Monday, October 28, 2013

Runaway Brides all Found

bride of the high country On Sunday, I started the last book in Kaki Warner’s Runaway Brides trilogy.  On Monday, I finished it.  The final book, Bride of the High Country, is a wonderful read, back in Mrs. Warner’s original style of Heartbreak Creek and Pieces of Sky.   As you can tell, I had a hard time putting it down.

Bride of the High Country does have its sex scenes, but they’re far more romantic and less raunchy than those in Colorado DawnBride of the High Country is first and foremost a love story, and then a romance novel.  It’s also the story of strength, softening and survival.

The final novel in the Runaway Brides trilogy tells the story of Lucinda Hathaway, the New York society woman first introduced in Heartbreak Creek as a fellow train-passenger headed West with Maddie, Edwina and Pru.  The first novel was Edwina’s story; the second, Maddie’s.  Now it’s Lucinda’s turn, and the story starts back several years with Lucinda as a 12 year-old orphan in New York’s Five Points area.

Much like Jessica in Pieces of Sky, Lucinda is running from painful memories in her past.  Running towards an unknown destination that takes her to America’s post-Civil War Wild West.  Of course, one can never out-run the past and Lucinda is forced to face hers.  The story is well-told and beautiful – though I do have some qualms with the author’s decision to have Lucinda reveal her painful past to her friends on her wedding night.  She could have waited a day!

As the novel progresses from the heartbreaking beginnings in Five Points to the beautiful ending in Heartbreak Creek, it crosses over events from the other novels.  These events are often summed up quickly.  What took pages of suspense and agony in the prior novels are covered by the new main character as if they were rather inconsequential.  Having read the other novels recently, I found myself skimming these passages, “yeah, yeah, I know what happens here, let’s get back to the new story.”  Yet I can see these portions being important for keeping the three novels together as one story. 

Because the trilogy novels overlap in time somewhat, it’d be really neat to read all three of them put together into one book with the perspectives switching around.  Perhaps a bit confusing, but still neat.

Of the three Heartbreak Creek novels, Bride of the High Country is the best-written and most engaging.  It keeps the love story high, the sex scenes tasteful and the death to a minimum.  I’m glad I didn’t let my disappoint with Colorado Dawn dissuade me from reading this book.   And even though this book contains some spoilers for the other novels, I’d actually recommend reading this one first.

Now, what Kaki Warner series to explore next…

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My New Purse

I loved my yellow purse.  It was actually my second yellow purse.  I loved the first one, too.  Yellow was such a nice way to immediately brighten up an outfit, especially when that outfit was covered in a black trench coat.  But, my purse was falling apart and I had to admit it was time to move on.  I was sad. I hate trying to shop for purses. None of them every seem to be what I want.

Then I saw Mommy’s new purse – purse and tote collection rather – all made by her.  And she had a new pack of yellow and green fabrics that had arrived in a kit for her.  Ooooh!  So Mommy and I got out one of her patterns and started making me a new purse.

front of purse I pulled out all the yellows from her kit as well as one of the greens and then rummaged around her fabric closet for some more yellows and something for the lining.  The purse is a patchwork quilted purse so there’s lots of opportunities for fun patterns.  In addition to the yellows from the kit, I used scraps from a dress I had with mud huts on it and scraps from one of Katrina’s dresses that was white with yellow and black flowers.  I used two greens from her kit and scraps from a pair of under trousers I’d made for Mr. Trizzle, as well.  We used her Accu-Cutter to cut the strips, so they’re actually straight.


The pattern is a simple, lined bag with a handle and a front pouch.  I made some additions: a divider to create two inside pockets, a row of three small pockets on the back of the inside, a small cell pocket on the inside of the front pouch for my cell phone, plastic ring to clip my keys onto so they wouldn’t get lost in the bottom of the bag, and plastic backing to make the bag water-resistant.

The Divider

inside of purse (2) The purse pattern has four pieces: outside, front pocket, handle, bottom.  I used the outside pocket to cut a piece from the lining on the fold.  I folded this piece so the rightside was facing out and the fold was at the top of the piece.  I basted the raw edges to the back lining piece.  When the lining was fully assembled, the folded piece created a pocket in the back section of the purse.

The mushroom fabric is the divider, front and back lining, the yellow is the bottom lining.

Row pockets

I know that I have lots of little things in my purse that would wind up swimming in the bottom of a bag and never be found.  To give these things a home, inside of purse (1)I made some smaller pockets along the inside of the back of the purse.  This is in the pocket area formed by the divider.  I took a long rectangle of fabric, hemmed it all around and then stitched it down across the back lining piece on the sides and bottom.  To turn it into multiple pockets, I stitched to straight lines from top to bottom of the piece at roughly 1/3 intervals.

You can almost see it in the picture.  The row pockets are the flowered material on top of the mushrooms.

Cell phone Pocket

I always want my cell phone easily accessible and in an outside pocket.  But the outside pouch on the purse pattern is quite large.  So, I decided to add a home for my cell phone in the front pocket.  It’s positioned so that when the purse is on my right shoulder, I can reach inside with my right hand and pull it out easily.  It’s a simple rectangle of fabric, sewn down on the sides and bottom with triangles sewn at the top corners to help enforce the stitching.  It works well.

Key Ring

purse key loop The ring for my keys is probably my favorite addition.  My last purse had large metal rings connecting the handles to the purse.  I would use the little metal clip on my keys to clip my keys to those rings and prevent them sinking to oblivion in the bottom of my purse.  I found a brown plastic ring somewhere in Mommy’s sewing room that was once part of who-knows-what.  I cut a long rectangle from the row-pockets fabric, folded it long-wise, sewed a seam on the long side, turned it and pressed it.  Then I put it through the plastic ring, folded it back on itself and sewed a line just above the ring to keep the ring in place on it’s holder.  I basted it to the lining bottom fabric and sewed it in place when the handle was attached to the bag.  It hangs inside the purse from where the handle meets the bag.

Water-Resistant Lining

purse lining My other modification turned out to not be such a great idea.  We found some iron-on plastic, for coating table cloths and that sort of thing.  I thought it’d be great to help protect the contents of my purse from rain, puddles, spills etc.  So, I cut plastic for the lining front, back and bottom and ironed it on to each piece.  Assembling the back was a little tricker because the lining pieces were stiffer, but it wasn’t too much of an issue.

However, once in use, my purse was very noisy.  It sounded like a krinkling shopping bag every time I rummaged in it for anything.  At one point, we had to take the purse apart a bit to fix a bad seam.  When I opened the purse’s insides, I discovered muct of the plastic had torn or was coming away from the fabric.  So, I just tore it all off.  Oh well.

Finishing Touches

Mommy had put some embroidery on her purse and offered to add some to me. I chose a squirrel!  He’s got this mischievous look, like he’s up to no good, like he just stole that acorn in his hands from under your nose.  I love that.  He’s hanging out on the back of the purse.

back of purse with squirrel

I love my new purse.  I keep thinking about what I’d do different next time, but that’s the learning experience.  Besides, I could always make another and have one for each season, like Mommy ;)

Monday, October 21, 2013

When Powderpuffing was Good and we had Couches

working girl This week, I finished a very delightful book, The Working Girl in a Man’s World: A Guide to Office Politics by Jan Manette.  Jan’s a pseudonym, which aside from being cute is relevant here because Jan’s my great-aunt.  That’s why I decided to read this book.

The Working Girl in a Man’s World may be nearly 50 years old – published in 1966 – but it is still very relevant.  And I’m guessing more useful than a lot of this woman-navigating-man’s-world stuff we get fed now.  The reason I say that is Working Girl focuses as much on good business practices as it does on anything gender specific.  It just places those business practices in a female context.

In fact, Working Girl’s age is actually a strong point for the book.  The author tackles a lot of issues that are no longer discussed, things that have been thrown out over time as either not allowed to be relevant or not allowed to be true, yet they are very true. 

For example, Working Girl discusses the affect a woman’s biological cycles can have on her day-to-day life, including her productivity, how she’s feeling, etc.  This has become a taboo field in workplace considerations even as women’s cycles have become more accepted general conversation.  A woman has to always be as a good as a man, so her monthly issues simply cannot be an issue.  Yet that’s not really true.  I like that Working Girl acknowledges the issue, presents it as accepted by both men and women and  discusses how to deal with it.  And by the way, I want couches in ladies rooms again!  How awesome.

Another topic that wouldn’t be accepted today but that is skillfully discussed in Working Girl is men’s need to feel important and needed.  The past fifty years have pretty much banned men from being allowed to feel this way, or at least acknowledging it, and personally, I think that’s the most damaging part of the women’s movement.  We all know you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and we all should know you get further building people up than putting them down.  Working Girl reminds readers to build up their coworkers and superiors (male and female) and offers some pointers on how to do it.

The chapter on sex in the workplace is fantastic.  “What can a married man get you?  He can get you (1) pregnant and (2) fired.  And then where’s your career?”  There’s also chapters on working through tough times at the office, what to do if you decide you don’t want to climb any higher, and helping those coming along below you.

Luckily, there’s still copies of Working Girl available.  If you know a working girl, pick one up for her.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ruffled Baby Blanket

I love when my friends have babies.  It’s such a good reason to knit!

Jessica's blanket (3) croppedA few months ago, one of my friends and former-colleagues out in Cali announced she was going to have a baby.  I wanted to make a blanket for the baby, but I knew it had to match my friend in some way.  She’s fun and quirky, yet very put together and always on-top of things.

I decided to go with cotton yarn so that it would be soft and easily washed.  And I decided to do stripes to give it a little flair.  Then I chose colors that reminded me of my friend, the types of colors I’d see her wear or around her home.  I went with a brown-olive-yellow mix and an orange-yellow-white mix and added ruffles for addition softness in the blanket.

The top and bottom ruffles were done by using larger knitting needles than the rest of the blanket.  the side ruffles were done with short rows.  The top ruffle isn’t very distinct as I used needles only 2 sizes larger than the main needles.  The bottom ruffle is a bit more pronounced because I used needles 4 sizes bigger.  However, I think I could have gone even bigger.

My friend loved the blanket, and that’s always the best part.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Second Runaway Brides Novel

colorado dawn It’s been awhile since I finished the second book in Kaki Warner’s Runaway Brides trilogy, Colorado Dawn.  I guess what really sums up my feelings about this book is that I didn’t order the final book in the trilogy until yesterday, months after I finished Colorado Dawn.

Colorado Dawn focuses on Maddie Wallace, one of the town-ladies met on in the first novel.  She had married a Scottish officer some years ago and, felling abandoned by him, had fled Scotland for the US with a new career as a professional photographer.  Now, her husband has finally tracked her down and come after her himself.  His perspective on who abandoned who is a little different.

I had been enjoying Kaki Warner’s books as fun historical fiction with a bit of romance and adventure.  Colorado Dawn seemed to hop the fence to full-blown romance novel.  That’s not really my thing.  I just found it incredibly hard to believe that in the late 1800s, a young lady sitting at a dinner table with all her friends would have her hand under the table playing with her husband’s junk.

So, yeah, the descriptions get a lot more vivid, which sort of takes away from the rest of the story.  But, it is still neat to follow the main characters from Heartbreak Creek, and there’s still a good story in the book.  The new lover introduced in this book is straight from Scotland so it’s fun to parse through his thick accent. 

The action isn’t nearly as nail-biting as any of the other Kaki Warner books I’ve read, but that’s ok by me.  It was in some ways a nice break to be able to put the book down and go to sleep when bed time came.   We’ll see if the third book is more along the lines of the Blood Rose Trilogy or this book.