Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Club: Commencement Part 2

For the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club, we read the book Commencement. We split up our discussion of the book into 2 parts because the book itself was split into 2 parts. Below are my answers to the discussion questions for the 2nd part.

1. What parts of the book could you most relate to? Least relate to?

In the 2nd half of the book, I think I related to Celia’s life the most. I am single, and am in the process of figuring out my life, so I totally got where she was coming from. The character I related to the least was April. Although I do think because of her character this book really opened my eyes, I just don’t see why anyone would want to put their life at jeopardy like that. There was probably a better way to get their issues across that wasn’t illegal or didn’t put their life in danger.

2. If the author were to write another novel that followed one of the girls onto her next step of life, which one would you want it to be about? Whose story would you want to follow more of?

I really wanted to find out what happened to Bree. Did she go back to Lara? Did she reconcile with her family? I also think a book about Celia would be interesting, especially if it focused on her career and the dating scene in NYC.

3. What surprised you most about this book?

Although I totally saw what April and Ronnie were up to about half way through the 2nd part, I guess I was surprised at the abrupt ending. It left a lot of things up in the air, and unresolved for me. I would have liked the book to have had maybe another chapter where the girls are 6 months down the road or something like that. Did April go to jail? Did Bree go back with Lara? Did Celia become an author? Is Sally enjoying motherhood? Are the girls still close? Lots of questions were running through my mind at the end of the book.

4. Which character did you look forward to reading about the most?

I think I enjoyed reading about Celia and Bree, especially after Bree moved in with Celia in her NYC apartment. I also did want to know what happened to April, especially since she was practically MIA for the majority of the 2nd part.

5. Did the book meet your expectations?

I totally enjoyed this book, and it did meet my expectations. I didn’t realize it would have so much women’s rights involved, but I feel like this did open my eyes to some things that I just never really thought about. Although this was a big part of the book, it was the girls’ relationships that shone the most for me.

I am having a great time with this book club, and can’t wait to see what the next book is going to be.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Kitchen

This week on Kelly's Korner's Show Us Your Life we are sharing our Kitchens. Kitchens are one of my favorite parts of a home. Also, one of my favorite things to shop for are kitchen gadgets and stuff. Last night my boyfriend and I went into Crate and Barrel, and spent some time going through all of the fun kitchen gadgets and mixes and stuff. I am really starting to love to cook, so my kitchen gadgets are starting to really get a good use, so I can justify all of my shopping now (ha!).

So here is my kitchen. It is very small, and someday I would love to have a big open kitchen with an island my family can sit around. I do love how bright and cheery it is.

This is the view into my kitchen from the dining room (which I shared last week). The baby gate is not for a baby/child, but to keep my pup out of the kitchen. She likes to get into the fridge, and also the trash (which I keep under the sink). It's not totally fool proof, she does sometimes managed to get in there, but it does help for the most part.

My color scheme as you can tell is bright colors of green, yellow and orange. My wall color is a med brown, and my main living areas (living room, dining room, kitchen, hallway) are painted this color.

I love aprons, and have started collecting them (my big collection of 2!). The pink one is from Williams Sonoma, and the blue/brown is one that I made a few months ago.

Here is the view into the kitchen from the living room. I love having plants all round my home, and these 2 little flower pots (from Crate & Barrel) were just so bright and fun, I had to add them to my breakfast bar. The plant on the far right is my basil plant. I had it outside, but it started to cool off overnight, so I finally brought it inside. The little pumpkin is from Bath & Body Works from a few years ago, and it used to have a little candle in it.

My couch actually backs up to my breakfast bar, so I really don't get to use it much for that purpose. My girlfriends and I have had some fun times standing around the breakfast bar, chatting, eating appetizers and drinking wine while I am preparing dinner.

The platter in the corner is also from Crate & Barrel. I love to show off seasonal platters on that stand in the corner. The baskets on top of the cabinet are Longaberger baskets. The Longaberger plant is not too far from where I live, and actually a lot of people from my hometown actually work there, so it's probably a much bigger deal around here than in other places. Most of these baskets I actually got as gifts. I am not a big collector, but I do like to display the ones I have.

This is a view of the other side of the kitchen. The fruit stand is also from Crate & Barrel (love that store) and the wine rack is something I got from my Grandma. She was going to sell it at our family garage sale, and it didn't sell, so I ended up with it. Some of the wines are from my trip to the Biltmore Estate.

The little cleaning caddy is also a favorite of mine. I got it at Target, and it holds Lavendar scented hand soap, dish soap and counter spray. Makes my kitchen smell sooo good!! The binders in the corner holds all of the recipes I have printed from online. The spice rack was made by my Grandfather for my first apartment, many years ago. I just love it!

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen! Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Patchwork Scarf with Amy Butler Fabric

About a month or so ago, one of my good friends and I visited this awesome fabric shop called Sew to Speak, and I got some really cute things! I have been totally wanting to get out my sewing machine and make something, and I finally got that chance on Sunday. I didn't have a ton of time to dedicate to making the yoga bag that I have been planning on making for about 6 months or so, but I did want to make something so I quickly put together this patchwork scarf using a fabric bundle of Amy Butler's fabrics (which I totally love by the way!). I have seen some of these scarfs on Esty, and have been wanting to make one for some time. It was pretty easy, and didn't take too much time, and I got a ton of compliments when I wore it to work on Monday.

So to start you need to figure out how long and wide you want your scarf to be. I used another scarf as an example, and I believe I made this about 36 inches long and about 8" wide (give or take a little for seams). I then decided since I had 4 different kinds of fabric, that I wanted about 3 blocks per fabric, so I needed to cut out a total of 12 blocks per side (a total of 24 blocks since I then sewed 2 sides together to finish it off). I used different measurements of 3", 5" and 7" and alternated them. As I mentioned before, the width of my blocks was 8". I think this might have been a little wider than I wanted, so next time I might change my width to be about 6", but it is best to take a scarf that you really like, that fits you well, and use those measurements for width and length as a guide.

Once you have all of your blocks cut out, you will need to sew 12 of them together into one long strip. Alternate your fabrics and your sizes. I really planned out what fabrics would go nicely together and what sizes I wanted before I even started cutting. I just used a piece of paper to draw out my design and I think that is probably the best way to ensure you get the best fabrics next to each other, and that you don't have a lot of the same sizes next to each other. It looks best when it is random. Also, make sure to iron your fabric before you cut to get out any wrinkles, and then I ironed again before sewing the strips, and then once again before sewing the two strips together. It just helps to keep your fabric and your seams straight.

Once you have sewed one strip of 12 blocks together, sew the second strip of 12 blocks. I actually made my two strips identical to each other in sizes and fabrics. You then put the 2 sides together, pretty sides facing each other, and sew around (with about 1/4" seams) 3 of the sides. I actually rotated the second strip so that those blocks were going in a different direction to make it interesting.

Once you have sewed around the 3 sides, turn your scarf inside out (and push out your corners), and then pin the 4th side to close it up. I then did a stitch around the perimeter of the scarf (about 1/4" in from the edge, which finished it off, and also closed up the 4th end.

This scarf was really easy to put together and took me all of maybe 1 - 1.5 hours to cut out and sew together. If you have any questions, or want more detailed instructions feel free to leave me a comment.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Club (Part One: Commencement)

The newest book we are reading for the book club Book Beginnings and Bookends is Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan. I do have to say that I was very excited that we were reading this book. At one point it looked like we were going with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I do want to read that book at some point, but I really wanted to read this book, so I am super excited it got picked.

This book is based on the story of 4 girls (Sally, Celia, Bree and April) who are all very different, but became very good friends while attending college together at Smith College (which is a real college by the way; a private liberal arts college for women located in Northampton, Massachusetts) The book is broken up into 2 sections: Spring 2006 and Spring 2007, and we split up the reading based on the 2 parts.

So the first set of questions will be based around part 1. This part bounces back and forth between what is currently happening in the Spring of 2006, which is 4 years from when they graduated, and the girls experiences while attending Smith College, beginning with the first day they met on campus.

Currently, Sally is getting married in the Quad on campus, and the other 3 girls are traveling to Northampton to attend the wedding. Each chapter is based on one of the girls, and you really get to know their personalities and their story. The book is great because it shows how these 4 completely different personalities really rely on each other and become each other’s families.

I haven’t started to read the 2nd section yet, so I really have no idea how the 2nd part is going to relate to the 1st part, but it looks like it is going to take place 1 year from Sally’s wedding. I totally don’t want to ruin the book for anyone, so I’ll leave my description on the book right there.

Questions to Part 1:

1. Which girl do you identify the most with?

It’s funny because I don’t believe I relate to just one character. I think I am a combination of Bree and Sally based on different times in my life. I totally do not relate to April, but I do respect what she is doing for women. I would say that when I went off to college (a long time ago..ha!) I would have totally related to Bree. She seemed to be very naive when she first went off to college, and completely and totally in love with her high school sweetheart, which she finds out later is not the one for her . I feel like that was kind of me at that point in time, naïve, young and stupidly in love.

Right now, I think I relate more to Sally as she is right now. She’s in a relationship, she’s happy and is looking forward to getting married. Her friends can’t relate because they are not in the same place, and Sally sometimes feels guilty that she is so happy. She also struggles between wanting to be a married woman vs what people think she should be which is a strong woman who is going to make a name for herself, not getting married and settling down. I am not getting married, but I am in a relationship, and have a career that is finally taking off. I do want to get married and have a family, but at the same time I do struggle with the decision of what may then happen to my career. Can I have it all? I also have some friends who over the years we have just grown apart and are totally in different places now. It’s hard because I am ready to settle down, and they are still trying to figure themselves out.

2. If you're a college student or graduate, what similarities or differences do you see between this story to your own college experience?

I went to a non-traditional college and lived in an apartment off campus on my own, so unfortunately I didn’t get the traditional college experience of living in dorms. I think I do see similarities of how naïve I was back then, and how much I grew up in college. I do enjoy reading about their college experience because it gives me a little taste of what I missed back then.

3. Which girl do you think has changed the most since her time in college? In what ways has she changed?

I think they have all changed somewhat. I think that Sally now knows what she wants out of life, which is to be married to the love of her life. I think she is starting to find peace also with what’s happened with her mother. April seems to be going down the same path that she was in college wanting to help less fortunate women, but she seems so much more extreme than she was in college. Celia seems to be a little lost to me. I feel like she needs to figure her life out and what she wants out of her career in NYC, and I would love for her to meet a nice guy. Bree seems to be trying to prove a point with her lesbian relationship and that she is a strong woman, but she doesn’t seem happy. I hope she figures out what will make her happy in her life, and that she mends the relationship with her family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

30 Day Clothes Challenge (Days 18 - 22)

I totally fell behind with posting my 30 Day Clothes Challenge. Especially since tomorrow is my last day of the challenge (oops!). But I did keep up with the challenge, and was successfully able to come up with 30 different outfits for work. I did have to go shopping for dress pants due to my new responsibilities at work which include traveling to work onsite at the client's office a few days a week where jeans are not allowed =(, but was able to find enough tops to get by without having to purchase anything new. I am planning on posting my results though, and will do so over the next few days.

Days 18 - 22


Day 18: Monday -- Top from The Limited, jeans from Loft


Day 19: Tuesday -- Top, cardigan and pants from Loft (new dress pants!)


Day 20: Wednesday -- Top from The Limited, cardigan from Lands End, and pants and necklace from Loft


Day 20: Thursday -- another all Loft outfit!


Day 22: Friday -- Top and jeans, again from Loft, necklace from Tiffanys

Check back in a few days for Days 23 - 27 and then Days 28 - 30!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Show Us Your Life -- Dining Rooms

This week's topic for Show Us Your Life over at Kelly's Korner is Dining Rooms. My dining room is pretty small, and I honestly don't use it often for the purpose of "dining." Sometimes when my boyfriend comes over and I cook dinner, we will eat at the table, but this is mostly to keep the dog from bothering my boyfriend. I typically eat on the couch while watching tv. For the most part, I use my dining room table when I use my computer for work (I like to spread my papers all over the table and floor), and for when I use my sewing machine.

This is looking into the dining room from the living room. You can't really see the print I have hanging, but it is a really cute watercolor print that I got from Garden Ridge about 12 years ago or so. I have loved it ever since. Also, that little stool on the left is actually an ironing board/stool that my Grandfather made for me. I have never used it as an ironing board, but when I used to have a home phone on that wall (now only use cell phone), I used to sit on that stool and talk on the phone. I also have a message board/chalkboard on the wall next to the stool that I use to display pictures, and other little messages.

I have had this baker's rack since my first apartment. I actually have had the dining room table and chairs since my first apartment also. The baker's rack holds my cookbook collection, some baskets with odds and ends, and on the lower shelf is the dog's basket with toys and my shredder. The platter is the one I got in Savannah. I like to switch out my platters every so often, but I loved this one so much I have had it on display since my vacation in May!

Here is a closer view of the table. I got this cute fall table runner from Pier 1 last weekend. The iron pumpkins were from Pier 1 and I have had them for about 10 years or so. I made the curtains about 10 years ago or so also. It was one of my first sewing projects, and the fabric is a sage green toile. I just love toile!

Thanks for stopping by to see my home!