Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Village

Each year I go up to Mass to visit my family and friends at Christmas time.  Each year my sister's husband Dave assembles a Christmas Village in the basement.  The Christmas Village is made up of ceramic shops, houses and people that both his mother and our mother have given him.  The Christmas Village now encompasses not just the railing shelf in the basement but now two additional separate tables.


He has assembled icicle lights along the ceiling and tree lights along the shelf.  This year he had his niece help him and I heard she really got into it and wanted to place each person just right.  Each year he adds a little bit more charm to the village.  One addition this year was the Frosty movie playing from a projector onto the wall.

Local train depot

He has features such as a train depot with a functional train, takes branches from outside and creates trees, and even made a covered bridge to connect the "town" across the doorway.

Christmas Village - Eastside

One year, there was an ice storm in the area and he recreated the ice storm in the village.  There were downed trees, fake snow covering the roadway, and even a snowplow.

Christmas Village - Westside

The westside of the Village has a town square and cars on the roadway.  Like I said earlier, he adds more charm to the Village each year.

Fire pit

This summer, my sister and husband cleared an area in the woods in the back yard and made a firepit with a picnic table and chairs.  So this year in the Village, he also created a firepit.  He was working on the picnic table last night.  He made it out of wood tongue depressors and glue.

Picnic table - isn't is great?!

Here is also a truck with branches cut-up to look like logs.

Logger truck

During my winter visit to Mass, we always make a trip to Foxwoods Casino in Conn to play a morning session of Bingo.  When we were walking to the Bingo hall area, we past a Christmas Village that was made entirely out of gingerbread, chocolate, and royal icing.  It really was amazing.

Foxwoods Village

In this Foxwoods Christmas Village was a church, houses, houses that were destroyed by a storm, royal icing trees, chocolate rice crispie rocks and bushes and, the best of all, Rapunzel's castle.

Click on pic to see more detail

If you look closely, you can see the prince climbing Rapunzel's braid of golden hair on the tower.  My picture really does not do it justice, but it was the coolest gingerbread house I've ever seen.  The Village continues to the right of the castle, but I did not get a good picture of it. 

On a side note, each year I go to Bingo and I have never won a game.  This year, one of my friends in our group was the sole winner of one of the games, so she did not have to split the pot with anyone!  It was very exciting for us, so she was even more hyped-up after the win.  So much more hyped-up that she could barely concentrate on the next game.  It was a great time.  Congrats, Crystal!!!

Now that we have all seen the Foxwoods Christmas Village, I wonder how Dave will be inspired for next year's Christmas Village.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crazy Cables

Once you get the hang of knitting you should try and challenge yourself with something that looks hard but is quite easy (assuming you have the knit and purl stitch down pat).  If you are ready for something new, try knitting cables.  They look very impressive when they are done, but, when the pattern is followed, it can be done painlessly.

My very first cable attempt was done on scrap yarn that I knitted up a swatch piece.  Sorry to say, I no longer have that little piece of cable, but I have moved on since then.  My first project was an Irish cabled sweater.  Yes, let's go for gold, I don't want to settle for bronze.  I jumped from a swatch piece to an Irish cabled sweater.  I never admitted to being crazy, but I have high hopes!  So, in my search for the perfect pattern, I asked my Aunt Eileen.  She is the person who taught me how to knit.  She is my great aunt that is like a grandmother to me.  She lent me (let see, over 10 years ago) a Irish knit instruction booklet.  This booklet has a copyright date of 1967!

The pics inside are even more classic!

The Bernat company is still around and going strong; their website offers a blog and free patterns.  The Bernat Book of Irish Knits had the perfect pattern: a classic pullover.  The yarn I chose (sorry Bernat) was Paton's Classic Wool.  It is 100% merino wool in the classic cream color Aran.  I bought it from Smiley's Yarns which can be found on the web.  They literally have yarn for $1!  I don't think this yarn was a buck a skein but it was wicked cheap. 

This sweater was orginally knit for my boyfriend (who became my husband, then my ex).  There is folklore that if you knit your spouse or partner a sweater, then the relationship will sour.  I knew this going into this project, but I knitted it anyway!  I mean, who really believes in that old superstition anyway?  The sweater certainly did outlast the relationship, but at least I was smart enough to hold onto the sweater! 

This sweater, I thought, would take me a few months to knit.  I typed out the pattern so I could read it easily and write on the paper.  Well, to make a long story short, it took over a year to knit!  With all that time invested in it, the boyfriend/husband/ex only wore it a handful of times.  During the piecing of the sweater, he had complained that it was going to be too tight, then I knitted side panels to extend it, then he complained that it was too bulky.

See why I kept it!

I had knit the side sections in moss st, then knitted the cables, and then the middle section was done in popcorn st.  This was very time-consuming and I had to pay attention.  So, watching TV while doing a project like this is not recommended.  At this stage, I would have considered myself an Advanced Beginner.  Only a beginner because I did not know how to seam very well.  You can notice the side seams where I added the extra panels.  For my first cable project, I impressed my Aunt and myself! 

Close-up of cables

I wear it on those few chilly days a year as a cover-up/jacket because it is too large for me; I wear it anyway and I love it.

My next cable project came years later and it was a scarf.  The pattern came from Family Circle Easy Knitting (now it is published through Vogue and is called Knit Simple).  I had a ton of extra Paton's Classic Wool (apparently, I overestimated my yarn requirements) and knitting it up with that.

The scarf was cabled along the bottom edge of each side but carried only three cables through the neck/body.  I was hooked from the look of the ends so I gave it a shot.  After the sweater, this was a piece of cake!

Cute, huh?

Oh, yes, and it had a rolled edge.  The original yarn for this pattern was a soft, fluffier mohair or something.  The end cables had almost a halo appearance to them.  I was being frugal, so no halo effect, but I really liked it anyway.  The side cable always rolls in.  I never blocked it, so that may prevent that from occuring.  Blocking is when you wet the garment either with a spray bottle or a steam iron, set it out flat, shape it, and place a towel with heavy items on it to "set-in" the shape.  It is effective method with sweaters, but not sure if it works on scarves. 

Ends are my favorite part!

My latest cable project was a skirt pattern from knit.1.  This is a hipper knitting magazine for the younger knitters.  The teens and early twenties knitters don't want the stuffy patterns of some of the classic knit magazines.  This is a nice choice for them.  I was in my late twenties when I subscribed and I can see that I would not knit half the patterns, but I enjoy looking at what people can create.  The skirt was knit with Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool.  The pattern had cables running diagonal throughout the skirt with a rolled hem/edging.

I see a color theme going on here...

I finished this skirt the Christmas before last, while visiting my sister in MA.  I have to admit, when I was done, I put it on and thought, "No way am I wearing this in public!"  Let's just say it was very form-fitting and I would need some leggings under it to cover myself up!  It did come out nice, I just am not confident enough to wear it as intended.

Waist cables are a nice feature

My beau and I had a holiday housewarming party and I thought, I want to wear that knitted skirt.  Again, I put it on and could not do it.  Then I got an idea, "What if I wore it as a shirt?"  Marisa from New Dress A Day blog does it all the time!  I threaded a grosgrain ribbon through the cabled waist, put a tank top underneath to protect my skin from the itchy wool, threw on a shrug and viola!  I skirt-top!

Last pic of the evening

It was a cute way to finally wear my knitted cable skirt.  I got several compliements, so I thought that I should've done this ages ago!  Along with my top, I also showed off my early Christmas present from my sister.  She sent it to me and told me to open it up and not wait until Christmas.  She surprised me with a cabled blanket!  I have been talking about knitting one myself forever and she must've got sick of hearing me say that because she did it!

So nice!

Isn't is wonderful?!  I have it displayed on the couch, but I actually have it in my bedroom at the end of the bed.  It has been in the 40's and 50's here in FL and this blanket is the perfect weight for that added warmth.  Even though my sister did not blog about it and take pics along the way, I had to feature it in mine. 
Thank you agian, Kathy!!! 
Cable close-up!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Glitter Candle

Alright everyone, let me introduce you to my first guest blogger, Crystal.  She is from Rhode Island and is one of my very good friends.  We met through my first "real job" in Boston, MA.  When we first met, we chatted and found out that we were in the same Organic Chemistry class in college, but we barely remember each other.  Strange how paths can cross multiple times and then one day it clicks.  Anyway, I am very excited to host today's guest blog post.  Here it is:
So, it's Thanksgiving Eve, and I realize I need a hostess gift.  Being a Scrooge I didn’t want to spend too much and I thought about Nancy’s sentiment of giving hand-made gifts.  Now people usually “Oooo” and ”Ahhh” over various things I make.  While I acknowledge that I have some degree of skill I never feel totally justified receiving their praise.  Why?  Because I steal ideas from the internet or just follow a pattern.  The “art” isn’t really my own creation.  This time was different, I came up with my own craft and felt that it was worthy of a guest blog.
At first I got a really cheap ($1) candle.  It was gold and really pretty.  But when I took the wrapper off most of the gold came off with it.  They went back to the store.  Next I got a red/maroon candle from Target for about $2.

Plain 'ole candle

The next thing I did was to print a “D” for my hostess last name. I used Edwardian Script in Word with a font size of 150 bolded. I then taped it to the candle.
A "D" for Delicious (actually the Hostess' last initial) 

The next step was to use a utility knife to cut out the letter.  I would have used an Exacto knife but for some reason mine hides from me whenever I go to use it.  I didn’t gouge too deep, just enough to outline the letter.  I peeled away the black just so you can see but it really isn’t necessary.

Exacto, where are you when I need you?

At this point I was at a loss as for how to make a nice groove to hold my glue.  I wanted to create a kind of well so that the glue would just sort of flow into it.  I ended up using just a regular old pen.  Note that this chosen pen will get so waxed up it will never write again.  Hey, maybe that makes this a “green” project since you can repurpose a pen that just won’t write.  You know you have them in that junk drawer!  Anyway, I just get “writing” with the pen and digging out my groove.  It made a terrible mess which required me skitteling over to the trash to brush myself off.  Finally I went outside and shook like a wet dog; that worked.
The next pic is a little dark but I wanted to show how the etching looked.  Let’s pause here to say I am not a photographer.  I can’t take a decent picture to save my soul.

Etched out area

I then took some plain Elmer’s glue and very carefully filled in the little canals I had created.  I went through all the trouble of making these canals because I was afraid if I just wrote in glue that it would just fall off because of the waxy slipperyness of a candle.  I also didn’t think I could get the fancy contours of the line for the letter without some guidance.  It worked out pretty well.

Carefully fill in letter

I took some silver glitter and sprinkled it over the glue.  I was very generous but being Scroogey as I did it over a newspaper so that I could recover any un-stuck glitter. 

Crafting's not cheap, so save that excess glitter, ladies!

Here you can see how it looks after just shaking off the excess glitter.

Almost there!

Now you have to let it dry for a good while.  Then take a stiff, thin brush like this one...
Brush to brush 

...and gently brush away the random, spare glitter.  Now you have your finished product.  I think it is beautiful if I do say so myself.  I will feel great giving this gift and comfortable for once taking the praise I hope it will receive.

Beautiful, personalized gift!

Lastly, I want to say how much extra time it took to turn this project into a blog.  I am very grateful for Nancy’s hard work each week.  I had no idea how much it took to document a simple process.  Thanks for the blog and thanks for letting me guest!
Well, that was a great project, Crystal!  Thank you and you're welcome for being my guest blogger!  I love how the last pic has one glitter piece that is giving the little "bling" wink to everyone.  Let me know how everyone makes out with this clever project.
Anyone is welcome to guest blog, just email me and I can tell you what I need from you.  :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quintet Scarf

This is basically the Trio Scarf, but with, guess how many different yarns....five.  This installment of the scarves will be about attaching the fringe.  Another thing I loathe about knit or crochet patterns is that the pattern assumes that you know something about knitting or crocheting beyond your nose.  But sometimes, you just don't.  You just see something you like and want to pick up a pair of needles or a hook and start!  Practice is something that comes with time, how can you practice if you don't work on patterns?  So, in the Trio Scarf post, I simply stated "attach fringe" as a step to complete the scarf, but if you don't know how that is done, then the pattern is just dumb.  Trust me, I get it!

Let me start by explaining why this is not the Trio Scarf, but the Quintet Scarf.  The five yarns I used were out of necessity, not want, but I made the best of it (and my yarn stash).  First my MC (Main Color) was the wool that I mentioned in the Trio Scarf, with the all purple hues from South Company Rio de la Plata.  Did I mention that the Rio de la Plata is hand-dyed in Uruguay?  !Es fabuloso!  Then the second yarn was the rest of the Berroco Opulent FX.   I did not have enough of the Opulent FX to knit all the way through, so I knit it in the beginning then at the end.  My third yarn was Katia Sevilla in a silver color.  I said cream in my last post, but upon further inspection, it really is silver.  My fourth and fifth yarns were also novelty yarns.  The fourth yarn was leftover Berroco Jewel FX which is 94% Rayon and 6% Metallic.  It has a silver thread, purple thread with nubs and a blue thread with nubs all twisted together.  I used it in a felted purse project years ago.  Finally, my fifth yarn was a purple eyelash yarn.  I no longer had the wrapper label, so no clue of the brand.

If not "nubs" then what are they?

The eyelash yarn, I do remember, I bought at a yarn shop in Middleboro, MA called The Wool Patch.  It is the cutest shop built on the same property as the owners home, built like a rustic cabin.  The yarns are in wooden cubbies, baskets on the floor, hanks hanging from the wooden rafters and in an antique wooden hutch with the yarns popping out of the drawers and cabinet shelves.  In addition to the knit shop is a llama corral.  She only has a few, I believe, more as pets than shearing them for profit.  But I could be wrong.  Definitely check out The Wool Patch if you are in the area.  I don't see that they have a website, but they are on Facebook.  I included the link above. 

Like in the pattern in Trio Scarf, I alternated between these five yarns.  It gave a slightly different look than the Trio Scarf, but just as pleasing.  Ok, so now for the fringe lesson:

1. Cut fringe twice the desired length.  It will eventually be folded in half, hence twice the length.  I organized it by laying each set out because I knew I did not have enough Opulent FX to have two strands per fringe.  In the pattern, I used 11 sets of fringe for each end of the scarf.  You may add more or less, depending on how full you want it.  I put one strand of Rio (MC), one strand of Katia, and one strand of Opulent.  Then cut a few lengths of Eyelash (not too much, this can overpower the look), and a few strands of Jewel and randomly selected sets to add these to.  Not every set had an eyelash or a Jewel.

Eleven sets, organized in the order I will use them

2. Work on a flat surface and put project right side up (knit sts up).  Examine and plan out where the fringe will be attached by looking at the spaces at the end of the scarf.  This is usually the cast-on edge (alternately, bind-off edge).  I started with the very side-edge loop with the tail of the MC hanging.  The stitches may elongate as you attach, that is fine and will blend in once done.  I was able to count every other space/hole, using the knit sts space.  It doesn't matter where you put the fringe, as long as you are consistent, it will come out beautifully.  Insert the crochet hook from underneath into the hole you want the fringe to go.

Be consistent when choosing the placement

3.  While holding the crochet hook in one hand, take the first set of fringe in your other hand and find the center of the length.  The center, place in the crochet hook.  Use a big hook, it will give you the deepest notch to hold all the strands.  You may have to hold the yarn tight in the hook to prevent from losing it.  Move the crochet hook with all the strands from the front to the back until it is about half through (called, "pulling it through").  Once through, maintain the center, drop the crochet hood and place your fingers through the hole/loop that you have created (where the crochet hook was).

Make sure all the strands have made it through the space

4.  Once your fingers are in the loop you have created, take the tail of the fringe with the fingers that are in the loop and pull through.  Now with both hands, tighten and adjust the fringe so it fits snug against the scarf hole.  One fringe has been added.

Hooray!  Only 20 more to go!

5. Add the remaining fringe evenly across the edge.  You have the freedom to add as much as you want or as little as you want.  I wanted a full look, sort of chunky looking.  If you feel like it needs more bling, then in the spaces in between the existing fringe, add a few Katia strands or other shiny yarn.  I added extra teal Katia to the Trio Scarf.  I felt like the silver shows up very well and did not think more bling was needed.

I love the mixed look!

Now that you are an expert on fringe, repeat on the other end of the scarf.  You can leave the ends a little ragged, with the fringe uneven, or you can choose to snip them all the the same length.  Just be careful if you are the straight-edge type and make sure that you are cutting an even amount off.  You don't want what happened when you tried to cut your bangs when you were a tween and one side ends-up shorter than the other side, then you try to cut the longer side to match the short side and then that side is shorter and then you go back and forth before you realize you need a stylist to cut your bangs even again, now that there is only two-inches left.  But in this case, you can always "grow" new fringe, unlike your poor bangs, which will take a month to grow out.

Ragged-Edge all the way, baby!

So there it is, the Quintet Scarf.  I did not measure the full length of this scarf, but I'm sure that it is taller than I am.  What else in the world can you wear that is taller than you?  That is why I love the scarf and I hope that you love knitting them too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trio Scarf

I am starting to think of Christmas.  Yes, I want to actually complete Christmas shopping / making homemade gifts before Christmas this year.  For my homemade gifts I always have the greatest intentions, but I either bite off more than I can chew or start too late to finish them.  There are countless projects that I have thought of but could not get the materials in time or projects that I have started only to determine that it was a flop.  Don't get me wrong, I do get to complete a few homemade gifts each year, just not all the ones I think up.

This year I want to accomplish homemade gifts within my skill set.  Oh c'mon, you're saying, where's the fun in that?  There is plenty of fun in that because it will be me actually finishing projects and giving them as gifts to wow the recipient.  I'm sure you have found by making a homemade gift yourself that when someone realizes that it was homemade, they have a new appreciation for it, and for you for taking the time to make something for them.  I intend on not going crazy with large or expensive, but with something simple and under $20.  Although, I do have to admit, I don't think I am making anything for the men on my Chistmas list.  It is a bit much to make something for everyone.  So, it will just be the women/girls on my list this year.

The first thing that I have completed is a trio scarf.  This scarf is knit with three different types of yarn for a mixed textured look.  I got the idea when searching through the free patterns on the Berroco website.  They have hundreds of free patterns and you can download them without having to give your email address.  The pattern is a simple 4" wide, 6' long scarf with long fringe.  I went to my local yarn store, Knit 'n Knibble, and found some really cool yarn.

Yarn Elements

The teal colored yarn is Katia Sevilla, it is 100% nylon.  This yarn came on a cardboard cylinder like the purple one, but it was so slippery, that I had to wrap it on a makeshift spool or it would get tangled on itself.  The purple metallic yarn is Berroco Opulent FX and that is also 100% nylon.  Those yarns are considered 'novelty yarn.'  You normally mix these types in with another yarn, they are not normally worked up on their own.  They are what give plain cotton or wool yarn a pop.  The main yarn is South Company Rio de la Plata, it is a thick-thin kettle-dyed 100% wool.  This yarn I selected first and then the novelty yarn to match.

I tried the pattern as written and did not like it.  It left huge ladders on either side and it rolled alot.  I also was not achieving the recommended gauge on size 13 needles.  This is just a scarf and gauge is not a deal-breaker, but it will affect the look of the scarf.  I ended up using size 17. 

Too skinny!  Needs more fat!

This should be 4" wide and I was getting 3" on a 13, then 3.5" on a 15, then finally 4" on a 17.  Geesh.  After all that, I knitted several inches was when I saw the ladders and the rolling.  So I changed the pattern a bit to:

Cut fringe by measuring out 22, 18" length set of the main color (MC; cotton or wool) and another set of 22, 18" lenghts of the novelty yarn (B) (I did the teal as B)
Cut additional fringe by measuring out 42, 18" lengths of the other novelty yarn (C) (I did the purple one as C, since the purple yarn is not uniform, I cut double the amount)
Cast on (CO) 12 sts with the main color (MC) on a size that will give you a width of 4"
R1: k1, p1, repeat to end
R2: p1, k1, repeat to end (this is a seed st or moss st)
Repeat R1 & R2 one more time for a total of 4 rows
R5: k1, p1, k1, k6, p1, k1, p1
R6: p1, k1, p1, p6, k1, p2, k1
Repeat R5 & R6 until about 4" has been knitted
Pick-up one of the novelty yarns (B) by hold both the MC and B tog and repeat R5 & R6 until about 4" has been knitted
Drop B and pick-up the other novelty yarn (C) and hold with MC and repeat R5 & R6 until about 4" has been knitted
Switch between holding B with MC and holding C with MC until it is the desired length.
Repeat R1 and R2 for a total of 4 rows
Bind off
Applying the fringe: Take one length each of MC & B and two lengths of C
Evenly attach these four strands as one to the end of the scarf with a large crochet hook.  I put 11 sets of fringe on each end.  I also left the tail of the CO so it will mix in with the fringe.

Cut fringe before you start knitting

Yes, this still had a roll, but not as bad as the original design.  Maybe that was the charm of the original design.  I added the seed st in hopes of avoiding the roll, but it didn't work.  I did avoid the ladders, though.

Shimmering in the light

This scarf worked-up quick.  I knitted while watching tv, carpooling, and waiting to leave work.  You can literally knit this scarf for miles!  I ended it after 6 feet (not including fringe).   Here it is complete:

I love the colors!

I am pleased on how this came out.  I still have yarn left-over.  Maybe in my free time I will knit up a child scarf with the extra [insert biting-off-more-than-I-can-chew statement here].  We will see.  I plan on knitting one more scarf like this but the MC has all purple hues.  Instead of the teal, I have a cream from Katia and will use the left-over purple novelty from Berroco.  These will be given as gifts, even though I am loving this scarf.

Can someone make me one?!?

Maybe I can put this on my Christmas list and get one too!  I gave you the pattern, so get knitting!  I have lots of extra yarn from past projects, maybe I will make another mixed scarf, but when I do that, I will keep it.  Yeah, right!  No, I mean, of course!  This blog is about completing projects, so, yes, I will make one for myself.  It just might not be until next winter. 

It is worth learning how to knit or crochet.  Even if all you make are scarves or potholders, it is something to be proud of!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Summer Reading List

Yes, the summer reading list.  I posted on Facebook in June, that I was setting a goal to read nine (9) books this summer.  I got some thumbs-up and was excited to meet and possibly even exceed my goal.  Well, it is almost mid November and I am still reading...I do have to say I did read eight books during the summer months.  I am stuck on my ninth book and I don't know why it is taking me so long.  I love to read, I guess I am in a reading funk.  Let me share the books I read this summer along with a cheers rating (5 thumbs-up is the highest rating):

1. I picked this first book up at a yard sale.  This is a romance, but I think they called it 'paranormal romance'.  I never heard of that before, but I have read Heather Graham before and enjoyed her, so I figured this would be good too.  I was right, but I put it in the beach-read category.  A woman is a performer at a Las Vegas casino when someone is murdered and falls on top of her at the craps table (think opening scene from CSI Las Vegas).  There is a PI trying to solve this murder before too much info hits the press.  Paranormal part: The woman can see dead people that are in limbo after they die.  Interesting, but hectic ending with lots of ghosts coming out in an abandoned western town for a shoot-out.  I give it 3 thumbs-up.

 2. I got this book from a friend who reads avidly.  Jennifer Weiner has written tons and I have read at least two of them, one being Good in Bed and the other being In Her Shoes.  I enjoyed both of them; so I gave this one a try.  Right off the bat, someone is murdered in her perfect Conn surburban kitchen.  The main character is new to the area and is a stay-at-home mother that is not as perfect as her neighbors.  She is the only one that seems to care who killed this woman.  The book is filled with detail, suspense, chic-lit humor and real-life emotion.  I have recommended this book to several people and will continue to.  I loved how it matched up the good parts of chic-lit with a murder mystery.  I give it 5 thumbs-up.

3. The summer before last, I finally read the Twilight saga.  I enjoyed it, but I will only read them once.  I know, what kind of Twilighter am I?  Well, I did not choose a 'team' so everyone will have to live with it!  This novella came out and I actually bought it new and read it before some of the biggest fans I know at work.  Along with it being about the short second life, it was also a very short story.  Although short, it was just as addicting as the other four books.  I don't need to sum up the book, if you are a Twilighter, but for you non-believers, it takes a minor character and tells a portion of Eclipse through her eyes.  I give it 5 thumbs-up.

4.  I bought this book at a library book sale.  This is a local author from Tampa and this book is from in a series.  I had not read any of the other books in the series, and I don't think that I will either.  This book's main character is this vigilante guy that appears dumb but goes around killing 'bad guys'.  I think this book is suppose to inject humor while killing the bad guys, but it was lost on me.  I found it too annoying to like any of the characters.  I only give this 1 thumb-up.

5. Nevada Barr is one of my favorite authors.  Her book series is about a National Park Ranger, Anna Pigeon.  This one takes place in California where a firestorm breaks out and she and several other park employees/firefighters are stranded on a mountainside.  A murder takes place and it was done by one of the people stranded alongside Anna.  She is trying to figure it out, while keeping the peace until they are rescued.  There were a few boring parts, so I give this 3.5 thumbs-up.

6. Here is another Stephanie Plum book.  In my earlier post Ten Big Ones, I wrote about the numbered series from Janet Evanovich.  I read To the Nines in July, while I wrote about Ten Big Ones in September.  So, I am backtracking a bit.  As always, this book was a funny one.  She is looking for a skip and the angle in this one is that someone is leaving her flowers with devious messages that make Morelli a bit nervous.  A great addition to the Plum family.  I give it 4 thumbs-up.

7. I borrowed this book from a co-worker.  I was very eager to read this much-anticipated novel featuring Michael Landon.  I heard some mixed reviews, but if you are a fan of The Da Vinci Code,  then you will enjoy this next adventure.  Micheal is tricked into going to Washington DC by a Free Mason poser.  The history of the monuments in the Capital are covered in this book.  This book is suspensful and keeps you guessing who is on Micheal's side.  I give this 5 thumbs-up.

8. Like I said before, I read this one in September and covered the Stephanie Plum series.  This segment of Ms. Plum's life deals with a gang in Trenton, NJ.  She has Lula helping her and in the meantime, she gets to stay in Rangers 'Bat Cave'.  This one is hilarious and has to be read in order to get the full appreciation of the situations she encounters.  I give this a 4.5 thumbs-up.

9. This book I am still reading.  It has taken me over a month to read only half the book.  It is enjoyable, but I guess I've been really busy.  The preceding book, The Friday Night Knitting Club, was an excellent read for knitters and non-knitters.  This continuation of the Club is how they are dealing without one of their close members, having babies, and I'm not sure what else because I am only half-way done!  I can say that there is not a lot of knitting going on, so that is a bit disappointing.  That could be why it is taking so long.

Well, that was my summer reading list.  I like to keep track of the books that I read so that I can: 1. Not read the same book again, 2. Try to correlate the genre of book to my mood throughout the year and 3. To try and read at least one more book each year. 

So, in looking back on 2009, I read 14 books (this included the Twilight series).  This year the total is already at 15.  Technically, I could stop stressing and take the rest of the year to read Knit Two.  I think that I am funny sometimes, where I make-up these 'rules' in my head, only to try and find a way around them.  For example, if I read more than one additional book this year than last year, then in the year 2011, I will have to read 2010's number, plus one!  If I just coast the rest of the year, then it will only be 16 books.  I don't know why I need to organize something leasurely like reading books, into a schedule and stress over it.  How do I not think like this? Does anyone else do this or something like this with leasurely hobbies?

Anyway, I enjoy reading mysteries, some chic-lit (not all, some are just too typical and unreal) and non-depressing drama.  I have read a few Oprah Book Club selection books and wanted to dig a hole and not come out, they made me feel so depressed.  So, if a book boasts the Oprah Book Club seal, I don't touch it!  I think, "thank you for already determining that I don't want to read it."  I would ask for reading recommendations, but I have two book shelves stuffed with books that are on my To-Do list.  Let me finish those, then I will ask!  

Get outside and enjoy the weather, or if the weather is not enjoyable, then curl-up inside with a good book!  Happy reading!