Posts Tagged ‘Books’

I have quite an eclectic mix of books to share today.¬† I actually allowed myself the pleasure of devouring a few fiction selections in the last few weeks, and devoured they were! ūüôā¬† I also discovered a new non-fiction favourite and attempted some projects from a crochet book.¬†

I told you I would come back to this.  The author describes the Renaissance Soul as a person who is multi-passionate.  The kind of person who loves change, variety, and moving in new and different directions all the time.  (She had me from the title РI know who I am!)  I absolutely love this book!  It has been instrumental in helping me to find focus, weigh priorities, deal with my want to do everything and all at once, and with more than a little help from Michelle Ward, is helping me to design a life and business that fits my dreams and personality.  A must read for anyone who struggles with balancing diverse interests and passions.

Ok…I know I’m a little late in picking this one up.¬† (After all, the book was released years ago and the movie hype has long died down.)¬† But I’ve never been one to do something when everyone else is anyway….(hmm…or at least not since I left high school…)¬† I thoroughly enjoyed this book.¬† I have not seen the movie, so was not tainted by visions of actors dancing in my head.¬† This book takes you an a journey, lets you spend a year in the life of the author, and allows you to meet a host of wonderful people in the process.¬† It’s not a high-action, can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next¬†page- turner, but it’s honest, engaging, and satisfying.¬† I will definitely be seeking out more from this author!

This was a book that I loved, until I actually started trying to make one of the projects in¬†it.¬† I love¬†all of the full-colour photos, the wide range of projects, the fun and casual writing style.¬† Where I ran into problems was in trying to follow the patterns.¬† And perhaps I just happened to pick the project with the most errors, but errors there are.¬†¬†Enough errors¬†to fill¬†two pages on the errata link (although I believe these have been corrected in the 2nd edition), and¬†then I discovered some that¬†were not on the errata list at all!¬†¬† Although I gained a lot of¬†crochet practice and was really proud of myself for not only finding the errors, but¬†figuring out how to fix¬†them (After all, I’m no expert¬†crocheter)¬† in the end,¬†it just seemed like too much¬†work and time¬†when there were other projects I wanted to tackle, and I gave up on the book.¬†

This was a fun read!¬† Especially if you are a fan of food tv (which I am!)¬† The characters are interesting, the story enjoyable, and I was happy with the ending.¬† It’s one of those books that makes you smile and then you pass it on to a friend so they can smile too (which is how I ended up with my copy, which I then passed on to my mom!)¬†

What books are on your nightstand?  Please share your favourites in the comments Рyou can never have too many books to read!

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I am very influenced by the books I read and the movies I watch.  I am not sure whether it is because I have such a wild imagination, or if I just love a good story, but I come out feeling like I know the characters personally (or wish I did.)

For instance, after seeing “You’ve Got Mail” I really wanted to open a bookshop (I know, I know, in the movie the bookstore goes out of business, but it didn’t stop me wanting to have one of my own!)

Reading “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy had me wanting to throw on an elven cloak and head out on an adventure.¬†

And let’s not begin talking Harry Potter….. ūüôā

Today, while working on a crochet project, I sat down and watched Julie & Julia.

You have perhaps already guessed what I feel inspired to do.¬† Read more about Julia Child, try some recipes from her cookbook, write a blog about it (oh, wait, that’s already been done….)

What it really reminded me of was how much I enjoy cooking and reading cookbooks, and how I really would like to do more of it again.¬† I never actually finished working my way through my Nana’s recipes, and I also have a shelf full of cookbooks with delicious recipes just waiting to try.

Not so long ago, I used to try to¬†make one new recipe each week.¬† I did this for a long time, but when life is busy sometimes it is just easier to go with the old standbys.¬† But I am inspired today to get back in the habit of trying new things.¬† It probably won’t be Beef Bourguignon, but hopefully it will still have me saying “Bon Appetit!”

Do you ever get inspired by a movie?

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This weekend I had the opportunity to stretch my sewing muscles, while at the same time doing some very necessary planning for my business.

The past seven weeks I have been involved in the Right Brain Business Plan Course and have loved this unconventional, visual, and creative way of diving into business planning.¬† (Check out the website if you’d¬†¬†like to know more.)

After spending weeks in working through the steps of business planning, the final step is to bring everything together in a format that resonates with you.¬† (and artistic entrepreneurs have done everything from accordion books to mobiles to altered books.)¬†¬†And just in case you¬† are wondering….no, this is not the type of plan you take with you to the bank! (although that is covered in the course as well.)

I had completely planned to put everything into a scrapbook-type format, and even bought a blank book to house it all, but at the last minute I changed my mind.

I am a sewer, after all.

So I started planning a book made out of fabric, instead of paper, that would incorporate all the elements in a way true to my business.   I discovered this page for inspiration and then I just let the rest develop out of my own imagination! 

Using felt for a base, I put to use my rusty embroidery and hand-sewing skills, and incorporated recycled fabric pieces, quilt cast-offs, and buttons and ribbon from my stash.

I love that feeling of trying something for the first time, that stretching and growing that happens when your brain has to solve new problems and think about materials in different ways.

All of the business elements are tied in or placed in pockets, so that they can be changed and updated as my business grows.

I think this is the perfect housing for my business plan, as well as a fun new way to experiment with sewing and fabrics.  I can definitely see myself making  fabric books or journals again!

How do you like to challenge yourself?  What new skill are you learning, or wishing you could learn?

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Summer days are upon us, and although I am still up to my knees in non-fiction titles to read, I also like to take some time for fiction reading.¬†¬† When I was a kid, summer was the time I would get to go to the library, take out a huge stack of books, spend a whole week reading, and then head back for more.¬† I still like to take huge stacks of books from the library, but I don’t read through them quite as fast as those carefree summers when I had nothing else to do.¬†

One of the problems I have with great fiction books is that I have a really hard time putting them down once I get started.  This means that many things are left undone, or I am up to the wee hours of the morning, trying to keep my eyelids open so I can find out what happens next!   My summer hours are much more relaxed, and a perfect time to get engrossed in a book. 

Here are some of my current favourites:

Jerk, California  by Jonathan Friesen 

This book was such a great read!¬† I tore through it in 2 days.¬† I actually read this book in April, during a community event where everyone in the town where I work reads the same book, and then the author comes for a series of book related events at the end of the month.¬† We were lucky enough to have¬†Jonathan¬†Friesen¬†come visit our school, and although I did not get to meet him, the students and teachers who did had nothing but wonderful things to say.¬†¬†¬†This book was well received by everyone that I spoke to, and I know the local high school students, who were all given a copy of the book to read,¬†¬†commented on how hard it was to stop reading and were¬†found reading the book in between classes (and sometimes during class….)¬† ¬† It was easy to read, but a compelling story.¬† I will definitely be checking out more books from this author!¬† ¬†

The Summer Kitchen  by Lisa Wingate

I picked this book up at our local library sale.¬† I don’t often buy fiction books (because I’ll be the first to admit that I’m picky about what I read) but this one caught my attention as Lisa was compared to Richard Paul Evans, whose books I have really enjoyed.¬† I am really glad that I took the chance on this one.¬† This is the kind of book where you become attached to the characters and become as interested in their welfare as if they were flesh and blood.¬†¬† And although it would never make it into my “top 10 books” list, it was still an enjoyable read and I will definitely be looking for more from this author as well.¬†

Teach With Your Heart by Erin Gruwell

Here is a book that just might make it onto my top ten list.¬† And I apologize, because it actually isn’t fiction.¬† Having never seen the movie¬†and with only a vague idea of the story behind the¬†Freedom Writers, I became totally engrossed in this book from page one.¬† I read it on a recent airplane flight, and I must say it¬†seemed like¬†one of the fastest flights I have ever been on (and half the book seemed to just disappear over that time.)¬† ¬†I¬†know it speaks to me¬†because I am a teacher, and I have a huge respect for the time and dedication¬†Erin puts into her class.¬† But above all, she is also a wonderful storyteller, and once again you get sucked into the book and forget that a world exists around you.¬† I appreciate the candidness and the truthfulness in what she writes, and am both inspired and humbled by her story.¬† What a great responsibility we have as teachers.

Now it’s your turn.¬† What are you currently reading?

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I’ve had this Harry Potter inspired project on the back-burner for the last few months, but with the new (and last!) movie coming out very soon I knew now was the time to tackle it.

And so, may I present, straight from my sewing room¬†Madam Malkin’s: Robes for All Occasions: Gryffindor school robes!

I used this tutorial on BurdaSyle and although I found them a bit of a challenge to put them together, I am pretty happy with the results.

I used broadcloth for its affordability, and found the Gryffindor crest on Etsy.

If you are thinking of making some yourself, definitely read through all of the comments on the tutorial, as they were really helpful in drafting and cutting out the pattern.¬† Next time (oh yes, there will be a next time, I still have at least one more to make!) despite the extra fabric it will take, I think I will line the whole front, and not just 4 inches as the pattern calls for.¬† This was the first time I have used seam tape and I wasn’t really happy with it.¬†

I can’t wait to hand these robes over to their owner tomorrow!¬†

Harry Potter Fun!

Your¬†robes are on and you are ready for a magical adventure.¬† Here are some magical ideas I’ve collected from around the web.¬† (Most of these I¬†used to create a magical day at Hogwarts for my students, but the kitchen creations would be appreciated by fans of all ages.)

1.¬† Find or make yourself an owl and send letters by “owl post” in invisible ink.¬† (I was lucky enough to find a beautiful snowy owl stuffy at a yard sale, but several years ago I made a pompom owl¬†for my mother as part of¬† Harry Potter-themed birthday present, that, of course, had to arrive by owl post.)¬† Or write letters¬†in regular¬†ink, or with calligraphy pens, ¬†on “scrolls” (receipt or adding-machine¬†tape works great for this!)

2.  Spend a day taking classes at Hogwarts! 

  • Herbology: create magical plants of your own with art supplies, or use your imagination and spend some time in the garden planting and caring for “magical” plants.¬†
  • Potions: think cooking or science experiments (magic mud is a favourite), or write your own
  • Transfiguration: play a game of charades
  • Charms: create your own spells
  • and if you have enough people, don’t forget to play a game of Quidditch¬†(I have played a modified version with as few as seven people)

3.¬† Cook up some favourite Hogwarts treats by following some fun recipes on Heather Bailey’s site: Chocolate Wands, Butterbeer¬†and mini broomsticks, Cockroach Clusters, and of course you could always make chocolate frogs or¬†pretend any jelly beans are of the “Bertie Botts Every Flavoured” variety.¬† ¬†

Enjoy!¬†¬†¬†And remember: “Draco Dormiens¬†Nunquam¬†Titillandus”

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We finally have plants at our house!  Although it happens every year, there is always that moment of surprise and excitement when the first green leaves poke through the soil!

Other than seedlings sprouting, this is a bit of an in-between week for us.¬† It’s too wet to do anything outside, and we are still waiting on soil delivery to tackle getting the garden ready for planting.¬† So I thought it would be a good time to talk about some great gardening books.¬†

This list is by no means extensive, but are the best of what Hubby and I have read.¬† If you know of any other great resources please share them in the comments.¬† It’s always wonderful to discover new books!

How to Grow More Vegetables  (and fruits, nuts, berries, grains and other crops) Than you Ever Thought Possible On Less Land Than You Can Imagine  by John Jeavons.

Other than winning the award for gardening book with the longest title, this book is an excellent resource for extending the capacity of your garden!  My favourite part, however, is the chapter on companion planting and the extensive list of plants that grow well together, as well as plants that should never be grown together.  When planning our garden this year I know we will refer to this often!

Herb Gardening for Canada by Laura Peters

Lone Pine publishes an excellent selection of books for Canadian gardeners, but this one is my current favourite.  It has an extensive list of herbs, lists the best varieties for each one, and explains how each herb is best grown, cultivated and utilized.  This is my go-to resource when I am looking at adding new herbs to the garden.   

Square Foot Gardening  by Mel Bartholomew

I’ve already talked about this great resource when discussing soils and gardening boxes and you’re probably sick of hearing about it, but it is definitely the classic guide for gardening in raised garden boxes and has great information on soils as well.¬†I have actually only read the older version of the book, but I imagine this updated version is even better than the first.¬†


Lois Hole’s Perennial Favourites by Lois Hole

Much like the herb book mentioned above, this book is an extensive list of great perennial plants for the garden, including information on how to best grow each  one.  Another great go-to resource when you are planning on adding new plants to the garden.

Grow the Best Tomatoes By John Page

I love¬†Storey Country Wisdom Bulletins!¬† They¬†produce these small, economical, books on a variety of topics¬†¬†related to country living and I find they are full of “just enough” information on each topic (as a “big picture” person, I am easily overwhelmed!)¬† This is the guide we are going to use for growing our tomato plants this year.

The Winter Harvest Handbook and Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman

These are two of Hubby’s current favourites.¬† We first took these out of the library, but there was so much information and reference material¬†that hubby had to have copies of his very own.¬†¬† Both books provide detailed instructions for extending the gardening harvest all year through a variety of means.¬† They are a must-have for anyone who is serious about growing as much of their own food as possible in a gardening zone that typically provides a short growing season.¬† I’m excited about what this will mean for our own gardens in the future!

Front Yard Gardens: Growing More than Grass  by Liz Primeau

This is one of the first gardening books I ever read and I read it completely cover to cover.¬† It is an excellent resource on alternatives to grass lawns, but more than that it is an inspirational walk through many different types of gardens.¬† The garden photos alone make this book worth checking out, even if you never plan to turn all of your lawn into garden (we certainly haven’t reached that goal by any means!)

Do you know of any great gardening resources we should know about?  Any great gardening blogs or websites out there?  Share them in the comments or come hang out and share your photos and gardening stories on our new Facebook Page!

Happy growing!

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A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

As my life seems to be getting busier and busier I am finding it even more important than usual to carve time out of my day to read.  Living vicariously through the lives of others gives me a wee break from my own thoughts and worries and tops up my tired brain with new insights and ideas.  Here are a few I have been pondering over the last month or so.

Better Off¬† byEric¬†Brende.¬† I loved this book.¬† Probably because sometime in my early twenties I decided that I was born in the wrong century and really wished I could spend my life on the ‘ol homestead.¬† At its core, that is not really what this book is about, but it is what got me hooked.¬† The author takes his brand new wife on an 18-month adventure¬† living in a rural community without electricity or electrically controlled mechanics of any kind.¬† He explores what it really means to be “self-sufficient” and how “work” can become something that doesn’t feel like “work” at all.¬† He tries to answer the question “Is there such a thing as too much technology?” and what he discovers resonated with me.¬† (But I still love my computer.)

Thunder and Lightening¬†by¬†Natalie Goldberg.¬† Having devoured Natalie’s earlier books¬†Writing¬†Down the Bones and Wild Mind several years¬†ago, this one came as a bit of a shock.¬† There is a hardness, a sadness, to Natalie’s voice that certainly did not appear in her earlier works.¬† But there is a deepness there too.¬† In some way I¬†believe (at least in my mind) that she has moved from encouraging teacher to wise writing mentor, and although I miss the upbeat positivity I remember¬†from her earlier works,¬†there is¬†the truth of “Real Life” that resonates through this book that I can’t ignore.¬† In its serious and sincerity, I¬†am reminded that¬†there is a lot of work I still need to do.¬†

29 Gifts in 29 Days¬†by Cami Walker. ¬† I am not sure how this book¬†came to be¬†on my reading list.¬† I think it was one of those¬†Amazon “If you liked this book, you might enjoy this one” (which I always take to mean…if you liked this book, see if the library has that one…)¬† or perhaps it was a suggestion I read on someone’s blog post?¬†¬†¬† Regardless, it got moved way up on my reading list for the sole reason that the library, indeed, had a copy and it was available right away.¬†

In this autobiographical work, the author shares how she moved past her struggles with MS by cultivating a giving attitude in giving 29 gifts in 29 days.  The spirituality in this book is definitely not my own, and the foul language that appears in parts of this book grates on me,  yet there is something compelling about this story.   I think there is truth to her words in how focusing on giving to others changes who we are and what we believe about ourselves and our lives.  I love that most of the gifts are not monetary, but gifts of time, compassion, a listening ear.   Her idea obviously resonates with many as it has grown into a worldwide movement of giving documented at 29gifts.org.

What about you?  What books have you read recently?

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I am a little sad that the giveaway is over.¬† I have so enjoyed reading all of your comments and can’t wait to dive into some new books!¬† Thanks for all of the great recommendations.¬† If I had all the time in the world I would love to email each and every one of you just to talk about¬†books!¬†¬† If any of you are looking for some new reading material for you or your kids, I encourage you to take a look through the comments.¬† At some point I may make a comprehensive list of the most-recommended books for anyone who might be interested, but for now, I’ll just mention a few that¬†stand out:

Harry Potter РI love them too!  I am currently reading the first in the series out loud to my students and they are loving it!  

Material Obsession came up again and again as a favourite sewing book.  I have yet to read this one but it sounds like I need to add it to the list!

 Karen Kingsbury was mentioned several times.  I have not read any of her books but know many who do. 

The Red Tent is a book I would also recommend to others. 

Like Water for Elephants, Book of Negroes, and the Time Traveller’s Wife are all books that have been recommended to me before and¬†your thoughts echoed what I had already heard.¬†

¬†You can’t go wrong with the classics – Lord of the Rings, Little House on the Prairie,¬†the¬†Narnia Series, and Anne of Green Gables are all books I have enjoyed both in childhood and adulthood and they came up over and over again in your recommendations.¬† For adult reading Pride and Prejudice and To Kill a Mockingbird were mentioned often.¬†

There are many, many, more but I know what you are really waiting for is to find out who the winner is, so without further ado…..

The winner is Janet!  She wrote: My favourite book of all is called Oh Rugged Land of Gold. It is the tale of a woman’s survival in the Alaskan wilderness and is very inspirational for any woman. Thanks for a chance at your giveaway.

Congratulations Janet, and thanks to all of you for stopping by!

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One of my favourite things about being a teacher is all of the great children’s literature I get to read.¬† I love reading out loud to my students and especially enjoy seeing them fall in love with a book that I love too.¬† I have a pile of best-loved books for each grade level I have taught (everything from preschool to Grade 5) and love discovering new titles.¬†

Many books are best for certain age groups, but once in a while a book comes along that seems to have wide-range appeal, a book that is enjoyed by children of all ages, and speaks to them all in different ways (including the adults!)

Pete the Cat is one of those books.  It is a simple story, but with lots of fun repetition, engaging illustrations and a great message. 

Pete the Cat has a pair of brand new white shoes.¬† He loves them so much that he walks around singing a song about them.¬† But as he is walking he accidentally steps into some bright red strawberries.¬† His brand new white shoes aren’t white anymore, they’re red!¬† But does Pete cry?¬† Not him!¬† He just accepts the change and makes a new song.¬† “I love my red shoes……”¬†

Young kids will just enjoy the musicality of the book – especially if you also listen to the author telling the story himself!¬†¬† But for my seven and eight-year olds it was also a¬†great lesson in having a positive attitude in the face of small challenges and disappointments (like not getting the tidy-up job they wanted, or the colour paper they were hoping for, or having to switch to outdoor shoes yet again)¬† ¬†This book was read over and over (and over!) again in my classroom and it is not uncommon to hear¬†my students¬†walking down the hall or cleaning the classroom singing their song…..”I love to sweep the floor….” or “I love my outdoor shoes…..”

As an adult it reminds me that although I cannot control what challenges and disappointments will come my way during the course of a day, I can control how I react to them.¬† I want to choose to just keep on going while singing my song a lot more often.¬† It’s a¬†much happier way to live.¬†

Don’t you love it when you are teaching something to others, and you learn the lesson too?

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I always seem to be reading 5 or 6 books at a time and have a habit of taking books out of the library a little faster than I can read them (especially this time of year!) 

Although I do love fiction (especially if it was written for the younger crowd – most of my favourites are children’s literature, it’s a job hazard I think) most of what I read would fall into the non-fiction category.

Here’s a sneak peek of what is on my night-stand (or, rather, on my nightstand, on the floor by my bed, resting on my favourite chair, sitting on the kitchen table…you get the idea)¬† ūüôā

Although I have moved past parts of this book (essential sewing equipment, measuring, using a commercial pattern) I love all of the step-by-step diagrams for making simple pattern alterations and am really excited about the chapter on making your own patterns.¬† The full-colour pictures and diagrams really help in understanding the process – I might just need to purchase this book (because although I keep renewing it, I think the library might want their copy back at some day….)


This book, although older and not in colour, has really changed my understanding of patterns.  I am only partway through and already feel like a more confident sewer.  I am no longer afraid of darts!!  I am pretty sure I could now tackle moving, removing and designing darts of my own Рwhich is a huge step for this direction-following, the-pattern-designers-made-it-that-way-so-it-must-be-right sewer!

I took this book out of the library because I wanted to improve my food photography.¬† Tom Ang¬†thoroughly covers EVERY kind of photography in this book, except for food. ūüė¶¬†¬† On the bright side, it has encouraged me to play more with my camera and has definitely given me some ideas for improving some of my other photographs.¬† Anyone know where I can learn to take a good food photo?




I feel like I have read a tonne of these craft business type books but it has been nice to see where the authors agree and disagree.  I do appreciate that Meg touches on internet use both for marketing and sales and love the vignettes of successful crafters Рwill I be included in their number one day?

¬†Outliers is still my favourite Malcolm Gladwell book, but I always enjoy how he looks at things from different angles and really makes you think about everyday things in a new way.¬† “The Ketchup Conundrum” and “John Rock’s Error” are two of my favourite chapters in this book so far.

Ok…so I’m not really planning on making¬†a six-figure income from this blog (I think I have enough jobs!) but I was hoping to find some tips on being a better blogger, (if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, right?) and¬†I was not disappointed.¬†¬†Lots of great tips¬†and ideas here.

This book is full of yummy-looking bread recipes.  I loved the corn bread recipe and cornmeal crackers are next on my list of things to make.  This is another book I could happily withhold from the library for another few months!

¬†And that’s it!¬† (Well…there are the two I just picked up from the library, and the three that¬† I haven’t started yet, but we won’t count those just yet….)¬† Just a few to peruse in those minutes before I drift off to sleep…

What’s on your night stand?¬† Any recommendations for my next library trip?

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