September

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Autumn seems to be arriving right on time this year, which is so lovely, because September is often peak fire season and heatwaves are not uncommon this time of year around here. This September, however, has been cooler and we’ve even had rain! The leaves on the trees up here in the mountains have a tinge of yellow, so we’ll have some brilliant color very soon. I’ve decided to keep track of what’s been going on for the last few weeks and then just publish a post at the end of the month, so here we go!

In September I finished a most enjoyable series of books called The Lunar Chronicles. I actually read the first one, Cinder, at the beginning of the summer and then requested the others from my library. I had to wait a bit for Scarlet, the second book, and then immediately read the last two, Cress and Winter over Labor Day weekend. I’m not sure how to classify them other than sci-fi/steampunk/fairy tale retellings, but it was a fun series that I highly recommend.

Speaking of fairy tales, I usually also have an audiobook going for my drive to and from work, and this month I finished As You Wish, followed by a screening of The Princess Bride (currently on Netflix). It was charming and fun, and reminded me how much I loved the movie. I highly recommend the audio version of the book, it’s read by Cary Elwes himself, and features many of the other cast members too.

I try to bring my lunch to work most days. I’m always on the lookout for good salad recipes and usually will prep all the ingredients and then eat the same salad for a few days. I found a couple winners via Pinterest this month. First up was Lamb and Dill Meatballs with Horitaki salad. The meatballs were really simple and so delicious. As soon as I was done with the first batch of meatballs I bought more ground lamb for the freezer so I could make them again soon. Basically, everything in this salad is my favorite, so it’s a big winner.

lamb meatball salad

Another new and delicious find was this Moroccan Steak Salad. The prep for this one was more intensive, but worth it. The pomegranate seeds were a nice touch.

steak salad

Here are some of my favorite finds this month:

  • Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way – I’m not an artist, but I decided to start practicing drawing. This is a fun book, full of prompts and different types of paper for sketching. So far I have created some terrible drawings, and a couple that I actually like. I may share more on Instagram eventually.
  • Duolingo <– the link goes to the website, but I’m using the phone app. Twenty-something years ago I was pretty good at speaking Dutch. When you don’t use a language for that many years you get a little rusty. I’ve been practicing with 5-minute sessions and it’s coming back!
  • Hillview Yarns is an Etsy shop recently opened by my friend Vivian. I’ve invested in a few skeins for some hat designs I’ve been working on, and I just love the colors she’s been coming up with, especially her blues and greens. I just got a skein of Socky McSockface for a pair of elaborately cabled socks that I can’t wait to cast on.
  • I’m working on my first sweater made from my handspun yarn, and have another handspun sweater quantity in the works, but I really want to make Mohr from the new Brooklyn Tweed collection.
  • I invested in the handiest piece of jewelry ever: Wrist Ruler (I have the medium leather), also available at Tolt

I like collecting my favorites for the month and just throwing them up here. I think I’ll keep doing this each month.

lovely things

Some things I am enjoying right now:

::Lilacs::

It’s a good lilac year. It was warming up a couple weeks ago, so they grew and bloomed quickly, but then it cooled down and got rainy, so they’ve been lasting longer than usual.

::Book Recommendations::

Modern Mrs. Darcy and her What Should I Read Next podcast

MMD-2016-Reading-Challenge

I’m going through a bit of a reading lull at the moment, but listening to episodes of this podcast is helping to get me enthused about reading again.

::Organization::

Bullet Journaling

I’ve always been on the lookout for the perfect planner, I’ve tried all the apps, and I have lists on bits of paper scattered all over. I think Bullet Journaling is the perfect solution for me. Sometimes I have to-do lists a mile long, but sometimes keeping a calendar seems like overkill for my relatively peaceful life. With a bullet journal I can adjust it as needed. So far I’m finding it helpful to use a page for a weekly spread, rather than daily pages. I also love having a place to keep lists of projects I want to do, and books to read, and recipes I want to try. I even keep a post-it on my current weekly page to use for listing groceries I need to buy. It’s as simple or as complicated as I need it to be, I think it’s really genius!

::Beautiful Knitting::

waiting for rain

My next new knitting project is going to be this beautiful Waiting for Rain Shawl. I have some Lakes Yarn in Fernan Merino Fingering in a pretty silver-green color. I am not allowing myself to cast on until I’m finished with two other projects first. This is highly motivating, however, and I hope to get to this within the week.

lovely things

Some lovely things I’ve been enjoying:

::a good book::

A Man Called Ove, a Swedish novel about an unlovable, suicidal curmudgeon, and the people who make a difference in his life, past and present. I wept at the end of this book.

ove

::a pretty song (and video)::

This is old, but I listened to it on my way home from work and remembered how much I loved it and just put it on repeat for a little while.

::my porch::

I still have a lot of work to do on my porch this summer, we had some big winds this winter that blew stuff around and made a mess. Pots were broken and plants destroyed, but I’ve made this corner nice and comfortable and spend most evenings and weekends here. It’s perfect for knitting, spinning, reading, and just watching the birds. And hanging out with dogs, of course.

on the porch

a good book (or two)

bury your dead

I’m behind on my book-reading goal for this year. I’ve been in a bit of a reading lull I guess. I have been reading the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny, which I guess you could classify as a “cozy mystery” series, but they’re much more.

Gamache is the wise and gentle head of the homicide division for the Quebec police. His team is tasked with solving murders all over the province, many of which seem to happen in the tiny village of Three Pines, located near the Canadian border with Vermont. The town doesn’t appear on any map, but it’s the kind of place I would like to live (except for all the murders, of course). There’s a cozy B&B, a bistro where the food all sounds delicious (seriously, I can’t read these books when I’m hungry), and the residents are quirky and charming.

I just finished the sixth book in the series (Bury Your Dead), and it was heart-wrenching and just a level above the previous books. A good mystery is my guilty reading pleasure, but these are more than just the mystery. The characters and locales are well-developed, and Penny is a gifted writer. I’m going to have to start rationing the last few books, so I can keep enjoying the series for the rest of this year.

One more recommendation: I recently listened to The Martianon audio. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I’ve never laughed out loud so much while listening to a book, and I’ve certainly never shouted in fear and frustration for the main character like I did with this story. The reader was fantastic, I’m really glad I listened to it rather than reading it. A brief synopsis: Mark Watney is a member of the second manned mission to Mars. It all goes terribly wrong, and he’s left for dead while the rest of the team escapes a violent wind storm. And that’s just the first few paragraphs. What follows is his struggle to survive, and NASA’s struggle to figure out a way to rescue him. There’s tons of science, which might sound boring, but is completely fascinating. In fact, that deserves the first ever gif on heylucy:
9407448

cool things

Here are some things I’m thinking about right now:

::One:: Oyster is like Netflix for ebooks, and I’m thinking it could be pretty cool. It’s currently iPhone only, and you have to sign up for an invite. I put in my request a week or so ago and haven’t heard back yet. I’m looking forward to trying it out, the design looks really nice. I prefer reading on my Kindle, but I’ve read plenty of books on my phone too.

::Two:: I often listen to music while I work, and have several Pandora stations to choose from, depending on my mood. Lately I’m enjoying my Django Reinhart station. It’s cheery and soothing and I like the vintage sound.

::Three:: I went on vacation the last week of August. It was a family reunion at a beautiful lake. I will make you look at all my vacation photos eventually (I’m currently learning to use Lightroom and want to edit them all first), so here’s just a sneak peek:

boat house

list of the week

  1. Have you heard of Skillshare? I’m taking a class to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator. I think it will be fun, even for a non-artist like me.
  2. Another photo printing app: Printic prints cute little photos that look like Polaroids and come in a cheery orange envelope. I think they make a nice thank you gift. printic
  3. A few books that I’ve read recently and really liked (you’ve probably already heard of most of these, but just in case): The Fault in Our Stars (YA, and I listened to the audiobook. my advice: don’t listen in the car on the way to work. my mascara was just ruined one day), Phantom (the best in the Harry Hole series, I hope it’s not the last), The Paris Wife (now I want to read A Moveable Feast and re-read A Farewell to Arms), Dark Places (Gillian Flynn’s second novel, I liked it better than Sharp Objects, although it was dark, it didn’t have quite the twists and turns of Gone Girl). I’ve been reading the Isabel Dalhousie series, but now that I’m on to book four I’m realizing that I don’t care all that much for Isabel, so I don’t know that I’ll go any farther.
  4. I made this and it was really rich, but also really delicious.cheese shrimp flatbread

new year

Happy New Year! 2013 is starting much like 2012 did, and I find myself once again job hunting. I am beginning to feel like this life is a bit too much like Groundhog Day, so I hope I get it right this time, and don’t have to keep repeating everything.

I don’t have any grand resolutions to reveal, just a few areas I want to focus on this year. Besides finding the perfect job, I mean.

Books on the Nightstand usually has a yearly reading challenge, and this year Ann has initiated Project Short Story. I don’t think I’ve read many short stories since high school, with the exception of maybe O. Henry and some of the shorter Sherlock Holmes stories, so I love this idea. I am going to try and read a few short stories each week (as well as participating in the monthly reads they’ll be discussing), and I’ll note them here, just to keep track for myself. There are lots of online resources, so I’ll add links whenever possible. I don’t have any plans for specific genres or an exact number goal, but I do hope that it will help me read more this year than I did in 2012.

Today I think I’ll pick a story from this book, which I found years ago in a used book shop:

Winter's Tales

I love the bookplate and the note about “conserving essential materials” during the war. I also love this photo of Karen Blixen:

karen blixen

I think I need a pet owl and a head scarf, it’s a very elegant look, don’t you think?

Now that I once again have some free time, I’ve also decided to focus on one big project each week. I have so many things I want to do, that I often find myself paralyzed with indecision and end up getting nothing done. This week’s project is a slipcover for the wing chair in my living room. Giving myself the week means that I can break it down into manageable chunks each day, and will still have time for other things too, like reading short stories, knitting, and cooking and cleaning and errands, and job hunting too, of course.

My other area of focus is going to be training little Pixel to be a good dog. He’s getting better at walking on a leash, and can sit and shake when there are snacks involved. He is very enthusiastic about giving high-fives, and will kind of, sort of stay for brief moments, but he doesn’t come when called when he’s outside, and I want to change that quickly. He’s slipped out our gate a couple times, and has a grand time running away, while giving me a heart attack. Our street is sometimes busy and the speed limit is 45mph, so it’s not a safe place for a little dog to be. I’ve since made it as secure as possible with a little chicken wire and zip ties. I still get nervous when he’s out there, though, so some obedience training will be a priority starting this week. Also, he is just so super cute:

pixel

What about you? Do you make grand resolutions or goals? Or maybe a list of things you want to accomplish? Have you ever made a resolution and really stuck with it for a whole year?

Short stories for this week:

Tall Tales from the Mekong Delta by Kate Braverman

books books books!

I have a book to give away here on the blog this week, and you can give away 20 books if you hurry! I'll tell you about mine last, because it's not as important or exciting as World Book Night! Have you heard about this? I should have mentioned it sooner, but I signed up at what I thought was the last minute and then didn't think about it again until I got an email the other day that I had been accepted and would get the opportunity to share twenty copies of a favorite book. 

Books

So, what is this World Book Night thing, you may be asking? It started last year in the UK and has expanded to include the US and Ireland this year! It's a charity for the promotion of literacy and reading, which is very dear to my heart. Anyone in these three countries can apply to recieve twenty copies of a favorite book (you choose from a list of 30 very good books-I had to really think about which I wanted to share) to be given away in a location of your choosing-preferably to non-readers, on April 23. I chose Peace Like a River, which is that rare kind of book that stays with you for years and years. Narrated by a young boy whose voice has been compared to Scout Finch or  Huck Finn, it is the story of a family and a tragedy and miracles and goodness. I can't wait to share it!

Go apply right now, the deadline is Monday, February 6th at midnight EST. You don't have to write long essays for each question, just give succinct but thoughtful answers and I think you'll have a good chance at being accepted. At least that's what I did. 

Now for a little blog giveaway. It's been awhile since I've done one, but I just received a copy of the new paperback edition of Creative Quilting with Beads, which I contributed to a few years ago.

image from www.flickr.com

It's got lots of fun projects, and even if you don't want to replicate them exactly, it's good for inspiration for everything from bags to wall hangings to fridge magnets (I think theses are super cute and would make great little brooches). I recently cleaned out my bead stash, so I might even include an assortment of seed beads and a little sewing kit along with the book.   

Quilting

To enter, just leave a comment and tell us about a favorite quilting project or beading project (links to pictures are encouraged!) you've done or dream of doing. I'll leave the comments open until next weekend. 

this and that

I never even turned on my computer yesterday. I was so scattered, and I kept meaning to get to it and then I just never did. Do you have days like that? I did a lot of things, but in the end I didn't feel like I really accomplished much at all. I'm going to try and do better today, so first thing I'm doing is getting on my computer and writing this post, which will probably be random and scattered like my day was.

image from www.flickr.com

The acorns on the California oaks around here are long and skinny. I have an app called FingerFace and now I think I will put little faces on everything. 

I shared the above photo on Instagram the other day. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I've limited my Twitter use to blog posts and Instagram these days, I feel like tweeting is like walking into a big party and just shouting out something witty and hoping someone hears (and then RTs it). I don't really love big parties. I think I will stick to Instagram for now, I like looking at everyone's pretty pictures and it's making me be more creative with photography. 

I didn't mention in my book post that I listened to the Song of Ice and Fire series audiobooks recently as well. I came across this Tumblr blog and this re-imagined cover for A Game of Thrones made me laugh really hard. 

Have you seen this? Works of art, re-made. Some are literal, like this beautiful painting and photograph: 

Remake1

And some are more interpretive. I especially liked this one (the pillow case tacked to the wall is an especially nice touch): 

 

Remake2

I've been making a lot of soup lately, albondigas, this hot & sour cabbage soup, sausage and kale soup. I tried this green soup, but it came out kind of thin and watery, with not a lot of flavor. I need to expand my soup repertoire, does anyone have a favorite recipe to share? Preferably without grains or beans. Lots of vegetables are welcome, and I am not afraid to make my own broth. When I'm ready for a break from soup I think I'll try this artichoke, kale & ricotta pie, it looks so good.

I told you I was all scattered! 

what I like in a book

First of all, thank you so much to all the Ravelry users for the warm response to my pattern! There are 40+ likes and lots of queuing as of this morning. I really didn't expect so much! Now that it's there, I'm feeling a little more confident, I think it looks quite nice. I have to give Mr. HeyLucy some credit for helping with the photography, too. 

And now, I think it's about time for a book report. I didn't read nearly as much in 2011 as I did in 2010, but I did read a few very good books. I've also gotten a couple advance reader's copies from publishers, so I wanted to be sure and let you know about those. There were two, in particular, that I recently read, and they got me thinking about just what makes a good book. The Night Swimmer was just released, and is the story of an American couple that win an Irish pub on the southern tip of Ireland. They have high hopes, but things don't quite work out as expected. Matt Bondurant is an eloquent, gifted writer, but there was a subtlety to his storytelling that I never really understood. I'm still not sure just why certain things happened as they did. I found it interesting to read a story told in a female voice, written by a male author (as I would if roles were reversed). He was convincing, and yet I never really cared all that much for Elly, and I didn't understand her attractions to swimming in the ocean and to her husband Fred. I need to feel like I know and understand the characters in a book to really like it. So my review, in this case, is a totally subjective two-and-a-half out of five stars. I think some readers will love it, in all its subtlety, but even the intriguing location of the story wasn't enough to win me over. 

And now, a brief intermission, so we can enjoy this entertaining video: 

Okay, next up on my ARC list, History of a Pleasure Seeker, which comes out February 7. It's just after the turn of the century in Amsterdam (+1, I particularly like this time period and location), and handsome, talented Piet is attempting to rise above his station and secures a job as tutor to a troubled boy in a very wealthy family (+1, I can get behind that, it's an interesting challenge). Told in vivid detail, the author successfully brings a glamorous world to life (+1 for descriptive writing). Ultimately, however, the negatives are glaring. Piet is quite devious and while he admires his employer, he takes advantage of his trust (-1, first and foremost, he is a selfish bastard). He does succeed in helping some of the other characters, but often inadvertently, while single-mindedly pursuing his own interests (-1 more for more unlikeability). There's also an awful lot of excruciatingly detailed sex, both hetero- and homosexual (-1 for unexpected erotica). I prefer a more subtle approach, and there was just more than I thought was necessary to move the plot forward. I don't want characters in a book to be perfect, but when they succeed time and time again, despite their flaws, I find that they grow tiresome. So the pluses and minuses end up cancelling each other out. I'll be generous, however, and give it three out of five stars. 

My very favorite book of 2011 was Ready Player One. I actually listened to the audio version of this one, read by Wil Wheaton, who was pitch perfect as the voice of Wade Watts, treasure seeker/hacker/80s pop culture expert. Set in a bleak and hopeless 2044, most of humanity spends it's time plugged in to the virtual OASIS, where they attend school, work, and socialize. The developer of this virtual world has died and his will stipulates that the person who can unlock the three hidden gates and solve the subsequent puzzles will inherit the entire thing. It's been years, and so far no one has made any progress until one day when Wade finds the first gate, and the competition heats up fast. As a child of the 80s, the nostagia factor was high for me. I really grew to care about the characters, and the action and suspense kept me listening. It was just so, so much fun.

Currently, I'm in the middle of Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks, and I'm loving it so much. She has a way of giving her characters a voice that really expresses who they are. I recently finished Year of Wonders, and had the same feeling. I enjoyed the whole book, until the ending, which felt rushed and was so unlikely, I found it hard to believe. Fingers-crossed that it doesn't happen again, it was so perfect up to that point. 

What was your favorite book of 2011? What do you like in a book.