Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I am still reading "Franny and Zooey" as I am in sort of a reading slump.  Even though I have already "teased" from this book, I will do so again and maybe get myself out of my slump.  So, here goes, from page 123.

"Mrs. Glass, who did some of her most inspired, most perpendicular thinking on the threshold of linen closets, had bedded down her youngest child on the couch between pink percale sheets, and covered her with a pale-blue cashmere afghan.  Franny now lay sleeping on her left side, facing into the back oof the couch and the wall, her chin just grazing one of the several toss pillows all around her."

I am not sure how compelling this teaser is but I think I am wondering why Franny is there -- I am pretty sure it isn't good.  Maybe I am un-slumping.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Todays topic is -- Have you ever read a book that inspired you to take up a cause?  What book was it and what was/is the cause?

If you are talking about charitable or humanitarian causes, I would have to say no because I don't read those sorts of books.  I do read lots of history and historical fiction and I would say that those books -- can't really pick one out -- have lead me to be even more interested in history.  I read a lot of culturally religious things (Amish fiction, for instance) which makes me curious so I end up doing research on that and anything that will trip my genealogical trigger will set me off on a genealogical quest.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

New Acquisitions AKA Fun at my Local Needlework Store

I am very saddened by the loss  of so many independent retailers these days.  It has always been such an adventure to go into an independent store to see what they had, how they were different from others and just to enjoy their individual quirkiness.  Fortunately, there are still a few around.  This is one of my favorites and while not in my neighborhood, it is still worth the drive.  It is The  Stitch Niche in Arlington, Texas at the corner of Arkansas  and Bowen and while it is a bit of a drive from my house, it is a complete joy and adventure to visit.  It is a small shop, long  and narrow, with the patterns and finishes at the front and, in back, a big table with chairs for those who want to sit, stitch and pass a little time.  The shop owner does have regular class times but she is always welcoming for those who want to just come and stitch.

I was in the store a couple of weeks ago and I struck up a conversation with the owner about how much trouble I was having stitching on linen.  I couldn't see the threads well enough, the light was too dim, I was blocking my own light, blah, blah, blah and she decided to divulge her secret for successful stitching on very small  thread count linen.  This was it--

The Mighty Bright floor lamp with twelve LED's and is either plugged in or runs on batteries.  This will be great if we have another power outage.  She didn't have it in stock so she ordered it for me and I picked it up on Wednesday.  I used it Wednesday night and have to say it is worth every penny I paid for it.  Thanks, Carol, for recommending it!

I have been doing some Christmas stitching using some of the Little House Needleworks patterns.  I will post finish photos another time.  I am not sure what I am going to do with these but I was looking for something small to do and these filled the bill.  While I was in the shop the other day I picked up a couple of new little patterns.  One is another LHN pattern --


I am really enjoying these little pieces and will post photos later.

I also picked up a tiny pattern called "Play Time" by Sam Sarah Design Studio.

Sorry it is so small -- it is a cute little rag doll in a little wagon.  It is very small, only about 2.5 X 2.5.  I don't have any idea what I am going to do with this but it was cute and I liked it.  It does call for specialty thread, which I rarely use --  I usually just go for the DMC subs, but I think this time I will give the fancy threads a go because it just allows me another trip to The Stitch Niche!

Friday, June 24, 2011

And This One Time -- I Built a Lion

My daughter and I recently had the privilege of attending a baby shower for a close friend.  We were accompanied by one little Bean and when she saw one special gift she squeaked...but it wasn't hers.

There were loads of gifts at this shower -- but  a very special one made by the future Grandma and manufactured by ...

It is part of a series of animal patterns printed on fleece to be cut out, assembled and stuffed.  This Nona went on a hunt for the fleece at Joann's but alas, it couldn't be found so I had to resort to the....

and I was able to find and acquire the necessary fleece to build a lion.

This is how you build a lion....

The back of the lion, before cutting

The front of the lion after cutting, with ears

The bottom with company logo
The ears sewn together

Ears attached to head

Mane before cutting

Mane after preparation

Awaiting his fluffy stuffing

Doesn't he look happy with himself?

And the lion stuffing begins

And that, my friends, is how you build a lion! His official name is Larry but that might be temporary.  He will be arriving at his new home just in time for the birthday party celebrating Beanie's first year.  I wonder if she will squeak?

I haven't done a Friday Fill-ins in a while so I thought I would do one this morning. 

1.  One of my favorite birthday presents was a silver charm bracelet my then-boyfriend-now-husband gave me.  It is full of sentimental charms and I still wear it.

2.  I prefer crafting to domesticity, it is as simple as that.

3.  The moon, if full, can trigger labor -- an old wives tale with scientific merit.
4.  The thought of today is already tiring because it includes way to many errands that all have to be done early -- one of them for a second time!

5. I was tempted by the chocolate chip coconut cookies and I caved.

6.  Sightseeing, trying new restaurants and ignoring a schedule are some of the things I like to do on vacation.

7.  And as for the  the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching "Unknown" with Liam Neeson, tomorrow my plans include attending Beanie's first birthday party and Sunday I want to go to church, lunch, and either the plant nursery or the antique store.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Think I Will Come Back as a Pioneer --

My Aunt Willie, while learning to drive and having a huge aversion to backing up, clung to her adage "just keep going forward".  I have always tried to live by her wise witticism but lately I feel like I am going backward more than forward and some days I feel like I have turned around and am running the other way.

I guess there are several reasons for this -- my age, first and foremost.  I actually remember a time when things were different --- not necessarily better -- but different and as I am aging I am finding that I prefer that  "other"  time.  Our constant ability to access the media 24/7 is another.  I remember a time when all the news we got was the newspaper and the 10 o'clock news.  Of course, there was the radio but that was mostly the Top 40 -- the constant blaring of "evil" rock and roll.  Now, however, we are bombarded with the the news of the day -- wars, rumors of wars,  and everything -- EVERYTHING -- that is wrong with the planet and our life on it.  Basically, what I am hearing on a daily basis is how toxic our lives are.  Is this true?  Is it a media fabrication to evoke some sort of change in us and our behavior to affect some sort of governmental result?  As my husband says, "at our ages, does it really matter if we eat vegetables from BPA coated cans"?  Well, I don't know but what I do know is that I am tired of being confused about my existence.  Do the things I do in my day to day life really affect the planet, my health, the health of my family SO negatively?  I don't think we will ever know the answer to that question.

As I have become more and more uncomfortable with the reports of the toxicity of our lives I have been trying to change things on a personal basis and I have been doing a lot of thinking about my life as a child, how things were done and how people lived.  I have tried to implement little changes so as to NOT freak out the Hubs too much lest he think I am ready for the little "home" with less stress.

One of the things I have done is made a huge effort to de-plasticize the house.  I have done a pretty good job of it with the exception of zip-lock bags.  For some reason, I can't get the Hubs to wrap his lunch in waxed paper and the thought of carrying a lunch box/bag that you have to carry home is beyond his realm of acceptance.  He can tell me how his mom used to wrap his 2 pennies for milk at lunch (clue as to his age!) in waxed paper but I am not sure the man realizes that waxed paper is still being manufactured even though I have several varieties in the house.  As a result I have been having great fun buying pyrex even though the modern stuff has plastic lids it is still an improvement but I prefer to buy the old stuff at the antique store -- the stuff with the glass lids and it costs a pretty penny but it is great.

In my attempt to turn "green", I have been buying more natural products.  I use this to wash my hair and my husband uses it to shave with.  He says it makes his face soft.  It does.

It doesn't give my hair the ummph (sp?) that the volumizing shampoos do but it squeaky clean and it doesn't strip out all the natural oil. 

I tend to buy "green" cleaning products but I am moving away from that as well.  From many blogs and comments, I am learning how to make "natural" cleaning products that work well and are less destructive to the environment and will actually cost less in the long run.

I use a homemade "soft scrub" product that I learned of from a friend, Alicia.  It is a mixture of

                      1/2 cup baking soda
                       liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner's)
                       1 tsp. food grade vegetable glycerin

The process is that you mix the baking soda with enough soap to make it pasty -- it doesn't take a whole lot -- and then you mix the glycerin in it and put it in a nice, wide mouth jelly jar with the cute gingham lid.

Works great and looks good if you leave it out next to the sink.  The product is more than acceptable (the scrub, not the jelly) and it makes my sinks shine!!

So, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to research laundry soap.  I have been using All Free and Clear for my HE machine.  I would prefer a powder since I have the machines that sit up on the drawers for storage and the bottles don't fit in the drawers which sort of defeats the purpose.  So, I tried 7th Generation laundry powder and, while it was ok, I wasn't thrilled.  Can't tell you why, just wasn't thrilled.  I bought another brand of "green" soap called "Charlie's Soap".

I haven't tried it but I am sure I will.  It is almost like my new concoction except that it comes in a big, plastic tub which sort of goes against my "no plastic, not in MY house" rule. 

So....to cut to the chase (a little late for that, I suspect) I have been making my own laundry detergent.  The recipe called for Fels Naptha soap which I wasn't feeling too good about -- but it also said to use Ivory or basically whatever you bathe with -- that way you will know there aren't any allergies.  If you use a body wash, yeah, this won't work.  Gotta go back to bar soap.  So, here is what I used.

The recipe is:

                1 cup grated soap

                 1/2 cup washing soda

                 1/2 cup borax

                  Combine -- use 1 T for small load, 2 T for large

                  I also use white vinegar in my fabric softener well in the machine.

Ready to grate the soap -- no special equipment needed!

Grating soap is fun! And easy!

Voila!  Laundry Soap! Yes, that is a plastic spoon -- recycling!

This recipe makes 1 1/2 cups of laundry soap and I can honestly say it goes a long way.  I have washed quite a few loads and I am still not out although I will be making more today. 

I have also replaced all the liquid soap in the bathrooms with bar soap -- Dr. Bronner's -- and I did handwash a load of dishes this morning with the same bar soap.  So, all in all, I feel pretty good about what I am doing and I sort of feel, for a moment, that I have slipped back in time a bit.  All these soap suds are blocking out the work outside and I feel like I am living in a much safe environment.

Jumping off the soap box now.

And the question is --- what, if any, kind of music do you listen to when you're reading?

And the answer is -- none!  I usually have the television on or nothing at all.  I prefer nothing at all but in the evening, that isn't the case around here.  I have tried listening to internet radio while reading but it doesn't work so well because I tend to fiddle around with the radio instead of reading! 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day 2011

It has been eleven years since  I was able to actually celebrate Father's Day with my own father.  The difficulty of these sorts of "holidays" is fading with time and I find myself remembering my father more and grieving less.  Today, however, I found myself thinking of the other fathers that have meaning for me as well.

Pat Boyette 1923-2000

My father, Pat Boyette was born in San Antonio, Texas to Aaron P. and Phyllis Giles Boyett.  He went to Edison High School and had careers in radio, television and comic art.  I think the thing he enjoyed the most, however, were my two children.  My father was a self-made, well read man -- he didn't read me stories at night -- we discussed Egyptology.  He would build kites for me, help me school "issues" -- projects, long division, and photo journaling.  I had a colorful, non-conformist life with my dad -- no 9 to 5 here -- and I loved every minute of it.  I mean, how many kids in San Antonio, Texas had fathers who made movies? 

Aaron P. Boyett, Sr.   1898-1956

My grandfather, Aaron P. Boyett, was born in Sabine County, Texas in 1898 to Robert E and Clarissa Abi Conn Boyett.  Even though I didn't have him in my life long and I didn't see him on a day to day basis, I adored him and I do have memories of him.  I remember the last Christmas I had with him -- he bought Marla and I big pandas and I got a tricycle.  The one memory that I have that is clear as day is of him laying on my bedroom floor coloring with me.  I swore I was going to keep that picture forever but it somehow got lost -- but I remember it and that is what counts.  He was affectionate and wasn't shy about planting big, sloppy kisses and giving big bear hugs. How I wish I could ask him questions about his life -- ah, the plight of all family historians.

James William Davis  1896-1969

My grandfather, James W Davis was born in 1896 in Scranton Pennsylvania to James W. Davies, Sr and Dinah Sophia Webb Davies, Welsh immigrants who came to the US a mere six years before my grandfather was born.  Short in stature and gruff in nature, my grandfather -- PaPa -- wasn't one to be outwardly affectionate with his five granddaughters but there was never any doubt that he loved us. I didn't cross him (don't slam that door again, Melissa) but he was a mainstay in my life.  I remember so  many snacks of Welsh rarebit that I would share with him at the little kitchen table (which I still have) and listened to him give me good advice and lessons.  I particularly remember one morning following him around the back yard helping him pick up pecans.  He was picking them up but I was busy re-planting them in the flower beds.  They were still coming up, from time to time, when I was grown.  He was stable and dependable and we always knew that if we ever needed him, he would be there.  He may grump about it, but he would be there.

Allen Brinkley

Allen Brinkley, born in 1947 in San Antonio, Texas to James Otis Brinkley and Helen Marguerite Bordovsky. He was my high school sweetheart, soulmate, love of my life, my rock and the father of my two precious children, Brandon and Brianna.  Oh yes, and the best grocery checker HEB ever had!  Allen has never failed me or the children, he is strong, determined, deliberate and always there for us.  I couldn't have asked for a better father for my children or husband for myself.

Brandon Brinkley

My son -- handsome, caring, compassionate, kinda goofy sometimes in a good way, strong in his faith and  the joy of my life.  It is an indescribable feeling to watch your son become a father.  Watching him with his infants, I was transported back to his infancy and all the hopes and dreams I had for him.  I haven't been disappointed.  He grew up well and is everything I had hoped he would be.  He also gave me a wonderful gift in the persons of my precious grandson Nathan and granddaughter Kathryn and the opportunity to watch it all over again.  I do recognize that this is a high school photo but I was having a difficult time trying to find a more recent one that didn't include children, food, gift opening or something else distracting.  But trust me, he still has his hair and he looks pretty much the same. 

Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox -- my son-in-law -- born in Hampshire, England to Chas and Barbara Wilcox. I couldn't have asked for a better husband for my daughter than Chris.  His quiet reserve is a perfect complement to her bubbly personality -- he is strong and calm and logical (stay calm and carry on!) and they have done well in forging their little family   --  which was, of course, made even better by the addition of our precious, sweet Caroline (yes, I know it is a song) in 2010.  Watching Chris with his  daughter  is really special - it is fun to watch this long, tall drink of water and this little Bean of a girl together -- of course, nobody has told him that he is tightly  wrapped around one tiny little finger but that is ok -- they are doing great just the way they are.

So, these are the fathers in my life.  They all have a special place in my life and in my heart and they always will.  Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

Last night was the latest meeting of the Friday Night Sew In group.  I discovered this group through Not So Plain Jane and decided to participate.  If you would like to participate in future events, sign up at http://craftyvegasmom.blogspot.com.          

I was all ready to go! We had take out pizza from Rocco's -- our favorite, independent pizza place.

It was lovely -- mushroom, black olive and carmelized onion.   Fantastic.  After dinner I got hubby all settled in to watch "Die Hard 2"  (I think).  It has Bruce Willis with hair so it was old but Hubs  was enjoying it.  I was enjoying the fact that it would be over for me to watch "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" which I find to be hilarious but rather sad.  I also had my big glass of iced tea waiting for me.

I have been working on some Christmas stitchery for a couple of months now and my latest project was this piece by Little House Needleworks.

However, when I began the project a few days ago I decided to make it smaller by using smaller gauge fabric -- 18 ct. to be exact -- but the only 18 ct. I had in the house was a lovely pale pink.  I thought it would be nice.  Well, I was wrong.  It was too pale and so last night, in mid-FNSI, I decided to start over on a more natural fabric. I was almost half done on the pink fabric but now I have only done the lettering and about an inch of the white lacy edging on the top.  I guess I will have my own Saturday Night Stitch In tonight!

I have to admit that my first time participating in this group turned out to be a comedy of errors.  Not only did I decide to start over on the project, I had many failures with my equipment.  I couldn't see well while sitting in my usual chair -- I blocked my own light from my lovely but dim lamps so I had to move to the sofa which doesn't recline like my chair but is in better light.  Then, the clip-on light that I had on my Q-snap kept popping off and.....the phone kept ringing which meant that I had to keep putting everything down to answer the phone.  Now, a more organized soul would have simply put the phone next to the sofa but that would have required much more thought that I was apparently capable of last night.

In spite of it all, though, I stitched through the movie, I stitched through the gypsies, I stitched though the change of fabric and I really enjoyed the idea that I planned to do this and gave myself permission to attend the "event" and didn't feel the least bit guilty about leaving other things undone! I will attend again in the future.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In

Just saw this while visiting Not So Plain Jane (see the list of blogs I enjoy) and decided to check it out.  I am so going  to be there! I just hope I can remember to take photos.  I will be working on some Christmas cross stitch that I have been working on for a while now.  So, why don't you join us for this little activity -- a little sewing, a little wine, a little movie watching -- sounds like Friday to me! Visit http://craftyvegasmom.blogspot.com for the details.
Friday Finds

It is Friday (yay!) so, over at Should Be Reading, it is time for Friday Finds.  I have always wanted to participate in this but never really had anything to post but this time I do.

I tend to listen to controversial conservative talk radio while in the car.  For some reason I can't listen to rock music anymore -- too distracting -- and classical puts me to sleep so I listen to people talk. My favorite venue is KLIF Dallas and that is where I heard the interview with Rita Cosby, radio talk show host. 

Rita Cosby has written a book about her father entitled "Quiet Hero: Secrets From My Fathers Past".  It is about her father's imprisonment in a World War II POW camp, his freedom and his life after the war.  While growing up and being inquisitive, Rita would ask questions but be told that her father had a rough time growing up and they just didn't talk about it.  The family was estranged when her father just picked up and left one day and they lost touch.  Upon her mother's death, while she and her siblings were going through her mother's things, they happened upon an old suitcase that contained the remnants of her father's "other life" -- the one before he came to the US.  At that point, Cosby decided to find and reconnect with her father, which she did and the result of that reunion was this book.

Listening to the author talk about her work was compelling.  She was so full of passion for this book and for her father.  I can't believe that a book written with that much feeling wouldn't be a good book so I went looking for it.  I went to all the local Barnes and Noble stores but it wasn't in stock so the store that I frequent has ordered it for me and for the store and I hope to have it next week.  I could probably find it as an e-book but I feel like this one should be read in a "real" book format.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Booking Through Thursday

With the advent and growing popularity of ebooks, I'm seeing more and more articles about how much "better" they can be because they have the option to be interactive..videos, music, glossaries..all sorts of little extra goodies to help "enhance" your reading experience, rather like listening to the directors commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.  How do you feel about that possibility?  Does it excite you in a cutting edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that is not what reading is all about?

I purchased a first generation Nook to help relieve my ever-bulging bookshelves because I cannot, apparently, do anything about my insane book shopping habits and library real estate in this house is at a premium.  My thought process was that if I bought an ebook and really, really liked it, I would purchase a hard copy (on sale or used) for my library.  This has generally worked for me except I am drawn like a moth to the candle to the sale tables at B&N and there just doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it.  At least they are on sale.  Whatever.  I digress.  In any event, I have never used any of the "extras" on the Nook except the word look up -- twice.  I have never listened to music on it, played games on it and the web browser is more trouble than it is worth.

I also purchased a Nook Color to use as a tablet -- definitely not a reader because it doesn't have e-ink pages and it is like reading a computer screen and for those of us who like to read for hours on end -- that isn't really good.  I have tried to read on it and ended up with a dreadful headache and so much eye strain I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head.  It is good for "Angry Birds" however.

The new Simple Reader from Nook is, in my opinion, a great option for those who just want an e-reader to-----read! It is smaller, quite light weight and of a size that can be held easily or carried in a purse or bag without adding unnecessary weight.  The battery life is improved as well.  In this format, I just see the e-reader as another book -- a collection of books so to speak.

Does the idea of e-readers "chill me to the bone"?  No, of course not because everybody's reading experience is different.  I do, however,  think of reading as an escape from a hectic, electronically charged world and while it sounds redundant to use an e-reader to escape our hectic world, I think that if it is used without all the added goodies, it is no different than a book except that you aren't going to have to buy more bookcases.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And the questions are:

What are you currently reading?

"Franny and Zooey" by J. D. Salinger 

What did you recently finish?

I recently finished "Aunt Dimity's Death" and "Heaven is for Real:  The Story of a Little Boy's Trip to Heaven and Back"

What do you think you will read next?

 I will probably take up the next in the Aunt Dimity series -- "Aunt Dimity and the Duke".  However, I have added a few really interesting titles to my nook so I am not really sure.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Since I am still reading Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, I will "tease" you with an excerpt from a book that my husband picked out for me.

Flippy, and Floppy, and Flappy are three
Dear little ducklings that sail on the sea.
Sail in a tin, and a boot, and a box--
What do they care for the sharks or the rocks?

This is from a gorgeous little book called The Little Big Book for Grandmothers.  It has stories, poems, recipes, activities, songs, etc. -- all manner of things to entertain a child.  The illustrations are really pretty and the whole book is reminiscent of books I had a child.  Thanks Hubs!