Friday, October 15, 2010

The Classics

I've been thinking a lot lately about the "classics"...those books that you "should" have read, but never actually got around to. As an English major, I read a lot in school (although, oddly, I think I read more of the classics in high school than I did in college), but in a lot ways, I've always been more drawn to the current best sellers than the tried-and-true cannon.

I decided to research what books I "should" have read. One Google search later, I discovered the "100 Books That Everyone Should Read at Lease Once" least according to the "experts" at Their list is an interesting blend of modern and old school literature. Of the list, I've read about 45 or so (though some of those I think were abridged versions), and I have some type of connection to a handful of others (that is, I've read excerpts, I own, etc.).

I've listed below some of the ones that I haven't read (or, at least, I don't think I've read them). Maybe I'll add these (or some of them!) to my reading list....

The Catcher in the Rye
Fahrenheit 451
Jane Eyre
The Giver
The Kite Runner
Wuthering Heights
Brave New World
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Color Purple
Crime and Punishment
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
One Hundred Years of Solitude
A Tale of Two Cities
Memoirs of a Geisha
Anna Karenina
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
The Hiding Place
War and Peace

What do you think? Any good ones on that list? Any that should be added?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Under the sea...

For my niece's recent birthday (she just turned 6!), she requested new clothes for her doll, Ariel. Ariel is Makayla's favorite Disney princess, and the doll is one of Mak's most prized possessions. (The picture to the left is from the year that Mak first got the doll from her Uncle Keith. I think she was 4.)

My SIL passed along Mak's request for new clothes, along with some crucial measurements, and I got to work on a design. I still had some fabric left over from the Ariel apron I made for Makayla earlier in the year (do you seem a theme here?), and I thought that would make a perfect dress!

I made the dress in two sections, plus the straps at the top. I designed it as a smock-type dress with a snap closure at the back. (I wasn't sure how big Ariel's' head was, so I figured it was better to make something that didn't have to pulled over her head.) Even though I found out later that my measurements were a little off (apparently Ariel is a little more "gifted" in the "fin" region, so the top fit, but the bottom of the dress didn't cover as much as it should have), I think it was a good learning experience. I'm planning on making a new-and-improved version of the dress soon...hopefully one that will cover everything!

Ariel's dress Ariel's dress...not on Ariel

Friday, September 10, 2010

Roller Tube

Over Labor Day weekend, Dave and I spent the weekend with his family at Carowinds in Charlotte. On our trip, I discovered that YouTube has a lot of front seat POV videos for roller coasters across the world. It's not quite the same as riding them, but I think the videos are pretty cool.

This video is for the newest coaster at Carowinds -- The Intimidator. I rode the ride, but I had my eyes shut for most of the trip, so it's fun to see what I missed!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rubber Ducky, You're the One...

A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law asked if I would make a cake for a baby shower that she was throwing for a family friend. I wanted to create something cute and more exciting than a flat sheet cake, so I started looking at designs online. I found several cute ideas -- onesies decorated with Teddy Grahams, a clothesline of paper scrapbook baby clothes, and little cakes shaped and stacked like building blocks. They all sounded (and looked) great, but the one I liked best was the barrel of ducks.

I ordered a package of rubber ducks from Amazon (they have a ton of varieties!) and got to work.

Ready for the beach Supplies

Amazingly, I think this was the first layer cake that I've ever made, but it was super easy to put together, so I'm sure I'll try it again.

Stacking the layers Frosting!

Once the frosting was in place, I started adding the sides to the barrel. I used two canisters of Pepperidge Farm piroutte sticks, held in place by the frosting. Ducky ribbon from A.C. Moore added a little flair and helped reinforce the piroutte sticks.

Barrel walls Ribbon

Add a few ducks and voila...the rubber ducky cake is complete!

Rubber ducky, you're the one... Rubber ducky, you're the one...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Princess Party

My mom's family gets together twice a year to visit and catch up. During our summer gathering last month, my aunt decided that the little girls should have a princess party....which meant the big girls got invited too. The big girls didn't get princess dresses, but we had fun just the same.

Princess Party Cupcakes Princesses

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One-Yard Wonders....Take 1

For my birthday, my dear friend Diana gave me a fabulous sewing book called One-Yard Wonders: 101 Sewing Fabric Projects; Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! It's a great book with project ideas for creating things with, you guessed it, one yard of fabric.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try my first project from the book. I selected the folklore bag, which looked absolutely adorable in the picture! I've always had a weakness for cute bags, so I figured it was a good place to start.

I set off for the fabric store, ready to pick out my "home decor" weight fabric and get everything else I needed. After a lengthy conversation with the fabric cutter as to why my bill was estimated much higher than I expected it to be (reason: I had mistakenly told her that I wanted the entire rest of the bolt instead of just one yard. Yeah. Go me!), I felt I was ready to begin my adventure.

I suspect that my fabric store faux pas should have been my first indication that I might be getting a little ahead of sewing skills, but I decided to press on and give it a try. I soon encountered scary sewing words. Words like pattern. And interfacing. And bent needle (note to self: that home decor weight fabric I picked out requires a stronger needle).

In the end, I'm not thrilled with the results, but I think it was good practice. The bag was supposed to have a top panel all around the top. The top panel was part of what I really liked about the picture, but once I got to it, I wasn't sure how it was going to look with the bag I created (and, to be honest, I couldn't quite work out how I was going to attach it). So, this is what I ended up with. At the very least, the bag is functional and I do like the fabric. And, if all else fails, there's a lot more projects in my book that I want to try.

Purse outside

Purse outside

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Les Miserables

During my high school and college years, I was very involved/interested in the world of theatre and musical theatre. With the help of the traveling Broadway series that frequented Charlotte through the years and my semester abroad in London, I managed to see a number of musicals throughout the years - Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, Grease, Cats, Chicago, Lion King, etc.

My favorite, however, has always been Les Miserables. I've lost official count, but I'm certain that I have seen Les Mis at least four times, if not more.

BUT, it's been awhile. In the hustle and bustle of life, I have gotten away from my musical theatre roots. My iPod has few Broadway tunes, and I had nearly forgotten how fun some of these shows can be.

I have to give credit to the writers of Glee for a resurrection of long-ago delights. While listening to the Glee soundtrack a few weeks ago, I realized that it had been years since I had listened to the actual music of Les Miserables. I pulled the CD out of the closet, dusted it off, plugged it into my car CD player, and got...


Actual goosebumps. Silly me: I had forgotten how beautifully haunting the music from Les Mis was...the heart (and heartache), the emotion, the tragedy. With the music filling my brain, I have thought about the storyline much more over the past few days than I have over the past few years. I suspect that I will reread Victor Hugo's novel in the near future (it was required reading in the 10th grade, but I haven't touched it much since then), and I may even have to go see it again the next time it's in town....