review: Quilt Giving

Quilt Giving

Quilt Giving: 19 Simple Quilt Patterns to Make and Give by Deborah Fisher

Many people, myself included, love to make quilts to give as gifts. It’s fun and gratifying to create the quilt in the first place, but sharing it with someone else is gratifying on another level. The nineteen projects outlined here are relatively easy to cut and put together, so the time investment shouldn’t be too daunting. Some quilting basics are provided, including a few piecing techniques used in some of the quilts. Also included is a short section covering things to consider when making a quilt as a gift, such as considering size and shape and selecting materials. Most of the patterns are minimalist and/or modern but designs have been included for a range of audiences – some are clearly aimed at children or parents of infants, for example. I’m usually one to make up my own pattern rather than following someone else’s, but many of these quilts are very appealing, so I might make an exception in this case.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Monroe County Library System through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

review: All the Presidents’ Gardens

All the Presidents' Gardens

All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses – How the White House Grounds Have Grown with America by Marta McDowell

This book traces the role gardens have played at the White House from the 1790s to 2015. Color images are included throughout the book: paintings, drawings, plans, and photographs of the grounds, gardens, greenhouses, statues, seed catalog and magazine pages, and more. There is a short section with paragraph biographies of the fourteen men (yes, all men, BOO) who have served as First Gardener and another listing all the plants known to have been planted at the White House. I found it interesting to learn more about which presidents and first ladies were super into the garden being a vital part of the White House Grounds and how this changed over time in light of different political events.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Baldwin Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

review: Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched: Beautiful Embroidery Motifs and Projects with Wool and Cotton by Yumiko Higuchi

The projects in this book combine wool embroidery thread and cotton embroidery floss. Most of the projects I’ve seen use either one or the other exclusively, so this combination allows for a different look than many other embroidery projects. Fourteen projects and sixteen motifs are included here, all inspired by nature, mostly plants and animals. The motifs and finished projects are shown in large color photographs while the project and motif instructions are provided in black and grey illustrations. The floral motifs are pretty but not fussy and have a classic feel. The creature motifs seem simple but perfectly represent their subjects without anthropomorphizing. I especially love the bees (with segmented legs and french knot bodies) and roosters.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Sterling Heights Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

Batty for Bat Sweaters

Batty Sweater

Last Halloween I participated in a swap and made one of these sweaters for my swap partner. Bats are one of my favorite Halloween icons and I wanted this one to be mostly on the creepy side but maybe just a tad cute as well. This pattern is written and charted, so you can use whichever format you prefer!

Flap over to Ravelry, Etsy, Craftsy, and LoveKnitting to bite this pattern.

review: How to Pack

How to Pack

How to Pack: Travel smart for any trip by Hitha Palepu

As a habitual overpacker, I am always looking for insight on how to do that less. My biggest issue is that I always want a bunch of extra of any given item just in case, so I’m not sure that any plan is going to help me get rid of that impulse. But I’m interested in learning regardless. This cute little book’s cover is designed to resemble an old-fashioned suitcase and is divided into sections addressing pre-packing, choosing clothing, selecting accessories, figuring out what toiletries to bring, how to maximize space in your luggage, and tips for dealing with airports and such. It also includes a number of checklists for various types of travel and destinations. Appealing hand-created illustrations are included throughout.

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books


Hannah Sweater for Blythe

Hannah Abbott is a not-super-well-developed character in the Harry Potter series, but she IS a Hufflepuff and thus seems worthy of inspiring this sweater. This sweater is empire style with a fitted bodice that fits Blythe perfectly. It has a two-color star pattern that is sweet without being overly fussy.

Grab some flue powder and head to LoveKnitting, Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy to grab this pattern.

slime fluxxed

What a cool name that is, but for a kind of sad thing! One of our trees – a maple we left even though we probably should have taken it out when we had the box elders removed. We noticed recently that it is weeping sap and from what I’ve seen online, it looks like it’s probably slime flux.

Thinking this tree may have to go - it's splitting at the crotch and weeping sap like woah

The fact that it is happening at the crotch of the tree, which has a pretty wide split between the two sections, makes me nervous that it is going to split further and come crashing down on one side or the other.

Thinking this tree may have to go - it's splitting at the crotch and weeping sap like woah

My art has been commended as strongly vaginal:
Thinking this tree may have to go - it's splitting at the crotch and weeping sap like woah

The sap doesn’t stink, but then it’s still relatively cold out and mega windy right now, so maybe we’re just not smelling it. This tree has been dropping relatively large branches, which given the wind isn’t super surprising, but it still gives me concern for the future health of the tree. We’ll be giving the tree guy a call to have him take a look.

review: One Pan & Done

One pan & done

One Pan & Done: Hassle-free meals from the oven to your table by Molly Gilbert

I am a lazy, lazy cook and the idea of using just one pan to cook a full meal is very appealing to me. This book, by the author of Sheet Pan Suppers, takes the same basic notion – using one pan – and expands it to a variety of styles of pans. These recipes each use one of the following: sheet pan, cast iron skillet, dutch oven, 9×13″ baking dish, muffin tin, pie pan, loaf pan, or bundt pan. Virtually all types of meals are covered, including breakfast, brunch, starters/snacks/sides, sweets, and main dishes featuring veggies, poultry, fish, or meat. I will say that while many of these dishes truly are a whole meal in one dish (radish and ricotta frittata; turkey sausage, eggplant, & tomato penne) a lot of them really don’t cover enough of the food groups for me to be considered a full meal (it’s difficult for me to consider a meal complete without at least something green involved). They do appear to be pretty simple in terms of ingredient lists and prep time, and most of the recipes serve 4-6 people, so a couple like us would for sure have leftovers (a bonus in my book).

full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

review: Garden Made

Garden Made

Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden & Your Life by Stephanie Whitney-Rose

Divided by season, these projects are made using and reusing commonly available items and range from decorated pots and signs to things that are more fully created from start to finish, like seed paper. Stylistically, they fall into either the cottage garden or shabby chic aesthetic. Most of the projects are designed to live in the garden but several winter projects are suited to the indoors, including a variety of terrariums. A list of resources is provided for vendors offering the materials needed for some of the more specific projects.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Marine City Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL service