Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Puzzling Post: Gimme That Old Time Puzzle

If you are over 50, the puzzle below probably contains 26 familiar items.  If you're under 30, you probably see 26 confusing pictures.  As my mother always says, "It sure is exquisite, but what the heck is it?"  Can you tell me what the heck each of these pictures are?

There is no prize beyond the satisfaction of knowing you haven't totally lost your memory. Answers will be posted Monday . . . or Tuesday . . . or whenever I remember to do it. 

Tangled Thursday/Needlework Tuesday - Begin Again


Poor old Michael Finnegan ... begin again...

I'm sure I watched that Wee Sing in Sillyville video at least a thousand times in the mid 90's.  It was a gift from Grandma and the kids loved it.  We sang many, many verses about Michael Finnegan and his whiskers.  The unending tune has come back to haunt me this week - both in Zentangles and stitching.

Last week I reported progress on my knitted "Flag Afghan".  This week -- not so much.  I have started and restarted this project countless times because I was auditioning various stitches, or I made a mistake and had to unravel a portion.  I finally settled on a basic knit stitch, worked out my tension issues, and completed one of the five sections . . .and I don't like it.  So, begin again.  

This time I'm using a looser stitch that more closely resembles the crochet in the inspiration picture.  I didn't bother to take a picture, because so far it looks like an 8x15 red rectangle.  Not picture worthy.  Dave just shakes his head at my many restarts, but I assure him that it's a good thing.  This may be the world's cheapest craft project, because I could be knitting the same skeins of yarn indefinitely.

My Tangled Thursday attempts were along the same lines.  Elaine challenged us to create a drawing using String 109 from  No brilliant ideas struck me at first glance, so I copied and pasted the string onto some practice sheets of regular copy paper, so I could try various options without redrawing the string.  Good thing, because I had to frequently "begin again".

I finally had several partial ideas that I liked and combined them into two drawings on higher quality sketch paper:

Technically, I think I used the string upside down, but it just seemed to inspire more ideas that way.  

Tangled Thursdays and Needlework Tuesday are both hosted by Heather at Books and Quilts.  Feel free to join in with either one - it's a fun group and no pressure challenges.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: One Stitch at a Time

Not much to report this week except slow and steady progress on my flag afghan.    I am approximately 3/4 finished with section one of five.  The project is inspired by this pattern from (right).  The key phrase to remember is "inspired by".  My version will have straight rows rather than scalloped - and knitted on a loom, rather than crocheted.  Since there's no way this is going to be completed by July 4th, and it will be too hot to use it then anyway, I'm in no rush.  It's an easy project to carry along or to work on while watching TV.  
Needlework Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by Heather @ Books & Quilts.  Visit Heather to link your own needlework post and to see what others are stitching.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York by Paul Gallico

Paul Gallico's first Mrs. 'Arris book, Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris (1958), is one of my all-time favorites.  It is a gentle story of an English char-woman (cleaning lady in the U.S.) who becomes entranced by the beauty of her employers Dior couture dress.  Although she has no use for, nor money to purchase such a dress, owning a Dior gown becomes her dream.  To hard-working, sensible Mrs. 'Arris, a Dior gown is the embodiment of beauty, sophistication and artistry - things lacking from her mundane life.  She doesn't dream of attending balls or mixing in society - merely of possessing an item of such elegance.  The tale of Mrs. 'Arris's journey to purchase her Dior gown is warmth, charm and delight.

Unfortunately, Mrs. 'Arris's second outing - to New York (1960) - is a slapstick farce.  Her outing to Paris must have emboldened the char-woman to believe any hair-brained scheme is not only possible, but advisable.  Her totally clueless plan to kidnap a young boy to return him to his ex-GI father somewhere in America turns into an I Love Lucy episode.  It was painful and I admit to skimming the last third.  So disappointing!  Mrs. 'Arris has two more adventures - to Parliament (1965) and to Moscow (1974) - but I believe I'll pass.  I don't want anything else to taint my memory of Mrs. 'Arris.  

I highly recommend the movie adaptation of Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris, starring Angela Lansbury.  It is the rare movie that holds true to the original story.  Delightful!

On a side note:  While searching the library shelf for Mrs. 'Arris, I discovered that the same author wrote The Poseidon Adventure.  Well, color me flabbergasted!  Talk about a diverse author!  

My attempt to read Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York was part of the Library Book Readathon, hosted by Rachael at Rachael Turns Pages.  My goal for the week was to complete two library books.  I was unsuccessful.  I finished (mostly) Mrs. 'Arris and started Ardor by Lily Prior, but progress was limited.  Thanks, Rachael, for hosting.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tangled Thu . . . Friday: My How Time Flies

This week's challenge from Heather is to showcase our favorite Zentangle pattern.  The choice was easy: W2/Huggins - 2 variations of weaving.  I started doodling on graph paper (my favorite way to practice patterns that require a grid).  There are so many ways to vary this idea:
Technically, straight lines and square corners is W2; curved lines and round corners (round corners - is that an oxymoron?) is Huggins.  The size of the circles and degree of line curvature can vary the look.  Filling or trimming the sections creates another look.  Uneven spacing of the corners makes a "crazy" weave.  You can even add flowers or pinwheels - a handy way to cover errors.  It makes a great background or feature.

I ran out of time for actually creating a new tile, but you can bet you'll see this pattern in many future tangles.  Thanks for the challenge and for hosting, Heather.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lighthouse Bay by Kimberley Freeman

In 1901, a ship sinks off the coast of Lighthouse Bay in Australia. The only survivor is Isabella Winterbourne—escaping her loveless marriage and the devastating loss of her son—who clutches a priceless gift meant for the Australian Parliament. Suddenly, this gift could be her ticket to a new life, free from the bonds of her husband and his overbearing family.
One hundred years later, Libby Slater leaves her life in Paris to return to her hometown of Lighthouse Bay to heal her broken heart and reconcile with her sister, 
In this adventurous love story spanning centuries, both Isabella and Libby must learn that letting go of the past is the only way to move into the future.
Better late than never.  I purchased this book with my birthday money in 2013 as part of my personal  Summer Reading Program.  After a year gathering dust on the shelf, i added it to my stack for Book Blogger Summer Reading.  
I have read other books with this type of intertwined plots and, invariably (and perhaps necessarily), one story is more detailed than the other and tends to carry the book.  This book was no different, but surprising in that it was the historical story that really captured my interest - to the point that I would classify this more as historical fiction than "beach read".  Either way, it was an enjoyable story that I recommend for a lazy summer afternoon.  
Ms. Freeman has one previous book, Wildflower Hill, that is now on my library list.
This is book #2 completed toward my goal of 12 for Book Blogger Summer Reading.  I really need to pick up the pace.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Library Book Read-a-Thon

Falls City LIbrary, Falls City, NE
"A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life."

These words by Henry Ward Beecher hang above the circulation desk at my local library.  Public libraries have always been some of my favorite places to browse, to read, to work, and just to sit and soak up the atmosphere - so I am in agreement with Mr. Beecher.  

This week we celebrate libraries with the Library Books Read-a-Thon - seven days of reading as many library books as possible.  

I visited my library during my lunch hour today to assembly my lineup for the week.  It's been a long time since I just browsed the shelves, waiting for a cover or title to grab me.  I borrowed three books, with the goal of getting two of them read during the week.  (I always like to have a spare - in case one turns out to be a DNF.)  Here is what I'm hoping to read:

Ardor by Lily Prior - The publisher describes it as "A wildly imaginative fairy tale for adults."  Combine that with "the lovely landscape of Italy" and we have a winner.

The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert was the second book to catch my eye.  "A lush and thrilling romantic fable about two lovers set against the scandalous burlesques, midnight séances, and aerial ballets of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair."  Since I live 85 miles from Omaha, a novel set there and written by a local author had an extra attraction.

My third choice was more deliberate.  I was planning a re-read of one of my favorite stories, Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico.  Unfortunately, it was checked out, so I went with the sequel, Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York.  I didn't know there was a sequel, and I'm a little torn.  When I love a book or character as much as I love Mrs. 'Arris, sequels are often disappointing and I later wish I hadn't read them.  I'm hoping for another lovely story from Mr. Gallico.

The Library Book Read-a-Thon is hosted by Rachael @ Rachael Turn's Pages.  Visit there to see what everyone is reading or to join in.  Then visit your local public library - it's a necessity!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Bookish Movies . . .

I saw an article recently - no clue where, I've slept since then - about great scenes in movies involving libraries or bookstores.  A few came to mind immediately, and some of my choices were even on the list - along with a lot of movies I've never heard of.  So, I decided to make my own list.   See if you agree with my choices and let me know what you would add.
Favorites Bookish Scenes 

Marion the LIbrarian from The Music Man - I prefer the remake with Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Broderick - but couldn't find a good picture.

You've Got Mail - Independent book store vs. the mega-book store.  Meg Ryan's chidlren's book store looks like a child's fantasy.

Funny Face - starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn.  I've always wanted one of those ladders.  And even straight hair and frumpy clothes can't make Audrey look like a geeky bookworm.

A Beautiful Mind - John Nash uses the windows as a white board.

Beauty and the Beast - Everyone remembers the Beast's beautiful library,  but I prefer the quaint bookstore where Belle borrows the same book to re-read.  And there's that ladder again.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - I love this library scene just for the quote, "X never, ever marks the spot."  Surprise!

Bell Book and Candle - I admit, this is pushing the definition of bookstore, but it is named Bell, BOOK and Candle.  I include it just because I like the movie.

Searching my memory for bookish movies brought up a couple songs from movies that, even though they aren't about reading, make me think of curling up with a good book.  Enjoy!

"Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady

"In My Own Little Corner" from Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.  I prefer the 1965 version starring Stuart Damon and "introducing" Lesley Ann Warren.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Needlework Tuesday: Kaleidoscope

One Block Wonder, Kaleidoscope, Pinwheel . . . no matter what you call it, this may be the coolest quilt block ever.   A quilt made entirely from one fabric - the bigger the pattern and the more colorful the better.  I'm not going to give you detailed instructions, but I highly recommend Jacqueline O'Brien's series of videos on YouTube.

You begin by cutting six "pattern repeats" from your fabric.  A large print that repeats every 20-24" makes a wide variety of blocks. The size of your quilt is determined by the width of the repeat.  A 24" repeat will cut into six 3 3/4" rows, and each row makes about 20 sets of triangles - so you would have 120 unique blocks.  I used some fabric I've had in my stash for 15 years - hyacinth patterned fabric in shades of green and purple that I've been "stashing" all that time.  The pattern really isn't large enough, and the pattern repeats about every 12-14" inches, so I will only have 60 blocks, but it's free - so perfect for my first experiment.

There's a long explanation of how to stack, align and cut your fabric, but you end up with sets of six identical triangles.  

Each set of triangles can be layed out to form three different kaleidiscope designs, depending on which corner points to the center.

Choose the design you prefer and sew into two halves of a hexagon, but don't join the two halves.  The full quilt is assembled in vertical rows of half-hexagons.  

Check out One Block Wonders on Pinterest or Google to see the amazing variety of ways the hexagons can be assembled.  This fabric doesn't supply much variety of color, but I'm thinking I'll arrange them to move from dark to light diagonally across the quilt.  

The surprise of the designs formed by the triangles and the combinations of hexagons will certainly make this a technique I use repeatedly.  Not to mention - it's cheap!  That ugly, gaudy print on the sale rack will be unrecognizable when it becomes a kaleidoscope.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather at Books & Quilts.  Stop by to see what everyone is stitching or to link your own post.