Monday, December 27, 2010

blog #436 >> 2010 Books in Review

I love books! I love how they smell. I love turning the pages. I just wish I had more time to read books. Now I know it looks like I did a lot less reading this year, but I read a lot of really long books, so it all evens out in the end.

Listed below are my books in review:
2010 Reading List

Winston Spencer Churchill, The Last Lion Vol2.
William Manchester
1/10 *****
(read my review here.)

Handwriting Analysis
M. N. Bunker
2/10 *****
(see more here.)

Crayon Miscellany
Washington Irving
2/10 ***

Jane Austen
3/10 *****
(This has become my favorite
of the Jane Austen novels.)

Watership Down
Richard Adams
3/10 *****

Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy
5/10 ****

Rootabaga Stories
Carl Sandbug
5/10 ****
(see more here.)

Casebook of Sherlock Holmes
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
5/10 *****

Captain Shannon
Coulson Kernahan
5/10 ***

Star Gate
Andre Norton
5/10 ****

Animal Farm
George Orwell
5/10 ****

Sea Siege
Andre Norton
6/10 ****

The Scarlet Letter
Nathaniel Hawthorne
6/10 ****

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
7/10 ****

This is your America
Simmons & Meyer
7/10 ****

Moby Dick
Herman Melville
8/10 *****
(I remember reading an extremely condensed version of this in high school and not really liking it. Well, no wonder I didn't like it, they cut out all the good parts! What the ending is doesn't really matter if there's no build up to it. All I can say is that Herman Melville knew a lot about whales! I loved all his whale tangents and all his allegories. It's such a great book when you sit down and read the whole thing though.)

Everything is Illuminated
Jonathan Safranfoer
8/10 *
(This book was sooo horrible! I mean really really horrible! I couldn't even finish it. I'm sorry if you like it, but it wasn't meant for me.)

Judgement on Janus
Andre Norton
8/10 ***

Shirley and The Professor
Charlotte Brontë
9/10 ****

The Glory and the Dream
William Manchester
10/10 ***

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Vol. 1
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
12/10 *****

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
12/10 *****

Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen, Adapted by Nancy Butler and Hugo Petrus
12/10 ***
(It was very cute, but I wish the inside illustrations were done my the same person who did the cover illustration. I love that cover!)

See 2009 Reading List Here

blog #435 >> But receiving is pretty awesome too!

* * * * Christmas Gift Guide: 2010 * * * *

It's usually around this time of year that I realize just how awesome my family and friends are. They all know me so well! I LOVE everything I got for Christmas this year! Thanks everyone!

1. Cottage Tea Cozy - My sister Amy made me this adorable cottage tea cozy. (It matches my cottage potholder!) She even lined it with real thermal insulation so it will keep my tea extra hot. I used it this morning, so I can say without a doubt, that it works great! You can even order one for yourself here. ~ From The Dorrs
2. Stacking Measuring Cups - Amy also got my these delightful stacking measuring cups. These are much too cute to get stuffed in a drawer, I think I'm going to find them a shelf spot after Christmas. ~ From The Dorrs
3. Robot Candy Coaster - Robot Candy makes the sweetest coasters I've ever seen. I have quite a collection, but this one might be my favorite. You can see more of their designs here. ~ From Dave & Trina
4. IKEA Tote Bag - Trina also made me this tote bag from some fabric she found at IKEA. This will definitely be hanging on the hooks by the door! ~ From Dave & Trina
5. Vintage Ship Creamer - They also found me this ship creamer to match the plate they got me the year before last. ~ From Dave & Trina
6. Hot Buttered Rum Mugs & "T" Pin - Next year I'm definitely going to have to pick up a bottle of rum! I can make the "Death by Cake!" rum cake and some hot buttered rum... mmmm...
~ From Frank & Amy & Family (They also got my a cute "T" pin!)
7. Toaster Cover and Thermos - Carrie made me this amazing toaster cover. All my appliances are going to be so cozy! And she gave me this little thermos that is the perfect size for my lunch box. ~ From The Leingangs
8. Vintage Umbrella - My parents found me this fantastic vintage umbrella at an antique store in.... I'll insert the name of the town here when it comes to me... Anyhow, it needs a little tender loving care. I need to replace a snap and the stitching on the handle, but overall it's in excellent shape! It's almost too nice to use, but of course I'll still use it. ~ From My Parents
9. Harney and Sons Tea - The more teas I try, the more convinced I am that this might be the best tea I've ever had. The Paris is an old favorite and the Vanilla might be a new one. See more flavors here. ~ From My Parents and Dave & Trina
10. Blue Sweater - I've been looking for a blue button sweater for sooooo long. I don't know what it is about blue that makes it so hard to find. I can find grey button sweaters, and brown, and black, and purple, and orange, and white, and green, and red, and just about every other color except blue! But at last! My blue button sweater! I don't have to knit one myself anymore! ~ From My Parents
11. Japanese Erasers - These are so cute I don't think I'll be able to take them out of the packages! ~ From My Parents
12. Fancy Paperclips - Now I can hold my papers together with style! ~ From My Parents
13. Knitting Needles and Bias Tape Maker - I'm so excited to try out these new knitting needles. I've wanted a set like this for awhile now. Maybe I can finally knit that hat. The last time I tired, it was with the tiny little sock sized needles and my hat turned into an egg cozy. It was a very nice egg cozy, but I was looking for a hat. ~ From My Parents
14. Breakfast Egg Cup Set - My English breakfasts are going to get so fancy! I love this old vintage fruit egg cup set! I can't wait to use them! ~ From My Parents
15. Stollen Bread and German Jumping Jack - My grandma gave me this traditional German Stollen bread... mmmm... so good! And my parents got my this little jumping-jack at the German Market.
16. Gift Certificate for Beauty Salon - It has been nearly two years since my last hair cut... mostly because I'm cheap. So this gift certificate will be a huge treat! Thanks! ~ From My Parents
17. Milka Chocolate - The best chocolate in the world. ~ From My Parents
18. Retro Christmas Table Cloth - I can't wait 'til next Christmas so I can use this new retro table cloth. It has turquoise star bursts and little triangle trees on it. It will look amazing in my kitchen! ~ From My Parents
19. Cutting Board and Can Strainer - This nifty can strainer will be perfect for draining olives and all type of things, and I can always use a new cutting board too! ~ From My Parents
20. Liquid Pencils - I've been wanting to try these for a long time. But I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping it would write more like a technical pencil than a pen, but it does erase REALLY well. So I think it will grow on me. ~ From My Parents
21. Digital Thermometer - I'm in love with this new digital thermometer. It's so accurate it can tell me if I have a fever or not! It's also got an alarm that will sound when your meat is at the right temperature. And it can even tell me how warm the room is! If I wanted to get really clever, I could program it to sound an alarm if the room goes about 76 degrees. This is going to blow that old mercury candy thermometer out of the water! ~ From My Parents


Sunday, December 26, 2010

blog #434 >> Giving really is better than receiving!

This year I learned that giving really is better than receiving!

Sorry, I've been brief with blogging the past couple of months, but I've literally been spending every spare minute of my day crafting for Christmas. And I couldn't blog about my Christmas crafting because my family and friends read this blog, and I didn't want them to know what I was up to. I was REALLY excited to have everyone open their presents that I've been working on for so long. And I feel like I really rose to occasion, and everything turned out even better than I imagined it would.

So here are my amazing projects!

1. The Bird Skirt I made for my sister just like mine only in blue, red and green. And an Autumn Comfort Candle that my friend Autumn made. She makes the BEST smelly candles, I will never buy anyone else's. Get them here! 2. Hand Painted Egg Carton and Coupon Organizer for my sister-in-law. 3. Polka Dot Skirt for my sister and some of my spare bias tape. 4. Pickled Garlic and Dilly Beans for my brother, because nothing says, "I love you!" like spending over an hour peeling 12 heads of garlic. I got my recipe here. It turned out amazing! 5. Hand bound leather Journal for Trina's husband Dave. 6. Bowl Covers made from oil cloth for all my sisters. These turned into way more of a pain than I thought they would. I ended up sewing them on the machine while pulling the elastic tight with my teeth. It's just amazing I didn't sew over a finger! 7. Tea things and cookie cutters for my mom. The little crocheted circles are drip catchers. 8. Baby Bird Hat for my brother's new baby.

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And these are the He-man dolls I made for my 4-year-old nephew Charlie. He LOVES He-man... and Thomas the Tank Engine. I got the idea here... but I like mine better!

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9. Magnifying Glass Necklace for my grandma. I was going to make one, but I realized it was way cheaper to buy a real vintage one. 10. Homemade Microwave Popcorn for Dad. (It actually works really well!) 11. Fairy house for my niece Maggie. (I'll take more pictures of it later when it's down at the creek.) 12. Felt food for my 2-year-old niece Ada. (First thing she did after she opened it was try to take a bite out of each and every one.) 13. Mushroom Hat and Shoes for 1-year-old Stella. I got the shoe pattern here... sort of and I didn't use a pattern for the hat, but maybe I should have. 14. Maggie's stationary. Since I work at a print shop, I figured I'd better make the most of it and print something cool. These are the personalized note cards I made for Maggie. They're all themed around the letter "M." 15. The Monogrammed Journals I made for my older nephews and I got them these cool survival tools that I saw at Neatorama. 16. And the Mushroom Hat I made for Trina, and I gave her one of these delightful little Cottage Potholders that my sister makes.

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More closeups of the felt food.

And this is the Folding Rocking Chair I fixed up for my mom for Christmas... actually, my dad helped me a lot with it. But I did paint in all the detail and do all the upholstery work on it. I picked up the frame at a barn auction last summer for $2! I was still working on it when I took this picture and hadn't tacked the back cushion on yet, so I might post before and after photos later.

And although I don't have any pictures of the homemade candy I made this year... mostly because it's already eaten. I will post the recipes later on. (I even forgot to take pictures of the Jell-O molds I made for Christmas before we ate them! I'm on a roll this year!) Anyhow... I'll post those ones pretty soon... unless I forget.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

blog #433 >> Chilly Day at the Creek

Yesterday was a rare sunny day in December, and I couldn't let that go to waste! So I ended up spending the afternoon down at the creek reading in the sunshine in front of the fire. It was such a nice day... a little bit chilly, but nice!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

blog #432 >> Deck the Halls

Posted by popular demand, pictures of my Christmas decorations!
Sorry, it's always dark before I leave for work now and dark when I get back, so all these photos are... well dark. I'll try to get some better ones this weekend.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

blog #431 >> Christmas Wish List 2010

Today is "chore day." I have a million things to do, and I don't want to do any of them right now. The bathroom needs to be cleaned. My living room floor is covered in little bits of yarn and felt. I'm almost out of bread and a few other staples. The kitchen floor is a mess, and if the houseplants could speak, they'd tell me they're really getting very thirsty. But I don't feel like doing any of those things. I want "lazy day" instead of "chore day". So I'm going to do something a little out of the ordinary for me... I'm going to procrastinate and blog instead.

I know it seems a little early to be posting a Christmas wish list. But in reality I know this is about 6 months too late. My entire family is made up of early shoppers, and they always tell me I'm the easiest one to buy for. So really this is more like my annual list of neat things.

vintage 60s blue crochet lace cardigan - $26.00
from old gold vintage on etsy

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R K Originals Dress - $24.95
from Tweed and Taffeta on etsy

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Vintage Celluloid Flower Brooch and Earring Set - $19.00
from Cameo's Collectibles on etsy

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Vintage 70's Victorian-Inspired Plaid Dress - $34.00
from Lola Vintage on etsy
I know it's kind-of a matronly looking thing with a splash of pioneer, but I really like it.

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Pretty Scarf - Autumn Flowers - $26.00
from Sarah Culleton at etsy

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Vintage Red and Turquoise/Green Table Cloth - $12.00
from Take Flyte Farm on etsy

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Fat Quarter Nani Iro Hana Kago Japanese Fabric - $4.50
from Matatabi Japanese Fabric on etsy

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Vintage Kitchen Tablecloth - $14.95
from The Cherry Chic. Vintage on etsy

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Cottage Tea Cozy
from Frames for All Occasions at etsy
Amy, if I had a picture of the one you already made me, I'd post it here instead... BECAUSE IT'S ADORABLE! But since I don't, and I suppose I'm not really suppose to know about it, I just posted a picture of this one instead.

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Hand Painted Milk Glass Buttons - $15.00
from Colorado Finds on etsy

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Black and White Cameo Earrings - $6.00
from Orange and Yellow on etsy

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Vintage Brown Hairpins - $3.50
from Endless C on etsy
These ones seem to be sold, but I found some still in the original package here.
These hairpins work so well in my hair, they're really amazing!

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Miniature Copper Jell-O Mold - $4.00
from Romas Masion on etsy
I could make the tiniest Jell-O molds ever!

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Red Licorice Whip Vintage Floral Umbrella - $34.00
from Dahlila Found on etsy
I'll admit it's a little high for a vintage umbrella, but it's got a fantastic handle and it's not faded. Plus, I'd like a full umbrella stand.

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Ball Collection Elite Platinum Wide Mouth Pint (16 oz) Jars - $5.49
from Canning Pantry (not on etsy)
These are my favorite type of mason jars. They're great for canning, freezing or just plain packing a lunch. They also fit perfectly in my lunchbox. Unfortunately, I've broken quite a few of mine, (because I'm clumsy, not because they're defective) so I'd really like some more.

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Winsor & Newton Water Colour Lightweight Enamelled Box 24 Half Pans Set
from Winsor & Newton
When I was in middle school I had an art teacher who firmly believed that we should start out (young as we were) with quality art supplies so we wouldn't have to invest in them when we were older. I remember this annoying many parents, but it actually worked out to my advantage since I'm still using many of those same supplies today. Her favorite brand that she suggested buying was Winsor & Newton, and I was lucky enough to find a small set of water colours on sale at the time. That has been the best set of water colours. I've had to refill most of the pans, but I couldn't have asked for a better set. But now that I'm older I feel like I'd like to expand on those original 14 colours, so I'd really like a larger set. I'm also hoping it will get me painting again. Ever since I've started a career in design I've found myself drawing and painting less and less for myself. And I'd really like to start creating more of my own artwork again.
p.s. They have great gouache and paintbrushes as well. I've never found a paintbrush to compare with the Winsor & Newton 00 round Galeria & 5 round Cotman paintbrush.

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Harney & Sons: Bangkok Tea - $12.50
A very unique tea that combines green tea, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut and ginger. It goes excellent with a Thai food dinner and it's great as an iced tea too.

Harney & Sons: Paris Black Tea - $8.00
Still my favorite tea, in fact I would love a cup of this right now.

Harney & Sons: White Peach Tea - $6.95
This is wonderful tea makes an excellent summer iced tea.

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Digital Cooking Thermometer - $16.24
I've been needing one of these for awhile. I have my grandma's old mercury candy thermometer that I've been trying to use, but it's so inaccurate that it's pretty much useless. If I had one of these, I could make some swell marshmallows.

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Pride & Prejudice Graphic Novel - $10.19
Yeah.... I'm a nerd.... and I like comic books... and Jane Austen.

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Double Point or Circular #7 Knitting Needles - $7.49 to $8.99
You can never have too many knitting needles, and I'd really like something I could knit a hat with. Circular needles seem more versatile, but I'm not really sure not to work in a circle. But I'm pretty good at the smaller sock sized double pointed ones.

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1" Biased Tape Maker - $8.49
I use a lot of biased tape when I sew and I'd love a way to make my own. I'm not sure how well this contraption would work, but I'm willing to give it a try.

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Sharpie Liquid Pencils - $5.00
This seems like it would be the best of both pencils and pens.

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Handmade Fabric Tape - $2.95
from Kawaii Goodies on etsy
I love this apple pattern, but she's got lots of other cute designs as well.

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Variety of Bakers Twine - $6.95
from Paper Treats and Other Sweets on etsy
I'm already dreaming of all the things I could tie together.

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Orion 1.25" Moon Filter - $19.95
I would be so happy to have a real moon filter so I could stop wearing those sunglasses at night.

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A Giant Handmade Telescope: The Ultimate Gift
(This is the telescope that Rachel from Craftzine received for Christmas last year. She is one lucky lady!)
I wish I had one! For me this would be better than getting a pony. I mean I LOVE my telescope, but this past year it's starting to show its age. The gears are slipping, and the engine is starting to break down, and when I see one of these giant light buckets, I get very envious. Sometimes I think about how I could cannibalize my telescope to create a bigger and better one, but with my luck I'd just end up with a big pile of scrap. Perhaps one day when it's broken down completely I'll give it a try. But until then I've always got my little one.