Thursday, January 28, 2016

Make Yourself a Fool

It's cold outside, so I've been inside playing with my markers again.

Dreaming of a warm time when there are sunflowers and gaillardias in my garden again.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I'm in Love

You guys know me--I am a sucker for all things modern. I like my furniture minimalist. I like my art abstract. I like my Christmas trees aluminum.

But then there is china. There I come down squarely in the lover-of-all-things-flowery category. When I was a little girl my grandmother started collecting Old Country Roses china, and I was enchanted--by it and her. I still am.

What's not to like about all those cherry reds, vibrant pinks and eye-grabbing greens? Nothing, I say!

That's why I picked those same colors for this bit of inky fun.

What do I think about the result?

Well, like the book says.

You in love, too? I've added drawings to my Etsy shop! Check them out here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2015

Cue trumpets! It time for My Favorite Books of 2015, the fourth in the series of posts where I bring you the best literature that's passed my way during the past year.

A quick count of the books I read in 2015 tells me my total hit 23 this year. Frankly, I find that surprisingly high because this is also the year that I discovered podcasts, and so I expected my audiobook count to drop, but apparently the edict that we leave our home offices and start working back on campus this year has afforded me enough commute time to listen to both.

So which ones did I like the best? Let's start with the ones that garnered

 5 stars

The first two books, The Court-Martial of Paul Revere and A Spy Among Friends were ones that I received as part of the Early Reviewer program on

The Court-Martial of Paul Revere sounds like one of those novels where they rewrite history and make you wonder "what if?," but this book is no novel. It's a non-fiction account of the accusations made against Revere after the ill-fated Penobscot Expedition. Well done history! You can read my full review here.

Not just the title, but all of A Spy Among Friends reads like the best in spy fiction stories, but it, too, is a history book. A suspenseful, enjoyable read. More here.

I listened to All the Light We Cannot See for a book club that I led. It was the first of two books I read this year that included scenes from the occupation of Paris during WWII. This one was my favorite. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought so as it won the Pulitzer. Here's my full review.

The last two on the 5-star list were audiobooks--although it's hard to even classify NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies as a book, I'll do it because it's another that I received from First Ladies is a compilation of stories about the women beside the President as told on National Public Radio. Each of them offered something surprising. Those of you who are podcast fans like me would enjoy this listen. Find out more here.

And finally, Tess of the D'Urbervilles. I think it's my favorite book of all time, and this year I decided to give it a read again. It's just as good as I remembered. And one day, when I write my first Broadway musical, it'll be a co-production between me and Hardy.

And now for the runners up at
4.5 stars

Stoner is one of those very subtle book, like the Bridges of Madison County, where not a whole lot happens, but ordinary lives are changed in profound ways that make them not so ordinary anymore. A little more here.

The last two are about birds.

I'm kidding.

Instead they are both gut-wrenching stories--one about WWII and the other about the first interplanetary contact with an alien society.

The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters living in France during the occupation by the Germans. The two women deal with the circumstances in different ways, and it is this contrast that causes you to ask what's right and wrong? Is there such a thing during war? What would I do?

And finally, The Sparrow. This is one of the most unusual books I have ever read and so intriguing. Father Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest, has returned to Earth as the sole survivor of a mission to Rakhat, the first planet where intelligent life has been found. The story jumps back and forth in time between the build-up to the mission and the investigation into what happened on Rakhat that turned Father Sandoz into the physical and emotional wreck he is at his return. Equal doses of science fiction, theology, and old-fashioned good writing make this a book not to be missed. Read this one.

And that does it for the winners. Five books clocked in at a very respectable 4 stars. If you want to see a list of those and all the others I read last year--even the stinkers, check them out on

We now return you to your local blog.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Take My Heart For a Spin

Today I did something pretty silly. For the past several years I've had this table in my craft room. It holds my Silhouette machine and my laptop. It's a nice table, but it's really, really low. Whenever I had to use my computer or feed my machine I had to scrunch over.

I finally decided that I needed to buy a real big-girl desk, so for the past couple of weekends, I've been scrounging for one. I finally made Captain America take me around in his pickup today so we could bring one home. And we did.

So I got home, and I went upstairs to move the table out of the way, and it was at that point that I noticed that the legs were expandable, and tje tab;e could stand as high as all my other tables and my new desk.

I kid you not. Sometimes I can be so dizzy!

Speaking of dizzy, I've been folding books like crazy the past couple of weeks, but in between I managed to make this swirly, twirly heart.

There is something about iris folding that just makes me happy. My eyes keeps following one swirl and then find another one and go off in another direction.

This one made with pages from two different dictionaries and two atlases. I love the subtle colors and how they all blend.

In the middle of my heart is you...of course. What else would be there?

If you're looking for a gift for an anniversary, wedding, or your Valentine's sweetheart, it can be yours. Go ahead. I can make more. I have twice the table space in my craft room that I used to. Doh!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Make Your Own Valentine Book

Happy New Year!

Thank goodness the holidays are finally over! I spent last weekend putting up all my Christmas decorations. And then I spent all last week gathering up all the things I forgot to pack. I have an entire table filled with the forgotten stuff. I kid you not.

I was going to put them up in the attic this weekend, but I forgot to do that, too.

Isn't there a pill for that?

Well, it wasn't so much that I forgot to put them up, I just got busy doing something else--like playing with my new fancy-dancy camera that Captain America got me for Christmas. It has more buttons than I know what to do with right now, but this is the year I'm gonna learn.

Here is one of my first pics.

Which reminds me--Valentine's Day is coming up. If you're looking for a book that makes a statement, this beauty is for sale in my Etsy shop.

Or if you're a DIY kinda person, you still have plenty of time to fold your own book just like this one. The pattern is for sale in my Etsy shop, too! 

If you've never folded a book before, you can get the Love pattern as part of my Folded Book Kit. The Kit includes instructions and a book to fold along with the pattern. If you're already an experienced book folder, you can also get just the pattern.