Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Ladies' Paradise now on sale!

I'm happy to announce that my latest recording, The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola, went on sale today at Audible.  A nice Christmas present for me!

Young country girl Denise Baudu arrives with her two younger brothers in Paris where she expects to secure a position for herself as a salesgirl in her uncle’s clothing shop.  Instead she discovers that her uncle’s business along with other small shops on the street are struggling to survive.  This is mostly due to the large store on the other side of the street — The Ladies’ Paradise –  which is swallowing up the small specialty stores by offering “one-stop shopping” at discounted prices.  Nineteenth-century Paris is experiencing the dawn of the department store.  Despite her loyalty to her uncle, Denise needs to work to support herself and her brothers.  She applies and is hired at The Ladies’ Paradise.  Her path will not be an easy one but Denise finds herself drawn to the progressive department store and it’s owner, the driven but charismatic Monsieur Mouret.

This book was the basis for the PBS Masterpiece Classic series, The Paradise. 

To listen to a clip from the book and/or to purchase, please visit Audible here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Knitted Christmas tree ornaments and a new audiobook on the way...

Last year I decided to start making the Christmas ornaments that I attach to the gifts of my three young nieces who are now 7, 6 and 4 years old.  I crocheted an Amigurumi Santa ornament last year (see this post) and this year I knitted Christmas trees.  These were a little bigger than I thought they would be although the size does match what's listed in the pattern.  The pattern from Yarnspirations  is here.  I made three of these and the only problem I encountered was the best way to sew the back and front of the tree together.  The pattern isn't very specific so I used the main color of yarn and a large smooth pointed silver needle to whip around the edges.  I don't think that's how it was done for the ones in the picture of the pattern but that's what I did. I would have preferred for the edges to look a little neater but wasn't sure how to do that unless I used an actual needle and thread to sew them up.  Oh well, here's a pic of one of them -- all done!

My other bit of news is that my recording of The Ladies' Paradise by Emile Zola is now in post-production and should be for sale on Audible soon.  This is the book that the PBS Masterpiece Classic series "The Paradise" was based on.  I'll post here when it's officially for sale.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Finger-knitted Christmas Wreath

I was inspired (not for the first time) by blogger Anne Weil on her site Flax & Twine to try finger-knitting.  I practiced a bit and even taught my young nieces how to do it.  Anne has a wonderful tutorial here and also offers free patterns along with pics of items she has made.  Last year she posted about a finger-knitted wreath she made for her front door.  Actually, in Anne's case, it's two wreaths (12 inches each) because she has double front doors.  I decided I wanted to make one for this Christmas.  I had to purchase a larger styrofoam wreath (16 inch) because I have one regular size front door.  See Anne's wreath post here.

The finger-knitting part was a cinch.  I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn in the same color that Anne used -- cream.  I ended up finger-knitting the yarn in sections which probably worked out better for me because you need to thread very thin wire (24 gauge floral wire) through the knitted yarn in order to give the yarn more body and assist in wrapping around the styrofoam.  I found it easier to work with in smaller sections.  Then when I finished, I had to decide on what color ribbon to use.  I had originally planned to use red ribbon since our front door is a dark green.   However, we have quite a bit of brass on the door and on the lights around it so I ended up going with gold.  I can always switch to red next year.  Since I'm terrible at tying bows, I wasn't able to make nice simple ones as Anne did.  I realized I needed thicker ribbon to get the same look on a larger wreath.  So I made do with what I had and doubled up on the gold for the bow.  I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out.  It's not as smooth as Anne's work but she's a professional.  She gives classes on various types of crafts and is one artsy lady!  Below are my results.

My finished wreath.

Bow close-up.

Full view with brass lights.

My next project is knitting little Christmas tree ornaments for my three nieces.  I'll post here when I've finished at least one of them.  Many thanks to Anne Weil at flax & twine for 'dressing up' our front door this year!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Friday Estate Sales

A room at the first sale.
Yesterday morning, Duane, Linda and I went to two estate sales on the south side of town.  The first one was in an enormous house.  Every time I thought I had seen every room, particularly the ones on the second floor, I'd find myself in a new one.  The house had more than one staircase so that caused a little confusion, too.  Most of the furnishings were ornate and there were some lovely antiques.   I ended up buying a couple of books but passed on a signed etching that was very tempting.  I also found a cool fabric remnant that I plan to use to recover the seat of a desk chair in my living room.  Due to the size of the crowd, even in such a large house, there was a lot of elbowing going on.  We did get out unscathed, though.

"Christmas" estate sale.
The second sale was at a smaller house and was advertised as a 'Christmas' estate sale.  Apparently the company handling the sale decided to decorate the house for the holiday.  Linda did find a really cute snowman ornament.  The owner had a number of Christopher Radko ornaments but I already have a tree-full (thanks, George!) so I passed on those.  However, I did buy some crochet hooks and knitting needles to send to The Humble Stitch.  I also bought a pretty set of Vera Bradley pencils still new in the package.  Duane found a book to add to her ever-growing library.  Linda desperately wanted a vintage chest of drawers that was sitting in one of the rooms but, alas, it was not for sale.

One of the books I purchased was the raunchy book Fifty Shades of Grey.  I told Duane and Linda that we should all read it so we won't be the only people who haven't read at least some of the book. 

Afterwards, we headed to Starbucks and managed to snag the small area in the corner with the little couch and easy chairs.  It was nice to have a treat while filling each other in on our various Thanksgiving holidays.

Our purchases.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Shop Local Saturday Shop Hop!

As I've mentioned numerous times on this blog, Duane lives in one of the coolest parts of town when it comes to independent shops and restaurants.  Yesterday there was a 'Holiday Shop Hop' in her area so she and I set out early to take part.  Linda wasn't with us because she spent Thanksgiving in Michigan visiting family where we hope she's having a great time!

The first store we hit was one of our favorites that I've mentioned before.  A Modern Line is a furniture and accessories store that features mid-century modern items.  There are always new items when we visit and they're always pleasingly arranged in a decorative fashion.  I gave in to my white matte pottery obsession when I saw the tall piece pictured below.  A great way to start the day.

Into the heat!
Then we visited a shop I'd never been to before now.  I have a beautiful piece of glass that Duane gave me as a gift from The Phoenix Glass Studio but this was my first time as a customer.  The owner, Susan Gott, was there greeting people along with the most adorable little Yorkie named Ginger.  Susan's work is gorgeous.  Read more about her on her site.  Her work has been featured on PBS among many honors.  I bought a piece for myself and another piece I can't show because it's going to be a gift.  Duane found a lovely gourd with beautiful colors of blue wound through it.  We watched as one of the artisans created a glass ornament from beginning to end.  It's a fascinating process and we found out that you can sign up to make an ornament.  The glass furnace is a little scary due to  the intense heat but this guy certainly knew what he was doing.
Shaping the glass.
Duane and I were distracted at one point during the process when Ginger the Yorkie was dressed in her Santa outfit.  What a hoot.  She was an incredibly sweet dog who seemed to really like people.  

I should mention that every shop we visited had holiday treats and drinks for their customers.  We also carried cards given out at all of the shops where you could have the card 'stamped' after visiting each shop listed.  If you visited six you could then turn in your card for drawings held for special prizes.

Our next stop was D&D Antiques -- another of our favorite places to browse.  I found a darling little white bird for my home office.  
'Santa' Ginger!
At first I thought he was papier mache but realized that he was made of some type of resin after picking him up.  Great little find.

Duane and I both found ourselves using the day to scope out returning to some of the shops for items for others.  It was difficult to make a decision when we'd never visited a shop before but we both have ideas for going back before Christmas for purchases.  After D&D, we went to The Cleanse Apothecary.  This is another shop we've visited before.  It was very busy but Duane found a beautiful bamboo cutting board and some lovely handmade soap that she plans to give as a gift.

After The Cleanse Apothecary we headed to a store that neither of us had ever shopped before yesterday.  The Bali Bay Trading Company offers every possible color of beads and types of jewelry made from beads imaginable.  They actually have two sections to their store.  One is for retail (like Duane and me) and the other for wholesalers.  It was a bit overwhelming due to the sheer volume of pretty pieces.  Besides jewelry, they also offer women's clothing and household items.  I found a pretty woven mat to use to cover the top of a vintage desk that is in my guest room.  The desk belonged to George's father and the writing area is pretty worn from use.  This mat was perfect to cover up the distressed top.  Duane and I both can't wait to go back to this store.  Bali Bay will be enlarging to include furniture and homegoods in the near future.  We'll have to return when Linda can join us.

By this time our rear ends were starting to drag and we were getting really hungry.  We made one last stop at The Health Mutt.  A great store for shopping for and with your dog.  I found a Christmas present for my dog Sammy.  He loves anything with a squeaker in it.  Besides treats for their customers (the two-legged and four-legged kind), a local rescue group for Boston Terriers was there.  They had some cute little guys with them.  So sweet.  We wished we could rescue all of them.

After turning in our cards at The Health Mutt since it was the final place we visited, we were ready for lunch.  (There were actually nine shops participating so we chose six out of the nine for the day.)  We ate at Nicko's, one of our fave places for comfort food.  The 'Elvis' booth was occupied so we sat in a civilian booth and stuffed ourselves which included ordering dessert -- red velvet cake for me and chocolate cake for Duane.  We took our time eating but we were pretty well finished for the day.  Just about all of the stores we visited are going to have special days before Christmas for shopping so we plan to go back and buy for others.  I'm afraid we bought more for ourselves yesterday.  Oops!
My buys.

Duane's purchases.