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!