Kettlebell Crazy…and another book

MC Sports is going out of business. This was good news for my exercise equipment inventory. (Not so good for the people who worked there or for my future exercise equipment needs/wants.) A few weeks ago I purchased a weighted hula hoop. It came with a video. I LOVE exercise videos. My son thinks they are “durpey.” (I have absolutely no idea if that is even a real word or how one should spell it. I know what it means though. Dorky. It means Dorky. My son thinks I look like a dork whenever I do an exercise video.) Anyway, durpeyness aside, I like that hula hoop. I especially like it because it is the only hula hoop that I’ve ever been able to actually get spinning. (I will admit, the woman on the video is a bit durpey.)

Along with the hula hoop I picked up another kettlebell. I had a ten pound one already and thought I was ready to graduate to a 15 pounder. Um…no. Not happening. That 15 pounder came with another video. YEAH! It took me four tries to get through the first 25 minute portion of the workout with the 10 pounder. BOO! Today I added (or attempted to add) the ab portion of the video. I did okay. Not fabulous. Just okay. But I will persevere and I will eventually get through that whole video without skipping a single sit-up. I may even get through it with the 15 pounder. It may take me ten years, but I will do it!

I did get something done this week and I can’t wait to share a picture. You may remember that I mentioned a few crafty goals earlier in the year. You may also remember that I finished the ginormous knitted afghan some time ago. Item #2 on the list was a cross-stitch project of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I’m pleased (more than you can even imagine) to say that I finished it a couple nights ago. I will never, ever, ever, ever (do you get the picture here) do another cross-stitch project on midnight blue linen. I’ll share a picture once I get it ironed (it’s quite wrinkled right now) or after I get it framed. Eldest and I will need to make a trip to the frame store soon as she is very close to finishing up a massive Legend of Zelda cross-stitch that has 121,836 stitches in it. I’ll share a picture of that one, as well. I’ll move on to item #3 on my crafty goal list shortly..It’s a quilt I started 18 years ago. I have two other quilts to finish first, though, before I can get back to that one.

DSCN2204.JPGI also finished reading another book this week. Finish #16 for 2017 is The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I started listening to an audiobook of this story many, many weeks ago. (I think I was almost to my limit of renewals at the library I’d had it so long!) When it seemed that I wasn’t going to be spending a lot of time in the sewing room (where I tend to do my listening) I returned the audiobook and checked out the actual book. I really liked this story which moves back and forth between the present and the main character’s childhood. As the story progresses, we see how events from her past affected her ability to function in the future. Through it all is woven the language of flowers–the meaning of different flowers and how the characters used those flowers to speak to one another.

 

 

 

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Knit, Knit, Purl, and Read

I’ve accomplished one of my goals for the year! A lingering project has been completed. It only took 3 (I think) years. You would not believe the size of this afghan. Or the weight. It’s knitted with two strands of yarn at a time, both blue and red, and it makes a nice, thick blanket. I can comfortably cover up all the way from my toes to my neck! I’m short, though, so that might not be saying much! Luna seems to be enjoying it. (Not as much as she’s apparently been enjoying the couch whenever we leave the house. Hair left behind as evidence: Sorry, Luna, you need to do a better job covering up your crime.)

DSCN2068.JPGI’ve not posted anything in several days. Not because I haven’t been reading. I have. Not because I haven’t completed any books. I have. I haven’t posted because internet service was sketchy all last week. Dial-up would have been faster. Seriously. I’m not kidding. We’re blaming cloud cover. I’m just thankful the clouds are gone, sort of, and we’ve seen a bit of the sun today.

As to my other crafty goals, the Jesus cross-stitch saw some progress. The quilt, however, not so much. Well, actually nothing at all. I thought about working on it, but I just didn’t want to. I started a new quilt instead. (While another one hangs out on the back of a chair waiting for me to quilt it!) I am the queen of works-in-progress. I did finish a pair of sleep shorts, though.

As to books, I finished my fourth and fifth books for 2017, and rather than write a post about each of them in this time of dodgy internet service, I will write about both during this break in cloud cover that could go away at any moment!

DSCN2062.JPGNumber 4 was Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich. It was classic Evanovich. Though, is it just me or is she actually using a few less swear words? I’m not complaining, just making an observation. I laughed out loud a few times while reading this book, so that’s always a sign of a good book. I’m still wondering how much longer Rex the hamster is going to live. I’m no hamster expert (though we did have two as pets years ago), but I’m fairly certain this one has lived way longer than is normal.

Book #5 was Nobody’s Baby But  Mine. This was another Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. If you recall from last year, I’ve developed a fondness for books by her. This one was as enjoyable as all the rest. DSCN2063.JPG

Pillows, Projects, and a Book

DSCN2057.JPGWhile the weather outside is frightful and the fire inside is so delightful, I’ve been attacking projects that I’ve been meaning to get to for some time. You many remember that I mentioned something a few weeks ago about setting goals for 2017. Well, I’ve set a few goals for myself…nothing too lofty. Some of them have to do with crafty projects that I’ve been neglecting for various reasons, some have to do with increasing my level of fitness (I like that better than setting a goal to lose those five….aka eight…pounds that need to go), and some are about spending wisely and saving more. Here’s to hoping I’ll succeed!

As to my crafty project goals, I’m making it my mission this year to finish a queen-size quilt I started when I was pregnant with Eldest. I’m embarrassed to say that was 18 years ago. What, you might ask, has kept me from finishing it when I’ve finished numerous other quilts in those 18 years? The answer is simple. I don’t want to quilt it! It’ll probably be too big to quilt with the machine, I don’t want to quilt it by hand, and I refuse to pay someone else to quilt it. But, this year is the year it will be completed. Really. I mean it. I mean it more than I meant it several years ago when I made it my goal to finish it then. I’ve also got a cross-stitch project in the works: Jesus in Gethsemane. He’s been languishing in an unfinished state for some time now, but after putting in a few hours over the past week on that project, I’m seeing some good progress. Finally, I’ve had a red and blue afghan in the works for a couple years…that’s getting completed this year also.

So, in an effort to avoid working on the things I need to work on, I made pillows! Three lovely pillows to match a quilt that I finished last year. Check them out in the above photo. I took the same block and mixed it up a bit to get three different pillows. I love them! They make me feel like I’m at the beach even while the snow flies outside. (I also finished up two more Christmas ornaments, another quilt top, a table runner top, cut out a pair of sleep pants and a pair of sleep shorts, shortened a pair of jeans because I can’t buy anything the right length, and got a back cut out for and pinned to a baby blanket…all this in the past two weeks! Yippee!)

I’ve been listening to an audiobook in the sewing room and have nearly completed it. I’ll tell you all about it in my next post. (And believe me, I’ve got plenty to say!) For now, though, my second finish for 2017 is Bay of Sighs by Nora Roberts. This is book two in the Guardians Trilogy.

You may remember that I had a difficult time getting into the first book in this trilogy last year. The same was true for book two. I thought I was never going to finish reading this book! I’m usually such a fan of Nora Roberts. I think this book has too many “fantasy” elements to it. I believe that’s the proper word.  It’s got a werewolf, a fellow that can travel from place to place with just a compass, an immortal, a mermaid, a seer, and a magician. Plus, there’s a demon and a crazy witch-like lady (using “lady” loosely here). Not being a big fan of “fantasy,” I think this was just too much for me! I’m certain I’ll read the third book simply because I can’t read only two of the three, but I have a feeling I’ll enjoy it about as much. One thumb up for this one, one thumb down.

 

 

Finish #85 – The Lighthouse, The Cat, and the Sea (Plus a new quilt project to share)

Finish #85 is another shorty…which took surprisingly longer for me to read than I had anticipated. I must have been reading slowly! The Lighthouse, the Cat, and the Sea by Leigh W. Rutledge was a delightfully “deep” (was that pun-y since there was a boat and the sea in the story?) story about a cat (one of my favorite topics in the world) who began life on the sea, survived a shipwreck, and was finally reunited with someone from her early life later on in the tale. Strangely, though the cat was named Mrs. Moore, I always thought of the cat as a boy.

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Now on to the quilt project…

A couple of years ago I went on a shop hop with my mom to different quilt shops. If you’ve never been on one, sometimes there’s food, sometimes there are discounts, sometimes you get lucky and there are both! We visited a little quilt shop in a little town, and the ladies there were so helpful. I had no clue what quilt I wanted to make. I just knew that I wanted some bright colors. They helped me with my choices, and the end result is below! The pattern is Four-Patch Shift from the book Skip the Borders by Julie Herman. I quilted it with blue thread in an all over meandering, cure me of my perfectionistic tendencies way, and I really like the end result! I played around with block placement on three matching throw pillow tops, but haven’t gotten them quilted yet. I’ve already started my next project…this one uses browns and pinks and two fabrics that I really, really wish I had bought more of.

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Finish #71 – The Girl on the Train

DSCN1870.JPGI’m thrilled to share my newest completed project: a table runner. It’s difficult to see in the picture on the left, but the center of those stars have sheep in them! Yes, sheep! They are so cute. I was glad to finally have a use for them. I’ve got plenty of that adorable fabric left to use in some other project. I can’t wait to find another place to put them!

I’m a little nervous about putting this runner on the table. I’m having visions of spaghetti sauce splattered all over that white fabric. (And it would probably be me that got it on there!)

DSCN1871.JPGFinish #71 is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. No, I did not just “discover” this book now that it’s a movie. I did not even realize it was going to be a movie when I first saw the book in Barnes and Noble in September. I just happened to be walking by the “suspense” section and the title caught my eye. I picked the book up, read the back cover, was intrigued, and typed a memo to myself of the title into my phone with the intention of seeing if the library had a copy.

Then I discovered that it was going to be a movie.

And I discovered that everyone else wanted to read this book at the same time as me, because they must have heard that it was going to be a movie. It took a few weeks for a copy to become available.

I enjoyed the book, but I was a bit annoyed that every character was so annoying. The main character was a drunk, her ex was a jerk, his new wife was a jerk, the missing gal had plenty of issues, AND HER husband was a jerk. Jeez, couldn’t someone be totally NORMAL? It truly was not what I was expecting. I’ll watch the movie (when I can get it either free from the library or cheap at the video store), but I wonder if I’ll be as disappointed in this movie as I was with Gone Girl when I watched it.

Finish #43- The Great Escape

P7061780.JPG Finish #43 is The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. After getting through David Copperfield, it was so nice to read something a bit “fluffy.” (I love “fluffy” books. Always have. One of my elementary school teachers complained at a parent/teacher conference to my mom that I read too much “fluff.” I liked that teacher a bit less after that remark! And I didn’t change my reading habits either. Back then it was all about Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High.) I figure I now read enough serious non-fiction and classics to balance out the “fluff.” But really, reading is supposed to be pleasurable, an escape, a way to relax. If all we read are “deep,” serious tomes, then there goes the pleasure, escape, and relaxation. (And I know, after reading 2 books in a row about human trafficking last December, that all that deep stuff can be downright depressing if not balanced out with something enjoyable.)

The Great Escape was the second book I’ve read by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. In Call Me Irresistible (Finish #38), we met Lucy Jorik (the main character of The Great Escape) very briefly as she ran away from her looming nuptials. She’s back in this book as the main character. The story was enjoyable, the characters interesting.

I mentioned recently that I was working on sewing up flannel squares into blankets (with the help of my kids who did a great job pressing seams) that we will take to a “baby pantry” or somewhere similar. I’m happy to report that seven blankets have been completed. (See photo below of one of the 5 girlie blankets. I only ended up with 2 boyish ones.) I think I may be able to finish one more with some remaining squares. But there’s a problem: I purchased flannel to back the blankets, and I bought toooo much! The goal was to use up the flannel I had, not get more! I’m thinking there might be some new pajama pants in my future, because I just can’t even think about cutting or sewing one more flannel square right now.

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Finish #35 – One Sunday Morning

P5191760.JPGI’ve had two glorious days where I haven’t had to leave the house! TWO whole days! It’s such a rarity to have even one day go by where I don’t have to take someone somewhere or run some errand. Silly me, I thought we were busy when the kids were little. That was nothing compared to how busy we are now that they are older. I spent yesterday morning burning butter and making vitamin D with the middle kid (aka going for a run in the sun), mowing the lawn (not my favorite chore), trimming shrubs (slightly less horrible), and weeding the flowerbeds out front (mind numbingly boring). It was wonderful. WONDERFUL. I got dirty and sweaty and a little bit sunburnt, and I didn’t come in until middle kid wanted to know when we would be eating lunch. (It was after 1:30. She was, understandably, hungry.) The afternoon was spent helping with remaining schoolwork and sewing boatloads of flannel squares together for some baby blankets we’re working on to donate to a baby pantry.

This morning I “enjoyed” a five-mile run on the treadmill and a bit of weightlifting. This afternoon I’ll be returning to the sewing room to work some more on those flannel squares. I’m hoping to get at least three blankets out of the squares I’ve cut. The kids will do the tying so the front and back of the blankets will stay together. They needed some community service hours and I needed to get rid of all the flannel squares. The blankets seemed like a good idea.

Tomorrow is a big day for the eldest. She’ll be taking a standardized test for the first time in her life. Yes, IN HER LIFE. I am not a fan of standardized testing. I consider it a big waste of time. But no one asked my opinion. So tomorrow is SAT day. Poor kid will have to drag herself out of bed at some hour that is more like the middle of the night for her and hop in the car for the hour plus trip to the testing facility. Why they couldn’t do the testing somewhere closer is a mystery to me. Next weekend is the ACT. Thankfully that one is offered closer to home.

There is no easy way to segue from what we’ve been doing to Finish #35, One Sunday Morning by Amy Ephron, so I won’t even attempt to do so. After reading A Cup of Tea by the same author, I was excited to read another by her. Set in the 1920s, the book begins with a group of ladies witnessing something that they assume might be scandalous. (I won’t tell whether it was or was not scandalous, as that would be a spoiler.)

I will say that as I came to the conclusion of the story I was a bit disappointed and somewhat confused. There were a few characters who didn’t seem to add to the plot, and  despite the blurb in the front cover alluding to the book having a surprising and satisfying ending, I put the book down feeling not all that satisfied or surprised. While interesting, One Sunday Morning will not make it on my list of favorites for the year.