Monday, October 31, 2011

School Choices (Past Tense)

My friend C just wrote a introspective post on school, personality and environment. It's pretty cool and I suggest you read it. Short background: I've known C since I was five or six and I'm sure I knew her by seven. We went to the same elementary school for seven years and played soccer together (not always on the same team) for six or seven years. Trust me when I say she's cool.

I really enjoyed reading her take on high school because mine is different and I think when we can each look back and maybe now figure out what we liked, didn't like and what we each benefited from in our respective environments. A disclaimer to some of our decisions is also this: M town was building schools and rearranging a lot when we were growing up, so our class, the ones before and after, were shuffled around quite a bit.

I went to public school from kindergarten through the first two days of school in tenth grade. I have no problem with public school: M town has exceptional schools and teachers and my dad and aunt went all the way through these schools. After seven years at one elementary school, I was shuttled between five different schools between sixth and tenth grades. Ninth grade was a little tough on my psyche - not sure why. MHS (the real high school) housed tenth through twelfth grades, totaling at about 1500 kids in a school that was too small (C mentions being a number).

I attended two days of my sophomore year, came home and told my parents I wasn't going back. I don't remember all of the reasons I gave them, but I told them I wasn't happy and that I was going to get lost in the crowd. I told them that I could go to the country school (the district C's family moved to), the private Christian school (two blocks from our house), or we could home school, but that I was not going back. I didn't realize at the time what a slap in the face that might have been for my parents: my dad graduated from MHS, my mom worked in the school system AND they paid taxes! Also, important to mention, nothing happened to drive me away - I had friends and I was smart - I just felt out of place and didn't want to feel that way for the next three years.

For some reason, my parents let me leave MHS and I enrolled at the private Christian school (FHCS) up the road. They paid tuition so that I could change schools. I went into my sophomore year there not knowing anyone. I came out with friends. There were positive and negative aspects to a school so small (about ten students in a grade, forty in the high school), but for the most part, I excelled and it was a good choice for me. Do I think all fifteen-year-olds can or should make that decision? Not at all, but in this case it worked.

Why was it good for me? Teachers knew my name and they knew my parents. They had my sister in their class as well. It's difficult for anyone to be on the fringe if there are only ten kids in your class. We were close, very close. I was able to play soccer on a guys' team (only lasted one season :-) and cheer (which was so much fun) and work on yearbook and be a teacher's aide for preschoolers. I taught myself calculus (I was the class). I took three years of Spanish and excelled at English. I made friends for life and didn't even think that was possible. And this is so corny (please forgive me); I became a nicer person when I wasn't so scared of losing part of myself. It was far from perfect or idyllic (oh, senior year was ROUGH), but I felt at home and like I belonged - what I was studying for, cheering for, playing for - it was mine.

I'm the same age as miss C and this year is also when my ten year high school reunion should occur. I may have planned a little get-together in July. It may have involved many of the kids (total = eleven) from my senior class. We didn't call it anything fancy. They were excited. We spent time with each others' kids and spouses and had some dinner, hung out at the pool, sat by a bonfire (funny enough - at the house of an alumna a few years ahead of us). They are my people. Some of us are close and some had a lot more catching up to do. Everyone really just turned into better versions of themselves and it was so fantastic to see. We missed a few of our classmates and made sure to spread salacious rumors about them, but mostly it was chill and very good. That's what I wanted in tenth grade that I somehow knew I wasn't going to get at MHS. [However, I would like to interject that over the holidays, what I have come to call my "public school" friends get-together to see one another and catch up - which leads me to believe that I might have been okay if I'd stayed :-) ].

Ironically, I tried a small private university after high school that was a horrid fit. I went there for all the same reasons I went to FHCS initially and it turns out that KSU in M town was a much better fit. It still felt like home - like it was mine.

Really, what I think I can get out of this is that every schooling option isn't right for every kid. Parents do the best they can and hopefully listen and work out solutions (that are within their means and capability) that are the best for their kids. I was lucky to have options and parents that considered what I had to say. And not be melodramatic, but my life looks incredibly different than it would have otherwise. Have I mentioned that I met my C through a high school friend at FHCS? How was that going to happen some other way?

Two Important Memos

There are two very cool things I wanted to bring up with whoever reads this blog.

The first is a link to K's new project over at Orange Peel Photography. Please support her and spread the word. My admiration for anyone who keeps seeking that which brings them joy is HUGE, and there is a very special place in my heart for K & T. If you are debating clicking through (you should), K is opening her photography business to expecting moms over the next two or three months to get a handle on birth photography. This is a woman who has brought two wonderful boys into the world and in addition to being a talented photographer, has a wonderful heart for women and their experiences. Go look.

The second is another example of a woman playing to her strengths. You all know my friend AM? Or you've heard me speak of her awesomeness. A very small part of her awesomeness is her innate ability to find and develop style with fashion. This woman has dressed me (and countless others) AND explained style to us in a way we can understand (yep, even I kind of get it now). She is always eclectically and perfectly dressed in her own style and when you ask, you find that she mixed a $3 thrift store skirt with a $10 top over $200 boots (that she's had for YEARS - can you say investment?), and made her own one-of-a-kind necklace with a scarf or tights that were a gift. The woman is not impractical at all - either in her spending on clothes or the pieces of clothing she wears (she runs after her darling son and daughter most days!). Anyway, this impressive being has not yet decided to open up a personal styling business (which she could in a second - she has the skill, talent, and the uncanny ability to find things and put them together JUST RIGHT), but she has decided to make some of her finds available to the public. You can shop her at Etsy, store name HandmadePrairie. Check it out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The W List: September Books 2011

I don't think the September tally will even compare to previous months, but I'm taking it easy and really only reading what appeals to me, discarding that which cannot grab me. This has been a difficult lesson: to give up on a book. I still haven't learned it properly. But if the book I'm reading isn't a) going to make me a better person: more well rounded, informed, engaged, and/or b) outright captivating or amusing, I need to put it away until it is one or the other. And, my excuse, as always, is that there have been other happenings this month that have limited or distracted from reading time or interest, which will make sense when revealed.

Skinned by Robin Wasserman ~ I trudged through the whole book just to find out that it really didn't matter. It's an interesting premise: downloading the entire brain to a mechanical body (after a mortal injury) in order to retain the "person," but the teenage play out is whiny and unsympathetic. Not going to read the rest of the trilogy. F YA

Carefree Clothes for Girls: 20 Patterns for Outdoor Frocks, Playdate Dresses, and More by Junko Okawa ~ Highly recommend to EB and AM for their daughters. Don't know about the ease/readability of the patterns, but the designs are timeless, lovely, simple, and well styled on a little red headed child. NF

Lingerie Secrets: Sew a Perfect Fit for Every Body by Jan Bones ~ Don't think I'm going to sew lingerie anytime soon, but I did want to know if there were any secrets. This book wasn't good or bad, as it just didn't seem important at all. NF

The Seven Wise Princesses: A Medieval Persian Epic by Wafa Tarnowska ~ Not quite a children's book, this is a awesome story about wisdom and all other morals and values (also a focus on seven colors and why each color is a specific princess' favorite) - very much enjoyed. F Older children's book

Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work by Tim Gunn ~ More of a simplistic memoir. I can't say that I loved this book, although the few times I've seen Gunn on TV, he has amused me. He seemed more petty in this book and many of the stories are about either himself or his interactions in the fashion community, so have your who's who available. NF

Little Green Dresses: 50 Original Patterns for Repurposed Dresses, Tops, Skirts, and more by Tina Sparkles ~ AM might like portions of this for ideas, but most of the refashions aren't into tops or dresses that have the "coverage" that women in the Midwest prefer. Does that make sense? I live in the Midwest and that comes with a certain style that is considered appropriate. NF

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher ~ Oh, young adult fiction, I've missed you. Wait, with your angst, burgeoning sexuality, and drug usage, no, no I haven't. I made it through this novel and it had some very important things to say about teenage suicide. Unfortunately, the girl who committed suicide in this novel implicated others and seemed mostly unwilling to let others help her. In fact, in addition to the final act of suicide (pills), she "lets" something terrible happen to her so that she can really leave it all behind. Uggggg. F YA

House Beautiful: Decorating with Books by Marie Proeller Hueston ~ Some nice pictures and creative ways to work massive amounts of books into your decor. Nothing that book lovers already didn't know, but there are some ways to decorate that book lovers would never utilize as well. NF

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson ~ This novel was actually interesting as it played a story between a burn victim and an eccentric woman who claims that they know one another from Germany six hundred years past. The details about recuperation from intensive burns, carving gargoyles, and how to build a lopsided relationship out of curiosity, dependence, and maybe even love were captivating. F

House Beautiful: Lighting: Inspiring Ideas for Lighting Effects from Simple to Spectacular by Judith Gura ~ Good ideas, especially about natural light during the day and lighting choices in the evening. NF

Books I've tried to read and can't finish:
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes ~ pg 30 out of 80 [too much angst and too many expletives] F GN
Swans and Pistols by Leon Bing ~ pg 180 out of 227 [this close to the end, I'm just done with her train wreck/bad decision life] NF Memoir
Into the Wild by Sara Beth Durst ~ pg 119 out of 260, didn't open Out of the Wild [interesting, with fairy tale characters injected into real life - might read at a later date and time] F YA
Three Junes by Julia Glass ~ pg 65 out of 353 [no, just no. Good title though] F
The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs ~ pg 71 out of 214 [very good book - descriptive, informative, great explanations - just can't handle right now. Would be excellent resource for any type of report/paper on women in America] NF

Hopefully this isn’t categorized as a failure of a month with only ten (10) books read. Plus another 465 pages in books I cared not to finish. There might be a few books of my own that I read and have forgotten, and if so I will add them at a later date and time.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Thursday, September 8, 2011


One of my favorite cards for the appropriate circumstance says:

"We are all creatures of this great earth - interconnected in ways beyond understanding.

Take elephants.
So big.
So strong.
And yet,
when a member of the herd passes,
even elephants mourn.
They gather around,
extend their trunks,
and gently touch
the tusks
of their fallen friend.
It's their ritual.
It's how they heal.
And it's sad.
And it's beautiful.

So maybe
what we're trying to say
is that the world
doesn't expect you
to be fine with this.

Be how you need to be.
Mourn how you need to mourn.

And know that you're thought of with love."

To my dear friends, you are held close in prayers and closer still with love. Mourn how you need to mourn.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The W List: August Books 2011

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo ~ A china rabbit with furry ears is lost at sea, then in trash heap, and finally in a doll shop. In the meantime, Edward learns to love and he learns that it is a painful, if rewarding, emotion. Enjoyed this! F (Children's?)

Readymade: How to Make (Almost) Everything: A Do-it-Yourself Primer by Shoshana Berger ~ I'm going to count this book as read because I looked at the pictures. And because I have very little interest in a lounge chair made out of recycled plastic water bottles, no matter how green it is. Many visitors to our house picked this book up, flipped through it and commented on the strange things within, so that makes it an interesting conversation starter. NF

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley ~ Really enjoyed this one! This novel contained many of the classic fairytale elements in graphic novel form. Loved the story of the circus and then the order of the bearded ladies! When I had some time to think about it, there were some impressive subtexts woven into the storyline regarding faith, love, friendship, protection, fairness, and the realized power of those others consider weak. Very cool! F GN

De:tales: Stories from Urban Brazil by Fabio Moon ~ Not as awesome as Daytripper, but the artwork was full of talent and promise. I am often impressed with what graphic novels can leave unsaid (unwritten) and still obviously convey to the reader. F/NF GN

Hush by Eishes Chayil ~ I gave up on this book 1/3 into the story. I am done with novels that have this hidden mystery agenda in revealing sexual abuse. This abuse took place in a heavily cloistered Jewish community and from what I read, I assume that the victim killed herself and then nobody spoke of the abuse or the death again, which, just so you know, can cause some trauma all around. I don't intentionally choose these types of books, but they seem to find me as there is this rape/incest/molestation/abuse topic floating through what seems to be a large quantity of young adult fiction. Yuck. YA F

Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Houses by Alan Hess ~ I looked at the pictures and they were pretty. The stained glass and woodwork were incredible. I didn't read more than a paragraph. NF

Contemporary Quilts (Quilt National 1997) ~ I'm beginning to figure out that Quilt National is not my thing right now. It's a little too conceptual and fantastic in an unattainable and currently unappealing way. The talent and creativity is undeniable, but most of these quilts are not functional beyond wall hangings and that is not for me. NF

Sew Charming: 40 Simple Sewing and Hand-Printing Projects for the Home and Family by Cath Derksema ~ This is a fun book for a beginning sewer and printer - there are bright fabrics and colorful, modern designs (think a bit retro 60's mod) and the how-to on creating everything from hand printed tablecloths to little boy pajamas. NF

Simple Contemporary Quilts: Bold New Designs for the First-Time Quilter by Valerie Shrader ~ Maybe "first-time quilter" is pushing these designs and techniques a little far. This was a comprehensive book, but nothing special. NF

Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home - Use Pre-Cut Jelly Rolls, Charm Packs, Fat Quarters & More by Camille Roskelley ~ Again, I saw this book and thought that I would get a lot out of it, but it really just slid on past my eyes. Her quilts were, as always, a bit of happy eye candy and appreciated. NF

Stash-Buster Quilts: Time Saving Designs for Fabric Leftovers by Lynne Edwards ~ This lady has some neat ideas; I think I've read more than a few of her books now. She utilizes color and her quilting is incredibly complementary. Good book. NF

Patchwork: 25 Sewing Projects for Fabric Lovers by Cynthia Shaffer ~ Cute projects and great ideas for using small scraps (think mere single-digit inches). Nothing jumped out, but this was a colorful, well-articulated book. NF

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch ~ A London copper that can speak with ghosts and solves paranormal crimes. He is also introducted to magic. It was an okay read, but it isn’t anything on par with Harry Potter or the Sookie books. I think it develops into a series, but this novel really got bogged down in archaic British terminology and London locations – there comes a point when I really don’t care where Armetishire is, okay? F

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi ~ This was sad, in a way, as a commentary on what humans have ultimately done to the earth. But really it’s about a boy trying to figure out family, loyalty, honor and love in despicable circumstances. It took me awhile to figure out what the “half-men” were and while the story followed the traditional, the context was futuristic in an engaging, curious way. Read it. YA F

The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi ~ Daisy Kutter is awesome. She is real and terrible and wonderful. Just read this graphic novel in an afternoon and you’ll be convinced that graphic novels are bigger than comics and contenders with novels. Surprising, touching, and talented, I am a fan of Kazu, no doubt. GN F’s Harry Potter Should Have Died by Emerson Spartz ~ Well, not to ruin the book for you, but the conclusion is not that Harry Potter should ha died. I hope any HP fans out there have checked out – it is a well operated HP website with fanfiction (of course) and lots of extras. This book was okay, possibly meant for a younger audience (in the list of debates, one was Who would you rather kiss? Voldemort or a dementor?). NF, based on F

Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood by Carey Goldberg ~ Well, I guess this book is what happens when you decide to pass around seven vials of sperm in the quest to become a mother. I take no issue with taking action to become a parent, spouse or not (and I know some do), but this non-fiction story remained trite and may have been best kept an anecdote told at social functions. NF

House Beautiful Small Space Decorating Workshop ~ This is a great book for pointing out all of the little places (in an already small environment) that you can create storage and encourage light to peer in. For example, in smaller kitchens, cabinets are great on the bottom, but open shelving (if it works) makes the entire area more spacious looking and even allows display of dishware/tools (red toaster, Fiestaware, pretty glass, etc.). Very cute book! NF

Quilting Line and Color: Techniques and Designs for Abstract Quilts by Yoshiko Jinzenji ~ I really enjoyed the visual of some of these quilts, but do not understand the teaching aspect of a “random” or “improv” quilt. Introducing a measured method to something that is supposed to grow out of a creative mind just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe you can encourage creativity and spontaneity, but I’m tempted to write that you can’t force or calculate or write instructions for the same things. NF

The Radleys by Matt Haig ~ A vampire family story and I quite enjoyed it. The family dynamics and the hows/whys of vampirism are well explained and the book is a quick read with very short, quick chapters – would recommend (and it was recommended to me, by AM). F

Tattoo Machine: Tall Tales, True Stories, and My Life in Ink by Jeff Johnson ~ I read this for the stories and there were some stories for sure (the one about the serial killer still creeps me out). Not especially talented writing or continuity, but I’m betting the author is a talented artist. NF

Adventures in Bookbinding: Handcrafting Mixed-Media Books by Jeannine Stein ~ This is an example of an art/craft that I thought I would be interested in because I love books. And while I have learned a little about bookbinding, I don’t think that I am going to venture down that crafty path at this time. This book, however, is very enlightening and instructional and for someone who is interesting in creating mixed-media books, I think it could be an excellent resource. NF

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd ~ I’ve had two different people try and explain to me why it was so terrible for a Jedi to be friends with a Klingon and I think I might understand, but I’m still not sure. I watched some Star Trek (the Next Generation?) with my dad when I was little, but apparently that in no way prepares me for the nerdiness of the stories in this tome (see, I use words like “tome” – how does that not make me a nerd?). But I am still enjoying them. Even if I hate Star Wars and read a book through all three movies one night. Or were those the Lord of Rings movies that C tried to make me watch? Either way it was painful. F Anthology

Paper Quilts: Turn Traditional Quilt Motifs into Contemporary Cards and Crafts by Sandra Foose ~ Well, my interest is waning in both quilting and papercraft books, but this one seemed very straight forward with easy-to-follow directions and clear photographs. There were some three dimensional/origami type crafts in the back that I would love to devote more time to. NF

Simple Printmaking: A Beginner's Guide to Making Relief Prints with Linoleum Blocks, Wood Blocks, Rubber Stamps, Found Objects & More by Gwen Diehn ~ Too deep and too detailed for me – practically a definitive history of printmaking. But from that aspect, it was comprehensive as far as printing objects, medium, surfaces, and findings through archeological findings. NF

Creative Wildfire: An Introduction to Art Journaling Basics and Beyond ~ More of a bookbinding instructional guide, but still pretty cool. NF

Better than Running at Night by Hillary Frank ~ Nope, don’t recommend at all. It might have been personal preference on my part, as I enjoyed the art school portions of this book, but strongly dislike the relationship portions. I’ve read better. F YA

Water Paper Paint: Exploring Creativity with Watercolor and Mixed Media by Heather Jones Smith ~ This book is cool and if I find time to pick up my watercolors again, I might need a copy of this to guide me through paints, techniques and the very important paper choices. It covers the basics in a very modern way. NF

What He Can Expect When She’s Not Expecting: How to Support your Wife, Save your Marriage, and Conquer Infertility! (exclamation point part of the official title) by Marc Sedaka ~ I skimmed this book since it wasn’t really written to me, BUT it is awesome for men. I read parts out loud to C and he got it. There are many a lot of funny scenarios, realistic situations, advice and it’s presented in a way that most men can respond to: through sarcasm. Nothing is off limits, from the collection room to the details the author’s doctor adds. Very comprehensive and slightly dated (only because technology, science and medicine are racing each other in this field). I highly recommend – better than many of the books geared toward females that want to hold your hand instead of telling it to you straight (i.e. the test called an HSG HURTS! A LOT! and the ART process is expensive, NO JOKE!). NF

The Repurposed Library: 33 Craft Projects that Give Old Books New Life by Lisa Occhipinti ~ Neat crafts, but I'm still uncertain about walking that fine line between expression & art and the actual destruction of books. Granted, not all books are fit to be read (in anyone's opinion), so the crafts are utilizing old, unwanted books in a fresh, creative way. Interesting. NF

Whip Up Mini Quilts: Patterns and How-to for 26 Contemporary Small Quilts by Kathreen Ricketson ~ Actually rekindled my interest in small quilts as wall art or table runners, or, as my first quilting project went, a doll-sized quilt. Very simple and classically designed small quilts with little tricks to make them easier and more streamlined. EB - check it out. NF

It feels like the book reading petered out a bit this month. I’m still in a place where I don’t care all that much for fiction, not even my well-loved young adult fiction. I haven’t been able to go to that fictional place and care about those characters when there are real people telling real stories. Does anyone else ever feel that way? And I’ve put some hard prep work into my sister’s giant quilt, which is no small feat and a huge time killer. But for me, more design, house, style, dress books with a side of biography, memoir, and other assorted non-fiction. Surprise, surprise, 31 books this month. At least 20 can be classified as non-fiction and if you read the reviews, I was not fond of a lot of the fiction. September may prove to be sweeter.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Friday, August 26, 2011


C does this all the time, but I did it for the first time and there happen to be pictures.

Of course there is a story, but there is also patient confidentiality, my own privacy (and commitment to customer service, I might add), and the purported illegality of climbing into a manhole. So that leaves you with pictures, enjoy!

- Posted from my mobile phone

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Something to do with Sister B

She never reads this blog, even though C's brothers occasionally do. So I could say a lot of things about her and start all sorts of rumors. But I won't because I dearly love sister B.

Below is something that's a little more about me. I've needed fabric labels for my quilts/projects that go off into the world. I didn't care for any of the predesigned ones, so I set out to design my own. I should have just paid someone uber talented to get them right, but instead I spent five hours in the simple Paint program (no, I can't figure out Photoshop or GIMP, or any other complicated program). The cool thing is, once you have a design, you can upload it to a custom design fabric place (I adore and have them print it. Your cost/label drops significantly compared to the fabric label sheets you can run through your printer. Pretty cool, right?

These are what I came up with for now. The blanks I can fill in with a fabric pen/marker (I prefer Micron). Might have one of those talented people clean it up and color it in for future printings.

I found this fabric someone had designed on Spoonflower. I'm going to try and work it into the following project. It's got sister B's name written all over it (she's a hippo kind of girl - I can say that because she doesn't visit here)!

This is going to be the coolest thing ever. It's a quilt for sister B, who might have asked why I make quilts for other people's children, but not my only sister. Probably because babies don't have opinions on color, fabric, design, pattern or thread color. Oh, and baby quilts are smaller than the larger-than-queen-size quilt she wants. But sure enough, I took the challenge and have all the blocks pieced, cut out and need to find the motivation to cut all the sashing. I think it's going to be a beast, but spectacular.

Sister B will definitely get a "Made with Love" label. Unfortunately, this quilt will be nowhere near complete by her birthday in September. Happy birthday anyway, B!

- Posted from my mobile phone

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The W List: July Books 2011

Early July thought: If I finish two quilts this month, then I might forgive myself for the paltry book tally.

Mid-July thought: A tally which was looking rather paltry half way through July, but doesn’t look too terrible now. But only one quilt is complete-ish. That’s how it goes.

Last day of July thought: I read 29 books this month. Wow. And I have both quilts pieced and quilted. All that remains is different stages of binding for each. Yay for July!

The Match: "Savior Siblings" and One Family's Battle to Heal Their Daughter by Beth Whitehouse ~ This book, title alone, reminded me that we all need to withhold judgment without either much more information or without walking in someone else's shoes. This book offered so much information along with the personal story of Katie's family. Read it before you go saying things like "I would never" or "How could they?" Becoming an informed human being is really the least this changing world asks of us. NF

Flight, Volume Two ~ I did not find it as good as the first volume (which I own), but only because of my own taste in comics. I am a big fan of Vera Brosgol and Kazu Kabuishi and neither were heavily featured in this volume. The covers are always amazing though, because Kazu is a stunning artist – you can actually buy his prints (and Vera’s) at Nucleus Gallery online. GN F

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith ~ A poignant read actually. This book tricked me into learning more about Lincoln's non-vampire life than any other could - it is sprinkled with true quotes, dates, events and deaths. I even enjoyed the vampire parts because they added a dimension to Lincoln's legacy. I recommend. F

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass ~ This book has been on my reading list for so long and it was very good. The main character sees colors for sounds and unconsciously assigns them to letters, numbers and words. She is strong and real and Mango is her beloved cat. Read it. YA F

Haven: Cozy Hideaways and Dream Retreats by Allison Serrell ~ Is probably a good book, but it isn't speaking to my aesthetic. I am going to finish looking through the pictures and call it read. NF

Daytripper by Fabio Moon ~ I highly recommend this graphic novel! It said so much about the course of life and the possibilities of people and situations through both the pictures and the words (seriously, AM and LB, pick it up from the library or I’ll force it into your hands when I someday own it). I wanted to quote the last letter that is written in the novel, but I returned the book too quickly to the library (others deserve to read this as well) and it gives something away. Love this. GN F

Give it Up: My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno ~ I must have thought this book was going to be helpful or interesting and it is not. From the first chapter alone, I judge Mary as a flippant, self-involved woman looking for the next thing to shake up her dull life. Her idea of living with less is going without alcohol in January and without buying shoes in February. I did not get any further. Her vapid, shallow ideas were not what I wanted to adopt, when, in fact, they disgust me. NF

Blank Confession by Pete Hautman ~ I’ve read Godless by the same author and RH mentioned that Pete was coming to speak at a conference she was attending, so I wanted to pick up another novel by this author. It was a little heavy-handed in the way that young adult novels can be: drugs are bad, people are bad and good, you be the change, etc., but it is a good message nonetheless. YA F

The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception by Deborah Spar ~ Wow. I know of many people that would not care to read this because it thoroughly discusses that those people who cannot have babies (in the sex + pregnancy = baby way) are left with only one other option: to purchase a baby. And being in my position, I agree. Whether you are considering adoption or ART (assisted reproductive technologies), you are buying a child or a chance for a child. This concept only gains momentum when you consider how much a couple pays to adopt a child ($15K-$50K) or the dollar amount needed to procure donor eggs ($3K-$50K), sperm ($200-$1K), or a surrogate ($20K-$100K). If anyone does read this book (and though it is a little dry, the information is unequaled and I do recommend it), I would ask that they keep an open mind and investigate different perspectives relating to this issue – especially if infertility is not an issue that affects you directly. NF

Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Soule ~ I didn't enjoy this book nearly as much as I thought I might, but for a different person, I can see how wonderful and transformative it could be. Good ideas and sufficient explanations. **AM really enjoys this author’s books, so like I stated, it’s just about your personal crafty goals, aesthetic and what you’re needing instructions for! NF

Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Sun by Kaffe Fassett ~ Beautiful quilts and photographs. I looked through the patterns and decided that they were all a little bit not my style. There are seemingly clear instructions on assembling each featured quilt in the last half of this book (complete with specific fabric notes). NF

The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld ~ A follow-up novel to Peeps (very much enjoyed and gifted sister B with this Christmas). This YA novel hops around the five perspectives of would-be band mates as the stealthy vampire apocalypse has arrived and their music has everything to do with it. Not as good as Peeps, but a delightful addition to the vampirism-as-a-disease genre. YA F

Mind-Rain: Your Favorite Authors on Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series ~ Thought-provoking essays on all sort of undercurrent subjects running through the Uglies series. There are a few essays towards the end that really shine the light on “pretty” vs. average or “ugly” that are a reflection on our society. Definitely an awesome companion to the series – possibly to pull essays to discuss alongside the series in an English class? NF, as related to YA F

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley ~ On loan from my parents, this book showcases what actual millionaires buy, spend, and how they build their wealth. It's not what it seems. “Millionaire” is used loosely (a person with a net worth of at least $1 million), but most of the practices are spot on. Not sure I can truck through the remaining pages (I have the message – live within your means/frugally = big pay off someday), but I will attempt to! NF

Haven by Kristi Cook ~ A good young adult read that continues with the vampirism-as-a-disease theme. Throw in some other paranormal, a boarding school, and BAD vampires and it is a great read (for you, sister B!). YA F

Denise Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects by Denise Schmidt ~ I’ll be honest – some of the quilt books are starting to run together. This book features 20 projects and 10 quilts in the back, and since I’m less of a project girl and more of a quilt girl (for now), my interest lies solely with the quilts. I loved an orange and white triangle pieced quilt, except for the part where I’ve sworn off anything remotely triangular (due to the disaster of the still unfinished quilt that needs to be finished and go home). Her quilts and projects are definitely modern and utilize wonderful colors, patterns, and quilting. NF

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo ~ Heart breaking with a happy ending – is that how Kate always rolls? The love of family, honesty, and helpful spirits collide with magic and one homesick elephant to create a better existence for everyone involved. F (Children’s?)

The Party Dress Book: How to Sew the Best Dress in the Room by Mary Adams ~ Adam’s had a shop in NYC where she designed and sewed beautiful party dresses. She oscillated between differing trends of the last three or four decades: pleats, ruffles, overlays, quilting, bright colors, etc. This books sets forth some of her influences and tricks and tips that she has used to achieve her quirky, yet feminine party dresses. NF

Twinkle Sews: 25 Handmade Fashions from the Runway to Your Wardrobe by Wenlan Chia ~ This designer published her first few books on knitting and switched over to fabric in time to develop Twinkle Sews, which is packed with classic garments that always have a twist, but can remain in one’s closet for years. Her ideas are spot on and this book pushes the designer in all of us to higher levels, tweaking Wenlan’s classic to make it our own. NF

Print Workshop: Hand-Printing Techniques + Truly Original Projects by Christine Schmidt ~ A book that is so chock-full of information about setting up a print workshop that it is almost overwhelming. Schmidt outlines all of the tools, how to use them, numerous projects and offers that you can take all of these techniques and use them wherever you’d like. Very cool book – considering a copy for reference for my own library. NF

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cheri House ~ The quilt and skyline on the cover made this a book I wanted to peruse, but while I enjoy the quilts inside, the skyline is something beautiful and not for me. While I’m not highly allergic to downtowns the way that C presumes to be, I still appreciate the countryside more; especially the farming squares as seen from a low flying airplane. House styles some awesome quilts – getting into quilting software and the different uses of sashing to create diversity within the same pattern. Also seems like she is mother to Lizzie House (google her fabric). NF

Schnibbles Times Two: Quilts from 5” or 10” Squares by Carrie Nelson ~ This book is great for a person who is making their first quilt! When you purchase charm packs, you have a selection (usually solids or a designer line) of pre-cut 5” or 10” squares and their uses are endless, while you’re time spent cutting is almost non-existent. These charm packs (and jelly rolls, but there are other books about jelly rolls) make designing a quilt somewhat easier and this book offers creative uses and designs. NF

Word Play Quilts: Easy Techniques from the Unruly Quilter by Tonya Ricucci ~ Word quilts are a whole other beast in the quilting world – figuring out which words, how to contrast, whether to piece and appliqué or piece or whatever other method you want to use. While my interest isn’t with word quilts (yet – I am considering one for my sister that states “My Sister Loves Me” or “My Sister Knows I’m Smart” in huge bright letters – just so she never, ever forgets those two facts, but I digress) at this moment, I am thrilled that there is a very well-written and detailed book out there for when I come around. NF

Quilts Made Modern: 10 Projects: Keys for Success with Color & Design, from the Funquilts Studio by Weeks Ringle ~ Full of great suggestions – from fabric to color to design. Also showcased the 10 projects in different color ways so that you could figure out what an alternate version looks like. Easy construction instructions and love the quilt on the cover. NF

Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson ~ I enjoyed a few key projects in this book, especially the stuffed elephant and the simple pillowcases. The author also displayed a beautiful quilt made from log cabin blocks. NF

Modern Log Cabin Quilting: 25 Simple Quilts and Patchwork Projects by Susan Beal ~ This book detailed many many ways that you can utilize the log cabin (simple) block to create stunning quilts. NF

Sewing Bits & Pieces: 35 Projects Using Fabric Scraps by Sandi Henderson ~ Full of great ideas to use up all those bits and pieces discarded from larger projects. There is one photograph that sticks with me - a fun tiered patchwork skirt over leggings (my winter outfit of choice) that have three rows of ruffles attached. Very sweet and cool. NF

Ape House by Sara Gruen ~ Began this one because of how much I loved Water for Elephants. Whenever you personify an animal, make them more human, you create a character (in this book six characters) that people can empathize with. Honestly, I was a bit angry at the book from the beginning for this set-up (think literary version of the new Planet of the Apes movie) and have only continued reading for the happy ending that I'm not sure will happen. F

Flight, Volume Three ~ About 1/3 into the book on July 31st, but still going to include it on July's list as it is an anthology of graphic stories. Sitting next to the bed, a little more will be read each evening. I am enjoying this one more than the second volume - probably just due to the stories and graphics appealing more to my specific aesthetic. GN F

As always, ask me any questions you have on these books or recommendations!

- Posted from my mobile phone

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Function of the Space

Mine first because it is inside and easy to photograph (with the phone). This is the room you will sleep in, should you have the honor of bunking with us. It is called the orange room, but the paint color is as close as my dad would let me get to creamsicle (my dad is a paint man, so I respect his opinion - and he painted most of the house!). It used to be called the library, but there have been some functional/crafty changes.

The spectacular desk/work station that C made me. Still needs to be painted (by me) and it has a metal base, wood top, and measures 7ft x 3ft x 3ft. It seriously rocks. I could start listing all the cool stuff on it and under it, but that would take forever!

Fabulous quilt rack made by the talented C for my birthday is UP! The bright green is totally growing on me and despite it's huge girth, this rack is such a space saver! Would like to point out the ironing board (for quilting only) and the stacks of fabric just inside the closet. We'll be working on feasible, yet visible fabric storage soon - any ideas?

Just had to show you because it is that cool - the roly-poly sculpture/thread hanger doing it's job on the wall. I'm beginning to see the colors I gravitate towards: bright oranges, pinks and yellows, anyone?

Poor Athena has been wearing this barely unfinished dress for almost a year! And she's in the corner. Not to mention I think I know what she did to get those beads. One of these days I'll hem the bottom of the dress and the sleeves and wear my first (decent) dress.

A block from the quilt. That. Just. Won't. Play. Nice. Thanks to AM and EB, it might be finished soon, but not without anguish on the creator's part.

Line up of Jeeps in the driveway. Ugly blue house with accompanying cars not included. Grey & yellow and black Jeep are ours, the second yellow Jeep is one C is working on for a friend. Soon to be joined by another friend's reddish Jeep. It's a rather full driveway.

The garage, or, the reason we bought this house. Deeper and wider than a traditional two-car. C's domain. More driveway fans in the foreground: military Dodge, work Tahoe, and the black Dodge.

Inside the lair. Lots of stuff being moved around to make space for the Jeeps C is working on.

Another angle of C's workspace. The Jeep doors on the wall crack me up because they're still muddy. Many cool tools and pieces of equipment in here.

Really, it's a relatively small house on a piece of land (in town), so I figure we're lucky to have the space and resources to pursue the hobbies we enjoy. Which, is what we're doing today.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Birthday!

Presents were not a big deal this year - I just wanted to make sure that C knew I wanted a birthday card. He broke down and got me a very un-lovey card.

My parents were able to come up for a fabulous birthday dinner and they brought me the best present ever: my SISTER! It was such a nice evening to have my family together and we ate some tasty steaks Mom & Dad brought. Mom had to remind us all that we needed to remember that it was a weeknight, they had to get home, and we all had work or school the next day! Did I mention that Dad and B went to the grocery store and came home with Oreos, lactose free ice cream, rainbow sherbet, and waffle cones? Best low-key birthday ever! Thank you all!

As I said, presents weren't a big deal this year. Until I arrived home Monday evening and C was working on something in the garage for me. I wasn't allowed in. When he was done, he came to show me because he never can wait to give me things (have you heard the proposal story?).

It was this:

I bet most of you can't figure out what it is, so I'll explain. It's twofold really. I had mentioned to C that I would like him to make me a thread holder thing - something to hang on the wall to display and let me see all the different types of thread I have. I wanted it to have dowels or spikes that could hold two spools each and mentioned that metal medium was fine. So that explains the spikes - to hang spools of thread.

The second part is in regards to C's grandpa V. He used to weld metal creatures out of old coffee cans (I think) and C's mom and I know C to be very talented and creative as well, so we've encouraged him to try his hand at it. At the top of my thread rack is a sculpture of a roly poly. Painted with the same paint used on the candleholders C fabricated for our wedding.

So here's the sum: C made me something for my birthday. It is functional, artistic, and meaningful - I think it is the coolest thing ever. Absolutely love it.

But there was more. I arrived home Tuesday evening and C was working in the garage again and I wasn't allowed in. He told me the gift on Monday was just a distraction and now he was working on my real birthday gift.

On Wednesday evening I arrived home to find C and my parents & sister there, with this huge quilt rack on the dining room table. He painted it green because he knows how much I love green. The quilt I had been working on was displayed on it - so sweet!

This quilt rack is every bit of four feet across and will hang on the wall in the orange room.

C is so sweet and talented and his presents to me even showcase how supportive he is of my quilting! I'm lucky.

Been reading this quilt book.

And this quilt book. Maybe one of these quilts will hang on my quilt rack someday!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The W List: June Books 2011

Modern Cabin: New Designs for an American Icon by Michelle Kodis ~ So, I'm fairly certain that while C and I like cabin elements, that a cabin is not the right abode for us. This book showcases traditional and modern cabin elements with beautiful photos, details, materials, and even floor plans. NF

Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift by Carolyn and Sean Savage ~ Heart wrenching to read about the Ohio couple who faces the devastation of achieving a pregnancy through IVF, but with another couples' embryo. Follows their journey through something that shouldn't have happened in the first place and has heightened medical protocols so that it doesn't happen again. NF

Double Helix by Nancy Werlin ~ I had not intended to read two books about reproductive issues in one day (at least 500 pages for whoever is counting!), but this is a fiction novel by an author that I plan to read more from (loved and own Impossible). Surprising issues raised in an almost YA fictional read: genetics, reproductive freedom, ethics, human testing, genetic superiority, all sorts of things. YA F

Rooms for Living: 126 Home Plans with Fabulous Great Rooms, Kitchens, and Master Suites: Simple Design Tips for Creating a Comfortable Home ~ Not really the type of book I was looking for. Some of the floor plans had ideas we could utilize while more of the plans were grander than anything we will ever need from a home - think one story topping out at 2500 square feet. NF

Dawn & Adulthood Rites both by Octavia Butler ~ (Read because I love Fledgling) I enjoyed these books that dealt with an alien species mating with humans and all of the intricacies bound therein. Definitely science fiction - more so than I usually read, but crafted by a talented author. I think there is a third book titled Imago. F

Cabins: The New Style by James Grayson Trulove ~ Love this book because it showcases some beautiful homes, but also details each cabin enough that you can figure out the parts you might want to recreate. NF

The New Wood House by James Grayson Trulove ~ Okay, I finally like this guy. Another fabulously photographed book from my friend James. I might be requesting a few of these for Christmas. NF

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin ~ This was a creepy read, not unlike Impossible, but the weakness and then the strength exhibited by the main character wasn't compelling enough for me. She still just seemed like a weak person. YA F

Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen both by Tamora Pierce ~ Highly recommend to YA readers. Has a wonderful young female protagonist who is strong and constantly weighing wrong and right, as well as protecting that which she sees fit. Other characters are deep and telling. Bits of magic, but more brute. YA F

Anyone But You by Jennifer Cruise ~ Light trashy reading. The Bassett hound/Beagle mix, Fred, steals the show! F

Tell Me Lies by Jennifer Cruise ~ More shallow reading, was going to quit partway in, but then someone died and it turned a little mysterious. F

Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard ~ I read this because I truly enjoyed the Mouse Guard books (graphic novels). This was more of an anthology of stories from different authors and artists. It was okay, but I prefer the regular Mouse Guard that's about specific mice and how they protect their community. F GN

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner ~ I really enjoyed two other books by her, Good in Bed and Certain Girls, but this novel was lacking. While definitely in the chicklit genre, there was very little in this novel for thinking chicks. F

Terrarium Craft: Create 50 Magical, Miniature Worlds by Amy Bryant Aiello ~ Very cool book; awesome ideas, pictures, and explanations. Perhaps I'm not a terrarium type of girl, however, if you are a terrarium type of person: check this out! NF

200 Quilting Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets by Susan Briscoe ~ Interesting and informative quilting book, covers both the basics and some little known (to me) tricks. Not perfect, but good for it's purposes. NF

Chalked Up: Inside Elite Gymnastics' Merciless Coaching, Overzealous Parents, Eating Disorders, and Elusive Olympic Dreams by Jennifer Sey ~ I'm thinking that if all elite gymnasts are like Jennifer, that they torture themselves with their own dreams. Very interesting read of what it takes to make a high caliber gymnast. NF

The Burn Journal by Brent Runyon ~ I realized too late that I've already read this one, so I flipped through it, but did not read it again. It's written by a boy who doused his bathrobe in gasoline, stood in the shower and struck a match. He lived and his story is incredibly telling. NF

Dare to Be Square Quilting: Block-by-Block Guide to Making Patchwork and Quilts by Boo Davis ~ this was an easy to read and understand guide to quilting. What makes it special is the way Davis both simplifies and makes grand the art and style of quilting. I'm seriously considering adding this book to my library! NF

The Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker by Elizabeth Hartman ~ I really enjoy this woman's quilting blog online, so I wanted to get my hands on her book. It covers a lot of great techniques and ideas and I think that I may need to read through it again to get the full effect! Really well put together! NF

Small Stash Sewing: 24 Projects Using Designer Fat Quarters by Melissa Averinos ~ I like to flip through these books to get ideas, but smaller projects usually underwhelm me. Surprisingly, there was a belt and neck warmer that both called out to me, so maybe some of you will get those for Christmas. But I didn't say that! NF

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey by Patricia Hartman ~ I've also read Blue Cotton Gown by Hartman and both books have their strengths. I enjoyed what AWO explained more than anything: women having babies outside of hospitals, community living, living off the land, and sentiments of those against the war in Vietnam. It was almost more of a perspective of what life was like for these people at this time; very eye opening. NF

I have also currently started:
Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews (probably won't finish, since I'm already fed up with the main character - will try again another time)
Flight, Volume Two - graphic novel
Haven: Cozy Hideaways and Dream Retreats by Allison Serrell
Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy (Greek last name, don't have it with me)
Will and Abe's Guide to the Universe by Matt Groen-something
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I'll be sure to let you know how these are at the end of July. Which brings my total of actually read books in June to 22. Wow. Twenty-two books. I am a nerd.

- Posted from my mobile phone

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The VPW Rally / IA / June 2011

*Working on getting the videos up - right now they're just stills! ar 6/26/11

We spent June 8-11 in Fairfield, IA at the 24th Annual VPW (Vintage Power Wagon) Rally. This is really more of C's thing, but he likes me to tag along and it's nice to see him so excited about it all. Since the rally we attended in 2009, C has been keeping in touch with all of the PW guys through an online forum and they were really excited that we'd be able to make it this year (C also told me that they all appreciated the family pictures that Kami of OrangePeel Photography took last year that included the old Dodge).

I've included some videos below that really show you what the rally is all about. Keep scrolling down for more posts after this one for some big project news and other assorted details and stories from this year's rally!

Below: C is the first one down the hill and watch the others' slide - see if you can even see tires turning! Also, check out some of the changes C made to his truck!

Below: I wasn't with C for this outing, but this corner with the deep muddy ruts looks like a lot of fun!

Below: Just a trail ride. I hopped out of our truck to ride in the back of another so I could get a good shot of C going through. Those are our new friends, E&W, and their dog, Ox.

Below: This is a long video (>5 minutes) of the parade that we were in of all the Dodge Power Wagons through the town and square of Fairfield,IA on Saturday morning. The town seems really happy to have all of us there for the extended weekend.

Keep reading about our trip below!

Parade Favorites

Just a few Power Wagons for you all.

We quite liked the following one. He went on a trail ride with us and just seemed to push all of the mud away from himself. Kind of reminded me of To'Mater from Cars.

C has an ambulance front end at home, but it is the earlier, more rounded style. This is pretty cool though - we definitely looked at some of these bodies at VPW.

The cream & green truck next to the ambulance won Best in Show. It was a very nice looking truck - don't ask how much he's got in it or could sell it for.

A Town Wagon. Lovely. Very cool. Why do I think so? Stay tuned for more information about Jill's PPE and our recent acquisition.

This is a good example of the iconic Power Wagon. Very nice.

Kerr Farms Mudding

C made some friends at the VPW Rally this year. He found the guys that live to mud, and since C really enjoys some good mudding, they invited him out to Kerr Farms to join them in a run. [I stayed at the campsites and read a book. I thought C might have more fun with just the guys.]

C did some upgrades and modifications before we left for IA, including, but not limited to: roll cage the length of the truck, canvas top (cut & stapled to fit), and a temporarily bolted in backseat borrowed from a Jeep. I think he did other stuff with carburetors and brakes, but I don't pay attention to that stuff.

Now, the guys weren't sure C could hang in his Dodge because it isn't built to be a mudding vehicle (that's what we have the CJ-7 Jeep for), but he held his own (as you will see if I can load some of the video footage he shot).

The mud crew. I think those other two are M-37s, and I'm sure C will correct me if I'm wrong.

I just want to point out how this truck was built for the mud. Note the tires. Which probably have disk brakes instead of drum brakes (like C's Dodge and yes, important in the mud). And the clearance height. And ask him what type of motor he's got in there.

I know that C had a blast hanging out on the muddier trails with these guys.

I Drove This

This part means a lot to C. He goes to the rally in IA to see all the Dodge Power Wagons, talk shop with the guys, mud a little, but another big component is getting advice on some of the quirks of these vehicles (you'll hear talk of the conversion of drum brakes to disc brakes all over the fairgrounds). So when C can catch up and engage guys that have been rebuilding these trucks, there are some awesome moments - feedback, advice, tricks, brainstorming. It's a very cool process.

This truck belongs to Bob. Bob builds Power Wagons for fun, and as far as I know HE BUILDS THEM - it's an important caveat, because that's opposed to paying someone to rebuild a motor and then paying another guy to do some body work. Guys that build their trucks are more useful to C because of their intimate knowledge of how these builds go.

C found Bob. They started talking, throwing around ideas, spoke of how Bob rebuilt this beauty and how C rebuilt his. Then Bob asks, "Want to go for a ride?" And C replied, "Sure."
C came back and told me that Bob let him drive it.
Oh, dear.

This is the front of Jill's Purple People Eater. It's a Town Wagon and so very cool. I can't believe that we didn't get a better picture of it, but we love it. Not just because we're KSU fans! Jill was nice enough to give us a ride to dinner on Saturday evening and afterwards we were itching to get on the road (I missed our dogs desperately, so we came home a little early), so Jill's husband, Jon, threw us the keys. I think C about choked. So we drove the PPE back to the campsite (all of a few blocks) and C said it was very similar to driving an old five ton grain truck.

PPE in the background. Keep reading in the following post to catch the another reason that it was so cool to drive the PPE.

Our New Project: The Carryall

The guys warned C not to go to VPW (located in Fairfield, IA, sponsor of the rally). He just needed some seals for something and we walked all over their acres of Power Wagon stuff, through their warehouses of parts and spoke to all of their guys LAST time we were here. But by Saturday afternoon, C just wanted to swing by and grab those seals. So we took a few guys with us and drove over. Mistake #1 was heading to VPW. Mistake #2 was bringing enablers.

Mike (oh, you thought I wasn't going to name you?) was looking at some windshield frames and we were wandering the lot(s). C was looking at some boxy ambulance bodies that I was not a big fan of, but not seriously. We visited the yellow crew cab/utility bed truck that I love. And then C started digging around some Carryall bodies. I didn't think twice because he does that. Mike decides to get some price quotes on the windshields and grabs a VPW guy (very nice - his name is Matt). Then the boys start talking about what C could do with a Carryall body. Okay, not good, but talk like this still doesn't mean much. Except, Mike asks how much they might want for this Carryall body. You know, for C.

Yes, it's sitting between two other Carryall bodies. The VPW guy doesn't really know - could be anything from hundreds to thousands depending on quite a few factors, so he grabs the boss so he can look at it and give us a price. You all that know me know that I said no way to thousands of dollars, right? But we wait awhile and during that wait, C gets a little more serious.

See, he bought this 1940s Dodge PW ambulance front end (back of the cab forward) a few months ago. His idea was to pick up a 1990s diesel Dodge and make a cool crew cab frankentruck out of it. It'd be a lot of fabrication and body work, but it'd turn into a really cool and usable vehicle for us (modern drive train, diesel motor, modern frame, modern brakes, etc., but classic style). But if he bought a Carryall body, it'd cut out A TON of that work because he'd have more to work with. Not to mention, we love the Carryalls/Town Wagons/Panel Wagons. Just look at the light blue one in the parade post and Jill's Purple People Eater. So we wait.

Inside view. VPW has their eye on window mechanisms because they are rare. Most of the body is there and in pretty good shape. There is no floor because it was something akin to a piece of plywood even when the truck was made - much like the roof cut-out where there used to be canvas - just saying that it's not missing any metal body in those areas.

The boss came back out and made C an offer of hundreds, not thousands. I said yes, we'll take it, and go put some money down. Yes, that might have been foolhardy on my part, but it makes C so very happy and he really wants to make us this truck that we can use. Oh, and it will be massively cool - that part I'm totally on board with. It will be a lot of work - in fact, all C's PW pals said they didn't want to see this truck back for three to five years - so C would take his time and do a good job on this. So we bought a Carryall body. To graft with an ambulance front end. And place on a modern Dodge truck frame. Officially, this will not be called a frankentruck (my word) - it will be called a resto-mod (a restoration modification), but I will just refer to it as the Carryall. I get to choose the paint colors. Should be a fun ride.

If you look really close, you can see SOLD to C. R. above the door and first window. After I okayed the purchase, the VPW guys gave me a paint pen to mark the Carryall. And I did. We'll be back before the first snow to bring it home. What I didn't realize was that everyone at the rally was going to pile through VPW in the few hours before supper and see my artwork - and congratulate C. Or pity him. Or pity me. I'm not sure. :-)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Baby Quilt No. Four (In Progress)

This is going to be cool {insert squeal of glee}! Very excited for the little boy that gets this one! He's such a sweet baby and a blessing to his parents.

Sneak peak of the progress:

I can't even wait for this one to come together! Considering hand quilting the whole thing, but scared of time commitment, my ability, and the durability of the completed quilt. We'll see. I'm sure he'll love it all the same. I already love him!

*Posted from my mobile phone

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The W List: May Books 2011

When I was ten years old, I had a wonderful teacher named Mr. Wolters. My family knew his family from church and he mentioned at a parent-teacher conference that he had shared with his wife that I was a voracious reader, which led her to continually ask what I was reading. Mr. Wolters told my parents that he would walk past my desk to see what book I had on the edge so he could report back to his wife. I remember how flattered I was upon hearing this: that my teacher noticed me and placed value in my taste in books. Even today, I hold this memory dear.

I haven’t read much early this year and about a month ago I discovered our library had made their website much more user-friendly, so I've gotten back into the hang of requesting books that I would like to read. The following is a list of what I have read in May with a brief mention of what I thought of each book or what it is about. This list is especially for those of you who ask what I am currently reading. You know who you are.

Birth Day: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth by Mark Sloan ~ Interesting coverage of the history of childbirth. This pediatrician walks the fine line between the arguments surrounding the c-section rate, circumcision, and midwives. Good read. NF

Found Style: Vintage Ideas for Modern Living by David Butler ~ Too many glass bottles for my taste, but this book did feature an old International Scout. Both the Scout and some of the cool “found” flair made me think of the E family, AM specifically. NF

Great Houses on a Budget by James Grayson Trulove ~ Lovely pictures, but Trulove’s idea of a “budget” is quite different from ours. This book had some excellent ideas that we can take away. NF

Handmade Beginnings: 24 Sewing Projects to Welcome Baby by Anna Maria Horner ~ If you look up this book, the cover has a hexagonal quilt in the background of the cover photo and I totally want to make that quilt. Beautiful book and good instructions for making this quilt I’ve been thinking of for months. NF

Tiny House by Mimi Zeiger ~ A small book with a large impact makes you think about the space you really need to live and how close you want to be to nature and what exactly constitutes a building material. Great book to flip through and marvel at. NF

Atlas of the Unknown by Tania James ~ From L, C’s mom, who actually received it from C’s aunt C. Interesting storyline: essentially about sisters and family, secrets and what one has to do to get through. Ended short. F

The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family by Dan Savage ~ All about trying to figure out the marriage thing in the midst of America coming down on gay marriage/civil unions. The story of Dan and Terry trying to figure out if they should be married and what it means to them. Loved it – also own and love The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant: An Adoption Story by Dan Savage. NF

Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene Pepperberg ~ Not perfectly written, but I appreciated the sentiment of this book. Irene has been working with African Greys for decades to see if there is an intelligence beyond their vocalizations. She made amazing progress with Alex and the comprehension his "bird brain" displayed. Great information. NF

Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy ~ Good read that I definitely recommend to anyone curious, pregnant, or you know, wanting to propagate. Some similar information to Birth Day (at the top of this list). NF

Midwest Modern: A Fresh Design Spirit for the Modern Lifestyle by Amy Butler ~ David Butler's (from above) wife. She designs beautiful bright colorful fabric and clothing/items. Again, their taste and aesthetic aren't quite mine, but I appreciate her ideas and thoughts as a talented style-maker. NF

Blankets by Craig Thompson ~ a graphic novel that follows Craig's life: childhood, drawing, church, camp, one special girl, tough decisions, etc. Very cool format and subject matter. I've definitely witnessed similar battles within self that the author/artist draws. NF? Memoir?

Porches and Other Outdoor Spaces by James Grayson Trulove ~ Again, not exactly C and my style, but there were a handful of porches we enjoyed looking at. This book definitely showcases the diversity of porches. NF

Fire by Kristin Cashore ~ Awesome YA literature, a borrowed Christmas present from me to sister B. Also loved (and own) Graceling, by the same author: lots of strong female characters and good endings - I still appreciate those. A little bit of monsters, magic and men, and lots of fighting, while still having a positive message to present. YA F

I finished Fire an hour short of midnight on May 31st, so it counts! I'm hoping to keep us with a monthly list to keep all of you in the know and to have a handy list for myself! It'll be fun to tally the total next May - 13 books this month is a great start. Let me know if you have questions about any of the books I read: as a (hopeful!) future librarian, I would love to answer them!

*Posted from my mobile phone

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thank You for C

I very very much love this boy.

He is so special. And you know what? More than anything, his mom and dad deserve a thank you today. Thank you for having C and loving and cherishing him, instructing and guiding him, instilling him with morals and values, and for teaching him what it means to be a man, both in strength and weakness.

I highly value his heart, which began with you two. Thank you G & L for this man I so love.

Happy birthday, C.

*Posted from my mobile phone

Saturday, April 30, 2011


This is what we've been talking about all week. Any guesses? D brother?

And how I spend my Friday nights:

Playing with the dogs, yes, but please tell me you noticed Bella's creative haircut! She is fully shaved now, but sported a fauxhawk like her mom did for just a little while.

*Posted from my mobile phone

Thursday, April 21, 2011

LittleC's Quilt

My C and I returned on Sunday from a fantastic weekend with our friends N&A. They moved back to the heartland at the beginning of the year, so we were able to see their new house and definitely follow up with their son, LittleC. He's crawling all over that house and he is such a smiley baby!

I had promised A a baby quilt at her baby shower (approximately a year ago!) and made the last push to finish LittleC's quilt this weekend. [In the meantime, my dear friend M had her baby C about eleven weeks early and one quilt trumped the other.] Apologies for the following cell phone pictures.

I was definitely not done hand stitching the orange binding to the back of the quilt in these first few pictures!

I designed the bar-graph-looking top just for LittleC and quite like how it turned out.

Pretty typical back for a modern quilt.

Close-up of the back of the quilt.

I do not have a sewing machine that actually "quilts" (or a walking foot, for that matter), so I just quilted in straight, easy lines. They are definitely not perfect, but they are getting better and I know the babies won't notice any time soon.

See, it's going to look great wrapped around LittleC!

The front porch of N&A's new house! And slightly better light.

LittleC's daddy, N, holding up his son's quilt.

And the back, again. I really loved this quilt - the lines, the bright colors. But, I've loved each one I've made and I know that the babies will love them and that their parents appreciate them. The next one is already super complicated, so we'll see how it goes!