Friday, September 24, 2010

oh,what to read, what to read

The big day is Monday and my house is a disaster. I brought my suitcase up and am throwing things in it as I think of them. Packing for the unknown is such fun. I don't know how long I'll be away, where I'm going and when--this is not the way I live my life.

My over-riding concern is what will I read in the hospital. I have checked and rechecked my bookcases and this is what I've come up with (for now):

Notes from a small island by Bill Bryson

Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson

A spoonful of jam by Michelle Magorian

The raging quiet by Sherryl Jordan

I think this is a nice mix of adult, light, cozy and fantasy. You never know what you'll be in the mood for, right?

I talked to my brother last night (he had his knee replacement surgery on September 13) and he said it's a little hard to concentrate on reading when you're in pain so I've decided to throw a couple magazines in the bag, too. Country Living, Victoria and Vogue (I buy the September issue each year because the fashions are so hysterically funny and totally unreal--highly amusing reading). I also have crossword puzzles, a pentominoes (I've been fascinated with those since reading Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer) travel game and an embroidery project (the skyline of New York which I've been working on for close to 20 years--it includes the World Trade Center).

That's the plan for now but there is still 48 hours until I start packing and who know what will happen between now and then.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

ooh, I love sewing (and hate computers)

This is the second typing of this entry since my cursed computer ate the first one. It always thinks it knows more than I do. Hah!

I am looking ahead to a 4-6 week convalescence after knee surgery so I am hoping to do a lot of sewing when I am home (and not doing leg exercises). My first project is a winter jacket which I have been studiously avoiding--it is hard to sew purple wool when it is sunny and warm outside. However, I do need a winter coat and it must be completed...did that sound convincing?

Being me, I have been out buying books about sewing. I have more clothes than any one person could possibly need--making your own is so reasonable in price, why not have a lot of clothes? So I am looking for some fun little projects like pillows (for my beloved daybed where I spend so much time reading), stuffed animals, bibs (for a project at church), bag and purses (like shoes, one can never have too many) and pretty little things.

Sew Retro by Judi Ketteler is both a history of sewing since the mid-1800s and a project idea book. Home sewing became increasingly popular when pattern companies sprang into being, making dressmaking much simpler. In my 4-plus decades of sewing, patterns have gone from $1.25 to $21.95 (Vogue, of course)--wish I'd kept some of those patterns I loved in the past. The book's projects include Opera Bag, Pinch-a-Penny Change Purse, Birds of a Feather Table Runner and Groovy Patchwork Throw (guess which decade that one's from?). Fashion has reflected the times--think of the craziness of the 1920s inspiring the flapper, the economy of the Depression when women made dress from flour sacks (flour came in pretty calico-printed cotton bags back then), the freedom of the 1960s brought changes that would never have happened at any other time.

I adore Mary Engelbreit so I had to buy Stitched So Cute, a book of needlework and embroidery projects. There is the cutest little stuffed owl made with bright colored fabric, rickrack and buttons. I want one!

Amy Butler is one of the darlings of the sewing world right now. She designs fabrics, makes patterns and has a host of linens, papergoods, etc. with her designs as well. Amy Butler's Style Stitches includes instructions for 26 different bags, large to small and easy to difficult. I need to conquer my abhorence of putting in a zipper to make some of these but, groan, groan, that can probably be done. In time.

Last, but not least, is Boo (can you imagine willingly calling yourself Boo?) Davis's Dare to Be Square Quilting with the cutest owl quilt on the cover. There are some stunning pillows and, I won't tell you what since I hope to make one for a coworker at the library, the cutest and most offbeat pillow idea (I'll have to adapt this one since it is actually a quilt) I've ever seen.

All in all, I should have plenty of little sewing projects to keep me busy. Maybe I'll use up some of the lovely fabric stored in 40 or so boxes in my beautiful pink sewing room. (I just got a new Hancocks of Paducah (a huge fabric store in Kentucky) catalog so I know I'll be buying more....)

ooh, I love to sew

I'm awaiting a 4-6 week convalescence because of knee surgery so I am hoping to get some sewing done while I'm at home (and not doing my leg exercises). My first project is a winter coat which I have studiously been avoiding--it is hard to sew on purple wool when it is sunny and warm outdoors. However, I do need to have a coat so it must be completed...did that sound very convincing?

In preparation, I have, of course, been buying new books. I have more clothes than any one person needs to have since making your own is so reasonable in price. I need to branch out and make other things: pillows (for the beloved daybed where I spend much time reading), bags and purses (one can never have enough of either of them, or shoes), and pretty little things.

Sew Retro by Judi Ketteler is both a beautifully illustrated history of sewing and a book of fun little projects like an Opera Bag, Pinch-a-Penny Change Purse, Birds of a Feather Table Runner and Groovy Patchwork Throw. It includes a history of the sewing pattern industry (in my 4 plus decades of sewing, patterns have gone from $1.25 to $21.95 (Vogue, of course)) and how women have dressed over the last years. The styles do reflect the world around us--think of the freedom of the 1920 inspiring flappers, the depression brought dresses made from flour sacking (flour came in pretty calico print bags back then), the 1960s brought a freedom of dress that would never have happened in any other decade.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

someone's in the kitchen with Carol

Fall has arrived with a vengeance in Minnesota which has renewed my interest in cooking. It is finally cool enough to turn on the stove!

I've been going through cookbooks looking for some new ideas. One, because I'm tired of everything I cook and two, I'm trying to fill up my freezer in preparation for convalescence after knee surgery. While I love "mom" food prepared with time and care, I am much more interested in quick and easy cooking right now.

I went to my cherished cookbook collection and pulled a few books. Many are from Taste of Home which I learned to love at my beloved mother's knee. Better Homes and Gardens has some nice books and even Martha Stewart makes an appearance--I didn't think she did anything easy....

First, Better Homes and Gardens' Fast Fix family food. Colorfully illustrated which is a source of inspiration since everything looks good. I've got the fixings to make Red Tomato Soup (page 371) which has V8 juice and diced tomatoes as its base. I love tomato soup but canned soups are just too salty. Let's hope this one is a keeper--if I can taste the soup through the mountain of crushed crackers I always add.

Then there is Taste of Home's Dinner on a Dime. I've got Noodle Rice Pilaf (page 191) marked in this book. It is also known as homemade Rice-a-Roni. When I was growing up, my neighbor Colleen and I would make the San Francisco treat and sing "Sunrise Sunset" as our prayer since she was Catholic and I am Methodist it worked as a good compromise! (yeah, I know, I was a strange little kid.)

Better Homes and Gardens also produced Everyday Easy Recipes. Since everything is better with bacon, Bacon and Brie Salad (page 219) caught my eye. I first enjoyed that combination on a baked potato in a pub in Salisbury, England, eaten under the watchful eye of a huge deer head.

Taste of Home again with Simple & Delicious Cookbook. On page 70 is Linguine with Garlic Sauce...and a half a pound of bacon, spinach makes it healthy and guiltfree.

The Busy Family Cookbook is also from Taste of Home. It contains 10, 20 and 30 minute recipes. Citrus Garlic Shrimp (page 150) is a 30 minute meal and is served with pasta, which is a food group in my world. Yum.

Last, but never least, is Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast. Page 202 show Stir-fried Chicken Wraps, spicy chicken served wrapped in lettuce. Disgustingly healthy but I want to try it anyway. The Grilled Chocolate Sandwich on page 255 looks tempting too...maybe as a treat after a really good physical therapy session....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

live from my living room

I thought the day would never come but I am actually writing this in my own little home which means that I must own a computer!!! And I do!!! I'm not a natural or even slightly relaxed about using a laptop but nothing has blown up yet so.... I already have a problem since I don't know how to highlight anything while using a touch pad. Once I get a battery in the mouse, the touch pad can go away as far as I'm concerned.

Now, on to more important things: what have I been reading?

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, of course. The final volume in an incredibly rivoting trilogy did not disappoint. Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Primrose and everyone else in Panem went through adventures, twists and turns that left me breathless at times, loudly cheering at others. This was an incredible reading experience. Suzanne Collins has mad a world that, at times, was more real to me than my own. I cared deeply about the characters and desparately wanted them to succeed in their quests. A truly memorable reading experience.

There were so many references to events in the first two books that were hazy in my memory--I know I didn't get the full reading experience. Sometime in the future, I want to read the books (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are the first two books) back to back. Due to the gut-wrenching emotion of the story, now is not the time. But, someday....

Here ends my first blog post on my new computer. Amen.