Another Summer Book, The True History of Paradise

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Tuesday 29 June 2010 at 7:49 am


Right before diving into my summer school classes, I had a chance to finish one last book during my leisure: The True History of Paradise: A Novel by Margaret Cezair-Thompson. This probably would have been a nice book to bring on the cruise I went on, if it had been quiet enough anywhere to actually read, but I’m so glad I managed to squeeze it in before my “fun” reading slows down considerably.

The book is definitely a work of fiction but is mixed with doses of Jamaican history, ranging from the early Arawak settlers to the government upheaval in the 1980s. Because of all the violence going on around, some of which she has personally had inflicted on her, the main character, Jean Landing, is leaving her beloved home, Jamaica. As she takes the long drive to meet the airplane, which is probably going to be piloted by drug runners, she weaves her story and those of her ancestors, a mix of Asian, Spanish, Indian, African, German, and Scottish decent.

Other than the fact that this is just a plain old good story, I was most impressed with Cezair-Thompson’s mix of point of view and verb tense. As Jean leaves, the story is told in present tense and the narrator is limited omniscient; we get inside of Jean’s head for the most part. Then as characters from history are introduced, the text changes into italics, and the story is past tense and told in first person. Then we are back to Jean and present tense, and so on, basically moving back and forth through the whole book.

To do this, let alone to do it well, is really tricky. I have read numerous books which have simply tried to use multiple narrators and point of view and just couldn’t pull it off, but this author does. I bought into these other voices, and I was fine with flipping back and forth between present and past. I will go so far as to say that it really made the story for me.

Now, this book isn’t perfect.  Some of the ends of the stories the author weaves are pretty lose. Jean is leaving, so yes, we know from the beginning that the end of the book should show her leaving. We expect this. However, this doesn’t actually happen. Instead of the car she has been sitting in during the entire book, all of a sudden she’s in a taxi. It is assumed (I think) that she is still heading towards the plane, but I really wanted to see her on the plane and lifting off, and that never happened.

Other dangling story threads are also left undone. A very good friend of Jean’s is fighting for her life in the hospital. At one point, it looks like Jean will stay because of this, but she doesn’t. Again, we know this is going to happen because she’s in the car. However, what about the friend? Did she live? Did she die? I went so far as to go back and reread sections near the end because I thought I had missed something.

I still recommend this book, but I can’t help but be disappointed that the ending didn’t have the same moment and strength as the rest of the book had.

Book for Literture Loves, Etc, Reading Lolita in Tehran

Blogged under Good Books by Tammy on Monday 28 June 2010 at 9:09 am

One of my summer reads recently was a book by Azar Nafisi entitled Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, I did my best not to race through it because I didn’t want it to end too soon.

This memoir covers the author’s life while trying to deal with the Islamic Revolution in Tehran. Her story is assembled around a sort of home-bound book club made up of women who once took university literature classes from her but now meet in secret to discuss books, many banned by the new powers that be. The book is actually divided into sections for books and authors, Gatsby, Jane Austen, Lolita, and so on.

Though not in complete chronological order, Nafis covers a time period ranging from the 1970s to about the mid-1990s. I’m in my mid-40s, so while I was aware something was going on “over there” during the 1970s and 80s, I was too young to care that much or have any comprehension about it. So this alone was a history lesson for me and helped me understand or at least have some context (I still don’t get it all) for what continues to happen in Iran today.

This book has something for literature lovers, feminists, and historians. It is one of the few contemporary books I say should be on your “must read” list.

Weekend Craft Links to Cruise

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 27 June 2010 at 10:18 am

The Crochet Dude
Get out your hooks and warm them up because Drew reveals all the projects from his upcoming book “Crochet It Love It Wear It - The Ultimate Collection for Every Occasion”. You are not going to believe how gorgeous crochet can be!

About Family Crafts

Read through Sherri’s tie-dye tutorial and you will discover how easy it is to create your own colorful, tie-dyed t-shirts and more.

The Artful Crafter
How to make a wooden country critter wall plaque.

Aileen’s Musings
Watch Aileen’s newest video and see how she transforms a boring canvas bag into a snazzy colorful tote!

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery

Green Ring and wire earrings inspired by the book 101 Wire Earrings by Denise Peck

Carmi’s Art/Life World
Carmi uses the sweetest bird embellishments to make a card set.

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi has gathered up all her favorite collage and quilt techniques to share.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
Craftside’s got a chance to win a copy of Jennifer Worick’s Simple Gifts and how-to’s on making a silhouette, a homemade flea collar for your dog, stringing rings onto a ribbon necklace and a fun video interview with Drew Brophy the author of How to Draw with Drew Brophy.

Margot Potter The Impatient Crafter
Have you ever felt like the ‘red headed step child?’

Summer Vacation in Review

Blogged under Crafting a Career, Finished Projects, etsy by Tammy on Wednesday 23 June 2010 at 3:39 pm


I return to teaching this week, so while technically summer just started, for me it is no longer summer vacation mode. On the bright side, summer is pretty sleepy around campus, even when classes are going on. It is nothing like fall semester which is pretty crazy. Thus, I’ll be easing back into the daily work of grading papers, conducting class, and working on new ideas for next semester.

I always feel like I have to accomplish something when I have a chunk of time off from school, and for the most part, I think I did during my break:

  • I crocheted another blanket for my crazy dogs, and so far, it is getting the puppy thumbs up.
  • I went on a short cruise to the Bahamas and made my mom happy for a few days, and I learned that I’m not a cruise kind of gal.
  • I manage to get a few books read: Shanghai Girls, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, and I’m close to finishing The True History of Paradise: A Novel.
  • I created a series of jewelry making kits, all earrings, and so far have variations of 3 (tutorial only, supplies only, and full kit including supplies & tutorial) listed in my Etsy shop. In fact, my shop had literally about 3 things listed around early May, and now not only have I increased my listings to 49, but I have re-shot tons of photos, gotten a new banner, and generally have it in much better shape.
Sparkling Star Wire Earrings Jewelry Kit
Sparkling Star Wire Earrings Jewelry Kit

Interweave Hurt Book Sale

Blogged under Around the Web, Crafty Products, Good Books by Tammy on Monday 21 June 2010 at 4:46 pm

Shop Jewelry Products
It’s that time of year at Interweave’s on-line shop, time for the annual hurt book sale! But the window of opportunity to score some slightly bruised books ends tomorrow. I have purchased books a number of times during this company’s hurt book sale, and I have been surprised to find that none of the books I ordered looked damaged in any way. So, I think a lot of these are just overstocks too! If you have wanted to treat yourself to some craft book titles from jewelry making, beading, fiber arts, or whatever it is you like to do, now is the perfect time! Click on either the ad above or below to get you over there.
Crochet Books from Interweave!

Hot Craft Links!

Blogged under Around the Web by Tammy on Sunday 20 June 2010 at 10:19 am

The heat is on in a big way down here in South Florida. It has been getting up in the low 90s every day, and it is just the end of June! July and August get even hotter! Amazingly enough, I have lived in this state most of my life and grew up when many places (house, school, car) didn’t have any or very little AC. How did I do it back then?  One way I beat the heat now is to chill out with some watermelon and munch while surfing the web in my air conditioned office. Find some hot crafting ideas and stay inside as you cool down with these great links:

Cathie Filian
You can dye stripes and it is easy! Cathie shows you how.

Craftside-A behind-the-scenes peek at a crafty world
Craftside has a chance to win one of 50 “Bulking Dummies” and a “Lab” book, a new Look, Learn and Create Video with Tracie Lyn Huskamp showing us how to make a Nature Inspired Mixed Media card, some pencil drawing and illuminated art techniques, and an interview with Nancy Langdon.

Margot Potter The Impatient Crafter
Tell Dad how much he rocks this Father’s Day or on his birthday with this fun and easy to make card from Madge for ILoveToCreate!

About Family Crafts
Be prepared for the next time you hear “I’m bored” from your kids… Bookmark this collection of fast and simple 10-minute crafts for kids!

Aileen’s Musings
Need a new recipe for all the zucchini your growing? Download Aileen’s printable recipe card, and baking some yummy Zucchini Cheddar Cheese Bread!

Carmi’s Art/Life World
Carmi takes a Twilight cotton bag up a notch!

Mixed Media Artist
Cyndi shares some thoughts on her recent foray into self-publishing.

Stefanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery
How to make coffin shaped cupcakes inspired by the book Kids’ Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse

The Artful Crafter
Join Eileen in June’s June “Let Them Eat Cake” creativity challenge and get a free cupcake. Sweet!

Payvment New E-Commerce for Facebook Users?

Blogged under Crafty Videos by Tammy on Friday 18 June 2010 at 8:37 am

I have been hearing a lot lately about a new feature to Facebook called Payvment. It a way to turn your Facebook page into an e-commerce page or basically a shop. For me right now, I’m not ready to do something like this because I have all my eggs and time over at Etsy, but this sure does sound interesting. I already know of a number of people who have sold an item (jewelry and other craft or artwork) after showing it off on their Facebook page. This seems like it has a lot of potential. Here’s a video that give you more information about this:

1st Jewelry Kits Are Listed!

Blogged under Crafty Biz, Crafty Products, Publications from Moi by Tammy on Wednesday 16 June 2010 at 3:18 pm

My first jewelry kits are complete and listed in my Etsy shop.  Both are earring kits using ceramic Raku beads, natural mother of pearl beads, copper beads, and copper findings. One jewelry kit is what I call a “full” kit because it has all the materials (except tools) needed to make the jewelry piece as well as a detailed full-color instructional tutorial. This is a beginning level kit designed for someone who has made little to no jewelry at all.

The second jewelry kit makes the same earring design but is geared towards someone with more experience who may want to make the earrings but doesn’t need the tutorial included the the full kit, so the kit includes all the materials but no tutorial.

I have two more earring kits in the works that are now in the testing phases where I actually have people make the kits and follow the instructions so I can make extra sure they are super clear before I start selling them. And then, the fourth earring kit I have plan is still in the design stage.

What do you think about this first kit? I’d love to hear some feedback, and if you know of anyone who has wanted to start making jewelry but wasn’t sure how to get started, please pass along the links to the kits above. These earrings are very easy to make, so it would be a great way for a newbie to get started with this fun hobby.

Crochet and Knit and Help Haiti

Blogged under Charity Crafting by Tammy on Tuesday 15 June 2010 at 10:43 am

For some reason, I have gotten out of tune with one of my on-line crochet groups who does a monthly charity challenge. I some how don’t see  the messages that announce when they start until it’s too late to join in, and I think they now require that you pledge a certain number before you can get any real info on what’s going on. Because I’m usually so busy, I don’t like pledging. I make what I can make and send what I can.

As a result, I have not been doing much charity crochet lately and have been trying to find other options (other than the squares I still make for Handmade Blessings). Then I saw Global Knits mentioned in a recent Lion Brand Yarn newsletter. One focus of this group is to make wash clothes and send them along with soap to help the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. You can find more information about it here, but basically you use 100% cotton yard (which I happen to have a lot of right now for some reason) and use that to make a few wash clothes, put them along with some soap in a zip log bag, and mail it to the organization in Ohio. They then send them onto Haiti.

I love this idea because it is so practical as far as meeting a need and doable for most knitters or crocheters. As far as crochet goes, while there are all kinds of wonderful wash cloth patterns out there, you can also just simply double crochet pieces to the required dimensions (1 - 10″ x 10″ washcloth, 1 - 12″ x 18″ hand towel). It is one of those no-brainer type projects you can do while watching television or waiting in a doctor’s office or whatever.

Once I get my current crochet projects just about done, I think I’m going to start in on some wash clothes and hand towels.

Crochet Baby Dog Blanket

Blogged under Projects in Progress by Tammy on Monday 14 June 2010 at 10:25 am

This is my latest crochet project, another blanket for my dogs. This is actually crocheted blanket number 3 for them. The first one has a few bites in it, but otherwise, has managed to survive. The second one was demolished in about a week.

I wondered why one seemed okay with them and the other was just a toy to destroy, and then I realized that with the first one I had used very soft baby yarn. It was originally going to be a baby blanket for a human baby, but I didn’t like how it turned out, so it ended up as a dog blanket. The second dog blanket was a big granny square style blanket made of acrylic yarn.

Do they notice the difference between the yarns? I’m thinking, yes, they do. So I decided to use up scraps of baby yarn I have and make a third blanket, this time using double crochet stitch so it more similar to the first blanket. I’m just half way finished with it, so fingers crossed, this one will survive.

In fact, I was testing out my new flip video camera recently and caught them wrestling in the back yard. So this is an example of how crazy these two guys can get around here:

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