Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Audio Books - Reviews, Suggestions

Choosing your next audio book might be just as daunting a task as choosing your next favorite book...or author, or musical artist, or knitting project.  The choices, obviously, are seemingly never ending.

Audiobook Jukebox

I came across Audiobook Jukebox recently.  This site is a compilation of  people who give concise reviews of what they have recently heard.  The list of reviewers is extensive (take a look over at the main page under the "reviewer sites" gadget on the right hand side) where the beginning page snip begins with numbers and the letter "A":

You can imagine how extensive is the number of reviewers just from the above snippet of sites.

On Ravelry, several forums have quick recommendations about favored audio books.  Go here or here to see what the knitters of the world are putting in their ears.  It's fun to learn what others are enjoying on audio.

Once you have determined the new book you want to hear, several sites are available for downloading that book, or poem, or short story.  There is your local library, of course,  which should have the OverDrive media console where you can download your mp3 books.  You first need to download the interface between your library and your computer, but then you are good to go.  Although recently  I have had a problem with a very long download time required to put all the sections of the audio not only into my library, and then also transferring them to the iPod. This is a new problem that I hope the innertubes...err..internet gurus, get rectified soon. ( I got so frustrated last week trying to get The Paris Wife (Paula McClain) into my media files that I finally gave up after numerous attempts over four days.)

But I digress.  Back to obtaining your audio books. Not only will your local library have a wealth of titles, but also LibriVox is a tremendous site for free downloads.  LibriVox provides books from the public domain, and are generally read by volunteers, not professional voices.  LibriVox also has a podcast you can access from here.

From "free" to "for-purchase":  Amazon has just a few, comparatively speaking, of mp3 audio book downloads.  iTunes has a more comprehensive listing.  But Audible is the real winner for absolute quantity and quality of available audio books.  Downside: you might get your first book free, but you will need to sign up for continuing books available monthly for a fee you might not want to commit to.

And what I recently purchased but have not yet listened to is through a recommendation from the moderator of this forum, who recommended Dorothy L. Sayers as an author.  The book is The Unpleasantness at the Belonna Club.  Email me if you want a quick review of this book (nmccarroll at Q dot com).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

From the 1800's, depicting Thanksgiving in Colonial Times:

Thanksgiving 1915 A Colonial Revival Painting of The First Thanksgiving by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (American painter, 1863-1930).

Our rural ancestors, with little blest,
Patient of labour when the end was rest,
Indulged the day that housed their annual grain,
With feasts, and off'rings, and a thankful strain.
~Alexander Pope
Norman Rockwell, 1942, published in The Saturday Evening Post

Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pillow Cases (the tube method)

My SIL gave me the idea of making pillowcases for charity.  This thought then led me to the idea of sewing a few extra for Christmas gifts as well. They will make especially unique gifts for my five CASA (court appointed special advocate) kids.  Each child has something special about them that I can find a fabric theme to match with their pursuits (music, sports, tv characters, etc.).  There are many great fabrics geared to kids.  Here is something I found with the Dr. Seuss theme from Etsy:

If you give it some thought, there will be many people that will come to mind who might appreciate something made by you especially for them.  And who can't use a new pillowcase, especially if it makes them smile?

A very easy tutorial on sewing three color coordinating fabric cases can be found here on YouTube, sponsored by Missouri Quilt Company.  I watched the video several times, took notes, and started thinking about fabric choices that were on hand.  A quick trip to the fabric store, and I came up with more coordinating fabrics.

Then the fabric pieces above were cut.  But wait!  There was more fabric on hand that needed coordinating fabric edges.   And I needed some Mickey Mouse fabric, too, for a special little boy going through some hard times.

Another trip to Hobby Lobby, and behold!  Twelve pillowcases were on the way to being sewn.

YouTube and Missouri Quilt explains it all, and it is not difficult if you have average sewing skills.  Here are several pillowcase ready to be seamed that are on my machine shelf this morning, ready for finishing.

And here are a few already finished:

Thanks, Charlotte, for this neat gift idea.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wintering Geraniums

Last month, I brought in over a dozen fairly good sized geraniums to spend the winter in the garage.

Past failed attempts at keeping geraniums alive over previous winters included hanging the roots upside down (a definite failure), wintering the pots in the outside garden shed (they all died within two weeks), and then last year, they spent the winter in the house near a west window (some lived, but did not thrive) and in the garage (they actually lived and and even put on new leaves!).

An inexpensive shelving unit was purchased and assembled by the husband so that more pots could benefit from the sunny east facing garage.  He even cleaned up his work bench to allow room for the shelves.  And he hardly grumbled; that was probably just as sweet of him as assembling the shelves.

The plants are close to an east window in the garage, and seem to be doing fairly well after about six weeks in their winter home.  I've been watering them about every three weeks.

Some lovely  geranium art pictures from Barbara's blog:

Caroline Lord (American artist, 1860-1927) Woman with Geranium

Aristide Maillol (French artist, 1861-1944) Portrait de Lucien 1896

Alfred Stevens (Belgian Painter, 1823-1906) Still Life with Geraniums 1889

Paul Cezanne (French artist, 1839-1906) The Flower Pots 1883-87
Nancy McCarroll, Oil

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snakes Socks on a Plane

So I was sitting on an airplane, yarn in hand, needles ready, and a sock pattern that was mistyped.  Now what to do? I figured I'd just try to remember how I had knit a similar pair of socks a year ago.  So the darned things were cast on, and I just hoped that it would all turn out ok.  Magical thinking runs in the family.

This snaky pair of socks was what I came up with. Many mistakes, but I tried to hide them in the photo.

The heels and toes are a little wonky, but still wearable.

Take away: always bring the necessary well written instructions and leave nothing to memory.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Free Book for Kindle

Since it did not cost money and was purported to have 54 pattern instructions, why not get a free book for my Kindle app?  So I did.

But wait, there is even more juicy back content! It was first published in 1864 in Bath in the UK.
The drawbacks were that there were no illustrations, and most of the patterns were for chair covers, which I would not use.  The good thing about this book was that gave insight into how people (women, mostly) had to work hard just to keep some color in their lives.

Check it out for yourself here on Amazon if you want a free download, or pay money for it in paperback, which is probably not worth it unless you are a die hard history buff in the realm of needle art.

There were at least 40 more books available for free download related to knitting, crochet, embroider, tatting, lace making, hat making, cooking,  medicinal plants, tapestry weaving, gardening, dyeing of fibers and the list goes on.... so much information and so little time.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Melissa Clark's Sticky Cranberry Gingerbread

Here is a keeper, along with complete recipe and instructions, found at the Amateur Gourmet's Website:

The Amateur Gourmet says:
Think Christmas. Think Thanksgiving (at least, the cranberry sauce). Spicy, fragrant, gingery, wintery, this gingerbread is remarkable not only for the way it makes your whole apartment smell like the holidays, it’s also remarkable because the texture is just dry enough to lift up a piece with your hands, but wet enough to be incredibly, notably moist. I suppose that’s why “sticky” is in the title. It’s that kind of gingerbread.
It's coming out of my oven soon!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Urban Sketcher

Photo taken on Halloween in Dublin at Madigan's Pub:

A group of us waited here for our hotel to accept our reservations on October 31.  It was a lively crowd, and grew larger by the half hour.  We sat, and I caught this picture on a camera.  While sitting at a booth, I sketched this scene quickly.  Here is my rendition of this fun time:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Of Castles, Views, Pubs and Blarney

Back from southern Ireland with pictures to boot.

Castles and Cathedrals:

(Adare Abbey)

(Cashel Castle)

(Dublin Castle)
Trinity College:


at Hapenny Bar

(Madigan's Pub)

(Saints & Scholars Pub)

(Irish Stew)

(Tea and Scones, of course)


(Rugged Western Coast of Ireland near Blasket Islands)

(Cliffs of Moehr)


(Farmhouse on Adare Manor)

It was a great time in hospitable Ireland.