Monthly Archives: March 2012

Five Quarters of the Orange Book Review

The novels of Joanne Harris are literally a feast for the senses.  Her most popular novel, Chocolat, is rich and dark, a delicious combination of bittersweet romance and sensual passion.  The sequel to Chocolat, The Girl with No Shadow, is maybe my favorite Harris novel to date.  Her other well-known book, Blackberry Wine, is as complicated and diverse as the wines she describes in the book…you could almost smell them as you read about the vast grape fields she described.

So I knew just what to expect when I started reading Five Quarters of the Orange.  Ironically though, this book left a bad taste in my mouth.

Maybe her most complex and challenging book yet, Five Quarters of the Orange  tells the story of Framboise Simon and her complicated relationship with her deranged mother, Mirabelle Dartigen.  Framboise is reminiscing throughout most of the book, starting off as an older woman and looking back on her life in France with her mother during the German occupation.

On a quest to better understand her mother, Framboise reads and cooks her way through her mother’s cherished book of recipes.  Through small notes left by her mother between directions for bread and sweets, Framboise begins to unravel a mystery that has been haunting her family for years…and comes to discover that things are often never as they seem.

While the concept of this book orginially had me intrigued, I hate to say that I found myself continually loosing interest in this story.  It wasn’t until the middle of the novel that I really began to take an interest, which is unusual for an author with such wonderful and discriptive writing.  I often find myself unable to put a Harris book down, but this one, like the relationships between the characters of this book, was complicated, uncomfortable, and hard to comprehend.

xx
Other Joanne Harris Novels Worth Reviewing:

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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DIY Tee Shirt Necklace

SPRING CLEANING!!  One of my favorite times of the year!  This month I’m focusing on cleaning out my closet.  I have WAY too many clothes, many of which I never wear anymore (story of everyone’s life, right?).

I was going through some old tee shirts and found a couple that I haven’t worn in ages.  One was a white shirt that I really liked, but that had a huge coffee stain on it.  Again, story of my life.

So I decided to create this cute necklace so, in a way, I could still wear the shirt!

I included this necklace in my roundup of tee shirt crafts that I posted last week, so I thought I’d tell you how to make one of your very own!  It’s super easy and the look of it with a tee shirt and jeans is just perfectly casually chic!

Tee Shirt Necklace

Materials:

  • An old tee shirt
  • Scissors
  • Pearls

Instructions:

  1. First lay your tee shirt out flat.  Starting at the bottom, cut strips about 1 inch wide.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just eyeball it.

  2. Once your strips have been cut (I stopped cutting as soon as I got to the sleeves), gently stretch them out one by one.
  3. You could use a scrap piece of tee shirt material or a heavy duty piece of thread to thread the pearls.  I used some left over tee shirt material that I stretched until it was super thin.  I used a knitting needle to thread the pearls onto the fabric thread.
  4. Depending on the size of the tee shirt, you should be able to wrap the strips around your neck twice.  That’s what I did and then I tied the string of pearls to the doubled up strips of tee shirt fabric.

It’s as easy as that!

I had so much fun creating this necklace that I made another one with a tank top that was too big on me.  Stay tuned for that tutorial coming up next week!  I also have a tutorial coming up on how to turn a favorite screen tee into an adorable accessory!  Get creative with your spring cleaning this year!

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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The Animal Dialogues Book Review

The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild is a lyrical and beautifully written collection of short essays written by Craig Childs, one of the most appreciated and finest nature writers of our time. From his terrifying experience staring down a mountain lion to his Alfred Hitchcock-like run in with a group of murderous ravens, these various experiences with the animal world will leave you inspired to go out walking, traveling, adventure seeking to find and create your own tales of wilderness and discovery.

As a lover of wilderness and travel literature, I cannot recommend The Animal Dialogues enough. The writing is absolutely exquisite as Childs creates a whole new world in every short essay. Moving fluidly from beasts to birds, fish to insects, readers are immersed in the world of one animal at a time, gaining new appreciation and knowledge for everything from the praying mantis to the majestic mountain lion.

A true man of the world, Childs shares with us a look into the life of our animal neighbors. With profound respect, Childs immerses himself in a world where anything goes…where animals are wild and free…where many humans fear to tread. As he says in the beginning of The Animal Dialogues, “Animals are watching. Right now they are in the woods, many of them looking back over their shoulders or peering down at us from bridges or tree branches as we march below, snapping dry wood with our boot soles and squishing soft, fleshy mushrooms.” Thankfully for us, Childs is watching, too.

And don’t forget to friend me on Goodreads!  You can see the other stuff I’m reading, check out what’s next on my list, and recommend books!  It’s a great place for bookworms to gather and talk about their favorite reads!  You can also follow your favorite authors and be updated on new book titles, important news, and other neat stuff surrounding the world of books.  Hope to see you there!

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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9 Clever Uses for Tee Shirts

I don’t know about you, but I’m anxious to get on with my spring cleaning!  I have tons of stuff to go through, including lots of clothes that I hardly ever wear.  I have a whole pile of tee shirts just waiting to be donated, upcycled, or used in a craft project!

Tee shirts, no matter how grungy they are, can be used for lots of things, including the actual “cleaning” part of spring cleaning!  Here are some useful ideas on how to reuse and upcycle tee shirts that are either too nasty to wear or no longer fit.

Necklace:  I love making these fabric necklaces.  They are so easy to make and it’s a great way to reuse a shirt that you don’t like or that no longer fits you.

Rag:  For those shirts that are too dingy to use for much else, you can cut them up and use them to dust the house!  They’re also great for around the garage when you’re gardening or working on the car.

Pillow:  Have a tee with sentimental value?  Sew up all the holes and stuff it with the filling from an old pillow to create something worth cuddling with!  This is great for an old shirt that you have that once belonged to a loved one.

Scarf:  If you have screen tees that you love, simply cut the screen off the shirt and sew all the shirt pieces together to create one awesome tee shirt scarf!  This scarf is lightweight and perfect to wear year round!

Rug:  I love this idea!  If you can crochet in the round, you can create an awesome circular rug made from tee shirt scraps.  I particularly love this hula hoop rug idea.  Using those weaving skills you mastered back when you were younger, you can create a fun and colorful rug for indoors and out!

Curtains/Shower Curtains:  Using a technique similar to the scarf, you can sew your favorite tees together to create awesome curtains!  This is a great idea for a game room or kids room.  You can make them in blocks like a quilt or cut the shirts into strips and sew them back together for a rainbow effect.

Quilt:  Speaking of quilts, this is a fun idea.  Cut up shirts you love, but will probably never wear again…like those old shirts from sports or marching band, and assemble them into a quilt.  If you don’t have enough tees, print out some pics on printable fabric and interweave those through the quilt.  This is a great gift for parents or grandparents.

Framed Wall Art:  You can also stretch your favorite tees over round and square canvases and hang them on the wall.  This creates a unique 3-D effect that’s perfect for a kids room.

Flowers/Accessories:  I posted these Coffee Stained Roses a few weeks ago…and this is a great way to use a tee that has a stain on it.  Simply soak your tee in coffee, beet juice, etc. and give it a quick rinse.  Use these colorful roses on a wreath or wear them as hair accessories.  My roses still smell like coffee!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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Sweet Spring Felt Birds

These birds look so cute sitting on a window sill or hanging from a spring branch decoration.  You can even make them in darker colors to hang on your Christmas tree come holiday time.  With some red and black felt, you can make a bunch of cardinals that would be perfect as Christmas package decorations.

Thanks to Kata Golda for this great idea and pattern!

Felt Birds:

Materials:

  • Felt
  • Pattern
  • Needle
  • Embroidery thread (black, orange, and a complimentary color to your felt color choice)
  • Fabric filling or cotton balls

Directions:

Using the pattern provided by Kata Golda, cut out all your felt pieces.

Using a needle and black embroidery thread, embroider on the eyes.  Do the same with the orange felt for the beak.

Use your complimentary color thread to attach the wings, as shown in the pattern.

Use a blanket stitch to sew up all sides of the bird.

Stitch until there’s only a small opening left.  Use that opening to stuff the bird and then continue sewing it closed.

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Creamy Fettuccine with Peas, Salmon, and Dill

This is my attempt to make fettuccine just a little bit healthy!

This creamy pasta dish is great for a guilty pleasure meal.  If you’re not big on fish, use chopped chicken and broccoli instead of salmon and peas.  You could read my recipe for Pasta Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli that I posted a couple of years ago.  I still make it at least a couple times a month.

The dill in this dish is optional, but it really does enhance the flavor of the salmon.  It’s a great recipe for spring and perfect with a side salad and a cold beer.

Creamy Fettuccine with Peas, Salmon, and Dill

 Ingredients:

  • 1 box of fettuccine
  • ½ bag of frozen peas
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 jar creamy alfredo sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions:

1.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  When the pasta is at an al dente stage, add the peas and cook until the pasta is soft.

2.  Drain pasta and peas and place back in the pot.  Add the sauce and mix to combine.

3.  Season salmon with salt and pepper.  Add to a hot pan and cook about 3-5 minutes per side.  Use a fork and flake the salmon into small bite sized pieces.  Add salmon to pasta and mix to combine.  Add dill right before serving and mix until combined.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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My Lucky Life Book Review

You may know him as Caractacus Potts or Burt the Chimney Sweep.  Others know him as Dr. Mark Sloan, D.A. Fletcher, or Richard Harmon.  But most people nowadays know him as Rob Petrie…that loveable and funny family man who tripped into living rooms all over the country on the beloved Dick Van Dyke Show.

In his sweet and charming autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, Dick Van Dyke opens up about his years working as a performer on stages, TV sets, and the silver screen.  From his humble days as boy growing up in Illinois to the years spent on Diagnosis Murder and Night at the Museum, My Lucky Life is a look into the life of a man who touched the hearts of millions through his jokes, dances, songs, and characters.

My Lucky Life was a treat to read.  You won’t find blasphemous stories about Van Dyke’s trouble with alcohol or his rocky relationship with his wife and kids, rather you’ll read about what you want to read about.  Van Dyke’s relationship with Walt Disney and his work on Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang and Mary Poppins, his wonderful years spent working on TDVDS and his real-life crush on Mary Tyler Moore, and even a quick look into Diagnosis Murder and his more recent work in Night at the Museum and a handful of made for TV movies.  For the true fans of this wonderful and funny man, this is a charming and wonderful book that, like the man who wrote it, is sure to leave you happy and smiling.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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