Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Read: September


September was a great reading month! I liked almost everything I read. I didn't just read the five books pictured...I also read three other books through Hoopla. (It's a free service through my local library, so you can see if your library uses it or something similar.) One was an ebook (though I knew I would hate the format, and I did), and two were audiobooks.

I tried audiobooks a couple of years ago but it never clicked for me. I didn't have a cell phone at the time so I had to listen at my computer, which was not convenient, so it took me months to get through one audiobook. I decided to try them again, this time downloading them to my phone so I can listen while I cook, clean, etc. And I love it! I definitely still prefer real books, but I think this is going to be really useful for rereading books or just listening to ones that I can't get my hands on otherwise. It makes me feel so productive to be "reading" while I'm doing other things. So while I will never actually purchase an audiobook, I'm really glad that I gave them another shot through borrowing them from my library.

As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews!

I'm a Stranger Here Myself, by Bill Bryson. I have to take Bill Bryson in small doses! This book thankfully had much less of his usual profanity and crass humor, so that was a good thing. (It's a collection of articles, so I guess he had to tone that down.) Some of the chapters were really funny, like the one about going to the beach, but a lot of them were mediocre.

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro. I picked this one up because I'm a Sherlock fan. It held my interest but unfortunately it just wasn't that special or memorable! I also didn't like the bad language or drug use.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm finally rereading the Lord of the Rings again this year! I'm participating in a read along on Instagram and the slower pace is working well for me. I did just reread The Hobbit a couple of times within the last few years, with the movies coming out and all, so it felt like it was dragging a few times. Still love the humor and characters though!

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I didn't love this book like a lot of people seemed to, but it was really fun! Ridiculous and maybe longer than it needed to be, but still fun and quirky and I liked the pop culture references.

Hunger, by Roxane Gay. (Audiobook, not pictured.) I've heard this author mentioned a lot lately, and this book was the one of hers that I was most likely to pick up. My main feeling about it was that it was really sad! She went through some horrible things and I really thought there was going to be a more conclusive, positive ending, but no...she's still hurting and still struggling. So yes, all very sad. I went into a lot more detail in my review.

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale. (Audiobook, not pictured.) I've been meaning to reread the first two books in this series for a long time, so I can finally read the third book! I've always loved this book, and this time was no exception. I did have a few pet peeves about the audiobook itself though. (Miri's voice was so young and annoying, and the songs at the beginning of the chapters felt out of place.)

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It; by Gail Carson Levine. (Ebook, not pictured.) Gail Carson Levine has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid. This book was on my radar but I'd never had the chance to read it. Since it was very short, I decided to read it as an ebook on my phone. I hated the ebook format, but the book itself had its moments. It's a collection of false apology poems, so it's super short. Some of them were very funny and some were mediocre!

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I liked this one even better than the first one! Probably because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. :) It sticks pretty close to the original story but with a supernatural subplot and the Brontes are intertwined, which was pretty clever. Again, I liked the humor and pop culture references (lots of Princess Bride ones!).

Monday, September 3, 2018

What I Read: August


August wasn't as wonderful of a reading month as July, but it was still decent! I read six books, one of which was a reread. I also started a book but gave up on it. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar: And Six More, by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl is such a good writer. No matter what he's writing about, he always manages to make you interested! I wasn't really looking forward to this book, but I'd owned it a long time so finally decided to pick it up. Short story collections tend to be a mixed bag, and as I expected, I liked about half of these and didn't care for the rest (more details in my review). Worth picking up if you're a big fan of Roald Dahl!

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, by Alan Bradley. I liked this one much better than the last one...it feels more like the series usually does. I really enjoyed it, but I did not like the ending! I can't believe that happened.

A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz. This is another one that's been on my shelves for far too long! Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to. It's part memoir, and I just found the author to be really annoying most of the time. It was also sort of repetitive and I feel like it could have been much shorter than it was.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. I finally got around to reading this illustrated edition that I bought last fall! Fall just puts me in the mood to read all the Harry Potter books and watch all the HP movies, so this cozy reread was perfect. The illustrated edition is gorgeous, of course, and this is one of my favorites of the series.

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby. This book was very strange. I couldn't really decide how I felt about it until it was over! I really liked it though. It's supposed to be magic realism, but it was more like quirky contemporary YA mashed up with fairy tale. It was all over the place, but somehow it worked?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling. I never would have expected it, but I actually enjoyed Quidditch through the Ages more than this one! It was just a sort of boring glossary of magical creatures. Still worth a read though, since it's part of the Harry Potter universe. :)



Did not finish: Tracy and Hepburn, by Garson Kanin. I tend to accumulate classic movie star books, and I bought this one at a library sale years ago. I got over 100 pages into but just had no desire to continue! I love Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn together in movies, but this book was just sort of boring and the stories told seemed so insignificant. The book is really about them separately, not as a couple. The only interesting thing I learned was that Spencer Tracy was so against going to the Oscars when he was nominated and sure he was going to lose that he scheduled a hernia surgery for that time so he wouldn't have to. Then he won, ha!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Knitting: birthday socks.


These are the socks I knitted for my Mom's birthday earlier this month! They're pretty basic, so not that much to say about them. The main speckled yarn is KnitPicks Hawthorne Speckle in the Birthday Cake colorway. I used scraps for the heels and toes...I wanted to do both pink but didn't have enough yarn! (I don't like pink so I only buy it for projects for my mom.) The pink toes are KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in High Tea, and the heels are the same in Poppy Fields. I think they turned out pretty cute! :)

Ravelry project page.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What I Read: July


July was a great reading month! I read more than usual (seven books in total), and I loved nearly everything I read. Very satisfying. :) As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews!

Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry is my dad's favorite author, so while I've been buying his books as gifts for my dad for years, I had never actually read any of them myself! I did really enjoy this. It's slow moving, but it felt so realistic and the writing style is very nice. I definitely plan on reading more of his books!

I'll Have What She's Having, by Erin Carlson. I loved this book. It was such a fun read with lots of behind the scenes details from one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail! (Plus Sleepless in Seattle, which I also enjoy a lot.) Many more details in my review.

Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, by Wendell Berry. My first dip into Berry's nonfiction, and it was very thought provoking (but occasionally over my head!). This is a tiny collection of two of his essays that are connected to each other...the second one is a sort of response to the first one.

Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. So this is the end of my first complete read through the Anne series! It was such a nice conclusion. It didn't feel like an Anne book at times to me, because it's set during WWI and is a lot darker than most of the other books. But the pretty writing and lovable characters are still there! I cried multiple times during this book. (Basically anything related to Dog Monday turned me into a baby...)

The Good People, by Hannah Kent. Just like her first book, Burial Rites, this book was dark and atmospheric and haunting and impossible to put down. I didn't really know much about it going in. It's set in the 1820s in rural Ireland, in a community of people whose Catholic faith is mingled with folklore and beliefs in fairies and changelings. It was depressing and hard to read at times, but so, so good.

Paris, My Sweet, by Amy Thomas. The one book that I read this month that disappointed me! Years ago I went through a spell where I bought lots of travel memoirs, and a lot of them happened to be about Paris. (There seems to be a much higher number of them written about France than about anywhere else!) This is one of the last ones I had left to read. Being someone who loves chocolate (and sweets in general) and travel memoirs, I thought I would love it! But the author was annoying and wishy-washy at times, and it felt sort of shallow.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I read this book about 7 or 8 years ago now. I didn't remember much about it, except that I liked it, and I've planned on rereading it for a long time. With the new movie adaptation, this seemed like a good time! I don't know what took me so long, because I loved this book. It's so charming and funny while still touching on darker topics related to WWII. I can't wait to see the movie!

Friday, July 13, 2018

I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy

 
I loved this book! I expected to like it...I'm one of those people who loves watching special features on a DVD and hearing behind the scenes stories about my favorite movies. You've Got Mail is one of my favorite movies ever, one that I can rewatch a hundred times and never get tired of it. I also really enjoy Sleepless in Seattle a lot. (I had only seen When Harry Met Sally once. After reading this book, I watched it again and while I enjoy certain parts, it's not even close to the same level as the other two are for me!) So obviously this book would appeal to me, but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

First of all, it's not exactly a scholarly study of rom-coms, if that's what the title leads you to believe. There are a few passing references to other ones and certain directors and such, and how modern romantic comedies have and haven't changed from the 1930s and 40s. But mostly it's a tribute (an honest, non-glossy one) to Nora Ephron and the stories of the making of her three most loved movies.

I loved reading all about these movies! I learned so much, and I kept reading out random facts to my husband. (Like, I never knew that her parents were a screenwriting team during Hollywood's Golden Age.) There was so much of interest here. At the very beginning, the writing jumped around a bit and I found it confusing, but then things settled into a mostly chronological order and it was easy to follow. The writing style was clear and descriptive enough to suit this sort of book.

So yes, I highly recommend this book if you're a fan of these three movies. Just keep a notepad handy, because if you're like me, you'll be making a list of movies you want to watch or rewatch while reading this. And I also want to read some of Nora Ephron's works now!

(Really my only complaints are that there wasn't more information about Julie and Julia, because I really love that movie too, and the smattering of f-words in quotes from different people.)
 
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher, and this is my honest review.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

What I Read: June


June was a pretty good reading month, though some of what I read was a bit mediocre. I managed five books, though to be fair two of them were very short and I was already halfway through East of Eden at the beginning of the month. :) As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews!

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. This was a book I'd been wanting to read for at least 10 years now, but I'd always found it too intimidating. I'm so glad I finally picked it up! It was depressing and full of unlikable characters, but I was completely drawn in. This is the kind of book that you don't want to put down, and that you constantly think about even when you're not reading it. I can definitely see why it's considered a classic, and I look forward to reading more Steinbeck!

Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper. I wanted so badly to love this book! But unfortunately I didn't. The story felt dull and the ending was anticlimactic, and it felt like the writing was dumbed down for kids. Very disappointing.

On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan. Mixed feelings about this book! It was a good book, in its way, but it was awkward and uncomfortable to read, and ultimately depressing. I did really like the writing style though, and I thought the story was told in an interesting way.

My Father's Daughter, by Tina Sinatra. Frank Sinatra is one of my favorite singers, and while I knew that his personal life had rough patches...wow. This book was so depressing, mostly due to the fact that apparently his last wife was a horrible person. It was a big mess and Tina really dwells on that here, which took away from the book for me.

The Missing Girl, by Shirley Jackson. I'm a fan of Shirley Jackson, but I didn't really feel that the three short stories in this tiny volume are among her best! I guess it would be a decent introduction though, if you'd never read any of her other work (except The Lottery, which most people seem to have read).

{Just realized I used the word "depressing" to describe three of the five books I read this month, ha.}

Friday, July 6, 2018

Knitting: two pairs of socks.


Here are my two most recently completed sock projects! The first ones I actually finished back in May but never posted here because I was so frustrated with how lackluster the photos kept turning out. These socks are really so vibrant in person, but I feel like they're impossible to take pictures of. They're plain socks with the heel from Hermione's Everyday Socks. The yarn is from Old Soul Fiber Co. and I picked it up at Black Mountain Yarn Shop on our honeymoon! I love how these turned out.

Ravelry project page.

The second pair are once again, plain socks with the Hermione heel. (I just think this heel looks so pretty!) I wasn't very happy with these at first...I didn't like how the colors were pooling, especially considering how pretty this yarn was caked up. But they've grown on me! The main yarn is from HauteKnitYarn, which I bought last year at Carolina Fiber Fest. The colorway is called Bright Copper Kettles, so of course that drew me in. :) The yellow contrasting yarn is KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in the Poppy Fields colorway. I love how perfectly it matches the bits of dark yellow in the other yarn!

Ravelry project page.

Friday, June 8, 2018

What I Read: May


May was a decent reading month! Once again, I read four books: two that I really enjoyed, one that I didn't like, and one reread. As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon. I picked this book up years ago at Goodwill, and it had been sitting on my shelf ever since. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy it very much! I understand what it was trying to do (it's written from the viewpoint of a 15 year old boy with autism), but it just didn't click with me. The writing felt repetitive and I didn't like the bad language. If it hadn't been such a short book, I probably wouldn't have finished it!

The Man in the Brown Suit, by Agatha Christie. Of course I enjoyed this very much! It's one of Christie's earlier books, and it feels a little different. It's more adventure-y than murder mystery-ish, I guess. I was confused for a while, trying to figure out who was who, but once things settled down, I really liked it.

Rainbow Valley, by L.M. Montgomery. It's been three or four years since I read the rest of the Anne of Green Gables series. I think if I had read this one back then, after the others, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. But now it was so nice and comforting to be back in that world! It is a bit misleading for this to be an Anne book, because even Anne's children are more secondary characters in this one. But it was very funny and charming!

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes. This was a reread for me. It's still good, but it felt slightly more repetitive this time. Probably because Kenny and I recently watched The Princess Bride again and watched all of the special features too! The stories about Andre the Giant are still my favorites.

Friday, May 4, 2018

What I Read: April


April was an okay reading month! Once again, I read four books...that seems to be the monthly number I've settled into and that's good with me. :) One of these was a reread. As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews!

Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen. This one wasn't exactly what I expected! After reading the blurb on the back, I thought I knew what it would be about but it turns out the blurb wasn't very accurate. (I went into that more in my review.) The writing was beautiful and the descriptions made me feel like I was there, seeing what the author was seeing. This book is a little out of my comfort zone, and not the sort of thing that I usually read. It's not one that I would be very anxious to pick back up, but while I was reading it, I enjoyed it! (I mostly skimmed the additional stories in the back, Shadows on the Grass. Most of it seemed repetitive from the main book.)

Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers. I absolutely loved this book when I first read it eight years ago. Unfortunately upon rereading it, it wasn't quite as amazing as I remembered, but it's still very charming and sweet! The book Mary Poppins is so different from the Disneyfied movie version: she's vain and snarky and rude, but I still really like her, ha. :) There's a lot of magical imagery in this book.

Jim Wrenn, by William Guerrant. This book was lent to me by a friend in knitting group, and it's actually written by someone I know: a vendor at the same farmer's market where we sell. I enjoyed it very much, though it was definitely pretty sad (lots of deaths and hardships). It was strange but also neat to read about places that I know in my hometown!

Mary Poppins Comes Back, by P.L. Travers. I didn't read this whole book! I don't own an individual copy of this second Mary Poppins book, so I read it from this bind up of the first four books. I did enjoy this, but not as much as the first one. Even though Travers comes up with very creative scenarios, a couple of the chapters in this one felt very similar to ones in the first book. I think I'll enjoy this series more if I spread them out a bit instead of reading them all at once.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Knitting: autumn socks.


These socks took forever. I started them at the beginning of September and just finished them at the end of March! There was a lot going on, and I did knit other things in between. But I'm really glad to have these off the needles. As you can tell by the title, they were supposed to be my fall socks.

The yarn is from Iria Yarn Company, in her tweed sock base in the Sweater Weather colorway. I bought it at Carolina Fiber Fest, and it was so pretty in the skein! When I cast on and started knitting the ribbing, I knew that it was going to pool. So I used the stitch pattern from the Show-off Stranded Socks, which helped change pooling into almost-stripes in a pair of previous socks. It did the same for these until I reached the foot! Then for some reason, the purple and blue all stayed on top and the orange on the bottom, making it look like I stepped in orange paint. :)

So these aren't the prettiest socks I've ever made, but I don't mind too much! I really do like the texture of this stitch pattern, but it makes me fingertips hurt after a while because of all the passing over YOs.

Ravelry project page.

Monday, April 2, 2018

What I Read: March


In March, I read a couple of books that I'd been meaning to read for quite a while! Like last month, I read four books and enjoyed most of what I read. As always, click on the title for my Goodreads review!

Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead. I had previously read When You Reach Me and Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead and really enjoyed both of them. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with this one! I still love the timeless feel of her stories and her writing style...it feels very nostalgic for me. But there were some non-linear chapters in this book that felt confusing and out of place, and I couldn't get past one of the main plot points. More details in my review!

They Do It With Mirrors, by Agatha Christie. I think I'm going to try to unofficially read an Agatha Christie novel every month or two this year. I always enjoy her books so much! This is a Miss Marple mystery, and she's actually very involved right from the beginning in this one, which I appreciate! It wasn't particularly memorable, but I still enjoyed it.

The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank. I may have read part of this as a kid in school, but I don't think I'd ever read the whole book, and not this definitive edition anyway. It was so interesting and of course sad, knowing how things turned out. Anne's talent for writing is obvious, even just in this diary as a thirteen or fourteen year old. It was a bit repetitive at times, but that's understandable. I was so drawn into the lives and personalities of the people living in the annex. Their optimism near the end was especially heartbreaking.

The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Finally read a Georgette Heyer book! I enjoyed it so much. It was like Jane Austen meets screwball comedy. I kept thinking that Sophy reminded me a lot of a less proper Emma, until she pulled out her pistol! At times it felt like there was just a little too much going on, but overall it was such a fun read. I look forward to reading more of her books.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Knitting: Find Your Fade shawl.


When everyone was knitting Find Your Fade (and all of the other fade patterns that came afterwards), I had no desire to and never planned on making one myself. But then I found a set of four coordinating yarns from WIPyarns, and I started to rethink that decision. :) I thought about that yarn for the longest time, and finally splurged but didn't let myself cast on until I finished my black cardigan.

So it happened that I started knitting this shawl just days before my wedding. It was the only knitting I took with me on our honeymoon, and while I didn't do much knitting that week, I do remember working on it as we drove through the mountains from Tennessee to Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore. And over the next few months I slowly knitted on it until it was finished in February, which means there are a lot of memories of our wedding and honeymoon and first months of marriage worked into this shawl. :) This project is pretty special to me!

I used the basic pattern but wanted a smaller shawl, so I made a few changes. I only had four colors, so I used a couple of them in more sections than the pattern called for. Also, I stopped increasing a little sooner so that my shawl would be narrower and shorter. (More specific details in my project page, linked below.) It's still a fairly large shawl!

The yarn was lovely, of course. I love how these four colors go so well together, and the yarn itself was very enjoyable to knit with. (I also made my Christmas socks from this dyer's yarn!) WIPyarns really has become one of my favorite hand dyed yarns lately.

And now, this girl who said she'd never knit a fade pattern...well, she's knitting a So Faded sweater.

Ravelry project page.

Friday, March 2, 2018

What I Read: February


February was a decent reading month! I read four books and enjoyed most of what I read. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The Problim Children, by Natalie Lloyd. Natalie's books are must-reads for me! She writes sweet, magical middle grade, and this one was no exception. It's about seven siblings, with a little bit of mystery and a lot of quirkiness. Her first book, A Snicker of Magic, is still my favorite, but I enjoyed this one too!

The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen. This one is translated from Finnish, I think? It was truly one of the strangest books I've ever read. I really loved some parts of it. The plot was interesting and there is a lot of magical realism (which I like!), almost veering into fantasy at times. But there's also some weird graphic sexual content that really took away from the story, in my opinion.

The Story of Charlotte's Web, by Michael Sims. Since I reread one of my old favorites, Charlotte's Web, last month, it seemed like a good time to finally pick up this biography of E.B. White. I really didn't know anything about him, other than the three children's books that he's famous for, so this was really informative for me! It was also a pretty easy read, which biographies aren't always. I enjoyed it very much.

Stuart Little, by E.B. White. And reading that book made me want to pick this one up! I know that I read it, or parts of it, when I was little, but I don't think I'd picked it up since then. It was okay. Pleasant overall, but it's no Charlotte's Web.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Knitting: black Dexter cardigan.


Finally! I finished this cardigan back in October, and I finally have pictures of it. :)

For a long time, I've been wanting to replace two of my lightweight cotton cardigans (purchased probably 8 years ago at Target) with handknit versions. Basic, no frills sweaters to wear over t-shirts. I picked out the Dexter cardigan because it seemed to fit the bill. I asked for the yarn for my birthday...it's Bartlettyarns sportweight. It's woolen spun in one of the oldest operating mills in the country. I picked this yarn because it was relatively inexpensive for American wool (about $50 and I have a decent amount of yarn left over). This definitely isn't a soft, cushy yarn...it's sturdy and scratchy and I had to pick out lots of VM as I knitted. I also soaked the yarn before I started knitting to soften it up a bit. There were thin spots or joins in the yarn that I had to cut out. It's still a bit scratchy in the finished sweater, but overall it seems to be holding up well. I've been wearing it all winter and it doesn't seem to pill...it just sort of gently fuzzes, which I don't mind at all in in a simple sweater like this.

This sweater took forever. I started it in May and it wasn't finished until October. I was obviously distracted and busy during that time (planning a wedding and fixing up the house!). But to be honest, miles and miles of stockinette with black sportweight yarn isn't very fun. The ribbing in particular felt a bit soul-sucking. :) But I love the end result, and it's exactly what I wanted! Not fun knitting, but a needed part of my wardrobe. I am planning on knitting this again in brown, but with a different yarn (possibly one that I naturally dye with walnuts?).

I wanted to finish this cardigan before we got married so I could take it on the honeymoon, and thankfully I managed to finish it the week before the wedding! It's been a while so I'm a little fuzzy on the details, but I think the only changes I made to the pattern were to lengthen the sleeves and leave the textured detail (which you can sort of see around the yoke) off of the bottom of the sweater. This was my first sweater for myself made in anything less than worsted weight yarn, and there is something very satisfying and more polished feeling about a lighter weight knitted sweater!

Ravelry project page.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I Read: January


I read six books in January...a wonderful way to get back into reading and to start off the new year! I haven't read this many books in a month since last summer. (To be fair, one of them was very short. And having several snow days helped me get in more reading.) To make it even better, I enjoyed everything I read this month and found a couple of new favorites. As always, click on the book title to read my Goodreads review.

Howards End is on the Landing, by Susan Hill. I'd been wanting to read this book for a long time, and since it's about the author taking a year to read from her own shelves, I figured it would inspire me to do the same. I did enjoy it a lot, though maybe not quite as much as I'd hoped. The author is very "my way is the only way" about certain reading habits and such, which is annoying. But her writing style was nice and I liked it a lot overall.

Quidditch Through the Ages, by J.K. Rowling. This is one of the fake Hogwarts textbooks that has been released. I owned it years and years ago but never read it and since lost my copy. Kenny bought me the set for Christmas, and it really is a nice addition to the Harry Potter world! The little details are so funny and clever, and since it was less than 60 pages, it was an incredibly quick read.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. New favorite! I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it so much...even though it was depressing and a bit like watching a train wreck. I went into a lot more detail in my review. But basically, it's so satisfying when a classic book turns out to be not only worth reading, but this good.

The Moving Finger, by Agatha Christie. So enjoyable, as always. (Even though Miss Marple didn't come in until the last 40 pages or so...why?) I flew through most of this one in a day.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White. This childhood favorite had been on my mind, so I decided to reread it. It was just as charming and wonderful as I remembered! A true classic.

Raising Demons, by Shirley Jackson. This book was hilarious! It is so rare for a book to make me laugh out loud, but this one did multiple times. It's her sequel to Life Among the Savages, and they're both about raising her four kids in New England in the 50s. I liked this one even more than the first!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Knitting: recent knits.

Despite the fact that it has been forever since I posted about a finished knitting project on here, I have actually finished some things over the past few months! I finished a sweater for myself back before the wedding that I still need to get finished pictures of. But I also did some Christmas-related knitting in November and December, so here's what I made...


I make my little niece a sweater every year for Christmas. Since it's a tradition, I knew I still wanted to knit her one this year, even though I wasn't planning on making any more gifts. This is the Antler Cardigan pattern (my green one is still my favorite sweater I've ever made!), made with KnitPicks Swish worsted weight yarn. Even though she just turned 4, my gauge was a little tight, so I made the 4-6 size but adjusted for her shorter torso and arms. And it fits perfectly! (Ravelry project page.)


I decided in 2017 that I wanted to knit fall socks and Christmas socks. Well the fall socks are still half-finished (hoping to get to that soon), but I did end up finishing the Christmas ones just a few days before! So I got a decent amount of wear out of them in December. These socks will not photograph well, which is frustrating because that green yarn is sparkly and so lovely, but it doesn't show. The green was from WIPyarns (one of my new favorites- my fade shawl that I'm knitting is made with her yarn too) and the red was a mini-skein I purchased randomly on Etsy...can't remember the shop name. Now I think I'd like to knit Christmas socks every year. (Ravelry project page.)


I did manage to squeeze in one more knitted gift: these socks for my mom. I knit her at least a couple pairs every year because she loves handknit socks and really appreciates them. I was worried about running out of time, but when I saw KnitPicks Felici yarn in worsted weight, I knew I could do that! A pair of fingering weight socks takes me at least two weeks...worsted weight ones only take me 4 days. I really like KnitPicks sock yarn. It's not the nicest stuff ever, but it's reasonably priced and in my experience, it all wears really well. (The yarn will felt some over time, but I've never had any holes in those socks yet.) (Ravelry project page.)

Friday, January 12, 2018

Currently.


Reading: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte. I got this book for Christmas last year (2016 I mean), but I'd been putting off reading it. First of all, it's almost 600 pages long, which is a little intimidating! Also, I wasn't sure how I would feel about it...Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, and Wuthering Heights is one of my least favorites. But so far I'm really enjoying it! It's a lot more readable than I expected.

Knitting: Besides a couple of hats for other people, I'm still working on my Find Your Fade shawl. I was planning on it being quite a bit smaller than the original pattern, but I didn't change things exactly as I should have. So even though I'm only using four colors (just joined the third) and mine isn't as deep, it's still probably going to be as long as the original.

Watching: I got the first part of Marple for Christmas, and I've been enjoying it so much! {Bella likes it too, as you can see. I don't think I've ever introduced her here, have I? Kenny's had her since she was a puppy so of course he's still the favorite, but I think she has adjusted well to having me around. :) She wouldn't stay still long enough outside for me to get a better picture!} Cozy British mysteries are like comfort food to me.

We've also been watching some new things. Kenny got me hooked on Longmire, a show that I never expected to like, so we just watched the first five seasons of that. (We won't see season 6 until it comes out on DVD, so no spoilers please!) We also watched both seasons of Stranger Things and really liked it too. And I just finished the first season of The Crown and loved it.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

My 2018 resolutions.


I'm one of those people who loves making resolutions and setting goals, no matter how bad I am at following through. :) So here are some things I'm hoping to accomplish in 2018.

Bookish:

Read at least 50 books. This is less than I usually read but more than I read in 2017, so hopefully a manageable goal.

Get my own-but-unread books below 100 and stay there. (I'm starting off the year on a book buying ban.) I would love to get way below 100. I don't want to just dip below that number to then have books that I may get as Christmas gifts bump me up at the end of the year. So for as long as possible, I'm planning on not buying any more books and just reading from what I own. (With one exception...Natalie Lloyd's new book, of course!)

Read 5 new-to-me classics. This is also carried over from last year. I own quite a few classics I haven't read yet. And I define the term loosely...they can be children's books, modern classics, etc.

Reread at least 5 books. I love rereading, but last year I only reread 3 books!

Read a big book. Again, carried over from last year.

Knitting:

Focus on making sweaters, especially when it comes to yarn purchases. I've come to realize that I want to wear my few knitted sweaters all the time, so I could definitely use more of them. Especially pullovers. And I rarely buy sweater quantities of yarn...I buy sock yarn and other random bits. So when I do buy yarn, it should be a thoughtful purchase of yarn for a sweater.

Knit lots of socks, and not just for myself. I have so much sock yarn! I'm selfish and want to keep most of it for myself, but I want to use it up and honestly I only need so many socks. So I'd like to make more socks for other people this year.

Spin yarn from my own sheep's fiber and knit something with it. I'm actually hoping to start spinning some of it within the next few days!

Sewing:

Make curtains for our house. So far we only have a valance in the bathroom and two big panels I bought in Target to cover our sliding glass door. I need to make curtains for five other windows.

Make at least three pillow covers. Again, I'm being practical here! I want to recover the pillows on our couch and one in another chair.

Miscellaneous:

Save money. I want to save some myself, like I do every year, but also as couple now that Kenny and I are married.

Improve my cooking skills. They have gotten better, but still need work!

Catch up on my Taproot magazines. Maybe this should have gone under my bookish goals. I subscribe to Taproot and really love the magazine, but I always seem to be behind, reading an issue months after it arrives! I also have back issues to read. So I'd like to get caught up with the current issues.

I didn't add this to my list, but I'd also like to spend more time outside this year. I used to walk on our farm and property very often, but I've gotten out of that habit over the past few years. I'd like to get back into it.

What are your resolutions for 2018?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

In 2017.

2017 was definitely an eventful year in my life! :) It brought the biggest, happiest changes that I've ever experienced.

Kenny proposed to me at the end of March, so we spent the following months fixing up our little house (finished house pictures are coming!) and planning our wedding. Then we got married at the end of October, just in time to spend the holiday season as a married couple. Married life has been so wonderful and natural so far. (2017 had its sadness too though...my grandfather passed away at the end of February.)


My knitting slowed some in 2017, with everything else going on. I finished 22 projects: 11 of those were items to sell at craft shows, and three were gifts. The remaining eight were for myself: five pairs of socks, two sweaters, and a shawl.

Favorite knits: My Germinate shawl and my black Dexter cardigan. (Which I finished before the wedding but haven't got pictures of yet!)

Here's how I did with my yarny resolutions. Knit myself two sweaters? Yep! I actually forgot this was even a goal but still managed to do it. Do more natural dyeing? Nope! Life was so busy that it was never convenient to dye yarn when the plants were in. Learn the basics of weaving? Yes, I did a small little wall hanging on my little lap loom. I enjoyed it, but I don't think weaving is one of my things! Be prepared? Not really. I didn't do much gift knitting this year, though I did knit some hats to sell. Spin yarn from my own sheep and knit with it? No, but I'm hoping to do that very soon!

My sewing resolutions didn't happen. I didn't sew a new quilt or start sewing a pair of jeans. As for my other two more general resolutions, I did manage to save a decent amount of money. And my cooking skills have improved, I think! More out of necessity than anything...I have to make food for my husband now, after all. :) But I enjoy cooking more than I used to!

How did you do with your resolutions in 2017?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

What I Read: December


I only read three books in December. I really enjoyed two of them, and the other was just okay (but about what I expected!). As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews.

Snow and Rose, by Emily Winfield Martin. I've always loved Emily Martin's artwork, but I was a little disappointed with the writing in one of her previous books. Thankfully her writing has greatly improved! This was such a sweet, charming book, and of course it was gorgeous.

The Hollywood Book of Death. This book was morbid, which is obviously what you expect from the title. :) It's been on my shelves for years so I finally picked it up and just skimmed through it, reading the ones that I was interested in. It was pretty depressing.

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, by Alan Bradley. I love the Flavia de Luce series! This book wasn't my favorite, because Flavia is at boarding school in Canada, and I do love her in her native setting. But it was still very enjoyable.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best of 2017: Books


2017 was, once again, just an okay reading year. I unfortunately didn't find any new favorites, and life was so busy that I didn't read nearly as much as I usually do. But still, there were plenty of books that I enjoyed this year!

Best book: I wouldn't consider it a favorite book or anything, but in terms of simple enjoyment, it was probably Something New. I really like Lucy Knisley's graphic novel memoirs...they're fun and quick reads. I thought it was funny that this was the first book I read in 2017, and in my review I mentioned that the thought of planning a wedding seemed overwhelming and stressful. I didn't know that a couple months later I'd be planning my own wedding. :)

Worst book: Make 'Em Laugh, by Debbie Reynolds. I really liked her previous two memoirs, but this one just seemed completely unnecessary. It was dull and repetitive, and it was a sad experience to read it not long after her death.

Biggest surprise: The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Finally, a Neil Gaiman book that I actually loved! :)

Biggest disappointment: The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. I was really looking forward to this collection of short stories. I thought they would be quirky and wonderful, and the cover is gorgeous. But they were just a little too weird for me, in a way that I don't find appealing.

As I've said repeatedly, I didn't get much reading done this year, so understandably I didn't do so great with my goals. Here's a recap...

-Read 60 books. I only read 46.

-Get my own-but-unread books down to 100. I was so close to this goal at one point! So close. And if I'd read a little more then I definitely would have met this goal. But then after the books I got for Christmas, I'm back hovering around 120 again. Getting better every year though!

-Read 5 new-to-me classics. Not quite, but if you define classics very loosely, then I read three this year. Two "modern classics": Cold Comfort Farm and The Haunting of Hill House. I also read a children's classic, The Trumpet of the Swan.

-Read a really big book. Nope. None at all.

What were your favorite and least favorite reads of 2017?