Saturday, January 31, 2009

Marie? Is it she?

Sorry! It's not Marie Antoinette, but it IS a lady from Marie's era! For PINK SATURDAY this week I am showing off this china box that sits on my mom's dresser. She keeps safety pins, loose buttons and such in it. It has no markings to tell who or where it was made, and no one is sure of how old it is, but my mother and aunt both remember it being on my grandmother's dresser when they were children, so it's definitely pre-WWII.Here's an interestingly gross fact: The white makeup that Marie and others of her era used on their faces often contained quinine or lead in small quantities. Those that over-mixed or over-used their cosmetics sometimes died from their skin absorbing the poison. Now here's the gross part...Many people got deep pits on their skin from the lead and quinine, which they covered up with the false beauty spots that then became so popular! A fake mole was more attractive than a pit! Think about that the next time you consider putting on a beauty patch.
Go and enjoy the pink offerings from Beverly and the other Pink Saturday participants. I'm sure no one else will try to gross you out!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Sending the Love

I've done quite a lot of crafting since Christmas, and I got several things done for Valentine's Day. I already shared my LOVE garland, which I sent out for a swap, as well as the Puppy Love tags for the tag book swap.Today I have finished making Valentine cards that I will be sending out to friends and family..In keeping with my theme at Christmas, I didn't go buy anything new, I used what I already had, so some are not traditional Valentine colors.
I also used digital images of fintage cards.

I am happy with how they turned out, but some I think are better than others, of course.I made this one specifically for my aunt who is 85. It's difficult to see, but I put pink glitter dots on the ribbon of her bonnet.I've mentioned before that my dad is a train nut, so I was thrilled to find this vintage image to use on his card!For some reason, this one really appeals to me. I love the embossed green paper, and the background paper has a sheen and some little sparkles that pop out. Probably I love it because of the textures. I'm big on texture.
So that's my Finished For Friday offering this week! I wonder what everyone else at Lit & Laundry has finished. Let's go see!
Do you send Valentines? How do you decide who will receive one? Do you make your own?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oh, Donna!

Everyone knows that I am an avid reader and always have been. As a child I would get books for a nickel or dime from yard sales. Now of course they are all vintage, but since they were well-loved and read over and over, most of them aren't worth anything.For Vintage Thingies Thursday I have a Donna Parker book by Marcia Martin. It is The Mystery at Arawak, the sixth story from the seven book series. This particular book is from 1962.The binding of the spin is completely coming off, but I am afraid to fix it because of the whole value thing. But if it's falling apart it's not worth anything anyway, I guess! You can see from the title page that Linda Crichton owned the book before I did. I probably got it in the mid-70s.
I liked the Donna Parker stories because she was a regular girl. She's younger than Nancy Drew, so she has to go to school and doesn't drive. She has the 1950s nuclear family of 2 parents and Jimmy, her younger brother. Unlike Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden and Robin Kane, her family is not wealthy, nor do they have wealthy friends. Even though Donna was "regular" she got to do things I didn't, like go to a sleep away camp, or visit family across the country.That's where I lived vicariously through her.Check out this guy making the moves on Donna! Maybe I'll use the picture on a valentine!
Did you read any Donna Parker books, or any of the others I mentioned? Which were your favorites?
Now you can go check out all the vintage goodness that Colorado Lady and the other VTT participants are sharing this week. So far I've seen some great kitchen gadgets, adorable brown bears on drinking glasses, and fun decorations for Valentine's Day.
Don't forget my wristlet giveaway ends tomorrow, and the book giveaways end in 2 weeks.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New England Bloggers

I am very excited to announce a new feature on my blog: New England Bloggers! I got this idea from Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer, who hosts Georgia Friends.
There are no obligations or weekly activities. This is just a way to find potential blogging friends who are in our area of the country. I could have just done my own state, Massachusetts, but together the 6 of us are still smaller in size than most other states! I hope we'll have people join with all sorts of varied interests, music, books, finance, movies, saving money, raising children, gardening, crafting, antiqueing, photography, and it will all spin around the axis of our New England lives.
It's really very simple: Any blogger located in New England is welcome to grab the button and put it on your blog as well as pass it on to other blogging friends who are in one of the 6 NE states. Once you have placed the button on your sidebar, leave a comment on this post letting me know and I will add you to the list. The button needs to be directly linked to this post.


Breaking it down:
1) Copy the code above.
2) Create a button on your own sidebar, making sure it links to this specific post.
3) Leave me a comment or email that you have signed up, and in what state you are located.
4) Pass on the idea to bloggy friends who are also in New England.

  1. 3 Little Ones - Jackie in CT
  2. 10 Minutes Each Day in an Unreasonable Manner - Concrete Primrose in NH
  3. A Little Bit of Everything - ALBofE in MA
  4. Adventures in Yarn - Gracey in CT
  5. All Things Brooks - CBB in NH
  6. Always Home and Uncool - Always Home and Uncool in CT
  7. Amaranthian - Amanda in ME 
  8. An Inquiring Mind - C.C. in MA
  9. Any Given Moment - T.J. in VT
  10. Art from the Heart - Catherine in ME
  11. Artmusedogs - Carol in MA
  12. The Backyard Door - Donna in MA
  13. The Balance Beam - Charlene in NH and MA
  14. Basia-Spirit Space - Barbara in MA
  15. Been There, Read That - Kimberly in MA
  16. Behind My Red Door - Linda in MA
  17. Belle Maison - Rebecca in CT
  18. Bibliophile by the Sea - Diane in RI
  19. Blueberry Plains - Debbie in ME
  20. The Book Kitten - Kitten in CT
  21. Boston Bibliophile - Marie in MA
  22. Brattleboro Muse: Paintings on Silk - Linda in MA
  23. The Budge Bunch - Cheryl in CT
  24. Butternut Sage Designs - Donna in MA
  25. C and G Designs - Dawn in ME
  26. Cape Cod Drifter - TLC in MA
  27. Cape Cod Jewels and Things - Linda in MA
  28. Cape Cod Rambling Rose - CCRR in MA
  29. The Cape Cod Woman - Amy in MA
  30. Care's Online Book Club - bkclubcare in MA
  31. Carola Nativity Gallery - Carrie in MA
  32. The Castle Beckons - Kathy in MA
  33. CCBella - Jess
  34. The Chaos Chronicles - Lisa in MA
  35. Caryn Lynn Duncan: Art and the Creative Spirit - Caryn in NH
  36. Chaos Theory - Courtney in NH
  37. Chat with Kathleen - Kathleen in RI
  38. Child in Harmony - Marcia in MA
  39. coff-a-cup - April in ME
  40. Coffee Slut - in MA
  41. Collage Diva - Kathryn in NH
  42. Commuter Daddy - Sean in MA
  43. Confessions of a Serial Swooper - serialswooper in MA
  44. Cottage - Elyse in RI
  45. Crouching Mother, Hidden Toddler - Kelly in CT
  46. Crystal's Creations - Crystal in MA
  47. Deckside Thoughts - Cheryl
  48. Debbie Does Drivel - Debbie in ME
  49. Diet Coke-Fueled Life - Penny in CT
  50. Deborah Jean's Dandelion House - Deb in MA
  51. Dirt Makes Fat - Susan in MA
  52. Dividing My Time - Jennifer in MA and Moscow, Russia
  53. Dollz and Thingz - a painter in CT
  54. Donna Marie's Designs - Donna Marie in NH
  55. Endomental - Boliyou in RI
  56. Everyday Goddess - Elise in CT
  57. Fabric 'N Fiber Fanatic- Sara in NH
  58. Fair Winds - Daryl in ME
  59. Fanny, Manny and Co. - Lois in CT
  60. From Skirts to Skillets - Linzy in CT
  61. Frugal New England Kitchen - Cindi in CT
  62. Funny Accent - Ana in MA
  63. Geek + Nerd in NH
  64. Going Fresh - Nic in RI
  65. Grampy's World - Russ in CT
  66. The Gratitude Circle - Deanna in CT
  67. Great Finds and Giveaways - Cindy in CT
  68. Green Monkey Tales - Shannon in CT
  69. The Handmade and Natural Life - Amy in MA
  70. Hanging with Mrs. Cooper - Angela in MA
  71. Happenings on the Hill - Tammy in VT
  72. Happily Blended - Brandy in NH 
  73. Heidi Boyd - Heidi in ME
  74. The Helping Mommy - Stephanie
  75. Hers For the Reading - Andrea in MA
  76. Hip Chick's Home - Hip Chick in NH
  77. Holyoke Home - in MA
  78. House Peepers - Janet in MA
  79. A House with Two Cats - Cindy in MA
  80. I {heart}Rhody - Boliyou in RI 
  81. I Heart New England - Erin in NY
  82. How Does YOUR Garden Grow - Julie, WhataCard, and Lisa in MA
  83. In Our Grandmothers' Kitchens - Tinky in MA
  84. Inkmistress Studio - Christina in MA
  85. It's a Jungle Out There - Sandy in RI
  86. Jamqueen-Camerajunkie - Ann in CT
  87. JeepGirl17 - Hebba in MA
  88. Jus' Frugal Living - jusfrugal in MA
  89. Just a Flip Flop Mom - Flipflop Mom in NH
  90. Just Jingle - Jennifer in MA
  91. Just Scrappin' Happy - JSC in CT
  92. K's Card Creations - Kathryn in NH
  93. K is for Kindergarten - Lisa in MA
  94. Kate's Wish - Dee in MA 
  95. Kathleen Murphy Designs - Kathleen in MA
  96. Keepin' It In Perspective - Nicolasa from NH
  97. The Kelley Family - Pat and Liz in NH
  98. Kitties, Kitties, Kitties - KittiesX3 in MA
  99. Kristin's Four Kids - Kristin in ME
  100. Kylee's Journal - Kylee in CT
  101. Laugh Until You Cry - Beth in NH
  102. Letters and Lace - Lisa in ME
  103. The Life and Times of the Weltz Clan - Christa in MA
  104. Life with Flowers - Lisa in MA
  105. Linda Ruthie's Aprons - Linda Ruthie in MA
  106. Linens and Laurel - Nancy in VT
  107. A Little Bit of Everything - in MA
  108. A Little Blog About Nothing - Little Ms. Blogger in CT
  109. Living Life on HIS Terms - Stephanie in NH
  110. Living the Good Life on Not Enough Acres Farm - Valerie in ME
  111. Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much - Karla in NH
  112. Living the Local Life - Virginia in NH
  113. Local Food Rocks - The Natural Princess
  114. Loving Heart Mommy - Kristinia in RI
  115. Loving Mom 2 Boys - Liz in RI
  116. Mass Hole Mommy - Mass Hole Mommy in MA
  117. Meat on the Mirror Productions - MOTM in ME
  118. A Mile in Mom's Manolos - Andie in RI
  119. Mommy of 3, Giveaways Free - Angie in VT
  120. Mommy Madness - Liz in MA
  121. Mona Reva Smile - Mona Reva in MA
  122. Moomette's Magnificents - Cindi in CT
  123. Morning Pages, huh? Well sure, I'll try that. - Dorothy in VT
  124. Ms. Graysea - Marcia in MA 
  125. Musing Mainiac - Beth in ME
  126. Musings from the Big Pink - Homemaker Man in MA
  127. My Crazy Life with 4 Kids - Rebecca in MA
  128. My Home - Angel in MA
  129. My Life, My Interests: Photography - Betty in NH
  130. My Perfectly Imperfect Everyday Life - Jenny in ME
  131. New England Fine Living - Linda in MA
  132. New England Girl - MA
  133. New England Living - Alyson in CT
  134. New England Photos - Bill in MA
  135. New England Travels - Jacqueline in MA
  136. Nifer Musings - Jen in RI
  137. No More Mrs. Nice Guy - Alex in NH
  138. Oak Rise Cottage - Carrie in MA
  139. Once Upon a ... - Lyn in CT
  140. On Larch Lane - Mattenylou in MA
  141. Our House of Joyful Noise - The Richard Family in MA
  142. Out of My Head...Into Yours - Bev in NH
  143. The Pagan Sphinx - Pagan Sphinx in MA
  144. Pam's Perspective - Pam in RI
  145. Paper Funtastics - Sandra in NH
  146. Paperville - Lauri in CT
  147. PattiKen and the Muses - PattiKen in MA
  148. Peg's Play - Peggy in CT
  149. Penny's Art Room - Penny in ME
  150. Penny-Wise People - Colleen in NH
  151. Pessimistically Optimistic Meanderings - Wendy in CT
  152. Petite Michelle Louise - Michelle in MA
  153. Pieced Pastimes - Suzanne in NH
  154. Pink Porches - Lisa in ME
  155. The Quilter's Kitchen - Kate in MA
  156. Raise Your Hand If... - Carol in MA
  157. Raising Z and Lil' C - RaisingZ in NH
  158. Random Thoughts, with Occasional Song Bits Thrown In - Linda in ME
  159. Rantings of a Drama Queen's Mum - Kimberly in NH
  160. The Reading Journey - Jemima in NH
  161. Red Pine Mountain - Mountain Woman in VT
  162. Ren Michelle Photography - Renee in ME
  163. The rest of my life So far... - Mishi in MA
  164. Saving SAHM Sanity - Sassy in MA
  165. A Scrap Mom's Musings - Lori in ME
  166. A Scrappin' Nana - Pat in VT
  167. Scrappin' My Bliss - Kristen in MA
  168. Scraps by Own Home Dog - Diane in CT
  169. A Sea of Books - Gwendolyn in RI
  170. Semi-Hippy Single Mum - S-H SM in NH
  171. Serenity Scrappers - Kel in MA
  172. Seriously, No Seriously - Michelle
  173. Sevin Family - Katrina in NH
  174. Sevin Sweetness - Amanda in NH
  175. Shine the Devine: Creativity is a Spiritual Practice- Laura in NH
  176. Shoot Son. Dang Girl. - Alyssa in RI
  177. Shorely Chic - Liz in CT
  178. Sincerely Susie Homemaker - Susie in MA
  179. Solstice Home - Sue in MA
  180. Spawnocolypse - Deb in MA
  181. Spawnocolypse Reviews - Deb in MA
  182. Stampin' with Julie - Julie in ME
  183. Stamping Around - Julie in ME
  184. Staying Home - Tawna in NH
  185. Steele on Entertainment - Writergal in MA
  186. Stepping Thru Crazy - STC in VT
  187. Studio 890 - Shelly in NH
  188. Sue Bleiweiss - Sue in MA
  189. Surviving Boys - Julianna in MA
  190. Swanseesinger - Shawn in MA
  191. Taezo Woodworking Studio Aime - in CT
  192. Tales of the Toll House Cookie - Lee in MA
  193. talk, paper, scissors...stamp! - Jessica in NH
  194. Tea with Frodo - Irene in MA
  195. This Mama Loves Her Bargains - QueenB in CT
  196. This Vermont Life - Kelly in VT
  197. Thoughts from an Evil Overlord - Elizabeth in MA
  198. Tilden Talks - Tilden in MA
  199. Tina's Insane Life - Tina in CT
  200. The Tome Traveller's Weblog - Carey in NH
  201. Tragedy and Comedy in New England - Jacqueline in MA
  202. Tutu's Two Cents - Tina in ME
  203. Two Redheads and a Boy-Li - Annabelle in NH
  204. Vermont Architect - Bob in VT
  205. A Very Cherry World - Sue in MA
  206. Very Inky Fingers - Mary in CT
  207. Vodka Logic - in MA
  208. Wake Up and Smell the Coffee - Renee in ME 
  209. Welcome Sunshine Home - Alison and Jake in ME
  210. What a Card - WhataCard in MA
  211. Where Did the Time Go? - PTCakes in MA
  212. Will Work for Shoes - KK in CT
  213. A Work in Progress - Lizzie in MA
  214. Wrestling With Retirement - Eva in ME
  215. Writing Straight From the Heart - Susan in MA
  216. Yankee Romance Reviewers - Terry in MA
  217. Youngest of Three Sisters - Carole in MA
  218. Your Moment of Don - Don in MA

Finding My Thing

For the second installment of the Blog Improvement Project, Kim is encouraging us to find a brainstorming technique that works for us when we can't think of a topic on which to write. I have to say, I've never been stuck for a topic yet, but it will probably happen some day. She gave us some articles to get started.
24 Things to do When Stuck for a Topic to Blog About
Brainstorming Techniques for Bloggers
9 Steps to Better Blog Post Ideas
The things I already do to give myself topics are:
participate in memes such as
Blue Monday, Vintage Thingies Thursday, and Best Posts of the Week, as well as a few others that I do from time to time,
plan a posting schedule for the week,
keeping a journal/notebook with me to jot down topic ideas,
begin a post in draft whenever I have an idea,
write posts in advance in case my brain ever does dry up!

Don't let this happen to you!

The second part of the assignment was optional. Actually, the whole thing is optional, but since I don't really need to worry about finding topics, I turned my brain over to ruminating on Part Two: creating a new, regular feature that is unique to my own blog. There are so many great memes, tags, and awards out there, that I didn't want to duplicate or even modify something that already existed. I can write poetry or fiction, the way the fabulous Ma'dame French keeps us enthralled with the Desperate Housewives of Blogge'ville, but that would seem like a chore. I COULD do it, but I wouldn't want to, and one of the points of blogging for me is the entertainment value.

This past week I have visited over 200 blogs that were new to me through the One World, One Heart Giveaway. Besides entering tons of giveaways and getting great artistic/crafty inspiration, I was looking around for inspiration on my own original blog feature. At the Southern Daydreamer, I found my inspiration! Susan hosts a group called Georgia Friends. Now, for whatever reason, I get a big kick out of visiting blogs from my own neck of the woods. I even click on New England in my profile once in a while to find bloggers in my area. So I've decided to start the New England Bloggers. I did some research and could not find another group like this, except for one hosting commercial blogs. I am going to make mine as easy as Susan's.

This is not an award, it is a button showing that the blogger is based in one of the six New England states. Anyone from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut is welcome to join by posting the button on their blog and inviting blog friends to join.

Once a blogger has posted the button and linked to the special NE Bloggers page, they will leave a comment on that page so I can add them to the list. That's it! No other obligations! In the future I may think about having the group voluntarily participate in a carnival such as Show off your Hometown, or something, but right now it will just be compiling a list. I've already made my button, and I'm going to start off the group tomorrow.Other participants in the Blog Improvement Project are starting some great things that are open to anyone. Word games, book games, all sorts of things. Go check them out!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blue Giveaway!

It's BLUE MONDAY and it's also the start of 2 big events...the week of Bloggy Giveaways, and the beginning of Chinese New Year, traditionally a 2-week event.
Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice and falls between January 21 and February 19 on the Gregorian calendar. 2009 will be the Year of the Ox.
WOW! How to mark all of these things? With a BLUE, Chinese-inspired giveaway, of course! Please note that this giveaway is separate from my One World, One Heart Giveaway that ends February 11.
For your viewing pleasure is this beautiful wristlet with a bamboo ring. The gorgeous Chinese silk is embroidered with many different flowers in greens, golds, and pinks. Inside it is big enough to hold all of your basics: cell phone, money, identification, keys, tissues, Chapstick! To enhance the look on your other wrist is this set of 3 enameled cloisonne bangle bracelets. They are decorated with flowers and are cream, dark blue, and green.
To be entered into the giveaway drawing, just leave a comment on THIS POST ONLY. Be sure there is a way for me to contact you, either through your blog or by leaving your email. This raffle is only open to blog owners, but from anywhere in the world. It closes Friday, January 30 at midnight Eastern U.S. time, and I will announce the winner that weekend. If the winner does not contact me within seven days I will re-do the drawing.
Now, a lot of people are always looking for ways to get their name in the hat more than once. So for the first time I am offering a way you can do just that. There are many options.
  • Add the Evil Overlord to your Blogroll, or become a Follower. This is 1 extra entry EACH. If you are already a Follower, or I'm on your BR, just remind me in your comment.
  • For 2 extra entries EACH, you can rate this blog on Blogged, Blog Catalog, and Blogarama. The buttons to all of these places are on the left sidebar. You don't have to leave a comment about this, I can just check.
  • For 2 extra entries EACH, you can Stumble! this post and add the Evil Overlord to your Technorati favs. You don't have to leave a comment about this, I can just check.

So, that's a possibility of 12 extra entries on top of the easy "leave a comment." And 13 is my lucky number!

I hope you enjoyed my pretty blue prizes and will continue on to stroll through other BLUE MONDAY posts. Be sure to visit all of the BLUE MONDAY participants listed at Smiling Sally, they have some really neat things to show off!

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beat the Reaper

I just raced through reading the darkly comic Beat the Reaper from first time author Josh Bazell. From the book jacket and reviews, I thought I would enjoy this crime adventure story, and its intensity had me finishing it in two days.
From the publisher:
Meet Peter Brown, a young Manhattan emergency room doctor with an unusual past that is just about to catch up with him. His morning begins with the quick disarming of a would-be mugger, followed by a steamy elevator encounter with a sexy young pharmaceutical rep, topped off by a visit with a new patient--and from there Peter's day is going to get a whole lot worse and a whole lot weirder. Because that patient knows Peter from his other life, when he had a different name and a very different job. The only reason he's a doctor now is thanks to the Witness Protection Program--and even they can't protect him from the long reach of the New Jersey mob. Now he's got to do whatever it takes to keep his patient alive so he can buy some time...and beat the reaper.
While doing his best to keep his new patient/former work colleague alive "or else," Dr. Peter Brown reflects on his past life as Pietro "Bearclaw" Brnwa, mob hit man. This story moves quickly from medical procedural to wild adventure and back, with Peter using knowledge from his past life to help him on this, one of the most dangerous days of his life. Outrageously exciting, Peter lets us into his past life, moving rapidly from teenage friend of a mob lawyer's son, to a contract killer. Peter is well-rounded, allowing readers to hate the violence of Pietro's actions, but sympathize with how he becomes entangled. Chapters alternate between past and present, and are broken down into short scenes, making this a very rapid read. Many characters are wacky, and to me most are one-sided: crazy, deceptive, short-fused, stupid, angelic. When a different side of the character is shown, he then completely becomes that new personality or stereotype.
I found the use of the "f-bomb" to be excessive throughout the book. Obviously I expect it in dialogue from most of the characters, but it really wasn't needed in the narrative. The sexual situations seemed to be thrown in just to have them, as they were unnecessary to this plot-driven novel.
Something that makes reading Beat the Reaper different from most novels is the use of footnotes, written in Peter's sharply sarcastic voice. I often found myself laughing or going back to re-read lines, making sure I understood the intended meaning. I found the use of the section divider, a silhouette of the grim reaper, to be a nice detail, especially when it changed to the silhouette of a farmer on a tractor, Peter stating that a farmer would be the modern day man with a scythe!
Overall I enjoyed Beat the Reaper and could envision everything as it was described, sneaking into houses, a grossly tumorous knee, shoot-outs, an under-funded city hospital, the long dark walk to the shark tank. . .
Beat the Reaper Official Website - book excerpt, audio, video, and even a game!
An interview with Josh Bazell

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tagging Along

I went with something a little different for this week's PINK SATURDAY, but there's a lot of pinkness involved, so I think y'all will like it. Beverly and the over 100 participants are all showing some great pinkies today, too!
I am very excited to be participating in my first craft swap through a blog! Karla's Cottage is hosting the Puppy Love Tag Swap in honor of Valentine's Day and the birth of her grand-dogs. They are just adorable, you need to go check them out!
The directions were very simple: make 6 tags with the theme of puppy love, and don't decorate the top of the tag near the hole because Karla will be adding a gorgeous cover she is making for everyone. Follow the size requirements, and decorate the back of the tag if you like, but it is not necessary. We will all get back a tag book with 6 different tags and the beautiful cover. Since this is not a secret swap or anything, I am going to show y'all what I made. Remember, I am not in any way a professional paper crafting artist. I just like to play around, so be kind!

The fronts of all my tags have a vintage image with the puppy love theme, either with dogs in the picture, or showing young people puppy love. Some are sweet and some are funny.I made this fringe by cutting a thin piece of rick-rack into little strips and glueing it under the vintage image, then sticking the whole thing down. I also wanted each tag to have some texture, so I layered different types of paper and materials. I didn't worry about puppy love when I was doing the backs. I used them to try out a few different techniques that I was going to use on the Valentine cards I am sending out this year.
I like the amour tag where I layered stickers and then outlined them with the gel pen. I recently found an enormous bag of fabric paints that I didn't know I had, most of which had never been opened. I used some of those to add dimension to the cards with puffy dots, or by painting over small images.
Have fun checking out all the other great PINKS at How Sweet the Sound!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Book's Influences

Two weeks ago I reviewed Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling, the day after that my local paper, The Boston Globe, gave it a very positive review, last weekend I saw that he was a featured blogher advertising post, and then Tuesday I announced that I was giving away the book as part of the One World One Heart event. This guy's everywhere, and now he's here with the Evil Overlord for my first ever guest post. I am very excited to have a truly interesting and literary person share his writing influences with you!
I'm so happy to guest blog for the Evil Overlord, because it is such a pleasure to speak directly to readers, especially those who are not part of, if you'll forgive the marketing term, my book's target audience. In Elizabeth's post on my novel, Rock Bottom, she mentions that she didn't think the book would be her cup of tea, but that it surprisingly was, so I got in touch to see if I could introduce myself to her readers and talk a bit about the books that influenced the creation of
Rock Bottom.
First and foremost on the influence list is William Faulkner's
As I Lay Dying. Now what, you might ask, does a Gothic story of the 1930s deep south have to do with a bunch of LA rock musicians from the present day? In a word, family. In the case of As I Lay Dying, the Bundren family involves themselves in a bizarre quest to bring their ailing mother, Addie Bundren, to her final resting place, physically moving her across the county as she, you guessed it, lays dying. The setup is surreal, but Faulkner uses that surreality to delve into each family member's sense of the role they have played in their family dynamic, the weight they literally carry on their backs and figuratively carry in their hearts. This process of reckoning - moving, strange, and unforgettable - inspired me to not hold back when plumbing the complications of the family that is a rock band. Instead of carting a dead body through the rural southern heat, Blood Orphans are carting a dead dream across snowy Amsterdam.
Another book that shaped the writing of
Rock Bottom was The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen's novel from 2001, which managed to win the National Book Award yet become more known for the infamy/arrogance/flat-out stupidity of the author, when he said "Thanks but no thanks," to Oprah. The Corrections is a book people love to hate, but I kind of hate to love it. The people in the book are so unpleasant, so regrettable, so . . . foul, but Franzen's brilliance is such that he is able to make these people three-dimensional and utterly deserving of our sympathy, while also being extremely funny. I dislike it when authors seem to hate their characters, and have created them just top be mean to them (paging Chuck Pahluniak). Franzen does quite the opposite, taking some of the most limited Homo Sapiens on the planet and imbuing them with a fullness of complexity. Reading The Corrections helped me see how to take the less-than-likable - which everyone in Rock Bottom could be described as - and honor their suffering on the page to provide them with some kind of warped dignity.
Bruce Wagner's
Force Majeure also informed Rock Bottom's creation. This 1991 novel is a satire that concerns a Hollywood screenwriter named Bud Wiggins, on a long and fruitless quest to sell his screenplay. The book is a take on Cervantes Don Quixote, in which our hero stumbles through a series of delusions (or are they?) both heroic and tragic, while others prosper around him. It's a brilliant book about the LA dream machine; much of the back-story in Rock Bottom concerns the band's place in that machine, in all it's sorrow, pity, and heroic loss. I am fascinated by the Hollywood mirage, and Force Majeure was useful in helping me see how to effectively portray those so starved to see their name in lights that their spirits go horribly astray.
I hope you all enjoyed reading about the books that influenced Michael Shilling in his creation of Rock Bottom. I had never heard of these second two, so I'm going to get them from my library. That'll be 2 books to add to each of my reading challenges!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prairie Schooner

Thursdays are full of vintage goodness at Colorado Lady. Click on over to see who is participating in Vintage Thingies Thursday this week! I peeked in and already saw some great buttons, aprons, and Pyrex!My dad made this toy Conestoga wagon in 1947. Here is the signature of the fifteen year old wood shop student himself! If you enlarge the photo below you can see how the wheel spokes are all carved and chiseled out. I remember the wagon just sitting on his workbench in the infamous basement my entire childhood, until he gave it to me a few years ago. One of the wheels had come off, and the bonnet was wearing thin around the wire holding it up. He was always going to fix it, but never did. I just glued the wheel back on and it looks great, although it doesn't turn, which it is supposed to d. The bonnet is made of flour sack material and is starting to decay, but I'd rather it look strangely dilapidated with the original covering than get a new one. I rotate it with other items like my spools as something I display on my entry table.
Enjoy visiting the other VTT gals and seeing their nifty items, too!

Little Giant of Aberdeen County

Back before Christmas, Smiling Sally reviewed The Little Giant of Aberdeen Countyby first time author Tiffany Baker. I commented how the book sounded like something I would enjoy and Sally, being the generous girl that she is, sent it to me. I was right on the money; I loved it, even reading during the daytime, which is something I never do because reading often puts me to sleep.
Truly Plaice is born with a syndrome called acromegaly, in which the pituitary gland produces excess growth hormone. Truly does not discover this until she is an adult, because her widowed father, devastated by his wife's death in childbirth and blaming the doctor, never takes his daughter for medical attention. By the age of 1 1/2 Truly is too large to fit into her 4 year old sister's clothes and is given boys' overalls, work shirts and boots to wear. Gloriously contrasting with Truly is her sister Serena Jane is slim and petite, blond-haired and blue-eyed. She is the beauty of small-town Aberdeen, pet of the reverend's wife, and it is a given that she will be May Queen one day.
Truly knows she is different than Serena Jane and others, but it isn't until she starts school and schoolteacher Priscilla Sparrow refers to her as a "little giant" that she knows just how different. In a small town being different is usually not a good thing, and Truly's inability to conform in other ways does not help. She is neither a good student, an athlete, or a witty conversationalist. Upon the death of their father, the chasm between the sisters becomes larger as their lives are set on different paths, Serena Jane one of privilege and adoration, and Truly the degradation of becoming a local outcast It is not until she is an adult and discovers one of Aberdeen's legendary secrets that Truly finds her calling and acceptance, becoming an herbalist, which allows her to gain control over her own life.
Dreams, fear, love, revenge, admiration, hatred, friendship, family, these are all themes in The Little Giant of Aberdeen County. Almost Gothic, with a villain, unrequited love and family secrets this story is fresh and interesting and the four main characters of Truly, her friends Amelia and Marcus, and their nemesis Robert (Bob Bob) Morgan are well-constructed, whole people with imperfections, strengths, and at one time or another, are sympathetic for the reader. While one might expect the book to make readers feel forlorn, I mostly felt hope and often I laughed while reading. We all know that beauty is only skin deep, and this magical story just brings the message home again.

Full Description from the Publisher