them into the wonderfully diverse person she has become.  In More of Me by author Kathryn Evans, Teva has been forced into a similar situation, though not one of her choosing.  Each year, her new self splits from her older self and goes out into the world to continue as Teva, while the pre-existing, older self hides away in the house continuing on at that age.  Sixteen year old Teva likes her life and wants to keep it,  and at the same time, fifteen year old Teva is determined to reclaim hers.

At sixteen, Teva should be have a fun, carefree time. She is almost finished high school, has a loving, attentive boyfriend and best friend who keeps her grounded.  Will this be enough to get her through the struggle she is having in trying to determine what is real in her life and that which is imagined.

I loved this story.  It has such a unique story line that it kept me guessing through out.  I had this niggling feeling in the back of my head that wouldn't let me accept one truth and deny the other.  Each time I thought I knew the truth of Teva's life, some other clue would develop and I'd be back on the fence.

Teva's life epitomises what it is grow up. At each birthday, you look to the future and seize all that which you decide is the new, mature you and discard all that which made up the younger you.  Each year you become a new, older you, with the younger you left behind.  Each of us, even Teva, gets to decide how to integrate that old life with the new that it yet to happen.

This is  a wonderful and imaginative debut novel from British author Kathryn Evans.  I look forward to reading future novels from such a fertile imagination.  And yes, I do agree with her, that pink can be fierce.

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review.

Cover image courtesy Amulet Books.


Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday - On Playing with my new Sewing Machine

 I met with the ladies from my quilt bee last week, and Sharon taught us how to hand piece this 3D bow tie block.  It's quite easy to do as long as you get the placement right.  I didn't want to hand piece as I had other plans.  I have purchased a new sewing machine and planned to start a new project on it.  This is a small one that will test out a variety of stitches and techniques.The machine comes with a free lesson(s) and Sonja, the sales lady, recommended I go home and sew a bit before scheduling a lesson. Good plan.

There was lots of page flipping and a bit of cursing, but I finally found the correct stitch for the 1/4 inch foot and I whipped through these blocks.

 I want to make a small wall hanging for hubby's office, and this is the design I thought I wanted.  Its just not appealing though.  He loves orange, but this combination and the layout don't work for me.  Sharon showed use some alternative designs, so I thought one of them might work.    The bow tie blocks are 6 inches finished, and I didn't want to make any more or the finished item would be too big.
This layout, x's and o's layout, is much nicer, though that darker orange for the border is not going to work.
With the additional of narrow, darker border and a print for the outer border, I have something i can love.  Once it's layered up with batting and backing, I'll be back to the manual to finger out stitching in the ditch and then free motion quilting.

You're probably wanted to ask what machine I went with. A Janome Horizon.  It has the largest opening for machine quilting.  My mom has three Janomes so it made sense to go with the same brand.  She'll be my go to for all operational questions.Yeah mom.

I am planning to get this done quickly, so I can move back to the other orange quilt with all the half square triangles.  yes, they are the same orange fabrics.  The pieces were still sitting on my cutting table when Sharon told me which supplies I needed for her class.  Why press more fabrics when I had ones at hand.  I still have the orange fabrics out, so I expect at least one my small orange project before putting them away or using them up.

I finished the first pair of purple and green fittens. (shown in the upper left). Great stripping.  At my bee, I showed these to the other ladies and some of them are quite interested in stitching their own pairs.  They were asking about the pooling of the colours.  There is a good article on colour pooling on the Red Heart site including a list of their yarns that might/should work with the technique.

The second pair of slippers that I started are one size larger than the first, that is eight more stitches.  The colour change happens about every 9 stitches resulting in a very slow shift of colours in the second pair. Quite a different look.

I would be interested in seeing any of your colour pooling projects/attempts.  Add the link to Mister Linky (new or old posts are welcome).

Nothing like a new project or an exciting turn of stripes to add excitement and to revitalize a stalled stitching mojo.  A new sewing machine is extra invigorating.  That should keep me going for ages, now just imagine when I take my new serger out of it's box....

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.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Warriors #1: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Rusty, a kitten,  has only ever know the comfortable life in a house, until one night when he ventures into the woods behind his owners house.  There he meets a wild cat, which starts him off on an adventure that changes his life.

I had heard good reviews of this series from a number of young readers and I wanted to check it out for myself.  The story line does stand up to their praise.  The authors have created a rich world of cats that live outside the bounds of the humans.  They have a well developed society that is governed by a strict moral warriors code.  When Shadow Clan begins breaking those boundaries, all the clans are affected.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book.  I forgot quickly that the characters were all cats and was drawn into their daily lives.  The readers sees the cats' world through the eyes of kittens Firepaw (Rusty's new clan name) and Greypaw.  From the moment they meet, they are drawn together and become the best of friends.  This is lucky for Firepaw as he has a lot to learn about living out of doors, things that being a house cat never prepared him for.

I can certainly see why this series remains popular with the middle school students.  It is full of action and cats to cheer for as well as a few cats to dislike.  The story moves quickly and covers topics that kids can relate to such as bullies, yes there are cats that are bullies, who knew.  Even though this book was written in 2003, it has aged well. The clans are under stress as their environment is being threatened by human development.  There is not enough food to go around, yet they don't want to leave as this is their ancestral homeland.

There are enough books in this series to keep an interested young reader going for at least a year.  Visit the Warriors web site for a full listing of the titles.  I would recommend starting with this title, the first written.

Author Erin Hunter is really composed of six authors: Kate Cary, Cherith Baldry, Tui T. Sutherland, Gillian Phillips, Inbali Iserles, and Victoria Holmes. 

Cover image courtesy HarperCollins Canada


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Needlework Tuesday - The Afternoon Edition

I'm a bit slow off the mark today, but I do have pearly white teeth now.  Yes, I had a dentist appointment this morning.  All is well, though I do need to replace a filling and have booked an appointment for that.  I still get anxious about any procedure beyond cleaning, but my dentist and all round cool person prescribes and anti-anxiety med to be taken before hand. It has transformed my dental appointment life.  If you have dental anxiety like I used to, check out my earlier post: An Approach to dealing with Dental Appointment Anxiety.  

 I did have a productive week.  I tried a new approach. I was having trouble staying on one task, so decided I would work with that.  I  wanted to read, I wanted to knit and I wanted to sew. I couldn't chose just one.  I decided to do all three. I rotated through the three and then started again.  I have the latest fittens at the decrease stage and am thrilled with how they are turning out.  The colours shift about 8 stitches each round.  The next pair I make from this yarn is going to be one size larger, which happens to be 8 stitches, and I am curious how they will turn out.  It could be bars of colour from the cast on bottom up to the needles.

 Second project is the t-shirt quilt for non-sewers.  I am planning to write tutorial for this one.  There are lots of runners who ask me about making a t-shirt quilt, but they don't sew and  paying someone to make one for them is quite expensive.  I think this hand technique would work for them.  The project is a surprise so I can't share a better photo.  I am using a large needle and non-dividable pearl cotton .  A roll of masking tape rounds out the supplies.  I want this to be a functional quilt that will get used.  It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, it's all about the message behind the shirts that will be on it.  i am quite excited about how it is turning out.  Can't wait to share it with you.

 And finally, my Canada Day project.  I bought the white back ground fabric and have been collecting the red buttons for a while.   Nope, I'm not sewing them down in a heart shape, and I have no idea if I will use 150 buttons, but they will be individually hand sewn to the base.  Probably with red thread.  I can't wait to get started, especially since Canada Day is not that far away.

With it being Canada's 150 anniversary of confederation, are you doing anything special?  For those not in Canada, what do you like best about our great nation?  Perhaps the image of our Mounties, our maple syrup, or our amazing authors.  Please leave your comments, I am curious to know.

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.

Mister Linky is waiting below for a link to your current needlework post.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

In no way is this your typical romance.

Dimple is looking forward to her summer away from home before starting university in the fall. She knows that successfully completing the distinguished web design summer program will open all sorts of doors for her in the future.

Rishi has other reasons for attending; he is going to meet his future wife, the one his parents have selected for him.

Both Dimple and Rishi were anticipating huge changes to their lives as a result of this summer camp, but they got far more than they expected.

I loved this book form the opening pages.  Dimple is a strong young woman, she knows what she wants out of life and has a plan how to achieve it.  She intends to beak out of the mould her parents have planned for her.

Rishi likewise knows what he wants and a has a pragmatic approach for his success.  He is very traditional, loves his heritage and embraces the idea of the life his parents have planned for him

All is going well for the teens and their plans, until they meet.  From that moment, I couldn't wait to read more, to find out how they both could succeed in their goals without totally crushing the other.  How could I not love both Dimple and Rishi.  They were both so sincere and passionate in their belief that they had chosen the correct life path.

As I read, I also pondered the idea of arranged marriages.  It is still widely accepted in many parts of the world but disdained in others.  To fully appreciate it's value, I feel I would have had to have grown up within it's practise.  To have had parent, grandparents and aunts and uncles watching over me and perusing perspective bride grooms.  It appears a years long, if not life long process of much thought and consideration.

I can imagine the lively discussions this book will initiate among teen  readers.  Tradition vs modern thought.  The value of involving your parents in your life and finally being true to yourself and your passions vs purely financial goals.

This is a wonderful debut novel from author Sandhya Menon.  Her next book is due out in 2018.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books and Music Inc., in exchange for an honest review. 

Cover image courtesy Simon & Schuster Canada.


Friday, 2 June 2017

In Too Deep :Stewart Island #1 by Tracey Alvarez

Piper Harland is a member of the elite police dive team and often is involved in recovering bodies of drowning victims.  When her brother needs help, she puts aside her work and rushes south to help.  While she knew it would be hard, physical work, she didn't expect that coming face to face with Ryan Westlake once again would be harder than anything she faced in her job..

I don't typically read modern romances, but I have a fascination with New Zealand and couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn more about the country.  I loved the rich details of Stewart Island and the closeness of the community.

This is a well written book that kept me interested throughout.

At the time of writing this review, In Too Deep is available free at some ebook retailers.

Cover used courtesy of author Tracey Alvarez.