Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gifts and Wrappings For Christmas and Beyond

Christmas is coming, so of course, I'm wasting time watching videos on how to make things and wrap things. The ones below are not short, but I found them interesting.

How to Make an Amazing Package Shaped Like a Purse
(This is long, and it looks complicated,but it's mostly cutting and folding and a bit of gluing).

If you can sew just a bit (nothing fancy), you can make an easy tote bag or reversible hat out of fleece.

For the hat, I clicked through to the YouTube page to make sure that I could actually download the pdf pattern. I only tried the adult size, but it worked. and I was able to print it out.(There are numerous fleece hat how-to videos on YouTube, and while the numerous "buy fleece at" notices on this one might not appeal to everyone, I liked the reversible effect of the hat, the fact that the instructions were clear, and she provided an easy pattern).

How are your holiday preparations going? 

Have a wonderful day!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Soothing Sleep or Relaxation Aids

If you can't afford a white noise machine or just don't want another appliance cluttering up your house, consider listening to The Honest Guys videos. They're just soothing sounds and images (but you can just listen if you don't want to watch). Turn one on, kick back and relax. Here's one of them. This runs for 8 hours (it says), but a few seconds should be enough to get the idea across:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Amazing Optical Illusions You Can Recreate

I do love a good optical illusion. This one (by Bruss Pup) works by passing a transparent set of striped lines over the image. Click through to the YouTube page for links to the images (including the lines, which you can print on an ink jet printer on transparency paper). Then you can amaze your friends!

And here's a very brief explanation (and some more awesome illusions).


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

100 Years of Beauty (in About One Minute)

I've always loved costume books and things of that ilk. When I first began writing, I was penning a historical romance and had all kinds of books on the topic. These days not so much, but I still enjoyed this one-minute video of hair and makeup from every decade 1910 to 2010. Take a look.

Enjoy your day!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Best Book Lists - 2014

I love the end of year book lists. It's like a treasure hunt to find new books I want to read. So, here goes.

Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (Book)

From Publishers Weekly:

From NPR:

From Amazon:

The Guardian:

From Kirkus Reviews:

From Buzzfeed;

Barnes & Noble Top 100 Sellers of 2014:

American Library Association (Best Children's Books):

Huffington Post Lists:

Goodreads Choice Awards 2014:

Wall Street Journal:

New York Public Library Best Books for Teens:

Hudson Booksellers:

The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2014:

Washington Post's 5 Best Fantasy and Science Fiction Books of 2014

This, of course, is not a comprehensive list. There are many other places to look (note that I deliberately left out romance novels. It's too close to home, and I have too many friends in the field to showcase just 5 or 10 for the entire year. I, of course, have my own favorites).

I hope you find something that appeals to you here.

Have fun!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wrapping Gifts with Less Paper

It's getting close to gift wrapping time (for me, that is. You may have already wrapped some or all of yours). I'm always looking for ways to either reuse items, upcycle unconventional materials into wrapping materials, or, as in this case, use conventional wrapping paper but consume less of it.

I've seen the method used in the two videos below referred to as the Japanese method, although I haven't actually researched it. I like the first video, but the box he is wrapping is a perfect square and I wondered how that would work in a less ideal circumstance, so I found the second video to be very helpful. See what you think.

Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

New York Vs. London, Fiction-wise

The Fairmont Hotels has posted an infographic comparing London and New York locations that have appeared in fiction, as well as some other interesting comparatives (number of restaurants, bars, museums, film festivals, theatres and so on). It certainly makes me want to put my traveling shoes on. Take a look.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Life Hacks and Other Holiday Tips

With the holidays fast approaching, stress can easily creep in to your days. Here are some tricks to make life easier.

And if you're entertaining, you might like to fold those napkins in a creative way. This video by Grant Thompson (as was the one above) shows you how:

Enjoy! I hope your December is off to a great start!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Special Editions of Books for the Military

About a week ago, I was reading a newspaper article about a woman who was writing a book that dealt with the fact that during World War II, book publishers printed (and sold for mere pennies) special editions of the best of their books to entertain the soldiers. These were called Armed Services Editions and they were small in size and not meant to last.

Publishers feared what this might end up doing to their business, but what it might have done,  at least in some cases, was launch books that weren't doing so well. In the case of The Great Gatsby, for instance, only 25,000 copies of the book had been printed between 1925 and 1942, but 155,000 copies of the Armed Services Editions were printed. Soldiers read them, recommended them to friends and families, so maybe (?) that instigated the Fitzgerald revival in the 1940's. It certainly couldn't have hurt.

At any rate, there's a new book out (referenced in the article I read), titled When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning that examines the topic further.
Book - When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

I was so fascinated that I went online and found a copy (the books were originally planned to last about 6 readings, but there are many still available at bookstores or other sites that carry used or vintage books). Here's my new old copy of Mrs. Parkington (purchased on Etsy).

Mrs. Parkington Armed Services Edition of Book

 If you're interested in reading more, here's the article I spoke of  (from the Wall Street Journal) as well as another article from

Monday, November 24, 2014

Old Shoes Made New Again

We have a shoe repair shop in our town, and even though I've lived here for years, I've never been there. Maybe I should pay them a visit. I like the idea of repairing my old shoes rather than buying new ones. (This shop is in the U.K., but I imagine that the old fashioned shoe repair shops are still around in a number of places. Have you ever been to one)?

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