Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fire review

I received my Kindle Fire on November 16 and decided to use it for awhile before posting a review.

The Fire is similar in size to my Kindle 2. The Fire is a bit narrower but twice as thick. It is also much heavier. In general I don't have too much problem with the weight since I usually have it laying on a table or my lap when I'm reading. 

I love that the Fire is a multitasker. I tend to get bored rather easily and like to have multiple options to occupy myself. While the Kindle offers books and some games maybe a little background music, the Fire offers that and much more. The addition of apps makes the Fire a winner. I can check the weather, surf the internet, read and write email, shop and play games. Books download super fast. It is constrained to wi-fi connectivity which is probably the biggest downside I've found. With the addition of 3G this would be killer.

The touch screen took a little getting used to. I hate hate hate the unavoidable fingerprints all over the screen and keep a microfiber cloth in the case to constantly clean it. I did put a screen protector on it as soon as I got it but took it off after a week because it made the screen a tad blurry. Naked, the images are crystal clear although (as you can tell from the picture) the screen is quite reflective which is a problem in sunlight. 

I purchased a hard cover for the Fire to help protect the screen. I chose a convertible cover since the Fire is also an excellent video player. I stream videos all the time. Streaming is smooth (if you notice lagging in your playback, reboot and it will solve the problem). The sound is great with built in stereo speakers (my iPod Touch has horrible, tin-ny sound without external speakers). 

I'm not enamored with the Carousel, the Fire's feature that shows all of your recently accessed content on the top row of the display. You are not able to remove items from the Carousel, hopefully this will be available in a future update. I like to keep my stuff uncluttered and this is quite annoying. The flipping action is also irritating. Although you can see 4 or 5 items on the row you can only open the left most icon and I frequently scroll right past what I need. I generally just ignore the Carousel and tap the menu bar to go to the content I want be it books, apps or web. You can pin favorite apps to your home screen as well. You can see I've got mail, weather, Pulse (blog reader) and You Tube pinned to my first shelf. I'm not sure how many shelves you get since I've not really pinned too much yet.

My last complaint is the power switch. On the Kindle the switch is a slider at the top of the device. It's pretty darn hard to accidentally turn it off. On the Fire the switch is a push button at the bottom of the unit. I have no idea what brainiac came up with this ridiculous idea. I find if I'm holding it like a book I frequently push the button and put my screen to sleep or worse, reboot it. The option, of course, is just to hold it upside down. Once the device is taken out of sleep mode the screen automatically adjusts itself to the orientation you are holding it in. 

All in all I LOVE my Fire. Would I recommend it to replace a Kindle? Depends on what you want to do. The Kindle is by far a better reading device. The screen is much easier on your eyes. Page turning is easier. In my opinion buttons are way easier than tapping at exactly the right spot to turn a page. Plus, I fell asleep reading on my Fire the other night and must have had my finger resting on the screen. I found my spot had jumped from 17% to 85% when I woke up! That couldn't happen on a Kindle. To my surprise (and disappointment) they did not include page numbers on the Fire's reader even though it is available on other Kindle reading apps. The Kindle is much lighter in weight so if you like to read for long periods of time or if your eyesight requires you to hold your book at a certain distance a Kindle would be a much better choice. Another big advantage to the Kindle is being able to organize your library by collections. Fire doesn't offer any user-driven organization of your library (again, hopefully this will come in an update at some point). If you are looking for more of a multi-function device, though, I wholeheartedly recommend the Fire!!


Eco Emi


A few posts back I talked about Birchbox, a subscription beauty sample program. I stayed subscribed for 3 months but then dropped out. Too many of the products were things I just wouldn't use and it didn't seem like the best fit for me right now.

Since then I've heard of a number of other sample programs but one that particularly struck my fancy is Eco Emi. While Birchbox is generally just beauty products (although I did get a nutrition bar in one box) Eco Emi is all about the natural. The boxes feature all sorts of naturally minded products from beauty to home care to food. Since I'm making the effort to be more conscious of the products I use I decided to make the switch. Eco Emi is a bit more expensive at $15 per month. However, you get more samples per box. Plus there are discount codes for most of the items in the box so you could save some money if you decide to purchase full size products of the items you've sampled. My first box arrived this week.
 
I am really happy with my first box and will try every one of the samples. My box included a foot cream, shampoo, conditioner, essential mist (which is a fabulous face mist!), a chocolate bar (can not wait to try this one!!), a colored lip balm, hand cream, face mask and eye shadow. Not only are the products all things I normally use, I'm totally chuffed that they are made with ingredients I don't have to worry about. 
The downsides (at least for me) about Eco Emi are that they charge you the first of the month prior to when they ship your box. I paid for November's box in the beginning of October. And they don't ship until late in the month, this month the boxes shipped on the 21st. So you've got quite a wait until you get your first box. 

If you are interested in Eco Emi and want to see more of what they include in their boxes, just do a You Tube search for Eco Emi.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Coolest nail polish ever!

A few months back my mother got a magnetic manicure at the salon and I was smitten. When I had vacation last week I treated myself to a professional manicure with the magnetic polish. The effect was stunning. The pro version of the polish is put out by LCN and they do sell to the public. They offer several colors and 2 magnet designs and you can buy them individually or by as a full kit. The magnets are sold separately.

There is now a consumer line that has the magnet built right into the cap. So when Sephora had their friends and family sale I snapped up both colors offered by Nails Inc. Today I'm wearing Houses of Parliament. 

While the pro polish only requires one coat, Nails Inc instructs you to apply one coat, let it dry, then apply a second coat and while it is wet (you have to do each nail as you paint them) hold the magnetic cap over your nail to draw the magnetic particles to the surface. The picture shows what a gorgeous effect you get. I read in Vogue last month that you can gently move the magnet while the polish is setting to create different effects. I just held it steady for this look. 

The nice thing about the Nails Inc cap is it has a little guide built in to help prevent you from touching the magnet to your nail while the polish is wet. I like to keep my nails on a flat surface to paint them, but it is much easier to hold your hand at eye level when using the magnet. 

I only just painted my nails today so I'll append this post later in the week as to how well the polish wears.

Update: The polish lasted quite well. I painted on Saturday and made it to Wednesday before I saw noticeable chips. I did apply a top coat every other day. I work on a computer all day long so my nails do take a bit of a beating. The polish was a bear to remove with my Karma Organics remover. It took quite a bit more work than regular polish, but did come off completely. If I were in a hurry I would probably resort to acetone for this type of polish.

Verdict: I LOVE this polish. I hope Nails Inc comes out with a wider variety of colors and magnet patterns in the future.

Natural wonders

Some time ago, way back in the days of Lime & Violet, they mentioned natural deodorant and sparked my curiosity. I blogged about it here. My quest to find a great natural deodorant slowly turned into a quest to green my whole beauty routine. Having read both Sophie Uliano's Gorgeously Green and the fabulous No More Dirty Looks, I've become more aware of what's in the beauty products I use and what the potential hazards of those chemicals are. While there's some things I am not currently willing to budge on (like my perfume and MAC lipstick), there are a lot of things that can easily be changed. It's not always easy to find truly natural products, but I just have to share some of the truly wonderful products I've found in my quest.

Lavanilla deodorant. This line is all some variation of vanilla scented, so if you don't like vanilla, you're kind of out of luck. However, the scent isn't terribly strong and does fade. As I said, natural deodorant is where the quest started. It's taken me over a year to find my HG product and this is it. Pricey as hell, but it seems to last forever. This deodorant doesn't cause any irritation, doesn't melt in hot weather, comes in a tube so it's not messy like most natural deodorants in cream form, smells great, and, most importantly, keeps me smelling great. And it is truly natural. No aluminum, no triclosan, no propylene glycol.

Pangea Organics. I purchased their dry skin sampler kit so I could try a variety of products. The stand outs have been the Balancing Oil, Rosemary & Orange Toner and the Mandarin & Rose Facial Cream. I didn't care for the cleanser or mask. 

Karma Organics Organic Nail Polish Remover. This one blew me away. I'm a nail polish junkie. But I'm not crazy about the stink and toxic chemicals that comprise remover. When I saw this one mentioned on You Tube I decided to check it out. It is unlike any polish remover I've ever tried. This one is oil based. I place a cotton round over the bottle and do three spots of remover on the pad. This is enough to do both hands if the polish is light. For dark polish or if I have several coats of polish, I may have to do a second pad. It does take a bit more effort to remove the polish than with acetone which dissolves it nearly instantaneously. I rub each nail for a few seconds then move to the next nail. By the time I get back to the first nail the polish has softened and a bit of rubbing with the cotton pad removes every trace of polish (even the super darks come off cleanly). There is no offensive odor. Your bathroom won't stink for hours from the acetone laden cotton balls in the trash can. I purchased the lavender scent which smells just like lavender but even this scent fades quickly. As I said, the remover is oil based so you have to thoroughly wash your hands if you want to repolish right away. However, that oil base and all the massaging with a cotton pad leaves your nails & cuticles super hydrated.

And finally, yes, a natural perfume (there ARE good ones out there!)
Harvey Prince. I just found this one. I found a coupon for a free sample size rollon bottle of Eau de Creme so I decided to give it a try. Sweet, gourmand. Very lovely. Reminds me of a less vulgar version of Thierry Mugler Angel. They also sent a sample vial of Eau Flirt which is a lavender pumpkin scent and also fabulous. Score, there's now a coupon here for a free sample rollon of Eau Flirt! I'm pretty sure you can't use both at the same time and I'm not sure the Eau de Creme coupon is still active, but if you are interested, go check it out.

As I continue my quest for natural goodies I'll be sure to post them up here.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Halloween? Tomorrow is Halloween. Yesterday we had our first snow of the season.
According to the local weatherman, this was the earliest snow in 39 years. I certainly don't remember snow this early! We also set a record for October snow at 5 inches. I'm not sure exactly how much snow we got here since it was one of those really wet snows that sinks down on itself. Thankfully it's supposed to get back to seasonal temperatures and weather in the next few days so this snow should be short lived. We were just starting to enjoy the beautiful fall leaves! I am so not ready for winter!!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fire

This week Amazon finally announced the upcoming release of its tablet computer, Kindle Fire.

 I've been anxiously awaiting the announcement like most other Kindle fans and I jumped right in line when ordering opened. I was hoping for a 3G model but it looks like that won't be available until maybe next year. I'm excited to be able to browse the web and read my books on one device. I'm also interested to see how their apps stack up next to Apple's. Timing kind of stinks since it won't arrive until after our vacation. Full review when it does arrive.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Birchbox

I don't know if I'm late to the party or if this sort of thing is just becoming popular, but I just discovered Birchbox. Birchbox is a subscription based service that for $10 sends you a monthly goodie box of beauty samples. I watched various reviews on You Tube and most were very positive so I decided to give it a try.

You can enroll on a monthly basis for $10/month or for a full year for $110 and save a few dollars. I opted for the monthly plan. Boxes ship by the 10th of each month and I received mine on the 9th. Here's a look at what mine included:
It is my understanding that there can be slight variations in the boxes so yours might have contained one or two different items.
  1. There's an almond snack bar (that I haven't tried yet).
  2. A mini bottle of Zoya nail polish in Shay. The color is a beige nude with just a hint of frost. Perfect work color. This is my first time trying Zoya polish. It applied evenly without streaks and is going on 3 days chip free.
  3. A sample of Purity facial cleanser from Philosophy. This creamy cleanser smells wonderful and left my skin clean but not taught.
  4. Ahava Mineral Hand Cream. It's a nice basic hand cream that soaks in quickly without any residual greasiness. Has a rather strong herbal smell that I'm not crazy about, but otherwise good.
  5. And finally a bottle of Redken Shine Flash spray. I'm not sure what to make of this one. Its basically an aerosol finishing spray to add shine to your hair. It stinks to high heaven. I'll pass on this one and stick with my argan oil for shine!

All in all I'm thrilled with my first box. I love surprises. I love samples. I love cheap. The Birchbox seems to fill the bill in all respects. There are other sample boxes out there and maybe some day I'll check some of those out as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Heartsy

For all you fellow Etsy addicts out there, here's a site worth checking out. Heartsy.me is a deal site similar to Groupon where you can buy store credits for a reduced rate. All of the merchants are Etsy sellers. Most of the deals I've seen are better than 50% savings (like $13 for a $30 credit). The deals change every day and they offer a daily newsletter to keep you informed of current and upcoming deals. I believe you get a $5 credit just for signing up and it's totally free to join. Although I haven't purchased any vouchers just yet, I've seen a lot of interesting new sellers. If you are an Etsy fan like me, it's definitely worth checking out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 Garden

This is quite a bit later than last year's garden post but I wanted to make sure I didn't miss documenting this year's garden.

Again, we've moved stuff around still trying to find the optimal layout.

The tomatoes are now mostly located in the smaller side bed. We started with 4 Early Girl and 4 Roma but lost a few to the rabbits. I purchased some new plants and think we've got a yellow grape tomato in there now too.

In the larger long bed we've got garlic (planted last fall and absolutely thriving), onions, cucumbers, radishes (which are refusing to form bulbs and just bolting instead), a variety of bell peppers and eggplant. I did end up fencing in the eggplant since the rabbits seemed to think they are the gourmet treat of the season and kept eating them down to the ground.

The big bed has a few rows of okra. Only about half sprouted though. The last few years dad and I have both had a dickens of a time getting okra to grow. Next year I must remember to over plant and thin down rather than sowing just what we need.

We've also got a number of tomato plants in this bed. A few yellow tomatoes, a beefsteak and a Better Boy (I think, forgot to write all the names down). We didn't intend to have so many tomatoes, but the plants mostly come 4 to a pack and I hate to throw them away even if we only need one or two. Need to pick up a few more cages before these guys get too much bigger.

More pepper plants along the wall, I think these are all the yellow peppers. A row of kohlrabi. 2 zucchini plants and a number of corn plants. The corn is a funny story. We put corn out for the rabbits and squirrels in the winter (yes I know that's probably why the little buggers are visiting my garden since we encourage them to look here for food, but they are so cute to watch). Anyway, the squirrel seems to have buried a good bit of that corn all over our yard. A few weeks ago C and I were trying to figure out what these tall plants were growing up so much faster than the grass. Figuring out it was corn, we dug a few of them up and replanted them in the garden. I was sure they wouldn't survive transplanting, but it was worth a try. Well, sure enough they have survived and seem to be doing quite well. We had never really considered planting corn since we follow South Beach and corn is not a regular part of the diet. The thought of field corn had never crossed our minds. It will be fun to see what we get since we had ornamental corn as well as yellow field corn out during the winter. If this works, we'll definitely make ornamental corn part of our garden plans in the future.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Guide

As I've talked about here, the last few years I have eschewed mainstream perfumes in favor of indie made perfume oils. It's been fun and interesting and I've tried a lot of good scents. But lately the girly-girl in me has been crying out for something more grown up. Something beautiful and classic. 

I have never been much of a perfume aficionado sticking to drugstore brands and Avon scents. Some of these are terrific. But again, I wanted to branch out into "the good stuff". Where to start? 

I found some fabulous sites on the internet with extensive perfume descriptions and user reviews. Some of my favorites are:

However, my absolute favorite resource I've found so far is Perfume: The Guide. This 600+ page book includes over 1,200 perfume reviews. Most are by Luca Turin although his partner Tania Sanchez gives her point of view on many perfumes as well. This is not a book of unbiased reviews, these 2 have very definite opinions about what they like and what they don't and aren't afraid to say it. They routinely bash fragrances they hate with terms like dismal, dreck, and dreadful. However, there are tons of positive reviews and some so eloquently written it leaves you tempted to drop the book, grab the car keys and head to the mall to search out a bottle. Every perfume has a two word description such as oriental floral, fruity patchouli, woody citrus that gives you an idea of the character of the scent. The reviews themselves often mention the notes, but not always. They offer a one to 5 star rating for each perfume which I find mostly unuseful. They also provide a one to 4 $ symbol to give you a general idea of how costly a perfume is. I don't always agree with their opinions on scents. They rate Bond's Chinatown 5 stars but I've smelled it and hate it. They hate the Burberry scents which I love. However, taking it all with a grain of salt, I don't think there's a better guide to today's perfumes out there. If you're at all interested in perfume, be sure to check this book out.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Another vintage Singer

Yesterday I spent the day with hubby's family for the public auction of his grandfather's estate. The 2 hour drive was lovely once we got past Harrisburg. None of us are city drivers so the heavy traffic and numerous lane merges were a bit nerve-racking. But once we got out of the city, the minor highway was smooth and uncongested and the scenery was stunning. The day was absolutely fabulous, mid 70's and sunny with a gentle breeze. We did get a downpour that lasted an hour or so right at the end of the sale, but by then there wasn't much left so it wasn't too much of an issue.

The sale was just outside of Belleville, a largely Amish community nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains. The home was his grandparents "getaway" place for years then after Blanche passed away, Buck made it his permanent home. The sale had a fair attendance, maybe 70 or so at it's height. Better than half were local Amish folk who seemed to be there more for entertainment than to buy. C was mostly interested in visiting with his family but I was paid attention to the sale in the hopes of taking home a few family keepsakes.

I picked up a large lot of Blanche's doilies and table runners. There are a lot of beautiful pieces in the lot and I'm hoping they clean up well since many are musty and stained from years of use then storage. I also got a box of her hand cut quilting templates and quilt patterns which I haven't had a chance to go through yet. Blanche loved to sew and the few times I got to spend time chatting with her we loved to talk about sewing.

C got some of Buck's old radios which he was thrilled to discover all work and have great sound. We will enjoy using one of the portables to listen to the baseball games this summer out on the deck.

But the absolute topper to the day was getting one of Blanche's old Singer sewing machines. It is my understanding she had a lot of sewing machines. There were 5 at yesterday's sale alone. The 3 electric portable machines actually went unsold (I won't get on my soapbox about how poorly the auctioneers handled the sale, but there was no reason that should have happened.) Unfortuneately, we were in my mother-in-law's vehicle and did not have room to transport them or I would certainly have taken them as well. There was another vintage Singer in cabinet that sold as part of the furniture auction, but again, it would not fit in the vehicle so I had no option but to let it go.

The machine I got was sitting off to the side of the auctioneers stand when we arrived, among the pile of unsold items actually. The minute I saw it and pointed it out to C he insisted I had to get it. I was thrilled when I asked one of the staff if it has been sold, since we arrived about an hour in to the sale. She said no she thought it would be part of the furniture sale. Turns out, they did not sell it as part of the furniture. In fact, while the furniture in the home was being sold by the auctioneer, his wife continued the household goods sale outside. As luck would have it, she put the machine up during this time I and got it for the starting bid of $5. Insanity. I thought for sure one of the Mennonite would have tried for it, or even the Amish since this machine is convertible (can be used as a treadle machine or electric). C's family all agreed Blanche would be thrilled I got it and I agree.

So here she is, my "new" Singer 99
She cleaned up fabulously. The cabinet is worn and the varnish is crackled under the surface, but not peeling. The support arm is present and there is a hidden drawer where we found a box containing all the attachments and a ton of old cardboard bobbins.


 The machine runs very well. The drive belt is worn, dried out and cracked with age. But it works. The light is even working.

There is an issue with the bobbin though. When the bobbin cover is on, the bobbin won't turn. Looking at the underside of the cover it appears the case is not properly adjusted and is rubbing the cover. Fortunately we have a gentleman here in town who works on old sewing machines. I'm hoping he can replace the worn belt and figure out what's going on with the bobbin.
All in all, I am thrilled. I love old Singers to begin with. Having one with family history is priceless.

A few facts I've found about the Singer 99...
My model was manufactured 1956 at the Elizabethport factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
There were 25,000 made
The 99 is a 3/4 head size machine
It is NOT a Featherweight
It is a convertible machine, can be used as a treadle machine or electric.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sign of spring

This morning when I went out to retrieve the paper I noticed a pile of petals on the porch around my pansy planter. I figured the storm last night might have knocked them off. But then I noticed a baby robin perched in the flowers. I retreated back inside and grabbed the camera
Isn't he a cute little thing. Although she can't be seen, the momma robin is close by. I hear her talking up a storm.

Meanwhile, Stuart and Quinn are holding vigil to protect our home from the insidious marauder.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Eden's Secret soaps

The other day I received an unexpected package in the mail. I was delighted when I saw the pink box and Eden logo. But I was also a little perplexed at how Karen might have gotten my address. Turns out there was a bugaboo in her website last month. I was window shopping on the site a few weeks back and apparently the order went through inadvertently. I notified Karen immediately hoping that she had already realized the issue and had corrected it. She sent me back the sweetest email saying I could keep the soaps with her blessing. All she asked was that I talk about her soaps. Well, I can sure do that! First the eye candy...
Look how gorgeously the soaps are packaged. You've got to check out her You Tube channel to see how she hand cuts and wraps every single piece of soap she sells. The attention to detail is amazing. Those labels are hand cut around all that fancy scallop work. The soap names are hand written on the back of the labels and all tied up with curly ribbon bows.

I received 4 soaps in all. The first is Cashmere Creme soap.
I cut off a piece from the end and have been using it as my kitchen sink soap. The soap has poppy seeds in it which provide a nice gentle scrub. The lather is lush and creamy and the scent is light and does not linger on my skin. My skin is left soft even after multiple washings when cooking. I'm very impressed with this soap.

Next is Kismet Karma. This pale orange soap is reminiscent of Lush's Karma, one of my favorite Lush scents.
 Orange and patchouli. She decorated the soap with a dried orange slice and a touch of glitter.

For me the highlight of the package was the cupcake soap. I've been obsessing over the current trend in cake and cupcake shaped soaps. Especially with being on the diet, it's appealing to have my cake and NOT eat it! 
Although it looks like a cupcake, it is indeed soap. Top to bottom. Having made soap, I am in awe of the artistry involved. I'm sure it boils down to the right recipe to get the soap batter to a consistency that can be piped to look like frosting. Karen nails it. She decorated the top with some tiny soap slices and a real miniature rose bud.

The freebie soap she says is a glycerin soap which I'm guessing is what I would call melt & pour. But it's not like any melt & pour I've done. It reminds me a bit of one of my favorite commercial soaps, Primal Elements. It has a creamy rose pink base with translucent swirls throughout.
All in all I am truly impressed with Karen's work. Her soaps are not only beautiful, but luxurious to use as well. She also produces other bath & body products which she sells on her site, Eden's Secret. Do check out her store and You Tube videos. And Karen, if you read this, thanks again!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The mug to end all mugs

I made it through a very large portion of my life before developing a love for coffee. I'd always been a tea girl. But over the last year or two, I've fallen for the elixir that is coffee. Mostly flavored coffee and then still mostly chocolate flavors. Sweet with cream, please. I received a cute little 4 cup coffee maker as a gift and it's just perfect since the hubby doesn't drink coffee. Although it does irritate me that a "cup" of coffee is only like 6 oz. What's up with that? 
So I've been searching for a sheep mug to hold my morning brew. For the longest time I wanted one of Jennie the Potter's mugs, but they tend to sell out as soon as she lists them. Then recently I discovered Peg's Table Top and was smitten. Peg makes mugs, trivets, yarn bowls and platters. Here themes are mostly knitting or vegetable related. Her designs are whimsical and colorful. I convoed her and asked if she'd be willing to make a mug to my request and she happily agreed. It only took a few weeks to get my order since I happened to catch her right before a firing. Here is the piece of art I received...
I absolutely adore this mug. It is huge. Huge I tell you. She states they are 16oz mugs but mine holds that entire 4 "cup" pot of coffee. It is a literal coffee bucket. I could not be more thrilled with it. I highly recommend her shop if you are looking for a nice big mug.

....and now it's March

2011 is flying by. Work is keeping me hopping and my bandwidth has been low. There's been some knitting and some reading and tons of time spent watching indy soapers on You Tube.
Knitting...
The Tardis socks have been frogged yet again. I appear to be incapable of getting the floats and/or gauge loose enough to fit over a human heel. R suggested I might convert the pattern to mittens. While it burns me to admit defeat on the socks, I am considering the option. For now (and until work calms down and I can loosen up) the whole project is in time-out.

I finished the first Everlasting Monkey sock and am motoring up the 2nd. Again, love the pattern, love the yarn. 

The Shipwreck shawl has maybe another row or two finished. I put the kibosh to the idea of changing beads. The cost is just way more than I'm willing to pay when I've already spent this much on beads. I'm coming to terms with spending time moving beads and making sure I move them a good long way each time so I can enjoy more knitting time in between.

Fylingdales even saw some daylight this week. Oh how I love cabling. I really need to get this sweater done so I can wear it.

Books...
I read Death on Demand, the first of that series from Carolyn Hart. Since I had read a later book in the series already, I could rule out at least two of the suspects right off the bat. And it wasn't terribly hard to figure out who the killer was. But it was an easy and enjoyable read.

I'm still reading Essence and Alchemy which is quite enjoyable. I'll never be a master perfumer, but it is wonderful to peek inside Aftel's mind.  Her passion for scent is obvious and infectious.

I did not enjoy The Soap Maker's Workshop. The book can't seem to decide if it's geared towards home or industrial soap making. It was written by a husband and wife team which may account for the two perspectives. I didn't feel I gained much from reading it and wouldn't recommend it if you are looking for a good soaping book. Pick up Everything Soapmaking if you want a good soap book.

And speaking of soap, I'd like to recommend some excellent You Tube channels by home soapmakers. I've purchased from some of these folks, others I've just ogled at. It is fascinating to see different methods of soaping and hear the soapers describe their soaps. These are some of my favorites in no particular order...
The Future Primitive (Tiggy)
Sugarbubbles Soap (Candy)
Beacon Creations
Wicked Scentuals
Snowblum (not a soaper but a reviewer)
Edens Secret

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Can you believe it's February already?!

Woosh...that's the last two months gone by. Things have been busy busy busy and I've not felt much like getting on the computer and putting down thoughts. I do have much to talk about, though, so here's a bit of what I've been up to.
 
The holidays were lovely, as always. Having both Christmas and New Years over weekends made for leisurely relaxing holidays.
I treated myself to the iPod I've been craving. I saved for a year and was able to get the 32 GB iPod Touch generation 4. I debated for the longest time if I wanted to spend the extra scratch for the 32 gb over the 8 and I am so glad I did. Not that I've come anywhere close to filling it...yet. But I am able to load up every single podcast I want to and the inevitable backlog of unlistened to episodes all fit nicely. I'm able to watch video podcasts on it so I'm able to stay more caught up with Round the Twist and the Knit Girllls.

I mainly wanted it for apps and I've not been disappointed. My favorite knitting app is Knit Counter. I use it for every knitting project that requires counting. I love that you can link counters. It makes it super easy to track pattern rows, increases/decrease, cable turns, etc.

Games are quite fun as well with my favorites being Zombie Farm and Angry Birds. I also adore being able to watch You Tube videos and surf the net. Not to forget the Kindle app. It is fantastic. I didn't think I'd like reading on the small screen, but the text is clear and very easy to read. Plus it syncs with my Kindle so I if I find I'm away from home and have a few minutes to read when I get back to my Kindle it will advance to the furthest page read. Pretty cool.
I can't remember where I was at with knitting the last time I posted. I recently finished the Bitterroot Shawl and it is gorgeous.
I need to get a better picture but I think you can see it pretty well here when it was blocking. I had a lot of beads left over. I don't think I missed any so maybe the packs of beads had more than I thought. The shawl was knit from Knit Picks Shadow in Cattail Heather with 6/0 Toho seed beads in Olivine.

I'm working on a pair of Monkey socks in Dream in Color Everlasting.
The color is a dark foresty green which I can't seem to capture. Everlasting is similar to Wollmeise's base. Not quite as cotton like. Extremely nice to work with. I highly recommend it if you can't get a hold or Wollmeise.

The Tardis socks are finally starting to resemble the Tardis.

These socks have been a bit of a challenge for me. Stranded colorwork is probably at the bottom of my list for knitting I enjoy. In socks its especially problematic because it has very little stretch. My first attempt at the sock wouldn't go over my heel. The socks are destined for someone with smaller feet than mine, but I didn't think it was worth the risk of them not fitting. So I ripped them out and started over with a larger needle and a concerted effort to keep the floats looser. The results are much better this time. I'm down to the solid portion of the sock which should fly by.

I'm still slogging along on the Shipwreck shawl. The beads are absolutely horrible. The 8/0 beads called for are far too small for the finger weight yarn. They are so difficult to move, my fingers ache every time I have to move beads, which is pretty much every time sit down to knit. So I'm lucky if I get a row done a week. I'm seriously contemplating ordering larger beads in the same colors. I've only done a few rows with the 6s and don't think the different size beads would be too noticeable when it's all said and done. I could save the 6s for a laceweight project.