Thursday, September 30, 2010

Finished for Friday: Needlework Shoppe

This is the needlework shop from a series of Christmas village buildings available from Mill Hill. I had so much fun making this.  I might need to make a few more of the buildings.  They certainly take up less space and cost less than the big ceramic village I have.  Do you have a Christmas village?

I just put the frame over it for the picture, I need to put it all together - I do see the object under the frame in the lower left.  Didn't notice it when I took the picture.

This gives an idea of the hundreds of beads that went into it.  A bit time-consuming!

What have you been up to this week?  I hope you've checked things off your list.  Come and share so we can all cheer you on.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You either have one or you don't

A cat who sits in your sink, that is. My previous cats never did this. I really don't understand the attraction. There are plenty of soft fluffy quilts to sit on around here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Makes My Monday: Heat Wave

The calendar says it's officially Fall now. The weather, however, has finally decided to act like summer.

Here in the San Francisco Bay area, we've had one of the coldest summers on record.  I was really tempted to turn the heat on a few times, especially at night. 

September and October are usually our most beautiful months, and now, at the end of September, the temperature is in the 90s and I feel like I'm finally thawing out.  Forget planting bulbs outside until at least December - they don't keep cool enough to stay dormant until Spring. 

So I'm putting on shorts and having my first iced tea of the year, and I'm not going to complain about the heat.  I love it. 

How about you - enjoying Indian summer, or feeling the first twinges of autumn?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finished for Friday: Thread catcher

I've been looking for one of these for a while now.  A station to park pins and needles and drop scraps.  Perfect for those days when I wander outside to stitch.

Although I found scads of them at a quilt show, I didn't find any in colors I liked, so I took things into my own hands and made this one.  I think it's pretty cute.

What have you been up to this week?  Be sure to read the guidelines above, leave a comment, and visit the other participants.  Thanks for joining in!

I'm going to try something new this week, and include thumbnails. Let me know what you think. You have to be brief in your description.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Toonlet: Trustworty, Obedient...

Trustworty, obedient...

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Trustworty, obedient...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Any Excuse for a Party

We get excited about everything around here.  Baby teeth that fall out, squirrels running across the fence.  It doesn't take much to make us smile.  So picture our delight at this situation: 

"Look kids! It's going to roll over to 100,000!"

"oooh!  we should celebrate!"

"Let's buy new DS games!"

"Let's get a cake!"

"Let's go out to dinner!"

We settled on dinner, because really, you have to mark big occasions like this.  And in case you'd like to enjoy the big moment with us, here it is:  [I did actually take a video - my husband was driving - but I'll spare you].

 The kids just had one question.

"Mom, what do you mean by 'roll over?'"

*sigh*  I'm so old I remember when odometers had pieces of metal for each number.  Milestones were even more exciting then.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Makes My Monday: Enlightened

Both of my twins have been awarded these buttons at school for solving particularly gnarly math problems.  If they wear these buttons on test days, and get 100% on the math test, they get extra credit.  Interesting approach.  Is it really the best students who need extra credit?  I think if I were a teacher, I would devise a way to reward credit to students who struggle valiantly. 

Nevertheless, I'm incredibly proud of my kids for earning these.  I'd be interested in hearing your take on it.

Makes My Monday is hosted by Cheryl at Twinfatuation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meet the Author: Helen Smith

I have so many wonderful authors to share with you, I'm going to start featuring them on weekends, when you can kick back and put your feet up and read someone new.  Today's author is Helen Smith.  You can find her book "Being Light"  in paperback, or get it for your Kindle for just $2.99.

Helen Smith traveled the world when her daughter was small, doing all sorts of strange jobs to support them both – from cleaning motels to working as a magician’s assistant - before returning to live in London where she wrote her first novel. She writes novels, poetry, plays and screenplays. She’s a long-term supporter of the Medical Foundation for the Victims of Torture and mentors members of an exiled writers group to help them tell their stories.

My interview with Helen Smith

Q) Tell us about your book
Being Light is a comedy set in England. A man is swept away on a freak gust of wind while installing a bouncy castle in a park in south London. When he doesn’t come home, his wife, Sheila, hires a private detective to find him. There are various madcap characters involved in a series of interlinked adventures and although I set out to make people laugh, there are some serious underlying themes – death, loss, mortality, post-natal depression, child care for working mothers and the treatment of animals in circuses. But I doubt that anyone except the most assiduous reader would pick up on all those references.

The book was first published in the UK by Gollancz/Orion and it got some fantastic reviews but eventually it went out of print. I got the rights back last year and I’m publishing it myself under my own imprint, Tyger Books.

Q) What inspired you to write this book?
I read a story in the paper when I was in Australia about a man who travelled several feet in the air while installing a bouncy castle in a park. Of course, he came back down again. But I loved the idea of someone floating high above the countryside, too high up to be able to shout for help and having no choice but to wave back at the people on the ground as he gives in to his fate – and that’s how the book starts.

Q) Do you have a favorite character?
I like them all, even the ‘baddies’! I feel sorry for Sheila – she’s bewildered and trying to make sense out of a very odd situation. Why would her husband not come home, if he’s free? She doesn’t take the hints that others throw out, that he might have gone off with another woman. I love Mrs Fitzgerald, the boss of the detective agency Sheila hires to find her husband (she also features in my first book, Alison Wonderland). She reads the autobiographies of shamed celebrities to work out what drove them over the edge, so she can avoid it. Most of the characters in my books are trying to invent rules for themselves to understand or improve the world.

Q) I have a lot of very creative readers. Do you have other hobbies or creative pursuits besides writing?
I love knitting but I don’t do much of it. I like following complicated patterns but I get frustrated if I go wrong because I hate going back and unpicking my work. I started knitting when I was about fourteen and I have always liked the idea of being able to create something beautiful out of raw materials, though I also love looking at skeins of dyed wool in their unknitted state. My dream would be to own a knitting wool shop in a picturesque village somewhere – and combine that with solving mysteries, like a Miss Marple style amateur detective.

Last year I made some nonsensical short films with my daughter and my dog, and put them on YouTube. I can’t tell you how much pleasure I got from making and editing them – more than viewers get from watching them, I’d guess. Still, you can find them at if you’d like to take a look. I put the skills I had learned to good use more recently when I filmed an actor friend reading two poems by an Iranian poet and put them up on YouTube. The poet is a friend of mine and I helped her to translate the poems from Farsi. I wouldn’t win any prizes for film-making but one of the poems, Remember Me, got 1400 hits in the first three days, and the poet was overjoyed – Remember Me was dedicated to her younger brother who died in Evin prison in Iran.

Q) Do you have any upcoming titles you’re working on?
I’m writing a book called Beachy Head about a woman and an angel on an extended road trip in the south of England.

Q) What’s on your nightstand (or kindle) right now?
I love print books and always disliked the idea of reading on the computer because I thought it would hurt my eyes. I also think that the text reads differently on screen than it does on the page - I would never edit or proof read a document on the computer screen, for example. But I recently got Kindle for PC (which is free – another joy) and I have been converted to its advantages. I like being able to adjust the font size so I don’t need reading glasses, I like the instant access to books as I’m browsing, I like the price, which is cheaper than print books, and I like being able to read the classics and other out-of-copyright books for free.

I have recently loaded up some free Chekhov on my Kindle for PC, I also have Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel to read (under $5 – a bargain compared to the paperback!). I’m half way through a paperback copy of A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian and I’m still dipping in to the latest edition of Granta, which is a quarterly collection of fiction, essays and photographs published in book form. I subscribed for years – I first read Lynn Barber’s short piece ‘An Education’ in Granta; it later became the film with Carey Mulligan, with a script by Nick Hornby. I also discovered one of my favourite stories of all time in a Granta collection with an Australian theme, a novella called Pobby and Dingan. I thought Granta went off a bit and unsubscribed for a few years but I have just gone back to it – there’s a new American editor - and have enjoyed the last two issues.

Q) What else would you like to add?
Thank you for having me! This is an interesting blog and I look forward to coming back to chat as a visitor.

Q) Where can we find your book?
Being Light is available in print from Amazon, B&N, The Book Depository and other online stores, and in digital format from the Amazon Kindle Store as well as The Book Depository. You may have to order it if you’d like to buy it from your local book store or borrow it from the library.

Q) Any other links?
I have a blog here:
Please come and say hello.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finished for Friday: Computer Woes

I think I'm pushing the whole "Finished for Friday" concept this week.  I've been pulling my hair out over my computer woes the past few days.  I had turned off the Captcha word with my comments.  You know, that gibberish word you have to spell out to confirm your comment?  As soon as I did, I started getting a lot of spam emails.  All of them were on old posts.  I finally had enough and decided just to add it back.

Sounded so simple.  Check the box, comments have to be left by humans again.  So I did.

Then the internet went down.  From every computer in the house. Just when a kind friend emailed me to tell me the comments weren't working.  I could read my emails on my cell phone but I'm a complete klutz at working on my blog from there.

It took three days and a wonderful husband to get the internet back in business, and a helpful friend to test the comments while I fiddled with them a few different ways.  Now I have hundreds of emails to catch up on and some blog posts I want to write.  It sure is good to be "home" on my laptop again.

I hope you have some more interesting finishes for this week.  I promise to be back next week with something colorful and more fulfilling.  Show us what you've been up to and leave a comment...if you can.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Makes My Monday: Awesome Kids

I know it's late on Monday, but I was waiting for some final results before putting this together.

It's amazing to be a parent.  To watch your kids set goals, try new things, dream big.  This week it seems like lots of dreams are coming true around here.  I'm just sitting back and soaking it up and smiling.  Counting our blessings on fingers and toes.

Wasabi Girl had another great gymnastics meet this weekend, with first place in both bars and balance beam.  If she keeps this up, she's going to have a really great season.

Both Wasabi Girl (on the saxophone) and Jungle Boy (on the trumpet) auditioned for their school's jazz band.  Both got in. 

Drama Girl auditioned for the Improv team at her high school, and got in to that as well.

Jungle Boy and Drama Girl auditioned for the local professional production of The Nutcracker.  Both got parts, and Jungle Boy will be Fritz again this year.  All new and more complex choreography though, so it will be a great challenge for him.

Apparently I won the audition for "mom who wants to drive around the most and drop kids off."  That's okay.  They're worth it.

And before you start worrying that they're overextended, believe me when I say that in my house, school always comes first, and downtime and laughter come second.  Everything else is a distant third.  Well, except maybe cleaning the catbox.  That's right up there at the top.

Makes My Monday is hosted by Cheryl at Twinfatuation, who is never as late at posting things as I am.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Finished for Friday: Not round, but still good

I finished this cross stitch piece quite a while ago and have been looking for the perfect round frame ever since.  This is the same pattern as my Spode Christmas plates, so my brain was stuck on a round frame, or even a good oval one.  Do they not make them any more?  I've had no luck.

But I did find this pretty red frame.  Even though the mat cuts off a stitch on each side and the bottom, I'm going to use it because it's cheerful and Christmassy.

So glad to finally check this off my to-do list, even if I had to compromise with my vision.

What have you finished up this week?  Link up and show us.  Be sure to leave a comment and visit some of the other participants.  Thanks so much!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why They Shouldn't Let Me See Shows for Kids

We've said goodbye to summer with some family entertainment.  No simple feat when you have 14 and 12 year old daughters who at times would rather not be seen with their very uncool family.

This weekend we saw a marvelous version of Peter Pan.  It was presented in a 100 foot tall tent near the waterfront in San Francisco.  The ceiling of the tent served as an Imax-style surround screen.  When the actors went up on their wires and flew over London, we really felt like we were swooping along with them.  I loved it.  We all indulged in that willing suspension of disbelief, if just for a few minutes.

If you know the story, or have seen the play, you know that there comes a point when Tinkerbell drinks poison and starts to die.  I knew what was coming but I couldn't help it.  When Peter asked the audience to whisper "I believe in fairies!"  I had tears in my eyes.  I was so caught up in the story.  I know, I know.  It's just actors on a stage.  In costumes.  With wires that we can see them attaching every time they're going to fly.  I couldn't help it.  Little tears.  Poor Tink!  I just love that moment when Peter talks to the audience.

Even though they didn't cry like their sappy mother, the kids were enthusiastic about the production.  Even Drama Girl wanted to discuss what made this story so timeless.  Fourteen year old girls initiating conversation is something to be savored.

Then on Monday, the kids were good sports and came along with me to see Toy Story 3.  Have you seen it?

It's not a good movie for sentimental people who are prone to cry.  Unless perhaps you really want a good cry.  Because I really outdid myself on this one.  The theater was packed but I felt safe hiding behind my 3-D glasses.  I had tissues handy because I suspected there would be some heartstring-tugging.

I tried as hard as I possibly could to  not cry at the ending.  I held it in, held my breath, and then...I snorted.  Actually stifled a sob.  It didn't help at all that the woman behind me was obviously crying.

You'd think I would learn my lesson.  I was a wreck after "The Bridge to Terabithia" and I had just cried the day before at Peter Pan.  Why do I do this to myself?

And how will I find an excuse to see these things when the kids are grown up?

Tuesday Toonlet: Infamous


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You know I can't make this stuff up. This was a real report from Drama Girl.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finished for Friday: Dancing Ghosts

I think this is my new favorite craft; doing cross stitch and beading on perforated paper.  At first I thought it was odd, using paper instead of fabric, but once I found out that this is what the Victorians used to do, I decided it's cool.

Although when I went out to find a frame today I couldn't find one exactly the right size so I'm going to order one that I know will fit.

I'm happy to have another project done before the holiday it's intended for.

What have you been up to this week?  Join in and please leave a comment.  Be sure to visit the other participants as well.  If you'd like a button, you can grab one from my sidebar.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wordful Wednesday: The Battle Begins

Being able to walk is a great thing. Being able to walk after years of pain and immobility is even sweeter.  But endurance?  Is elusive.

Did you know that to stay healthy you should walk 10,000 steps a day?  That's about 5 miles.  Wearing a pedometer has shown me just how far I am from that goal.  So every day I add a few hundred steps to my previous day's total.  Slowly building up that endurance.  I'm determined to get to 10,000.

Do you walk a lot?  Give me some ideas of where you go and what you do to increase the  steps in your day.

The picture above was taken early in the morning, so I've barely begun my walking for the day.  I'll put in a mile or two just hauling laundry around today I think.

Wordful Wednesday is hosted by Angie at Seven Clown Circus

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