Category Archives: Books

New Books

Well, did you all have a good weekend? Ours was dreary weather-wise, but it was a good, productive weekend. I achieved 4 out of 5 of my goals for the weekend. I managed to knit a bit (project will be finished tonight); I finished the binding on the quilt (pictures coming if we ever see sunlight again); and I played Hand and Foot with MeMum. I didn’t get my fabric pre-shrunk, but that little failure was totally eclipsed by the fact that we got the master bedroom closet all cleaned out. WooHoo — that was a BIG job!

I also had a little fun looking through some of my Christmas books. (Long-time readers might recall that I usually receive and Amazon gift certificate for Christmas and I always save it for a middle of winter pick-me-up.)

Christmas Books

I usually try to mix-up the choices with cookbooks and craftybooks and this year I had an even split. The quilt books aren’t anything new (Some Kind of Wonderful and Remembering Adelia ), but I think I’ll enjoy them — they both have quilts in them that I would love to make.

It’s always hard to purchase a cookbook over the internet, so I guess my expectations are never terribly high. Lots of sites have been raving about Smitten Kitchen and I love her blog, so I put it in my basket.  Sadly, I’m a bit disappointed. There are probably only a handful or two of the recipes that I will want to try. I will say though, that those recipes look REALLY good LOL!

Vintage Cakes

I purchased Vintage Cakes after reading a few good reviews. I don’t have any of Jane Brocket’s other books and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by this book.   There are lots of recipes in here that I want to try. I’ve already tried the Welsh Cakes. I made them one afternoon for BigDaddy. His ancestors were Welsh miners (it’s said that the miners used to take these little cakes into the mines in their pockets) so I thought he might like them with a bit of tea. It almost made us feel like we were back in Wales — they were Yummy! (As you can see I was very heavy handed with the sugar — we both have big sweet tooths!)

Welsh Cakes

Based on my other book selections, Amazon recommended Pure Vanilla to me. TheManoftheHouse loves most anything vanilla, so I sort of purchased this book for him. It looks like a really good book – there are a bunch of recipes that I want to try (Twinkie Bundt Cake, Vanilla Bean Dutch Baby, White Hot Fudge, Frosted Vanilla Almonds, and Vanilla Creme Cookie Sandwiches just to scratch the surface.)

Pure Vanilla

And, last but not least, we have Handknit Holidays.  This book is now out of print, but obviously, you can still get it.  I remember looking at it several years ago but nothing in it snapped my socks (as Ms. Farmhouse would say)  so I didn’t buy it.  In December, the newsletter from one of our local yarn shops arrived and it had this cute picture of Christmas stockings in it.

Christmas Socks

The stocking in the book looks nothing like these cute socks! Anyway, this picture made me order the book. Someday I’d like to make them — I think they would be fairly quick and easy.

So, a pretty good book haul for this year, don’t you think? Now, I’m off to finish that knitting project!
XOXO,
Anna

Lisa, Sarah, and Jeni

A few weeks ago, Lisa and Sarah had a super cool giveaway and I was the lucky winner.  The prize was that I could pick any book (within reason) that I wanted from the Book Depository.  How cool and generous is that?  I’d had my eye on the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream book for a few weeks, so that’s the book I picked.

Jeni's Ice Cream

It’s really a fun book and this morning I finally got a little time to try a few recipes.  TheManoftheHouse even helped and we had some fun.  The first recipe we tried was the Salted Caramel Ice Cream.  The book says it’s their number one best seller.  I love caramel, so it sounded like a perfect fit.  The ice cream note says “Initial notes of burnt sugar give way to a mouthwatering salty-sweet balance.”  It’s really a yummy, smooth ice cream, but holy cow, is it ever salty!  I think next time I’ll cut the salt in half.  The description was right on target — you taste that burnt sugar taste first.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but our ice cream is a little darker than Jeni’s sample, so our “burnt” might be a little more “burnt” than Jeni’s.  We were pretty careful, but I think next time I won’t cook it quite as long.  I’d definitely love to try it again.  (HERE’s the recipe, if you’d like to give it a go.)

Jeni's Ice Cream

We made a second batch and “The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World” is currently in the freezer freezing.  We’ll try that tomorrow.  This book is crammed full of recipes — some are a bit weird (Chamomile Chardonnay anyone?) but there are lots of recipes that we’ll surely attempt.  Oooh, and look…if I back the camera up a bit, you can see that the Salted Caramel matches the new kitchen wall paint.

Jeni's Ice Cream

It’s a golden carmel-y tan.  Depending on the sun, sometimes it looks gold.  And sometimes tan.  And sometimes like baby diaper poop.  But that’s a topic for another post.

Lisa and Sarah – Thank You SOOO much for the wonderful gift!  TheManoftheHouse and I are looking forward to lots more ice cream fun!  I would say something like “if you haven’t been to A Spoonful of Sugar blog you’re missing a real gem”, but I’m pretty sure  that like me, you have them at the top of your reader!

XOXO,
Anna

Dirty Little Secrets

Like most of you, I suppose, I have a few dirty little secrets. (I’ll bet that got your attention!) Mine are pretty tame, but still, I hang my head in shame.

For starters, I have several dirty little literary secrets. MeMum and BigDaddy gave me a beautiful copy of Jane Eyre when I was a teenager, and even though I read a lot back then, I never managed to get it read.  (Hasn’t everyone read Jane Eyre?)

Jane Eyre

In anticipation of the movie, I finished the book this week, and, of course, I loved it. It was fun to read my childhood version of the book too, as it’s full of pretty little pen and ink illustrations.

Jane Eyre

The illustration below is probably my favorite.  I can’t wait to see the movie now.  Have any of you seen it yet?  I’m a little distressed — it won’t open here until the day I leave for spring market — I’m crossing my fingers that it will stay around for more than 10 days.

Jane Eyre

Another dirty little secret is one that I KNOW I share with many of you.  Really old UFOs.  Now that I’ve finished the crochet bag, I need some sort of handwork and I decided I really should try to work on a UFO.  I’ve resurrected one from the early 90′s.  (Ouch!)  I was farther along than I thought though — two out of four borders are all appliqued — just two more to go and I’ll be finished.   Why do we put these projects down when we don’t really have that much left to do on them?  I have a plan this time, so I’m going to git ‘er done.

Applique UFO

That’s enough for dirty little secrets tonight — I hope your dirty little secrets are more exciting!

To change the subject, I had a super fun encounter today at lunch.  I ran to JoAnn’s to see if I could get the new Denyse Schmidt fabrics for Julia.  When I asked about them, the clerk pointed to the back of the store and said they were all mixed in along the back wall.  Really???  Arghh.  There’s no way I can pick them all out — I barely know what they look like!  Luckily, there was another clerk in the quilting section and she hadn’t put them out yet — they were all still together and wrapped in shrink wrap.  Happy Dance about Perfect Timing.

And if that weren’t enough, as I was picking through them, this cutie with a little boy and girl walked up and asked for the same fabrics.  I took one look at her, laughed, and said “Are you Jenny?”  Poor Jenny, I think I shocked her, but what a wonderful surprise!  Jenny and I have e-mailed and shared comments for a few years but never met.  I think maybe we were both a bit too shy (stop laughing!) to suggest a get-together.  I knew one day we would meet and always wondered how it would happen.  So, Hi Jenny — I LOVED our chance encounter — it was the highlight of my day week!   I hope your novocaine has worn off LOL!

I hope you all have a fun weekend.  Maybe you’ll have a chance encounter too!

XOXO,
Anna

The Quilter’s Bible

Hi there — have you all had a good weekend?  It’s been beautiful weather here — a teaser for spring and I think I might be over my snow fever.  I’m still not ready for yardwork though!

A few weeks ago, the nice people at FSB Media asked if I would review a copy of The Quilter’s Bible and I said yes.  I’d seen pictures of this beautiful cover, so I couldn’t resist.  (I love that cover quilt!)

Quilt Bible

The Quilter’s Bible is 256 pages full of most everything you’d like to know about quilting.  It’s divided into 5 sections: Getting Started, Patchwork, Applique, Quilting, and Finishing Off.

The Getting Started section contains lots of good information about tools, fabric, templates — mostly everything you need to be a quilter. There’s even a two-page spread on using technology in quilting, which is something you won’t find in older quilt books LOL!

As you might expect, the Patchwork section is the largest section. There are lots of pages showing different block types (I found a few new blocks I’d like to make.)

Quilt Bible

There are also many technique pages that show you how to construct blocks. Obviously every block can’t be covered, but the instructions vary from the more basic to even some tricky blocks.

Quilt Bible

A lone star quilt is on my someday list.

Quilt Bible

The cathedral window is on that list too.

Quilt Bible

There’s lots of good information for putting the blocks together.  All the details are explained — from block settings to the proper way to measure borders before cutting your fabric.

Quilt Bible

I forgot to take a picture of a sample page from the applique section, but the format is the same as the other sections.  All of the “standard” applique methods are discussed, along with some not-so-common methods like Hawaiian, Applique Perse (known as Broderie Perse here in the U.S. — which I always thought was Broderie Purse, so I learned something!), and Shisha.

The quilting section is comprehensive too.  Techniques include hand, big stitch, sashiko, long-arm, and many more.  Not only does the book explain how to do the actual quilting, there are also sections on choosing quilting designs that flatter your quilt.

Quilt Bible

Here’s the page on whole cloth quilting — another technique on my someday list.

Quilt Bible

The finishing off section contains fun ideas for binding and finishing quilts, to include techniques for hanging sleeve placement.  There’s also a page of useful information like half-square triangle formulas, diagonal measurements of squares, etc.

There are lots of  “Make It Now” projects throughout the book too,  to give you practice on a technique that has just been taught.  Shoot, I can’t possibly tell you all of the pop-outs and techniques and projects.  This is a really nice book — all of the pages are color and the paper is heavy.  It’s a wonderful resource for all quilters — and especially if you’re a beginning quilter.  One thing this book is not though — it’s not a pattern book  for making a specific quilts.  And, imho, that’s a great thing!  This book contains all the info you need to go off and create a quilt of your own, which is just how I like it.   And, as a bonus, there’s some really pretty photography.  I love this quilt (see previous lone-star mention!)

Quilt Bible

So the verdict?  Highly Recommended!

Aaannnnddd, the good news is that the nice people at FSB Media said that if I pick a winner, they’ll send one of you a copy of this book! (The bad news is that you must be in the U.S. or Canada to enter — sorry.)  Please leave a comment if you’d like to win your own copy of The Quilter’s Bible and I’ll draw a name on Saturday, March 26th.

XOXO,
Anna

Gift Books

Yak! Where is the week going? We’ve been swamped at work this week, and it’s flying by! Tomorrow will be the third day of being stuck in and all day meeting. I can’t say it’s particularly fun, either — I’m sure everyone thinks I’m sleeping ’cause I close my eyes to try to soothe the head.ache. Ouch!

Not much new to report here. I spent ALL weekend working on the wedding quilt. I made great progress until I put the borders on and then decided that I don’t like the inner border.  TheManoftheHouse is watching tv and unpicking it as we speak. I decided re-doing it would be a lot easier than complaining about how I hate that border until the day I die.  It’s a little set-back, but well worth it.

So, in lieu of anything exciting sewing-wise, I’ll show you the books I bought with my annual Amazon Christmas gift certificate that my in-laws gave me this year.

Amazon Books

Beyond the Square Crochet Motifs, Itty-Bitty Toys, Giada’s Family Dinners, Chic Knits for Stylish Babies, Felt Wee Folk and A Passion for Ice Cream. It’s a great pile of books this time, and I’ve had fun reading through them in the last few weeks.

I’m particularly excited about two of them. Chic Knits for Stylish Babies, for one. Look at these cute little pants with zippers in them!

Amazon Books

And this little dress! They’ll make really fun baby gifts.

Amazon Books

And A Passion for Ice Cream. Oh My. My, Oh My, Oh My! I gained 5 pounds just looking at this book. How on earth could I resist this book, with recipes like Brown Sugar Ice Cream Chocolate Roulade,

Amazon Books

Chocolate Banana Baked Alaskas,

Amazon Books

or Warm Blueberry Filo Stacks?

Amazon Books

Some of the criticism of this book says that the recipes are too detailed. No pain, no gain! They all look fantastic to me!

So, a few book recommendations in case you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and you’re looking for a little crafty inspiration.  I’m off to make some Poppyseed Bread to take to work tomorrow in hopes of taming the headaches.  I hope you’re having a good week!

XOXO,
Anna