Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Gift Exchange

Wow, that was fun.  My neighborhood American Sewing Guild (ASG) group had its Christmas party this past Saturday morning.  One of the members opened her beautifully decorated home to sixteen of us, cooked a fabulous buffet of quiches, fruit salad, cinnamon rolls, stuffed french toast....you get the picture.....along with flowing Mimosas.  And to top it all off we had our homemade gift exchange.  I contributed one of my pieced silk kimono scarves and in turn I got something I've been eager to make for myself.... two pairs of these cozy wool fingerless gloves:

My hands are almost always cold and I'm thrilled to have these to wear around the house when I am sewing and reading.  These are a terrific cold weather gift idea and I have Polartec 100 weight in my resource center so I think I'll be tracing these (or using the new Vogue Marcy Tilton accessories pattern with her version ...Vogue 8966 )  I would like to get my hands on some wool sweaters for felting for these gloves as well as some other winter projects I have in mind.
Speaking of reading and staying cozy, I have to keep up with my reading list for the last eight weeks, just for my own enlightenment although I hope some of you readers out there enjoy sharing book lists.  Here are my recent favorites:
Wow,what a page turner.  The Amazon reviews are all across the board but I guess my current reading taste turns to drama, crimes of passion and the long cruel Wisconsin winters.  Each to her own but I'm not denying that I enjoyed this one tremendously.

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife."
She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman."
She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.
What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.
Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

Wow, another thoughtful book about the consequences of our unthinking actions.  I've enjoyed so many Gail Godwin books (Ah, Father Melancholy's Daughter was my favorite) and this was another winner.  
Ten-year-old Helen and her summer guardian, Flora, are isolated together in Helen's decaying family house while her father is doing secret war work in Oak Ridge during the final months of World War II. At three Helen lost her mother and the beloved grandmother who raised her has just died. A fiercely imaginative child, Helen is desperate to keep her house intact with all its ghosts and stories. Flora, her late mother's twenty-two-year old first cousin, who cries at the drop of a hat, is ardently determined to do her best for Helen. Their relationship and its fallout, played against a backdrop of a lost America will haunt Helen for the rest of her life

This was our recent book club selection and I was eager to read it after seeing it noted on several reading lists.  Our discussion brought new ideas and insights to this "magical realism" story which I enjoyed although I would only recommend it with reservations.
From Booklist:
In Gaiman’s first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), the never-named fiftyish narrator is back in his childhood homeland, rural Sussex, England, where he’s just delivered the eulogy at a funeral. With “an hour or so to kill” afterward, he drives about—aimlessly, he thinks—until he’s at the crucible of his consciousness: a farmhouse with a duck pond. There, when he was seven, lived the Hempstocks, a crone, a housewife, and an 11-year-old girl, who said they were grandmother, mother, and daughter. Now, he finds the crone and, eventually, the housewife—the same ones, unchanged—while the girl is still gone, just as she was at the end of the childhood adventure he recalls in a reverie that lasts all afternoon. He remembers how he became the vector for a malign force attempting to invade and waste our world. The three Hempstocks are guardians, from time almost immemorial, situated to block such forces and, should that fail, fight them. Gaiman mines mythological typology—the three-fold goddess, the water of life (the pond, actually an ocean)—and his own childhood milieu to build the cosmology and the theater of a story he tells more gracefully than any he’s told since Stardust (1999).

And the Mountains Echoed was my first Hosseini book and I read it so that I could participate in the discussion at my girlfriend's very fun women's book group.  He is a masterful story teller and I was immediately swept up in the saga.  As rich as this book was, it only gets better when you discuss it with other readers.  I was concerned that these stories of loss and separation wold be too emotionally raw for me but I am so impressed with his sensitivity and love for the characters that I am eager to read the first two novels.
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

I picked this one up at the library for Mr. Lucky and ended up reading it as well since we are both Sue Grafton fans.  The Kinsey Millhone short stories at the first half were clever little mysteries, reminding me of watching old Alfred Hitchcock mysteries when I was a child, short and intriguing.  The second part of the book are stories based upon Sue Grafton's childhood experiences as an independent youngster free to roam and read at will because of her parents own dark problems.  Enjoyable isn't the right word but so interesting for Sue Grafton readers who love the character of Kinsey Millhone.

This past year has shown me once again how much we need one another to weather life's challenges, sorrows and pain.  This book celebrates the connections and allows the Storycorps project participants to ensure that the special person in their life is acknowledged.

A celebration of the relationships that bring us strength, purpose, and joy

Ties That Bind honors the people who nourish and strengthen us. StoryCorps founder Dave Isay draws from ten years of the revolutionary oral history project’s rich archives, collecting conversations that celebrate the power of the human bond and capture the moment at which individuals become family. Between blood relations, friends, coworkers, and neighbors, in the most trying circumstances and in the unlikeliest of places, enduring connections are formed and lives are forever changed.

Now it's time for me to return to the sewing studio space, a warm spot on a cold snowy day in Baltimore, and finish up my next mock up for my Sarah Veblen fitting session this Friday.   I hope you have a project or a loved one to keep your heart warm today.

1 comment:

Love your comments, opinions, advice and questions. I just ask that we all "play nice."