Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grad gift

Congratulations to my sister, who just graduated from UCSD!  To celebrate I made her a custom purse using an old t-shirt of hers and some spare fabric:


First I took a shirt referencing the movie The Labyrinth with David Bowie. I thought that with slight modification, the quote would be applicable to her journey through school.  So I took some embroidery floss and edited the quote to match, attempting to mimic the font of the quote.  Considering I did it free-hand, I think I did a pretty good job:


Then I went online and found a free college font and downloaded it.  I added it to my font library and then typed out UCSD 2011 and printed it out.  I cut out the letters and used them as stencils to cut out the letters in yellow fabric, which I sewed onto blue fabric (UCSD's colors):

I then cut out purse-shaped pieces from the shirt and blue fabric and with the right sides together sewed around the edges so that when I turned it right-side out the seam was inside.  I took some extra blue fabric and cut it into pocket-sized scraps and sewed them onto pieces of the yellow fabric.  I then sewed the yellow pieces together around the edges to create the lining.

I folded over the edges of the purse and ironed them flat, then attached the lining to the purse using a stitch I usually use on hems.  I tried out the pockets with some nick knacks to make sure they worked.  

I cut out some strips of the extra black, yellow, and blue fabric and braided them together to make a handle.  I sewed it onto the bag using a simple straight machine stitch:

And voila: I had a keepsake for my sister.  I tried out a lot of new things with this project, and I learned a lot.  I guess that's appropriate for a bag to commemorate a graduation!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Delirium Review

Book talk: Anyone who's caught it would be able to tell you: love is a kind of sickness.  You catch it one day and suddenly you start behaving differently: you can't focus, your heart falters, your palms sweat. Books are full of people who have died from it.  The only difference between our world and Lena's is that in hers they've found a cure.  But if there was a cure to love, would you take it?  Lena has looked forward to the day she has the procedure for years.  She's longed for the day when her painful memories are dulled and she's safe from the dangers love presents.  Until one day when she meets someone who changes her mind, by chaning her heart.

Rocks my socks: This book was perfect for me because the cynical part of me was able to indulge in the whole 'love is a disease' premise of the book while the other part of me (the one I usually try to ignore) was able to revel in the romance that inevitably develops.  After all, how else is a girl to discover that her utopian society is far from it and find the strength to resist it?  The world was fun as well and I enjoyed little world-building touches like the excerpts from government publications that start off the chapters. 

Rocks in my socks: I enjoyed the novel because it catered to a highly irrational part of my mind.  Objectively speaking, it's not particularly well-written and the premise isn't exactly original, especially with the dystopian glut in YA fiction right now.  It's similar to the 'bubbly' minds of the Uglies series without the accompanying physical makeover. The end in particular felt like it was written for the eventual movie and the final action sequence felt like it came out of no where and stretched the limits of my suspension of disbelief.

Every book its reader: There's some action in the novel and the premise is interesting, but in the end it's a romance.  It's a well done romance because I'm usually not a fan of the genre and I liked this book, but it's still a romance.  Whereas with Hunger Games there's enough other stuff in it that kids who don't like romances still enjoy it, with Delirium it's so integral to the premise that anyone who doesn't like romances won't like this book. I'd give it to anyone looking for a romance with a science-fiction bent grades 6 and up.

Bonus Quotes: 

"If pneumonia felt this good I’d stand out in the snow in the winter with bare feet and no coat on, or march into the hospital and kiss pneumonia patients."

"Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge.  That’s what it is: an edge; a razor.  It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two.  Before and after.  The rest of the world falls away on either side.  Before and after--and during, a moment no bigger or longer than an edge."

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Buy it at your local independent book store or check it out from your local library

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mudshark Review

Book talk: The word in the hallway is that if you've lost something, Mudshark can find it for you. But his keen observational skills help him with more than just finding lost items.  There is no problem too big or too small for Mudshark and everyone goes to him if they've lost something.  That is until Betty Crimper comes into the library one day to ask Mudshark about her lost paper and the parrot answers first.  Even stranger, he's right.  After that everyone starts going to the parrot with their problems instead of Mudshark.  He knows there's something fishy going on, but he has bigger problems to worry about.  All the erasers are disappearing from the classrooms, the faculty restroom is becoming toxic, and one of the teachers is going crazy in his quest to track down a missing gerbil.  If anyone can sort this mess out, it's Mudshark.

Rocks my socks: I love the character of Mudshark.  He's intelligent and thoughtful and he uses it to help out his classmates and so they respect him for it.  He's cool because he's secure in who he is, not because he's trying to be.

Rocks in my socks: This book has several adult characters and every one of them suffers from Useless Adult Syndrome.   It's so bad that the librarian (the librarian mind you) buys an armadillo for the library as a pet and she has it for several weeks before Mudshark points out to her that it's not only dead it's actually a novelty purse. 

Every book its reader: The book's a mystery, but it has a lot of humor in it as well.  There's no pictures, but the text is simple and short enough that it makes a good easy chapter book.  I'd give it to 2nd or 3rd graders.

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen

Buy it at your local book store or check it out from your local library

Monday, June 13, 2011

Star Jumper Review

Book talk: Einstein has nothing on Alex.  Sure, Einstein has the theory of relativity to his name, but Alex has created a spaceship from only cardboard, duct tape, and other scraps found in the attic of his parents' house.  Life is bound to be lonely in space, and Alex will miss his parents and his friends, but it will be worth it to get away from his little brother Jonathan. Until then he has to put up with him though, which can get in the way of his work.  His brother's annoying ways are the reason he's building a spaceship, but they may also be the reason he never completes it.

Rocks my socks: This novel reminded me of an extended Calvin and Hobbes storyline.  The novel is realistic, but Alex is completely convinced of the efficacy of his cardboard spaceship, shrink ray, and duplicator, and describes the effects of the devices as if they are really happening.  I also enjoyed the relationship between Alex and Jonathan and how it is finally resolved.  This book has humor, heart, and a lot of imagination.

Rocks in my socks: The novel contains a subplot romance between Alex and a girl in his class and it felt a bit tagged on and distracting to me.  I also think that considering the audience it's aiming for it might turn off some readers as well.  Especially because the novel is so short, I think it would have been better to keep the focus on the sibling relationship.

Every book its reader: I'd give it to 2nd and 3rd graders looking for an easy chapter book.  Our 2nd grade does a unit on inventors so we've used it as a read aloud with them and they enjoyed it.  Kids who like Calvin and Hobbes will enjoy reading about Alex and his adventures.

Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius  by Frank Asch

Buy it at your local book store or check it out from your local library