Sunday, November 23, 2014

Books Inside Me

The November 20th NaBloPoMo prompt was "Do you have a book in you? Fact or fiction? Related to your blog, or totally different from it?" I'd have answered it then, but I had more important things to write about.

I was struck by how strange the wording was. The only other time I've heard someone use the phrase "book in you" was when I was graduating from college and my mother told me she believed I had a book in me. This may be one of the most supportive things she has ever said to me. It turns out I did. They called it a dissertation, and it went out in a limited run (two copies, although today you can access it online with the right databases).

But I have had other book ideas. I had a friend tell me that he loved my list for that "25 Random Things about Me" that was going around on Facebook several years ago, and that he would buy notes if I could get a contract to write them. How many Random Things About Me would it take to fill a book? I also thought you might, might, be able to write a novel entirely in lists. I started sketching that one out, but like so many of my great ideas it's still in my head.

For a while there, people were getting contracts to write blog-like essay-filled books. I could do that. And there's the idea for the "Stitcher's Life List" kicking around in me.

So the books might be inside me, but they have a hard time getting out.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Wild Friday Night

Last night I was out late...stamping with the girls. We know how to have a wild time! :p

I started working on my Christmas cards. I had selected a few ideas from Pinterest that I knew I could make with my friend's stamps. I stamped all the pieces first; those have gone no further: no coloring, no cutting, no gluing together. Instead, I turned my attention to these pinwheels with birds. I only completed a few of them, but I did cut out all the squares. It uses my most favorite Stampin' Up designer paper, Be of Good Cheer. Now I am down to the last scraps. :(   (On the other hand, I have used the paper, which is the point!)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Flashback: Fashion

I have heard from some commenters that you enjoy these flashbacks, and I am glad because I love reading the magazines to find a delightful tidbit.

Today's article begins by stressing the importance of dress not only for a woman but also for how her dress (and, later in the article, toilet) reflect on her husband, and in fact the importance of dress for landing such a one. In fact they go so far as to compare it to phrenology of the body. I mention this mostly because I love the nineteenth century for believing in phrenology. A lost art (a psuedoscience), phrenologists tried to ascribe meaning to the lumps and bumps of the head with regards to what was going on inside the head. Head size and other measurements would indicate intelligence, personality, tendencies, and character. And apparently clothes did the same for women. The article considers different aspects of women's contemporary dress--gowns, skirts, flounces, hats, and the black scarf:
The plain black scarf is come of too graceful a parentage--namely, from the Spanish and Flemish mantilla--not to constitute one of the best features of the present costume. It serves to join the two parts of the figure together, enclosing the back and shoulders in a firm, defined outline of their own, and flowing down graceful in front, or on each side, to mix with that of the skirt. The man must be a monster who could be impertinent to a woman in any dress, but especially to a woman in a black scarf. It carries an air of self-respect with it which is in itself a protection. A woman thus attired glides on her way like a small close-reefed vessel--tight and trim--seeking no encounter but prepared for one. Much, however, depends upon the wearing--indeed, no article of dress is such a revealer of the wearer's character. Some women will drag it tight up their shoulders, and stick out their elbows (which ought not to be known to exist) in defiance at you--beneath. Such are of the  independent class we described with strong sectarian opinions. Others let it hang loose and listless, like an idle sail, losing all the beauty of the outline, both moral and physical. Such ladies have usually no opinions at all, but none the less a very obstinate will of their own. "Old and New Fashions: Art of Dress," Godey's Magazine and Lady's Book; Nov 1847; 35, p 245.
I worry that I have entirely missed the power of the plain black scarf! Oh, for this kind of empowerment. (Actually, for my dissertation defense I wore a pair of black patent leather slingbacks with a then-fashionable square heel. I called them my power shoes, and I am not kidding they did embue me with some kind of power. [I was in tears after the first question, looked at my shoes, thought, "they can't do this to me while I am wearing my power shoes," and a sudden fierceness came over me.] After that, a handful of women went out and bought special shoes for their defenses. Sometimes, you just have to have something to believe in.)

Although it is not addressed, I believe that a woman who wears the black scarf properly has both the right kind of opinions and knows when and how to express them. Of course!

All right, ladies, elbows in. I'll be back tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Freeform Vine

Last night's beading class was about freeform wirework. I enjoyed this but I'm that kind of go-with-the-flow crafter. I think this came out a little too "branchy" but I think it still looks pretty good.

Remind me, in the future, when they tell you you can use small beads or chips, use the small beads. Stringing the chips on the necklace part was a huge pita. But they did match the agate slice the best. And they were cheap! Inexpensive, this was an inexpensive necklace to make. I didn't think it was going to be because the pendant was $6.95. I thought everything was going to go up from there, but that really was the main cost.

The first, or maybe second, time I took Beading Boot Camp, I made the most expensive piece in the class. Every week. The problem is that I love color so much, I am often unwilling to compromise on a good match. I don't know what's happened in the intervening years. Maybe my classmates just don't compare prices?

I hope the recipient likes it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Work in Progress Wedsnesday

I was musing on Pamela's blog (Hokkaido Kudasai) that the time difference is so striking. She had posted her Work in progress Wednesday, and I hadn't even posted my Tuesday post. It's a good thing there's a Throwback Thursday because when she and Sharon (and indeed when I post it on Sharon's site) see this, it will indeed be Thursday. Oh, it's a great big round world.

But I've only done very little on this piece since I last showed it. I finished the words and turned the corner on the inner border. I've added the second pink to the first flower. A little progress, but progress nonetheless.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Winter Farm Share

Tonight's delivery of our winter farm share included red bok choy*, and it reminded me that one of my 93 blog post ideas is "share a recipe the kids love." Since I don't have kids and I don't think you'd love the same kind of thing Stella loves (like the frozen burrito she unearthed on the sidewalk from under 40 inches of snow last winter), I thought I'd ask the dude what I made that he was always happy to eat. He said, "that noodle-y soup." This is the one he meant.

Spicy Shrimp and Bok Choy Noodle Bowl
Rachael Ray, with my notes

3 T vegetable oil (or, you know, enough)
2 t crushed red pepper (usually I'm a spice slinger, but I always measure this because this is exactly the right amount)
4 cloves garlic (or just two)
two inches ginger root**, peeled and cut into matchsticks (grated on fine setting, no peeling)
1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 medium bok choy, trimmed and cut into 3 ince pieces then cut in sticks lengthwise (or just sliced)
quart of chicken broth
1 bottle clam juice
1.5 lbs shrimp (I just go with 1 lb and cut them in half before cooking)
1/2 lb vermicelli (I use these fresh noodles, and I wouldn't use anything else)
4 scallions (again, she goes all crazy with the slicing directions, just cut them)

Heat a medium soup pot over medium high heat. Add oil and the next five ingredients (through bok choy), stir. Add broth and juice. Cover, and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils, add the shrimp and noodles. Cook for three minutes. Add the scallions, cook for two minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 5 minutes.

I'd say, "even the dude will eat it," but he eats everything...except polenta and couscous.

* Let's hope the red bok choy doesn't turn the soup dishwater grey like the red mustard greens did to that poor "greens and beans" soup I made last week.
** You're storing it in the freezer, right? Because it makes this step easier

Monday, November 17, 2014

I Sort of Started It Monday

Photo courtesy of raumrot.
I know my blogging plan calls for me to talk on Mondays about something I made over the past weekend. Unfortunately, this weekend I started working in earnest on Christmas presents for bloggers, which means I can't show and tell. This puts a crimp in my blogging for sure. Right in the middle of NaBloPoMo.

How about I tell you what I'm giving all the kids who walk and talk* this Christmas? (I'm banking on the fact they don't read my blog, and since I'm their 40something aunt and they range in age from seven to 14, I think I might be right.) When I was growing up, Maggie used to give us cash and then a few little gifts she called "just junk." It could be anything: jumbo pencils, stickers, games, toys, books. I liked getting the junk (until my stuff started having stuff and her taste in junk declined). So I thought I'd buy stockings for the kids** and fill them with "just junk." The junk ranges from a t-shirt that says "I love ketchup from my head tomatoes" (to my toes) to the Survival Handbook, from cookie cutters and sprinkles to Mad Libs, from giant Hershey bars to dice and card games, from Pez dispensers to funky socks. I hope this works.

*No idea what I am getting the twins.
**At the "Dollar or Two" store; $2, of course, but they aren't as cheesy as I'd feared.