Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pin It/Do It is Back

Now that Trish is a SAHM of two adorable little girls, she has TONS of free time to host fun challenges!   Don't throw things - I'm joking.  As a veteran SAHM, I know how little free time she truly has and I'm ecstatic that she is giving up part of it to host another Pin It and Do It Challenge.  Thanks, Trish!

If you've never seen the challenge before, here's how it works:

1. To participate, you will choose your level and then make (or do) that amount of pins during October 2013. Challenge ends October 31st.

2. Report back on your Pin It and Do It success. On October 1st I'll post a linky for you to link up. Ideally this will come in the form of a blog or tumblr post. Or you can post about it on Facebook or Flickr if you don’t have a blog or tumblr. Or create a board on Pinterest for this challenge. If none of the above, report your success in the Wrap-Up Post comments.

3. Anyone is welcome to join!

The Levels:
Timid Pinner: 1-3 Pins
Pinterested: 4-7 Pins
Pin Obsessed: 8+ Pins

I am jumping in at the "Obsessed" level because it's my favorite time of year and I have lots of ideas for Christmas gifts and decorations.  You can see my ideas on my Oct. PinIt/DoIt Pinterest board.  These are just ideas - I reserve the right to change my mind on a whim. 

Also - I'm adding an additional challenge to my plan.  A $5 spending limit.  I have plenty of fabric, paper, pens and other supplies to accomplish these pins.  I'm only allowing myself the $5 to cover thread or other notions that may come up.  I'll be inlcuding an "Amount Spent" in each of my Pin posts.

If you want to play along, visit Trish at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity, and sign up.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Needlework Tuesday

I finally had a Saturday at home, so got to do a little sewing.  I whipped up two more child-size aprons.  The pink Snoopy print is the same size as the original pattern (age 2-5), with one minor change.  The neck strap was a little long for my 2-year-old test subject, so I added elastic so that the strap could be a bit shorter, but still go over her head.  The aprons close at the waste with Velcro so little cooks can do it themselves.  They are also reversible - the back side is made from the contrasting fabric on the straps and pockets.  The pink/blue print apron is a slightly larger version (age 6-8).    I hit the discount fabric bin and picked up a selection of girly prints to make more of these to sell.  I also purchased a pattern and fabric to make adult-size versions as Christmas gifts.  They are a quick and easy project.

Remember that throw-size quilt for the camper that I was going to finish in June as part of the UFO Challenge?  Is it the end of June yet?  It's finally finished!  Well, it still needs backing, ties and binding, but the top is finished.  It's a Disappearing 9-patch with no sashes between blocks. It's a good pattern for beginners because it looks way more complicated than it is, and there are very few seams that have to line up.  The challenge was that, since the blocks don't have an obvious up/down, I kept getting them rotated 90 degrees which then put like-fabrics together.  I ripped out and re-sewed the first few, but there are two that I didn't notice until I had attached the next row and it was too much ripping for a quilt that's supposed to look random and will only be used to cuddle up by a campfire.  Now if I can just get it completed before snow flies.

Needlework Tuesday is a weekly feature sponsored by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Stop by and see what everyone is stitching.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Doctor Sleep Read Along

Doctor Sleep, Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, will be released tomorrow, and starting October 1, Tiff @ Tif Talks Books and Charlene @ Cheap Thrills will be hosting a Read-Along.

If all goes as planned, I'll be participating in Twitter chats (hashtag #sleepalong) and posting updates and answers to discussion questions on the following dates:

Monday, September 30:  Doctor Sleep Read-along Kick-off!
Monday, October 7:  Discussion #1 (approx. pages 1-180)
Monday, October 14:  Discussion #2 (approx. pages 181-360)
Monday, October 21:  Wrap-up Discussion (total 544 pages)

I read The Shining soon after it's publication in 1977, at the age of 16 or 17, and have not reread it since.  A recent interview with with Mr. King, published in The Guardian, included this insight:
King notes with some amusement that he has been around so long that kids who read and loved him in the 1970's now run publishing houses and newspapers; he is revered, these days, as a grand old man of American letters. The experience of reading King young – "Under the covers with a flashlight at summer camp," as he puts it – doesn't leave one, and although he says, casually, that "it's pretty easy to scare a 14-year-old", the pleasures of his books endure.
I don't think the experience of reading King young has left me.  The Shining and Carrie helped shape my reading preferences, but I wonder now what other lasting traces the experience left, so I will be focusing on the experience of reading the sequel in "real time".  In the 36 years since I read The Shining, Danny Torrance and I have aged together.  I've changed, my reading preferences have changed, my perspective has changed.  Will it  still be as easy to scare me?  Will I understand Danny's changes?   I think it will be a fascinating read.  Join me if you dare.

Friday, September 20, 2013

You Say Tomato . . .

The tomato section of our garden has produced abundantly and we have a cabinet and a freezer full of salsa, chili sauce and plain tomatoes to cook with all winter, and still the tomatoes keep coming!  So I've been searching for new and interesting ways to use them.  My adaptation of this quick and simple recipe has become one of my summer favorites.  Here is the original recipe from

Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cider or white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 small red onion
3 ears sweet corn
3 medium tomatoes
2 sprigs basil

In a small bowl, mix oil, vinegar and salt.  Finely chop onion.  Add 1/4 cup to dressing, reserve the rest.  Set dressing aside.  Husk corn and cut off kernels.  Core, seed and chop tomatoes. Cut basil into thin strips. Toss corn and tomatoes with dressing.  Sprinkle with basil and serve.

Adaptation #1:  The recipe specified that you will need "the freshest, sweetest corn for this recipe.  The kind that's so tender and sweet you can eat it raw!"  It being a little late in the corn season, that was tough to find, so I substituted the freshest corn I could find, microwaved for 3-4 minutes, then cut off the cob.  

Adaptation #2:  I don't need the extra calories of the olive oil, so I just left out the dressing all together.  I don't core and seed the tomatoes, just remove the stem area and chop.  This leaves a little extra juice that mixes with the juice from the onions and corn and makes it's own dressing.  

Adaptation #3:  I live in Hicksville, where it requires a 20 mile drive (each way) to a supermarket large enough to stock fresh basil.  So I substituted cilantro.  

I serve it as a dip on corn or pretzel chips, or as a topping on bruschetta.

Tami's Corn, Tomato and Cilantro Dip
1 small red onion - chopped
3 ears sweet corn  - wrap in parchment paper or place in covered casserole and microwave 3-4 minutes.  Cut kernels off ears.
3 medium tomatoes - chopped
chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and enjoy.  It's even better the next day.  There are 335 calories in the entire recipe of dip (If you want the dressing, add 120 calories).

Weekend Cooking is hosted by BethFishReads.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Book Review - Zentangles

One of my latest infatuations - or obsessions, according to Dave - is Zentangling.  I discovered it on line and sort of made it up as I went along, guided by examples on Pinterest and other web-sites.  Before long, I decided I needed two things:  some actual instructions for some of the more advanced steps, like shading; and a way to keep all this information organized and handy.  

I purchased Zentangle Basics, Zentangle 2, Zentangle 3 and Zentangle 4 - all by Suzanne McNiell.  They were less than $5 each through  Each book is only about 20 pages, but contains 40 pattern samples (except Basics, which has 24) plus great ideas for using Zentangles in scrapbooking, on cards, and in other crafts for all ages.  

Now I needed an easy way to browse all those ideas without having to flip through four books and my Pinterest page.  My solution was simple.  I bought a 3-ring binder, graph paper and tab dividers.  I drew all the basic patterns I have learned onto the graph paper, dividing them into three sections:  Patterns, Flowers and Vines, and Borders.  Here are some sample pages:

As you can see, I made a few mistakes, but I just marked them out and tried again.  For a few of the more complex patterns, I drew out the actual steps for drawing rather than just the finished design.  As I learn new patterns, I just draw them in, adding pages as needed.  When I'm ready to draw a Tangle, I keep the notebook at hand for inspiration.

I also added a fourth section called Samples and Templates, which contains ideas I have printed off the internet and some basic shape outlines to trace.   I like using an outline of an object - a bird, a dress, a Christmas tree - as the foundation of my drawing.  Our daughter has an elephant motif going in her new apartment so we are Zentangling some elephants for her living room.

The elephant outline actually came from the teacher supply aisle at Hobby Lobby - a package of 50 elephant cut-outs for just over $1.  The idea was to draw right on the cut-outs, but they have a shiny finish that didn't work well, so I traced one onto brown card stock, filled in with patterns and added some metallic highlights.  Her plan is to cut out five elephants, place them on a scrapbook paper backing and frame individually, then hang an "elephant parade" on her wall.

Speaking of metallic highlights, brings me to pens.  I have tried a variety of pens/pencils and my favorite is still the Sharpie Ultra-Fine.  They tend to bleed a little, so I keep an extra sheet of sketch paper under the one I'm working on.  I recently found these Sharpie paint pens in metallics.  They don't work for detailed drawing because they spread, but they add a little sparkle in spots.  I also got some markers intended for mechanical drawing and illustrating, that work great for small spots; and some charcoal pencils and paper stumps for shading, but I haven't tried them yet.  I'm still learning and have a long way to go, but I'm having a lot of fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Needlework Tuesday: Tit for Tat

When I was a child, I loved to visit an older lady who lived up the street from us.  Mamie had lots of things at her house that a little girl found fascinating - like a fox stole with the clasp hidden inside the fox's mouth, and handmade needlepoint seat covers on the dining room chairs.  Mamie also knew how to tat lace, and she taught me the basic steps.  For forty-plus years, the idea has taken up space in the back of my brain - probably the space where I'm supposed to store my to-do list, which explains a lot.  When my sister, Teri, initiated a New Year's challenge to learn five new things during 2013, I dug out the idea and created my list.  I promised to learn:

1.  Basic gun safety, loading and shooting.
2.  Camping
3.  Zentangling
4.  Tatting lace
5.  Crochet

Numbers 1 through 3 are checked off so, with the year growing short, I purchased the supplies for 4 and 5.  Tatting is an inexpensive craft, requiring only 1 shuttle (2 for $2.50) and crochet thread ($2.29 at Wal-Mart).  The kit I found on line included two shuttles, two colors of thread and a vague instruction sheet. The thread was size 10 (that's thin) and I became frustrated VERY quickly.  So, I picked up some size 5 and size 3 (the smaller the number the heavier the thread) at Wal-Mart and started over.  It  was still frustrating, but I slowly made progress and the larger thread made it easier to see the knots and understand how they were supposed to look. 

After only two hours, three re-starts, and countless cuss words, I managed to tat three inches of edging lace. And not very well.

The straight sections and picots (small loops) aren't bad, but the rings (larger loops) aren't supposed to have those gaps at the bottom and I'm not quite sure how to fix that.  I'll keep working and move on to smaller thread for more delicate lace.  But...this is not a skill that really has much use other than entertainment.  I'm not sure where I would actually use the lace once it's finished.

Next up - crochet.    

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.

Friday, September 13, 2013

To Everything There is a Season . . .

...A time to be happy, happy, happy - as I posted about on Monday - and a time to be not-so-happy.  My sister, Teri, took my idea (I'm telling, Mom!) and turned it around.  What things make you "not so happy"?  Not fighting mad or brought to tears - just the things that make you sigh in frustration or disappointment instead of with contentment.  I stole the first two on my list from Teri's list (turn about is fair play):

1.  Muddy dog prints on the floor.
2.  Bad books.

And I'm adding:

3.  Quilt block seams that don't line up
4.  Squash bugs
5.  Bad hair days
6.  The end of the bobbin thread.
7.  Exercise
8.  Dust
9.  Lopsided loads of laundry that make the washer jump and thump.
10.  Learning to tat lace. (Details in a post next week)

Visit Teri at Henningsen Happenings to find out what makes her steam and add your own list in the comments. 

Have a not not-so-happy day!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Book Review: Depression and Your Child by Deborah Sarani

Seeing your child suffer in any way is a harrowing experience for any parent. Mental illness in children can be particularly draining due to the mystery surrounding it, and the issue of diagnosis at such a tender age. Depression and Your Child gives parents and caregivers a uniquely textured understanding of pediatric depression, its causes, its symptoms, and its treatments. Serani weaves her own personal experiences of being a depressed child along with her clinical experiences as a psychologist treating depressed children.  (publisher's blurb)

I broke my self-imposed ban on accepting books for review for the chance to read and review this book on a topic that is close to my heart.  I  battle depression myself, and raised a child who struggles with it, also.  I wish I had read this book twenty years ago.  Maybe I could have recognized the signs sooner and known how to help.

Dr. Sarani's book covers a lot of technical information - types of depression, genetics, treatments - all of which is presented in language non-medical parents can understand. Children affected by depression are often labeled as "moody" or "sensitive".  Parents convince themselves that "She'll grow out of it" or "He's just a teenager!"  This book helps parents understand which behaviors and attitudes are "normal" and which are signs of concern.  

As a parent, a depression diagnosis is usually met with guilt ("Why didn't I know?"  "I'm a bad parent."), uncertainty ("What do I do now?" "How do I 'fix' this?"), and fear ("How do I protect my child?" "What if he harms himself?")  Ms. Sarani addresses each of these questions with more than platitudes or medical jargon.  She offers practical advice parents can use.

I especially appreciated the chapter devoted entirely to holistic treatments.  While medications are a blessing and can provide wonderful results, I'm a firm believer in using all available options for treatment of any illness.  The approaches defined in this chapter are simple, practical mood-building steps that parents can use to create an atmosphere that allows their child to cope with depression, and possibly ward off cyclical events.  These are steps that I will use for myself and recommend to our now-adult child.  

Thank you to Dr. Sarani and Pump Up Your Book blog tours for providing this useful book for review.   I highly recommend it for all parents, caregivers, and teachers.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Needlework Tuesday

I accomplished a couple of sewing/craft projects this week.  The first is a prayer flag for a friend and co-worker who is battling cancer.  The design represents Christ's light shining through and "breaking the chains" of cancer - thus the broken chain links.   

My second project was throw pillows for our daughter's apartment.  The orange, large-floral print and the taupe faux suede are scraps of the upholstery fabric we used to recover her chair and ottomen. Since there wasn't enough left to make two solid pillows, I added some coordinating prints and made a crazy quilt pillow.  The covers are simple shells with an opening on the back to slide over throw pillows she already owned.  They slide off easily for washing, but no need for tricky zippers!

The remainder of my crafting time was spent on Zentangles, which is tomorrow's post.

What did you craft this week?  Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Visit Heather and see her beautiful quilt projects.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy

I recently read an author-interview blog post in which the author was asked to name the top five things that make her happy.  Interesting question. What makes me happy?  I'm not talking about cartwheels and pom-poms happy - like the birth of a child - or the lasting joy that comes from the Lord.  I don't even mean the relatively big things like kids coming home to visit, or fitting in to smaller jeans.  I'm talking about those little things that make me grin or sigh contentedly.  Here are some of the things on my list:

  • A good book.
  • Dewey's 24-hour Readathon
  • Clean sheets.  I would change them daily if it didn't mean more laundry.
  • Good quality bed linens (freshly laundered, of course).
  • Christmas displays in stores.
  • Christmas music, movies, books . . .
  • Iced coffee.
  • Book store, fabric store or antique store.  Don't have to buy anything, just like being there.
  • Using vintage items - a beaded coin purse, a 50's era canister, old aprons...
  • The beginning of winter.
  • The end of winter.
  • Holding a baby.
  • A new book in a favorite series.
  • Making something pretty - sewing, drawing, cross-stitching ....
  • Pretty dishes.
  • Libraries.
  • Good hair days.  They are less frequent than they used to be, so I love it when they happen.
  • A clean house - at least I think it made me happy the last time it occurred.  My memory is vague back that far.
  • A weekend with nothing planned.
  • Quiet.
  • A cool evening with a fire in the fire pit.
  • Writing with a good pen - chunky and easy to hold, flows smoothly.
  • Picking produce from the garden.
  • The "ping" of canning jars sealing.
Leave a comment and tell me what's on your list, then go have a day filled with all the things that make you happy, happy, happy. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like . . .

It's September, and you know what that means . . . Christmas!  Well, that's what it means to me.  In my Christmas-fanatic world, September 1 means it is acceptable to listen to Christmas music, start Christmas crafts, shop for gifts . . . Oh, who am I kidding - I do that year round.  But after September 1, I quit hiding it.  If you are one of "those" people who want to know why stores put up the Christmas displays before Thanksgiving, or before Halloween, or before Labor Day, the answer is . . . me.  I go to Hobby Lobby in June to stand in the Christmas aisle and just soak in the happy.  

So you'll find it no surprise that, while browsing through library shelves for crochet books (part of the Learn 5 New Things challenge), I was naturally drawn to this book:  Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas by Susan Waggoner.  Christmas AND vintage - awesome!
"Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas" came about after several years of looking at old Christmas catalogues, old Christmas cards, and old family photos - my own as well as everyone else's.  What I saw was a wonderful world of memory, loaded to the gills with decorations no longer made.  I wanted them badly.  And I didn't want the tattered, torn, and faded items that had survived in someone's attic; I wanted to see them as they might have looked hen they were new.  So I decided to try to make them for myself. (p. 7)
The chapters go through the decades - 1920's through 1960's - giving history on the colors, themes and traditions that were popular in each era.  Each chapter includes instructions for period-correct decorations.  My vintage of choice is the 1950's, so I'll be making Christmas Matchboxes, Christmas Card Photo Holders and Ice Lights; and adding ornaments in the signature 50's colors of pink and aqua.  I'm also planning a 1930's Yuletide Shelf Edger and some 1960's Ice Branches.  

Along with history and crafts, the book contains recipes and an artwork portfolio that can be scanned and used for crafting.  This book was published in 2011, so check your local bookstore or library and get in the holiday spirit.