Sunday, March 2, 2014

Let me guess, phase one is positive thinking, visualizing goals.

And the beginning of March is a good time for an end-of-the-month report on my goals as well.

Goal 1: Deal with stress better.
Part 1: Yoga
I'm continuing to do yoga 3-4 times each week. It is really helping me, and I am doing better at remembering that it is totally worth the time I put into it.

From the months of January and February, I have 34 rocks in my yoga jar.

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Part 2: Read The Power of Now
Yeah, this was shifted to the backburner, and I didn't get very much farther in it this month.

Part 3: The new implementation of taking time to breathe and notice what is going on around me.
Just like everything else, this is a work in progress. I am taking several deep breaths when I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night. So small steps.

Goal 2: Be more positive/have a positive outlook on life
Part 1: The Gratitude Jar
I am still writing 3 things I am grateful for every night. There are so many papers in my jar that when I take the lid off, the papers overflow. I really enjoy the few minutes to think back over my day and focus on the good things.

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Part 2: Making time for things I love
I spent a day cooking because I love it. I turn on Pandora at home and sing at the top of my lungs (not well, I might add). I made another batch of the hard lotion bars and also made some chapstick. I took myself to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet and went with friends to a ballet performance of Dracula.

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Goal 3: Be kinder/negative self-talk
So my epiphany this month on how to incorporate this comes from rereading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I was looking for specific things that I can do to "dare greatly." I love her ideas and her approach, but I need some more concretes on how to actually open myself up to the vulnerability and allow myself to be seen. The first thing that I came across that ties into the kinder goal is to own my story. Brown's point (I feel weird calling her Brown, like we're friends and I should just call her Brene) is that often we feel shame about our life stories, something we have done or something that has happened to us, and so we shut it down and don't want to share it. But the things that have happened in our lives are who we are, and we need -- desperately need -- to share that and allow ourselves to be seen. So I want to own my story and be more accepting of myself and my life.

The second part that ties in is the idea of practicing self-compassion. Brene discusses self-compassion as a strategy for building shame resistance and mentions the website So I went there and watched the video and really liked the ideas of self-compassion, because that is what this whole goal of be kinder is about. And again, I feel like it all ties to the previous two goals, but I am working on the ideas of being more compassionate with myself.

So to summarize: some good, some work still to do, and some new ideas. Yay for goals.

They're not fairy tales. They're true. Every story in this book actually happened.

It's the end of the month --- oh wait, I missed that. Yeah, that's pretty normal right now. So I thought I would do an end of the month wrap up of the books I read in February. But it's a beginning of the month wrap up of the books I read in February. Which I guess is ok too. 

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

The Story:
A sex ed teacher is sued by members of a new Christian fundamentalist group. The school board responds to the suit by implementing an abstinence only curriculum. The teacher struggles and continues to battle members of the church, including her daughter's soccer coach. 

The Review:
I'm not sure how I feel about this. 

First -- I really liked the way it was written. It's very engaging and the movement between time, between characters, and between sections was really well done. 
Second -- I was impressed with how he was able to write about the fundamentalist church without sounding disparaging or mocking. 
Third -- and here's the but. But I just had a hard time with the subject. And I said in the summary that it's about sex ed, but really it's not. It's about faith and what do you do that sustains you. Ruth (the teacher) is sustained by her belief that knowledge is power and at the beginning Tim (the coach) is sustained by the belief that Jesus saved him. And the story is actually about the disintegration of the things that sustain them. Ruth because her ability to provide open, accurate, detailed knowledge is removed by the schoolboard, and Tim because he starts looking at the world around him and goes through a faith crisis. Because the story is about that disintegration, I just found it to be sad.

Recommendation: Eh, if you like that sort of story. 


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The Story:
Hahahaha. How do you sum this up? 

Cloud Atlas features multiple parallel first-person narratives from different time periods, in different writing styles, from the perspective of a person seemingly reincarnated in each different form. The novel begins with the earliest narrative and moves forward in time, until the center of the novel when it begins moving backward. 

The Review:
I feel that if I had understood what this was about or what the intention of the novel was I would have gotten into it way faster/easier. But I didn't really understand, so it took me a while. That said, the way I would explain it is that Mitchell is exploring different types of writing. So he begins with a journal/diary that creates the feel and effect of an old (1700s?) journal, with a writing style like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Another section is written in a postmodern style with super short sections, quick, abrupt, and minimal. 

The other thing that I didn't understand was the structure of the novel as a whole. I almost yelled out loud while I was running at the gym, because I got to the end of the first section and it just abruptly cut off, in the middle of a sentence. Mitchell splits each character's narrative in half and stacks the first halves together as the first half of his novel, and then moves backward through the second halves for the rest of the novel. 

Some sections were difficult to read because of the peculiarities of the dialect, so that made a very long novel into a very slow read. 

So those were the things that I struggled with. But that said, the set up and switching of styles of writing was really clever. I enjoyed that aspect of it. The stories were interesting and the theories of how time will move forward in the future and how lives are connected is also very interesting. 

Recommendation: I can't highly recommend it, but I recommend it if you are nerdy and like that sort of thing. 


Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

The Story:
This is a biography of Benjamin Franklin's younger sister Jane. She was born when he was six years old, and in their family he was the youngest boy and she was the youngest girl. 

The Review:
This is a really well-written biography. It has short chapters and moves really quickly. Lepore says in the beginning that spelling is part of the story, so she includes a lot of direct passages from letters which are difficult to read, but she does a nice job of translating them. 

I got a little frustrated/bogged down in the middle of the book because it slows down a lot and focuses on Benjamin Franklin. Jane spent twenty years of her life pregnant and giving birth to her twelve children. She didn't have time to write, so the story is almost all taken from what Franklin was doing at the time and imaginings about what Jane's life was like. 

The next section picked up as Jane's children grow up and she had much more time to write. She began to actually become a real person. 

As she closes the book, Lepore makes the claim, "As history, the story of a life like Franklin's is, finally, a mystery, unless it's told alongside the story of a life like Jane's." In finishing the book, I wound up liking it better than I did through the middle, so I was ready to say it had redeemed itself, but then I read this (and she includes many other thoughts about biographies from a variety of people) and I thought, "Ok, why?" If that is going to be your thesis, the reason that you wrote this book, what do you think is the value of presenting these parallel stories? What does knowing about Jane's life (in the limited way that we know) add to Ben's life? And, though Lepore makes the claim, the reasons aren't explained and I'm still wondering what the value-add is.

Recommendation: If you are interested in Benjamin Franklin, definitely read it. If you are interested in social histories, I think you'll enjoy it. Otherwise, maybe choose something else. 


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

The Story:
A non-fiction examination of ultramarathoning and a tribe called the Tarahumera -- "The Running People." McDougall starts with the question "Why am I getting injured all the time when I run?" And begins looking at the different people who run, the different ways they run, what allows some to run farther and faster and not get injured, and how our bodies are designed. This leads him to the Tarahumera.

The Review:
I loved this. (I should have said "Nerd Alert" before that). McDougall writes for magazines, including Runner's World, so his style is fast and easy and very engaging. He moves into a lot of side tangents throughout the story -- like barefoot running, and the evolution of homo sapiens and extinction of neanderthals -- but all the tangents connect in to the main story and are so interesting by themselves that they don't cause any frustration of get back to the point. 

And this made me want to run. Which was really convenient because I was reading it while I was at the gym running on the treadmill. I kept wanting to run taller, lighter, and barefoot. 

The book is a really interesting exploration of what our bodies are designed to do and how our modern life has altered that. But there are still people who manage to capture it and run with complete joy. 

Recommendation: Absolutely! Go read this.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My goal is to eventually say things that are so sassy and wise, that there is no possible response other than "Mm" or *Mmhm*.

Carla asked how my goals are going. (For a refresh on my goals, click here). Thanks for keeping me accountable!

Goal 1: Deal with stress better.
Part 1: Yoga
I'm doing really well at doing yoga at least three times a week. Last week I even got up to four times. It gives me a good space to breathe and stop thinking.

And to prove how well I'm doing, here's my yoga jar.
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Part 2: Read The Power of Now
I'm halfway through (naturally I'll post a full book review when I finish), but basic principles I've learned so far:
1. The mind will chatter away non-stop like it's in charge. But you need to assert yourself and control your mind.
2. Stop and just watch the mind chatter away. It takes you out of the thoughts that are stressing you out and you become an observer.
3. Take moments throughout the day to notice what is happening around you. Feel the sun on your face, taste the food, smell the crisp air, etc.
4. Your mind is creating problems. Wherever you are, there isn't really a problem right now, so stop allowing your mind to create the problem.

What I want to apply:
1. Taking time during the day to breathe and notice what is going on around me. I'm thinking about setting up an alarm on my phone, to ring maybe every two hours, and I take 5 deep breaths.

In addition to those goals I had set, I listened to a podcast that talked about the importance of breathing, so I'm working on that. There are also a couple of rituals that I can do when I feel stressed out. Last night, for example, I got very stressed out and after a couple of hours of freaking out, I remembered my rituals, so I did each of them, and now that I finished my yoga for today, I really do feel better.

Goal 2: Be more positive/have a positive outlook on life
Part 1: The Gratitude Jar
The original goal was to write one thing I am grateful for every day. I just fell into the pattern of writing three things. And that is working better.

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So much good in my life.

New Addition: Part 2: Making time for things I really love
Life is busy and it's only going to get busier as the semester progresses. But I am making space for doing things I love. Two weeks ago, I made hard lotion bars. I so enjoyed myself. This weekend I took myself to the movies and then spent the day cooking and singing at the top of my lungs. I read a book that made me cry it was so beautiful. And I'm crocheting myself a scarf because it is pretty. I don't care if it takes until April to finish it, I'm just enjoying the process.

Goal 3: Be kinder/Get rid of negative self-talk
I'm still not really sure how to do this. I think that dealing with stress better and being more positive help naturally. But I feel like there might be some more concrete way to incorporate this, but I don't know how.

All in all, I feel like my goals are going really well.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your first book! Are you sure this is yours?

Book Reviews

Blameless (Parasol Protectorate, #3)

Blameless by Gail Carriger

The Story:
Number 3 of the Parasol Protectorate.

The Review:
So a werewolf has to drink formaldehyde to get drunk and the Knights' Templar showed up. I still laughed out loud at parts. I still recommend the series for that, but I'm stopping with this one. I don't feel any need to read further.

Animal Farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Story:
Animals stage a rebellion against their human owners and proceed to run the farm themselves.

The Review:
First note, this is one of my "Books I should have read at some point, but never did" list. (For the rest of that list, click here).

Saying that I hated this book implies too much caring. And I just simply don't care. I know why this is an important book. I understand the stance it is taking and the message. But I think there are better ways to tell the story and share/spread the message. I didn't care, and in fact, couldn't remember any of the characters. The writing throughout was so flat that it was not engaging and as a whole left a lot to be desired.

The Lottery (Tale Blazers)

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The Story:
A short story of a lottery drawing in a small town.

The Review:
(Another "Books I should have read at some point, but never did")
This is a great story and I enjoyed it. I can't say much without giving away the entire story. But Jackson did a masterful job of setting the scene.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

The Story:
A short story in which the narrator reflects on life.

The Review:
(Another "Books I should have read at some point, but never did")
I really liked this. Once again, because of the nature of a short story, I can't say much without giving away the whole story. But I found the narrator's voice really engaging and liked how introspective and reflective he was. It is a very clever story.

Blood Oath (Nathaniel Cade, #1)

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

The Story:
The president has a special top secret agent named Cade who is a vampire. He is sent on special missions to protect the president and the United States aided by his new handler, Zach.

The Review:
As silly as the premise is, the book was actually pretty clever. It's a little James Bond as vampire, which makes it way better than vampire romance novels. Cade refers to himself as a monster and that's far more truthful than most of the other portrayals of vampires. It was entertaining and fun, but also a little gruesome.

Imprints (Autumn Rain, #1)

Imprints by Rachel Ann Nunes

The Story:
There is a girl with magic powers.

The Review:
Ugh!!! Full disclosure: I stopped after 100 pages.
It was awful! Why do they always have to make the girl so horribly awkward and annoying?

The Time Keeper

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

The Story:
This is Father Time's life story. A man started counting time and then was cursed to hear the cries of those who count time forever.

The Review:
This was so seriously condescending. It was very pedantic and preachy. It was not engaging and interesting. It was not a lovely story. It was just annoying.

The Maid's Version

The Maid's Version by Daniel Woodrell

The Story:
This part is true -- an explosion at a dance hall in Missouri in the late 1920s kills 28 people and remains an unsolved mystery. The novel uses that event and creates a story about a maid who suspects the truth of what happened. Her grandson visits her for the summer, and she tells him the story.

The Review:
I really liked the way this story was told. The maid, now a very old woman, tells her story to her grandson. He is actually the narrator of the novel and tells us about his grandmother and the way she shares this story. It is very pieced together and jumpy, just as a reminiscence would be. The story is obviously tragic, but very interesting and engaging. The novel also does a great job of showing what life was like in a small town in Missouri for the variety of classes that lived there. The writing is great and this is a quick read.

I highly recommend it.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

The Story:
This is a non-fiction account of life in the slums of Annawadi by the airport in Mumbai, India.

The Review:
Wow. This is seriously so conflicting because the life that is lived by the people in the slum is horrible. Beyond horrible. And it's just amazing what they have to go through to squeak by. And it's also not that they don't know how bad life is. They are aware of the disease and have dreams about other opportunities and a better life.

On the other side, I want to say that this book is gorgeous. Boo's way of telling the story captured so much and was able to convey it in absolutely stunning language. But I still can't say that I loved it because the subject matter is so difficult.

Boo says that her interest is not only showing life, but in understanding and showing what the opportunities are for breaking out of poverty and what forces hold people in poverty. I thought she did a masterful job of showing the nuance of the situation and the opportunities and opposition.

I very much recommend this book.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

The Story:
A multi-threaded narrative about lives that intersect in war-torn Chechnya. It moves in time through the first and second wars in Chechnya and follows the lives that intersect with the life of a girl named Havaa.

The Review:
I feel like I read this with a lot of stops and starts. Not because it was bad, but just because it was heavy. Despite that disjointed feeling reading experience, I actually wound up really liking the book. It was beautifully written. Really very beautiful. I liked how Marra worked the timeline with the flashes back and forth and to different characters. And I was very connected to the characters, and felt along with them as the story unfolded.

I feel like I know absolutely nothing about the history of Chechnya, but Marra did a great job of working in information about the wars and government and history without being too heavy handed about it. It is a fine line to walk, but I felt like he did it very well.

Again, this is not a happy book, but it is a beautiful book. I recommend it.

The Story and Its Writer Compact: An Introduction to Short Fiction

The Story and Its Writer by Ann Charters

The Story:
An anthology of short stories.

The Review:
So this is the new textbook that I am using in my Introduction to Fiction class. I generally don't count short stories (except those that are featured on my list of books I haven't read), but I've read this entire book now (in the past two weeks) and I want credit for that!

To the actual review part, this is a great anthology. There is an amazingly wide variety of stories pulled together here and great choices were made about which to include. My one disappointment is that Charters has focused so much on recent short stories that some of the older classics were just ignored. But sometimes that is how it has to be.

In addition to the stories themselves, the information about the authors, additional critical essays, and other information is all really well done and well chosen.

This isn't the type of book that you take on a trip when you want to read short stories on a plane, but it's a good anthology and wouldn't be a bad choice to have around the house to pick up at random free moments.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Two people with a common goal can accomplish many things. Two people with a common enemy... can accomplish even more.

My life runs on semesters, and I find that at the close of every semester I shift into evaluating mode. Of course the mountain of grading piles ever higher, and that forces me to evaluate. But I also think through the semester, what went well in my classes, what didn't, what do I want to change next semester (which isn't always the same as what didn't go well). The force of the evaluation and reflection often overflows into my own personal life as well and I find myself setting new goals as I think about things I'd like to change.

I've set some broad goals for 2014.

Goal 1: Deal with stress better.
I'm trying to be practical here. It's absolutely not realistic for me to say "stress less," but I can manage it better than I currently do.

I'm breaking this goal down a bit, because it is so broad.
Part 1: Do yoga. I love yoga and it always makes me feel better. But when I get stressed, I think I don't have enough time, and yoga is the first thing to go. So the goal is to do yoga three times a week.

Part 2: As an initial step, I'm reading the book The Power of Now. This was recommended to me as something to think about for managing my stress about 6 months ago. I'm implementing it now.
Product Details

Goal 2: Be more positive/have a positive outlook on life.
Being really vague, I'll just say that I've noticed that although I'm generally a very happy and positive person, some things are happening that are causing a more negative shift. I want to actively combat that, rather than just hoping for things to improve.

Part 1: Gratitude Jar

I bought a pretty jar that I think I will keep on my dining table so I can fill it with slips of paper each day about things I am grateful for. The goal is to put one slip of paper in each day.

Goal 3: Be kinder.
As my family was discussing goals, Carla said she thought of a way to measure this, but forgot what it was. And my dad said, "I didn't know you weren't kind."

So to explain, this goal is really that I would like to be kinder to myself. Tying in with the stress and negativity is some rather vicious self-talk. And I know that I talk to myself, inside my head and even out loud sometimes, in ways that I would never speak to anyone else. And I don't deserve that. So I want to work on eliminating the negative self-talk and showing kindness and love.

I'm really not sure how to break this one down yet. If you have suggestions, let me know!

Okay, we can't keep explaining everything. Read that book we got you.

If you thought that last post meant that I'm shifting in a new direction and will be writing fewer book reviews.... um.... "Get used to disappointment." (10 nerd points for you if you can name the source of the quote).

These are the books that I read to finish out December. (In case you are keeping track, they will be counted with 2014's reading list and best-of-the-year list).

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

The Story:
The story follows the lives of Japanese mail-order brides spanning the time from their voyage to America to their marriages, children, and culminating in the entrance of the United States into World War II and the removal of the Japanese to internment camps.

The Review:
Otsuka begins this novella with an immediately noticeable and fascinating approach to the narrative voice -- she actually uses "we" as the narrator. So rather than a story that focuses on an individual Japanese woman who goes through these experiences, our narrator(s) is a group of women. For example, the opening paragraph begins, "On the boat we were mostly virgins. We had long black hair and flat wide feet and we were not very tall. Some of us had eaten nothing but rice gruel as young girls and had slightly bowed legs, and some of us were only fourteen years old and were still young girls ourselves." I found the use of "we" to be really fascinating because it had all kinds of effects on how the story was told and on me as the reader. In addition, as I got to the chapter that catalogs the differences between the Japanese and the Americans, I realized that the use of "we" highlights another important cultural difference without it being part of the list. The Japanese value the collective while Americans value the individual. Because the entire story is told from the collective perspective, it really highlights how they view themselves as the same as each other and as part of the group.

This is technically a novella, so it is short enough that there doesn't feel like there is a lot of depth to the story, but it did a lot in very few pages. It had lasting images, it created emotion, it made me care about what was happening, even though I didn't have one specific person to care about.

Absolutely recommend it.

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

The Story:
This is a complicated multi-threaded, multi-time (and not chronological) narrative about love and justice. It follows, predominantly, Peter Lake's adventures against bad guys (a band of thieves called Short Tails), with love, and with a white horse in a New York City that is lost in winter.

The Review:
This novel is beautifully poetic and philosophical. It's a story about the power of love (sort of) but it is also just a love song to New York City. The many threads of different characters' stories combine beautifully. It drags a bit -- because it is 800 pages -- but it is a good fantasy-type adventure, it is thoughtful, and just beautifully written.

That review seems woefully inadequate, but I'm having a really hard time summing up the story. The difficulty notwithstanding, I highly recommend it.

Product Details

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

The Story:
In a dystopian America, the fireman's job is to burn books. Montag, a long-time fireman, begins to question what he is doing.

The Review:
This is from my "books I should have read at some point" list. And what I learned in reading this book is that the typical descriptions, that this is a book about censorship or book burning, are incredibly dismissive. It is really a book about the beauty and power of books and a plea to allow them to impact us. And it is beautiful. The language is stunning and entrancing. As Montag begins to question and to think, you feel his conflict and angst as he is torn between what he knows and what he begins to see might be true in the world.

Highly recommend it.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Story:
A boy Daniel goes with his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he adopts a book to protect for the rest of his life. He becomes fascinated by the book he has chosen which is also titled The Shadow of the Wind, and begins to search for the author. As he goes farther in his search he discovers a huge mystery and begins to unravel it.

The Review:
I loved this book. It had me within the first three pages and the mention of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I was so caught by that idea that I want to be the caretaker of the Cemetery! Books shouldn't be forgotten! They should be protected and loved! .... Sorry, I'm supposed to be writing a review, not leaping on a soapbox....

It is a winding story that pulls in all kinds of characters, telling not only the mystery, but also the growth and life of Daniel. I fell in love with all the characters. Well, except the bad guy, and as is appropriate, I hate him. I also was very entranced by the beauty of the words. The way the story was told was very beautiful and vivid.

I started recommending this book to everyone before I even finished it. And now that I have finished it, I still highly recommend it. (Shout out to Tim, thanks for the recommendation!)

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The Story:
This is non-fiction. Brene Brown is a shame researcher who began seeing that there are people that have something different about them. She calls them "Wholehearted" and they live "Wholeheartedly." She discovered that the Wholehearted live their lives with courage and can because they are vulnerable. She has presented her research and findings in two TED talks, "The Power of Vulnerability" and "Listening to Shame."   (Um, plug for TED too, so love it!) In Daring Greatly, she continues the discussion of shame and vulnerability by sharing her research, stories, and explains how we can incorporate the principles in our own lives.

The Review:
This is a fascinating look at the way we live both as a society and as individuals and the changes we need to make in order to get what we really want from life. Her research is very interesting and she does a great job of writing it in a very accessible way with her own experiences and specific stories from the research participants. She also throws in pop culture references that make reading this feel like talking to a friend, rather than reading research findings.

You can get a good idea of the things Brown discusses by watching/listening to the TED talks, but of course they are only 18 minutes long. The book allows her to go much deeper and explain where the shame comes from, what effects it has, and how vulnerability allows us to overcome it. She also describes how to practice vulnerability so the ideas become something we can actually implement.

The book gave me a lot to think about. Honestly the topic is a difficult one to examine yourself about, and Brown is honest about that too. So my thoughts are hard and difficult to deal with thoughts, but making the shift to be more vulnerable and live Wholeheartedly would be a good reward for the work of dealing with those thoughts.

I highly recommend it. And when you read it, let me know because I would love to discuss it!

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Story:
A collection of short stories (mostly) about Indian immigrants adjusting to life in America.

The Review:
I loved this collection. It's probably obvious, but it's a very quick read. Lahiri works extremely well with the short story format and is able to create characters that you are connected to and interested in very quickly. Some of the stories are poignant, touching stories, like the couple struggling with grief over a stillborn baby, or the father's reflection on his life. Others are funny, like Twinkle collecting Christian artifacts. All the stories are well-written and thought-provoking. And it is interesting to see so many aspects and perspectives on how people deal with changing their lives and coming to America.

Highly recommend it. (Shout out to Kim, thanks for the recommendation!)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

These are supplies for the crafts table. I finally figured out what we're gonna be making.

It has been forever since I've done a post about something that isn't books! And actually, every once in a while, I do manage to do something other than read. (Please read that as the light-hearted sarcasm that I intended).

To prove this, I'm going to show off my craftiness.

In August, my sister had a baby boy. To celebrate the arrival of my new nephew, I made him a hat. Carla loves gnomes, so I made her a gnome hat for baby Tucker to wear.

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Cutest gnome ever, right?

Then, big sister Zoey got jealous. She wanted to wear the gnome hat. So she did.

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But her head is a little larger. Or a lot larger.

So I made her her very own gnome hat. I gave it to her at the airport, and she immediately put it on and pronounced it, "So cute!"

New picture. Zoey doesn't hold still for very long, so catching a cute shot is a little hard. I possibly could have kept the hat a little larger. Maybe next time.

And then, because those were such successes I decided to make my youngest sister Kim a hat for Christmas as well. Initially, I thought this wound up too big, but it looks fabulous on her. Or as Zoey would say, "So cute!"

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