Monthly Archives: June 2015

WIP Wednesday – Lots of progress this week :)

bath poufThis week was very productive knit and crochet wise. I finished one bath pouf and am almost done with a second one. I am tired of those mesh ones from the store unraveling into a useless wad of nothing.  I used a pattern I found here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/puffy-bath-pouf  Check out  The Stitching Mommy’s website. She posts all kinds of nifty patterns, hints and tips.

The purple one is made out of Ripples – a yarn by Willow (which is really Herrschner’s)  and I am not really that pleased with the yarn . It seems to be too stretchy for this project. There were also 2 separate joins in one of the balls of yarn. This is a pet peeve of mine. If I pay for a new skein or ball of yarn, I don’t want to find knots in the middle of a project. But that is just me.

Since I love this pattern so much, and it works up wonderfully, I am making another one out of the suggested yarn (what a concept LOL) Lily Sugar ,n Cream. I’ll report back after  finish it and use a few times. As a rule, I love this yarn, so I am hoping for good things.

6.23.15 bath pouf

AND I finished and blocked the Possum Yarn Shawl. I love it. SO I’ve included tons of pictures. It isn’t nearly as intricate or fancy as the one Leslie is making for me out of the mink yarn – but I like this plan Jane shawl too.

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Last but not least, I started crocheting a cardigan for myself. It is the Cap Sleeve Open Cardigan by yarnspirations.com. I got the pattern from allfreecrochet.com. The only problem with the pattern is the is no yardage for any size except XS/S. Honestly, I love the pattern and hope that I have enough of the Serendipity Tweed I found in my stash to use. Oh yeah – shopping from my stash now that the closet is clean. Here is my progress – the bodice and sleeves are all worked in one piece. I have 2 rows left before starting the shaping for the sleeves so I am rolling right along.

Cap Sleeve Open Cardigan 6.24.15

No WIP next week – I’m off on an adventure. Keep your fingers crossed that the dogs will behave for my sons. 🙂

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Filed under Crafts, Crocheting, Knitting, New Zealand, possum yarn, Ravelry, stash, WIP Wednesday, yarn

Book Review Anatomy of a Kidnapping: A Doctor’s Story – A Gripping True Crime Book

Anatomy of a Kidnapping,  Anatomy of a KidnappingA Doctor’s Story

By Steven L. Berk M.D.

248 pages

Berk begins the fascinating account of his own kidnapping with the theory of why the agitated gun toting kidnapper did not kill him. He feels his medical history and time he spent with patients and in hospitals may have given him some tools to fall back on when he faced death at the hands of an unstable, drug addicted man. He mentions this in an almost casual way, not in arrogance, but more puzzlement. He is thankful for living through his ordeal, but doesn’t have any doubts that it could have gone bad in an instant.

The story is told in four intertwined parts. Berg gives the reader an insight to a young doctor’s life by sharing true events and encounters he had with great patients and odd patients. He doesn’t pull any punches or expound as to his greatness. He is frank and honest when telling of mistakes he made when treating some of the cases throughout his career. Everyone makes mistakes, but when doctors do, it can mean someone dies.

We follow his life through the hospitals he’s worked in up to his current assignment in Texas. From Arizona to Boston then to Amarillo, TX Berk keeps learning and growing as a doctor. He always wanted to become a missionary doctor, but during his residency at Boston City Hospital he began to realize he really wanted to focus on academic medicine. He also became interested in infectious disease and clinical research.

When a  medical school classmate asked him to serve as the chairman of the advisory board of an Amarillo medical school, Berk agreed. He loved the challenge and the goals of Texas Tech, and felt the he could help. With his leadership, the campus grew and improved. Berk did the same. He moved his family to Amarillo and settled in to a rewarding career.

The fateful morning in March 2005 was like any other. Like any other incident of this magnitude, he could look back and say he should have done something differently and it never would have happened. Life is like that, one little pebble can begin a landslide. Seeing it from the doctor’s perspective is haunting, knowing his fear for his family and his life on that Sunday morning puts the reader in the passenger seat of the car with him.

he third part of the story we hear along the way is that of the kidnapper. Jack Lindsey Jordan was born to a wealthy TX family, but had a frightful temper as he grew older. He had spent 10 years in prison on a felony charge just before the kidnapping. We see the series of events that led up to kidnapping unfold as the book progresses.

The last part to weave throughout the chapters is the actual court proceedings as documented from the trial. So you know in the beginning that Berk has been kidnapped, Jordan is caught and goes to trial. It is fascinating to read the account from the victim’s perspective.

Berk acknowledges that in the end, life is just not fair sometimes. He questions why he was not harmed during his ordeal and other people are shot. There are no answers, only speculations and luck.

This memoir reads like a fast paced fiction novel by a New York Times best-selling author. Berk’s ability to bring all four parts of this story – his history, the kidnapping, the kidnapper’s history as well as the court documents together in a page-turning novel makes this book a must-read.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, books, family, memoir, True Crime

WIP Wednesday – Family Always Trumps WIP

This week I made a small bit of progress on my shawl. I only have 10 rows to go then it will be ready to block. I honestly could have used it at the movies last Saturday, it was freezing in there!

Instead of knitting this week in the evenings, I spent lots of time with family and friends. One of my cousins flew in to Illinois from Arizona to visit for a week. It has been so many years since I last saw her I can’t quite remember when it was. I believe it had to be sometime in the late 60’s or early 70’s. She is about 15 years older than me, so I remember much more about her younger brother because we were the same age. Her mom and my grandma were sisters.

Anyway, after losing touch over the years, my aunt (another one of Gram’s sisters) found her again. The internet is a beautiful thing 🙂

So we enjoyed several dinners with my family whom I love to bits. Good food and good times.

Donna visit 6.14.15

As you can see, we were digging deep into a box of pictures that used to be my Gram’s. Thanks to modern technology, my cousin was able to scan and email copies of whichever ones she wanted to her email.

Last week I knit memories with laughter and love with my family. This week I’ll go back to yarn. 🙂

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Filed under Family fun, Knitting, memories, WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday – Time to Tidy Up

This week I finished the yellow and blue blanket, and tucked it into a Ziploc bag to keep it clean and dog hairless until someone needs a blanket for a baby boy. blue and yellow blanket completed 6.7.15

My possum shawl is coming along. Starting last week I went on summer hours at work, so instead of an hour for lunch, I only have a 1/2 hour. That is fine with me because I get off earlier. But that cuts my work knitting time in 1/2, so I’ve been doing 2 rows a day. It will be done soon, but probably not this week. No pics, it really hasn’t changed much since last week.

Now on to the big project related to yarn this week. I clean out my ridiculously messy yarn/sewing closet. For the last six months, instead of putting the yarn away that I’ve ordered, I have just been chucking the boxes in the closet. It was making me crazy, but apparently not crazy enough to tidy up.

sewing room 2 before sewing room 1 before

You can see it was out of control. I fully expected to open the door one day and have a yarn monster attack me with a shiny set of addi turbos. Since it was a rainy weekend, I decided it was time to find the floor in there again. I pulled everything out of it except the file cabinets and went to work. The cabinets have sewing and knitting patterns in them as well as my knitting magazines. Mea hung around until I loaded up the bed the rest of the way with bins of yarn.

sewing room 1 Mea

After emptying all of the yarn bins, I organized them by fiber or type such as baby yarn and cotton. The special yarns I’ve ordered I keep in Ziploc bags hung by pants hangers, sometimes with the project pattern with it as well. That way they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

sewing room 2 after sewing room 1 after sewing room 3 after

Now  I can see what I have and there is room for both dogs to follow me in to look for yarn for my next project. They think they should go wherever I go, so both were exceedingly happy that the floor was no longer cluttered with yarn. I am banning myself from yarn shops unless there is a specific color or type of yarn that I absolutely have to get that isn’t available in my stash.

The only job I have left is organizing the separate patterns I have downloaded or pulled from magazines. I purchased some plastic expandable folders and am sorting them by type. As soon as I am finished they will go into the files with the magazines. I also want to add all of my books and magazines to Ravelry, but that is a job that might not be done until fall.

As for this week’s projects, I am going to work in my shawl and maybe even finish it 🙂 and make a “no-sew” tutu for my cousin’s little girl.

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Filed under baby blanket, Crafts, Crocheting, Knitting, possum yarn, Ravelry, shawl, stash, WIP Wednesday, yarn

Book Review: The Charlemagne Connection by RM Carmel: Savor Like a Fine Wine

The Charlemagne Connection

By R.M. Cartmel

263 pagesThe Charlemagne Connection

Commander Charlemagne Truchaud is back. After the Paris police detective deftly defused the killer in Cartmel’s debut novel, The Richebourg Affair, he assumed his life would more or less return to normal. He returned to his home in Paris, but soon learned that his father’s Alzheimer’s disease was quickly progressing so he must return to his family home in Nuits-Saint-George’s to help care for his dad.

Like many of us, Truchaud is torn. He realizes that his family has to take priority over his career. Unfortunately his decision will not come without a cost. His Divisional Commander willingly agrees that Truchaud needs to help his sister-in-law take care of his worsening father. Even though his boss tells him not to worry about his job in Paris, one of his ambitious co-workers may have another plan.

To complicate matters even more, as soon as the detective arrives at his family’s home and vineyards, he discovers the Nuits-saint-George’s police department has an urgent need he is expected to fill. Instead of interesting cases in Paris, he is now in charge of petty crimes and traffic altercations. But not for long.

The detective takes up residence in the small town, at the same time a young German girl and her friend come to town in search of her brother. He has been missing for months and the clues they found in his apartment have lead them to the tiny village.

Amidst language barriers, cold trails and raging hormones things go from calm to complicated faster than Constable Lenoir’s driving. Lucky for Truchaud, Sergeant Natalie Dutoit can speak to the Germans and comes to assist with the missing person case and often the driving.

The mystery deepens, dad gets worse, and Truchaud realizes he is in love but cannot bring himself to tell her.  The Charlemagne Connection has a lot going on, all of which is entertaining, interesting and intriguing. The end is perfect, and leads me to believe there will be another book in this series. I can’t wait.

As flavorful as a good vintage, with many complimentary layers that are subtle, yet elegant, Truchaud is the perfect detective. Reminiscent of a Parisian Poirot, Truchaud has a bit of Peter Faulk’s Colombo in his personality to balance his tenacity. A bit of bumbling at times makes him endearing as well has his love of Grateful Dead CDs.

Cartmel weaves a masterful tale. His plot is solid from the first word to the last, leaving no stone unturned in the telling of the mystery much like his hero, Commander Charlemagne Truchaud. The story twists and turns, wrapping around itself much like the beloved vines in the small village vineyards.

I highly recommend this series. I do suggest reading The Richebourg Affair first as there are spoiler alerts in The Charlemagne Connection. It will soon become obvious that you will want to read both of these mysteries anyway, so read them in order.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under alzheimers, Book Review, Mystery, Poirot, Wine

Book Review: The Mark on Eve – History and Mystery in a Perfect Package

The Mark on Eve  The Mark on Eve

By Joel Fox

280 pages

Fox  begins The Mark on Eve in New York City 1835. Eve Hale (one of the many names she goes by throughout her life) scoffs at P.T. Barnum’s 161 year-old-woman. It takes one to know one and Eve knows a charlatan when she sees one. Born in the early 1700’s, Eve was cursed by a spell when she tangled with a local witch, Eve was left to wander the earth until the end of time or break the curse by kissing her dead lover on the lips, whichever comes first.

The next chapter is set in modern times. There is a woman running for president and Eve is the first to support her. She has seen women become more powerful over the years and is doing everything she can to get her candidate elected. That literally translates to taking a bullet for her.

Without thinking, Eve jumps in front of the candidate when she sees a would be assassin take aim. Eve is hurt, but miraculously survives a wound that would have killed any other person.  The candidate feels indebted to Eve,  and makes her a part of the political machine rolling towards the White House.

With the national exposure of this incident comes the press. In particular Tom Evanger. Eve Skeller is a mystery to him. She doesn’t want any press for saving the person most likely to be the next President of the United States. What intrigues Evanger even more is he cannot find a record of Eve anywhere other than the fact that she owns a production company that focuses on historical movies. No birth certificate, marriage or divorce information or even a driver’s license can be found in Eve’s name.

His persistence forces Eve to face the demons of her past that are rushing towards her as Evanger begins looking under every stone to uncover her secret. If he keeps digging, he might just bury them both.

Expertly weaving between the past and the present, Fox fills in all of Eve’s years and past personas until they collide in present day California. I love the way he lets the reader know where Eve is with section headings such as “Washington, D.C., 1867”. The chapters are short within the sections, making the reader keep turning pages to see where Eve will take us next.

Watching Eve morph into each different setting she has to adapt to is really interesting. She keeps some of her basic traits, but must change and grow with the times to fit it. As she leaves friends and lovers behind when age catches up with them, she begins closing emotions deep inside herself to avoid the pain. It is very interesting watching her interact with Evanger. He is a man that interests her and frightens her at that same time.

History buffs, mystery fans and anyone who loves to get lost in an intriguing tale will love this book. Fox deftly changes settings and locations, pulling the reader along for a fabulously interesting ride. Any author that can combine pirates, lost love, witches, a woman that cannot die and a few other twists and turns that I’ll let you find on your own is a master.

Fox has written two other books that I will be adding to my queue, FDR’s Treasure and Lincoln’s Hand. Both are from his Zane Rigby Murder Mystery Series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.

Copyright © 2015 Laura Hartman

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Filed under Book Review, history, Mystery, Pirates, politics

WIP Wednesday – Finishing Up

This week I pulled out the blue and yellow baby blanket to finish. I decided it needed to be done before the weather gets warm since it is almost crib size and pretty warm when I am working on it. I only have one yellow row and four blue rows left, then the border. I might get it finished tonight during the hockey game (GO HAWKS!).

blue and yellow blanket 6.3.15

My shawl is coming along great. I’ve started the last section of lace, but of course each row takes quite a while to knit since every other row increases by four stitches. By the time I took the pictures tonight the sun was going down, so the first one of just the top few rows show more of the true colors than the other, but I like the look of the lace in the second pic so I added it. I am excited to finish it because it will be perfect to take with me to the movies and restaurants this summer when the AC is turned down to meat locker temperatures.

6.3.15 possum shawl good color6.3.15 possum shawl color right

The last thing I did this week was repair a sweater for a woman I work with. It was kind of tricky.I couldn’t crochet it because only a small section of stitches unraveled when a piece of the yarn broke. By using a sharp needle, I was able to “crochet” with it by basically doing a chain stitch where the single crochet needed to go, and weaving the thread through the open stitched at the bottom of the shells. The hardest part was weaving the ends as the yarn is fragile and didn’t want to go easily into the backs of the stitches so they would not be seen. I think it turned out pretty good. Hopefully Barb will agree and she’ll be able to wear her sweater again.

Barb's sweater before

You can see the edging off in this picture.

Barb's sweater after

This is the same edge after the repair.

I am thinking about my next project, since I might finish the shawl this week and will finish the baby blanket. The blanket will go in my stash closet to wait for the next baby boy to be born.

Which brings me to my MIP (Mess In Progress) that I call my stash closet. I absolutely need to clean that mess up. Somehow it got way out of control and it is making me crazy. If it rains this weekend, I just might tackle it. If you don’t hear from me next Wednesday, send in the Mounties or at least a St. Bernard with a flask of a nice red wine to rescue me.

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Filed under baby blanket, Crocheting, Knitting, shawl, WIP Wednesday