Thursday, January 30, 2020

Spoon Art

When looking for a craft project for work this month, I got the idea to use spoons. I came across various images online of altered spoons, including some of the one seen in this link.  I also came across the idea of fairy gardens in teacup crafts and was now wanting to try that idea. But I was worried that teacups would be hard to find in bulk at dollar stores. Then one day at the dollar store,  I saw these figurines (one of several three-packs available):

It then occurred to me to do the spoon idea with the fairy garden figurines and fake moss. I first tried it with a teaspoon (they come in sets of two at Dollar Tree), as I was unable to find tablespoons. Here is what I came up with:

I took and looped a pice of ribbon to use as a hanging handle, hot-gluing it to the back of the handle. I then covered the handle in ribbon and fake gems. The moss was then glued to the spoon and then the figurine on top of the moss.

I then tried this idea using a ladle, adding more moss and more figurines. Notice the moss on the handle in this one (purple ribbon was wrapped around the spoon first):

Here is the one I did at the center yesterday. (We had enough spoons and figurines to allow some people to use more than one figurine and for one person to do two spoons):

Here are some group shots of those done by others (including mine) at work:

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Last Days of Kmart in Hollister, California

Anyone who's looked at a soon-to-be-shuttered store in the last days before it closes has probably thought this way. You go in thinking you can get clothing, shoes or household supplies for cheap, yet the reality that sets in when you enter the store is that very little of what is left is worth buying even at 70% or more off. That is exactly what I have been experiencing as Kmart in Hollister, California prepares to close down. The last day is February 2, only a week from tomorrow.  In the last weeks, the remaining merchandise has been continually moved round, leaving the back areas of the store to look like this:

In the last days of a store before closing, there seems to be only clothes in sizes that are too small or too big if you're a medium or large. And if you're a size 8 or 8 1/2 in shoes, you're pretty much out of luck as well. I knew to expect this sort of scenario, though I keep going in looking at clothes. It would be so great to buy them 70% off the original tagged price.

As some may expect,virtually all that's left is stuff no one wants, including leftover seasonal items. Some Halloween stuff is left, mostly kids costumes, including several Elvis jumpsuit costumes and colorful lizard costumes. Along with baby bib costumes and  flimsy plastic jack-o-lantern porch-light covers. Even at 90% off, who's thinking about Halloween now? And Christmas stuff is still around, at 80% off. It used to be that people would always buy discounted Christmas items after the holiday, bit apparently not now, even at 80% off. I guess no one wants to think about Christmas now, either. Though a while ago, I did see someone exiting the store with an artificial Christmas tree. Even summer toys, now 60%, still remain available. Summer's a lot closer away than Christmas or Halloween, but I'm sure very few people are even thinking about summer yet. All other toys are 60% off as well, but other than for someone's birthday, I'm not sure how many people are looking for them now. And they're mostly generic toys, that probably few kids want.

I have no clue what will happen to all the stuff that doesn't sell, but I have a feeling that the leftover holiday stuff will end up at Goodwill this year. I have seen some of Kmart's Halloween costumes at Goodwill in the past. 

Even cleaning supplies and health and beauty items are very slim pickings now. I spotted several bottles of conditioner, but no shampoo left. Are people buying shampoo without conditioner now? No discounted OxiClean or laundry detergent either. 

But even though I have not found many clothes, cleaning supplies or health and beauty I want, I found some books. Even what remains of that department is pretty slim, but I did find some I actually wanted to have:

The Garden of Small Beginnings--Abbi Waxman
The Swans of Fifth Avenue--Melanie Benjamin
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons--Lorna Landvik
Driving With the Top Down--Beth Harbison
Taking It All--Maya Banks
The Best of Enemies--Jen Lancaster
Two audiobooks, originally 3 for $10:
Sea Glass Island--Sherryl Woods
Kiss and Tell--Fern Michaels

Each of these of the books were purchased on different dates, two or three at a time. During one of these book hauls, they were half off, then during another, 60% off. They were originally $4 for paperback and $5 for hardcover. I cannot recall ever getting this many books at Kmart, or even when I last bought any books at the store. For the record, there were several copes of The Swans of Fifth Avenue (one hardcover and the rest paperback) and several copies of Sylvia Day's book, Captivated by You, which I already have. I'm not sure if I'll be getting anymore books, that depends on what is left. And as the days pass, the book selection may not be so good in the days to come. 

I plan to look at the store in the next week, though I don't count on finding much. Looking can still be fun.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020 Nature/Environment Reading Challenge

This is a new one and a new reading theme to me. Hotchpot Cafe had offered such a challenge in the past. I'd never participated in that one, and wanted to this year, only to see HC not offer it. But here is a similar challenge, at Gum Trees and Galaxies. I will get as many books as I can.

Lets call the challenge the Gaia 2020 reading challenge, (really not sure about that name but it evokes all the themes I guess). The parameters are simple, read one or more books that have a nature, climate or environment theme of some sort. To really get back to nature read at least one book a month on this theme. You don’t have to blog to participate, you can set up a Gaia reading challenge shelf on goodreads and link to it. If you blog, write a post about the challenge and what you plan on reading and leave a link to your blog post here in the comments, you can link to your goodreads shelf as well in the comments. The challenge button above is optional, if you want to grab the button just copy and paste the code into your post.
I would love discussion and sharing of ideas, given that climate can be a contentious subject I just want to state that I respect the views of everyone and just want to fascilitate respectful sharing and understanding. 
Books can either be non-fiction or fiction, so for example thrillers with an environmental angle like those of Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park) or say James Patterson’s Zoo could be counted, or maybe some of John Wyndam’s classic science fiction, or a classic nature novel like Watership Down. Goodreads is full of lists with an environmental theme including a cli-fi (climate fiction) list, I only just discovered that such a genre exists. 
This is meant to be flexible and inclusive. Non-fiction could be anything that touches on nature, environment or climate. Emily’s nature book club list is one good stating point or Goodreads has plenty of lists on the environment and sustainability. Re-reads are okay, as are double ups with other challenges. The only restriction books must be read between the 1st of January 2020 and the 31 of December 2020.
My Books:
  1. White Fang--Jack London
  2. The Call of the Wild--Jack London
  3. Silent Spring--Rachel Carson
  4. Gold Fame Citrus--Claire Vaye Watkins
  5. Clan of the Cave Bear--Jean M. Auel
  6. Dead Wake--Erik Larson
  7. Wilder Girls--Rory Power
  8. The Girl Who Loved Horses--Paul Goble
  9. A Dog's Purpose--W. Bruce Cameron
  10. Midnight Sun--Stephenie Meyer 
  11. The Story of More--Hope Jahren
  12. Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined--Stephenie Meyer 
  13. Kalona's Fall--P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
  14. All the World--Liz Garton Scanlon
  15. Mountain Time: A Western Memoir--Jane Candia Coleman
  16. The Mute Stones Speak: The Story of Archaeology in Italy--Paul MacKendrick
  17. Winter in Paradise--Elin Hilderbrand
  18. Red Riding Hood--Sarah Blakely-Cartwright

Challenge completed on December 24

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Birth Year Reading Challenge 2020

I didn't know if this one was going to happen this year. It did not get posted until yesterday, and I wasn't sure about going at it again. I'm not sure how many more books I can fond from my year of birth, but I'm going t try to get three again.

My Books:

  1. Go Ask Alice--Anonymous
  2. The Planet of Junior Brown--Virginia Hamilton
  3. Then Again, Maybe I Won't--Judy Blume
Challenge completed on July 13

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Story That Will Never Happen

The passing of Elizabeth Wurtzel last week leaves one thing that will never come to pass. In 2018, she wrote about learning the truth about her parents. She later said she wanted to write a new memoir. From a tribute today article in The Guardian:

Sadly, this will never see the light of day. I so would have been excited to read this new book. I'd be anxiously awaiting its release. But it won't happen now 😥

But even though this new story will never happen, I am glad I got to hear her original story. And that she lived to tell her story. As she stated in the epilogue to Prozac Nation:

“… Every person who has experienced a severe depression has his own sad, awful tale to tell, his own mess to live through. Sadly Kurt Cobain will never get that far. Every Day, I thank God I did."

And I too am glad she got that far. And that I have gotten that far as well. Even though she'll never see my story, I am hoping that there will be people who will see it. FYI, I recently sent it to a site I discovered on I immediately received an automated response email saying that if I do not hear from them in three weeks, they they have decided not to accept the work "at this time." Still got two weeks left till I hear from them (if interested, they will request more of my manuscript). Writers Lab resumed last week after winter break and the leader emailed me a link to find other places that accept memoirs. I will have to check this one out soon. 

If one story doesn't happen, others will.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

RIP, Elizabeth Wurtzel

I just learned this morning that Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of the bestselling memoir Prozac Nation has died. I love that book so much. Those who have read my blog will know reading PN made me want to write my own story of depression and going on Prozac. I now want more than ever to publish my memoir. It's sad that she will never know how she inspired me😥

My review on Goodreads:
As someone currently on Prozac for depression, I knew I had to read this book to see how, if at all, I could identify with what the author described herself going through. Even though I know that it was written over 20 years ago. Still it was a thought-provoking read. And I did see some incidents in the book that were nearly the same as (if not identical to) what I had gone through before beginning my Prozac last year. Although it took me this long to realize I suffered from depression and needed to seek help. I felt I was brave to have read this.
It's been four years since I first read this iconic book. I read it again in June 2018. 

From the New York Times today:

Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose startling 1994 memoir, “Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America,” won  praise for opening a dialogue about clinical depression, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 52.
 The writer David Samuels, a friend since childhood, said the cause was metastatic breast cancer, a disease that resulted from the BRCA genetic mutation. In 2015 Ms. Wurtzel had a double mastectomy. After her diagnosis, she became an advocate for BRCA testing — something she had not had — and wrote about her cancer experience in The New York Times.

A full obituary will appear soon.

Something she learned in 2018 (click to read the rest):

Life is just a shock to the system.
It turns out that the man I have spent 50 years believing to be my father is not my father.
My mother lied to me about who my father is. My father is Bob Adelman, the photographer, who most famously caught Martin Luther King Jr. in profile having a dream on the Lincoln Memorial. You know the shot. You know many of Bob’s pictures. When they say something is iconic, they just mean everyone knows it. Bob was early for history.
I too chanced young upon the world. When my first book came out, I was 27 years old. Prozac Nation changed the way people see mental illness, and it changed the way publishers see memoirs. The New York Times Book Reviewcalled me “Sylvia Plath with the ego of Madonna.” I was a hashtag before there was Twitter.
My mother had an affair with Bob Adelman when she was working at Random House. I was born in 1967.
I knew Bob all of my life. When I was 4, Bob gave me a print of his photo of protesters being hosed down in Kelly Ingram Park in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. He gave the same shot to Martin Luther King, who was shocked “that beauty could come out of so much pain.”....

Friday, January 3, 2020

Chapter Break Bingo – January 2020

Here is the card for January.

January Bookish Bingo

My Books:
  1. The Snow Bride--Debbie Macomber (10 squares): Physical Book, Family, Repercussions, Cold Weather, Quest, Achievement, Ulterior Motive, Mountains on the Cover, Not in a Series, Library Book
  2. Daisy Jones & the Six--Taylor Jenkins Reid (4 squares): Free Book, Historic, Meant to Read in 2019, Free Space
  3. Wayward Son--Rainbow Rowell (3 squares): Two Books With Similar Topics, In a Series, Unusual Mode of Transport
  4. I'm a Gay Wizard--V.S. Santoni (1 square): Two Books With Similar Topics
  5. Superfudge--Judy Blume (reread) (2 squares): Audiobook,  A Favorite Author
  6. Game Over--Fern Michaels (1 square): Antiques
  7. Bad Boys With Expensive Toys--Nancy Warren/MaryJanice Davidson/Karen Kelley (2 square): Shelf Love, Shoes on the Cover
  8. Cranford--Elizabeth Gaskell (1 square): Ebook

23 squares completed on January 28

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Back to the Classics Challenge 2020

I had a feeling that Back to the Classics wasn't coming back this year so I signed up for another classics challenge. But today, BttC announced it will be back. Having done this challenge for years now, it felt wrong to abandon them. I like many of its categories and will be in again. The more classics read, the better, and some categories overlap.

1. 19th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1800 and 1899:
The Green Carnation--Robert Smythe Hitchens

2. 20th Century Classic. Any classic book originally published between 1900 and 1970. All books in this category must have been published at least 50 years ago. The only exceptions are books that were published posthumously but were written at least 50 years ago:
Infants of the Spring--Wallace Thurman 

3. Classic by a Woman Author:
The Bluest Eye--Toni Morrison

4. Classic in Translation. Any classic originally written in a novel other than your native language. You may read the book in your native language, or its original language (or a third language for all you polyglots). Modern translations are acceptable, as long as the book was originally published at least 50 years ago. Books in translation are acceptable in all other categories as well:

5. Classic by a Person of Color. Any classic work by a non-white author:

6. A Genre Classic. Any classic novel that falls into a genre category -- fantasy, science fiction, Western, romance, crime, horror, etc.:

7. Classic with a Person's Name in the Title. First name, last name or both. Examples include Ethan Frome; Emma; Madam Bovary; Anna Karenina; Daniel Deronda; David Copperfield, etc.:

8. Classic with a Place in the Title. Any classic with the proper name of a place (real or ficitonal) - a country, region, city, town, village, street, building, etc. Examples include Notre Dame de Paris; Mansfield Park; East of Eden; The Canterbury Tales; Death on the Nile; etc:

9. Classic with Nature in the Title. A classic with any element of nature in the title (not including animals). Examples include The Magic Mountain; The Grapes of Wrath; The Jungle; A High Wind in Jamaica; Gone With the Wind; Under the Volcano; etc:

10. Classic About a Family. This classic should have multiple members of the same family as principal characters, either from the same generation or multiple different generations. Examples include Sense and Sensibility; Wives and Daughters; The Brothers Karamazov; Fathers and Sons; The Good Earth; Howards End; and The Makioka Sisters:

11. Abandoned Classic. Choose a classic that you started and just never got around to finishing, whether you didn't like it at or just didn't get around to it. Now is the time to give it another try:

12. Classic Adaptation. Any classic that's been adapted as a movie or TV series. If you like, you can watch the adaptation and include your thoughts in your book review. It's not required but it's always fun to compare:

Challenge completed on September 25

New Year--What to Expect?

I know no one knows what to expect ever. I certainly never do.  It will be a year since I restarted my creative writing class at work after it was dropped in 2017 for being offered at a not-so-great time. That I know for sure.

If someone asked me what my list of resolutions was, it would look like this:

I don't bother making any, because like a lot of people, I know I'll forget about them before the month is up, let alone before the year is over.

But even though I dislike the idea of making resolutions, I know I want to get back writing more. I not been doing so for sometime now, with other things on my mind. Also, there are some online classes for writing offered by the county library (along with over 500 kinds of classes) I may join. They are free and can be done anytime. So that is a possibility.  I'll just take everything as it comes.

The 2020 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

I was trying not to signup for too many more of these things, but after days of deliberating, I decided to try this one. I think the Baker's Dozen level is doable, but who knows if I can do more. Will aim for 13 books for now.  Click on the link to see a larger image.

Here is what I am reading:
(Note 4/17: I have decided to upgrade to Fortnightly).

  1. Selfies (Written in First Person): I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter--Erika L. Sanchez
  2. Singles (One-Word Title): Superfudge--Judy Blume
  3. Birds of a Feather (Feather or Wings  on the Cover): I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings--Maya Angelou
  4. Shorts (Book of Short Stories):Bad Boys With Expensive Toys--Nancy Warren/MaryJanice Davidson/Karen Kelley
  5. Places (Place Name in the Title): Cranford--Elizabeth Gaskell
  6. Diversity (Author From a Different Culture): Elijah of Buxton--Christopher Paul Curtis
  7. Reading Women (Woman of Color): Ordinary Girls--Jaquira Diaz
  8. TBR Crushers (Been Meaning to Read Forever): Piper Morgan Plans a Party--Stephanie Faris
  9. Next Door (Local Author): Imaginary Animal--Rachelle Linda Escamilla
  10. How Old? (Written Before You Were Born): The Bluest Eye--Toni Morrison
  11. Animal Kingdom (Animal on the Cover): Stud Rites--Susan Conant
  12. Body Parts (Feet on the Cover): Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys--Kate Brian
  13. Making Stuff Up (Fictional Language): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone--J.K. Rowling 
  14. Check Out Those Lists (NY Times BestSeller): The Swans of Fifth Avenue--Melanie Benjamin
  15. Movie Quotes (I'm Not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way--Graphic Novel): Honor Girl--Maggie Thrash
  16. Dark Genres (Speculative Fiction): I, Robot--Isaac Asimov
  17. Reading Cliches ("Beach Read"): Sand Castle Bay--Sherryl Woods
  18. Careers (By a Former Journalist): More, Now, Again--Elizabeth Wurtzel (reread)
  19. Music Genres (Title Could Be a Country Song): Convenience Store Woman--Sayaka Murata
  20. Brought to You By the Letter N (Set in Country That Begins With N): My Sister, the Serial Killer--Oyinkan Brathwaite
  21. Recovery (About a Missing Person): Finding Me--Michelle Knight
  22. Quick Decisions (A Book by an Author You Always Read): Sunset Beach--Mary Kay Andrews
  23. Seconds (A Clock or Stopwatch on the Cover): The Gap of Time--Jeanette Winterson
  24. Hidden (Author Who Uses a Pseudonym): Tigress--Jennifer Blake
  25. Inspirations (Book about Improving Self Image): You Are a Bada**--Jen Sincero
  26. Where We Live (Moving to the Country): The Portrait of a Lady--Henry James
  27. Wildcard: Centers on a Group of Friends: Pumpkinheads--Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks
Challenge completed on October 3

Sweet Southern Reading Challenge 2020

This didn't turn up until yesterday and I wasn't sure about joining, but I enjoyed it and will be in again.

For this challenge, the South is defined as the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.* 

There are five reading levels for this challenge. 

  • One Glass of Sweet Tea: Read 1 - 3 Books
  • Two Glasses of Sweet Tea: Read 4 - 6 Books
  • Three Glasses of Sweet Tea: Read 7 - 9 Books
  • A Pitcher of Sweet Tea: Read 10 - 12 Books
  • A Gallon Glass of Sweet Tea: Read 13 or More Books

Here is what I am reading: