Monday, December 2, 2019

Fall photos and such

When there were still leaves on the trees.

Term 1 has almost finished up at school, which means we are about one third of the way through the school year.  I'm happy we had a short week with school and dance last week.  I needed a bit of a break from that daily routine, which starts to get under my skin after awhile.  (Weird personality trait.)

Back in September, we attended a small family reunion.  The girls were willing to pose for some photos for me.


I laughed at how the little one with Emily gave me such a hard time with photos when she was younger, and now she jumps right in.




You know I love a good sunset photo.



I couldn't decide which one I liked the most, so you get all three.



The girls participated in their school's running club this fall.  There are no organized sports at the middle school level, only clubs and almost all of them are non-athletic, which is fine.  They are each taking three dance classes in addition to their competition team.  That keeps us all pretty busy.






The girls with their BFF, before long overdue haircuts.

And post haircut for this one.

I don't really have a reason, perhaps life changes, but I haven't been taking as many photos.  When I was younger (much younger), I so badly wanted to be able to paint and draw just like my mom and uncle.  It comes so easy to them, but sadly that trait wasn't passed along to any of their children (or grandchildren, thus far.)  My love of photography came later - more towards the end of high school - and when I realized I was actually good at it, it became my creative outlet.  While I'll never be able to paint a beautiful sunset, at least I can photograph one.



This is the winter scene that has taken over New England.


Sunday, December 1, 2019

November Book Review

My fingers are trying to type that I read five very different books this month, but I really didn't.  Well, I did read five books but they were all fiction and three have a future world spin to them, so really not all that different.  There was only one in the suspense category and it was meh.  Not very suspenseful, in my opinion.

I came across After the Flood on my library's main page as the "big read" for October.  I thought it sounded interesting so I checked it out (and ended up having to set my kindle to airplane mode in order to finish it.)  Ocean waters rise at an alarming rate, flooding the world as we know it.  The only land left belongs to the tops of mountains.  Seven years earlier, Myra's husband abandoned her and fled with their daughter.  Myra, who was pregnant at the time, has since given birth and lives on her own with her young daughter on a small boat, surviving by trading fish she has caught.  After learning that her oldest daughter is still alive and being held captive, she will risk everything to find her.

Sometimes the library big read selections are a bit odd but I really enjoyed this one.  As you know, I like books with an apocalyptic theme and I'd say this one fell into that category.  After the Flood was fast paced and with so much going on, it never dragged for me.  There was a lot of depth when it came to details regarding emotions.  I would have loved more detail for physical descriptions of places but I can see why the author wrote it the way she did.  To add more detail would have made this book much longer.  I didn't dislike the ending but I was hoping for more.  With the way it is now, there could actually be a sequel.  

If you're looking for something different to read, give this one a look.


I have nothing but high praise for Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.  If you've read The Handmaid's Tale and want to know more, this will satisfy your curiosity.  The Testaments is told from the perspective of three females - the highest ranking Aunt and two girls, one who grew up in Gilead and one from Canada.

If you want to read this, do yourself a favor and don't read anything about the book.  Nothing.  There are spoilers all over the place.  I happened across a monthly book review by another blogger shortly after I had started reading The Testaments and I was a bit disappointed when she gave away some plot lines I had suspected, but aren't revealed into later in the book.  So I'm not going to say much more so as to not give anything away, but I thought this was an excellent book.  I'm really a big Atwood fan.

I do find it interesting how there are a ton of negative reviews out there and while I am typically a tough judge of books, I really don't see why people are furiously throwing out one and two star reviews.  We're all entitled to our opinion but people seem to be so angry over this book.


You guys know how much I enjoy reading suspense, even when the plot is a bit of a stretch, but The Au Pair was not that good.  After giving birth to twins Seraphine and Danny, Ruth Mayes jumps from a cliff behind her family's estate.  The au pair leaves that very night and returns to London while dark rumors circulate through the nearby village.  Twenty-five years later, after their father dies in a tragic accident, Seraphine begins to question who she really is.  As she digs up the past, lives are threatened.  Are her parents really her parents and who doesn't want her to know the truth?

After reading the first chapter, I couldn't figure out how this could be a full length book.  I thought there was a lot of filler and while it didn't necessarily drag on, I wasn't a fan of how this was written.  Some of the character interactions just seemed awkward.  Also, there's the fact that I figured out almost all of the plot twists very early on in the book.  There were just too many coincidences for me.  If you're a fan of suspense, I unfortunately would not recommend this one.  


Gah!  I have such mixed feelings for Fleishman Is in Trouble.  I think the author is a brilliant writer but I didn't love everything about this book.  Toby Fleishman, an early-40s doctor, awakens to discover that his newly separated wife has dropped off their children early to his apartment.  She communicates that she is traveling to a yoga retreat for the weekend and needed to leave the children with him earlier than the agreed upon Friday night transfer of parental duties.  She refuses to answer her phone or respond to any text messages over the weekend and then fails to pick up the children Sunday night.  Why did his soon-to-be ex-wife abandon her children and what really happened to their marriage?

At first, I thought there was going to be some type of mystery aspect here.  There really is not.  Well, there is in the sense of what happened with these characters, but this is not a page-turner.  And that's fine, it doesn't need to be a page-turner.  The author hits on so many relevant topics: social status, motherhood, money, marriage, independence, working moms.  I really think she did an outstanding job with that.  I could relate to a lot of what was written here and I appreciated the depth of emotion, but there was a very slight drag.  Mostly with the fact that days went on forever because they were filled with back stories.

I did not like the rated R writing.  In a way, I wonder if it was included as a shock factor.  For me, it took away from the writing.  I also did not "laugh out loud."  Trust me, I appreciated the comedic aspect, such as all the moms wearing tanks and tees with statements like "but first, coffee" but I wasn't laughing.  I do admit to having an odd sense of humor though.

In my opinion, this had the potential for a five star review, but it just missed the mark.  And I hate to say that because I really did love what she was writing about.    


Kin is an IT specialist who lives in San Francisco with his wife and daughter.  In his previous life, he was a time traveler from the year 2142 who became stuck in current time 1996 after he was seriously injured during a mission.  What happens when a rescue team arrives after 18 years have passed to return him to 2142?  What about his wife and daughter?  What about the forgotten family and life he left behind in the future?  And what happens when he learns his daughter's life is in danger?  What will he risk in order to save her?

I really, really enjoyed reading Here and Now and Then.  It was fast-paced and moved along without ever dragging.  Even though I did crave some more details, that would have made for a very different, much longer book so I can't fault the author for his decision to write this as such.  I thought the plot was excellent and gave the reader much to ponder.  You don't need to be a sci-fi fan (I'm mostly not) to like this book.  Really, I'd recommend it to anyone.    

To read my other book reviews, click here for all the links!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sewing Gift Guide

I know you're most likely being inundated with gift guides right now, so I promise to post only one (or maybe two.)  The other day, in a sewing group I belong to, someone new to the sewing world asked for suggestions for tools or other items she would find useful.  I thought it may be helpful to pull together a list of things I use on a regular basis when sewing for those who are buying gifts for newer sewists.  Or perhaps you are newish to the sewing world yourself and would like to see what I use on a regular basis when sewing.

Desk Lamp

My sewing space is in our finished basement and, unfortunately, that area does not see a ton of sunlight.  Around the holidays last year, I picked up this table lamp (in white) during a mega sale and it was a game changer.  I have it set up on a half-wall ledge shining onto my sewing table and the light is perfect, not harsh at all.

Sewing Gauge

I use a sewing gauge for almost every single project I work on to ensure my seams, lines, everything is straight and even.  It doesn't take up much storage space and it's super inexpensive.

Rotary Cutter and Mat

The easiest and fastest way to cut nice even lines is with a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat.  The mats can be expensive so I would suggest shopping around for prices and coupons.

And don't forgot a quilting ruler.

Comic Book Boards

So, yes, comic book boards are technically used in storing comic books, but they are very popular in the sewing community for fabric organization.  I also use these to copy pattern pieces and create my own templates instead of having to pin a paper pattern onto fabric.  The boards are really the perfect thickness for this - easy to cut but not flimsy like paper, so it won't bend or crinkle.


These have so many different uses that I can't imagine not having one.  I own both the ball point and tweezer versions.

Thread and Zippers

When in doubt, anyone and everyone who sews can use thread.  You'd be surprised at how much we use.  I always feel like I'm winding a new bobbin.  If thread seems like a lame gift on its own, toss a bunch a spools in with something else to beef up a gift box.

Those of us who sew pouches, wallets, etc. will always be thankful for more zippers.  (Check out the store zipit on Etsy.  Much less expensive than purchasing individual zippers through craft stores.)

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  TGUH is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Program LLC, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Toy Story + Disney Christmas Sewing

While sales of Disney Halloween items were blah (and that somewhat could have been due to my timing), Christmas sales picked up after Halloween.  Today I wanted to share what've I've been sewing.

To start, I found this fabric at Joann and I think it's the best Christmas fabric Disney has released.


In prior years, some of the licensed Disney prints have not been very cute.  I hope the designer of this one sticks around.

The girls have outgrown twirly skirts and a couple of years ago, Allie suggested a more grown up looking skirt with a flat front waistband.  I did some research and found a couple of online tutorials for a skirt with a flat panel waistband in the front.  I made some adjustments and created my own pattern.  I prefer to add the elastic at the very end.  


So, yeah, speaking of elastic, the back is stretchy for a more comfortable fit.


I ended up making two skirts in a girls size 10.


And then a smaller size dress with the same fabric combo.


I stopped by Joann to pick up more of that Christmas print and couldn't resist grabbing a couple of yards of a red buffalo plaid fabric.  Initially, I was thinking about placemats or perhaps even hoarding it, but then I saw both of the fabrics next to each other and decided it was super trendy and went for it.



This eyelet lace with the bows is probably the cutest I've come across.



Another flat front skirt, girls size 8.


I enjoy creating Toy Story inspired outfits so earlier this year, I made this dress.


And the same Jessie dress in a bigger size.


Here's a different version.  (I like the above version better.)


And a cute little skirt.


This week I started working on tote bags for teacher holiday gifts.  I'm infamous for coming up with grand ideas and then running out of time, so I started early.  I'll be sure to share when I'm finished!