December 12, 2010

December already?

I feel like I've been "hooking" and reading a lot lately but not keeping up with it here! I made several christmas ornaments for 2 different exchanges, and also made some things for Amanda, who commissioned some items from me. I'll post pics soon, I promise!

October 16, 2010

Mid-October Update

Reading:
Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers: More Mad, Marvy Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Book 6)Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers: More Mad, Marvy Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I personally love this series. It does get a bit repetitive, but I gotta love it anyway. I always find myself talking like Georgia afterwards. Must get the next one now.



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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four MealsThe Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Truly enlightening. I found the first part fascinating, the second interesting. Mushrooms not so much, I mean it was interesting but a bit long, I felt it was longer than it needed to be. I sort of skimmed the last 20 pages or so.



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Making: Finished all 10 of my ornaments for the Ornie swap. Need to get into the Christmas stuff to find some cards, which I usually send out with them. Started one of Amanda's shawls. Did some experimenting with my secret pal gift. I had originally intended to make 5 stars - one each in red, yellow, blue, green and white. I have little charms that I had planned to put on them. I made up my own pattern but didn't think it was quite right. I found some online and made one today. It came out great, but it's bigger than I had planned, and the charms look very small on it. I dont know if I should try to make it smaller, or what. Tomorrow I'm going to stop at the store and get a few things - stiffening, pins, a board and possibly a new smaller hook. I think the one I'm using is too big.

October 05, 2010

October 2010

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian TrailA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I loved this book! As a novice hiker, it appealed to me. Bryson was hilarious, I rarely read a book that made me laugh as much as this one did. The facts were really interesting, though at a couple points he kind of goes off on tangents that seem unrelated to the topic. All in all, one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a while.



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September 08, 2010

September 2010

Reading: I'm still reading 2 of the books I mentioned in the last post. I'm about 1/3-1/2 way through A Walk in the Woods, and it's about the best book ever. I am in love with it. It's half humor and half non-fiction, full of facts about the trail and the flora and fauna of the Appalachians, and it's about hiking!

I've only got maybe 20 pages of The Omnivore's Dilemma left, and am finding the last bit tedious. I guess I just don't care about mushrooms. So I generally choose reading the other book instead.

I have another non-fiction book that I took out of my library cause it's too high level for my now K-5 school. It will be going to the middle school but not before I read it! It's called When Plague Stikes. It's in 3 sections - one about the bubonic plague, one about smallpox and one about AIDS.

Making: I finished all of Amanda's washcloths, even have another one going that I may keep for me. Need to weave in the ends. I need to get started on my Christmas ornaments for the exchange. I am debating on doing the same ornies or making new ones. I do love the ones I always make. Also need to make something for my secret pal.

August 16, 2010

Summer 2010 update

What I'm reading:

I'm doing something VERY rare for me....reading not one, not two, but FOUR books at once. Not like, simultaneously, but in different places at different times. My mother had The Time Traveler's Wife in the bathroom and even though sappy romances aren't really my bag, I started reading it and am almost finished. I also started The Omnivore's Dilemma again at the beginning of break, and have gotten through all that I read earlier and am in the last part of it now. I read that at the kitchen table, in the morning at breakfast and at night while the rest of my family watches tv that I don't like. On the desk next to the computer I have A Walk in the Woods. I've just started and only read it while I wait for the dialup to connect and pages to load, so it's going slowly, but so far I LOVE it. It's hilarious. At bedtime I read a few pages of a Georgia Nicholson books, which is a YA series from Britain, also hilarious. The first one, Angus, Thongs and Full frontal Snogging, was a big hit and there were several after that. I think this one is the 4th? 5th? in the series, Away Laughing on a Fast Camel.

So it's nice to have some variety. Romance, comedy, serious non-fiction, YA.

What I'm crocheting:

I've been making some dishcloths for Amanda. I also want to make her a scarf and a shawl before I see her in November.

June 29, 2010

Reading

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies by Laura Esquivel


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It was ok, I found the descriptions of how to make the food annoying and disruptive. I was also annoyed at her choice in men, but whatever. I'm more a practical sort of girl, and this is not a practical sort of novel, so I just don't think the story "clicked" with me. I do like the movie though, but the book seemed to grate upon my nerves. I also found it very depressing.

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June 28, 2010

June 2010

Finished the PTO afghan:



I was right of course. It was like 90+ degrees that day and hardly anyone bid on it. Some of the teachers did but I think they were just being nice. Bah. Another teacher had one of her sisters make some of those dolls in big poofy dresses (bed dolls?) and those were more popular, especially with the little girls. I've been dying to do this little teddy bear in a dress pattern that I've had from an issue of Crochet World years back, and I think I'll do one or two of those next year, instead of an afghan, unless they do this in winter. It's less work too.

Reading: I started Like Water for Chocolate yesterday on the train. It's good in some ways and annoying in others. I have to sort of make this break with reality. It's like....I enjoy fantasy books, and I enjoy books more based in reality, but this book sort of breaches both. Like a fairy tale. I've seen the movie but have forgotten most of it except for the part about her food causing other people to have emotions. I'm still working on The Omnivore's Dilemma. Now that SUMMER VACATION has started, I think I'll have more time! There is nothing I love better when I'm at home than to get up early, take the dog for a nice long walk in the cool crisp Maine air, then come home to a breakfast of tea and toast and read at the table for a while. Ahh. Can't wait. I'll be leaving in a few days.

May 31, 2010

April/May 2010

I finished Peony In Love not long after I wrote that post. It did get much better. You learn so much about the spiritual beliefs of the Chinese at that time in history. I wonder if they are similar today, if the old legends still continue.

I have fortunately gotten several books that I've had on my paperbackswap.com wishlist for several months, maybe years even. A couple of Michael Pollen books and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I also bought many more at the Highland Park Library book sale fundraiser. I hope to get a lot of reading done while I'm in Maine for the summer.

Currently I've started The Omnivore's Dilemma again, but it is slow going this time, probably because I'm not spending 3 hours a day on a train. I've got a lot going on right now and am still getting caught up with magazines. I think I will only renew one of them, though that magazine does take a while to read.

One quick book I read was Pioneer Girl, a YA non-fiction book about a woman who grew up on the prairie. I love this stuff!

As for crocheting, since mid april I've been working mostly on my PTO afghan, which I'll be donating for an auction. If the weather stays in the 90s though, I can't imagine anyone wanting it.

April 11, 2010

Currently Reading/Making:

Right now I'm about halfway through "Peony in Love" by Lisa See. I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and loved her first book "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan". See does her research impeccably, and puts such detail about the daily lives of women in China at the time the book takes place. That part is truly fascinating. I love hearing about the rituals surrounding marriage and death, and the insight into Chinese philosophy.

The first part of the book - it's divided into sections - I almost stopped reading it because I really wanted to smack the main character. I don't want to give the book away too much but essentially the plot of the book centers around Peony, a 16 year old girl in China, who is engaged to be wed. She is obsessed with the opera "The Peony Pavilion", which is about a young girl who meets a man in a dream, falls in love with him and then pines away for him, starving herself to death. He in turn dreams of her, and falls in love also, and finally meets her spirit and has a 'ghost marriage' and brings her back to life. Peony sees a young man at a performance of the aforementioned opera, and though it is strictly forbidden, she meets with him and talks with him for 3 days. During these 3 days, she falls in love, and in a case of life imitating art, becomes depressed that she is now in love with a man she can not marry, and must marry someone she does not love, and starves herself to death like the girl in the opera through her obsession.


Now, I'm a practical sort of gal, and killing yourself over a man that you talked to for what probably amounted to an hour over 3 days of your young life seems overblown, ridiculous and frankly, stupid. Her anguish and constant dreaming about "her poet" seemed unreal to me. Is this what normal 16 year old girls are like? I don't know. I wasn't pretty nor dreamy when I was 16, and therefore had neither the opportunity nor desire to become lost in lovesickness. Which is what the book called it. Apparently many young girls starved themselves to death after reading this opera. It's romantic themes were considered dangerous for that reason and it was banned. Girls and women were banned from seeing or hearing it performed. I wonder though if they were not just depressed that they lived lives where they had no choice about anything, where they were considered more than useless - burdens on the family. Even their bodies were not theirs to control - their feet were bound by their families as children. By starving themselves they regained control over their bodies, and found freedom in death, though according to Chinese tradition of ancestor worship, they would have very miserable afterlives as "hungry ghosts", as they are not considered part of their parents family, nor did they have sons to take care of their spectral needs.

My wondering was at this modern ideal of her heartbreak at being married to someone she didn't love. This was not the norm in that time and place. Why then was she so depressed about it? The author implies if not states full out that is was because of the opera, but that seems far fetched to me. I don't know.

The second part of the book I'm finding much better. Now Peony is a ghost, and she's matured somewhat from the naive, silly lovesick girl. In death, as See would have us believe, you can see things you wouldn't be able to in life. Also, her ancestors help her connect the dots of her own life. We'll see how it gets on.

March 2010

During March I largely caught up with most of my magazines. I still have a couple left, and of course the new march/april issues, but those can wait.

During spring break I read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd, and it was excellent. I devoured it in a couple days. I hate bees, they scare me, but I enjoyed learning about them in the little tidbits they put all around the story. The main character's story was riveting, very raw emotionally.

I just watched the movie of it tonight actually. I was annoyed at all the little nonsensical changes they made, like most movies made from books. They made a few big changes too, which bothered me even more. Also, I felt that the movie just sort of skimmed the surface, it didn't make an emotional connection like the book did. You never get to really know the characters, don't get to really see the relationships between them grow and develop, so things just don't hit home like they do in the book.

February 21, 2010

Mid Feb Update

I haven't been reading too many books lately, because I've been trying to catch up on the pile of magazines I have laying around! But I did take a break to read "Push" by Sapphire. This was the book the movie "Precious" was based on. I did not find it as hard to read as I thought I might, considering it's about rape/incest and abuse. Though some parts definitely were shocking and uncomfortable, I really could barely put it down. I hadn't planned to read it but I picked it up one night to browse through it and started reading and didn't look up for a couple hours. The young girl in the book leads a pretty bleak existence until the book actually starts, which is when her life starts to turn around. You are left with a feeling of hope at the end.

My shawl is coming along. It's probably about 60-70% done. I'm almost 1/2 way through the 2nd skein. I hope to finish it today, but I'm not sure if I will or not.

February 04, 2010

Currently Reading/Making:

Finished Dewey last week. It was a nice read. Nothing too heavy but thought provoking in some ways, especially about the fate and history of small town/rural America.

Right now though I'm catching up on some long neglected magazines. I have about 3 months worth sitting on my coffee table. I subscribe to Mother Earth News, Countryside, and also to Nutrition Action Newsletter. I was getting another health newsletter thing but decided I didn't like the other one. Those are a quick read. Mother Earth News can take a bit longer. Countryside though takes a lot of time! Long articles mostly, fewer pictures, not as many ads. I like it. I am sure my mail carrier thinks I'm a dirty hippie.

In crochet news I'm gearing up for the Ravelympics! Hard to believe it's been 2 years since the last one. I'll be making another shawl, at least one scarf, and trying to finish at least one of my grocery bags. I'm not ambitious enough to attempt to finish the afghan.

January 26, 2010

Currently Reading/Making:

I've been reading more. Ever since I got treatment for my sleep apnea, I can actually read again! I finished Nickel and Dimed, it was really good. Very insightful. It's shocking the way the poor are exploited and the way people are forced to cope with such low wage jobs.

After that I read:
A Thousand Splendid Suns
- Loved it! Khaled Houssini is amazing. Some parts were difficult to read, but so powerful.
Knit Two by Kate Jacobs - The sequel to The Friday Night Knitting Club. It was a bit slow to get going but I actually liked it better than the first one by the end.
Marley & Me by John Grogan - Cute book, very funny.
A Christmas Carol - God I hate Dickens. Don't know why I tried. Love it when it's turned into a movie though, like most of his stories... I hate his writing style.
The Handmaid's Tale - Fascinating. I could barely put it down.

I'm kinda thrilled I read 6 books in 2 months! Before that I might have read 2 books in 6 months! Although I am turning into my mother and reading in the bathroom... is that tmi?

Latest book:
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat who Touched the World by Vicki Myron - I enjoyed this book, possibly because I'm a librarian and a cat lover. It's not the best book ever, but it was a sweet and interesting story. It's not just about a cat. It's about a town. And a library. And the librarian that runs it. You'll get some background on the town and library, and learn how the author became a librarian. It follows the life of Dewey, and his library family and the town. It's really amazing how famous one cat can get!

What I'm Making: I turned the leftover pieces of the sandcastle into a coat for Sammy. I want to either trim it or make a second layer and sew together the top layer (which I did start making) with a single skein of Homespun I got in a swap that I think will look great on Sammy. It's browns and blues with a bit of red.