Wall Hanging Earring Holder

When my husband and I moved away from our first home (and first city) as a married couple, our family came and helped us pack a truck to make the 7 hr drive to our temporary home (my husband’s parent’s house). Although we all remember packing my earring holder (it had nearly been forgotten, so it stands out in our memories) somehow it vanished at the temporary residence. Although I have searched frequently for it, the earring holder has not yet turned up.

Confession time: sometimes, instead of digging through my jewelry box to find earrings, I go without. It's simply less hassle! I love this wall hanging earring holder because it looks nice, and I can see (and get to!) all of my earrings with very little effort.

Since there were originally two earring holders given to my parents years ago, I was able to consult the one remaining earring holder (my mom’s) to decide how to create a new one.

Material/Equipment List for Entire Project:

*Note* the materials/equipment is also broken down in each section, this is just a cumulative list of everything used in the project. 

Materials (and prices I paid):

  • dowel rod, 24″ long or 2- 12″ dowel rods (given to me free)
    • can be bigger/smaller depending on desired size of project
  • 4 decorative ends (Cost Plus World Market, .50c a piece)
    • (type depends on whether using drilling method or not – I used “drilling method” and cabinet knobs. See method for notes on possible ends)
  • 36″ x 84″ vinyl porch screen replacement kit (cheapest option) (Home Depot, $10 – estimated cost per one earring holder, .72c)
  • bow wire or twine (Wal-Mart, $1.50)

ESTIMATED COST FOR ONE EARRING HOLDER: $4.22 

Equipment:

*NOTE* I did not purchase anything in this section for this project, and as most are common household items I did not count them towards the price. 

  • ruler
  • pencil
  • hand saw
  • drill (or glue, if not using drilling method)
  • two drill bits (for pilot hole, skip if not using drilling method)
  • scissors, for cutting vinyl
  • chalk marker (easiest to wash off)
  • 3″ upholstery needle (or other needle with large eye)
  • thumb tack or small nail 
Some assembled supplies for the earring holder.
A few assembled supplies.

There is a method that involves a small amount of simple wood work, and a method that does not need wood work (other than cutting the dowel rod to size). My dad helped me, and we did the drilling method.

Sawing Only, No Drilling Method:
*NOTE* If using cabinet knobs, skip to “drilling method”.

Materials/Equipment used in this section:

  • ruler or tape measure
  • pencil (to mark where to cut)
  • hand saw
  • 24″ dowel rod (longer/shorter is fine, just change other sizes to match)
  • 4 decorative ends (can be homemade or maybe curtain rod ends)

The dowel rod still needs to be cut to have two pieces the desired length (mine were both cut to 12″ long), but this is easily done with a hand saw and takes only a short time. Since I started with a long dowel rod, when it was cut I had an extra piece. You can save the extra for another project, but it isn’t necessary here. Measure the length you want with the ruler, mark it, and use the hand saw to cut it at the mark.

In this method, you would use an end piece on the dowel rod that fits snuggly over without needing holes drilled. I’m not sure precisely what to use as we did not do this method, but you could get really creative with it – if you like to work with clay, you could even shape ends to fit over the dowel rod and glue them on. My dad suggested that decorative ends designed for curtain rods may work as well. DO NOT GLUE ANYTHING YET! (If you do glue at this point, it will make the remaining project more difficult but not impossible).

Drilling Method:

Materials/Equipment used in this section:

  • ruler or tape measure
  • pencil (to mark where to cut)
  • hand saw
  • 24″ dowel rod (longer/shorter is fine, just change other sizes to match)
  • 4 decorative cabinet knobs
  • drill
  • 2 drill bits, one small and one size of screw on knob
Cabinet knob used as decorative end
Here is one of the cabinet knobs I used. The screw is part of the knob.

Don’t let the fact that there is drilling involved keep you from this project! Wood tools make me very nervous so I asked my dad for his help, but he said it was easy and he was able to finish while we talked. It took him less than 10 minutes to saw the rod to the right lengths and drill all four holes.

Prep The Dowel Rod:

Cutting the rod is simple. You need two pieces of rod the same length. Since I started with a long dowel rod, when it was cut I had an extra piece. You can save the extra for another project, but it isn’t necessary here. Measure the length you want with the ruler, mark it, and use the hand saw to cut it at the mark.

For the decorative ends on my dowel rods, I used cabinet knobs that were designed to look like sunflowers. Since they were made for cabinet doors, they had a screw attached – hence the drilling into the rods. The knobs came with nuts attached, but since they were unnecessary for the project my dad saved them for any project that might come up later.

Time To Drill:

We made a pilot hole to keep the dowel rod from cracking. Starting with the smallest drill bit, find the center of the dowel rod end and slowly drill a hole. It’s best to go slow and start with a very small drill bit. After the hole is drilled, take a larger drill bit (drill bit size will depend on the size of the screw attached to your knob) and drill it into the hole just created with the smallest drill bit. This widens the hole enough to insert the screw.

Although you could attempt to skip the small drill bit and only use the large, this increases the risk of damaging the rod. In the end, there should be four holes – one on either end of each of the two dowel rods. You should be able to screw the knobs into these holes, with them fitting snugly enough that no glue is necessary. Even if you wish to glue the knobs, wait until the end. DO NOT GLUE AT THIS POINT. It will make the rest of the project more difficult (but not impossible).

Knob being screwed into rod.
Visual of knob being screwed into dowel rod.
A Bit of Cutting & Stitching:

Materials used in this section:

  • 36″ x 84″ vinyl screen replacement kit
  • ruler
  • chalk marker
  • scissors
  • bow wire
  • 3″ upholstery needle (necessary for larger eye)
Cutting:
Vinyl Porch Screen Replacement Kit for earring holder
Vinyl Screening – Dimensions are 36″ x 84″

Now for the easy part! This part takes more patience, but it’s a easier to correct any errors here … cutting & stitching! The vinyl has to be cut to the appropriate size, since it was designed for a porch. If you don’t mind having a few scraps of vinyl afterwards, it is easier to cut off a bigger than necessary portion of vinyl so you have a smaller piece to work with. If scraps aren’t desirable, just measure the vinyl to fit while it is still attached to the roll.

It would have been preferable to have a longer piece of screen for my final project, but cutting mistakes made my project slightly smaller. If you want to prepare for potential errors (such as cutting crookedly), then you can cut your project slightly bigger than desired in order to leave room for trimming. Also keep in mind that both ends of the screen will be rolled over in the finished project, making it shorter. I recommend planning for a longer project than intended, and using the ruler and chalk marker to mark where to cut. You can easily wipe the chalk marker off of the screen with a damp cloth afterwards.

The dimensions for my cut screen were: 12″ x  18″.

Stitching:

When the screen is cut, it’s time to move to stitching. Bow wire proved quite difficult to thread into the needle, but I thought the finished product was worth the extra effort. That is entirely up to you.

Finished stitches using bow wire.
Finished stitches using bow wire.

Using the longer portion (18″) of the screen as the sides of the project, fold over the bottom (12″) of the screen one and a quarter inches. Use a ruler and draw a line with the chalk marker to indicate where the fold should stop to guide you as you stitch. You want the dowel rod to slide in and out easily, but not be too tight or too loose. Knot the end of the wire, and with the threaded needle start your stitches three squares down and three squares in from the cut end of the vinyl. (You will be using the third square.) Try to keep your knot on the same side as the folded over vinyl (the back side). If a square happens to be broken or break at some point, starting at this point will make sure your knot stays secure in spite of it.

Stitch and Knot:

To make the stitching go faster (but still look nice), I put the wire through the first hole, skipped two holes, and then put the wire back through the third hole (not counting the first hole). Continue in this pattern until you get close to the end of the vinyl, and end your stitches at least one hole (preferably two) from the end. (How many holes from the end depends on the dimensions of your vinyl.) Knot the end of your wire (try to keep the knot on the back side) and cut off the excess. You should have a kind of long, thin pocket for the dowel rod.

Making sure the vinyl is folded over on the same (back) side of the earring holder, repeat the stitching process above for the opposite end of the vinyl.

Earring Holder Assembly Time:

Materials used in this section:

  • extra bow wire
  • stitched 12″ x 18″ vinyl screening
  • 2- 12″ dowel rods
  • 4 decorative cabinet knobs
  • glue (optional, I did not use glue)
  • thumb tack or small nail

Home stretch! This post was extra long, but that was because I wanted to make sure everything was clearly explained. This part is a breeze!

Choose which end you want to be the bottom, and slide a dowel rod through the fold. Attach decorative ends. If you don’t glue them on (whether or not glue is necessary depends on the ends you use) then you can take the dowel rods off later and paint them. I left mine the original color and prefer it that way, but it is nice to be able to change the color whenever you want.

Sunflower design on cabinet knob.
Design on decorative knob. Aren’t sunflowers beautiful?!

Slide the second dowel rod through the other fold. Since I used knobs that screw into the rod, I was able to hide the knots where I tied the hanger between the knobs and the rod. To do that, screw the knob partially into the rod. Tie the desired length of wire in a loose knot around the end of the rod, and then carefully slip it off onto the screw to finish the knot. I kept mine loose (not tight on the screw at all) so it would be easy to disassemble if I ever wanted to change the knobs or paint the rods. Do the same thing on the other end with the other knob.

If you chose the “no drill” method, you can simply leave the knot visible on the rod, or make it a bow on either end. I debated with tassels where each knot would be – have fun with it!

Enjoy Your Crafty Skills:

Hang your new earring holder on the wall, and enjoy your hard work by slipping some earrings on it! You put the post or wire of the earring through the front, and with your hand behind the holder you can slip the back on the earring on the other side to keep it in place.

Wall Hanging Earring Holder

Hope you love your earring holder as much as I love mine!

Self-Harm: I Don’t Want to Recover

It isn’t fair. Everyone has an addiction, everyone has something that they use to take the pain away. Just because I wear the evidence of my (self-harm) addiction on my skin, I cannot be allowed to continue?

The doctors and nurses at the hospital say themselves that it’s “just a scratch”. The psychiatrists say it “isn’t serious”. If my cuts are “just scratches”, why does it matter if I continue to cut myself? If the problem “isn’t serious”, why am I baker acted when someone discovers the marks?

I do not encourage or support self-harm, but I DO believe that I should be allowed to express myself in the way I see fit. Please stop overreacting to a "problem" that isn't like society thinks it is.

Non-Suicidal Self-Injury

Non-suicidal self-injury does exist. There are people who cut (or otherwise injure) themselves and do not have a suicidal intent. Personally, I stopped cutting over a year ago – but I still want to cut. I only stopped because my now-husband put his foot down (so to speak). Even though I want to cut, I do not want to die. I have no plan to commit suicide, no intention of committing suicide. I simply wish to express the inner turmoil consuming me on my skin.

Why is this an issue?

People are addicted to drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, the list goes on. Some people are addicted to tattoos, but their self-expression is more acceptable than mine? You can see both on our skin. Drugs and alcohol can harm you from the inside out. Shopping too much can be devastating on mental health (debt, anyone?), and having too much sex garners you a unfavorable impression with the people who know you (and maybe an STD).

All of these are common addictions. Working too much can also be an addiction, but the only people who you hear complaining are the families of these work addicts (who don’t get to see their loved one). These addictions can all take both a physical and a mental toll (tattoos probably the least so). How is cutting any different? I don’t cut deep enough to do serious damage – just enough to feel the release.

Self-Harm: Not Guaranteed Safe

Self-harm is just another form of the addiction to release that we all have. When we get stressed out or keyed up, we want to “take a load off” – we just do so differently. I’m not claiming self-injury is safe – but neither is drinking too much alcohol, or driving a car for that matter! We all know that neither of those activities is guaranteed safe, and yet they are both completely acceptable behaviors. Of course they both have restrictions – if you drink too much and act in an unacceptable way, you might get kicked out or face some kind of legal trouble (depending on what you do), and if you drive in dangerous way then you could lose your license, get in an accident, or even lose your life. What I’m saying is that we as a society need to take a second glance at the things that we label “dangerous” or consider problem behaviors.

I Advocate for the Choice to Express Myself

I do not advocate for anyone to self-harm – I DO advocate for myself to be given the choice to express myself in the non-suicidal way I see fit. When I self-harm, no one (including myself) is in any danger. Society needs to step up to the plate and STOP overreacting to ‘problems’ that aren’t actually problems.

Besides, in the worst (read: unlikely) case scenario, I cut too deep and die. That’s one less burden on you, society. That’s how you refer to people like me, anyways. Is it different if I actually die? Kind of like people attending the funeral of someone they hated in life. You’ve got to keep up appearances.

Sometimes the outcry that people like me are a burden on society that should be dealt with are the reason I want to cut. People help contribute to a problem, then panic when they see the results of their contribution.

You contributed to my vices, society. Now leave me to them.

 

Disclaimer: I do not support or encourage self-harm in any form. Once you start it is hard to stop, and strangers judge you by the scars on your skin. Our society has not reached a place where they can accept behavior that is unusual but not dangerous. The purpose of this post was simply to express my frustration with society and its unwillingness to accept me as I am.

Basics for Reheating Leftovers

After a recent post on why leftovers are wonderful, I was considering reasons people may not like leftovers. It occurred to me that if leftovers are not reheated properly, that could cause them to not be very good. Thus, I plan to do an overview of how to reheat different types of foods, based on the successes my husband and I have had with these methods.

Leftovers can be a delicious way to reduce stress (not having to cook dinner!) but only if you reheat them well.

Reheating Leftovers:

There are different techniques for reheating different types of foods, but here I focused on the basics of microwaving to get great results:

Soups/Stews/Chowders
  • Usually can be reheated as is using the microwave, or in a small saucepan on the stovetop. If you choose to reheat on the stovetop you may need to add a little water, milk, or broth (depending on the base). Keep in mind that even though leftovers like these tend to thicken up when they are refrigerated for storing, they get thinner again as they are heated. Adding too much liquid for heating or heating too quickly could make these leftovers less desirable. Start with a small amount of liquid if necessary, and heat over low heat.
Breads/Baked Goods
  • Most of these leftovers that have only been sitting for a day will be fine gently microwaved for about 15 seconds (depending on size). Keep in mind that this option will NOT crisp up anything that was originally crispy. For those, you would want to use a toaster, a toaster oven, a Nuwave style oven, or your home oven. If the leftover has been sitting long enough to be dry, then cover or wrap it in a damp (not dripping!) paper towel before microwaving. Do not use the paper towel method with any heat source other than the microwave. Keep in mind that breads and baked goods tend to have some of the shortest shelf-lives as “good” leftovers.
Pasta/Rice/Grain Dishes 
  • Much like the aforementioned soup leftovers, you may want to add a small amount of liquid to these leftovers when you reheat them. The liquid (usually milk, broth, or water) depends on the base of the dish. For instance, macaroni and cheese is better if you stir in a small amount of milk before microwaving. It is even more important to use small amounts of added liquid with these dishes, because most people don’t want watery pasta. If you do happen to mistakenly add too much liquid, you can carefully dab it off with a paper towel or drain it off.
Meat Based Leftovers 
  • Leftovers that are mainly meat also reheat better with a little bit of liquid (usually water) added before microwaving. You can also try using a microwave cover* over the dish to help keep moisture safely in or cover with a damp paper towel (as seen for breads). A little bit of gravy if it was originally on the meat could also help keep it moist as it is reheated.
Cooked Vegetables 
  • Added liquid being beneficial to leftover vegetables usually depends on how they were cooked, and if they are straight vegetables or a vegetable based dish. Straight vegetables are usually okay microwaved without any added liquid. For a vegetable based dish, it would be better to see which category above it most closely follows. Then adhere to those general guidelines.

With all of these, experiment (safely) and do what works best for you. There is often more than one way to accomplish the same goal (I.E. reheat leftovers).

 

*NOTE*  Microwave covers are specially designed with steam holes AND are microwave safe. Please be careful what you use as a cover. They are generally used to prevent splatter in your microwave.

P.S. Leftovers might not be good after reheating if the person who made the leftovers needs a little more practice. This should be easy to figure out if the meal wasn’t very good before saving. Don’t be afraid to go to tutorial videos or food blogs for help. Practice is essential as well.

Enjoy – Trillia J. Newbell

Enjoy: Finding the Freedom to Delight Daily in God’s Good Gifts by Trillia J. Newbell

Throughout Enjoy, Newbell incorporated references to Bible verses and also “The Enjoy Project” at the end of chapters – making this read not only perfect for a discussion setting but great for including in personal devotion time. Enjoy can be savored as a light read, but also used as an in-depth tool for spiritual growth. Having those options was one of the best parts of reading this book.

Newbell's novel to encourage and show us that God's creation is a gift to us - not meant to cause us guilt, but to be savored as pointing to our Creator.

Not Only For Women:

Although primarily geared towards women, Enjoy is applicable towards men as well, and can be a useful tool for either sex. As evidenced by the title, Newbell crafted a novel to show us that we can enjoy (no pun intended) God’s creation without feeling guilty. Creation is one of God’s many gifts to us! Without shirking from touchier subjects (like sex), Newbell gently helps us discern whether we are enjoying something, or idolizing it.

Newbell helpfully added some perspective to several verses, including Genesis 1:28 within the pages of Enjoy; on pg. 15 she reminded us that “we must steward his [God’s] world to the best of our ability”. We have dominion over the world, but also a responsibility to it because of the privilege we have been given.

An immensely thought-provoking read, Enjoy helped me to notice aspects of everyday life that I never thought significant before. It also helped me realize where I have some correction to apply in my own life. For instance, on pg 7 Newbell brings our attention to the fact that God knew man would turn from Him even as He created us, and yet He still declared all that He had made, including man, very good! (Genesis 1:31)

Included Recommendations:

Several times while reading Enjoy, I noticed that Newbell included recommendations for works by other authors. It is wonderful to see not only that she supports other writers, but that additional support is given on various topics that aren’t addressed as thoroughly in this novel.

Reading Enjoy inspired me to start a project of my own to savor God’s creation and gifts to us more thoroughly. I recommend this book to any reader who wants to be challenged and grow spiritually.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Buffalo Blue Cheese Stuffed Potatoes

Apparently I’m on a buffalo blue cheese kick at the moment, but boy are the results yummy! These stuffed potatoes are easy to make, and great for a small lunch or even a larger appetizer. These also fall into the “comfort food” category for me, so on these chilly days that are dark and gloomy (and rainy!) it kind of cheers me up. Just be careful not to rely on comfort food very often – it can be a hard habit to kick with detrimental results for your waistline (and self-esteem). It’s okay to enjoy your food, as long as it doesn’t become a coping mechanism. (I.E. be careful, but enjoy.)

Hot and delicious, these stuffed potatoes will fill your belly in a satisfying way.

Ingredients:
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1- 12.5 oz can chicken breast, drained
  • blue cheese dressing (to taste)
  • *Frank’s Original hot sauce (to taste)
  • 8oz cheddar cheese, grated (divided)
  • crackers (like Ritz or Club), crushed (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • sour cream (optional)
Potato Cooking Methods:
Option #1 (and alternate suggestions):

The goal here is a baked potato, so you can use any method preferred. The options provided are simply quick, fairly easy methods that produce the desired results. There is a paper bag method that works well, or you can wrap the potatoes in foil and bake them in the oven until soft when pricked with a fork. A lesser known option (the one I used) is to “bake” the potatoes in a cloth potato bag. You scrub the potatoes, wrap them in a damp paper towel (do NOT prick them) and put them inside the bag. Then you microwave them until soft (I did two large potatoes together and it took 12 minutes).

The potato bag I have was a gift, and the person who gave it to me bought it homemade. It has a very pretty sunflower design on the fabric. The point is, there are different styles of bags out there. You can buy them online (example of similar bag to what I used) from web retailers, you can make one, you might even be able to find them at a flea market or from a family friend. No matter how you get your bag, follow the instructions provided. The times I provided are for the bag I used, and may be different with a different bag.

Option #2:

Before I had a cloth potato bag, I put the potatoes (prick them well with a fork) on a large plate with enough water to cover the bottom of the plate (but not make a mess). Then I covered the plate with waxed paper, and put it in the microwave for about 10 min. Then flip the (very hot) potatoes with a fork, and cook them for another 5 min or until soft. Actual cooking times depend on the amount of potatoes being cooked, and the size of said potatoes. This process takes longer and is more involved, but it doesn’t heat up the kitchen and is faster than the oven method.

Making the Filling:

Set oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, break the chicken breast into small pieces. I usually use a spoon and “chop” at it. It helps the flavors blend better, and then you don’t have large chunks of plain chicken. (Feel free to cook chicken breast instead of using canned, I simply used canned because it was faster, easier, and cheaper.) Add desired amount of blue cheese dressing, hot sauce, and about 6 oz of cheddar cheese. Set aside.

When the potatoes are soft, cut them in half lengthwise and carefully scrape out the potato. I left a thin layer intact to support the skin and make a sturdier “bowl”. Add the scraped out potato to the chicken mixture for the stuffed potatoes. Set mixture aside.

Prep the Hollowed Out Potato:

Spray or brush the hollowed out potatoes with olive oil and lightly sprinkle on salt and pepper. Place in oven for about 15 min, or until slightly browned and the skin feels a little crispy.

Fill potatoes with chicken mixture. Sprinkle on leftover cheese and crushed crackers (if using). Bake for about 10 min or until hot and cheese is melted.

Serving Yummy Stuffed Potatoes:

Serve with sour cream (if desired, I preferred sour cream on mine) or additional blue cheese dressing and hot sauce (my husband preferred it this way. I found it to be a little overwhelming to have so much blue cheese spice going on). We also sprinkled Italian seasoning and garlic powder over ours before eating.

Buffalo Blue Cheese Stuffed Potatoes - yum!

Enjoy!

 

*NOTES*

I specifically mentioned Frank’s brand hot sauce because that is my favorite hot sauce to cook with. In my opinion, it has the perfect ratio of spice to flavor to add to dishes without overpowering the other ingredients. I don’t like Frank’s nearly as well to add to dishes for seasoning AFTER they are prepared, unless the hot sauce is already included in the recipe. Frank’s in no way sponsored this post, and did not ask me to write this. This is my personal opinion; using Frank’s brand is a suggestion. Feel free to use any hot sauce you like. 

 

Relieving Stress: 8 Reasons Leftovers Are Wonderful

Day to day life gives more stress than many feel possible to bear. Why do we add even more stress by adhering to some mysterious obligation to cook every night? It is possible to not eat out, and also not cook every night … and that is where leftovers come into play. You still get the delicious healthiness of a homemade meal (because it is homemade!) without the pressure of needing a plan for dinner every night of the week.

There is so much to love about leftovers, and yet many people despise them. Here's 8 reasons they are wonderful!

Two Sides:

When it comes to leftover food from meals, there seems to be two main sides: the lovers, and the …eh hem … people who are most definitely not fond of them. It is always shocking to me when people who hate leftovers and can’t afford to go out to eat often also hate cooking (but are good cooks). If the person who created the meal is a good cook, then why would the leftovers not be enjoyable? There are often times when dishes are good the first night, but even better as leftovers (because the flavors have had more time to meld).

Reasons Leftovers Are Great Options:
  • They provide a homemade meal that takes little effort to reheat (hello, microwave!) – great for busy adults
  • Homemade leftover meals are typically much healthier than fast food or frozen meals (and you can control how healthy/unhealthy they are when the meal is initially prepared)
  • If you loved the meal the first time, you can enjoy the same dish again without having to make it again.
  • Making a big batch of a meal and eating it as leftovers throughout the week is usually cheaper than preparing just enough food for the first meal.
  • When you make big batches, you can easily use up larger quantities of ingredients and not have to worry about how to use them, or about leftover ingredients going bad in the refrigerator.
  • Some leftovers (like soup) can even be frozen and reheated months later when you want it again (a great option if it’s a meal you don’t want often).
  • You can save money on your utility bills by reheating leftovers instead of turning on the oven to cook a fresh meal – using inside ovens heats up your home and makes your air conditioning work harder (raising your electric bill).
  • Preparing food to eat as leftovers throughout the week can help you stick to a diet or healthy eating plan more easily – if you can quickly reheat a healthy meal and assuage your hunger, you are less likely to eat quick (often unhealthy) snacks that happen to be nearby OR get so hungry that you binge eat.

Are you sold yet? I’ll give you some time to think it over …

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

Strangely enough, this book was not one I picked for myself. A book I ordered online did not come; this book by Fielding came in its place. With a little bit of back and forth with the seller, we were given a refund and told we could decide what happened to this book – no need to ship it back. If we didn’t want the book, it could be donated.

Fielding's book The Edge of Reason definitely got a reaction from me as a reader - and not necessarily a positive one. This book makes an impression.

You know me, I couldn’t resist reading an (unexpected) free book! (Even if it was the second in an unfamiliar series.) The book definitely garnered a reaction from me (oftentimes an angry reaction), so I decided to share my opinions on it.

Entering the World of Bridget Jones:

For the first half of this book I only had complaints – the book reads as thoughts from Bridget’s head, which means unless it is a direct conversation, the “sentences” are almost always incomplete. That drove me absolutely bonkers throughout this novel and I almost stopped reading due to it.

Time is marked by dates, and under each date is a short note from Bridget about her weight and caloric intake along with other information about the day. Although I couldn’t find a mention of Bridget’s actual height, it was distressing to read her constantly fretting about weighing 130 lb (give or take). Seeing as The Edge of Reason reads as if primarily geared towards young adult readers, it seems that it would be detrimental to those same readers to have yet another character thrusting numbers at them about how much is okay to weigh and how many calories are *too* many. Not to mention, Bridget and her friends are heavy drinkers, and at one point experiment with *natural* (still illegal) drugs.

The obsession Bridget, Jude, and Shaz have with dating/self-help genre novels is frankly rather distressing, but I’m happy to report that was one of the things that improved towards the second half of the novel.

(Offensive) Shock Value Techniques:

In the first half, Fielding randomly incorporated a boy with supposed schizophrenia for no visible purpose other than shock value, which I was angry about. The addition of the boy was unnecessary – he only appeared in the story for a short time and quickly disappeared again – and was also very unhelpful for the general fear about mental illnesses. Another anger-inducing slight to people with mental illnesses in their loved ones was found on pg. 152, when a homosexual character claimed he didn’t want to talk (due to sad feelings about an ex-boyfriend) “Because I have lost my former personality and become a manic-depressive.” Fielding does realize that mental illness does not work that way, right?

There were other, slightly less offensive things included for shock value, but the book did get better sometime after the halfway mark. There were a few things funny enough that I laughed out loud, and at the end it seemed that Bridget had grown since the beginning of the novel.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, I would not want to read this book again – or anything else by this author – but I am glad to have stuck with it until the end. The story ends well, but it is still not recommended reading material for those who have less self-confidence or sense of self.

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole has never been a favorite of mine. I recently stumbled upon an interesting concept, though – green beans topped with similar ingredients to what you would find in the casserole, instead of being in casserole form. In this format, each person could control how much green beans they got versus how much topping – count me in!

Traditional green bean casserole has everyone eating the same ratios of saucey green beans, but this revamp lets the person decide their own ratios!

The recipe is fairly easy, and yummy as well.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg bacon
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 3 tbsp butter, oil, or bacon fat (what I used)
  • 6 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp cheap off-dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/4 c beef broth
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 c parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • parmesan cheese for topping, optional (to taste)
  • french fried onions, optional (to taste)
Green Bean “Casserole” How To:

Cook the bacon until crispy but not burned. Let it cool, and then crumble it up or finely chop it. If you want, you can save the fat for using some of later in the recipe. If you prefer not to cook bacon, you can buy bacon already cooked and crumbed (or leave it out altogether).

Remove both ends from all of the green beans, and without cutting them smaller heat them in a pan of water over med. heat until cooked to your preferred tenderness (I cooked mine roughly 5-10 min. I’m not sure of the exact time because I was prepping other ingredients. They were tender but not at all mushy). If you prefer, steaming would be a great way to cook them.

While the green beans are cooking, heat your cooking fat (butter, oil, or bacon fat) in a medium saucepan until warm enough to saute. Add the green onion. Cook until soft, then add the sliced mushrooms. Stir frequently. When the mushrooms have shrunk, add the garlic and Italian seasoning. Mix well.

There should be a bit of juice in your pan at this point. Add the flour, and stir until there are no flour lumps. Add the wine and stir until thoroughly combined. Add the broth and sour cream. Stir. Once small bubbles start rising in the mixture, add the cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Add bacon and combine.

To Serve:

Plate your desired amount of green beans, and drizzle sauce over them. You can use as much or as little sauce as you want. Top with parmesan cheese and french fried onions. Enjoy!

Not Quite Green Bean Casserole

 

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It’s been said before how crafts like this Wibbly Wobbly wall art are good distractions for people with mental illnesses (or other stress). Although this post is a bit late for Christmas (it was originally intended to be a Christmas present, and I didn’t want the recipient to see it early) it can still be a birthday present – or a present to yourself …

This idea was based on a picture I saw online that said, “whatever, I’m late anyways”. The idea was great, and I wanted to do something with it for a present. When my husband and I were discussing presents one day and I showed him the picture, he (jokingly) suggested “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” (from Doctor Who, if you aren’t familiar). Since my sister loves Doctor Who, and both her birthday and Christmas were coming up, it was settled.

Birthdays are always coming up and fans of The Doctor are everywhere! This is a piece of wall art I made for an upcoming family birthday. It was fun and easy to make, so here's how it's done.

Materials:
    • 22 in x 28 in canvas (or larger if you want to do the whole clock) – I got mine at Michael’s. Look for sales, I got mine in a 2 day sale for 70% off.

22"x28" canvas

    • 250 ml tube of paint (choose a lighter color so the letters and numbers stand out) – I used bright aqua green acrylic paint from Michael’s. The size I purchased does not appear to be available online, but it was $11. I recommend looking for a sale.

250 ml bright aqua green acrylic paint

    • 2 – 12 ml tubes of paint (choose a dark color, I used black and violet. You could also just use one color.) I already had mine from other projects. I only added the size to let you know that it doesn’t take much – the size I used was more than enough. It also appears the size I used is only available in sets of several tubes. In-store, Michael’s has a large selection paints similar to the one I linked to for .50 – $1.00.
    • letters and numbers (I used a wooden 250 piece set from Michael’s, which has plenty of letters to spell “wibbly wobbly timey wimey” as well as all of the necessary numbers for the clock). You can also use stickers, or paint yours on.

250 piece wooden number and letter set

    • clock hands (I got mine from Wish – if you go that route be warned that shipping usually takes about a month. They are very cheap, though, and I couldn’t find them anywhere else, so plan ahead. You could also paint these on if you wanted).

3 piece clock hands from Wish

Other Materials (You Probably Already Have):
  • 2 paint brushes (you’ll want one that’s at least an inch wide, and a small one for painting the letters.)
  • paper plate or paint tray
  • protection for whatever surface you’ll be working on (I use a large piece of paper that came as stuffing in a package I got in the mail.)
  • wax paper (optional) – this is good for setting the letters on while they dry. They come off really easily after drying.
  • hot glue gun
  • hot gun glue sticks
How To:

Using the 250 ml paint, coat the entire front and sides of the canvas. After it dries, paint another coat, even if you don’t think it needs it – you’ll be happy about this later when your project looks great! It’s important to wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat so you can get proper coverage.

If you bought wooden letters and numbers, or pieces that need to be painted – with the two 12 ml tubes of paint, cover the front and sides of each of your letters and numbers. Do not paint the back – it is unnecessary since the pieces will be glued to a canvas. I used black on the numbers and violet on the letters. Only one coat was necessary. Lay the pieces on wax paper to dry.

Painting the wooden numbers.

Numbers to Paint:
  • (1) – #0
  • (5) – #1
  • (2) – #2
  • (1 EACH) – #’s 3 through 9
Letters to Paint (spells “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey”):
  • (4) – B
  • (2) – E
  • (3) – I
  • (2) – L
  • (2) – M
  • (1) – O
  • (1) – T
  • (3) – W
  • (4) – Y

Of course, check my figures to make sure you have the correct amount of each letter and number. I’m only human, and do make mistakes. 

Once your canvas and pieces are dry, arrange the pieces on the canvas. Make sure you lay out the clock pieces too, so you can put the numbers the proper distance away. You want to get an idea of the look you are going for before you attach them. I arranged mine like this:

Unfinished canvas

This is the unfinished canvas. After this photo was taken, I decided to put a number 1 on the top left, as if part of the 11 was still in place on the clock. You can arrange yours however you want. If you wanted, you could even do the full clock (you would need a larger canvas) and have various pieces missing from the clock and either falling or lying beneath the clock (as seen on this canvas).

After you find the look you want, it’s time to break out your hot glue gun and hot glue sticks.

Hot Glue Time:

I recommend leaving the pieces in place, and picking them up one at a time to apply the hot glue. After applying the glue, put the piece back in place firmly, and then move on to the next piece. That way, you don’t have to mark the canvas for positions and you can still have a good idea of where the piece goes. It won’t be in exactly the same place as before (unless you have a really good memory and can place a piece precisely on the first try) but it will still look great. It might even look better than how you had it arranged before!

Don’t glue the clock hands yet – work on the numbers before that. It is a good idea to glue certain clock numbers first – for instance, on my clock I glued the numbers 12, 3, and 6 first. These numbers determine the positions of the other numbers. Even in cases where the numbers are falling, it is good to have these base numbers down as a marker. Always keep in mind the length of your clock hands (you can probably trim them if absolutely necessary, but be careful not to leave any sharp edges).

Don’t Glue the Clock Hands Yet:

After you have glued all of your numbers, bend the NOT YET GLUED clock hands (GENTLY!) so that they come out from the canvas. If you have already glued the hands, you can either leave them unbent, or attempt to very carefully bend them. Bending them after they are glued is simply a little more difficult – but bending adds to the unbalanced (wibbly wobbly) look of the clock.

If your clock hands are from Wish, then they will fit together with the hour hand on the bottom, the minute hand in the middle, and the second hand on the top. After placing them together, glue the underside of the hour hand where the all join. The hands from Wish have a small metal piece here, and if you apply plenty of glue it will help hold all three pieces together. You can also glue the places near the metal where the hands overlap. The glue that overflows from that section will be used to fasten the hands to the canvas, so after you glue them together, carefully place them in position on the clock.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey – Finished Product:

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Wall Art

It took me 3 days to finish this entire piece. Most of that time was waiting for the paint on the various pieces to dry. It’s not hard at all, and was enjoyable to work on.

Have fun!

The Witch Of Lime Street by David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World
By: David Jaher

In a captivating narration of a face-off between the accomplished escape-artist Houdini and the charming hostess of 10 Lime Street, Jaher draws us into the unknown. Houdini has stunned audiences everywhere with his daring feats, but he desperately wants to communicate with someone he loved and lost – his mother. With a slow build, Jaher sets the scenario and introduces the cast. In an unfulfilling search to contact his mother, Houdini exposes flimflam artists everywhere – he has a very definite view on what is acceptable or not, and taking advantage of those grieving loved ones falls into the “unacceptable” category. When Houdini befriends a huge proponent of the Spiritualist movement but remains unconvinced of the mediumship displayed being genuine, it isn’t long before a scientific contest to prove authentic mediums exist is established.

In this captivating narration, Jaher brings to life the show down between the witch, Margery, and Houdini - the escape artist.

Not a Typical Historical Read

Despite personal opinions on mediumship and séances, there were events in The Witch of Lime Street that had me as a reader baffled. As Jaher’s novel is depicting actual historical events, it would have been easy for the novel to come across as dry and boring, however that was not the case. Once the stage was set the novel drew me in and I was eager to discover what happened next. Houdini was a very complex, realistic character. Despite his pride and arrogance, he also came across as deeply layered – passionate about his cause and desperately determined to prevent “mediums” with nothing more than street tricks (something Houdini himself was very familiar with) from fooling the bereaved.

The “witch” known as Margery was also a very complex, well-written character. Despite her background, Margery is described by all who meet her as cultured and of a far better stock than a typical run-of-the-mill medium. Despite the rigorous testing Margery is put through (and tolerates with good humor) in order to determine whether or not her mediumship is genuine, Margery offers very little resistance and continues to go above and beyond as an excellent hostess. As Jaher introduces more information about Margery, as a reader you start to realize the difficult position Margery is in. She is a character that induces a sympathetic response the more you understand her.

More Information Would Be Nice

It would have been nice to hear more about involvement from Bess, Houdini’s wife (she is mostly present at the beginning and end of the novel, and not in any major way) however, with the sources Jaher worked with for this novel it is understandable that she may not have been mentioned much (and this story does not revolve around her). I also would have very much liked to have read whether any verdict on the Crandon’s involvement with the “lost boys” was determined – and if not the Crandon’s, where were those children? Jaher briefly introduces the mystery in the chapter entitled “Lost Boys” (pg. 345), but doesn’t tell us of any solution.

Typically, historical novels are not in my zone of interest, but The Witch of Lime Street was a fascinating read and I’m glad to have read it. Jaher primarily came across as pro-Spiritualist, but he still presented the story with countless sources as evidence to back him and without noticeably skewing the facts either way. For those who wish to review Jaher’s sources, he lists them in the back of the novel.

 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.