Books, Music, Podcasts, Guest Blogger

Guest Blog Post: 5 Novels that Feature Arts and Crafts

I’ve decided to discontinue “other human” (so this does not include Mike the Miniature Schnauzer or the tierneycreates Beastie, ha) guest blog posts, as I want to just create content for my blog on my own (or content “channeled” me by Mike or the tierneycreates Beastie of course).

However the talented Rose Atkinson-Carter offered a couple weeks ago before I made this decision, to write an article related to two things I know many of you love: reading and crafting. Please see the bottom of this post for information on the London-based author of this guest post.


5 Novels that Feature Arts and Crafts

If you’ve ever tried looking for books about arts and crafts, the results are awash with innumerable ‘how to’ pamphlets, or nonfiction texts about artists and their work. While there’s nothing wrong with a good crafting guide, it’s nice to mix things up every so often. That’s why I’ve taken it into my own hands to curate a list of the best arts and crafts inspired novels. 

If you’re struggling to find something artsy for your reading list, stick around for a few books you’ll definitely want to pin to your reading list. 

The Lady and the Unicorn, by Tracy Chevalier

Penguin Random House image

The Lady and the Unicorn is a historical fiction novel based around real works of art — six medieval tapestries made to form one large piece, thought to originate in Medieval Belgium — from which the author extrapolates a complex and affecting literary tapestry of love, lust, and betrayal. Though the narrative hails from seven different narrators’ points of view, the tapestries’ begins with budding nobleman Jean Le Viste, who commissions a tapestry to artist Nicolas Des Innocents, expecting him to depict bloody battles and passionate soldiers. However, after Le Viste’s wife (and Nicholas’s muse) throws down the artistic gauntlet, the artists desires lead him in another direction — to wax poetic about seductive flowers, unicorns, and numerous women.

Known for her previous bestselling novel The Girl With the Pearl Earring, also based on a work of art of the same name, Tracy Chevalier exceeds expectations as she breathes life into yet another mystery shrouding great works of art, turning them into the centerpiece about which every human desire orbits. Of course, this novel isn’t just concerned with desire between humans, but desire in every form — the desire to be useful, to be happy, to be inspired, and the desire to be free. This is a must-read for anyone wanting an insight into the decadent and tumultuous side of art. 

Crewel World, by Monica Ferris

Thriftbooks.com

Though it’s labelled a ‘cozy mystery’, be warned that this mystery opens with a tragedy: the loss of our main character Betsy’s sister, a murder that took place in her very own needlecraft shop. In spite of its ‘cozy mystery’ label, this book begins with tragedy: the murder of our main character Betsy’s sister, who died in her very own needlework shop.

Following the murder, Betsy struggles to find her feet again, recover from grief, and take over the craft shop, all while a looming police investigation puts a halt to any hope of returning to normalcy. However, as is often the case with a good mystery novel, it soon becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

As she learns the ins-and-outs of the needlecraft, Betsy realizes that the police are dragging their feet over the investigation. Is it because they don’t have a good understanding of the craft itself, or is there something darker at play behind the scenes? Either way, the aspiring detective is certainly up to the task. 

Monica Ferris’s breakout novel, Crewel World, the first in her expansive Needlecraft murder mystery series, is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat right until the end — and, as a bonus once you reach the final page, you’ll get a free embroidery pattern too!

The Miniaturist, by Jessie Burton

Thriftbooks.com

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with some of the world’s best editors, designers, marketers, ghostwriters, and translators. She lives in London.

If you’re looking for a novel that blends crafting inspiration with a healthy amount of creepy mystery, then you’re sure to enjoy The Miniaturist. Set in the corrupt and glamorous seventeenth century Amsterdam, the narrative follows eighteen year old Nella Oortman as she steps into the unknown — an arranged marriage with famed (and wealthy) merchant Johannes Brandt. However, the house she marries into is not warm, but rather steeped in the secrets held by the merchant’s harsh sister Marin, the servants Otto and Cornelia, and the kind-but-distant Johannes himself. 

So, where do the arts and crafts come in? Well, the clue is in the name. As a wedding gift, Johannes bestows Nella with a cabinet-sized replica of their house, which he commissions from a miniaturist. However, in the process of realizing the life-sized furnishings for the inside of the replica, packages start arriving — and peppered within what the family ordered are eerily accurate extra items. Indeed, the scenes, furnishings, and dolls are spookily true to events of the past, present, and the future. Given that, can Nella work out what’s behind this mystery all while surviving her secretive new family along the way? It’s worth finding out for yourself!

Last Wool and Testament, by Molly MacRae

Thriftbooks.com

Ivy McClellan is well known in the needlework community for being magically brilliant at her craft, as well as being the founder of a passionate group of needlework and fiber artists named Thank Goodness It’s Fiber, TGIF for short. Unfortunately Ivy eventually dies, leaving her shop (and the TGIF meeting place) to her beloved granddaughter, Kath Rutledge.

When Kath arrives to attend the burial, she discovers that nothing is as it was when she left — and local police officers now brutally nickname her grandmother as ‘Crazy Ivy’. The thing is: there’s been a local murder and, somehow, Ivy is the main suspect. On top of that, the title to Ivy’s house has been stolen and Kath is left with just a week to pack up and scrap together clues about what on earth happened. In the meantime, she manages to rent an apartment with an unexpected roommate — a specter — and that specter seems to be just as interested in Ivy’s case as Kath. So, if you can’t tell already, this story is sure to keep you guessing with its twists, turns, and knots, right until the very end.

How to Be Both, by Ali Smith 

Paperback How to Be Both Book
Thriftbooks.com

Ali Smith’s ground-breaking novel, How to Be Both, borrows from art in both its narrative as well in the very format in which it’s written. For the latter, Smith borrows from paintings fresco technique to deliver a double take in the form of a novel, starting each halve of every print edition with a completely different narrative point of view. 

For one half, you might end up with a narrative beginning with Italian painter Francesco, while, for the other half, you may start the story with a teenage girl named George, and vice-versa. Either way, both are intrinsically connected to the art world (as well as each other) and invested in what it may become. The two artists’ are worlds apart: Francesco’s narrative is contemporary to the Renaissance Italy in which the painter of the same name that inspired Smith lived, whereas George serves as a teenaged 1960s counterpart. Despite the two characters’ differences, the parallels between them, the love, and the injustice they experience are striking. If you’re interested in sinking your teeth into the inner workings of artists, their muses, Renaissance Italy, and a playful narrative structure all in one — this novel is for you.

That concludes my list of the five arts and crafts influenced novels that inspired me! Whether you prefer to use a pin, pen, or paintbrush, I hope they can be a suitable muse for all of your crafty needs or, at the very least, refresh your love for the arts.


Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with some of the world’s best editors, designers, marketers, ghostwriters, and translators. She lives in London.


Feature photo credit – Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash 

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

Double Stacking It with the Library Stack

It’s been a while since I shared my latest “Library Stack” in my series of ongoing posts by the same name – The Library Stack. I noticed I have 39 posts so far under the blog post category “The Library Stack” so over the past 8 years I’ve been blogging I’ve shared a lot of stacks!

A couple weeks ago I had “an incident“. I borrowed a stack of books from two different public library systems which resulted in a DOUBLE STACK!

I have to keep the stacks separate so I don’t mess up and return the wrong stack to the wrong library!

Here is a close up of each stack:

Stack I (Library 1):

Stack II (Library 2):

I’ve recently finished up Stack II and returned it to its correct library (yay!). The books I most enjoyed in this stack were: Styling for Instagram and Dollhouse Style.

For the past couple of month’s I’ve been obsessed with tiny room vignettes and dollhouse size furniture on Instagram (I think it is just a phase) and I follow Instagram pages such as @simplylivingminidesigns.

I was obsessed with tiny houses (the kind you can live in) for quite a while, but now I seem to have gone tinier!

The human sized livable tiny house still remain an obsession for me as you can see that in Stack I I have a book titled The Giant Book of Tiny Homes!

Well I have a lot of page browsing ahead with pots of tea to finish Stack 1 and get it back to its library! Then I will take a “Library Stack” break and work on reading the books I already have in queue in my home library!

Books, Music, Podcasts, From the Archives, tierneytravels

From the Archives: Las Vegas and the “Ghost Children”

Since I am in my 8th year of blogging, throughout this year I will occasionally and randomly share posts from my 7 years of archives.

Here is a post from September 2018 I stumbled upon when randomly looking up something on my blog today. What is bittersweet is that the lines in the song by the group Train that I quote in this September 2018 ended up being so true when I unexpectedly lost my partner in life a couple months later (December 2018).

Here’s to the time we have, here’s to the lines we crossed, here’s to the ones we’re waiting on, and the ones we lost.

Here’s to the time we have, thank God for what we got.

Here’s to the one’s we’re waiting on, and the ones we lost, and found, the ones who stick around.

Lost and found, the ones who stick around.

– “Lost and Found” written by Patrick Monahan and William Wiik Larsen

Las Vegas and the “Ghost Children”

September 6, 2018

Have you ever wondered why suddenly you are upset or struggling with something and you do not understand why? Well it could be the “Ghost Children“…

Throughout 2018, nearly non-stop, I’ve been listening to non-fiction audiobooks (with a couple science fiction audiobooks peppered in). (Please see the original post Las Vegas and the “Ghost Children” if you’d like to see the list of non-fiction/self improvement audiobooks )

Between my daily walks (3 – 4+ miles a day), road trips, cross country plane rides, and sewing marathons, I’ve knocked off a lot of audiobooks so far in 2018.

Most of these audiobooks were highly engaging, filled with many useful ideas, tips, and inspirations; however one audiobook really stood out: Geneen Roth’s This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide.

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image credit: amazon.com

While listening to this audiobook, read by the author, I was introduced to the concept of “Ghost Children“. According to Geneen Roth, “Ghost Children” are the stories we repeatedly tell ourselves based on an unhealed/hurt part of us that believes things such as we’re not good enough, we are unlovable, we are not worthy – because at some point in our life, many times in childhood, we had unmet needs or a hurt which are still seeking to get comfort from.

Geneen Roth has done a lot of work with women who emotionally overeat (she holds workshops and has written books focused on this topic) and she ties the “Ghost Children” concept to why people emotionally overeat to comfort their hurting “Ghost Children” but I clearly saw a connection to other behaviors.

This connection helped me during a difficult time on a recent business trip attending a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Ghost Children” Appear

I work in the healthcare industry and I attended a healthcare industry software related conference in late July/early August held at the Aria Hotel’s Conference Center in Las Vegas, NV.

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Las Vegas Boulevard

The healthcare software company sponsoring the conference was very generous to its attendees to include providing a private Train concert on one of the conference evenings, at the Brooklyn Bowl. I was very excited about this concert as I’ve like the band Train (Drops of Jupiter, Meet Virginia, Calling All Angels) since they first came out with their song Drops of Jupiter in 2001.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) accompanied me on the trip to Las Vegas and I confirmed with someone at the conference registration desk that he could also attend the conference. He is also a long time fan of the band Train, so I was excited to share this private concert with him which also included an open bar and food (as I said the sponsoring software conference company was very generous).

So the evening came for the concert and TTQH headed to the tour bus set up for conference attendees to be transported to the Brooklyn Bowl for the concert. While on line to load the bus, we discovered that only conference attendees with conference badges could get on the bus and attend the conference. TTQH was not able to attend with me.

We were in shock and incredibly disappointed as I had verified with the conference registration desk that he could attend, only to find out that the staff at the registration desk very misinformed. I was torn – on one hand I wanted to go to the concert on the other hand I did not want to just leave TTQH behind at the hotel with this sudden disappointment. 

TTQH is a very enlightened and well-adjusted person (one of us has to be in the marriage – ha!) and he quickly recovered from the disappointment and strongly insisted that I just attend alone and have a great time. (Something I did not mention the first time I posted this post in September 2018 – for $200 I could have bought TTQH access to the special events of the conference like the Train concert. Oh how in retrospect I wish I had even if he said it was “ok”. I wish I had the memory of attending the concert with him.)

So I got back in line and then got on the tour bus. The tour bus was filling up quickly and people were filling every available seat. Except in my row. No one sat with me. (This was likely because I had a very sad look on my face as I was so disappointed I could not share the concert experience with TTQH). The last person got on the bus and sat with the last seat available besides the one next to me.

So the entire bus was filled, except for the seat next to me.  Before I knew it I was quietly sobbing to myself on the bus ride to the Brooklyn Bowl and did not know why.

But – I remembered the audiobook I had recently finished, This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide , and realized one of my “Ghost Children” had popped up!

When I was around 10 years old my parents had a major disagreement with other parents in the neighborhood and, unknown to me at the time, the other neighborhood parents had told their children not to play with me. For a couple weeks, none of my regular friends in the neighborhood, who I played with everyday after school, would play with me. They all ignored me.

I did not understand why and as you could imagine this was fairly traumatic for a 10 year old who was used to playing with most of the kids on my block for many years. Finally one of the children was kind enough to pull me aside and tell me what happened. It was a very upsetting and frustrating experience as I was being punished for something I did not do and I was now an outsider/outcast from my long-time playmates. It is one of those feelings you never forget and I guess it eventually became one of my “Ghost Children”.

Realizing where my sudden painful feelings were coming from as I sat alone on the bus (no one wanting to sit with me), helped me pull myself together. I decided: “yes I am attending this concert alone, but I am going to have a fun time and find a group of people to hang out with during the concert”. There is so much power in awareness of where an emotion/reaction is coming from – it gives you options on how you react.

And this is exactly what I did. Upon arrival, I asked a group of women if I could hang with them for the evening and eventually ended up in another group and had a wonderful time – a “Ghost Children” free evening!

The Train concert was incredible (I sat close to the stage in an elevated area of the bar to the right of the stage) and got to connect with some wonderful people before the concert and during. I learned some new trivia about some of their songs from another concert attendee: the lead singer, Pat Monahan wrote Drops of Jupiter about the death of his mother (now some of the lyrics I never understood make sense).

Here is a little excerpt from the concert (which was only open to concert attendees) – Train performing Lost and Found (I finally learned how to upload videos to YouTube):

I love the lyrics in this song (excerpt from Google):

My Dad said son, one
Day we’ll have a drink together
You’re young
You got to take your time
Just trust
Let me raise you right, and later
We can raise a glass to life, and say
 
Here’s to the time we have
Here’s to the lines we crossed
Here’s to the ones we’re waiting on
And the ones we lost
Here’s to the time we have
Thank God for what we got
Here’s to the ones we’re waiting on, and the ones we lost
And found, the ones who stick around
Lost and found, the ones who stick around
 

“Ghost Children” Free

I feel like writing Geneen Roth, the author of This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide, and thanking her for introducing me to the “Ghost Children” concept. Thanks to what I learned from her book I was able to reset a moment and turn it around.

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Taking a break from the conference and relaxing at the Bellagio hotel, “Ghost Children” free

You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. It’s possible to treat yourself with outrageous kindness beginning today. ― Geneen Roth


Postscript

During the conference I got to attend my first TED Talks/TED Salon and that was a very cool experience.

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Dr. Andrew Bastawrous at TED Salon: Catalyst at the Aria Las Vegas

The TED Talks were focused on the future of health care. It was amazing after years of watching TED Talks online to see how formally TED Talks are filmed. There are hosts that coach the audience on etiquette for the Talk once filming starts.

The six speakers who talks about moving health care forward were amazing and here is a post on the TED Blog I found about the event:

Moving healthcare forward: The talks of TED Salon: Catalyst

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A slide from one of the speaker’s presentation

Books, Music, Podcasts

“Stitch Please” (podcast guest)

You might remember from previous posts such as “Paper Pieced Pincushion” that I am not a huge fan of Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP).

Recently Lisa Woolfork the curator of Black Women Stitch, invited me to comment on my feelings about FPP on her podcast – The Stitch Please Podcast.

If you would like to hear my thoughts on FPP you can listen to them on the latest episode: Paper Piecing: Perfection OR Persecution?

You can find the podcast episode on wherever you get your podcasts (like Apple podcasts) or listen to it on Google podcasts – https://stitchpleasepodcast.com/episodes/paper-piecing-perfection-or-persecution

image credit: the Stitch Please podcast

If you do not want to listen to the entire podcast, you can catch a snippet of what I had to say on a blurb from the podcast episode on my Instagram feed – @tierneycreates.

image credit: screen capture from IG, from Lisa Woolfork

Thanks to Shirley @handmade habit for introducing me to Lisa!

Blogging Awards, Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

Library Stack Attack

Before I get into this post, which is a continuation of my ongoing series, The Library Stack (in which I share my stacks of borrowed books from my local public library), I would like to say thank you to the very talented Mariss @ Fabrications for also nominating me for an Outstanding Blogger Award. In the Postscript section of this post I will answer the questions she posed to her nominees.

It’s been a while (November 2020) since I shared my latest “Library Stack” and I thought I would just catch you up on several stacks over the past several months.

Here is my current stack and I’ve been enjoying the book The Best of Me by David Sedaris. Thanks to Anne @ I’ve Read This for her review – Book Review: The Best of Me by David Sedaris.

And here are the previous library stacks that I have not shared before:

As you can see there appears to be a limited number of general themes of the types books I borrow from the local library – home decor and crafting. These are my fabric subjects for a book browsing over a pot of tea!

You might have noticed that I have The Shopkeeper’s Home by Caroline Rowland in two different stacks – if I really enjoy a home decor or crafting book I just borrow it again and again!

I’ve been reading a lot (well “a lot” for me) of fiction books but those I am reading from my home library (see post Curating a Home Library) or library borrowed audiobooks; and I might share some reviews in a future post. You can follow me on Goodreads @tierneycreates if you’d like to see what I’ve been reading fiction wise and read my reviews.


Postscript

Okay now to answer the questions from my Outstanding Blogger Award Nomination from Mariss @ Fabrications:

  • For how long have you been writing a blog? Since October 2013 – over 7 years
  • What made you start? Originally it was a vehicle for my soon to be opened (and eventually opened) tierneycreates Etsy shop – I closed the shop after a couple years but kept the blog
  • Why do you continue to blog? I enjoyed sharing my experiences with others and reading their experiences on their blogs – I get inspired
  • Have you ever met any of your fellow bloggers face to face? If so, how did it feel? Yes I’ve met the lovely ladies from Gray Barn Designs when they attended a show opening of one of my pieces – see post Visioning Human Rights in the New Millennium, Part I
  • Do you write regularly? If so, why? I go in spurts – where I write regularly and then take a break, it all depends on my mood

If you’d like to see my other nomination and the questions answered (by my tierneycreates Beastie) check out the post Outstanding Blogger Award (and snow).

A Crafter Needs to Eat, A Crafter's Life, Bags Bags Bags, Books, Music, Podcasts

What I Did During My Blogging Vacation

I’ve been on hiatus from blogging for a couple weeks to temporarily remove any “artificial” obligations in my life in order to have some time to “reset”.

Now feeling “reset”, I thought I would jump back into blogging with a little essay “primary/elementary” school style like the infamous “What I Did on My Summer Vacation“.

By the way I was not hanging out with the fabulous looking women at the beach during my hiatus, like those in the feature photo of this post (photo by Vitae London on Unsplash), I just thought it was a fun beach photo to use in the middle of semi-freezing winter in Denver!

Okay so now it is time to imagine me standing in front of our 4th grade class presenting this essay below (and perhaps my parents helped me make a slide deck for my images/photos)…

READING

Listening to audiobooks and turning the pages of actual physical books, I’ve done a lot of reading during the past several weeks.

I’ve finished the book City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, that I read for my virtual book club with my friend Michele (see post Virtual Book Clubs):

city-of-brass
image credit – Kirkus Review

Last Friday Michele and I had another card-making playdate like the one I shared in the post Card Making Playdate from last October and discussed City of Brass. In tomorrow’s post (why yes, I am going to now post frequently…hope you don’t grow tired of me) I will share what we made.

I recently finished the next book in our “Virtual Book Group” (but wait is it “virtual” if we are meeting in person, socially distancing of course, to discuss the book?) and it was quite the awesome page turnerThe Guest List by Lucy Foley:

The Guest List
image credit – Publishers Weekly

It’s been a long time since I’ve read (actually I listened to the audiobook) the kind of book I absolutely could not put down. If you’d like to read a synopsis of the book – here is the link to the one on Publishers Weekly (no worries, there are no spoilers) – The Guest List.

Currently I am listening to an excellent (so far) Science Fiction/space novel – To Sleep Under a Sea of Stars by Christoper Paolini. I love it so much I’ve already bought the hard copy of the book as my library loan of the audiobook is about to expire and there are a zillion other library patrons waiting in line to listen to it next.

Image result for to sleep in a sea of stars
image credit – Paolini.net

It not just fiction books I’ve been inhaling, I’ve also read several new crafting books I picked up over the past couple of months.

I’ve been obsessed lately with making non-quilt items such as tote bags (see post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags) and pincushions (a future post); and love my new book by Ayumi Takahashi – Patchwork Please which features lots of fun things to make:

Patchwork Please!: Colorful Zakka Projects to Stitch and Give - Takahashi, Ayumi
image credit – amazon.com

I am sort of obsessed with “zakka” and Japanese author craft patterns. I love the aesthetics of their designs as well as the function. Here are many of the books in my home library collection of Japanese author craft patterns:

COOKING

For a while in the Denver metro area, our restaurants closed down again to inside dining during the pandemic. Finally they opened to 25% capacity and now I think they are starting to reopen to even 50% capacity (or perhaps I am hallucinating at this point as I have complete pandemic fatigue at this point).

While they were closed again, like in the early days of the pandemic, we tried to make fun meals at home and not get home cooking fatigue. Here are a couple photos of the delicious meals my partner John (a very good cook who used to actually cook professionally) and I made.

Delicious Irish Stew and Homemade Biscuits

Salmon Fried Rice

Nachos!

Pizza (with dough made from “scratch”)

Orzo Pasta Salad

Are you hungry yet?

One of my favorites that I could not locate easily locate a photo for was the handmade gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and scallops that John made one night. I thought I was at a high-end restaurant!

Yes, I will not lie, I had packed on a couple “pandemic pounds” from all this good eating, but we do not eat like this every night. We do try and have salads for dinner a couple nights a week.

WALKING

To combat the effects of all those delicious home cooked meals, I’ve been going on a lot of very long walks. It is always a great way to listening to my audiobooks. Most of the times I take Mike my Miniature Schnauzer with me but many times I just go walking alone (then I do not have to stop for the “frequent signing in on bushes” that Mike loves to do on his walk).

Here are a couple Black & White images I took on a wintry walk, in which someone had left a found glove on a branch for its owner to hopefully someday find. I got a kick out of the “composition” in the stark landscape created by the glove.

If you enjoy B&W images, I do have a series of posts where I feature B&W images – Life in B&W.

In case you are wondering – either the glove blew away or was reunited with its partner by the owner as the next day it was gone.

REFLECTING

During my break from blogging, I spent a lot of time reflecting and trying to figure out my life. As many of you know, I am in my second year of widowhood caused by the very sudden and very expected death of my life partner, Terry the Quilting Husband (see post Remembering Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH)).

I’d been with Terry since I was in my early 20s and I am now on a journey to “reinvent” myself in my middle years of life as “Tierney minus Terry”, after what seems like a lifetime of “Tierney +Terry”.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed re-opening my tierneycreates Etsy shop and my original plan when I took a hiatus from blogging was to start blogging again in about a month when I was ready to re-open my Etsy shop.

Over the past several months, I’ve made a lot of items in preparation to re-open the shop but still could not move forward with re-opening the shop. I was struggling to figure out what the big block was for me.

Then while looking at some old photos on my Google Photos account which I rarely use, I found an old image of the joint tierneycreates business card Terry and I had together when he was helping me with my Etsy shop. He was listed as a “Maker” on my Etsy shop as he helped me with many of the items I produced by cutting out patterns and doing preliminary sewing, especially on items like Miniature Kimonos, which were very popular on my shop.

I realized that my tierneycreates Etsy shop is just too closely tied to memories of crafting with Terry and I am just not ready.

Part of my “widowhood journey” is trying to figure out what to do with what is basically a lifetime’s worth of memories with someone who is now gone.

After losing your spouse you are expected to go on with your life but what do you do with all those memories (and mementos) of a life previously lived? I think that is the $64,000 Question which I have yet to answer for myself (I’ve done a lot of reading on grief and the answers of other people’s journey but I still have to find my own answer).

But I have figured out that unless it is something critical, not push myself to do anything I am not ready to do, even if it seems like a good thing to do (like re-opening my Etsy shop).

(The above images are of Terry, Sassy, who passed in Dec 2017 a year before Terry, and I vacationing in Cannon Beach, Oregon; and of Terry modeling a quilt he helped me make)

CRAFTING

There’s been a whole lot of crafting over the past couple of weeks. I’ve found a lot of peace in making things. I feel very lucky to be a “Maker”.

Many of the items I’ve shared on my tierneycreates Instagram account but many I have not. I am going to save a discussion of what I’ve been working on for future blogs posts but I will share that I’ve been making more tote bags like I discussed in the post Tote, Tote, Tote Bags.

Here are some of my latest tote bags:

I look forward to diving into more about what I’ve been making in my future posts!

WAKE UP, THE ESSAY IS FINALLY OVER!

So that concludes my essay and I can safely assume the whole class is asleep now at their desks!

Oh wait, I see the teacher is also asleep at their desk! Maybe I won’t get a “A” on this presentation…

Photo by Matheus Farias on Unsplash

Postscript

Just a quick follow up to my post Redesigning my logo. I decided not to change my logo at this time and just figure it out at a later date.

Books, Music, Podcasts

Virtual Book Clubs

I am not usually one for book clubs, at least not currently. I like to read what I want to read. I am however in two virtual “book clubs” with two friends right now on two different books: 1) a fiction physical book; and a 2) non fiction audiobook.

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty 

I am reading this first book in the Daevabad Trilogy with my friend Michele. 

city-of-brass

Here is the Kirkus Review on the book if you are curious:

A rich Middle Eastern fantasy, the first of a trilogy: Chakraborty’s intriguing debut.

On the streets of 18th-century Cairo, young Nahri—she has a real talent for medicine but lacks the wherewithal to acquire proper training—makes a living swindling Ottoman nobles by pretending to wield supernatural powers she doesn’t believe in. Then, during a supposed exorcism, she somehow summons a mysterious djinn warrior named Dara, whose magic is both real and incomprehensibly powerful. Dara insists that Nahri is no longer safe—evil djinn threaten her life, so he must convey her to Daevabad, a legendary eastern city protected by impervious magical brass walls. During the hair-raising journey by flying carpet, Nahri meets spirits and monsters and develops feelings for Dara, a deeply conflicted being with a long, tangled past. At Daevabad she’s astonished to learn that she’s the daughter of a legendary healer of the Nahid family. All the more surprising, then, that King Ghassan, whose ancestor overthrew the ruling Nahid Council and stole Suleiman’s seal, which nullifies magic, welcomes her.

With Ghassan’s younger son, Prince Ali, Nahri becomes immersed in the city’s deeply divisive (and not infrequently confusing) religious, political, and racial tensions. Meanwhile, Dara’s emerging history and personality grow more and more bewildering and ambiguous. Against this syncretic yet non-derivative and totally credible backdrop, Chakraborty has constructed a compelling yarn of personal ambition, power politics, racial and religious tensions, strange magics, and terrifying creatures, culminating in a cataclysmic showdown that few readers will anticipate. The expected first-novel flaws—a few character inconsistencies, plot swirls that peter out, the odd patch where the author assumes facts not in evidence—matter little. Best of all, the narrative feels rounded and complete yet poised to deliver still more.

Highly impressive and exceptionally promising.

This book is one of the first books (purchased new from an Independent Bookstore mentioned in the post – A Friday Frolicking Adventure) added to my new home library discussed in the post Curating a Home Library.

I am enjoying the book so far and look forward to discussing with my friend Michele. 

Untamed by Glennon Doyle 

Not only is this a non-fiction book in the “self-improvement genre” but I am listening to it as an audiobook with my friend Jenny from Central, Oregon where I used to live before I moved to the Denver Metro area in April 2019.

In my February 2020 post Musings on Self-Improvement, I swore off self-help/self-improvement audiobooks after sudden series burnout on listening to them. I’ve also been trying to stick to podcasts or music for the listening during my walks/hikes and save reading fiction or non-fiction in physical book form. During the pandemic I’ve rediscovered the pleasures of curling up with a book like in this photo below (and Mike the Miniature Schnauzer prefers it also_:

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But I heard a lot about this book and it really appealed to me as an exception to my “no more self-improvement audiobook rule”.

It also appealed to my friend Jenny who is dealing with some major life changes ahead; and who likes to go on long walks in Central Oregon and listen to audiobooks.

When we both finish the book, we are going to do a “Virtual Book Group” meeting and discuss via Facetime over a pot of tea (we have to each make our own because virtual tea gets complicated – ha!).

Oh and here is the Kirkus Review on the book (which I’ve actually finished and thought was spectacular and inspiring!):

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Here are a couple quotes from this book that seemed to be the right thing I needed to hear at the right time.

When a woman finally learns that pleasing the world is impossible, she becomes free to learn how to please herself.

Being human is not hard because you’re doing it wrong, it’s hard because you’re doing it right.

The only thing that was ever wrong with me was my belief that there was something wrong with me.

Be careful with the stories you tell about yourself.

Every life is an unprecedented experiment. This life is mine alone…So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been. There is no map. We are all pioneers.

Privilege is being born on third base. Ignorant privilege is thinking you’re there because you hit a triple. Malicious privilege is complaining that those starving outside the ballpark aren’t waiting patiently enough.

I have learned that if I want to rise, I have to sink first.  


Postscript

Speaking of my friend Michele (the one I am reading City of Brass with) she sent me an image of her with the hat I made her last year and the matching scarf I made her recently that I shared in the post Scarf for a Friend.

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I think she looks lovely and coordinated (the hat and scarf match her winter jacket).

Oh and at the beginning of this post I mentioned I am not one for book clubs, at least not presently. I’ve tried several book clubs over the years and most of them was not a fit for me after a while. I did however belong to a spectacular book club, started by my friend Michele and I, when I lived in Seattle, Washington.

One of the cool things about this book club was it was a mix of male and female and had a wide age range. It was also quite diverse in culture and life experiences. It made for an excellent mix for a book club. It was called The Good Book Club and went on for many years. Several of our members were single and even met their future partners in book club. 


Feature Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

A Crafter Needs to Eat, Books, Music, Podcasts, From the Woodshop, The Library Stack, Thrift Shop Adventures

Curating a Home Library

I love public libraries and as my series of posts The Library Stack shows, I am always browsing them and borrowing books when I can. A couple of years of ago I studied and embraced Minimalism trying to live a simpler lifestyle and letting go of things that I thought cluttered my life. I decided to stop buying books and just borrow them from the library.

Then in December 2018 my husband suddenly died and things shifted in my life on a large scale. And in early 2020 the pandemic hit and more shifting occurred to include examining how I could redefine a “simpler lifestyle” and have the physical things I enjoy in my life.

Our local libraries closed for what seemed like endless months during the early days of the pandemic and when they reopened it was only for curbside pickup. Currently they have fully reopened but have many strict protocols (beyond mandatory masks) and there are not that many patrons in the library anymore. It feels like something is lost from whole public library experience (and it is strange to see the librarians behind glass).

Pre-pandemic I was really in to audiobooks. Something shifted in me during the pandemic and I began to crave reading physical books rather than listening to them. I also remembered my secret dream of having an extensive home library like the ones I see in the home decorating books I borrow from the public library.

Like this one below:

Image credit: insidehook.com

With all the above things in the background of my mind, a couple of months ago I decided that I wanted to proceed with curating my own home library. Nothing as extensive as the image above but a nice collection with books that I’ve read and loved (and want to read again) and books I want to read (and might read again).

So how to do this and not “break the bank”? Well I used the following sources to find books for my home library:

  • Thrift Stores
  • Garage Sales
  • Thriftbooks.com
  • Independent bookstores selling used books

I was able to buy books from 50 cents to $5.00 from these four sources. Most books I paid between $1.49 and $4.99. 

In addition to amassing a collection of second hand books over the past couple of months, my partner John also added an additional bookcase to the front room beyond the two he already built for me.

So here is the current version of my home library which used to be the front room/sitting room in my house:

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I had so much fun hunting for books at thrift shops (one local thrift shop has 1/2 priced Saturdays).

I’ve loved the books by the authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and I’ve read at least 85% of their entire catalogue of books. So I put together a collection of their books of my very own (previously I had borrowed them from the library):

I do not have their latest books as those are not at thrift stores yet or reasonably priced on Thriftbooks.com but it was so fun finding each book one at a time while hunting at thrift shops.

At the beginning of my home library book curation process I thought about filling part of my home library with classic novels and books that might impress a book collector. But that thought lasted only a couple seconds. I have no need to impress anyone with my home library except myself. It is only filled with the kind of books I will read (and my partner too).

Like lots of Science Fiction and Fantasy (especially Young Adult Fantasy, I love it):

You might wonder what I did with my craft book collection. Well it is on the opposite wall organized by craft or topic (like art quilting):

All those books – got to have a cozy place to read, right? Here is Mike the Miniature Schnauzer sitting in my favorite reading spot:

And here is Mike and I snuggled cozy under a warm blanket on a cold Saturday reading (it was quite a delicious morning with my pot of tea next to me). I rediscovered the joy of reading a while, napping, waking up and reading some more!

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Note these images were taken before my partner put up the third bookcase last week.

In case you are curious, I am still occasionally getting a “Library Stack” from my local public library, though not as big as the ones I was getting (the ridiculously large stacks like in the post The Library Stack Is Back!) when the library first reopened. Here is my current linrary stack:

Speaking of libraries, some of the second hand books I’ve purchased over the past several months are former library books! I’ve gotten pretty good at removing the library’s plastic dust cover with all their library specific stickers so the books sitting on my home library shelves does not look like I stole them from a library – ha!

As I mentioned earlier in this post I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks. Current I am only listening to podcasts now, taking a break from audiobooks. I am currently enjoying holding a book in my hand and reading it. Quite a different experience. I am taking a break from multitasking in life and just enjoying a solitary task of reading a book!


Postscript

Over the past several months of going to thrift stores to find books for my home library, I’ve come across many curious items for sale at thrift shops. 

Here are my top 5 favorite finds that gave me the chuckle (and I promise you I did not buy any of them):

Number 5: If you need a lamp and a place to store your leftover yarn, would this not be the perfect solution?

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Yes it’s – YARN LAMP!

Number 4: Patriotic pants – they defy any further comment (but my apologies to you if you happen own these…)

My partner John is modeling them

Number 3: Donated photo frames with family photos still in them.

I could not believe how many donated photo frames I came across with family pictures still in them at various thrift stores, like the example below. Wouldn’t you perhaps remove your family photos before donating?!?!?

Number 2: An outfit for a very adventurous and crafty person.

Though it was on display way before Halloween, I think this was supposed to be a suggested Halloween outfit (hopefully as you would get a lot of stares should you select it for a cocktail party…)

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And Number 1 is…

Something that you absolutely cannot imagine living without…

A cattle leg (yes real cattle leg) with hoof attached Barometer!

Yes, now you can remember the favorite steer you raised on your farm and know the current barometric pressure!

My regret is I did not buy it and put it away as the ultimate future “White Elephant” Christmas gift! (Could you imagine the look on someone’s face when they opened their gift!)

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack, Thrift Shop Adventures

Good Morning and The Library Stack

First let me wish you all a “Good Morning”, even if your time zone is greatly different from mine (perhaps you are reading this post before you go to bed!).

Just like in the August 6, 2020 post Good Morning, I would like to give you a “Good Morning” greeting by sharing some photos from my partner John’s morning bike ride, this time from a couple days ago along a reservoir near our house.

Now for the second part of this post, I am going to continue my series of posts about the latest stack of my local library books I’ve borrowed (The Library Stack), and show you the sort of crazy huge stack of books I just got from the library:

I actually took a break from “library stacks” for a while as I was trying to catch up on my backlog of crafting magazines I have to read in my home library. But then my blogging buddy, author and podcaster* (and fellow Beastie owner) Tammie Painter shared her latest “library stack” in her post It’s Time for An Action-Packed Library Stack and it made me want to go to my library and get my “stacking” on! (I am easily influenced).

(*If you enjoying listening to podcasts check out Tammie’s wonderful The Book Owl Podcast available on the podcast platforms).

In addition to my standard home decorating books (so enjoyable to browse with a pot of tea), I have a couple books in the stack related to my latest obsession – making granny squares (see post Granny Square Madness).

Speaking of granny squares, the other day we stopped at a thrift store when wandering about and I found another cool granny square afghan that needed “rescuing”. Yes – it looked at me with big eyes that said “bring me home Tierney…please…”. (It is okay if you are now rolling your eyes…)

Here is Mike (my rescue dog) with my latest “rescued” afghan:

It’s quite cozy and I had a nice nap under it this weekend.

I can relate to all the work that goes into making granny squares (I’ve made 15 more this weekend of the 43 left to make to complete my first granny square afghan) and I sort of wince to think this ended up in a thrift shop but I guess it was time for me to be its guardian!

Oh and since this post seems filled with rather random things (sunrise photos from a morning bike ride, a library stack, “rescued” granny square afghan, etc.) I will add to the randomness by closing out this post with my new tablecloth and placemats I also picked up from a thrift shop.

The napkins are from World Market and my beloved sunflower center piece is from my friend Michele, but the table cloth and placemats were a couple of dollars investment for a nice new look to our kitchen table!

Okay that’s the end of this random item post, hope you all have a great day!

Beastie Adventures, Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

Beastie goes to the library (and gets a Library Stack)

It was as if the gates of Heaven opened and I could hear the angels singing: Last week a neighboring library system (the one I’ve started getting books via curbside pick up from a couple weeks ago, see post The Library Stack Is Back!), OPENED ITS DOOR TO THE PUBLIC!!!

So the tierneycreates Beastie and I headed to the library to frolic among the stacks! (We did not bring tierneycreates Beastie’s dog Mikelet since only Service Dogs are allowed in libraries…even though he is very small and I likely could have hid him in my pocket…)

2020-06-29_15-15-57_875 After chatting with the library front desk staff and introducing them to the tierneycreates Beastie and showing them her library card* (see post Beastie Outing to the Library), we headed upstairs to browse our favorite Dewey Decimal System section 700 (Arts & Recreation)!

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*tierneycreates Beastie with her very own Library Card

Once again, like the other time I took my Beastie to the library, she insisted on trying to navigate the library stairs herself:

2020-06-29_15-00-25_0082020-06-29_15-00-52_369But she was not getting anywhere very fast so she agreed I could just carry her upstairs to the magical 700 section of the library.

Once we got upstairs, I let her do her own browsing and she eventually found her way to the knitting book section as she is always trying to learn more about how she was made in Dublin by her maker Helen@Crawcraftbeasties.

2020-06-29_15-01-45_4572020-06-29_15-15-51_1012020-06-29_15-21-05_5172020-06-29_15-22-05_9522020-06-29_15-22-17_902Beasties are sort of vain and she kept asking me to take her photo among various stacks of craft books. Here is a photo she did not want you to see but I told her I was going to share it anyway so you can see sometimes even Beasties take bad photos:

2020-06-29_15-21-48_969While I was browsing (note – this was the first time I’ve been inside this library as I joined this neighboring library system when they started curbside pick up a couple weeks ago since my local library is still completely closed) in section 700, I noticed this sign:

2020-06-29_15-30-08_633I was like “whaaaaaaaaaaaat?” I love Interior Decorating/Design books and this library has their own “Interior Design Nooks?!??! (insert sounds of more angels singing). So I wandered over there while the tierneycreates Beastie continued to browse through the knitting section.

2020-06-29_15-31-49_068The nook is both sides of this freestanding section and a built in bookshelf!

Unfortunately my arms were overloading with browsings from the other 700 sections and I could only select a couple books from this section to borrow (but I will be back!!!)

Here is the resulting Library Stack from our visit (or frolic among the library stacks):

2020-06-29_16-16-11_005tierneycreates Beastie just mentioned to me that since I was “keeping it real” by showing a photo of her earlier in this post with disheveled hair, I need to show you all what the Library Stack really looks like when I first get it home before I put it in a nice order:

2020-06-29_15-39-35_827Beasties keep you honest!

Books, Music, Podcasts

The Library Book and the Home Library

The Library Book

A couple weeks ago I finished a wonderful book by author Susan Orlean – The Library Book (2018).

susan-orlean_the-library-book
Image credit: theparisreview.org

I’ve loved public libraries since I was a kid and still do (just see my series of posts The Library Stack).

This non-fiction book uses the backdrop of the 1986 Los Angeles Central Public Library fire to share the history and glory (and challenges) of public libraries. She shares her historical research as well as interviews with many library staff throughout the country. This book also pays homage to public libraries and their importance in our communities. Just listening to a day in the library of various public library staff is pretty awesome and gives you perspective of how library staff serve our communities.

I borrowed this book as an audiobook from my public library, and I loved it so much I bought a hard copy of the book from a local independent bookseller.

Early in the book, this passage about the author’s trips to the library with her mother on page 7 really captured my heart:

…my mother and I walked in together but as soon as we passed through the door, we split up and each beaded for our favorite section. The library might have been the first place I was ever given autonomy…Our visits to the library were never long enough for me. I loved wandering around the bookshelves, scanning the spines until something happened to catch my eye. Those visits were dreamy, frictionless interludes that promised I would leave richer than I arrived.

There is a lot more to this passage and I highly recommend this book if you love libraries!

Home Library

One of things I missed during the first couple months of the pandemic is being able to go to my local public library and browse for new books. The local library near my home is still closed but I do have access to a neighboring town’s library online and they do curbside pick up (see my post The Library Stack Is Back!)

If I’ve wanted to read anything, it seems like I’ve always borrowed it from my local library. Well this whole pandemic experience has made me think about having a book collection of my own (beside my crazy collection of crafting books) and building a home library.

To get this started, my partner John and I decided to designate the front room (sort of like a small formal living room) as “the library” and rearranged the furniture.

John, who loves Pinterest and is crafty, found an industrial pipe bookshelf image on Pinterest, figured out how to recreate it and built two bookcases near the window opposite each other.

Here is the first bookcase completed:

2020-06-24_10-53-31_538I am still working on arranging books on this bookcase. John has built the second one across from it and we plan to put a writing desk next to the two windows that are between the bookcases. I will share a photo in a future post once we get our library finished!

We’ve been building up our collection of fiction (primarily science fiction since we are both science fiction nerds) and non fiction books by finding them at thrift stores and independent bookstores (which have recently opened up again, see my post A Friday Frolicking Adventure) which we are trying to support.

Speaking of home libraries, I recently finished a book I borrowed from the library called For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library by Thatcher Wine.

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Image credit: abebooks.com

What is discovered is that there is a wonderful sounding bookstore in Boulder, Colorado called Juniper Books which sells beautiful book collections. Here is an example – their “Influential Women” collection:

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Image credit: juniperbooks.com

The book, was essentially a beautiful advertisement for Juniper Books but it was a delightful advertisement! The custom book collections (with covers that form images, etc.) displayed in the book are amazing and dreamy.

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juniperbooks.com

No plans for an expensive custom book collection in my future but I plan to visit their shop in Boulder and have fun browsing!

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott


Postscript

And speaking of books and libraries, I hope you are listening to my blogging buddy  Tammie Painter’sThe Book Owl Podcast. I’ve been catching up on episodes when I walk my dog and I appreciated she mentioned my blog on the third episode of her podcast.

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thebookowlpodcast.com

Tammie shares wonderful stories related to books and libraries (well researched with lots of humor). Most recently I enjoyed the story of Barter Books in the U.K., the iconic poster it is responsible for rejuvenating and the train that runs through it!


Feature Photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash

Beastie Adventures, Books, Music, Podcasts, Guest Blogger

Proud of My Maker (Guest Blogger Post)

Tierney is busy catching up on the backlog of posts she wants to read by her blogging buddies around the world, so I am guest posting so she does not continue to fall so behind in blogging!

Once again I am sitting at my makeshift desk, typing on my laptop:

2018-11-18_05-59-08_264Oh I should introduce myself in case you are new to this blog, my name is tierneycreates Beastie and I am a Monster, but the good kind of Monster. You can read my story at I’m A Monster!!!. You can also check out the other posts I’ve had to guest blog on (i.e. when Tierney fell off the blogging-wagon) in the series of posts: Beastie Adventures.

I am originally from Dublin, Ireland and I was made by Helen Crawford of CrawCrafts Beasties. Well the other day, Tierney and I listened to a podcast with an interview with my Maker – From The Maker To The Made, EP.18 Helen Crawford.

Screen Shot 2020-05-23 at 10.10.07 AMThe link above is for the platform Spotify but you can also listen to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts, like on Apple Podcasts on your iPhone.

Here I am listening to the podcast on Tierney’s iPhone with her and my dog Mikelet:

IMG_20200521_122226The podcast was amazing and I got to hear my Maker’s voice! It was a brilliant interview and I enjoyed learning how Helen got into making Beasties like me. All I can say is I am so glad she did not become a “management consultant” after she finished university.

Oh now you might be wondering why at the end of May I am wearing the lovely Aran sweater that Helen knitted me and not my much cooler T-shirt she made me like in this photo from the April 2019 post Beastie Adventures – Seattle Public Library:

2019-04-18_10-55-12_298Well Tierney lost my T-shirt a couple months ago when she had packed to move but then did not move (see post Perspective). She hopes my T-shirt shows up but she might have to make me a new one herself (because I am going to get very hot in this sweater when we are at full summer in Colorado!) and perhaps as Helen if she can make me another.

I know some of you might follow’s Helen’s blog – BeastieBlog, and I wanted to suggest you check out this podcast episode if you’d like to hear her lovely Irish accent and her being interviewed about her creative journey and process!

I am so proud of my Maker!


Postscript

Speaking of podcasts, now Tierney and I need to head over to Tammie Painter’sThe Book Owl Podcast and listen to the latest episode. She is another one of Tierney’s blogging buddies and she has her own Beastie that was made by Helen of CrawCrafts BeastiesFinn McSpool.

Tammie got to bring Finn back to Ireland and be reunited with his Maker Helen (and Tammie got to meet her).Tammie has a series of posts about her visit with Finn to Ireland in her blog tammiepainter.com/blog.

Tierney and I had planned to go to Scotland with friends this July pre-COVID pandemic (plans got cancelled with her traveling buddies due to the pandemic) and while she was in the UK, she was going to also visit Dublin and meet up with Helen. I am bummed this did not happen, but I know someday I will get to return to where I was born!

I am very much looking forward to touring Dublin someday as all I’ve seen of it is the inside of Helen’s studio where I was created.

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

The Library Stack Is Back!

One of the things I’ve greatly missed during the “COVID-times” is visiting my local public library to browse the shelves and/or pick up my latest stack of holds.

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Photo credit: dictionary.com

My local public library, which is within walking distance of where I live, is still closed BUT last week I discovered the public library in the neighboring country opened for “curbside pick up”. Library patrons could reserve books online and when notified that the library that they are available, could park in designated spots at the library and HAVE THEIR LIBRARY HOLDS DELIVERED DIRECTLY INTO THE TRUNK OF THEIR CAR!

Giddy with the excitement of this news, I contacted the neighboring county’s library to see if they would allow me to sign up for a library card/account with them. I discovered from the friendly library staff that any Colorado resident could sign up!

I could not get online fast enough to sign up for a library patron account with this neighboring county’s library!!!

But…

I went a little crazy putting books on hold online. Like super crazy. Like completely and utterly insane.

So now I am ready to continue my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my stack of borrowed books from my local public library. Because, the LIBRARY STACK IS BACK

Initially I received an e-mail that several of the books I reserved were available and immediately drove to the library to pick them up. !

2020-05-19_10-59-25_709And a couple days later I received a notice that like 15+ more books were available for me to pick up.

Here is the resulting MEGA STACK of library books:

2020-05-20_11-46-58_418And I am in library book heaven!

This morning (the first day of my “staycation”, see Postscript), I had a simple breakfast in the front room with a pile of library books. It was a lovely way to spend a morning!

2020-05-22_09-20-11_234Oh and yes, a couple more books have come in and I returned to the library a third time to have them load more books into my trunk! I did return a couple books using their drive through book return so my stack is still the same size (sort of…but I am not showing you any more of my pathological addiction to library books in this post – ha!)


Postscript

Today I began my first day of a 10 day “staycation” (a holiday at home). I plan to spend it reading my giant library stack, catching up on reading the blogs I follow, and even writing some more blog posts. My partner John and I are also planning some day trip adventures and working on some home remodeling projects.

Oh in addition to the library stack, I am also reading a book on Kindle – Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; and listening to a fantastic audiobook book – The Library Book by Susan Orleans which is a love letter to public libraries. I will of course be discussing this book a bit in a future post when I finish it.

I don’t know about you but I keep fighting getting blue during these COVID-times. I know some of the stay at home orders/restrictions are loosening but if your part of the world is like mine you are still dealing with “social distancing”, limited access to things and needing to wear masks when you venture out.

I am so grateful for my health and the health of those I love and I hate to sound whiny at all but I miss what life used to be pre-COVID so much.

Somedays I sort of want to just run around and hug everyone I come across! It hurts my heart to always have to intentionally and constantly stay away from people. When walking my dog and passing another person, we each move an extra bit to the opposite side. I guess dogs just figure that people all hate strangers now or something!

I came across this quote the other day and it was a good reminder for me to “snap out of it” and send out positive vibes to my fellow humans struggling with this new reality:

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Books, Music, Podcasts

Music!

This post was inspired by a post from a lovely blog I follow, From My Carolina Home: Going Down a Rabbit Hole of Music (and if you do not currently follow this blog, I suggest you check it out – lots of great posts on crafting, home decorating, and life!). 

Returning to a Traditional Way to Listen to Music

You might of noticed if you read my post from Saturday, What’s on the Design Wall: “All the Trimmings”, I’ve been tediously working with a lot of small fabric scraps and half square triangles. For example I had to sew 200 2″ x 2″ half square triangles together to create the first section of the quilt All the Trimmings.

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Sewing these many tiny pieces together can make you sort of insane unless you have music!

Watching a movie would be a great way to distract myself from the tedium but since I had to make sure the seams all lined up, I’ve been listening to music instead.

For years I’ve been listening to music on shuffle. I use iTunes and have a collection of favorite tunes loaded on my iPhone, or I listen to Pandora or Amazon, Prime Music or the awesome Colorado Public Radio Jazz station KUVO (which is available to stream online also) smartphone apps.

Lately, however, I’ve been trying something different – instead of listening to shuffled music, I’ve been listening to entire albums.

For those of you who listened to music before the music download era, do you remember buying an album (whether vinyl, cassette, 8-track, or compact disc/CD) and LISTENING TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM straight through?

Many albums are concept albums and/or the recording artists had a reason for the order in which they arranged the tracks.

For example – have you ever tried to listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon shuffled into other songs? It doesn’t work as many of the songs on this classic album were designed to connect and flow into each other.

So for the past several weeks, whenever I am in my sewing studio working on a project, I’ve been listening to entire albums (songs in consecutive order as many of the artists intended) and it has been an AMAZING experience!

Listening to albums in their entirety have brought back a lot of memories and I thought I would share a little bit (and perhaps too much on some) of those memories about three (3) of the albums I’ve recently listened to while sewing.

The Listens

Nothing Like the Sun – Sting

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image credit – discogs.com

I was a huge fan of the band The Police during their heyday and thought the lead singer Sting was like one of the hottest men walking the earth (you are quite impressionable as a pre-teen, ha!). But I did not really grow to appreciate the breadth of his talent until he went out on his own.

His first big solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles came out in 1985 and I loved it but his next album Nothing Like the Sun blew me away. This album featured his ongoing collaboration with some amazing Jazz musicians such as the amazing saxophonist Bradford Marsalis.

Sting spent time in South America and one of the most powerful songs on the album, They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo) is a powerful metaphor referring to mourning Chilean women who dance the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, alone with photographs of their disappeared loved ones in their hands as a symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 (Wikipedia).

They Dance Alone (Cueca Solo)  is a chilling and powerful song, hut the for me one of the most powerful and beautiful song on this album is the song Fragile. It always bring a couple tears to  my eyes when I listen.

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime’s argument
That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could

For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

– Sting

I love to attend live concerts, especially when I was in my 20s and 30s (yup I am older now!) and one of the most memorable concerts I attended was when I saw Sting and his band (including Bradford Marsalis) play at the RPI Fieldhouse when I lived in Upstate New York. He was touring for the Nothing Like the Sun album and played many songs from the album as well as classic songs from when he was with The Police.

I remember nearly falling over a railing I was holding on when he came out shirtless with just an acoustic guitar to sing Message in a Bottle as one of the encores with the audience joining him in harmony midway through the song.

It would have been quite a fall and I would not be blogging to you right now so it was good I paid attention at the last minute!

I found this obscure video on YouTube which was likely from that tour, to give you a sample of my experience except Sting is fully clothed in this video (smile):

Innervisions – Stevie Wonder

I grew up listening to Stevie Wonder as I primarily listened to whatever my parents were playing on their turnable which was usually R&B, Jazz or Blues. I remember watching the Grammys as a small child and it seemed like he was always awarded Grammys.

He did receive a Grammy in the mid 1970s for the incredible album, but I did not really appreciate the depth of Stevie Wonder’s greatness and talent until I was an adult.

I think sometime in my 30s I bought the CD Innervisions just to add it to a library I was building of classic albums and ended up falling completely in love with the album and realizing his genius.

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image credit – discogs.com

The album is an incredible masterpiece and I think it is best appreciated listening from start to finish. I do not have a favorite song on this album as each song is a work of musical art.

Here is a sample courtesy of YouTube:

Wait a minute. I do have a favorite song from this incredible album – the sad but beautiful  All in Love is Fair. I always have it on my iPhone playlist.

Degüello – ZZ Top

I first heard of ZZ Top in the 1980s during their “Pop Music” MTV phase with songs like Sharp Dressed Man and Gimme All Your Lovin. But in the early 1990s, while living in Houston, Texas, some friends at a dinner party one night introduced me to their earlier work to include the completely bad*ss album – Deguello!

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image credit – amazon.com

When I first heard the songs La Grange, I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide, Cheap Sunglasses, etc. I was blown away!

Here’s a little sample courtesy of YouTube:

And yes, I had to stand up from my sewing machine on some of the songs and dance about the room. But during the song La Grange I was able to just sing “Hmm, hmm, hmm” in a gravely voice while still sewing!

If you like rock, like real yummy Texas Bluesy Rock, here’s another sample for you (but don’t try to craft/knit/sew to it or you might mess up your piece – ha!):

There is currently a pretty cool documentary about ZZ Top currently on Netflix called The Little Ol’ Band From Texas

I lived in Texas for 8 years and it is like living in another country outside the United States – it really is a unique place with a distinct culture! Everyone needs to visit Texas at least once in their life!

And More Music…

I was originally going to discuss 5 or more albums on this post but I knew I might lose a couple of peoples’ attention if I kept running on about albums (hey Tierney isn’t this supposed to be a blog about crafting?!?!).

But here is a list of some of the other albums I enjoyed listening to in their entirety while I worked on my endless half square triangle quilt:

  • Brothers in Arms – Dire Straits
  • The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
  • Zebop – Santana
  • What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
  • Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
  • Kind of Blue – Miles Davis
  • Too Long in Exile – Van Morrison
  • Ten – Pearl Jam
  • Legend – Bob Marley & The Wailers
  • Tapestry – Carole King
  • Court & Spark – Joni Mitchell
  • A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
  • Talking Book – Stevie Wonder
  • At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash

Listening to great music gives me a lot of comfort during these challenging times and inspires me to keep sewing!


Postscript

Now if you prefer listening spoken word over music for your crafting and you enjoy podcasts, I’d like to recommend a new podcast by one of my blogging buddies, author Tammie Painter: The Book Owl Podcast.

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image credit: thebookowlpodcast.com

I’ve been following Tammie’s blog for a while and it was fun to actually hear her voice!

Currently there are only two episodes (well three if you count the introduction episode) and I’ve highly enjoyed them both. She takes a topic related to books/literature and presents her research in a humorous and engaging way.

You can find the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. I used Apple podcasts and I was able to pull up the podcast through the Podcast app on my iPhone.

Of course I hope this puts pressure on Tammie to give us another episode soon (smile)!


Feature Photo by MARK S. on Unsplash

Books, Music, Podcasts, Creative Inspiration

Creative Strength Training

Before we dive into the topic of this post, I just wanted to follow up from yesterday’s post No Scrap Left Behind (half square triangle craziness).

The design wall is now empty:

2020-04-15_16-19-27_925Don’t panic, I’ve did not give up on the project I blogged about yesterday. Instead I removed all the half square triangles (HSTs) made from scrap triangles so they could be trimmed:

2020-04-15_16-19-21_786And I got a whole lotta trimming to do! There are 5 different sizes of HSTs: 5.5″, 4.5″, 3.5″, 2.5″, and 2″that make up this quilt pattern. For example, I need 200 2″ squares.

I thought about making it sort of freeform/improvisational, but I really want to make the pattern as written, so I am going to do the tedious work of trimming (I mean what else am I doing with my time during my social distancing/isolation/pandemic times?) all the HSTs to their respective sizes.

Yesterday I actually started trimming and making piles…

2020-04-15_16-19-32_428So unless you want to see a slow record of my continuing growing piles of HSTs in various sizes, I am not going to update you on this project until I get all the HSTs (hundreds of them!) cut to size and start laying the quilt out.

So onto other things, like something yummy and inspirational to listen to while you are crafting/creating…


Creative Strength Training

Last year I bought this awesome book by Jane Dunnewold – Creative Strength Training: Prompts, Exercises and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius.

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Image credit – https://www.artelements.net/book-review-creative-strength-training/

But I have yet to open the book and read it.

Then I discovered that the author has posted on YouTube the complete audiobook read by the author!

You can locate this free audiobook on her YouTube Channel –Jane Dunnewold.

Go to Playlists tab and look for “Creative Strength Training Audiobook”. There will be 22 videos each with different sections of the book.

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The audiobook is absolutely amazing and I’ve been listening to it on long walks. I can’t wait to actual work through the exercises (which I’ve done in my head while walking) in the actual book.

Yes it is slightly cumbersome to listen using YouTube as chapters are broken up into individual YouTube videos (which are audio only) but what a wonderful gift the author has shared.

I love the personal stories by the author as well as from other artists. It just makes me want to create (and makes me want to someday rewrite my Artist Statement).

If you need some artistic inspiration I highly recommend this free audiobook. If you love the audiobook, consider buying the paperback book to work through the exercises and support the author.


Feature Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

 

Books, Music, Podcasts

Good Listens in 2019

Happy New Year!

It’s been a long time since I had a post in my series of posts Audiobooks and Podcasts. So I thought my first post of 2020 would be a recap of some of my favorite audiobook listens in 2019.

I constantly listen to audiobooks, especially on my twice a day dog walks and while crafting. Occasionally I listen to fiction but my favorite genre is non fiction, especially books related to personal growth.

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Below I share my favorite listens in 2019 along with a link to the Publishers Weekly or or Amazon.com book review; and a quote from the book that resonated with me.

Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynne Jackson

“Souls have deep connections and unique contracts that span centuries, exist back and forth in time, and bind us in ways we can’t really understand…. These connections are ancient and everlasting, and they already exist in our hearts, even if we’re not always aware of them.”

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

“Psychotherapy research shows that when individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings.”

Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life by Gary John Bishop

“Love the life you have, not the one you expected to have.”

Everything is Figureoutable: How One Simple Belief Can Help Us Overcome Any Obstacle and Create Unstoppable Success by Marie Forleo

“I win or I learn, but I never lose.”

Digital Minimalism: On Living Better with Less Technology by Cal Newport

“Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

“Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.”

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

“What did it matter if something scared you, when it simply had to be done?”

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

I discussed this book in my 5/13/19 post New Library Stack and Option B

“Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens

I discussed this book in my 2/16/19 post Soup’s On

“When real transformation does occur in someone’s life, it usually happens through evolution, not revolution. Every time we make a choice to confront our fear, our character evolves and we become more courageous. Every time we make a choice to move through pain to pursue a purpose larger than ourselves, our character evolves and we become wiser. Every time we make a choice to move through suffering, our character evolves and we become stronger.”

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

“We’re more than the sum total of our choices, that all the paths we might have taken factor somehow into the math of our identity.”

I listened to more audiobooks that those listed above in 2019, but these were my favorites!

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Feature Photo by Tomasz Gawłowski on Unsplash

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

The (Ridiculously Large) Library Stack

Hmmm…

I might have overdone it this time with my public library stack:

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Last time I had an entry my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my stack of borrowed books from my local public library was May 2019, 6 months ago.

As I shared in my August 19th post, Morning Walk in Black and White, this summer I moved from my apartment to a house sharing situation – 35 miles away but still in the greater Denver metropolitan area.

When I moved, I had to change libraries as I moved to a new county. I really liked my public library in the first area of Denver, Colorado in which I lived (see post New Library in My Life!) and I was bummed to leave the sweet little library I could walk to.

My current library at my new housing situation is not too bad (and I can walk to it), the only thing is they do not have a good selection of crafting or home decor books (two of my favorite genres to borrow from the library).

However I discovered their online interlibrary loan system across the entire Denver metro area (numerous counties) and BAM – I now have access to lots of great titles.

Unfortunately I went a little “online-borrowing-request-crazy” and put too many books on hold at the same time through the online interlibrary loan system.

And they all came in at once…

Here is the new stack of the interlibrary loan books (they were quite the cumbersome stack to carry out of the library after check out):

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And here is the existing stack I already had at the house of library books:

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So when you combine them together you get this: The Ridiculously Large Library Stack!

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I was not even sure when to store all 18 books I have out on library loan.

Storing them in the sitting/reading room seemed like the best idea:

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Library books everywhere!

This morning I attacked the stack over breakfast…

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Lesson learned – I will not be so enthusiastic in reserving a large number online interlibrary book loans at once!

(Or I could just quit my job and read library books for a living…)

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

New Library Stack and Option B

NEW Library Stack

I am ready to continue my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my stack of borrowed books from my local public library. This is my first stack from my NEW local library in the Denver greater metro area!

I live within walking distance of a public library branch and last week I wandered over and selected my first stack! It was so fun to walk back home with my stack:

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So far I’ve finished browsing through the books The Quilting Arts Idea Book by Vivika Hansen Denegre and Global Bohemian by Fifi O’Neill. I enjoyed both of these books immensely! Lots of art quilt and decorating inspiration!

As my library is so close, I will probably keep my library stacks small instead of the mega library stacks I used to borrow from previous Central Oregon public library (which I transported home by car). I love the idea of being able to quickly walk to the library!

Option B

It’s been a while since I shared a recent audiobook listen and I am currently listening to a fantastic audiobook (borrowed from the library of course) – Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resistance, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

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If Sheryl Sandberg’s name sounds familiar, she is the former Google executive and Facebook Chief Operations Officer who wrote the wildly popular book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Several years following her success from that book and becoming an internationally known speaker, writer and business mogul, her beloved husband suddenly and unexpectedly passed, just like how I lost my husband in December 2018.

This book is about how she faced her grief, rebuilt her life and achieved “post-traumatic growth”. The interesting thing is I tried to read this book over a year ago (before my loss) and lost interest in it after a couple chapters. Now I am devouring it and gaining a lot of insight.

I can relate on so many level to what Sheryl Sandberg shares in her first hand account of experiencing one of the most awful things that can happen to you – losing your life partner. I do not think I was ready to read/listen to this book until now. I like to think that the Universe is helping give me what I need when I am ready for it.

What is Option B? Well Option A would be for your loved one to still be alive. But Option A is not available. So you have to find your Option B.

“Option A is not available. so let’s just kick the sh*t out of Option B.”
“Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B.”

I will close out this post with a couple additional quotes from this powerful book.

“Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. It comes from gratitude for what’s good in our lives and from leaning in to the suck. It comes from analyzing how we process grief and from simply accepting that grief. Sometimes we have less control than we think. Other times we have more. I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.”

“…post-traumatic growth could take five different forms: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.”

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”

Finally, here is one of my favorite quotes from the book so far:

“I am more vulnerable than I thought, but much stronger than I ever imagined.”

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

New Library in My Life!

How do you know someone is a good friend?

You know because they endure you totally geeking out over your new public library!

If you’ve been a follower of this blog for more than a couple months you know what a Public Library Nut I am. I do have a whole series of posts – The Library Stack – about my current library loans.

While I was visiting the Greater Denver Colorado Metro area March 20 to March 24 to find an apartment to rent, I checked out the local public library in the area where my new selected apartment resided.

My friend Michele endured me chatting with the library staff, getting a tour of the library and totally geeking out over a new 700 section to explore! She was extremely patient!

What I could not believe is the library allowed me to get my new library card before I actually moved there, I just had to give them my new address:

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To me a library card is like gold!

Here is a little taste of my new library which is walking distance of my new apartment!

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So much crafting book yumminess awaiting me at my new library!

They also had a cool section called “Lucky Day” where the latest releases of books and movies were available first come first serve. They cannot be renewed and these are copies that cannot be put on hold when they are in the “Lucky Day” section. While looking at the “Lucky Day” section I chatted with a library patron who was very excited about her lucky new release find!

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So as I am wandering around my new neighborhood I can peek into the library whenever I am nearby and see if it is my “lucky day”!

Now some of you might be thinking: “wow, she has no life”. What can I say, ever since I was a preteen I have been in love with the library, it is a sanctuary!


Postscript

I continue to spend my evenings packing but I made it through packing my books and magazines and now I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Last evening I worked on packing my kitchen and realized I had a pathological amount of spatulas. I did not realize I had some sort of spatula obsession. I did pare it down to just two. If I suddenly need more spatulas, I am sure they have more in Colorado!

Books, Music, Podcasts, Quality of Life, The Library Stack

Library MEGA Stack!

Before I begin this post, I just want to reach out to my NZ blogging friends and let you know I am thinking of you. I am so sorry to hear of the recent terrible tragedy in your beautiful country.


The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind and I have lots to blog about in the next several posts:

  • I’ve visited friends in Gig Harbor, Washington and attended the Sew & Stitchery Expo;
  • Returned to Seattle again for a brief business trip, met with the City of Seattle, toured the and got to tour the gallery space for my first solo show in April;
  • Continue to prep for my big move to Colorado at the end of April (see series of posts Colorado Bound); and
  • In the near future I travel to Denver to visit a friend and tour 10 (yes 10) rentals I’ve researched for my future home (looking between Boulder and Denver, CO and in a future post in my Colorado Bound series I will share more about how I got to 10).

Should I also mention need to create a piece for an invitational only juried show that I really want to get into? I was invited in the Fall of 2018, before my husband passed away in December 2018. I will see after my visit to the Denver area to find my housing if I think I can whip out an art quilt before the closing of the show entry date on June 15.

In between all this mixture of fun and crazy schedule, I am still grieving the loss of my partner of more than 1/2 my life, Terry the Quilting Husband.

I was having a rough patch of grief earlier this week and I had a wonderful conversation with one of the physicians I work with, Liz, who is also a friend. She strongly suggested that I take some “self-care” time and slow my life down a bit.

I decided to take her advice and had a “Self-Care Saturday” yesterday which involved a visit to my local library to get a MEGA library stack!

So let’s continue my ongoing (and long-time neglected) series – The Library Stack – in which I share my stack of borrowed books from my beloved local public library (and in the next couple of months will have to change to the Denver or Boulder area public library system).

Leisurely Lounging, Library & Lunch

By Thursday of last week I decided that Saturday was only going to be for me. I was going to relax and have fun. A dear friend invited me to have breakfast with her on Saturday and I declined telling her I was “busy”. As much as I would have enjoyed her company, I wanted to keep my commitment to myself (I was “busy” – I was busy taking care of myself).

Saturday morning, Mike the miniature schnauzer and I spent hours leisurely lounging in bed (including breakfast in bed for me) and binge watching documentaries on space and astrophysics – two of my favorite documentary topics.

Here we are binge watching, but I think Mike is just napping – ha!

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Of course maybe Mike’s giant schnauzer cushion is blocking his view of the television…

After a couple documentaries, Mike and I headed out for a long walk around the neighborhood.

Then I headed out for a special treat – to return to my local downtown library and spend an hour browsing in my favorite sections – crafting and home decorating.

Here is the crazy MEGA library stack of borrowed books that resulted from my leisurely browsing:

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A couple of the books are repeat loans but most of them are new to me. It appears the library acquired more yummy crafting and home decor books while I was away for a couple months!

After my library browsing, I took myself to lunch (yummy tapas) and brought one of my library books along to start reading while I ate my delicious patatas bravas and rockfish taco:

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A solitary lunch with a good book can be quite exquisite.

The New Bohemians Handbook

I’ve borrowed Justina Blackeney’s book The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes, several times in the past from my library.

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image credit: amazon.com

How delightful it was to discover during my library browsing that she has a new book: The New Bohemians Handbook: Come Home to Good Vibes:

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image credit: amazon.com

I loved her previous book and this new book is excellent timing for me to discover as soon I will be working on decorating my new apartment (which will be much smaller than my current home).

The “Bohemian” style really appeals to me. I’ve always referred to my style of interior decorating as “cozy and random”. I think “Bohemian” sounds even better!

In this book the author proposes that there is a “deep connection between home decor and well-being”. She recommends five (5) processes to achieve that sense of well-being with your home decor:

  • Clarity
  • Flow
  • Spirit
  • Growth
  • Harmony

It was a wonderful book to read and browse through during my delicious lunch at a local Tapas Eatery.

I look forward to finishing the book and working my way through the rest of the MEGA Library Stack!

I believe creativity and good vibes can save the world.

– Justina Blakeney, The New Bohemians Handbook

A Crafter Needs to Eat, Books, Music, Podcasts

Soup’s On

Homemade chicken noodle soup, with homemade stock – this was my big accomplishment for the later part of this week.

I love cook and bake but my cooking and baking (until recently, see previous post Valentines) have been on hold since my husband suddenly died in December 2018.

For the past couple of months I’ve been living on what I could forage at Whole Foods (well at least it was a recently healthy diet). Many very kind and thoughtful friends and coworkers gave me Whole Foods gift cards after my husband died.

At first I would just get food at the Whole Foods hot food bar and sit in the supermarket dining area and eat so I would not have to dine alone every night. Luckily that got old after a while (plus the hot bar food is charged per pound and is rather “spendy” unless you only get really light food…) and I started buying groceries to take home.

But I was only buying groceries for quick prepare meals and it seemed like I lived on avocado toast, boiled eggs, Miso soup, and hummus with carrots for a couple weeks.

My diet was fairly vegetarian and the thought of meat turned my stomach, but earlier this week I was really craving some hard core protein. So armed with the remaining funds on the last of my Whole Food gift cards, I bought a whole cooked rotisserie chicken.

After a couple days of chicken, chicken, chicken, I was trying to decide what to do with the rest of the bird. I convinced myself to not only make homemade chicken noodle soup but to make my own from scratch chicken stock with the carcass, something I’ve never done before.

I found this wonderful recipe online: Easy Chicken Noodle Soup from Leftover Roasted Chicken on the chowhound.com cooking website.

Here is the stock simmering with the cut up and browned rotisserie chicken carcass:

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Here is the strained stock:

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The soup made with my homemade stock simmering (and the house smells so good):

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And finally a yummy bowl of my very own homemade chicken noodle soup!

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I’ve made homemade chicken noodle soup before but with store bought chicken stock or chicken bouillon base. Soup with my own homemade chicken stock tasted very different – It is pretty darn delicious!

One of the best things I learned from the Chowhound recipe is that you have to cook the noodles separately – do not try to cook them in the soup. You boil them per package instructions in their own pot and then add the cooked noodles to the soup. If you try to cook the noodles with the soup you will get what I’ve experienced in the past – a pasty mess of noodles!

Of course this recipe made a lot of soup so now my life is chicken soup, chicken soup, chicken soup – but it seems to be satisfying my soul (smile).


Postscript

I’m currently listening to an amazing audiobook – Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life by Eric Greitens. 

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image credit: amazon.com

I did not think I would be at the point now where I would be interested in reading any “Self-Improvement” books but this one caught my eye when I was browsing my local library’s audiobook loan offerings online.

Goodreads has a wonderful synopsis of the book:

You cannot bounce back from hardship. You can only move through it. There is a path through pain to wisdom, through suffering to strength, and through fear to courage if we have the virtue of resilience.

In 2012, Eric Greitens unexpectedly heard from a former SEAL comrade, a brother-in-arms he hadn’t seen in a decade. Zach Walker had been one of the toughest of the tough. But ever since he returned home from war to his young family in a small logging town, he d been struggling. Without a sense of purpose, plagued by PTSD, and masking his pain with heavy drinking, he needed help. Zach and Eric started writing and talking nearly every day, as Eric set down his thoughts on what it takes to build resilience in our lives.

Eric’s letters drawing on both his own experience and wisdom from ancient and modern thinkers are now gathered and edited into this timeless guidebook. Resilience explains how we can build purpose, confront pain, practice compassion, develop a vocation, find a mentor, create happiness, and much more. Eric s lessons are deep yet practical, and his advice leads to clear solutions.

We all face pain, difficulty, and doubt. But we also have the tools to take control of our lives. Resilience is an inspiring meditation for the warrior in each of us.

It is a pretty powerful book even if it took listening to a chapter or two to get me engaged. Although the book is based on letters from one Navy Seal to another Navy Seal suffering from PTSD who also recently lost his brother to an auto accident, the messages in this book are quite universal.

I’ll close this post with a quote from this powerful book:

Smiling and breathing. These are simple things. Exercising and serving. These are simple things. Being grateful and gracious. These are simple things. Acting with humility. Acting with courage. These are simple things. Some people try to make this business of living too complicated

Eric Greitens, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life

 

Books, Music, Podcasts

Audio Gems

I continue to listen to audiobooks non-stop on my daily walks, primarily non-fiction and usually with a self-improvement or growth theme (if you liked to browse my previous posts on my audiobooks listens checked my blog Audiobooks and Podcasts category ).

Recently I finished the audiobook, read by the author Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles by Gabrielle Bernstein; and I am currently listening to My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander.

There many “gems” of wisdom in the book Spirit Junkie and so far My Morning Routine is also filled with gems. I thought I would share two gems with you from these books.

Gem #1 – From Spirit Junkie

The author Gabrielle Bernstein is a student of the spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson. I’ve heard Marianne Williamson’s famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

But I did not realize it was a poem called Our Deepest Fear.

In her book, Gabrielle Bernstein shares the full poem which I found to be exceptionally powerful.

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

(Source: https://www.personalgrowthcourses.net)

Pretty powerful stuff in my opinion!

Gem #2 – From My Morning Routine

The second gem is from my current audiobook listen, My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day. In this audiobook, the authors share Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues. I’ve never heard of these before and I am blown away to learn that Benjamin Franklin, one of the U.S. Founding Fathers, created them at age 20 as a way to develop his character.  

  1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

(Source: http://www.thirteenvirtues.com)

I wish I had been that enlightened at age 20!

Imagine our world if everyone created their own set of virtues for themselves, to develop their character, while they were a young adult!


Feature Image: Photo by Krystal Ng on Unsplash

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

The Library Stack

I am continuing my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my stack of borrowed books from my beloved local public library. This will be my last library stack for a while – I will explain later in this post.

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The Stack

One of my favorite books in this stack was A Year Between Friends: 3191 Miles Apart: Crafts, Recipes, Letters, and Stories (2016) by Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes.

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Image credit: 3191milesapart.com

Two friends who met through an online photography site, one living in Portland Oregon and the other in Portland Maine, formed a close bond 3191 miles apart. This book shares their letters, stories, recipes, and crafts. It is a beautiful story of friendship with wonderful photos and stories.

Enjoying the Stack

One of my favorite weekend morning activities is to sit in my quilt and afghan covered old chair in the front window, with tea, and browse a stack of books:

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I realize it looks messy in this photo but I was in my “happy place”

I used to make a pot of tea that I set on a warmer, but I discovered that my tea will keep just as well in a thermos!

Buying a Library Book, Literally

I decided to purchase one of the books from my previous library stack (see post Library Stackings) and found it used online. When it arrived, turns out – it was a library book!

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I now actually own a library book!

I was laughing when I looked at the receipt and saw it was from the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library.

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Our library in Central Oregon, Deschutes Public Library, also has a “Friends of the Library” organization that raises money for the library through used book sales. How cool I bought a used book from another library to support it!

Then to my surprise when I opened the book, it was stamped by yet another library – this time in Las Vegas, Nevada!

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So I book I borrowed from my library, that I decided to buy used, came from another library’s book sale fundraising activities that they got from another library! Wild, eh?

Taking a Break from Library Stacks

I’ve decided to take a break indefinitely from borrowing craft and home decorating books from the library. Instead I am going to focus on spending time with my extensive library of craft books (see my old posts Craft Book Hoarder?!?!? and Craft Book Purge).

To give you an idea of how many craft books I’ve collected over the year, here is our guest room with all my books and magazines in piles and baskets as we prepared to replace our 20+ year old bookcases with new IKEA bookcases:

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So maybe I will start a series of posts where I talk about the books in my collection, instead of the libraries!


Postscript

This is sort of a follow up to the post Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art and Science of Forest Bathing.

Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH) and I were laughing hysterical when we came across this recliner at a local store the other week:

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Now no judgement directed towards someone who finds this chair appealing, but what gave me a laugh was that if you really wanted to feel like you were “bathing” in the forest while sitting in your living room, this chair would be the perfect solution!

 

Books, Music, Podcasts, Quality of Life

Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art and Science of Forest Bathing

A couple weeks ago I finished an amazing audiobook: Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness (2018) by Dr. Qing Li.

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image credit: penguin random house

This book discusses shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing”), the Japanese therapeutic practice of spending time in the forest/woods for healing and wellness.

A definition of shinrin-yoku according to the Timber Press blog is:

…shinrin-yoku is the practice of walking slowly through the woods, in no hurry, for a morning, an afternoon or a day.

I listened to this amazing audiobook each morning as I walked through the trees lines streets of surrounding neighborhoods.

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I already love trees and this book made me love and appreciate trees even more. Dr. Li discusses their healing powers in depth and the science behind it.  Here is a review on amazon.com that provides a wonderful overview of this book:

This book by Dr. Qing Li, Chairman of the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine, describes a medical technology landmark. The description starts with the natural pleasant sensation that many people have, while spending time in a forest. The five human senses can all come into play – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. The book then turns to aspects of healing. These include; reduced blood pressure, improved cardiovascular and metabolic activity, lower blood sugar levels, increasing the count of natural killer cells, and increasing production of anti-cancer proteins. These have been scientifically observed by comparing the profiles of people who have engaged in forest therapy with the profiles of control groups. The former significantly outrank the latter. This leads to a fundamental question. Is there a physically identifiable emanation in a forest that carries the healing power? The answer suggested is “yes”. It is called phytoncide and is produced by trees to protect them from afflictions. Scientific studies have shown that phytoncides can be of benefit to humans as well. While research is ongoing we should regard available evidence as pointing to a medical technology landmark.

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One of the most magical places I’ve ever visited is the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

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image credit: sevenwondersofwashingtonstate.com

Dr. Li mentions the Hoh Rain Forest in his book and that it is one of the quietest places on earth. It contains One Square Inch, a sanctuary for silence. According to the website: “It is an independent research project located in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park, which is one of the most pristine, untouched, and ecologically diverse environments in the United States”.

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“Hall of Mosses”, image credit: sevenwondersofwashingtonstate.com

If you have a moment, “google” images of the Hoh Rain Forest and you will find them amazing.

I feel so lucky to have spent a day wandering around the Hoh Rain Forest many years ago when we lived in Seattle and went on an Olympic Peninsula adventure. Now after listening to this audiobook I am planning a return trip to do some “forest bathing”.

Although I do not have a rainforest or a beautiful Japanese forest to wander through for my “forest bathing”, I have many wonderful tree-lined streets as well as woods to walk in Central Oregon.

Each day I go for my morning meditative walk and audiobook listen among the trees. Here are some of closeups of some of the trees I “bathe in” each morning during my walk (photographs taken as I walked under them):2018-09-02_11-35-10_9622018-09-15_11-59-31_9542018-09-13_12-18-05_228Listening to this audiobook on my walks, I wanted to honor and even touch each tree I passed and thank it for what is brings to the environment.

Trees are so unbelievably important and this book will give you a deep appreciation for Nature’s natural nurturing healers.

Involuntary attention requires no mental effort, it just comes naturally. This is the kind of attention we use when we are in nature. The soothing sights and sounds give our mental resources a break. They allow our minds to wander and to reflect, and so restore our capacity to think more clearly. – Dr. Qing Li


Postscript

A quick follow up to the post What’s on the Design Wall: Serious Progress on Tango Stripe!

This is what happens when you do not sew your blocks together right away – they start falling to the floor!

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I woke up yesterday morning to find blocks strewn about the floor. This was a tad irritating as I had to start over figuring out the layout in several sections (the quilt fits together like a puzzle) – I needed a walk in the forest to calm down (smile)!

So after work today I worked on sewing the piece together (at least large sections so that if they fall of the design wall, they will fall as a unit!) and will post in the future the completed quilt top.

Books, Music, Podcasts, The Library Stack

Library Stackings

I am behind in continuing my ongoing series, The Library Stack, sharing my stack of borrowed books from my beloved local public library.

Two library stacks (and a mini stack) have been browsed and returned to the library since my last post (luckily I remembered to take photos) and I have a current stack I will post about after I finish my reading/browsing.

Stack 1

Here is the oldest of the stacks that have been enjoyed and returned:

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The book that really stood out in this pile was Faux Appliqué (2008) by Helen Stubbings:

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image credit: amazon.com

I loved the idea of the Colourqué® technique: using colored pencils to re-create the look of intricate appliqué.

Stack 2

After returning this stack to the library, I accidentally discovered a new section to browse while looking for a cookbook – the Sewing Section!

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I did not realize there a separate sewing section in the library’s Non-Fiction collection. I usually browse in the quilting, needle arts (knitting, crochet), general craft, and home decorating sections. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new treasure trove of sewing/crafting books!

Trying to be reasonable in my selections, here was the resulting library stack after my new discovery:

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The book that really stood out for me in this stack was 50 Little Gifts: Easy Patchwork Projects to Give or SwapPaperback (2018), Compiled by Susanne Woods:

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image credit: amazon.com

There were so many projects I wanted to make in this book that I just broke down and bought it.

Another book that intrigued me was DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community (2016) Paperback by Gabriela Pereira:

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image credit: amazon.com

8 years ago I finished my MBA (Masters in Business Administration) because it was an appropriate graduate program for the work I am employed. However my dream would have been to get my Masters in Fine Arts (MFA). If money were no option and I did not have to work for a living, I would love to get my MFA!

Then I discovered this book which teaches the concepts of the MFA condensed into one book. I started the book, reading about a 1/4th of the book but then had to return it because another library patron had it on hold. I am going to borrow the book from the library again when I have more time to read/work through it.

Stack 3 (Mini Stack)

I picked up a miniature stack (one book) when I stopped by the library to return the above stack (are you impressed with my self-control?):

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The title of this book cracked me up and the cat themed crafts were over the top (there is a cat head skirt pattern that only someone truly obsessed with cats would make much less wear).

Okay so those are the stacks that I forgot to post and stay tuned for a future post on my current library stack.