Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Nook - Gifted

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet by Mags Kandis is a really neat little book.  If you are a knitter or a crocheter and are looking to make a gift for someone, chances are you'll find something here!

The book is divided into 2 parts: gifts for the body & gifts for the soul.  There are varied techniques to the gifts: knitting, crochet, felting, sewing and cooking (there are a few recipes interspersed).

I first saw this book at my LYS (local yarn store) & was immediately in love with the weekend socks (page 54).  They look so comfy & I love the colors: gray, cream & orange.  They look great together!  I've never made socks before, but these are definitely on the list for the day I decide to tackle that project.  I was also intrigued by the gilded mesh scarf (page 52).  I'm not a crocheter but love the square pattern.  I wonder if something like this could be done with knitting?  Hmmm.

I really love the knitted hearts (felted heart milagros, page 82) & the accompanying project, heart milagros door hanger (page 85).  I think my Bachsters will each need a door hanger for next Valentine's Day!  The cabled boot toppers are also very cool - I've never seen anything quite like this & I think it would jazz up the right outfit nicely.  Definitely in my queue are the felted yule bling ornaments (page 107).  These sweet felted circles are decorated with embroidered snowflakes - very cute & very easy.

The only downside to this book that I can see is there are no projects for the guys.  There are some projects for the home, but I can't really see them for guys (do you know any males who would like a tea cozy or an egg cozy?).  Well, maybe the notebook or netbook cozy  (page 86) might work.  But other than that, the rest of the people on your gift list are set - moms, sisters, babies, daughters.....or, yourself!


Thursday, February 24, 2011


"How full of the creative genius is the air in which these are generated!  I should hardly admire more if real stars fell and lodged on my coat.  Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.  Nothing is cheap and coarse, neither dewdrops nor snowflakes."
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

(Quote obtained from the wonderful The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album by Kenneth Libbrecht).

The other day, Little Dude and I were at the library & it started snowing.  As we left, I noticed the flakes on my coat were nice & big & well defined.  I set my mind to heading home & trying some snowflake macro shots.  The first two shots above were taken with a 50mm lens with 2 extension tubes attached. If we get any more snow this year, I might try 3 extension tubes, just to see what that does.

I am hoping for at least one more snow this year and not just for macro snowflake photography purposes!  I'll tell you the reason soon....promise!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Nook - Hoot

First of all, my apologies for my lack of posting lately.  I have been diligently working on a knitting project, not to mention that I have had this yucky cold for 2 weeks!  But I'm happy to say that the cold is finally going away & that the knitting project is complete (well, there are a bunch more in the queue.....but this one is done), so I'm hoping to be on here a little bit more!

OK, onto Monday Book Nook.  Have you ever read any of Carl Hiassen's novels?  If you haven't, you must - they are great!  He has this formula to his writing that I just love - an honorable protagonist whose heart is in the right place, plotting & scheming bad guys, an anti-development/pro-environmental message, a plot where everything comes to a very satisfying end, all amidst the heat & quirkiness of Florida.  I've read a few of his novels & they've all followed this formula, but that's ok because it works!  They are all light-hearted, funny & just a really good read.  Hoot, which is the first one of Hiassen's novels I've read that is geared towards younger readers, is no exception.

Hoot tells the story of Roy Eberhardt, a middle school student who has moved from Montana to Florida  with his parents.  Roy has made some friends at his new school, but he has also made an enemy: the school bully, Dana Matherson.  One day, while Dana is roughing Roy up on the bus, Roy sees a boy, about his age he guesses, running barefoot with a look of determination.  Roy is determined to find out who this Running Boy is & what he is doing.  In the process, Roy befriends Beatrice, who is a tough girl on the soccer team.  He also learns about burrowing owls and their precarious situation - a popular pancake restaurant is planned to be built on the land where the burrowing owls live.  Someone is trying to stop the development by pulling pranks such as putting crocodiles in the port-o-potty & pulling out the chairs of the bulldozers.  Can the constuction foreman & the local police stop the vandals?  How far is Roy willing to go to do what he believes is right?  And who in their right mind would tape snakes' mouths shut?

Reading Hoot reminded me how much I love Carl Hiassen's writing & makes me want to get to my library to get more.  They are all fast reads, so I'm hoping to get another one of his novels in soon.

I read this one on CD, narrated by Chad Lowe, who does a great job.  If you like audiobooks, try this one out.  Actually, if you like books (audio or otherwise) check this one out.  You won't be disappointed!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Nook - Twilight

I figured with this being Valentine's Day, a romance would be the best theme for this week's Book Nook book.  I actually don't read a lot of romance novels, but every so often do, or come across a book with a strong romantic theme.  Anyway, I know Twilight isn't just a romance, but that's really a huge part of it, so here goes.

I first read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer about 2 years ago, just as the 4th book in the series was being published.  I was curious to see what all the fuss was about.  The story (you probably already know it) is about 17 year old Bella Swan who falls for handsome, mysterious Edward Cullen.  Turns out Edward is a vampire with conflicted feelings for her - he is falling in love with her, but also has an intense desire for her blood.  Edward and his vampire family are "vegetarians" & don't prey on humans, but not all vampires that make their way into their town of Forks, Washington are so concerned for human safety.  This is where the real trouble begins.

Bella & Edward's romance is completely absorbing.  We see the story from Bella's point of view (if you want Edward's, check out the draft of Midnight Sun here).  Reading the story, you can't help but want more - this is just the book to keep you up until 3:00 in the morning (just one more chapter, then I'll go to bed)!  And then, you'll want to launch into the 2nd book of the series (New Moon) immediately after you put down Twilight.  I would recommend having all 4 books lined up, ready to go!

The Twilight series is so hugely popular, but it does have its naysayers.  I've read negative things about Stephenie's Meyers' writing abilities; bad things about Bella as a weak protagonist; bad things about Edward as a moody stalker.  Personally, I think that if my daughters want to read the novels (once they are old enough, of course!) I'll need to have a little chat with them about real love & real boys & real life because it's very easy to get wrapped up in the romance & I can see how young teens could come to expect this as the norm.  It's far from it in many ways.  On the topic about the negatives, I also felt like there were a little too many damsel-in-distress scenarios (something that feminists have slammed the book for).  I almost stopped reading it all together after the scene where Edward swoops Bella up after she faints from the blood typing experiment in class.  But, I'm really glad I persevered because I think the story picks up a lot after that point.  Also, one last point of contention: in the latter part of the story, there are several references to a parent/child relationship - he picked me up like a child, he cradled me in his lap, he clasped me into the Jeep, etc.  I found these references a little creepy actually & was surprised they were there.  Maybe I read too much into them, but there were several & I thought the same thing each time I came across them: these scenarios should be phrased way differently!

Despite my little complaints, it's a gripping, absorbing, page-turning, compelling story.  I just re-read Twilight again to see if I loved it as much as the first couple of times I read it, 2 years ago.  It did.  Good thing I have New Moon waiting for me!  It seems like people either love Twilight or hate it.  This Valentine's Day, I suggest reading it & letting yourself fall prey to its charms. 


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Winter Cold

I've been sick since last weekend with a yucky cold.  I guess it was bound to happen - anytime I think how lucky we are that no one in our household is sick, someone always gets it!  This time, it's my turn.

I'm hoping to be back in the swing of things soon.  After all, there can only be so many days with minimal cooking, dish doing, laundry, etc.  However, I've been getting lots of sitting & knitting time, so that's good!

Hoping there are no winter colds in your home!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Nook - The Art of the Snowflake

The Art of the Snowflake by Kenneth Libbrecht is a beautiful coffee-table book that showcases up-close snowflake photography.  The author shares with us his photo-microscope set-up, notes from some of his wintry trips and images of different forms snowflakes take on.  But the real showcase here is the multitude of gorgeous snowflake photographs the author has amassed.  Each is unique (of course!), complex, delicate and totally fleeting.  The author has really perfected his technique & his (assumed) preferred style is to photograph the snowflake with a bit of colorful light to the side, which gives each image depth and shading.  As you flip through the book, you'll find a new favorite on every page, each one is its very own masterpiece.

I love quotes, and there are a few meaningful ones scattered among the pages.  It's a nice touch to the book.

It's really amazing to think that millions of these tiny flakes fall & almost always go unnoticed as individuals.  I'm so glad that the author has put together this collection so that we can appreciate these tiny, frozen gems.