Month: December 2012

Sunday Salon

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a lovely holiday season.

I didn’t post last week because I really didn’t have anything to write about as I spent most of those last two weeks recovering from my sinusitis. But guess what? I got the flu!

The worse of it is over as the fever broke late Friday. I have been very lucky to not have contracted the flu since I was a toddler. I suspected it was the flu because I don’t remember having a fever that intense. There has been a big flu outbreak in my city, and since my immune system had already been recently compromised (welcome new virus!), I was susceptible. It is disappointing because I wanted to go out more this week. Also, for once, I had plans for New Year’s Eve (rare for me) which I had to cancel. Just my lucky to have a whole of 2012 relatively low on illnesses and all shoved into December.

In other news, I read some Bel-Ami on Christmas and will try to read some today when I am more alert. I really want to finish it before the New Year, but I am not sure I will given how slow I read in French.

I also cleaned up an old TV caddy which had VHS tapes (remember those?) so I could shove some of my less read books up there such as my Harry Potter series. My books are breeding at a fast rate. I ordered 4 new cookbooks and 1 knitting book on Boxing Day. This does not include the 2 actual cookbooks I intended to get myself for Christmas. After that, I will stop until next the holidays at least.

I also went Boxing Day shopping at Michaels. This is my third year in a row shopping there. I don’t really like shopping with big crowds, but a big box craft store isn’t as busy as a mall. Not only is the yarn on sale on this day, there is an additional 25% the whole sale including sale items. I stocked up on some Patons Classic Wool.

I also bought an OttLite Craft Lamp which appears to be a recently discontinued model:


I’ve read about these lamps on Ravelry, and been doing some research on them. I have a big desk so I actually have two lamps: one regular fluorescent and one halogen. To save energy, I almost never use overhead/ceiling lights. I wanted to replace the fluorescent lamp because it is rather dim and yellow. Lately, I’ve found it tiring to read long periods under fluorescent light at night. The OttLite comes with good reviews: both for knitting and reading. They are also suppose to be very energy efficient.

So far, it’s been working well. I emailed OttLite with a question and they were prompt in replying even for the holidays. While I am not crazy about choosing a white lamp, I like that mine folds in itself so it looks less cluttered when not in use.

The Michaels I went too didn’t have a big selection. The item was on for 50% off that week though. It was between this craft lamp, a very heavy black table lamp, the Tulip (which obviously had been opened and/or returned), floor lamps, and a travel pink light. I think if I like the OttLite enough, I’ll wait until another sale to get a travel version as I can see it great for travel.

Do you have an OttLite or a specific reading/crafting light? Do you like it and which brand and model do you have?

Flickr Slide show (does not include all projects done in 2012).

A year end review of the items I made in 2012. This was my sixth year of knitting. I completed 10 projects (worked on 13). Compare that to the 33 I completed in 2011, the 2012 number is very low.

I do still love to knit, but this year, I’ve taken on more hobbies. I’ve gone back to blogging, reading more, played badminton for a bit, tried to spin for a bit too, play the violin again, socialise and much more. All of this means I am spread more thinly in my leisure time, and honestly, that’s alright. I think I knit so much the last couple of years 2010 and 2011 – especially, the big three S’s: sweaters, scarves/shawls, and socks – that I will have enough handknits to last me awhile. I just am more careful about the projects I start, and I don’t feel the need to start projects as quickly after completing them.

The problem is that I still continue to accumulate a lot of yarn. Not as much as when I knit more before, but still a good amount. This year had me joining the Hazel Knits sock club for a couple of months and the occasional yarn purchase. I also took up spinning briefly which means I now have a small spinning stash of fleece and roving.

Here’s a summary and notes of the projects of this year.

Continue reading →

A deceptively easy question for this week (easy to ask but possibly hard to answer): What are/were your favorite book(s) of the year? (Bonus points if you know how many books you read.) – BTT

As of today, I’ve read 64 books this year. I am in the process of finishing one more. I am going to do a much longer post about the favourites of 2012, but as follows are a couple of highlights from the year: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. There are more, but I’ll make a proper post next week or so about it.

What were your reading favourites of 2012?

Tiny Shoes

This was a complete and utter stashbuster. I really don’t know of any girl babies, and I just made this since I had the pattern book and the yarn. It turned out a bit meh to be honest even for a knit that took only a couple of hours at most. They are tad big at the ankle. I made a size small, but because of the sport weight yarn, they are actually the large size from the pattern.

Tiny Shoes, started December 4th 2012, finished December 8th 2012. Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Tiny Shoes by Ysolda Teague from Whimsical Little Knits Ravelry Pattern Page
Size: 4″/10cm at the sole
Yarn: Leftover Louet Gem Sports Weight in Linen Grey – Love this yarn! It is soft and has a lovely twist.
Needles: 3.0mm/US#2.5 100cm bamboob circulars
Modifications & Notes: Cable Cast on for new stitches. Garter Stitch Kitchener. Made size S, but I had sport yarn. Blocked by washing it, rolling it up, and then stuffing it with plastic wrappers. Storing it stuffed with tissue paper.
Tools/Notions: Two shell buttons.
Cost of Project: Can’t really calculate since I used all leftovers. Maybe the buttons are like 40p each based on the set I got them.
Would I knit it again? No. I’m not sure what it is, but these aren’t that good of booties.
Helpful Links: Garter Stitch Kitchener

Have a good weekend! For more FOs, go to Tami’s Amis.

Any books you’re particularly hoping to be gifted this year? Any that you’re giving as presents this holiday season? – BTT

Since Christmas isn’t really celebrated by my family, it’s low on gifts. I do like the holiday season. I am getting myself a couple of cookbooks. This seems to be a tradition as I got myself three cookbooks last year. I really should stop as I now have a wee too many cookbooks. As for other books, I have enough unread ones to last for awhile. I like the cookbooks since they are festive in themselves a lot of the time and they celebrate my love of food and glossy books.

What books are in your life this holiday season?

Bookmark To Blog

In any attempt to read more nonfiction, I have joined Bookmark to Blog’s 2013 Nerdy Non-Fiction Challenge.

I am always trying to read more nonfiction so this challenge should help with that. All my nonfiction book posts are in my nonfiction tag.

Here are the levels:

Geek: 4-6 books in at least 2-3 different categories
Dork: 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories
Dweeb: 11- 14 books in at least 6-7 different categories
Nerd: 15+ books in at least 8+ different categories

I really doubt I could be a Nerd or even a Dweeb. I think I manage dork levels every year wherein approximately 10-20% of all the books I read in a year are nonfiction.

Some of my favourite or often read categories: Travel, Food, Crafting, History, Memoirs/Biographies.

Nonfiction Books 2013:

  1. The Beauty of Color by Iman (Health, Beauty)
  2. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (Literature)
  3. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson (Autobiography/Memoirs, Food)
  4. The Best American Travel Writing 2012 (Travel)
  5. Paris in Love by Eloisa James (Memoirs, Travel)
  6. Here’s looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos (Math)
  7. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman (Parenting / Culture)
  8. Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste by Carl Wilson (Music / Cultural Studies)
  9. America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert (Humor)
  10. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (Memoirs)
  11. The Best American Travel Writing 2008 edited by Anthony Bourdain (Travel)
  12. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris (Humor)
  13. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris (Humor)
  14. Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell (Books, Humor)
  15. Cooked by Michael Pollan (Cooking)
  16. The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux (Travel)
  17. Through the Children’s Gate by Adam Gopnik (Memoirs)
  18. Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin (Memoir, Self-Help, Psychology)
  19. Naked by David Sedaris(Memoir, Humour)
  20. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher (Psychology, Anthropology)

Number of Books:
Number of Categories:


More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby

The full title of this anthology of personal essays is: More Baths Less Talking: Notes from the Reading Life of a Celebrated Author Locked in Battle with Football, Family, and Time Itself. I previously loved the first two installments, but for some reason, my library does have the third: Shakespeare wrote for Money. In any case, I love this series and wish I could a subscription to The Believer magazine just to read Hornby muse about reading every month.

Hornby is the kind of author you’d like to go to the pub with, but instead of just talking about football, you also talk about novels and interesting works of deeply researched non fiction. Hornby and I seem to share a love of not only literature, but also appreciation for non-fiction works focusing on social history and society. I find he writes quite eloquently about books, but not in a pompous way or in the conventional book critic way. He usually has a good thing to say about any book and we’re the same kind of reviewer. No matter how bad a book is, I try my best to find some silver lining in it and the time I spent with it.

I think Hornby’s series is great for all of us who enjoy reading and want to incorporate it in our lives. He offers experiences that many readers can relate to such as:

“Surely we all occasionally buy books because of a daydream we’re having–a little fantasy abut the people we might turn into one day, when our lives are different quieter, more introspective, and when all the urgent reading, whatever that might be, has been done.” (p 27)

That just explained my whole collection of cookbooks. Not to mention all those Pulitzer/Bookers I buy from book fairs.

I also really like personal essays too so I will keep reading these books as long as Hornby keeps producing the column for the Believer magazine. Recommended if you like reading about reading.

I must note that I was sleep deprived and ill when I read this book so I didn’t have the most concentration, but it was surprisingly light reading even when some of the books he read were not.

Read December 10-11, 2012.

2013 Book to Movies Challenge

I am going to participating in the 2013 Book to Movie Challenge hosted by Doing Dewey.

Yes, another 2013 Challenge. I think I’ll take on one more and I’ll be done for the yearly challenges. I think three 2013 challenges will be enough alongside my other ongoing challenges such as Classics Club, Pulitzer, Bookers, etc.

This challenge is a breeze because I already do this naturally! I’m big on adaptations. Also, I’m a bit behind on the movies portion (still need to watch Little Women) and this will prompt me to watch movies and tv mini series much faster after I read the books

For the sake of this challenge, I am counting TV mini-series as movies as well. Often times, I find they are the best forms of adaptations and even longer so even more of a challenge and fun for me to review

The levels of this challenge as follows:

Movie Fan – read 3 books and watch their movies
Movie Devotee – read 6 books and watch their movies
Movie Lover – read 9 books and watch their movies
Movie Aficionado – read 12 books and watch their movies

I am going to aim for Movie Fan or Movie Devotee. I think the latter is more yearly average now.

I will put here the list of all the books to movie challenge entries:

  1. Cloud Atlas – Book and Movie review
  2. Game of Thrones – Book and Season 1 Review
  3. Brief Encounter
  4. War Horse – Book and Movie Review
  5. Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin and Season Two
  6. On the Road by Jack Kerouac and movie review
  7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte and tv mini series review

If you’re so inclined, join me in this challenge!

Sunday Salon

Hello everyone! Happy Sunday! How is everyone’s holiday season going?

Last week, I mentioned I was a bit sick and I actually got worse so I’ve been doing nothing this whole week. Or more than my usual amount of nothing. I am finally on the mend now.

I managed to read a book this week: More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby. I haven’t finished the review though. I was sick when I read it. I was a bit tired and didn’t have the best concentration. It was still good to read though and a good distraction from my congestion. After the book, even though I wanted to read more, I gave up and ended up watching movies and TV in the end. I watched Labyrinth for the first time and loved it.

I will read a bit of today and try to be a bit more productive again. Need to play some fiddle, meditate and get back to the job applications.

What is everyone doing this week?

So … you’ve just finished reading a book. For the sake of the discussion, we’ll say it was everything a book should be—engaging, entertaining, interesting, thought-provoking. The kind you want to gush over. The question is—do you immediately move on to your next book? Or do you take time to contemplate this writerly masterpiece and all its associated thoughts/emotions/ideas for a while first? – BTT

Usually, I’ll write up my thoughts on the book for review. It really depends on my schedule. There aren’t a lot of times where I finish a book and just go straight to the next one, I move onto another activity. But this year, I did read an amazing book and often times, I feel inspired to read more because of it. So I would say I do a bit of both.

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

I read one book last Sunday and it was Habibi by Craig Thompson. I will read a bit today, but I haven’t decided on what to read.

It’s been a social week, but again, not a super productive one. I’ve been fighting getting sick for over a week so now I have a full on cold. Not good since I have a busy Monday to prepare for. Blah. It’s ok because I’ve had a good year. This is only the second time I’ve been really sick all year which is average for an adult so my health is good.

Part of the reason I’ve been fighting illness is the changing December weather. It has been a wet December. I’ve had to wear my wellies twice. Some days, it’s very mild and other days, it’s very windy and cold. It’s not that festive, but it’ll be fine by Christmas.

How is everyone’s December is going?

Habibi by Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson is probably one of my favourite graphic novelists. I enjoyed both Blankets and Carnet de Voyage, both of which were more memoirs of his life in graphic novel form.

Habibi is more dark and violent than his other works, but it was still full of hope, love, sly humor, and the simpe art work that I found addicting to read. As intense as it got, I couldn’t look away. I find Thompson’s characters real and honest.

The story seems to take place in multiple time settings or in a different universe, but there is a timelessness to it. It’s almost a cautionary tale about how greed and lust can take over humanity. It also tackles the role of religion in that darkness. The work is not preachy about faith, but it makes me even more fascinated with Islam and Arabic as Thompson seems to be.

The novel reminds me a bit of Alan Moore and I can see how fans of his work would enjoy Thompson’s take on old stories as well. This not light reading though, but if you like philosophical and thought provoking graphic novels, I’d recommend this.

Read December 2, 2012.