Thursday, June 28, 2012

Faithful Review

Over half way to my goal of reading 5 historical fiction YA books in 2012.

image Goodreads

Faithful depicts the life of Margaret Bennett of Newport in 1904.  After the disappearance of her mother, Maggie's father decides to take them out west to Yellowstone.  Maggie must now grow up in her new reality were snobbery and all her old Newport ways do not make friends.  She learns that everything she wanted is now not what she wants.

It took me about 100 pages to like Maggie.  I could see that she was going to turn out to be a alright, maybe even great girl, but she was so stuck-up and set on getting her debut in Newport.  And she was so dense, she was what was going on around her but she couldn't connect the dots to realize they were moving?  Once Maggie decided to make the best of her situation and found out a few secrets her father was keeping, she became the girl I knew she could be: kind, caring, brave and resourceful.  Even though Maggie has a romantic interest, that is not the main motivator for her change.  She wants to be a better person.  She wants to find love not just be married to some rich man as her family wishes.  She wants a career and to be free from her former constraints (including her corset).  She wants a future out West.

This book was a lovely birthday gift from a dear friend. Although we often disagree on books, we can agree on this one.  It was great. I hope to read the rest in the series someday....

4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nearly Done

I have been working on knitting my first ever cardigan.  Really, it is my first time knitting any piece of clothing.

I am really so close to finishing.  I just have half a sleeve to finish and then add the button band.  Just a few more hours and it will be all done.



(So these photos aren't the greatest.  I really need to work with my photography skills.  Maybe I should think to take pictures using natural light instead of waiting until night.)

Soon it will look like this:

Well maybe not quite like that.  I think this cardi might be a bit big on me.  I even did two gauge swatches.   I guess only time will tell.  I'll finish it and block it, maybe this weekend.

I would have finished by now, but this came up.

So good.  Review to come.

What distractions do you have this week?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Born Wicked Review

My second historical fiction book read in 2012!!!  I am nearly half way to meeting my goal of 5.

This cover is totally strange.  Cate love gardening especially roses but not sure why she is laying in the grass or wearing non-period clothes.

Born Wicked is an alternate history of witches near the turn of the Twentieth Century in New England.  Cate and her two sisters live with their father in Maine in the late 1890s.  New England is crazed over witches.  They used to run the place, but now the religious Brotherhood is in charge and rounding up witches.  Cate and her sister are witches and they were training under their mother, but she died and now Cate is trying to keep their magic a secret.  Then, she finds out there was a prophecy, once that fits her, that she will be the strongest witch in 100 years and will bring the witches back into power. Only Cate hates being a witch.  She hates having to hide and worry about being arrested and sent way. She hates that by her next birthday, she will have to choose if she will marry (and be formally engaged) or join the Sisterhood, but others will make these choices for her.

I love that this is an alternate history.  It combines historical fiction and elements of dystopia.  I love how that works together.

As almost all YA books right now, this is a series and I will have to wait another year for the next installment.  Cate and her sisters have me intrigued.  All their carefully laid plans have backfired.  I don't know what will happen next.

3.5/5 stars on Goodreads.

What do you think about alternative histories?  Like 'em?  Hate 'em? Ever tried one?  Any suggestions?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Very Small Business Owner

Should I sell what I make?

I have been wrestling with this idea for a long time. I love making things, but making things costs money.  I love giving my handmade gifts, but my production seems to be outnumbering the gifts I need.  Selling seems like a logical option.  It is win-win.  I get rid of stuff I don't need to someone who needs and wants it, and make money to make more things.

But, I doubted my talents.  I see the flaws in my work.  Nothing I make is perfect.  Then I realized, nothing I would ever make is perfect and that is part of the joy of a handmade craft. 

Now, I am officially in business.  I created an Etsy shop called Knit Knot Ott. (Thanks to Genna for the name, I fell in love with it immediately)

You can access it here:

It is just a few things right now, but I hope to grow it as I sell things and reinvest in products. I also have some more things (lots of scarves and more dishcloths) to add once I get some photos taken.

I will also be selling some things at the Riverfront Farmer's Market in Peoria this summer.  The dates have not yet been firmed up.

Here I am,  a (very, very) small business owner and soon-to-be professional knitter (just as soon as I make that first sale).

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Exchange

A great, great crafting blog called Craftaholics Anonymous organizes a handmade exchange twice a year.  This is my second time participating.  It is free to sign up.  All you have to do is sign-up and agree to make one handmade item and send it to your assigned person.  In return you will get a handmade object from another crafter that got your name in the draw.

This is what I made for my person:

It took so much more yarn and time than I thought it would, maybe I should have checked my gauge and went down a hook size or two.  But it was nice to get crocheting again.

The pattern in Market Bag by Lion Brand.  I used Sugar and Cream 100% cotton yarn- 3 super-sized skeins!

It is headed out to a lucky lady in California.  I picked this pattern because I thought it would make a great beach bag for her.  I picked yellow for the sun.  She said she did not really like knitted or crocheted items and did not own anything like that, but what what I supposed to make her?  I am a yarn crafter.  It is my thing.  Maybe this bag will be the thing that makes her love yarn-crafted items.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ends Weaver

Over my "vacation" last week, I started knitting dishcloths like mad.  I made a lot, but I did not have a needle to sew in the ends.

So (or sew) now, I have a lot of ends to sew in.

What are you up to?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wedding Weekend Wrap-Up

My little sister got married this weekend. The very same June weekend I got married, 7 years ago.  She started dating her now-husband at my wedding.

She looked so beautiful.

So did my daughter. I don't think I looked too shabby either.

We even got a nice family shot.

Kudos to my mom and Sheila for organizing all this.  I helped for just a few days and it drained all my energy.  I took a week's vacation to help out with my sister's wedding.  It wasn't really a vacation, but I was happy I got to help with the preparations.

 This is my mom with her three grandkids (flower girls and ring bearer.)

Where do moms get all this energy? Many people have commented to me that I have so much energy, but I pale in comparison to my mom and her sisters.

Friday, June 15, 2012

First Ever

It is my first every cardigan.  Are you surprised?

I have never knitted adult size clothes before and only two baby tops.  I did crochet a sweater for D a few years back, but this is really uncharted territory for me.

The pattern is Yoked Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.  I am knitting with Plymouth Encore yarn.

So far so good.  It doesn't look much like a cardigan now.  The pattern starts at the collar and works down, so this is a photo of the collar and shoulder parts of the cardigan.  You can see a bit of what it will look like on the pattern in the picture.

I also bought yarn to make another for D.  The won't exactly be matching sweaters because her's will be in purple.

In other totally unrelated news: tonight is my sister's wedding rehearsal and dinner.  Tomorrow, she gets married and I am her matron of honor.  I am so happy for my little sister.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Something New and Totally Different

I cast on something new.  Something I have never made before.

Can you guess what it is?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Honey Cowl #2

I have a list of knitting and crochet patterns that is longer than my lifespan, but I still find myself going back to favorites.

Like this:

The Honey Cowl.  This is a very popular cowl.  There are over 6200 projects on Ravelry. Two are mine and I have bought yarn to make a third.

I love making this thing.  The pattern is easy to memorize, the effect is awesome and the knitting rhythm is perfect.

This one is made with Pacific by Cascade Yarns in color #39 French Blue.  I really liked using this yarn except, the second skein had 7 knots!!!! 7 is not acceptable Cascade. Shame on you.

I have yet to cast off on this cowl because I like to do the cast off with a bigger needles so that it is nice and loose on the edge.  However, my bigger needles are in my knitting bag and my knitting bag is at my mom's house (about 100 miles away) and has been for over a week.  I am patiently waiting to drive up for my sister's wedding and to be reunited with my yarn, patterns, needles and hooks.  Oh, well yes, and to celebrate my sister's wedding.

What is one of your favorites?  I do this in all parts of my life re-reading books when I have a pile of new books to read, cooking the same thing over and over, etc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Public Service Announcement

China Glaze nail polish will dye your fingernails green.

This has been a public service announcement.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cherry Fest 5k 2012

I have been so busy dealing with my daughter (who is doing much better!!!!) that I forgot to mention I ran a 5k on June 2 in Washington, IL.

I ran a PR!!!!! 26:30!  I wanted to get under 27 minutes and I did it!  Now my teenage self says: I am a slokey-pokey, but my 29 year-old self is pretty proud.  I realize I will never be as fast as I once was.  My freshman year of high school, I ran the 2 mile in 13:26, that's 6:43 minute/mile. I only got slower in high school, actually. I peaked at 14.  At this race, I was nearly 2 minutes per mile slower at 8:32 per mile, but hey, I think I did pretty great.

It is a great, little, small-town race. I ran it last year too and plan on running it again and again.  Lots of locals come out to run or watch.  The course is flat and there is not much to look at, but at the end, you get free pancakes!!!!  All the pancakes and sausage you can eat.  It is so worth it. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Full of it

My daughter is literally full of crap, there is no better way to say this. So, we are off to get her admitted to the hospital for medicine and observation (at least 36 hours). 

I am worried.  I think any mother is worried when something is wrong with their child.  But, I am also excited at the prospect of some relief for her and less messes to clean up for me.

Think good thoughts for us and hope D starts to feel better and can feel the "earth" (she means "urge").

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Underworld: A Review

I love Meg Cabot.  She is an amazing writer, you should know who she is (Princess Diaries, ringing any bells?) and read her books.

Her newest book is Underworld.  It is the second book in the Abandon Trilogy in which Cabot is retelling the Persephone myth. I am not a fan of second books in a trilogy.  It takes a lot to impress me in the middle of a story, this book didn't.  Don't get me wrong it is a good book overall, but the middle book just gets me down.

At the end of Abandon, Pierce is nearly killed by a Fury out to destroy her to hurt her "boyfriend" John (also known as the Keeper of the Dead, a new kind of Hades figure) and is taken to the Underworld for protection.  Now Pierce has to learn and understand the consequences of loving John and what her new life will bring.  Most of the story is Pierce's attempt to find and help her cousin Alex.  This part of the story happens in just a few days and really drags, in my opinion. I need more action!  This Alex kid better be important in the next book. 

John is a super possessive boyfriend.  I would not say that this romantic relationship is ideal.  John lies to her and keeps her away from things he thinks will hurt her.  Since John has waited over 200 years for Pierce and he is a demi-god-like, this is totally normal behavior (as Greek myths go).  Meg Cabot would not steer you wrong folks.  She doesn't want girls to have possessive boyfriends, she is not promoting this.  John is possessive because that is the character he is reflecting.  Hades is a much worse offender, so are all the gods. Read or watch Percy Jackson, or maybe watch Hercules or Xena, or perhaps read the actual myths? these gods are not great at behaving. Before you get upset over John and Pierce's relationship, remember this storyline is based on a Greek myth and is following many of those plot and character characteristics.

I am not sure I am convinced that every relationship in a young adult book needs to be a healthy relationship that teens should want to emulate.  People need to read about all different types of relationships.  They need to learn that possessive relationships exist and how the make people feel and how to overcome the obstacles and make the relationship better (whether that is breaking up or become less possessive, etc.).  I would say that John and Pierce's relationship is not something to emulate, but it is very realistic.  Cabot does a great job of writing Pierce's desires for John.  Spoiler alert: there is a sex scene, but it is tastefully done and the act is a total mutual decision and that is something that teens should emulate. 

I gave this book 3/5 stars on Goodreads.  I would say it was 3.5 stars.  I definitely think the final installment will be great.

Monday, June 4, 2012


"Come on over to Adventureland, it's gonna be a fun filled day"

You know the jingle, right?  Well you do, if you grew up in Iowa.

D and I went to the amusement park on Sunday, along with my dad, brother, sister-in-law, their kids and her family.  Oh and hundreds of other Dance Marathon families.  Dance Marathon at the University of Iowa is a student organization that provides support to the families of children at the U of I Children's Hospital; this includes my niece and her family.  Dance Marathon coordinated the entire trip including: buses, lunch and tickets for a low cost for us and no cost for my brother's family.  It was great.  Thanks Dance Marathon!

It was a long trip (we were on the bus just as long as we were in the park), but D liked the bus ride, for the first hour anyway. Adventureland is in Altoona, IA, just outside of DesMoines.

She also loved the rides.

She went on almost every kiddie ride and several bigger rides too.  She even went with me on The Dragon, a roller coaster with two loops. She was very brave.  I think I have a future roller coaster buddy, which is good since my husband hates them.

Do you like roller coasters?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Northern Light: Review

Happy June!  I have finally read my first historical fiction book, only 4 more to meet my 2012 goal. (I am a bit behind schedule to say the least.)  A co-worker gave me A Northern Light as a Christmas gift and I was bound and determined to read it.  There were just so many other wonderful thing to read these past few months.

Mattie Gokey lives in the North Woods (Adirondacks) at the beginning of the 20th century, this story takes place in 1906.  She loves words and dreams of becoming a writer.  Her mother dies and her brother runs away and so Mattie is left to raising her three sisters and helping her pa on the less-than-prosperous family farm.  Unlike her peers, Mattie wants to get her high school diploma and go on to college.  However, her future is uncertain because she doesn't have the money or family support to leave. Mattie, now 17 years old, wants more than her poor farm life, but the neighbor boy asks her to marry him and pa and her sisters need her.  Now she has to decide to stay or go.

I enjoyed this book; it is historical fiction with a bit of romance and mystery. It really sucked me in. I read a good portion of this book (well over half) in one fabulous day off from work.  Mattie is a strong, young lady and I always enjoy a book with a strong female protagonist. There was enough dialect to make it believable, but not too much to throw me off.  I really dislike reading in dialect, I may have mentioned this.   I was initially distracted by all the flashbacks in the narrative, but I got used to it.  I definitely see why it is a Printz book, it has all the elements of a prize winning book, mainly something adults think teens would like.

Next up, I have to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I may be the only person left that has not read it.  I mean, even my husband had read it and he is not a reader (he listens to audio books when he travels for work, sometimes).  The whole reason why I started reading A Northern Light more regularly was because I was avoiding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  I am not sure why I have an aversion to reading it.  I have heard good things; I just don't want to read it.  Yet, I feel I should, being a librarian and all, and this book being so popular. Well, anyway, I need to get it read for book club next Wednesday so I definitely need to get cracking.  But it is so hard when I have Underworld by Meg Cabot (love her) already for me to read.

What are you reading or waiting to read?  Have you read any of these books?