Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Little Nook of the World


My name is Robin, and I'm a bookaholic. I've had a "problem," with books since the 5th grade. I blame it on Mrs. White. My teacher decided to have a reading contest and the winner would win a hard bound copy of "The Prince and the Pauper," by Mark Twain. I never realized how competitive I was until that contest. I wanted to win. I had to win. I dreamed of winning. I went to the school library and really began reading. In a short amount of time, and 26 books later, I won that contest and that book. I also developed a love of reading that is still with me to this day.

So, I can blame Mrs. White. She opened up a world to me that changed my life forever. Even though I lived in a small valley outside of Reno, Nevada (Sun Valley), I could travel through time and around the world. I would take my book outside and in-between the dust of the desert and the heat of the sun, I was transported. My life was never dull or boring again. I went places and I did things my siblings couldn't even begin to understand.

I ran from the Morlocks and sat next to Nancy Drew as she drove her sweet, little blue convertible. Hercule Poirot never had a better audience than me as he waxed his moustache and utilized his little grey cells. My tastes were diversified, but I tended to drift towards mysteries. I loved the challenge of trying to figure out "who did it." Agatha always kept me guessing. I was usually disappointed by an author when I had it figured out by Chapter 4 who did it. I still finished reading their book, but rarely checked out their next offering.

In high school I was reading seven books and two plays a week. As my reading pace picked up, so did my need to visit the local library. I was an aide in the library from sixth grade through my senior year of high school. It was the best way to get my "fix."

I often thought of becoming a librarian, but I couldn't afford to pay my way through Berkeley or UCLA, the nearest colleges that offered a degree in the field. But my love of reading has remained. I have thousands of books at home. I've given away a thousand. You think I joke? Trust me, I'm not. I counted them. Many libraries, children centers and domestic violence centers have benefitted from me weeding through my books.

Now, I have a Barnes & Noble nook. I have found a little piece of heaven right here on earth. My nook has 2 gig of memory in it and I was able to purchase a memory card for another 2 gig. What does this mean? I can hold 1,500 books on this nook at one time. That's enough books to keep me quite happy.

I read all the time. When some face down time waiting in line at the grocery store, car wash or a lunch hour, they just twiddle their fingers doing their best not to stress out. Me? I'm reading. I'm relaxed and happy chilling out with my latest read. I swear it's lowered my blood pressure. I don't care about how long I have to wait at a restaurant. I have a book.

More people should try it out. Maybe they wouldn't be so damned cranky. When nook owners see others reading theirs they just quietly share a smile. They know the secret of a happy life. Reading.

Are you wondering what Christmas present to buy a loved one who enjoys reading? Get them a nook. It will be the best present in the world. Make sure to buy one for a child. It can open up a world as big as their imagination and take them places completely unforgettable.

My grandson is merely two years old, so a nook isn't for him quite yet. But wait until his 5th birthday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tie It Up


I make blankets. Not your everyday blankets, but fleece tied blankets. A former co-worker shared her knowledge and taught me the ways of blanketology. Ever since then I've been a lost cause. I make them every Christmas, sometimes for birthday presents and always for a baby shower gift. They are easy, affordable and one way I can be amazingly creative without stressing out.

I find myself not only making tied blankets for family, friends and co-workers, but also teaching others how to make them. It's not quite a mission, but pretty darn close. I am proud that practically none of my blanket's waste material goes to waste. I recycle all parts of my blanket so that very little is tossed.

I trim the sides of the fleece material for the reinforced edging to make a smoother tie trim. I reuse those clipped sides and braid them, tying knots at each end, into cat toys.

The four or five inch material four corners that I cut out, I save and use to make a crazy quilt. It shows a touch of the fabric for every blanket I've ever made. It's a fabric trip down memory lane. I love it.

Making the blankets is incredibly easy. I use 1/2 yard in length for wheelchair blankets and car seat blankets, 1 yard for baby blankets or short humans and 2 yards and up for adults. That measurement is doubled. For example, for a 1 yard blanket, you need two separately cut 1 yard pieces of fabric. One yard is for the top and one yard is for the bottom.

You can use patterns on one side and a complimentary solid color on the other side. Or you can use the same pattern on both sides, or a different pattern on each side. There are no limits to your creativity.

You lay down one piece of material on the floor. (It's easier to pin it up with lots of room. If you have cats, remove them from the area, they always want to sit in the middle of your material because they LOVE fleece and bugging the heck out of you.) Lay the second piece of material over the top of the first. Match them up on all angles. If you have overage, trim the material edges to match. You basically want two pieces of materials that mirror each other in width and length.

Get out your straight pins and ruler. Measure in four or five inches (whatever measurement you want, just be consistent) and start pinning the pins to be your guide. Edge the whole blanket, four or five inches in with pins. Your corners should be either four by four or five by five, again whatever you decide. You will cut out the each of the corners first, set aside to sew together later for your crazy quilt blanket.

At this point, your blanket is evenly trimmed, completely pinned and corners cut. You then can take the blanket and set it across your lap. Get your scissors and begin cutting the fringe that you will double knot (this makes the tied part of the blanket). You cut about one inch apart, to the four or five inch pinned mark. Then you tie the top and bottom cut material into a double knot, going along the all sides of the blanket. Before you know it, viola, you are done and have a finished blanket.

There are a multitude of step-by-step videos out there for those who don't quite understand my instructions. It won't hurt my feelings for you to check them out. But remember, there are many ways to do this blanket, but the underlying theme---no sewing involved.

I think once you make one, you, too, will be hooked on it. If you make one, send me a photo. I'd love to see them.