Reading: April 2017

Currently

Atonement by Ian McEwan
This book is off. I can’t figure it out. It switches between narrators which is hard for me to follow sometimes. And the way he writes is just really different. I’m entrenched in the story now so I can’t put it down, but it’s a slow read.

Walking On Water by M. L’Engle
I’m only a chapter and a half in and this book is amazing. Here’s a favorite quote so far:

God is always calling on us to do the impossible. It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do too…Sometimes I will sit on a sun-warmed rock to dry and think of Peter walking across water to meet Jesus. As long as he didn’t remember that we human beings have forgotten how to walk on water, he was able to do it. If Jesus of Nazareth was God become truly man for us, as I believe he was, then we should be able to walk on water, to heal the sick, even to accept the Father’s answer to our prayers when it is not he answer that we hope for, when it is No.”

Hinds Feet on High Places
My daughter and I are still plugging along on this book and I’m loving sharing it with her and she’s enjoying listening to it!

I’m still pushing through On Being a Writer. I have to admit I’m not working on my writing as much as I wanted too. Life just keeps getting in the way and I’ve got so many other commitments it’s hard to set aside that time to work on it…or work on anything really. I’m just trying to keep up and make deadlines.

I also purchased second hand a copy of The Making of a Story and I’m hoping to start working on that this summer while we take a little break from school.

Finished

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This book ended up being pretty good. I’m glad I read it – although I would probably be selective about who I recommended it to. It’s a pretty brainy sort of sci-fi book, which makes it less like a sci-fi book I guess?

Goodbye, Vietnam
Eh. It was good. Not our best historical fiction this year.

The Living Page
A little hard to read and follow, but I’m glad I gave it another try. It really did clarify some things I was wanting to maybe try out in our homeschool next year.

Upstream by Mary Oliver
This was a great read. I loved it and I loved how it stretched me. There were a few sections on a few authors (Wordsworth?) that I’ve never read before so that was hard to follow. I loved how she described things – makes sense because she is a poet! 🙂

Loved Walked Among Us by Paul Miller
This was an excellent book. I do think it’s one that I would love to read as a Bible study or with a book club and definitely should read again and do a better job of journaling through it.

Hillbilly Elegy
I loved it, would love to read it again and maybe discuss it and I’ve passed it off to my husband who I hope will read it!

What’s Next?

Not sure! Finishing Atonement is a huge goal (especially before it’s due back to the library) and then I don’t know. We are finishing up with our school year reading. The chick and I are starting Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit and I’m sure that will carry on into the summer a little bit and I have a few others I’d like to read aloud this summer too. We have a big road trip in the next few weeks so I need to start searching for some good audiobooks for the car ride. Keeps the natives less restless in the backseat!

What are you reading?

Pattern Review: Julia Cardigan

Untitled

I want to like this pattern so much, but I’m just not sure. I’m still trying to figure out if I did something wrong in the construction or if it’s just a flaw.
The pattern is the Julia Women’s cardigan by Welcome to the Mouse House. The fabric is a made by rae print by cloud 9. This knit is divine feeling and in the end I’m wondering if my issues have more to do with the type and heaviness of this knit. It’s not sweatshirt thick, but it is a bit heftier and possibly this pattern is best with a lighter weight knit.

Overall this was a super simple pattern to put together. The directions are pretty darn good and there are photos all along the way to help. It’s not the most “professional” looking pattern, but after spending so many hours this year on adobe illustrator/indesign I’ve become sort of a graphic design snob. You have a couple of different options for the collar and I opted for the rolled collar without a hem. There again, with this thicker knit I’m wondering if that was the right choice?

My issue with the pattern is really just the fit and how it lays. I think if I made it again I would go a size down, a lighter weight knit and then maybe it would help with this bulge that seems to be in the hips area. I also think I would half the width of the collar – it just seems a little bit big when you get down the the back waist band.

It is a pattern that I would love another go at before I totally give it up.

Tutorial: Thank You Teacher Gift

It’s hard to believe it, but the end of the school year is quickly advancing and it’s time to start thinking about thank you gifts for teachers. I came up with this quick little project that is a great beginner embroidery project. It uses a little bit of felt and embroidery floss to mimic a old fashioned slate board. The perfect little gift to tuck into a little basket for your teacher.

Untitled

First up, supplies. Here’s what you need:

A 6×8 piece of brown felt (wool blend felt is your best option if available)
a smaller scrap of black felt
white embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
black embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
an embroidery needle
wonderclips or pins
sulky solvy to print your pattern on

First up, print your pattern pieces.
teacherpattern2
And cut out your brown and black felt pieces accordingly.

Then, print your embroidery pattern onto the sulky solvy.
teacherpattern1

Cut out the center rectangle of your sulky solvy pattern and peel of the back paper. Place it, sticky side down, onto the black felt rectangle.
All the text and the apple are stitched with 2 strands of white dmc embroidery floss using a backstitch. You can fill in the apple leaf with a few satin stitches if desired.

Untitled

After you stitch your pattern, cut away as much of the sulky-solvy as you can. Follow the directions on the package and use water to soak it away.
Untitled

Once your sulky-solvy has dissolved and your felt has dried, place your black rectangle centered on top of your brown rectangle. Use wonderclips or pins to hold in place.

Take 2 strands of black embroidery floss and stitch a tiny whipsitch all the way around your black rectangle.

Untitled

Add it to a gift basket, wrap it up in a fun envelope and pass it off to your favorite teacher!

Save

Reading: March 2017

One of my goals this year is to journal more regularly regarding what I’ve been reading. Here are my notes from March.

Currently

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I’m not a huge science fiction fan, but when I heard this book described on the What Should I Read Next podcast it just sounded too good to be hung up on the genre. I started reading it one night before bed while I was alone and that might not have been the best choice – the beginning is a little hairy and not something you might want to read alone, in the dark, at night. That said, it has totally gripped me and while there are parts of it I totally don’t understand (physics is not my strength at all) the characters and writing are so good that I keep reading. After the beginning part, I can’t say that it’s a scary book per se, just suspenseful and not the most might relaxing thing to read right before you go to bed.

Goodbye, Vietnam
The chick and I are reading this for school as we finish up a study on the period during the Cold Wars. So far it is pretty good. It chronicles the story of a family as they leave Vietnam during all the chaos reigning in their country.

The Living Page
I’m not going to finish this before I have to return it to the library, but I’m loving it and understanding it way more than I did the first time I tried to read it. This book goes through all the different notebooks that Charlotte Mason suggests using and while there are parts of it that are still hard to understand, overall it’s been fascinating. We are moving closer and closer to a more CM style of homeschooling and I my goal has been to study more and more of her methods. I want to start some notebooking ideas in the Fall and this has been a great stepping point as I head that direction. Definitely a book I want to purchase and add to my own learning library.

Hinds Feet on High Places
My daughter and I started reading this book and while I’ve already read it 2 times in my life, I’m excited to read it with her. It’s an allegory and the story of Much-Afraid and I swear every time I read it I get something new out of it. The last time I read it, I journaled a whole series on the blog. I’m so curious what she is going to think of the story in the end.

I’m still pushing through On Being a Writer and Love Walked Among Us this month. I have to admit I’m not working on my writing as much as I wanted too. Life just keeps getting in the way and I’ve got so many other commitments it’s hard to set aside that time to work on it…or work on anything really. I’m just trying to keep up and make deadlines.

Finished

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
This is a great little kid’s novel that the chick and I read for our book club. The adjectives and creativity were just awesome. She write with such humor and freedom and it’s just a sweet and light little book – but there are deep things in there too.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
We’ve been studying about modern history this semester and both World Wars. This book was awesome in it’s own right, but to read it after doing all this studying on the leaders and the beginning of all the chaos in the turn of the century made it even more interesting. I’ve never read any of Larson’s books, but I’ve heard them rejoiced many times. I’m totally a fan now.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This was another one recommended on What Should I Read Next and it was great. It’s another sci-fi sort of book but not too much. It’s different and weirdly I loved it. It’s a quick read and if you are a fan of a Wrinkle in Time and the show Stranger Things you will probably like this one too. I almost want to read it again to see what I missed, because I feel like I missed a lot of underwritten things.

Shiloh by H. Sorenson
I wrote a review of my own for this book. Find it here. It’s part of a trilogy and I can’t wait to get the next 2.

What’s Next?

I got my hands on Upstream again by Mary Oliver and it is just sitting on the table waiting to be read. I’ve already renewed it once, so I need to get busy and read it! I think I’ll try and finish Hillbilly Elegy in April and make that my one big goal. I’m also not doing very well sticking to my original list. I keep reading things that I hear about instead of going after the things I made a goal to read! Geez.

What are you reading?

Save

Pattern Review: Cheyenne Tunic

This shirt was such a long time making. The biggest hiccup in the whole process was the loss of my sewing machine for a month due to it being in service. I finally rescued it and with great joy was able to finally finish it. I do think in the end, making it so slowly was actually for my benefit. I figured out some mistakes along the way that I’m not sure I would have totally realized until too late if I hadn’t been forced to sew this shirt in so many small spaces of time.

Untitled

The Cheyenne Tunic pattern is by Hey June. I’ve made her Lane Raglan many times and love it so much. I was anxious to see how this tunic would come together.
I used one of the Hipster Grizzly Plaid flannels by Kaufman. I love the feel of this flannel and it hangs really well for this shirt. It did end up being a little bit harder to work with than I had thought, primarily due to the thickness. It’s not a super thin flannel and perhaps I might have done better if I would have made a muslin or even made this shirt first in a thinner cotton versus starting with the flannel.

Overall this is a very well written pattern. I ended up following the sew-along off her blog and it helped answer some questions that I had with the actual pattern directions.

Untitled

One mistake I did make was putting these arms tabs on the outside instead of the inside. I realized after I posted the picture on instagram (doih!) that these darn things come up from the inside and hook onto a button on the outside. Even though I had already completed the sleeves etc, I was able to take them off and restitch them on the inside. I did decide to only include one pocket on the front instead of the written two.

Untitled

I have never done plackets and cuffs before and I was super nervous about it. I’m still thinking that I did my cuffs backwards, but who will notice right? I did end up having to follow her directions on the sew-along and I watched a couple of other videos to help with sewing these together. I had a really hard time visualizing how they were supposed to work. But, yeah!, they all came together.

Untitled

I feel like the placket on the front went in pretty well and I ended up finding some buttons at JoAnns thankfully. Fit wise it’s a mix. The actual bodice fits me perfectly. The neckline is great and the shoulders are pretty square also. I’ve always got issues with sleeves and the sleeves area  little long on me. When I make another one, I’ll probably size down the sleeves actually and for sure make them shorter. I did end up shortening the cuffs a little bit when I was sewing, but I’d almost prefer them to be a little thinner than they are.

Book Review: on fear and waiting

On first glance you might not think these books have much in common. I didn’t plan on reading them at the same time and while I was reading them the connection between the two didn’t really occur to me either. But as I was laying down last night for bed (because don’t all great thoughts hit you right when you are about to go to sleep?) I realized how much they did have in common.

Shiloh is a fictional story written by Helena Sorensen. It is part of a trilogy and without spoiling too much, it is in many ways a creation story.  As in the true Creation story, evil enters in and in the land of Shiloh that evil takes the form of the Shadow. The land is cast in darkness and it is the hope of the people that shines out into the darkness. As their hope fades or grows, the light that shines out from them fades and grows. A cast of characters rises up against (and falls into) the Shadow and this is their story.

Still Waiting is true story, I’d almost call it a memoir in many ways, about one woman’s struggle to maintain hope in the midst of a continually difficult condition. Ann Swindell correlates her story with the story of the bleeding woman from the Gospels. It is a book that describes waiting and is filled with reminders of where our hope should lie.

Throughout the story of Shiloh, the characters wake up daily in a world shrouded with darkness. This darkness is all they have ever known and they have the choice to believe and continue to hope in the stories that they’ve been told through generations or give into the darkness and live with it until their time is done. I love that it’s not an easy story. We don’t live in an easy world and this parallel world is no different. We give into the darkness and we let our light of hope dim and even at times we let that light be completely smothered. This story of the land of Shiloh was tender because of the darkness that I found myself in a few seasons ago. Like Amos in the story, it was easier to give into the Shadow and ignore all the pain. But in the end, I knew I couldn’t keep drinking the water of darkness, but I had to find my way out into the light. I’ve rarely read a story where the ending sticks so clearly in my mind. The quartet of characters has a choice, to give into the fear literally racing at them or face the absolute unknown. Both options were incredibly frightening – yet one led to life and one led to death. The longer you live in a place of shadow the more we are faced with this same option. To remain in darkness is scary and crushing. But to step out away from the darkness is full of fear also. Ultimately, restoration only comes when we move out of the darkness.

This is where hope and waiting come in. In Still Waiting, Ann relates her struggle with a psychological condition that is enhanced by anxiety and fear. She can’t control it, yet she can control her hope in restoration. Each chapter is focused on an aspect of waiting – how waiting breaks us, weakens us, claims our identity, makes us angry, brings us shame, feels like suffering and is risky, yet in the end waiting is filled with grace. Waiting teaches us hope. In our weakness, in our darkest moments in the shadows, we can learn that our “weakness is a bridge to Jesus.”

One of the overarching themes in Shiloh was the idea of Identity. It is only in remembering who they are, who they belong to and who created them that they are able to reignite the light within them and free themselves and others from the darkness. Amos cries out to his sister that she has to remember and yet he struggles to identify what she should remember. Their lives had been fraught with so many memories that were so crushing;  yet even in sorrow there is hope living there. He reminds her of her gifts and he reaches out to her. It’s only in the remembering and the reaching out that the light begins to break through. The same goes for us as we struggle with hope and waiting. Ann reminds us that God has claimed us, he has renamed us and he is in the process of restoring us. It may not be a restoration that we want or in the time that we want, but it is still a promise that He keeps. We might eve be freed from one shadow only to be eclipsed by an even stronger one. That is where we have to decide whether we will give into the anger that will surely rise up or give into obedience and believe the promises.

Simoen and Amos are truly dark and light in the story of Shiloh. One gives into anger and the other obedience. Both of them have to figure out how to put one foot in front of the other and both of them are needy. It is out of our need that Jesus comes for us and that the Light reaches them. But on the opposite side, it is out of that need that the darkness comes too. We cannot respond in obedience without knowing who we are and believing in the hope. And oh the risk. Ann reminds us through her story of that risk.

“Our desires and our dreams so often dissolve before us. Life is hard. Our hearts grow weary. Hoping feels too tender, too raw. Waiting for the fullness of our promised restoration threatens to usurp our hope.”

So it’s a question of where our hope lies. If it’s in us and our ability to push through or just ignore the darkness, we will fail. But be warned, we will fail when our hope is centered in Christ too.  The difference is where we fall. When I am grounded in the promises of the light; I will be injured, sorrow will come and I may continue to sit in this place of waiting for restoration. The difference is I am sitting in the light.

 

**note: I received the book still waiting from the author in compensation for a review.**