Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Book Review - Sixteen Brides

Imagine finding yourself a widow as a result of war, an apparent burden on those around you and unable to help yourself other than succumb to the fate which others put in place for you. What would you do? Give in, do as they ask and perhaps lose yourself in the process? Or travel to the unknown and distant wilderness to make your own destiny?

In Sixteen Brides, Stephanie Grace Whitson brings together 16 women who have, literally, nothing left to lose. The sixteen, from a variety of backgrounds, situations and cities, were thrown a lifeline of hope - they could travel to faraway, unpopulated Nebraska, and homestead their own land. The idea that a woman could own property was so astonishing and thrilling, empowering and liberating that they took the chance despite knowing no one there, and knowing nothing about the terrain or climate.

Before you go dreading the idea of following sixteen women's lives through their pioneering in Nebraska, know that the number (without anything depressing occurring, just fyi) drops down to a much more manageable five. It is those five women, one young son, and a sprinkling of townspeople that we follow on the rest of the journey through horrible snowstorms, firestorms, soddy building, town store competitions, bronco busting and, yes, romance.

Though each character has their own unique issues to overcome, with all involved the themes seem to revolve around transformation, forgiveness, grace, love and starting over and the wonderful overall message that it's never too late to be what you might have been (not a quote used in the story but one of my favorites).

Interesting historical detail and the diversity of the characters and the way in which they handled their personal demons made this a rich, fascinating story that I really enjoyed. There were times when I wished to hear more about certain characters than others and times when things felt the plot was moving more slowly but would I recommend? Yes. I really enjoy Whitson's writing (my first book review here was her A Claim of Her Own) and I continually look forward to reading her books.

This book was provided by Bethany House Publishers for the purposes of reviewing, but my opinion is ever my own.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

5 out of 10 - Ten Days Challenge

Today marks the halfway point on the ten day challenge. So how am I doing? Well I've done 5 out of 10 so I'd say pretty good!

I planted my sweet pea seeds in a strawberry pot on the porch. There's a metal post there that I want them to grow up and man have they taken off!

Personally I love that dog hair dangling off the plants to the left *eyeroll* - the dog got a haircut and a bath yesterday for this reason. Hey and those weren't even on my list! What an overachiever. ;)

Another of my tasks was to "rescue my herb garden." Rescue it from vetch and oregano gone wild! I like full gardens but this was ridiculous! My lavender was getting choked out, and you could hardly tell where one herb ended and another began.

I added some square bricks to use as stepping stones when I need fresh herbs but I've watered the garden. I also added a little statuary just for fun. :)

Below is just one of the piles I took out of there. There were so. many. weeds.

I've also done my Mad Tea Party post which was the last post written. I organized my photos (more on that later) and I turned my desk into my craft station instead of "pile it here if you don't know what to do with it." - I'll show photos of that when the challenge is complete.

How are you doing with your tasks?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today's MY unbirthday too!

Hello goodbye, no time, no time?

No, no, no that will not do. Stay and join us, it won't cost you a dime!

Once upon a time there was a girl who dreamed a perfect Mad Tea Party - she'd had a whole year to prepare and had bought tea accessories in grand anticipation. But when the actual day came - oh MY! Why she had more troubles than Alice herself going through Wonderland!

First her cupcakes got neglected - over baked - and were oh so yucky.

Then as she went to set up her party the dark clouds loomed as the wind blew in a storm.

She gathered her friends inside to wait. Oh dear, oh me, the party will be late! Worse! Cancelled!

But she put her chin up and apron on and decided to be brave and then she remembered her bottle of wishes she'd saved.

It was such a time as this that those wishes came in handy. She closed her eyes and blew her wish up, up and away...

Asked her friends to hand over their ticket to stay.

And yes! It worked! The skies were clear and bright. To the party we go as we enjoy this respite.

The girliest Mad Hat you ever did see was waiting for the one who had been sent the right ticket.

And our Honorary Hatter put it on it one hot minute!

Come in! Sit down! Enjoy the cozy comfy space.

There is a table of goodies among the flowers and lace.

And old friends we haven't seen in a good long while!

And a new friend too, hiding in the aisle?

Well of course! And we couldn't play croquet without you!

I look over the treats and tea accoutrement anew...

So inviting and delicious - I'm tickled to the core.

Looking over the table you ask, "but what is this for?"

Why it's my Merry Unbirthday of course! What's that? It's YOUR unbirthday too?!

Please let me get you some wonderful treats! As around the table I flew.

Perhaps a cup of tea?

A cake bite perhaps? Ah but you forgot already! Those deadly cupcakes were transformed into these delicious nibbles I tell you with glee.

Yes, of course candied orange peel is more of a Christmas thing, but don't you think it goes nice with our orange chocolate cake bites and orange infused tea?

Fill your plate now, don't be shy! I add in brightly.

Perhaps you'd prefer some water instead?

No? Alright, tea it is! And it looks like just in time too, to enjoy this magical spread.

Take your treats and find yourself a spot...

To sit and relax and give pleasant things a thought.

How is your tea dear? Too hot, too cold, just right? Clean cup? ;)

Enjoy the wispy clouds and the lovely blue skies, how often we forget to just look up!

We sit and chat so long, so late, that the day came and went and now it's night!

The moon comes out to tell us, we'd better go inside, we're all out of light.

And it kisses the daisies goodnight as we go.

Thank you friend, for a lovely visit! I do hope you'll come again for tea! I'll keep my bottle of wishes handy - just in case! :)

If you're curious about some of the creations you saw in my post - hat, banner, tickets, etc. - click here for the how-to and purchase links.

And be sure to click the banner at the top (or on the side ---> ) to visit A Fanciful Twist, the lovely hostess and all the other Mad participants!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

10 Tasks in 10 Days

The Shabby Chic Cottage is hosting a Ten Tasks challenge to inspire us to get things done! My list has a little of everything from the simple to the herculean. Each task needing to be done so badly and this accountability is just the motivation I need to accomplish it.

I did my list old school because I love checking things off a list. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bits and pieces

This was one of those strange cases where you have a bit of this and a piece of that laying around for ages, you think about getting rid of it and then all of a sudden they come together so perfect you can't imagine why you hadn't thought of it before.

It started with this poor little candle holder which was once a lovely shabby white but has since been dyed by my red candle and then somehow it rusted...indoors.

There was also this little covered jar I bought at Goodwill months ago, made a creepy terrarium out of it, then didn't really know why I'd ever bought it.

Until I discovered that the jar sat perfectly into the candleholder and would make the ideal place to house the bits of glass I found in this junkpile on the family property in central Oregon. Yes, those are nails. Seriously.

All together now!

Shabby junk loveliness. :)

I know there is more glass bits to find out there so I like that I have room to grow and one of these days the jar will be full.

Linking to:

Finesse Your Nest


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mosaic Monday - Father's day

(Click image to enlarge)

I've made a bit of a project of scanning old photos so that's mostly what I had to work with. Photos of dad as a boy, a typical teenager leaning against a car, a young man, married, 6 months later drafted and sent to war, and finally a father with a little girl who had the same blue eyes and would grow up to have the same sense of humor and love for Whoppers candy and the Sunday funny pages. It never mattered that I was a girl - Want to learn to shoot? Want to drive the tractor? You can do it. Like it was nothing at all. He certainly always had more confidence in me than I have in myself.

I lost my dad in 2006 but I have lots of memories to keep with me. If you are fortunate to still have yours I hope you treated him to something special today. Please remember to tell dad you love him every day.

Be sure to visit Little Red House to see all the fabulous mosaics.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Independence Day picnic utensil bundles

This is a re-post of a project I did last year but I've added photos and instructions on how to make the paper flowers. I hope this helps. You're welcome. :)

For all of us Americans our 4th of July Independence Day celebration usually means a barbecue, a picnic, or some kind of gathering in the sunny outdoors. I don't know about you, but my plastic utensils are all completely mismatched now that I only needed forks one time or only needed a spoon and a knife another, but I refuse to buy new when these will do. I would, however, like it to look less like I ran around to camp or picnic sites stealing a knife here and a fork there. To add a little unification and to take some of the hassle out of the food line I bundled the utensil sets inside a paper napkin and bound it together with a festive paper flower in flag colors.

Materials needed:
thin weight paper
green covered floral wire

Optional but recommended materials:
sewing pin
circle punch

You can start with colored paper but make sure it is a thin weight paper as you'll be folding it several times and the thicker it is, the more difficult it will be to fold. If you don't have colored paper available computer printer paper works just great.

If using printer paper:
Do not use a circle punch, the paper is too thin and it will likely tear instead. Use a biscuit or cookie cutter, jar lid, compass, etc. to trace your circles and cut them by hand.
When you've gone through the steps listed below you can then color your plain paper by making a wash (paint and water mixture) to color your flowers.

Cut floral wire in half and dab some glue on each end to keep the covering from fraying loose when you try to work with it. When that is dry curl one end in on itself to create the flower center. While the glue is drying...

Cut or punch your circles.

Fold your circle in half, then in half again, then in half again - it should form a tiny cone shape (see below).
Trim the wide end to a rounded edge - this will form the "petals" when you unfold it.

Cut down one of the fold lines - it doesn't matter which - then trim the top and side off the "petal" to give yourself a little flap.

Dab glue on your newly made flap and bring your sides together, putting the flap behind the whole petal. This adds dimension to your flower. Let glue dry.

When your glue has dried, use a sewing pin to make a hole in the center of the flower - this will make it easier to push your floral wire through.

Et voilà!

Now gather your utensils inside a paper napkin and use the floral wire to bind them together creating a napkin ring/bundle all in one!

Enjoy your Independence Day!

Linking to:

Creations by Kara

Everything Etsy