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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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 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?