Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Night At The Movies: World War Z: Zombies Never Disappoint

In preparation for the return of Walking Dead next week, I watched this zombie fest.

Brad Pitt reluctantly leaves his family to try to find a cure for the rapidly spreading Zombie Apocalypse.

He travels to South Korea and then Jerusalem and Wales looking for answers.

For a former Operative of some sort, he seems to have more luck than talent.  I'd expect a bit of Chuck Norris or Mission Impossible but nope, just a worried looking guy just barely avoiding swarms.

The zombie swarms were impressive and frightening.  Instead of shambling dead creatures, zombies here moved like lightning.  They swarmed over walls like piles of insects.

Pitt's character is motivated by his desire to keep his family safe.  His love for them and desire to keep them safe is completely believable. He was very likeable and I was rooting for him all the way.  

I almost feel guilty saying it, but his wife and kids were so annoying.  The little girls kept wandering off, the wife was bored and kept calling him and setting off the zombies.  

A charming bit was Peter Capaldi as a scientist working for WHO.

Garden Notes: DOA in the Garden

I used to have this little skellie (I think I tossed it, alas) that was to be my DOA logo/whatever.  I found this shot of her to use as my DOA in the Garden icon/thingie.   (The words are flowing this morning!)

So.  I've started going through my catalogs a second time for an actual order list.  I've pared down the vegetables I'm growing to a more favorable salad size.  I love lettuces so I'll let myself go a bit overboard there.

Since I keep failing with carrots I will try just one variety.  I promise.

Dropping to cherry and grape tomatoes which always grow nicely for me with the exception of two favorites:  Fourth of July and Black Krim.

I am set to grow more flowers this season, with Zinnias in all their forms being given a try. 

Although I've not been successful with Sweet Peas in the past, a few are calling to me.

I downsized my gardens considerably last season so I'm hoping that helps.

Here to cheer you are a couple of pictures from my early vegetable garden.

Some early efforts at having a vegetable garden area.  Beagles, rabbits, and my neighbor at the time "The Creature"  laughed at my fencing efforts.

I wish this covering had lasted a few more seasons.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Garden Notes

There was a hopeful weather tidbit that theorized this winter could be like the miraculous winter of 2012 wherein we could begin gardening in March.

After two years of May snowfall, I hope it is true.  

I've started writing in my Garden Notebook.  This is a sure sign of spring.

I have made my initial run through of my catalogs, wildly marking everything that looks interesting.  That is such fun.  Another more careful list gets made of what I can actually grow and have space for.

After I've ordered, I have many seeds from last season that will be viable so those can get started now.  

I saved seeds from some of my hostas last fall.  I've grown hostas from saved seed before.  Even if they don't end up looking like the parent plant, baby hosta seedlings are adorable.  So cute.

I have high hopes for this gardening season, as always.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Crochet: Try Try Again

I've decided to try another approach.  I've been practicing my stitches via a book called Crocheting School.

I decided to look for a project I actually wanted to make as well.  I found this little brochure on Filet Crochet and was mostly able to figure out the blocks and spaces (watching a YouTube video also helped).  

I don't have the correct weight thread but I think it is pretty nonetheless.  My tension is still a problem but my double crochet is coming along nicely.

Crochet: I Can Do This

Figure A, B, C,D

My previous projects....

Crochet: WTF

I've been working away on my "scarf".  My "double crochet" moves are improving, yet my work as always looks NOTHING like the picture in the book.


Thought I'd get a picture before I rip it out again.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crochet Fail: Half Double Crochet Bracelet

If I had a Crochet Blog, I would have to call it Crochet Fails.  Luckily I am sticking with my all things under the sun blog.

I decided to force myself to push through  making the Friendship Bracelet from my " I Can Crochet" book while watching Downton Abbey and Grantchester last night.

Once again I made my chainstitch row and my single crochet row like a boss.  A boss with a death grip on the hook and yarn...

Next we make a double crochet or two, draw a bead up the string, hook it in, it's all good.

Skip two chain spots and do a double crochet, pull up a bead, repeat 9 times.

Somewhere in here things went south.  I had trouble getting my needle in loops, my hook got stuck on the middle loop of every single half double crochet.  That middle bit of yarn was just pinned to the hook.  

I found I kept muttering "nightmare" as I struggled along.

Finally the beads are all woven in and I'm at step 12 in the pattern.  My "ends" don't remotely resemble the book and I just said "To Hades with this".  I ruthlessly made a chain and tied it to the other end of the piece, and done.

Here is how it is supposed to look:

The next project (yes, I'm soldiering on!!) is a scarf that is Double Crochet. I'm hoping that no beads and nice straight rows will be just the thing.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

From Mom's Sketchpad

Organizational work continues in my craft room.  I think I'm making progress then a pile of something falls over.  (Insert sad face). 

Mom mostly painted, but she did a great deal of sketching too.  She worked mostly in oils, but also dabbled in acrylics and watercolor as the fancy took her.

Here are a few of her sketches.  Not all are completed.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why Crochet?

I used to think I preferred Crochet over Knitting because one hook seemed easier to coordinate than two, and there seemed to be less counting.  As I've been working on these projects, I dug out all of my books with crochet directions and found some old project flyers mom had purchased. 

Ah, doilies, tablecloths, table runners, place mats, bedspreads... now that is what we're talking.

Mom always had some project going using delicate thread with complex patterns incomprehensible to me.

I think my grandmother (paternal, aka The Harridan) taught mom some of her early needlework and perhaps the lessons she learned from her helped her teach herself anything she wanted henceforth (to avoid further sessions) and made it difficult for mom to patiently teach others.

Watching mom create these beautiful crochet objects over the years made me want to learn crochet, I'm sure.  Visions of me working handily on projects has always been in the background.

Now, just to grasp the basics and away I go to mom level glory.  Tis to dream.

Just Start Over

I think there's a technical term for yanking out your stitches and starting from scratch when things go south.  I should familiarize myself with this word.

I prepped for the Half Double by watching a couple of YouTube videos.  This one showed and explained it so I felt I could begin.

Librariandoa has twelve beads rather than the required ten.  I figured I could work in the two extras somehow.

Made my chain of 34, check.
Added a row of single crochet on top of my chain check.
Get to the half double stitch, make one, check.
Go to make a second and it all goes kablooie.  Tried to back up a couple of times and suddenly my tidy end of the row had unravelled and I had to start all over. 

Try try again later.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blog List Cheerily Updated

Ta da. I now have Books/Authors, Cooking/Baking, Gardening and Craft Blog sections. I cleverly delineated between them by adding nice images to lead the sections.

As always, I enjoy blogs with a nice conversational writing style accompanied as needed by charming pictures.  Just the sort of thing you find on DOA!  

Crochet: Half Double and I'm in Trouble

The next project in my book is a Friendship Bracelet using Half Double Crochet (which I don't know).

It weaves in beads to make it extra tricky.   I'm temporarily stalled while I search my in the process of reorganization craft room for a Tapestry Needle.  My beading is ready to go.  

Wish me luck!


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crochet for Bozos: Scrunchie

The second project in my book uses single crochet to attach yarn chains to a common, previously boring Scrunchie.

It was good practice mostly as I tried to keep a looser tension on the yarn (somehow I like to keep it in a sort of stranglehold).  I also hold the hook differently than the recommended "pencil" or "pinch" methods and I'm trying to change that because I'm not very efficient in my moves.

It didn't come out too badly.  I can't see myself wearing it, but I did get a volunteer to try it on.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

It's a New Year and of course I am not a Garden Blogger and I have nothing in bloom, but voila I would like to do the every 15th of the month post this season.

I feel like a person might get desperate to show something in bloom in midwinter and they'd raid Cub for some tiny flowering plant.  I suppose that isn't cheating and it might liven and cheer me to see a flower in February.  We shall see.

What I do have are my houseplants that made it in from outside (alas some were tossed) and a couple of Rosemary and Lavender plants which just looked lovely all summer in the garden.  They resisted cold fall temps and begged to come in to sit in a sunny window.  They still look charming and of course you can brush them with your hand for a wonderful scent.

Lavender Goodwin Creek

Tuscan Blue Rosemary

I will be slowly adding the garden and baking blogs back in so keep a sharp eye out.  We'll start with the May Dreams Gardens blog which is the ongoing inspiration for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Barnes and Noble SF and Fantasy Blog

There are so many great Science Fiction and Fantasy books coming out this year.  Barnes and Noble has a new blog featuring some of these.  It's nice to get another viewpoint on what upcoming books will be of interest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crochet: Square One

Here we are in the doldrums (I think) of winter and I feel the desire to be crafty.

You may recall the tragedy of my being unable to make a Granny Square though I've done them in the past.

I decided to start all over re-learning crochet.  Though there are bazillions of YouTube videos they tend to go too fast for me. Or the person's voice or creepy hands start distracting me.

I have a couple of learning to crochet books of my own including one for kids.  I figure these guys are talking to an audience at about my ability level, and I should start with the simplest projects imaginable.  

Today I shall attempt a chain stitch shoelace. With the help of the cat.

Figure A  short and ucky chain stitch.  Not sticking this in my shoe!

Book Riot's The Great 2015 YA Series Roundup

Via Book Riot, a list of upcoming continuations of ongoing YA Series.  I'm a little chagrined to see how few of these I read.  It's all here if I run out of reading material!

Libba Bray's Lair of Dreams from her Diviner's series is at the tip top of my list.

Though I love his Monstromologist series best, I'm looking forward to Rick Yancey's next book in the Fifth Wave series.  Soon to be a major motion picture....

Charlie Higson's The Enemy series has the worryingly title The End coming out in fall. Noooo. It can't be the end.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (Not a Review)

I avoided reviews of the movie before seeing it and just glanced at whether people on FB liked it or not before (finally!!) seeing it.  But ha, I am all about spoilers myself.

I loved it.  The characterizations and bringing to life of Middle Earth are without parallel. 

Each of the dwarves were so well realized.

I didn't mind the love triangle of Tauriel, Legolas and Kili as I thought I might have.  I really enjoyed Tauriel.  Kili was sweet and handsome but yo, who wouldn't go for Legolas instead?

Legolas and that crumbling bridge!  The way he danced up those falling stones.  Man he was at the top of his game.  I liked the interplay between Legolas and his father as well.

Martin Freeman is such a great Bilbo.  I confess I never cared for Ian Holm as Bilbo at all, but Freeman, oh how wonderful he was.  His conversations with Thorin, what integrity, little Hobbit.

The battle scenes were grand, I particularly loved the dwarves in their stout little armor taking on ANYTHING that came their way.

The elves with their sharp militaristic movements always impress.

Loved those mounts, the reindeer thing, the boar, wow.

Radagast the Brown did not disappoint.

Loved that bit at the end where Thranduil points Legolas towards a Dunedain Ranger named Strider.

I wanted to come right home and watch Fellowship of the Ring.