Friday, July 30, 2010


On Sunday of our visit to London, we spent the day away from the city, on a trip to Stonehenge and the town of Bath. I think Stonehenge was my favorite part of the trip. It's hard to imagine people building this structure with primitive hand tools, and the stone had to travel quite a few miles to get to the site. Astonishing.

Our guide, Debbie, told us that there's also a Woodhenge--but it hasn't held up as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home From Our Holiday

In the US, we go on vacation. In Europe, they go "on holiday". We've just returned from a "holiday" in London.

London proper, is home to 7 million people, with 5 million more in the greater London area. It's an amazingly busy, vibrant city, with huge crowds everywhere. For this small-town girl, it was quite an experience. I'll try to remember that I'm back in the south and shoving past people is frowned upon.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday--The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo

The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson

"The fact of it being so rare a flower ought to have made it easier to trace the source of this particular specimen, but in practice it was an impossible task.... But it was only one in the series of mystifying flowers that each year arrived by post on the first day of November."

What's your current read?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eeeeek! But cool.

This guy (or girl) gave me a start while cleaning out my pool's skimmer basket. Fortunately, I have a hook for lifting it so my hand wasn't too close. My first thought was, "Coral snake!" but I remembered the rhyme my dad taught me when I was a little girl: Red on yellow --Kills a fellow.

In other words, if the red and yellow bands on a snake are next to each other, with no black in between, it's a venomous coral snake. If there's black between the red and yellow, you're okay.

My son and I looked this snake up in Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina and learned that it is called a scarlet snake (Cemophora coccinea) and they are usually a little over 1 foot long, just like this one. It is different from a scarlet king snake in that it's bands do not completely circle the body. A scarlet snake has the red, black and white/yellow bands on top, but has a mostly white belly. And, for the record, I didn't kill it. It hadn't survived the night in the pool.

Finding it in our pool wouldn't have surprised me if I had read the snake book more carefully. To quote: "The scarlet snake is one of the most common snakes to fall into residential swimming pools in areas with sandy soil."

Well, there you go.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Philosophical Friday

Hmmmm, "normal" really IS just a setting on my dryer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday--The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"I follow her inside and that's when I see Miss Celia Rae Foote's suffered only a minor injury in the flour fiasco. The rest of the kitchen took the real hit. The countertops, the double-door refrigerator, the Kitchen-Aid mixer are all sitting in about a quarter-inch of snow flour. It's enough mess to drive me crazy. I ain't even got the job yet, and I'm already looking over at the sink for a sponge."

What's your current read?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Christmas Gifts

Yes, I know it's July, but I'm trying to come up with some ideas for things to make as gifts this year. (If you are on my usual gift list, click away now.)

I'm considering something made from vintage fabric from my mother's and grandmother's stashes. I love using things that they chose, in some cases, decades ago and just never got around to using. Those are the things that bring me closer to them and to my memories of them.

When I was a little girl, I sat on the floor in my mother's sewing room, playing with my dolls while she worked her magic with a needle and thread. I also remember my grandmother learning to sew. My cousin was learning to sew and my grandmother refused to have her granddaughter know how to so something she herself couldn't do.

I miss my mother and grandmother very much, but I see the future when my children play on the floor under my work table as I struggle to figure out a pattern. I hope they will have memories as sweet as my own.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Philosophy

"Diplomacy is about surviving until the next century. Politics is about surviving until Friday afternoon." --Sir Humphrey Appleby

"I think God's going to come down and pull civilization over for speeding"--Steven Wright

"Exactly what time did I lose control of this show?"--Johnny Carson

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first."-- Mark Twain

"You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans."-- Ronald Reagan

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Drawstring Bag for ....

I spent the day learning to make a drawstring bag, mainly because I've been wanting a laundry bag for when I travel. So I started with a couple of tutorials online and some small scraps of fabric. This is what I came up with:
I like the way it looks, the fabric is nice, the shape is good, love the ribbon drawstring. I need your help to decide how to use it.
I was thinking:
Crochet project bag
Toiletries for travel
Snack bag
Any other ideas?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Curse You, Fire Ants!

These little red critters are nasty! Fire ants have been invading the United States for something like 100 years, coming up from the south. They have been a fact of life for people in the southern U.S. for years, but that doesn't make them any more welcome. If you have them where you live, you know what it's like. If not, count your blessings!

Map of fire ant infestation:

These tiny insects build sometimes huge mounds and will swarm and bite anything that disturbs them. I've already had several bites this year--Ow! Ow! Ow!

Ortho Fire Ant Killer has a fantastic ad campaign (click here to listen)--"Because killing fire ants shouldn't be a full time job. Even if it is pretty fun." This gives you some idea of the attitude southerners have toward fire ants.

Here's a photo of a small mound in my yard:

Okay, I'm done with my fire ant rant -- for now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Love Yarn Shops!

I convinced my husband to go to two, yes two yarn shops today, as well as a craft store. I only had to spend a few minutes in Lowes and Tractor Supply in return. Anyway, here's what I found:

The gorgeous sparkly ribbon is called "Sari Ribbon" by Louisa Harding. It's from Turkey. The coordinating yarns are 80% pima cotton/20% merino wool by Sierra from Peru. I also found some beautiful, creamy wool with just a touch of cashmere.

There was so much more. I could have spent all day, ooo-ing over the wonderful textures and colors. I had no idea how tactile I am until I started crocheting regularly. The yarn must feel good in my hand or I don't want to work with it. These shops are heaven for serious (and frivolous) fiber addicts.

I live in a very rural area. It's remarkable to have two such amazing specialty shops within an hour of home.

Shops visited:
The Sassy Knitter
Barbara Sue Brodie Needleworks

Ahhh, new yarn....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wash Your Grocery Bags!

A study from the University of Arizona says that reusable grocery can be contaminated with E. coli and other germs, if the bags are not kept clean. Eeewwww!

Here's a link to the story:

Reusable Grocery Bags Contaminated with E. coli, other bacteria

So, what's the answer? According to the above article, a "thorough washing kills nearly all bacteria that accumulate in reusable bags."

I just washed a couple of my bags and hung them to dry. They did just fine, washed in the machine with a load of similar color items. The bags I make are cotton, with cotton lining, just fine for a trip through the washer (and the dryer, if you like).

I just finished this one, with a yummy cupcake fabric. It will be available in my etsy shop soon. And it's washable!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Overton Window Review

I finished reading The Overton Window by Glenn Beck (yes, the radio/TV guy). It's Beck's first thriller novel and not a bad effort. It's an easy summer read and worth taking along on vacation.

If you know anything about Beck's ideas and opinions on current events, the book builds on much of what he's said on his show in the past couple of years. So, if you're a fan of his, you'll find much that sounds familiar in the plot of The Overton Window. If you're decidedly NOT a fan, you'll likely see a wild conspiracy theorist run amok.

I'm generally libertarian in my political views. Meaning, I don't much care what adults do, as long as it doesn't get in the way of other adults doing what they want to do. So, let's get this over with--I usually agree with Beck.

Having said that, I'm not thrilled with this thriller. What's there is, is pretty good. It's what's not there that bothered me. When I don't care much what happens to the main characters, there's not enough character development. Now that may be my girlie-girl side coming out; I like Jane Austen, after all. In The Overton Window, I wanted to know way more about the main evil bad guy, Gardner, as well as Molly's mother. Both characters had potential for fascinating stories, but I just didn't get enough.

As to the plot itself, it's a fascinating weaving of actual events into a worst-case-scenario. Do read the afterword to find out which plot points are based on reality.

To sum up, it's good for a first thriller. I hope Beck continues to write novels; I think he'll get better and better at it.

So, is it paranoid? Maybe. But hey, just cause you're paranoid, it doesn't mean people aren't out to get you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday--The House of the Seven Gables

"The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also, of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within."

In my quest to read books that I thought I read in school, but actually didn't, I'm working on The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The book is available, for free, from Project Gutenberg.
Here's the link: House of the Seven Gables

Monday, July 5, 2010

Coming Soon to an Etsy Shop Near You

I love these fabrics! And I'm hoping to have them made into tote bags by the end of the week. What do you think?

My daughter just said, "I like the cupcake one, but I could never have it as a purse. I'd be hungry all the time."

Do you have favorite fabrics? (See that? Market research, cleverly disguised as a blog post.)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

My phone rang the other day and someone (not sayin' who) invited himself, his wife, mother and two daughters to my house for a 4th of July party. Since, in our entire adult lives, I don't think this cousin (again, not namin' names or anything) has NEVER done this before and since he volunteered to bring food (okay, well, his wife and mother did the actual cooking), I couldn't say no.

So my question is, do I play it cool, acting like I'm doing them a huge favor by letting them come OR do I let on that I was actually thrilled to pieces to have some of my favorite people in the world spend the day with us? Hmmmm.....

Did I mention his wife makes fabulous desserts?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Frodo the Wonder Yorkie--Before and After

Before the groomer--

After the groomer:

Pardon the blur. He's so much faster without all the hair to slow him down.