Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clothes on the Clothes line . . .

A lot of tiny pieces to draw and cut out and glue on this one but I'm really happy with the results.  I will have all my paper piecings with me at the Central United Church crop on Saturday if you want to have a closer look.

Assini De Peppi

I asked my buddy Cailyn for this recipe because it is just so awesome.

Assini De Peppi

1 tin tomato soup
1 tin consome
1/4 c assini de peppi
12 oz of water

Heat together.  Add chopped up cooked bacon if you wish.

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

Image Detail

I loved reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua.  It is definitely a controversial book, but it is written in an honest and humorous fashion that is appealing and easy to read.

Amy Chua is determined to raise her two daughters in what she considers the stereotypical Chinese style.  She points out that you don't have to be Chinese to parent this way.  Chinese style parenting is about discipline and focus, preparing your children for the future, instilling excellent work habits and confidence and self-esteem resulting from accomplishment.  The Chinese parent stresses accomplishment in academics and extra-curricular activities.  This is extreme parenting.

Chua compares her style to Western parenting in which parents nurture their childrens' individuality, allowing them to find their own passions and creating a soft, entitled, untalented child unprepared for life.  Western parents believe self-esteem comes first and then accomplishment.

Chua has certainly created some controversy with these extremes.  But she learns that there has to be some compromise when her second daughter turns out to be very opinionated and stubborn, creating a collision of wills which, I am happy to say, ends in compromise.  Chua shares what she has learned about the rewards and costs of raising children the Chinese way.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is funny, honest, shocking, controversial and a great read.  Perhaps somewhere between Western and Chinese parenting we will find the compromise which will lead us to parenting happy children who are ready to face the world when they are grown.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Product Review: The Sterling Counter Top Filtration System

For the past couple of decades we have been drinking filtered water.  Hal can tell you all the reasons why.  I asked him to stop telling me because #1 it gets boring after 20 years and #2 there can be a lot of gross things in tap water.  The apartment we are in now has fairly good hot water but our cold water is muddy, probably a result of travelling through old galvanized water pipes.  So the use of filtered water is even more necessary now.  Besides filtered water makes tastier tea.

Anyway, in our little apartment we didn't have room for our water cooler so we passed it on and purchased a counter top dispenser and we've been very happy about that except for the fact that I lose counter space in my very tiny kitchen.

When Hal began his new career it left me vehicle-less most of the time.  That makes it rather hard to pick up water when needed.  Definitely a downside on the whole jugs of water in the dispenser scenario.

Well that problem has been resolved.  Just before Hal left for his current road trip he installed The Sterling Counter Top Filtration System.  It takes up a tiny bit of counter right beside the water taps and it works so well. It actually seems weird drinking water and make ice from water that comes from the tap.  I've been using it for a couple of weeks now and I'm very impressed.  Apparently you only have to change the filters every 6 months to keep it working properly.

That's all I have to say about that.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Being Self-Employed

One of the few business sectors constantly expanding in today’s economy is the small  and home-based business.  The most difficult decision a person interested in becoming self-employed must make is what type of business will be the best fit for them and their family. 

So, a few years ago I wrote a book A Fresh Start  on getting started in a small or home business.  I didn't make a lot of money at it but I learned a lot about publishing and writing from this effort.   

Three years ago my husband and I found ourselves both unemployed, in our 50s and really not sure where to turn.  For the next two years we supported ourselves through odd jobs.  In my spare time I started writing again.

I started from the research I'd done for A Fresh Start, 95 pages of good solid ideas, and expanded it to almost 400 pages of small business ideas.  Some ideas are quite unique, many new listings have been added to represent our modern multi-media environment, and some are good old time-tested ideas.  I'm pretty sure that the perfect home or small business idea for you will be in here.

My husband is now working in a career he loves and I am thrilled to be publishing this book,  The First Step:  An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas , available in paperback and as an ebook PDF.

Please order one or several of my books at
Thank you.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Movie Review: Nine Lives (2005)

I have proof that there is nothing on TV.  I've been watching movies on the computer all weekend.

I just finished watching Nine Lives a few moments ago.  Captivating.  Emotional.  Very different.  Those are the words I have come up with to describe this film. I don't think it will be everyone's cup of tea but I liked it.

The movie is actually a series of vignettes about turning points in various women's lives.  Some of these lives have a connection, albeit tenuous at best, but most do not.  They are just a study of pivotal moments.  The filming is quite interesting.  Each vignette is continuously filmed rather than a series of scenes.  And when the story ends, that's it.

The cast is totally all-star:


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Movie Review: Phoebe in Wonderland (2008)

I am so glad I can find interesting movies like this one online.  I'm still reading 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen by Leonard Maltin and have to say that Maltin picked another winner.  This is the type of movie I love to watch.  It has a great story and it is told well.

9-year-old Phoebe is very tough and combative, especially with her sister and classmates.  When Phoebe is cast in the role of Alice in the school play by the new drama teacher, she begins to control and channel her imagination into the play.  Phoebe's problems are not over though.  Her focus is easily broken, leaving her fragile and unable to control her quirks again.

There are several lovely subplots in the movie to give it some depth.  The acting is quite superb.

Book Review: Fyodor Dostoevsky

I have read the novels of only two Russian authors so far.  Neither was Dostoevsky.  Reading this autobiography by Peter Leithart has whet my interest and I will be downloading one or two to my kindle soon.

As for this autobiography, I have to say it was a very good read.  The author, Peter Leithart teaches theology and literature at the college level and his familiarity with his subject was very apparent.  The purpose of this book, I believe, is to show the ways that Dostoevsky's religious beliefs aided him at the best and lowest moments of his life.  Dostoevsky's Leithart doesn't try to hide his subject's vices.  He just documents them and how Dostoevsky was able to overcome these vices as best he could with the help of his family and his faith.

Dostoevsky was raised a Christian but his faith became deeply embedded during his imprisonment in Siberia.  This is where he came to really understand the the human condition and the suffering and need of the innocent and lower classes in Russia.  This understanding formed the basis of most of his writing.

The author's portrayal of Russian society and culture is very detailed and adds to the flow of the story, making actions of various characters easier to understand.

Definitely a good read.

Movie Review: Raising Victor Vargas (2003)

When I first turned this movie on (Ice Films) I nearly turned it back off again because there was some pretty offensive (to me) language.  Not to say that the language wasn't appropriate in the situation.  I just have a lot of trouble hearing certain words.  Fortunately I didn't turn it off because I found myself involved in a lovely and touching movie about an old-world grandmother trying to raise three teenagers on her own.  Apparently none of the actors were professionals which really added to the sweetness and reality of the film.  And apparently this film won several noteworthy prizes.  I'm not surprised.  A film that is this "different" is hard to forget.  

September Scrapbooking Layouts

Book Review: Promises to Keep

Wonderful!  The only problem I had with this novel is that it is hard to read . . . while you are crying. And it is hard to hold on to the book while you are clutching a box of Kleenex.

Some people might find this story predictable but I don't understand what's wrong with that.  I can predict what a friend is going to do next.  Since I got to know the characters so well throughout the story, of course I would be able to predict what might happen next.

The characters were superbly portrayed, even the minor characters.  I ended up rooting for all of them to find their own version of happiness.  The main character, Callie, has a wonderful home, two adorable children, good friends, a successful photography business and a gorgeous and loving husband who's only flaw seems to be that he works too much.  We all know that when things are going so good something has to go wrong . . . and it does.  Callie is fatally ill.

I'm not going to give away too much of the story because there is so much joy in reading the story yourself and I don't want to ruin it for you.

Don't forget the box of Kleenex.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Movie Review: Son of Rambow

Well Mr. Leonard Maltin, you've picked 2 for 2 today.  I'm reading a book through Daily Lit called 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen.  I can tell you right now, if it wasn't for the author's recommendation I would never have seen Son of Rambow.  I've never even read a review for it, just assumed it was another stupid spoof movie with grown men acting foolish and mocking a movie which was nearly as bad as the spoof.  A little harsh?  You may have guessed I'm not a fan of the Rambo franchise which is very sad because my dear hubby is a fan.  And I rarely enjoy spoof movies.

Anyway, I digress . . .

So Maltin recommends Son of Rambow and I actually read his review and decided to give it a shot.  I found it on Ice Films, picked up some crochet and sat back to watch the show.

This is a coming-of-age type of movie but done very cleverly, without the unrealistic and foolish which is usual in this genre.  It's about two boys who really have nothing in common except that they are both on the outside of the school clique.  Will is being raised by his mom in a strict religion that doesn't allow worldly things like television.  Lee, on the other hand, is raising himself because his brother is not interested and his mother and step-father are constantly away.  Lee is a bully and he finds in Will a perfect target.  That is until they find the one thing they have in common.  There are several trials and tribulations along the way but it, of course, has a happy ending.

Son of Rambow is amusing, heart-warming, clever and thoroughly enjoyable.  My favourite bit was the flying dog.

Movie Review: Two Lovers

Two Lovers (2009) was directed by James Gray and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw.  Loved it.

Two Lovers is a romantic drama full of truth and emotion that kept me riveted to my office chair for almost two hours.  (I was in an office chair because I was watching the movie on Netflix on Hal's computer.)

If you like action, lots of skin, noise, colour and slick lines don't bother even turning this movie on.  If you enjoy a movie that moves you emotionally and intellectually, that doesn't require all the schtick to keep you interested, and that feels true, turn it on.  Their is a lot of emotion in this movie which might make some people a little uncomfortable but it comes across to the audience as very real.  I think that is the theme of this review . . . it is real.

Joaquin Phoenix plays the part of Leonard, a young man, who is bi-polar, living with his parents after a failed suicide.  He is quiet and a little brooding, yet funny and sexually confident.  Leonard is still grieving for his fiance, who broke off their engagement and disappeared from his life, when he meets two very different woman and faces choices which he isn't emotionally ready to make.  Sandra, played by Vinessa Shaw, loves him and just want to care for him.  She wants a real relationship with Leonard.  Sandra is safe and comforting.  Michelle, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, is focused only on herself, rather manic and needy and accepts as her due that Leonard will take care of her whenever her married lover doesn't step up.

If you are hoping for a "love-conquers-all" kind of ending, don't turn it on.  Even at the end of the movie Leonard still isn't capable of making his own decisions, allowing life to happen to him.  And isn't that real?

Hungry for a hamburger?

Do you need a fire truck?

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Big Exciting Announcement . . .

I've been talking about it.  I have posted a couple of links about it.  But it is finally here!!!!!!

But let me start at the beginning of the story.  A few years ago I wrote a book on getting started in a small or home business.  I didn't make a lot of money at it but I learned a lot about publishing and writing from this effort.  It is still available for purchase as an ebook PDF, as an ebook EPUB for Adobe Digital Editions Format or as a paperback.  The title of the book is A Fresh Start and the information in it is just as relevant today as it was when first published.  This book is also available for download on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and on your computer with iTunes.

While I was attending university as a mature student I enrolled in a speech class to get over my fear of public speaking.  One of the speeches I wrote was about the things my mother used to say to my siblings and me when we were growing up.  I got a really great mark on the speech.  I am still terrified of public speaking though.  I had the speech published in book format.  I think it is just plain old-fashioned funny and a great gift for a special mom in your life.  Yes, it is still available for sale in an ebook PDF and as a paperback.

And now for the BIG EXCITING NEWS . . . 

It's finally ready and available for sale.

I started from the research I'd done for A Fresh Start, 95 pages of good solid ideas, and expanded it to almost 400 pages of small business ideas . . . some quite unique, many added to represent our modern multi-media environment, and some are good old time-tested ideas.  I'm pretty sure that the perfect home or small business idea for you will be in here.  The First Step:  An Encyclopedia of Small Business Ideas is available in paperback and as an ebook PDF.

Please support a local writer by ordering one or several of my books.  Thank you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Help me to support my scrapbooking obsession . . .

Paper Piecings
For Sale

I'll be at 
Croptoberfest on Saturday
@ 109 Chestnut Street, St. Thomas

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby

When I saw this book at the library I just had to pick it up.  Seriously, who can resist this amazing title?

When the owner of Woefield Farm passes on, the farm is left to his niece, a truly naive and urban young lady who is determined to make the farm pay for itself using environmentally and organically sound farming principles.  She can't accept that the farm has never been successful and the only things that grow are rocks.  She is assisted in her vision by the old farm hand that comes with the place, a young girl who raises chickens and a boy who has avoided town since an embarrassing incident involving the drama teacher.

I laughed out loud so many times as I read.  The characters are wonderful misfits who come together whether they want to or not.  Each chapter is told  by a different character which seems rather tricky, but it really works.

. . . and the things they do to that poor sheep . . .

Friday, October 7, 2011

I've finished a few more mystery dishcloths

I belong to a Yahoo! group called Mystery Dishcloths.  They post a new mystery knit-along pattern twice a month.  I am always behind schedule.  But I have finished a few recently.

One Photo Sketch Challenge

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book Review: Velvet Whispers by Joan Elizabeth Lloyd

If you enjoy reading very poorly written soft porn, than this is the book for you.  I'm not a prude.  I love "sex in long skirts books" (you know the ones I mean) where it takes pages and pages of delicious prose to describe a passionate encounter by the naive but secretly wealthy girl and her arch-enemy turned lover.  In Velvet Whispers the delicious pages of prose have been replaced with two pages that basically say we came, he went in a very juvenile way.  The writing is the worst sort of corny porn imaginable.  The story is totally unbelievable.  I couldn't finish the book.  In fact I didn't even make it half-way and it is only 200 pages long.  I don't know anyone I dislike enough to give this book to so the book is now in the garbage because that is where it belongs.

The Tale of the Dreaded To Do List and why it is only July 1st

I keep lists for everything.  I learned long ago that without a list I will forget the milk or something equally important when I unpack my groceries.  Appointments get missed.  Life just gets so disorganized.  Instead of getting everything I want and need done each day, I can spend entire days working on a single project that appeals to me, leaving everything else undone, if I don't stick to my list.

So I have come to rely upon the Dreaded To Do List to keep me on track.  I use it to keep track of all my goals and chores.  I made the goal to blog each day in 2011.  I like to sweep and dust once a week, wash floors every other week (one of the joys of no kids left at home and an absent hubby) and I change the bed linens every week (unlike the commercial . . . yuck).  I have accepted the challenge to scrapbook a layout each day and to spend at least 1/2 hour each day writing.  And on and on and on . . .

I don't carry forward chores if the don't get done on the prescribed day; they stay put until I finally am able to scratch them off.  So according to my Dreaded To Do List today is July 1st.    Most of my chores and goals are up to date but some get left behind when I run short of time.  There are only 3 little chores left on July 1st and they will soon be done.  But until they are done, In My World it is still July 1st.

I didn't get anything done on my list today . . . at least not yet . . . but there is still time.  Instead I hopped on a city bus and spent some time all alone wandering through Elgin Mall and Walmart.  It took two trips around on the Elgin Mall bus to get to the mall because in the old days the bus used to go right up to the mall entrance.  We were past the mall before I realized we weren't turning in to the mall.  So around the route we went.  I got off at Stokes Road the second time round.  I had a lovely time at the mall wandering through stores, going to the library and picking up a few items . . . nothing exciting . . . tea was on sale and we needed coffee, a new bath mat . . . and at the luggage store I picked up a lovely new purse 60% off and a matching wallet 60% + 30% off.  That made me happy.  I even treated myself to lunch at the Zellers restaurant.  I caught the bus back to Walmart and wandered around in there for a bit, picking up some bread and milk and a few other bits.  I ran into a few people and stopped and chatted and then I headed home on the Northside bus.   

The day is shot and that's okay.  I'll see what I can accomplish tonight and get back on the To Do List bandwagon tomorrow.  I accidentally picked up a new craft project to so I better add that to my To Do List.