One to Watch

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book but I didn’t love it. The premise of the story is that a plus sized woman goes onto a reality tv show very much like The Bachelorette to find love (although at first it’s mostly to help her own career as an influencer/blogger). Also, she just had a rather painful encounter with a man she’s loved for years but who never seemed to love her back (friend zoned).
This is a pretty fluffy story that has a predictable plot and ending (although I really hated the ending. Why did she HAVE to get engaged after all of that? It goes against the idea that it’s ok to be different and happy at the same time.). I read this after I read Stamped from the Beginning so it was the light read I really needed.
The big issue I had with this is the CONSTANT fat shaming and then Bea having to CONSTANTLY disprove those ideas. It got a little annoying. It was also annoying that the author had Bea state a few times that obesity isn’t linked to ANY diseases (she did this a few times when some of the show contestants, who were personal trainers and a-holes anyways, talked to her about the benefits of losing weight). I’m absolutely into body positivity and spreading that message but I don’t think it’s a good thing to assert that being obese is also perfectly healthy. It can be in some people but it definitely taxes your body. (steps off of soap box)
Anyways, definitely recommend this to anyone who needs a light read. I think it took me all of 3 evenings to get through.

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Sewing Projects from the Past week

A few weeks ago I decided to pull some fabrics from my (ridiculous) stash that I’ve accidentally horded over the past year or so. I then went through them and decided what specifically I would make with each cut and then printed out the patterns and also ensured I had the needed notions to be able to finish the projects without having to run to the store or order something in the middle of it. I made it through all but 2 of the projects I wanted to finish in September so I wanted to share them now before I forgot!

First up: the Grainline Tamarack jacket. I’ve absolutely adored this jacket on Instagram (#tamarackjacket) as well as on some blogs I follow. Up until last weekend I had never quilted before and I was pretty nervous about it. I watched several tutorials online and decided I should just jump into it and get going. Unfortunately, the batting I decided to use was thicker than I realized. The arms on the finished jacket are really stiff due to the batting. The instructions on the pattern also stated to cut a slightly larger piece of batting for the pattern pieces. I went ahead and did that but it was much more difficult than I anticipated to line up the fabric pieces well with the batting in between. You can definitely tell this was a first attempt at quilting. I have a lot of work to do! 🙂

My welt pocket wasn’t awful (it was the second one I’ve made) but could also be substantially improved. I really like these two fabrics together for a spring jacket and I anticipate wearing it in March/April depending on the weather. It isn’t perfect but it’s wearable!

Next up: 2 pairs of pajama pants using the Walk the Plank pattern from Patterns for Pirates. I made one pair for Matt and another pair for myself. Initially I had a wonderful idea to make matching PJs for us because I’m cheesy like that. I already had the Corgi fabric but I couldn’t find anymore of it (because, again, I bought it literal years ago) so I ran out to Joann’s and bought a black flannel with a doggo print on it instead. This pattern is RIDICULOUSLY easy to follow. It’s also easy to fit or alter if needed. I made both of us the men’s rise (my booty is pretty big so I like higher rise pants to make sure I’m not giving anyone a show). Matt got a 32″ inseam (he’s about 6’3″) and I made a 30″ inseam for myself. Both of them were too long and I ended up taking about 5″ from Matt’s and 3″ from mine. That being said, the instructions do call to do a double fold hem of 1″ but I just finished the bottom of our’s and did a single fold simple hem of about an inch. The pants are also supposed to have a little pooling at the bottom so I know this was intentional. I’m planning on taking these with us to Michigan in a few weeks on a 2 week camping trip, though, so I didn’t really want them to actually touch the ground.

Next, I made the Ready to Sew Jocko top. I bought the fabric from Surge sometime last December as a designer deadstock. It’s SO SOFT. I couldn’t get over it! I’ll definitely be wearing this one a ton…. just as soon as I fix the side vents. This entire pattern (from cutting the fabric to being 98% finished) took me about 1 hour. The only bit I’m stuck on is the pleating to make the side vents lie correctly. The sew along essentially says the same thing as the instructions on the pattern so I’m just going to hand stitch it. I try not to do that on knits but this top is super oversized so I don’t think I’ll be stretching it anytime soon.

Last but not least, I made the Lito dress from Seamwork. This was another super simple sew. I bought the fabric last Labor day (!!!) from The French Seam. I absolutely adore this place! They have a lot of their inventory online but if you’re in the Indy area I highly recommend visiting the store in person. They carry a ton of quilting cottons, a lot of apparel wovens, and some apparel knits. There’s also a huge selection of buttons, bias binding, thread, yarn, and books/magazines/patterns. It’s a mother-daughter duo and they are simply the loveliest people. I can’t recommend them enough.

As far as the pattern itself goes, I love t-shirt dresses. I’ve found that the ones over the last few summers, though, have been more on the clingy side (or see through). I’m trying to make all of my own clothes anyways so I finally decided I needed another t dress for our recent late-summer heat wave. This pattern was also super fast to put together. I think from start to finish I put in MAYBE 2 hours of work but I was also watching Crazy Exgirlfriend so some of that’s due to a split focus. The neckband and arm bands were a lovely way to quickly finish these areas. The bottom was just a quick hem. I made it in a size 10 and it fits the exact way I wanted it to – a bit of ease in the shoulders and chest with much more ease the rest of the way throughout the dress. It’s super comfy and I’ve just been wearing it around the house instead of my COVID uniform of whatever I see laying around on the floor.

Pretty solid week as far as sewing goes! Hopefully I can keep this up! I think making a plan for myself and then choosing what to do just from that smaller list helps me to focus in on what I really want to make. Welp, now on to the next list making!

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book was just kind of meh to me. The whole premise and biggest plot point occurs in the first chapter. Florence Adler is the youngest daughter of a Jewish couple. She loves to swim, she’s amazing at it, and she’s decided to try to swim the English channel (btw it’s in the 1930’s so that’s a pretty big deal). She goes out to train one day and drowns. The rest of the novel follows her parents, a Jewish girl they’ve taken in, her swim coach, her niece, and her brother in law as they decide and execute a plan to keep this tragedy from her very pregnant sister who is on bed rest in the hospital since she mad a very late term miscarriage the previous summer.
This is really just a character study in grief. It was incredibly predictable how events would pan out and what the characters’ reactions would be. The writing was ok. For this sort of narrative where the character development is the main driver of the work I like to see beautiful writing shine through and it just did not do that here.
Florence and her family are Jewish so that was interesting due to when the novel takes place. I wasn’t aware how Americans in general viewed the plight of European Jews at this point in history. Otherwise, though, this isn’t a novel I’d recommend to many people.

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Indiana State Parks – Turkey Run

When most people think of Indiana (if they ever do), they usually associate it with either the Indy 500 or corn. Most of our great state is indeed covered in farmland and not much else. We have a couple of large cities and a few more small cities where the vast majority of our population lives but the remaining people are mostly scattered in very small towns (I personally grew up in a town of 800 people) or in a cornfield. Out of all of my high school friends I’m pretty sure I was the only one who lived in an actual town although there was at least one other in our friend group who lived in a town which literally consisted of 6 houses on a State Road.

What I’m getting at is that most people don’t immediately think of Indiana as a good place to do some solid hiking. There are several state parks that break that bias, though. I took a Monday off a couple of weeks ago to visit my favorite one – Turkey Run State Park!

Turkey Run is one of the most popular state parks in Indiana. It’s about 90 minutes away from Indianapolis and it gets a TON of visitors every year. There are things to do for more or less all ages and activity levels so lots of families make it a tradition to visit at least once during the summer/fall season. The most popular attractions in the park are probably the suspension bridge and the trails with ladders. There are miles of different trails to go on (none of them are incredibly difficult) as well as a large campground. If you ever find yourself in the Crossroads of America, try to get some free time and take a visit to the park.

Also, if you do make your way to stay overnight but you aren’t sure of your food situation, be sure to check out the restaurant. Last summer I camped with my husband and some friends and we unfortunately forgot to bring along coffee (I still drank regular at that point so I really needed some to get moving!). We walked to the restaurant and grabbed some coffee for me and pancakes for him. It was pretty cheap for what we got an it was also pretty good. The servers are all local and very friendly. Be sure to keep that in mind when making your plans! There are also some little “cabins” (below) that you can rent if you still aren’t sold on going to this amazing park.

I started out at the Nature Center around 9AM EST. If we aren’t camping at the park, I tend to park in this lot. The inn, restaurant, cabins, and a ton of playing area is also right next to the lot so it tends to fill up quickly. Since the pandemic started, though, I think the hours for the park have scaled back a bit so I parked away from other cars towards the back of the lot.

Here’s a smaller version of the map of the park as well as the trails I actually went on during this visit.

From the nature center I took trail 1 down to the suspension bridge and crossed it. There are usually kids running around in this area since you can walk down to a sandy beachy area. You aren’t supposed to swim, though, so remember if you do that you’re breaking park rules.

Not pictured are all of the people tubing, canoeing, or kayaking that day. There were A LOT of them – even at 9AM on a Monday. There were also quite a few families out around the sand. Since COVID has changed most peoples’ vacation plans I think they’re getting out into parks more which is great! Hopefully they’ll feel the need to also give a few dollars donation or use the parks license plate when they renew next year.

From the bridge I hiked up to Rocky Hollow on trail 3 but by the time I got to the area just past the sign there was a huge crowd of people taking pictures and not really letting others by. This is probably petty of me but that’s really bad park etiquette. Take your pictures and make memories but try your best not to stop trail traffic. This is roughly when I turned around, hiked back to the suspension bridge (still on the north side of the river) and then took trail 8. This trail is never as crowded. It’s listed as moderate but I think that’s only because it isn’t paved. While on trail 8, I took a short detour to take a gander at the Salmon Lusk Home, then turned around and continued north on trail 4/8 then on to trail 4. At this point you could always take trail 8 back towards the suspension bridge but I didn’t drive to my favorite park just to walk down one trail!

Trail 4 is listed as moderate/rugged due to the fact that a decent portion of it is either in creek beds or right next to them. If you have bad knees I don’t recommend it but otherwise, it’s totally fine. There are also a few stairs you have to take but I think it’s only 10 or 12. When I hit the intersection of trails 4 and 3 I decided to go north to avoid Rocky Hollow. At this point in the day I was starting to see more people so I’m sure Rocky Hollow was even busier than earlier in the day. From trail 3 I went up through all of trail 10 to see Camel’s Back (not super impressive in summer because of the dense vegetation but I’m sure it’s beautiful in autumn), back down trail 10 to trail 3, through one of the ladders (there were families with REALLY little kids trying to do the ladders, as in the kids were preschool age and terrified which is such a bad idea), then I detoured over to the “140 steps” to avoid the traffic, and went by Bear Hollow on trail 5. After I reached the T in trail 5, I took trail 9 to the west a bit to see Falls Canyon but I turned around to take trails 5 and 3 back to the suspension bridge. By now it was about 1PM and I was almost out of water so I crossed the bridge and did a quick loop down trails 1-2 by Goose Rock and Lusk Earth Fill. Then I went back to the Nature Center and called it a day.

Again, Turkey Run is awesome. We usually avoid it during the summer because it does get pretty busy on the weekends but I was surprised to see that many people on a Monday. I’m sure some of it’s due to the pandemic but you’ve been warned. Autumn is a great time to spend a weekend out in the park as well – that’s generally when we go – but be sure to book your tent site if you’re going to camp.

Here are a few more pictures from the trails. Most of it is standard trees/vegetation. The creek beds you see are ones that you could expect to either cross or hike through on some of the trails. Be sure if you’re going hiking you have waterproof or resistant boots! I also tried really hard to keep people out of the pictures but there’s one of Rocky Hollow that I couldn’t swing. The angle is weird so that the majority of the humans aren’t included.

Little Women – 2019 vs 1868/69

Hopefully by now everyone has had a chance to read Little Women and also see the new adaptation by Greta Gerwig. If you haven’t or if you really don’t care about this work of art then go away and find some cute dog pictures somewhere.

Here are some of my thoughts on the book (feel free to disagree, it’s still a free country at this moment):

  • The character development is straightforward and evident. Come at me if you don’t agree. Amy goes from being a little monster who’s responsible for burning Jo’s first strike at a novel to being a confident and self-aware woman willing to marry for money (to support her family – it was a different time so go easy on her) to an even more self-aware woman who decides to marry a slightly less amount of money because she loves the man. Don’t get me started on Jo and Meg. RIP Beth; she was always perfect.
  • I listened to a fairly cheap audio version of the book this last time I read it (via Chirp) and even that was enjoyable to listen to. Alcott’s way with language makes even the most mundane sentences and plots sound interesting and uniquely beautiful. If you’ve only read the book and have never listened to it read aloud, do yourself a favor and spend $5 to listen to it while you do your own mundane tasks.
  • The men in the novel seem to be atypical of the time. I’m not a huge historical fiction girl myself but I’m comfortable enough with the brief period of time from 25,000 BC to 2010 where the patriarchy was ripe and women’s rights were the thing of comedic cartoons. Every single man in this work is respectful of our little women’s dreams. Even when Jo is haggling with the newspaper guy he can clearly see through her ruse and knows she’s selling her own stories but he’s still respectful and doesn’t call her out on it. The chivalry! The gusto! I love it.

Obviously I have a lot more to say about the book but these are just some general thoughts on it. If you want to read something a bit more analytical then I highly suggest you check out a new website called “Google” and see what you find.

Thoughts on the 2019 adaptation:

  • 2 hours and 15 minutes isn’t enough
  • While I really enjoyed the movie (REALLY ENJOYED it), it simply couldn’t stand up to the book. I didn’t expect it to but I want to make sure any reader who goes in hoping for those same warm fuzzies obtained from reading the novel isn’t let down. This is a movie. The novel is a collection of individual stories with some underlying threads and relationships to follow. Most of those stories can’t make it into the movie so don’t be disappointed when Amy’s dinner/tea party isn’t on the big screen.
  • Those outfits are amazing. I have some patterns that I’ve been waiting to try (hardware issues) and now I just can’t wait. Ruffles for life!
  • There were 2 separate instances where I teared up. If you don’t know me intimately then just let me tell you that doesn’t happen often (rarely in public, almost always because of a dog if it does happen). The group of women next to us cried a regular monsoon.
  • Go see it. Take a friend if you have one. Sneak in your dog if you don’t.

That’s all I’ve got. Go see the movie. Reread the book or listen to the book. Check out Chirp if you haven’t yet. You’re welcome.