Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: Touching the Sky by Tracie Peterson

Touching the Sky by Tracie Peterson is a suspenseful historical fiction novel set in post Civil War Texas. Laura Marquardt is a young woman living in whose family supported and continues to support the Union cause. She meets Union Captain Brandon Reid, an officer who continues to strive to mend the hurts of the past caused by the Civil War.

Laura and Brandon begin a friendship which quickly turns into a romance. As the story progresses, they are faced with growing hostilities in their Texas town where tension threatens to boil over into violence. At the center of this conflict are Laura's sister Carissa and the man she recently married, a Confederate named Malcolm Lowe. Laura finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation while questioning Brandon's motivations and intentions toward her.

I loved this book! I thought the author did a great job of painting a picture of what the United States was like immediately following the Civil War. This is one of my favorite aspects of historical fiction novels. This book was also very suspenseful and fast-paced. The characters were well-developed and believeable. I especially felt sympathy for Laura's sister Carissa and the extreme difficulties she faced. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

I did receive a free copy of this book to review through the Bethany House Book Reviewers program. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WIWW: Colorblocking

I've been watching this shirt at Penney's since it came out. When it was $4 last week, I knew it needed to come home with me! The flats were $4.50 at Target, so it was a good week for clearance finds.

Top - JCPenney
Skinny Jeans - Mossimo, thrifted
Flats - Mossimo Ona, Here at Target
(I sized up to an 8 1/2 on these.)
Owl Necklace - Vintage from my grandma - she had 2 adorable owl necklaces that I wear often

I'm linking up to the Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday!

Floral Messenger Bag

 As a librarian, I always have a bag full of things that I carry to and from work and to all the programs I do at various locations. I was ready for a new bag, so I created this messenger bag. I based it on the tutorial here at Zaaberry that I've used to make a smaller messenger bag.

This bag is large enough to carry binders and books, plus it has a large front pocket and two small interior pockets. I used fusible fleece and Decor Bond to make the bag stronger and sturdier. I thought the colorful flowers on brown would work well for several seasons. I am really pleased with how it turned out!

Monday, July 23, 2012

DIY Dance Skirt

My daughter loves her dance classes and is so excited to be going back to class this week. I have had a dance skirt on my sewing list for awhile and last night I finally tackled it. I used this tutorial from skirt as top for inspiration, but modified and changed it quite a bit.

I wanted a skirt that had a finished waist of 21" and was 12" long. I cut two pieces for this skirt: a hot pink chiffon piece that was 14" times the width of fabric and a cotton piece that was 3" x 30". I also used a piece of 1/2" elastic that was approximately 22" long.

I hemmed the bottom of the chiffon fabric, created the waistband out of the cotton, gathered the chiffon to fit the waist, then sewed it into the waistband. Then I threaded the elastic through the waistband, tacked it down at both ends, and sewed the skirt together using a french seam. If there is any interest, please leave me a comment, and I may try a tutorial with some pictures of each step.

She is pleased with how it turned out and had to try it on this morning. This cost around $5 or less to make - much cheaper than the ones in stores that are $12-$15 each. I have some pale green chiffon and a dark purple to make a couple more.

I'm linking up to Made by You Mondays at Skip to My Lou!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thrifting Part 3: Finding My Style

 Wow! It's already the middle of July...here is part 3 of the thrifting series! It took a bit of time off from thrifting at the beginning of the month, but found some good things this week - a kelly green blouse, a chambray skirt, and pink bermuda shorts.

This installment in the thrifting series is all about finding my style. When I first started thrifting, I had not been doing much shopping. I had lost a little bit of weight, had a new job title, and of course, a preschooler! All of this resulted in a closet full of clothes that were out of date and generally not right for me and where I am in life right now. It was extremely difficult for me to get dressed in the morning without full on meltdowns - seriously. I usually spend a few hours at work each day and always was looking for comfortably dressy outfits that I could stay in all day. This was really hard for me.

I spent quite a bit of time reading about the small wardrobe at Small Notebook and the No Brainer Wardrobe at the Tiny Twig. As a result, I adjusted my style, which combined with my change in size resulted in me weeding out my wardrobe pretty significantly. I was left with some pretty big gaps in my clothing.

I was having trouble finding reasonably priced pieces in stores, so I started thrifting. At first, I needed quite a bit - even simple things like black pants. Once I filled in some of these core pieces, I started a list of items I was looking for when I went thrifting. I felt too overwhelmed just randomly looking around Goodwill with no direction. I also wanted to curb some of the impulse purchases - you know, "hey it's only $4 so I should buy it!"

I created a fall/winter wish list and shopped with that through February or March. Now I'm working on my spring/summer wish list. I base my wish list items on trends I like, images from Pinterest, and colors I find lacking in my wardrobe. I read several style blogs as well for inspiration. Some of the items on my current wish list include: crop pants, bright skinnies, colorful cardigans and tops, a maxi dress, and a floral dress. I have found some of the pieces I was looking for already such as denim crop pants, a fuchsia cardigan, pink bermuda shorts, a teal wrap dress, and some floral skirts.

I won't find everything I'm looking for - and there will definitely be the occasional impulse purchase in there - but my wish list helps me a ton! I find plenty of good things that allow me to stretch and remix what I already have. I am amazed at how many things I can find on my list if I am patient and check each time I stop in to a store. I do supplement with retail items on occasion as well.

In the next month or 6 weeks, I'll start writing a fall wish list. It should be shorter than last year's, but I'm sure it will still have lots of items on it!

Do you shop with a list when you thrift? Leave me a comment!

I have a book review coming this week, a messenger bag I finished, and hopefully the next post in this series will be right around the corner. Have a great week!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Monday!

We have finally gotten a break in the heat! Yay! :)

I wanted to announce the charm pack giveaway winner as well. Sandyb is the winner! Congrats and enjoy!

I have another book review to post this week and am hoping to write and post the next installment in the thrifting series! Next up is cleaning out my closet and shopping with a list.

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: Bees in the Butterfly Garden

I recently completed the book Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang. This historical novel is set amid upper-class New York City society in the 1880's. Meg Davenport has been brought up at a boarding school designed to train young ladies to take their place in elite society. Meg knows little about her father and has seen him only rarely over the years. When Meg receives the surprising news that her father has died, she sets off on a journey to learn more about her elusive father.

Meg is shocked to learn that her father, John Davenport, actually has made his money as a thief instead of as a businessman as she always thought. He has a network of associates that he has worked with over the years, including a young man, Ian Maguire, who John has mentored throughout the years. Despite Ian's warnings that John wanted to keep Meg far from his life as a thief, Meg decides she wants to prove to everyone that she is her father's daughter and offers to get insider information from a wealthy New York City family with whom she is acquainted. This information will allow Ian to make a huge theft from the family.

Meg underestimates the toll this duplicitous lifestyle will take on her and is confused when she begins to develop a genuine friendship with Claire, Evie, and Nelson Pemberton. Another complication arises as she and Ian begin to have feelings for each other. Meg is determined to see this task through, to prove her worth as someone who can fit into her father's world.

What I really liked about this book: the setting was amazing. I think historical fiction novels are lovely and this one did a great job of explaining many of the decorum and customs of the time. I also very much appreciated the role that the terms "grace", "mercy", and "justice" played in this book. The way that Jesus' grace and mercy toward the thief on the cross was tied into the storyline was wonderful as well.

What I didn't like about this book: I had trouble relating to Meg's character. Without spoiling too much (I hope), I expected more of a change of heart from her in the book whereas I felt Ian showed more growth. I am curious how Meg's character would have reacted had Ian not made the changes he did toward the end of the novel. I think I had expectations for her character that did not end up happening, so I was a little disappointed with that aspect of the plot development.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book with a solid message.

I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Musings

Happy Monday and happy July!! I can't believe we are halfway through the year. We took a little time to go away on "vacation" for a night at a hotel not too far from us. We did some shopping (fabric and books), went to the beach, and ate at Chick-fil-A for the first time - yum!

Milk glass candy dish, vintage spools of thread and thimbles
Then on Saturday, we continued to my grandfathers' home to work on going through the items there. My grandfather passed away in late May and my grandmother died 4 1/2 years ago, so we are now faced with the task of going through the home, selling items, and deciding what we want to keep. As the only grandchild, this has been pretty overwhelming for me. We have such a small home, it is difficult for us to keep lots of things, so we have been making lots of decisions about the various items. If any of you have any tips for this process, I would appreciate it.

In thrifting news, I did find a hot pink ruffled cardigan and a gray top at a garage sale on Friday for $5 total. Hoping to work on my next thrifting series installation sometime this week.

The charm square giveaway will be open until this Thursday. I'll draw and announce a winner over the weekend.

I also have a book review coming up!

Enjoy your holiday week! What are your 4th of July plans? Any fun crafts or recipes I should try?

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