Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Book Nook

Hi readers,

Welcome to my first ever Book Nook!  Every Monday, I'll write about a book that I have read recently or a favorite book of mine.  I believe one of the best ways to discover great books is by recommendation.  Sometimes the library can seem a bit daunting, especially for adult fiction.  There's just so much out there!

There are a couple of things I wanted to mention about my Book Nook before we get started.  First, I'll only profile books that I recommend.  If whatever I'm currently reading is a dud, I won't put it in Book Nook.  Also, you'll see a link to  There are a couple reasons for this - you can get on amazon to check out customer reviews (which is something I love to do - I love to see what others have to say about a book I've read).  The other reason for the amazon link is just sheer laziness on my part - I don't have to take a picture & download it.  You should know that if you purchase a book through my link, I do get some $ from amazon - I don't want you to think I'm being sneaky or anything!

So, with that said, let's get on with this week's book:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

I was hesitant to start this book, to be honest.  Usually, I don't go for popular, best sellers.  But it sounded interesting when I stumbled upon it on amazon & it got lots of great reviews, so why not?  I'm so glad I gave it a chance!

The book is told by 3 narrators:  Skeeter, just out of college, living back home with her parents and anxious to get a job as a writer; Aibeleen, a middle-aged black maid working for a white family who seems to have no love for their toddler daughter; and Minny, a friend of Aibeleen's who keeps losing maid jobs because of her sassy attitude.  The novel is based in Mississippi in the early 60's.

The one thing I really loved about this book was how real the characters seemed.  I would find myself thinking about the novel & the characters throughout the day as I was doing dishes or doing stuff with with the kids.  They're all very well-rounded characters, with good qualities and bad, real motivations and actions.  Even the more minor characters jump off the page: Hilly does evil in a realistic way, Elizabeth is a true follower - and I just loved Celia.  Here is someone we could all dislike (gets to lounge around all day, isn't very perceptive) but she has real heart & soul & feelings.  I love the little mystery that Stockett creates around this character (why does she disappear upstairs throughout the day?) and was touched by her genuine kindness towards Minny.  I'd like to be Celia's friend in real life!

My only complaint about the novel is the Stuart storyline, but in all fairness, my CDs (I listened to the audio book) skipped during a lot of the Skeeter/Stuart interactions - so I missed a little of the dialogue.  I just didn't think the Stuart storyline was as interesting as the other things happening in the story, and I found myself wanting the book to hurry on to the good stuff!  On the other hand, I think it was important for Stockett to put Stuart in the story - we need to know that Skeeter has options & decisions to make here - a traditional Southern wife kind of life, or a more independent woman kind of role.

If you enjoy books on CD, the narrators are excellent, especially the Aibeleen narrator.  She would put in little sighs or laughs, just as Aibeleen would if you were sitting at her kitchen table.

I highly recommend this book!  I enjoyed it thoroughly & will probably be reading it again soon - to visit the old friends I feel I made the first time around!

Have a nice Memorial Day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Progress in some areas, setbacks in others

Hi readers,

I've been trying to practice the poor-man-macro technique lately and today I was presented with a great subject: a little green moth laying eggs on a leaf. Here's the set up for the shot:

After the moth laid her eggs, she flew onto a nearby branch to rest & recuperate (birthing is hard work)! Very carefully, I dug up the plant, roots & all, and brought it inside for a little macro photo shoot (in my very limited experience with the poor-man-macro, you can't do anything with even the slightest breeze). Here's a shot of the eggs:

After I replanted the plant, I brought the moth inside for her photoshoot. I thought maybe she was dead because she was incredibly still and cooperative. But when I put her back in the garden after a few shots, she scooted around a bit on her leaf. Here is a close-up of the moth:

I know I still have lots to learn with macro photography, but I think every photo I take is just one more learning opportunity. And I am always amazed at the magnification I can get with the lens set-up I'm using. These eggs were tiny little specks!

Unfortunately, not all my hobbies have been so productive. Last night, I had to rip out my latest knitting project, as I was just not happy with how it was coming along. Now, pulling out hundreds of stitches is bad enough, but it's even worse when the unravel is a pain to do. I had some intarsia in the project, but not a lot. I just can't figure out why it was taking so long just to undo it. Usually, it's pretty quick. Here is the sad, sad result of my work last night - and I still need to finish the unravel tonight!

Have a nice weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red Heart contest

Hi readers,

Earlier this Spring, I submitted a knitted globe to a contest from Red Heart yarns & my project has been chosen as a finalist in the contest! The contest required all knitted & crocheted projects to be worked with their new eco-ways yarn.

Here is the photo I submitted for the contest:

Here is another photo I took just for fun (you couldn't have any hands or people pictured in your entry photo, which is too bad because I like my other pics much better).

Anyway, please check out the contest at and vote! You can actually vote more than once, so keep 'em coming! I think the last day of voting is June 1st. I'll keep you posted on the results.

Have a great Thursday!