Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book #20: Grave Secrets

Kathy Reichs's novels are ones that I know Dianna holds dear; I've been working my way through them slooooowly, trying to avoid an OD like the one I gave myself when reading the Sookie Stackhouse books. This weekend I finished Grave Secrets as my 18th book of the year. (Interestingly enough, Charlaine Harris, who writes the Sookie books, also has a book titled Grave Secret!).

Anyway, I must say that I didn't enjoy this one as much as I've enjoyed the first four. I had a hard time following the plot - at least partially because I got distracted, wondering if Tempe was finally going to decide whether or not to pursue a relationship with her studcake detective friend, Andrew Ryan. As with Reichs's other novels, it was clearly well-researched, and even an only-had-one-physical-anthro-class-in-college gal like myself could follow along all the physical anthropology terms, even without consulting my husband!

In addition to reading this book over the weekend, Jeff and I also finished watching the most recent season of Bones. Every time I read one of these books, I can't help but think about how much better the books are than the shows - the Temperance Brennan character is much better in the books, much more believable; you get a better feeling for how long cases actually take in the books than on TV, etc. The finale of season 6? Gees. Don't get me started!!! :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book #19: The Red Leather Diary

I skipped posting a blog about number 17-18, because it was me re-reading George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, and I wasn't sure you needed to hear me gush about it - though I am now trying to track down a hardcover copy, as the spine of my paperback's cracked (hate when that happens, but it my defense, the books over 900 pages long!).

Number 19 for me was Lily Koppel's The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal.

Koppel, a journalist for the New York Times, is leaving her apartment building in New York City one morning when she comes across a treasure trove - stacks of old, 1930s era steamer trunks. Despite already being late for work, Koppel dives in, and ends up over her head in relics - flapper dresses and old lingerie, fur coats and family heirlooms... and, perhaps most intriguing, the red leather diary that gives the book its name.

Through some old fashioned detective work, she (and a real private eye!) track down the diary's owner, Florence. The book transports you through the woman's life, as recorded in the diary from 1929 through 1934.

I read this one in less than a day - I felt myself drawn back every time I attempted to put it down, something I've felt few times from books this year. The candor with which Florence details her life, including the sexual relationships she has with women (under her parents' roof!) was captivating.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys memoir, the era of the 1930s, or old New York City.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


My favorite thing about sewing is making gifts for friends... Whether it's a mixer cover, based on this tutorial, for my good friend Dianna...

Or turning this adorable pile of fabrics:

Into THIS stack of cute little girl quilts for my favorite coworker's three year old!

Not too much content this time, just sharing some pretty things. I think my next project will be for myself - either finishing my shower curtain in anticipation of the bathroom remodel, or a couple patchwork coasters for  my office. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book 16: Adam's Navel

Book #16, Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form, by Michael Sims

Another one I didn't quite finish! I'm such a loser about books lately, I swear. This one started out so well, too. The book relates anecdotes about cultural views about the human body, how it functions, and how we should react to it. I think that I ran out of steam for reading it because while the facts were interesting, they weren't really tied together in any way, so I kind of lost interest.

It would probably be a good starting point if you were doing research about cultural attitudes? Maybe. I don't know. Or maybe just a few chapters at a time. Probably that. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shower curtain almost done!

Yesterday I went to Joann again and found a bunch of remnants (surprise surprise!), including some for my shower curtain project! These are the fabrics I ended up with:

I bought the star fabric yesterday - it wasn't a remnant, but I found it on the shelves and since there was less than a yard left, I got remnant price - it was originally $8/yard fabric, on sale for 50% off making it $4/yard, but I got it at remnant price, $2/yard! Woo!

Here's my kitty, Molly, supervising (?) my progress:

The shower that the curtain's for isn't a full width shower (no bathtub) but is slightly wider than just a regular stall shower, so there's no door. I went with a 50"' width, so it will have a little drape when it's hung up! All that's left to do now is add buttonholes across the top for the hooks, and to hem it to the appropriate length:

Friday, May 13, 2011

The promised pictures!

Sorry I've been so slow. You know how life goes sometimes, eh? Anyway, before I get to the photos I promised, I just wanted to spread the word about a GREAT giveaway at 1 Choice 4 Quilting - tons of prizes and great sales. Check it out!

And now...the promised photos!

As you may or may not know, my house is quite the work in progress. We've been tearing every room apart, one at a time (okay, we did the living room and dining room simultaneously) to remodel. The next project is redoing the second bathroom so that we can FINALLY get the washer and dryer installed - a year and a half of going to a laundromat has been TOO much! Anyway, I picked up these remnants at Joann's (as you can see!) and have decided that I'm going to make a shower curtain to be a focal point in the room. I LOVE the colors in this blue fabric, and plan on taking it with to Lowe's tomorrow when we go to pick out paint!

The Joann's here in Chico also recently added more holiday fabrics to their red line section, so I had to pick some up. I want to turn them into buntings to decorate the house with for each holiday (how domestic of me!). I tried to find a link, but couldn't - boo! Basically, think triangles on a fabric chain - I plan on making mine double sided, with interfacing in between, with the sides alternating so you can see both each way, if that makes sense!

Anyway, here's the Christmas ones:

And these will be for Halloween:

I'll probably find two more for each of these holidays, since the beam that I envision all of these hanging from runs across my whole living room.

What have YOU been working on!?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


I'm thinkin that my blog needs more photos. I bought more fabric yesterday, and have a cool project in mind for it, but what good is telling you that, without you being able to see it!? I found fabric in my stash, too, that I'm going to use for a shower curtain, which will be my inspiration for the paint scheme for my back bathroom, but again, why tell you if you can't see this beautiful fabric!? Oye.

So I'll take photos when I get home, so you can see the fabric I'll be using for halloween and Christmas buntings, and the fab for my shower curtain!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Target Tuesday - Themeless!

This week for Target Tuesday, I'm going themeless! LOL!

I like these shorts (capris?) - I've been working out - lost two inches in my waist in two weeks - so new workout shorts would be a good positive reinforcement, don'tcha think? Of course, because I like them, so does everyone else, and they're out of stock.

Jeff claims that he'll go back to making iced tea if I actually get him ice cube trays he likes. These are silicone, which means they're bendy (they claim to be perfect!?) so that you can just pop the cubes out without ruining the tray itself. We'll see what Target has when I go there tonight.

My husband has a super nice D-SLR, but I have an ancient (by tech standards, anyway) point-and-shoot. I'd love to replace it, and who doesn't love electronics in pretty colors!? I don't like Target's website for judging whether or not to buy electronics - you can't tell if this one has a rechargeable battery, and I wouldn't buy a digital camera without one, but it's still pretty. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Worrying a little early

Last night, rather than just fall asleep, my brain felt it necessary to worry.

Specifically, to worry about the possibility of a long-distance move.

A long-distance move that won't (can't!) happen until at least mid-2013.

Apparently I felt the need to worry two years in advance about something that may not happen. Something I haven't done before, something I don't know how to do. I worried that we wouldn't be able to sell the house because we wouldn't have it finished yet (ever tried to sell a house with no grass?). Worried that we'd lose the kittens. Worried that we would have to sell all our furniture in order to move. Worried that I'd have to stay behind while Jeff moved (in my head, we were moving to Texas), leaving him to pick out an apartment. Worried about what we'd do with the furniture we wouldn't have room for in said apartment. Worried that we'd lose all kinds of money when we sold everything instead of taking it with us.

It's a wonder I'm not covered in gray by now.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today has been one of those days at work (shhh, I'm still on the clock) where I feel like I only do things no one else wants to do, with no thanks from anyone. And that's partially true - I pay all the bills, which no one wants to do, and which the boss doesn't like. I take photos of cars, which is thankless work - you're never caught up, the boss is always annoyed that you can't have 100% photographed at any given moment, there are always more coming in. I update the website, only for others to find more problems.

I wish I could just stay home and sew.

I've recently discovered the joy of making clothes - a pair of pajama shorts for myself, a skirt which may or may not actually fit the daughter of a friend of mine. My husband, the man who has rebuilt so much of our house without looking at instructions (there aren't any, by the way), is in awe of my ability to turn a piece of fabric - acquired on clearance, or some other deep discount, of course - into a garment. This makes me proud. My ability, I mean, not his awe (though that's nice too, of course!).

I wish I could stay home and sew. I can't wait to have children to dress - so easy to make clothes. Fluffy flannels and cutesy cotton prints, $0.75 cents worth of fabric turned into handmade cloth armor (dmg resist +1, charisma +1).


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Book 15: Deer Hunting with Jesus

I'm not sure what exactly I expected from Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. Maybe I expected some even-handedness? A realistic portrayal of life in the poor, Republican south? Instead, the book features a handful of lengthy essays in which Bageant bad-mouths anyone poor who isn't pro-union and anti-conservative. He claims that Republicans, the religious, and corporations are keeping people down in a desperate attempt to maintain class lines in the United States.

And we're supposed to believe Bageant, of course, because he grew up in West Virginia and was one of the "lucky few" to make it out.

His opinions are, at times, downright offensive. Calling the military a "de facto draft," for example, really didn't sit well with me. I'm not really sure I got anything out of this book, but for the spirit of finishing what I start, I did finish the whole thing. Somehow.

Book 14: Comfortably Numb

Book #14: Comfortably Numb

My 13th (oooooh, unlucky!?) book of the year was Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation, by Charles Barber. I'm not sure I have too much to say about this one. The title was kind of misleading. A better title would have been Comfortably Numb: Wherein Charles Barber Cites a Bunch of Studies that say Anti-depressants are Bad for You. As an English major, I was taught to use as many quotes as possible to prove a point; in the political science department, however, this was frowned upon. Apparently Mr. Barber took classes in my college's English department, because the whole book was citations (amounting to 35 pages of notes in the back) to attempt to prove his point that anti-depressants are bad for people with "depression-with-a-small-d" but might be okay for people with "Depression, capitalized."

As with most non-fiction books, most of the book presented the problem (over-medication) and the ending presented the solution. Barber sees the solution to the woes of America in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. He points a lot of blame at health insurance companies more interested in saving money than actually helping people. While that's likely true, there's just as much blame in the people accepting the medication - having been through many months of unsuccessful CBT, I can say that a lot of effort is required to go through it successfully. You can get more out of two sessions if you're motivated than you'll ever get out of 20 if you're not willing to put in effort.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Safeway Savings

This was my first month of keeping track of how much we spend on groceries and how much we "save" by using coupons and Safeway's Just-4-U program.

Spent: $212.02
"Saved": $108.34
Retail value of groceries: $320.36

Percent saved: 33.82%!

I'm definitely happier to have paid $212 for our groceries - including my birthday party! - instead of $320. I think I can do better than 34%, though. One of my coworkers brings me the coupons from her newspaper every week - I was super happy to have scored a $2 jar of Nutella last week, because it was on sale at Safeway and I had a $1 coupon from her.