Monday, October 26, 2009

Favourite Books - Reappraisal

I recently coerced G into joining Facebook - though it's a secret and will be short-lived. While helping him set up his profile - and by 'helping' I mean 'doing it for him' - I was asked about what sort of information he should include in his profile. I mentioned he could include work and school history or a list of favourite books, whatever he wanted. Though he declined to flesh out these details, it got me thinking about what I include in my online profiles. I should probably be thinking about personal information, public vs private content or copyright issues. But I'm not. I'm thinking about my book list. My Facebook 'Favourite Books' information is actually just a list of my favourite authors, as follows:
Julian Barnes, Jane Austen, Ann Patchett, Miriam Toews, Jasper Fforde, Sandra Gulland, Jack Whyte . . . but I'll read just about anything




That last bit is a lie, of course. I will not read 'just about anything', even when desperate. I recognize that I don't necessarily have the greatest taste in books - but I'm still a bit of a snob. As I studied this list, I couldn't help wondering if these authors and their writing continue to represent my 'favourites' - the best of the best that I've ever read. It's been years since I've read any Julian Barnes, especially something I would include in a 'favourites' list, and the same goes for most of the authors on that list. As you've likely already gathered, I intend to reappraise my list of favourite books. These are the books that I tell people are my favourites and that I tend to revisit:
  • The History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, by Julian Barnes
  • England, England, by Julian Barnes
  • Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
  • The Magicians Assisstant, by Ann Patchett
  • Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett
  • Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond
  • A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
  • Josephine B. trilogy, by Sandra Gulland
  • Dream of Eagles saga by Jack Whyte
I haven't included books that I love that I've already reread a number of times, such as Pride and Prejudice and Harry Potter.

This is a fairly substantial list, and I'm really not a very fast reader. I'll keep you posted as I work my way through the list, but recognize that it will take some time.

Let's see what happens.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Project #4 - Embroidered Space Towels

I have been working on these embroidered tea towels (patterns from Sublime Stitching) for a long time. That's not to say that they took a lot of work - they were just something I puttered with when i didn't have anything else to work on. Unfortunately, this means there is little consistency in the colour choices and stitch selection. But they're done!


This is the first one I finished, and the one I am the least pleased with. Not saying I don't like it, but but I think the black looks a little too heavy. I think it would have worked better if I'd only used two strands, rather than three.



I like the robot. He makes me happy.



This is the second sexy space lady, and I like her the best. Still not totally happy with the skin thread colour - a little too orangey for my liking - but overall I am quite pleased. I like her purple outfit. I want her purple outfit.



This is the three of them together on my kitchen stove.

Done! Taking them off the Project Jar list!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where I lay my books is home

It has taken me longer to get settled into my new apartment than I had initially anticipated. I've been moved in for just over a month and a half, but only now is it starting to feel a bit like home.

I loved the apartment immediately, we both did - and the thought that we had just missed out on it made it seem all the sweeter, I suspect. The stairway up to the second floor flat is narrow, but it opens into a spacious, bright (two skylights!) landing. The kitchen is another large, open, bright space - I haven't had a kitchen large enough to eat in since 2001. Luxury! The appliances and cupboard space are ample, which I consider a big plus. The bedroom is large and has a working fireplace. The other rooms have much to recommend them as well. Pleased as punch!

Then we realized that the washer/dryer and dishwasher we had seen while viewing did not actually come with the apartment. Apparently they belonged to the previous tenant, a possibility which hadn't even occurred to me. Boned.

Then we left for Toronto for a week and a half, abandoning our only-just-moved-in-not-even-unpacked-box-filled apartment. Upon our return we started the quest for furniture. You see, we moved to Halifax in our little '98 Corolla, Snowball, abandoning most of our worldly goods in Toronto before we left. The few larger items that we decided to keep - the bed, a few bookcases and a couple of desks - were generally lugged cross-country by G's father (again, a million times thank you). We quickly realized that we were missing a few key items: dishes, for example. And chairs. Also a couch, television cutlery, bedside tables, sewing table, lamps and dressers.

We've since made these purchases (along with a number of others. A large number) and have gotten the apartment arranged pretty much how we want it. There are still a few things to do, like framing and hanging the rest of the art, but we're getting there. Nothing like stuff to make you feel at home!

I knew I was finally settled when I got my bookcases in order. I love my books, and I like having them out where I can see them. But how to display them was a bit of an issue, as I have a lot of them and didn't want to just mash them together onto shelves. I wanted the shelves to look like I put some thought into it. Once I got the books out of their liquor store boxes (the best for moving books), I decided to try something a little different. Rather than arranging the books by subject or author as I've done in the past, I opted to adopt the idea of a good friend of mine and arrange them by colour. I believe it turned out fabulously, and I love it. It makes me happy - my books are out on display and just look so darn good!

Homey, don't you think?



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Project #2 – What I Don’t Miss About Toronto (first installment)

i) The Squeal of the TTC Tracks

TTC drivers often develop hearing loss on one side only - due to the shrieking tracks out the drivers side window. I cringe just thinking about it. Do they get used to it? I certainly didn't. I often found myself plugging my ears as the subway screeched to a halt, or the streetcar ground around corners. I am mostly on Team TTC - but I just wish they would oil those things once in awhile.


ii) The Smell
The first thing G and I commented on during out most recent visit to Toronto was the smell that assaulted us when emerging from the subway. The garbage strike was long over, but the smell of hot, sticky, rotting organics was still clinging to the air. Toronto at the height of summer can be fabulous - and it can be gross. Yuck.


iii) The Smog
The sky turns brown. Sky is not supposed to be brown.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Project # 3 - Bonsai Maple

I fell immediately in love with a Bonsai Japanese Maple I saw in the background of a Martha Stewart Living article. So when I saw this, I got an idea:


The box clearly states that the resulting Canadian Sugar Maple can be tended and coaxed into a bonsai. I had to go for it.

I planted the seeds a few days ago, and quickly realized that I did it wrong. I hadn't fished the 'amended instructions' from the bottom of the box. I don't think it's a BIG problem, exactly. But I wouldn't be surprised if this is the first entry with the tag 'project fail'.



But who knows? Maybe I'm wrong and I managed to aerate the soil enough after all. We shall see, potential Bonsai. We shall see.

Project Jar

Sometimes I feel like sewing, but feel so overwhelmed by the possibilities and ideas that I just can't decide. And then I end up making nothing.

So I started this Project Jar.



It has ideas for projects (both simple and more complex) that I've seen in magazines or books, or just have an interest in creating. When I need inspiration or something to help focus my energies, I draw a slip of paper from the Project Jar and get started.

You can see the list of jar projects in the menu to the right. Let's get started!