Thursday, August 28, 2008

nie nie day auction: cupcakes

I'm hosting an auction today in honor of my brother-in-law's sister, Stephanie Nielson, who was recently in a plane crash with her husband Christian.  They were severely burned, and remain in critical condition. With over 80% of her body burned, Stephanie in particular is in for months of recovery.  They have four small children.

Stephanie's well-known on the internets for her blog Nie Nie Dialogues, and since her accident, there's been a huge outpouring of love and support from literally around the world.  (You can read more about the Nielsons and how to help here.)  

Today's been declared Nie Nie Day; hundreds of bloggers are hosting silent auctions, with all proceeds going to the Christian and Stephanie Nielson Rehab Fund.  You can see a list of all the auctions here (hand-made jewelry! signed BYU football roster!).

I'm auctioning off three hand-knitted cupcakes.  They've got cherries on top, multicolored sprinkles, and detachable wrappers--I think they're too cute for words.  They'd be great as birthday present toppers, or as baby toys; they're stuffed with filler and super soft.  You can pick the colors, or I'll pick 'em for you.

So here're the rules: leave a comment to bid on the cupcakes (using whole dollars), and leave your email or blog address.  This auction will run till midnight EST on Sunday, Aug 31st.  I'll post the winner, and if it's you, I'll contact you directly.  Then you'll pay the amount of the winning bid to the Nielson Rehab PayPal Account (click on the button below).

Once you've contributed, forward me an email of the paypal receipt to  I'll make your cupcakes and send em out (free shipping!) pronto.

Even if you're totally uninterested in knitted cupcakes (the mind boggles!), check out some of the other auctions going on to benefit the Nielsons.  There's some pretty incredible stuff.  And it's a pretty incredible endeavor, the way hundreds of people have been touched by this tragedy and come together to try and help.  Gives you faith in humanity.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

bobble baubles

I love love love this jacket from Vogue Knitting Fall 08.  The colors are wild and the details fabulous.  I drool over those puffed sleeve bobbles.

Sweaters are still waaaaay out of my comfort level, but this one is so delectable I might have to tackle it.

First: convince one of my sisters they NEED this. I knit much quicker when it's for someone else.  (Alas for my poor neglected cupcakes.)

Second: find a really patient knitting mentor.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

barrezueta baubles

During vacation I came across Lorena Barrezueta's lovely work.  (And also: that's a really fun name to say.  Barrezueta.  Barrezueta.)  She's got gorgeous pottery pieces, and has just started a jewelry line with these little beauties:

Ceramic pendants with 24k gold ASL letters.  Yum.  This is going on my Buying-As-Soon-As-I-Can-Figure-Out-How-To-Justify-It-List.  It's a pity that ASL "L" and the sign for "loser" are the same, but I won't let that stop me.

She's also got some very funny bracelets.

The jewelry's all sold privately, with prices here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

bathtub baubles

When my folks moved to London, like, last week, they sold their house and everything in it. Everything, that is, that I didn't claim first.

One of the things I got dibs on first was a fabulous set of glass globe candleholders. They're hung on nice-enough-to-eat chocolate velvet ribbon, and Momma had them suspended over her soaking tub. (I tried to claim the tub, too, but it wouldn't fit in the car. Or, for that matter, in my bathroom.)

Today I managed to hang them over MY bathtub.

You may not realize how epic that statement is. Context: when it comes to DIY-ing, I have the anti-Midas touch. Everything I touch turns to rust and ruin. For example. There are 3, count 'em, 3 toilet paper holders in our house, all installed by me, and all, Peter has since pointed out, upside down. The paper towel holder I screwed into the kitchen wall unscrews itself weekly; every successfully hung painting hides behind it several dozens of a-little-higher-now-over-to-the-right nail holes.

But this time? 7 baubles: 7 holes. I'm feeling GOOD.

Now all I need is a long, hot bath.

Friday, August 22, 2008


I just finished my Biggest Knitting Project Ever.  Everything was big: the needles, the space under my couch the yarn took up, the finished blanket, my pride in getting 'er done.   

My grandma gave this blanket as Christmas gifts last year.  I fell in love with it then, and resolved to take up knitting.  It's just so darn cuddlylicious, to quote a Project Runway contestant.  (This blanket has seen a lot of Project Runway.)  I like the simplicity and the sophistication of the cables.  Seed stitch, the background, is my favorite stitch.

I've sent it off to the Old World to cheer my now-expatriate family in their time of exile.  Ha.  As if.    They are living it up in London, and this blanket wants to get in on the fun.

And so do I.  We're planning a Thanksgiving trip out there, and I am already s-k-y-d psyched!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

what i'm reading

This is a list of the books that are now or have recently been on my nightstand. And dresser, and couch, and floor. I keep it more-or-less updated, and it's be accessible from that handy tab up top. I'm always looking for new reads, and I'd love to hear books you're into.

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Relin
I resisted reading this for a long time, thinking it was cheezy inspiration fiction.  Turns out it's actually cheezy inspiration NON-fiction, and absolutely wonderful.

The Fire, by Katherine Neville
I adore The Eight.  But this-- this is unreadable Da Vinci Code knock-off drivel.  No offense.

Good Poems for Hard Times, collected by Garrison Keillor
This great collection of poems, from classic to modern, has gotten me reading poetry again.

The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
A lovely read about revisiting Richard III.  I always forget what a good writer Tey is until I pick her up again.

The Murders of Richard III, by Elizabeth Peters
Fun fluff.

Bakewise, by Shirley Corriher
This is more than just a cookbook, y'all.  It is genius INSIGHT into the SOUL of cooking.

Collected Poems, by John Donne
Holy cow, how have I never been obsessed with him before!  Well, I'm making up for lost time now.

Sonnets, by Petrarch
I originally picked this up because of his muse's name; I keep coming back to them because of the lovely lovely language.

Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett

Maskerade, by Terry Pratchett
Phantom of the Opera spoof. What's not to love?

Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths, by Karen Armstrong
A fascinating read by a fascinating author.

Jerusalem: The Eternal City, by Galbraith, Ogden, and Skinner
I've had this for a while, but I think this time I may finally get through it.  It's a great historical, religious, linguistic, sociological, and political overview of the city.  Pretty high-level, but hits all the main points.

The Life of Christ, by Frederic Farrar
Wonderful.  Think Talmage but better.

Vicious Circle, by Mike Carey
Fun hardboiled gothic fluff.

The Likeness, by Tana French
Loved it as much as the first one.

In the Woods, by Tana French
Creepity psychological thriller. Just ordered the second one.

Waiter Rant, by The Waiter
Turns out the blog's better.

, by Terry Pratchett
This is a very different Pratchett book than the other 37 of his I've read. Firstly, it's for young adults (but when has that ever stopped me); secondly, it's SERIOUS. There's still cleverness and wit and lovely lovely names--Biggleswick the Butler, Ermintrude Fanshaw (the Honorable Miss)--but the main themes are religion, colonialism, scientific inquiry, and, oh yes, death.

The Devil You Know, by Mike Carey
Recommended to the world by Robin McKinley (read her review here), and well worth the read. It's half ghost story, half hardboiled detective story, and full on compelling. Also, full of naughty words, so preview it before gifting it to Great Aunt Dotty Sue.

To Say Nothing of the Dog
, by Connie Willis
A much-loved favorite. Especially laugh-out-loud for readers of Jerome K. Jerome and Dorothy Sayers.

Teaching Multilevel Classes in ESL
, by Jill Sinclair Bell
Doing some much-needed reading up on how to do my job. This book is very sensible, but kind of overwhelming. The amount of prep time it assumes is approximately insane.

Men at Arms
, by Terry Pratchett
Corporal Carrot is one of my favorite characters ever written. Angua is so not good enough for him.

The War Within
, by Bob Woodward

Laughter of Dead Kings
, by Elizabeth Peters
Meh. There's probably no way to top Night Train to Memphis, but this seemed so half-hearted.

, by Robin McKinley
A delight. I can't wait to read it again. [Liked it even more on second reading.]

Dreams of Trespass
, by Fatima Mernissi.
I'd forgotten how great this fictional Moroccan memoir is. It's moving and good-tempered and really, really interesting.

Wit, by Margaret Edson.
A lovely play. The movie (with Emma Thompson!) is also great, although it made me a wee bit verklempt.

Organ Registration in Theory and Practice, by Harold Greer
Great. And holy cow technical.

Abigail Adams: A Biography, by Phyllis Lee Levin

Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
Yay, a Pratchett I hadn't read! And this one, about theology and Greek philosophers, is a great one.

And Only to Decieve, by Tasha Alexander
Fun and fluffy.

C. S. Lewis, by A. N. Wilson

Dragonhaven, by Robin McKinley
Much better the second time around, though still not up to her usual magic.

I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Whenever I start reading this, I get amazed at how wonderful it is. And then when the ending rolls around I'm always disappointed.

Nudge, by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Martha Washington: An American Life, by Patricia Brody
Pretty light, but I've never known much about Martha Washington, and it's interesting enough to just learn the facts. If anyone knows a heartier Martha biography, I'd love to hear about it.

Outlaws of Sherwood, by Robin McKinley
Possibly my favorite book of all time, despite the bleakness.

The Fifth Elephant, by Terry Pratchett
Can't get enough Pratchett. It breaks my greedy heart that he's got Alzheimer's.

Lords and Ladies, by Terry Pratchett

Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer

Dreams of Trespass, by Fatima Mernissi

Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
This is a vampire book about a baker who makes Cinnamon Rolls As Big As Your Head and Meringuemanias and all sorts of brilliantly-named goodies; her superlatively ordinary world crosses with some nasty, dark Others, and the creepy fun begins. ("I never heard them coming. Of course, you don't, when they're vampires." Delicious!) I should warn you that this book is firmly in PG-13 territory; if you're like me --and yes, I am turning into my mother-- you'll want to read with a white-out pen for the naughty bits. There aren't many of them, but they are zingers.

Till We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis
Also in the top three all time favorite books. I've read this a billion times, but the redemption always gives me chivers.

The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis

Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett

Tolstoy, by A. N. Wilson
Awesome biography--Tolstoy was seriously odd.

Water, by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson

Thrones, Dominations, by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh

Bunch of thrillers, by Patricia Cornwell
Liked these at first, but then I started intensely disliking the main character, and the series is ruined for me.

The Alvin Maker series, by Orson Scott Card
As usual with Card, the first three books are the best.

Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee

Mind of the Maker, by Dorothy Sayers

Time to Be in Earnest, by P. D. James
One of the most enjoyable autobiographies I've ever read. It's fragmented and almost neurotically reserved, but by the end I felt like I was looking out from the inside of James' head. Really lovely.

Taste for Death, by P. D. James

Death at Black Dudley, by Margery Allingham
I wished I liked Allingham more. I mean, she's ok, but she's no Sayers. Sigh.

Blindness, by Jose Saramago
Holy schinkies, this was awesomely bleak. And waaaay too rough for me to ever read it again (I still have nightmares), but I'm glad I did the first time.

Short Stories, by Leo Tolstoy

Searching for Jane Austen, by Emily Auerbach
Felt like taking a seminar on Feminism and Jane Austen. Really really great.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
I love the detail, and all the fabulous footnotes. I hope she writes more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

vamping it up

This is the part of the blog where I review Breaking Dawn.  If you’re not into vampire heart throb novels, then, uh, see you next post.  

So here’s the deal.  I love campy.  I eat camp warm, with chocolate syrup and a spoon.  Tasty tasty camp.  The first three books in the series are chock full of camp, which is what makes them so much fun.  But Breaking Dawn veered waaaaay off the camp-o-meter into a laugh-out-loud land of ridiculousness.

Warning: here be spoilers.

Firmly in lol territory: “Renesmee.”  Really?  Really, Stephenie, is that the best you could do?  It may be ultra-Mormony to name a child after two parents at the SAME TIME--but surely there are other ways to reference your culture?  One imagines a scene where vegan Edward snacks on green jello, perhaps, or a darkly funny reference to funeral potatoes.  Anything would be better than Renesmee Carlie, for crying out loud.  Though it should come as no surprise that a woman named Stephenie--just WHAT was so wrong with using an “a”?--might well have unusual tastes in names. 

(Aside: for a fun Mormon Name Generator, click here.  My Mormon name is, awesomely, Lauradene LindaGay.)  

But Renesmee?  Bella has doomed her child to a life of snickering and, no-doubt, superfluous hyphening.  She should’ve tested it out first: “All rise for the honorable Renesmee Cullen.”  Nope, no good.  “It gives me great pleasure to introduce out new CEO, Renesmee Cullen.”  Heck to the no.  “Stay tuned for our interview with acclaimed author Renesmee Cullen.”  Pass the remote.   I was giving Breaking Dawn the benefit of the doubt until this name debuted--but after that, it was pretty much dead to me.  And not in a sparkles-in-the-sunlight kind of dead, either.

I was also precioused-out by “nudger,” which Bella uses ad nauseam to describe her superfetus.  And surely I’m not the only one who giggled at the fastfowarded pregnancy (which still managed to cram in endless medical nastiness).

I giggled more on learning exactly what vampires do with all those sleep-free nights.  Hee.   And you gotta admit that the pillow-biting, which is being swooned over on fansites, was just odd.  Though it does make for a really great euphemism.   “Hey baby, wanna bite some pillow?” has a great blend of the dirty and the absurd.  

I suppose I do have to credit Meyer (more “e”s!) with fearless creativity; I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where a love triangle is resolved by the lover falling for the beloved’s INFANT DAUGHTER.    Was this the only way she could think of to resolve things and leave everyone happy?  Well, leave everyone over the age of consent happy, anyway.  

There was a similar chickening-out during the showdown with the Volturi.  How conVENient that Bella just happens to have super-shielding abilities.  How conVENient that dozens of vegan vamps were hanging around just waiting for a chance to take on the Volturi.  How conVENient that Bella can keep seeing her folks after all (still not sure how that one worked out).  Not that you read a book about vampires looking for believability--but consistency would have been nice.

I’m getting soul-weary thinking about it.  If you haven’t had enough vamp yet, check out this very fun Breaking Dawn quiz.  And, if you’ve read the book, tell me what you thought.  (Pic stolen from L. Llew’s fabulous Breaking Dawn midnight release party.) 

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Some of my favorite places to visit on the internets:

kith & kin
Bryan and Camille
David and Jen
Joel the Rockstar
Johnny Boy
Jon and Em
Jorg and Em
Joyful Expressions
Just Kidding
Matt Goes Hunting
Tiffany and Darren
The Farns
Tucson Adventures
Votaw Family

clever folk
A Little Sussy
Cicada Song
Design Mom
Eric D. Snider
How About Orange
MIss Nemesis
Petit Elephant
Oh Happy Day
Oh Joy!
Specs Appeal
Starting Anew

brain builders
Bureau of Communication
Daily Painters
Desktop Defense
Feast Upon Word
How to Do Stuff
Knitting Iris
Rules of Thumb
Word Shoot

middle east
Across the Bay
Anon Arabist
Arab Art
Bitter Lemons
Creative Syria
Syrian Comment

All Recipes
Joy Kitchen
Kalyn’s Kitchen