Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

It was my turn to lead the discussion at our monthly book club, Books and Brews, and I was given The Outlander by Gil Adamson.  Apparently I didn't fall on my face during the discussion so I take that as a win.

The Outlander has won many awards including in Canada First Novel Award 2008, ReLit Award for Fiction, Drummer General's Award and Dashiell Hammett Award.  

Gil (Gillian) Adamson was born 1 Jan 1961 in North York.  She studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Toronto.  She is the author of two poetry collections, Primitive and Ashland, as well as writing short stories for magazines, journals and collections.

Adamson's original idea was a young woman, dressed in black, running like hell.  She wrote poems on this theme but was never satisfied.  After 10 years, the novel emerged.

I really enjoyed this book for two very simple reasons.  First, it is Canadian, and I find so many Canadian writers are more artistic when it comes to writing.  They seem to spend more time discovering just the right word or description to convey meaning.  Canadian writers are generally brave and new and lyrical.  Second, the characters were so enjoyable and eccentric and easy to connect to.

The main character is Mary Boulton who, at age 19, was "newly widowed by her own hand."  Mary killed her brutish, cruel, and philandering husband, John, after her newborn baby dies.  Despite her pain and probable mental illness as a result of her upbringing and marriage, Mary is never seen as a damsel in distress.  She is a strong character, cunning, resourceful, adaptive and resilient.  These are skills she needs as she runs from her husband's twin brothers, bent on bringing her to justice, frontier justice.

Another interesting character is William Moreland who is known as the Ridgerunner.  The Ridgerunner is a rough mountain man who does not fit into society and has had run ins with the law.  He falls in love with Mary but finds even she is too much civilization for him.

There are many more interesting characters that will pique your interest and draw you in.  Reverend Bonnycastle, whose sermons are more boxing match than religious service and McEchern the dwarf who owns a small business in the mining town who makes most of his money from moonshine and stolen horses are two of my favourites.

Seriously, read this book. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Craft Room Organization Challenge #9

Annual Organization Challenge Week #9 

Inspiration for scrapbook pages is everywhere - how best to organize it so that it's actually USEFUL?

First consider cutting up your magazines and idea books, and only saving the ideas that you really plan to use. Magazines and idea books only sit on you shelves, they aren't really useful. It can take hours to go through your books to find the one layout you remember. Having your ideas in a condensed form, arranged in a way that makes sense to you is much more effective.  If you are able to cut up your magazines, here are some ideas for arranging them:
  • theme (holidays, birthday, babies, pets, travel etc)
  • number of photos used in the layout
  • journaling ideas
  • colours
  • quotes
  • techniques

Now that you've decided how to arrange them, where to store them?  A few ideas:
  • a composition book or some other kind of sketchbook: you can sketch in here and adhere page ideas into it It's also portable, so you can take it with you to crops!  
  • an index card box: adhere your ideas to index cards
  • idea file folders. Place your ideas inside file folders and label the index tab.  Store in a portable file box.  Add catagories as needed.
·       binder with page protectors: tuck clippings into the page protectors

Okay,  you have decided you are NOT cutting up your magazines. 

SORT: Make sure that the magazines and books are still relevant to you. If you are holding onto magazines more than a year or two old, REALLY make sure they still interest you. Sort them into piles: KEEP, DONATE, SELL, TOSS

PURGE: Trash the TOSS pile.  Arrange immediate drop-off or pick-up of the DONATE pile. Bag up and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile.

ASSIGN: sort your magazines/books by title/date of issue, and consider storing your books and magazines down low due to their weight.

CONTAINERIZE: store in boxes or magazine holders.

EQUALIZE: Consider getting varied colours of post-it flags, and setting up categories for ideas. Each time you get a new book or magazine, flag the pages you like according to your system, s
o that you an easily see from the outside of your books which one might have an idea applicable to the project you are working on.

Only one week left . . . how's your space looking now?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Craft Room Organization Challenge #8

Annual Organization Challenge Week #8 


Organizing our "paper cosmetics": paint, inks, embossing powders and other products that add a little something special to our pages.

SORT: first go through each of these items and make sure your colours haven't expired.  Are ink pads still juicy?  Are lids still intact? Do paints still mix together when shaken? Are your chalks still intact enough to use?  Sort all of your paper cosmetics into TOSS, KEEP, SELL, DONATE

PURGE: Throw out the toss items.  Bag up and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile, and put them immediately in your garage sale box.  Arrange for pick-up or drop-off of the DONATE pile.

ASSIGN: Sort your KEEP pile into categories that make sense to you.

CONTAINERIZE: Inks last longest when stored horizontally, upside down (that's why Stampin' Up ink pads flip that way!) on a shelf, in a drawer, or maybe a cassette tape holder?  Paints could be stacked on a narrow shelf, on a tiered rack, in spice racks, etc.  Embossing powders, chalks and other cosmetics could be stored in well-labeled drawers.

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrapping session, when you return from a crop, or return from a shopping trip to put your paper cosmetics away where they belong.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Craft Room Organization Challenge #7

Annual Organization Challenge Week #7

Embellishments are some of the easiest things to buy.  Everything looks so good, and you really believe you NEED everything!  Embellishments are also one of the supplies most affected by trends.  Careful consideration is really needed here.

It's also important to find a system that will help you store all of your embellishments in a way that won't overwhelm you, yet also is visible enough that you don't forget to USE them.  

Let's S.P.A.C.E. them.

SORT: As always, bring all of your embellishments together.  Touch every piece that you have and ruthlessly sort through them, deciding what to KEEP, TOSS, SELL, DONATE

PURGE: Immediately throw out the TOSS pile. Bag up and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile, and put them in the garage sale box. Set up a drop-off or pick-up of the DONATE pile.

ASSIGN: Sort through the KEEP pile in a way that makes sense to you.  Some ideas for sorting your embellishments
1) by category (buttons, brads, alphabets, charms, etc.)
2) by colour
3) by manufacturer
4) by type (metal, acrylic)
5) by theme

CONTAINERIZE: Now that you've decided how to sort your embellishments, the next step is decided how to store them, and how to label them!  Research online will give you great ideas. Talking to other crafters may give you an idea what worked for them.

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrapping session, when you return from a crop, or return from a shopping trip to put your embellishments away where they belong.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens

An excellent read.  I was enthralled from beginning to end.  And its Canadian.

The main character, Addy, is easy to emotionally connect with.

This is the second book I've read by Lori Lansens.  I will be reading more in the future.

Certain novels recall fairy tales. Their heroes are banished, repeatedly challenged, until finally, foes vanquished, they make their triumphant homecoming. Though it opens in 1978 in a Chatham, Ontario, trailer park, Lansens's poignant debut is just such a novel. At its heart is Adelaide Shadd, a 70-year-old black woman who takes in five-year-old Sharla Cody when Sharla's "white trash" mother abandons her. As Addy turns Sharla from a malnourished, heedless child into a healthy, thoughtful girl, she recollects her own past. Addy grew up in Rusholme, a fictional cousin to the many Ontario communities founded by fugitive slaves brought north by the Underground Railroad. By 1908, when Addy is born, Rusholme is settled almost entirely by black farmers and is close to idyllic. But a rape and subsequent pregnancy force Addy to run away from Rusholme (she thinks of it as a command: "Rush home"), not to return for many years. Addy's life—her marriage, her children, her journey to Detroit and back to Canada—is the rich core of a novel also laden with history: Lansens manages to work in not only the Railroad, but also Prohibition and the Pullman porter movement. This is artfully done, but Lansens doesn't handle the novel's smaller scenes quite as well: she tends to drop narrative threads and confuse chronology. Some readers will resent the repeated plucking of their heartstrings, too, given how much Addy and Sharla suffer. Nonetheless, Lansens has created in Addy a truly noble character, not for what she suffered in the past but for what she does in the novel's present.  --

Friday, February 5, 2016

Craft Room Organization Challenge #6

Annual Organization Challenge Week #6

This week's challenge is to organize all those ribbons and fibres.  There is no "right" way to store your ribbons and fibre.  The most important factor is that the system works for YOU.  First, let's make some S.P.A.C.E.

SORT: Gather together all of your ribbons and fiber, and sort them into piles: KEEP, TOSS, SELL, DONATE

PURGE: Throw out the TOSS pile.  Immediately make arrangements for pick-up or drop-off of the DONATE pile.  Bag up, and assign a price and your initials to the SELL pile, and immediately put these in your garage sale box.

Assign: Sort your KEEP pile into types/colours of fibre and ribbon.  If your ribbons are in a big wrinkled mess, take time now to give everything a pressing (careful with the heat, some synthetics may melt!)

Containerize: Consider the space that you have, and the way that you work Here are some ideas that work for both ribbons and fibres:

1) on those little cardboard bobbins meant for embroidery floss
2) organized by colour in big clear glass jars on a shelf
3) wound and paper clipped and stored with their coordinating embellishments
4) Cropper Hopper mini embellishment boxes and sorted by colour
5) in small ziploc bags stored in a photo box, or on a big ring
6) in sports cards organizer pages, sorted by colour and in a binder
7) wound on index cards and stored in a photo box
8) loosely tied on a big ring

EQUALIZE: take a few minutes at the end of each scrapping session, when you return from a crop, or return from a shopping trip to put your ribbons and fibres away where they belong.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016