Craft-Mania and Best Wishes for the New Year!!

My last post of 2011! I can’t believe a whole year has passed, but I have to admit I’m not terribly sad to see it go. It did end on a good note, though, and I hope that my current productivity level proves indicative of what’s to come next year. During the month of December, I was a crafting MACHINE! I finally had the time to finish up some projects that were started in September and October, as well as make a host of home-made Christmas gifts. I started by finishing little W’s intended Halloween costume…a little late, but I say every day is a good day to dress like a gnome!

This is so cute I can hardly stand it!!

I think he likes it :)

I finished baby Mallory’s quilt. It was my first time using a rotary cutter and I rather enjoyed the whole experience. Perhaps I’ll become a quilter and continue the family tradition.

The finished product in it's new home!

Next came the Christmas gifts, and I started by making a throw pillow out of a discarded curtain panel. Richie and I liked it so much, I decided to make one for our house, too ;)

I used some vintage 1970’s trim that I had been toting around for, literally, 10 years. I think it fits perfectly with the fabric! One of my new year’s resolutions is to actually use up all the fabric and trim that has filled our entire guest bedroom closet.

I also decided to try my hand at making infinity scarves (9 total), and I’m very happy with the result. I liked them so much that I made a few for myself as well.

(How did I manage to not get any pics of the scarves I gave away??)

And then I made some craft brooches for the crafty ladies in my family. (And, of course, I made an extra one for me, too!)

Finally, I wanted to make some foodie gifts and I decided on Outlander Kitchen (via her Island Vittles blog)’s infused Pear Brandy (go check it out!).  It was fun to make and a huge hit with my friends. I can’t wait to try her Rhubarb Gin when the weather warms up! We also experimented with some blueberry and blackberry infused Jack Daniel’s.

I forgot to take pics of the finished product, but they looked beautiful in the simple jars with a little raffia bow.

The Jack-soaked berries were way too strong for our tastes, so we gave them all to Rachel. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard from her since! I’ll drop her a line later to check in ;)

Here’s wishing you all a very safe and Happy New Year!! Best wishes for 2012!! See ya next year ;)

Merry Christmas!!

My furry babies are staying with their grandparents for the time being, so I wasn’t able to take their annual Christmas photo this year. While this makes me very sad, I’m sure it makes Ruby and Levi very happy. I will, however, take this opportunity to look back on years past and share some pre-blog pics….


2009 - This was the infamous "Kitty Turtleneck," also nicknamed "The Children of the Corn"

2008 - Their first set of sweaters!

And if that wasn’t crazy enough…before I had Ruby and Levi, there was Rupert Hibbert the toad. You guessed it, he got dressed up for our Christmas card as well!


I hope I haven’t frightened anyone away, at least now you can say you’ve seen a toad dressed up as Santa, right? It’s a good thing I found some puppies shortly thereafter :)

Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon

*Warning: this post contains spoilers.*

I finished The Scottish Prisoner last night and it’s definitely my favorite in the Lord John series. I’m going to forego a lengthy summary of the book and instead focus on the biggest impressions it had on me.

In a nutshell: it’s 1760 and Lord John is obligated to complete a task asked of him by an army comrade on his deathbed. LJ involves his brother, Hal, who then decides to involve (or rather, use) Jamie (still being held prisoner at Helwater); thus setting up the reunion of LJ and Jamie and their subsequent journey to Ireland in which they must work together to catch the bad guy and mend their own tattered relationship along the way.

While this book is actually quite sad and nothing swoon-worthy happens (which usually does when Jamie Fraser is involved), I ultimately found it to be perfectly paced, simultaneously heartwarming and heart wrenching, and above all, a treasure trove of answers to the myriad of questions surrounding Jamie’s time at Helwater.

Peat bog in Ireland

On the surface, it may seem like a fortuitous dalliance or a random snapshot into the past, but to those of us who are fully invested in the characters, it is a very important revelation of what got those characters where they are today (or, er, in 1781…) and I would say that this book is the most important – regarding character development – of all the Lord John books. Scottish Prisoner is required reading if you want to be in the Outlander fan club!

Jamie Fraser and Lord John Grey are two of my favorite characters (ever). I actually love these men. DG knew exactly what she was doing by devoting an entire novel to them…I daresay she couldn’t go wrong. Jamie and LJ are like golden retrievers: tried and true, an all-around classic. While there may be a few cliques or stereotypes surrounding them, you can’t go wrong with this breed because you’ll always have a loyal, overall good dog (who is pretty to look at) at the end of the day.

I was dying to know what happened after that infamous scene in Brotherhood of the Blade and the niggling thought of how the heck did they ever get past that? was ALWAYS floating around in the back of my mind. Therefore, I am so grateful to finally have an explanation, even though I am still amazed that Jamie did get past it. (Most. Awkward. Situation. Ever.)

This book gave me even more respect for Jamie. The expression “be the bigger man” kept popping into my head because Jamie was always doing just that. He had so much sadness weighing on him and the rawness of his longing for Claire, even after 14 years, was truly gut-wrenching. The fact that he was able to keep his head up and carry on despite the degradation to his name and character (even going so far as to help those who unjustly looked down upon him), further proved that he is a true gentleman.

One scene that I found particularly moving was when Lord John and Lord Dunsany went for a leisurely ride, towards the end of the book. Dunsany describes how the other grooms don’t make things easy for Jamie and that he keeps to himself. Things have never been easy for Jamie, but he stands strong and perseveres. But it was his relationship with William that I found most heartbreaking. He’s been removed from his family, lost his wife and child (without even laying eyes on her), lost his title and rightful authority, and on top of all this, he is forced to watch his only son (the only thing he has left in his life) from a distance and always through a veil of secrecy. And yet he cherishes the small moments and forgoes any chance of freedom to continue that shard of a relationship.

I came away with mixed emotions regarding Lord John’s position in relation to Jamie. While Jamie has the power to make him weak in the knees, LJ is still his master and (by the end of this book) holds authority over his only son as well. In the final pages, when LJ finally realizes that Jamie is in fact, William’s father, I almost got the impression that he happily saw it as another way of lording over the man. But I’m not positive of that, because I can see it many ways: it gives him an excuse to see Jamie (which he was always looking for), and even further, a lifelong connection to him. Not to mention the fact that if he were to give William the best upbringing and education possible (which we actually know to be the case), then Jamie would forever be in debt to LJ for doing what he could not. On the other hand, LJ loves Jamie and cares for him deeply, and would see in William an opportunity to show Jamie how much he loves him, since he can’t actually (physically)show him, which he would very much like to do (don’t we all). As you can see, I’ve not made up my mind on the matter just yet, but Lord John is a very complicated man, which is of course, why I love him ;)

Ruins on Inchaleraun Island, Ireland

Another storyline that I found very enlightening was that of Isobel Dunsany. I have always wondered about her marriage to Lord John, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book sheds a little light on the subject. After carrying on in a decidedly snotty and childlike manner, she experienced a very cruel and unfortunate lesson on the importance of choosing an honorable man. Luckily, it was Jamie to the rescue, but I have a feeling that Lord John’s role in comforting her and his vow to keep her secret (especially considering that this followed relatively soon after their poignant scene in Brotherhood) probably resulted in her seeing LJ from a new perspective.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and deep down feel like it was “for the fans,” if that makes any sense. It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m saying that about a book that doesn’t have Claire in it (!), but…so many answers! I love answers! Even if you haven’t read the other Lord John books, you really must read this one.

Interesting link: a Sassenach reflects on Scottish language

I stumbled upon this today and it made me smile, so I thought I’d share. I especially like the part about “juice” and “ginger” in reference to pop. Where I’m from in Tennessee, we use the term “coke” to refer to any generic carbonated beverage. I’ll ask for a coke, which is then followed with “what kind?”

Scottish bar stool for kilt wearers (completely unrelated to aforementioned post)

Virtual Jamie Fraser

*Disclaimer: you will not find this remotely funny unless you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.

My husband recently received a PS3 and several sports themed games to go along with it. We are in psuedo-isolation for several months while he heals post transplant, and being stuck in a small space with a man playing bocce ball on a video screen…let’s just say this is my personal idea of hell. After hearing my complaints and taking pity on me, our dear friends Jason and Jessica decided to get him a game that I possibly wouldn’t loathe as much. Jason decided on the role-playing game, Skyrim. He also attempted to sell me on this game by taunting me with the fact that “He can create his character to look like Jamie Fraser! You wouldn’t mind watching Jamie Fraser, right?” He didn’t need to say any more, and of course, I took the bait.

Richie agreed to make his character look like a Scottish Highlander and he was doing a fair job of remembering Jamie’s more obvious physical features, but he soon grew tiresome of my heckling from across the room and didn’t put up a fight when I took possession of the controller. The detail in this game is astonishing (you choose everything down to the length of the nose of your choice), but I do believe there is a built-in block to prevent you from making yourself too good-looking. I was throughly entertained during the process, however, which in turn thoroughly entertained my husband (and Jason and Jessica). And yes, I named him “Jamie Fraser.”

After all the work I put into it though, I was rather dismayed to discover that you don’t actually see your character while playing the game…so Jason’s original plan sort of backfired, but I’ll take this over bocce ball any day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with excessive eating and gratuitous overindulgence ;) I have quite a bit to be thankful for this year, including my amazing friend Jessica who so kindly sent us “Thanksgiving in a box” since we don’t get to be with family this year. Big hugs to everyone!!

We love our Jessica!

Chris Hemsworth as Jamie Fraser?

For quite some time now, I’ve been getting lots and lots of comments and e-mails from people who feel strongly that Chris Hemsworth (from this summer’s Thor) should play Jamie Fraser in the Outlander movie. I heard about Thor for almost a year prior to its release because of a coworker who has a lifelong obsession with the comic; and after the movie came out, I heard all about how (both he and) his wife were dumbstruck by Mr. Hemsworth’s incredible physique. And last month when Jessica came up for a visit, she proudly declared that she had a genius casting idea for Jamie. Yep, it was Chris. (She was shocked to discover that she wasn’t the first to suggest this.)

I had every intention of seeing the movie and ogling over potential Jamie Fraser material, but for whatever reason, it just never happened. I ended up doing some half-arsed google image searches for “Chris Hemsworth in Thor” and I never found any pictures that impressed me. He definitely has a nice body, but it seemed a little too bulky to fit my mental ideal of Jamie, and I didn’t think his face was particularly handsome. And I wasn’t digging the bleached blonde hair.

Finally, just a few days ago, I watched Thor. By the end of the film, I had admittedly warmed up to him, but I was still pretty “meh” about it all. That having been said…(and before you Hemsworth fans start typing up the hate mail…) I discovered something today that has turned me around. (I know, I know, that was fast!) I stumbled upon the official trailer for the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman movie – which looks very intriguing – but more to the point of this post, it shows Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman. And he looks good. Good enough to be Jamie. There, I said it! My husband is making fun of me at this very moment, but I am excited.

The simple change in hair color makes his face look so much less…rough. And switch out the superhero cape for some rugged, medieval-inspired clothes, and I’m pretty much convinced. I think the transition to kilt would be seamless.

Since I have yet to figure out how to post a video, here is the link to the movie trailer. And here are some pics. What do you think?! Are you proud of me for finally seeing the light?! ;)


Update on Richie

I am thrilled to report that Richie is doing great so far. He was moved out of the ICU on Saturday and he’s been up and walking around ever since. I worry that he’s moving too fast, but the doctors are extremely pleased. The whole experience has been surreal thus far, and we know there will inevitably be bumps along the road, but I can only hope that he continues to improve at the current pace. Thank you all so much for the amazing support and words of encouragement!

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has had a happy Halloween! I took these pics a few weeks ago and wish I could’ve gotten them up sooner…better late than never though, right?

Levi loved his spider costume…

Whereas Ruby refused to cooperate (as ususal)…