Archive for November, 2011

V is for Vintage

The craze for vintage goods is still all the rage, and while many may believe that the weak economy is the reason, I choose to believe that it’s the interest in preserving a piece of history that makes people reuse or repurpose (okay, so it’s probably both). Whether you’re strolling the flea markets and thrift stores, or simply cleaning out your closets, there’s a good chance you’ll come across something that can be used in a unique and different way, while maintaining its traditional feel without costing a fortune. Of course, because it’s hot right now, you’ll run across new things that have been designed with that vintage feel in mind (check out the displays of most major department stores!).

Vintage goods, whether repurposed or not, can make great gifts.    Check out one of these books for ideas on how to make something old look new, or vice versa – just in time for Christmas:


1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew – Garth Johnson

Adventures in Bookbinding: Handcrafting Mixed-Media Books – Jeannine Stein

Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion, and Fun – Amy Barickman

Beading Vintage-Style Jewelry: Easy Projects with Elegant Heirloom Appeal – Stevens-Heebner

Born-Again Vintage: 25 Ways to Deconstruct, Reinvent, + Recycle Your Wardrobe – Bridgett Artise

Button It Up: 80 Amazing Vintage Button Projects for Necklaces, Bracelets, Embellishments, Housewares and More – Susan Beal

Cool Crafts With Old T-Shirts: Green Projects for Resourceful Kids –  Carol Sirrine

Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase  – Suzanne Tourtillott

Fabric Scrapping – Katie Ebben

Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures  – Amanda Blake Soule

Hankie Couture: Handcrafted Fashions from Vintage Handkerchiefs – Marsha Greenberg

Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas: Crafts, Decorating Tips, and Recipes, 1920s – 1960s – Susan Waggoner

Knitting Vintage: 30 Knitting Projects Inspired by Period Fashions – Claire Montgomerie

Knitting Vintage Socks: New Twists on Classic Patterns – Nancy Bush

Remake It!: Recycling Projects More From the Stuff You Usually Scrap – Tiffany Threadgould

Restore, Recycle, Repurpose: Create a Beautiful Home – Randy Florke

Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet and Simple Projects to Sew and Embellish – Jenny Ryan

Vintage Collage Journals: Journaling with Antique Ephemera – Maryjo Koch

Vintage Craft Workshop Projects: Fresh Takes on Twenty-Four Classic Projects from the 60s and 70s – Cathy Callahan

Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect and Wear – Caroline Cox

Vintage Knits: 30 Exquisite Vintage-Inspired Patterns for Cardigans, Twin Sets, Crewnecks, and More – Sarah Dallas

Vintage Pop-Up Cards: Making Your Own Timeless Treasures – Taylor Hagerty

A Good Book You May Have Missed: Part 1

Haven’t you found that every once in awhile you’ll read a book that absolutely blows you away and you want to share it with everyone? Short of buying multiple copies and locking friends and family into cells with their eyes propped open, there’s not much you can do except repeat your recommendation. Forcing someone to read a favorite can sometimes work (CJ and Beth can thank me for Beat the Reaper), but it can just as often backfire – especially when someone gives you a shrug when you ask how well they enjoyed the book.

I’ve decided to offer the electronic equivalent of a “you must read this”, and include a review of a beloved book that some of you might have missed. And you can feel completely free to agree or disagree (I won’t show my disappoint too much).  If you happen to read a recommended book – let me know!


Let me get you started with an intriguing historical fiction (my favorite genre).

      The main character of City of Shadows by Ariana Franklin is Esther, a young woman who has escaped the Russian Revolution for the (comparably) quieter Weimar Republic of post WWI Germany. She works as a secretary for a fake Russian prince, Nick, who owns a number of cabaret nightclubs. Nick shows up one day with a young Russian emigre named Anna; he believes she can be passed off as the lost Romanov, Anastasia, and that he will reap all of the benefits of such a ruse.

     It all escalates from here. Nick, despite his machinations, is an appealing rogue, and Esther is a full-fledged heroine. As she tries to help Nick, protect Anna, and deal with the corruption in the city (and possibly fall in love with one jaded detective), she shines. And when murder interrupts her world, the threat of the Nazis’ rise becomes clearer.

     Franklin packs quite a bit into this story, but she’s very deft at keeping all the plotlines enmeshed and coherent. When the story wraps up, with an unusual twist, you’ll be amazed that everything ties up so neatly.

     I’m not usually one for the “Anastasia” stories, but this one is done so well, that it removed all my doubts.  Sadly, Ariana Franklin (real name = Diana Norman) died earlier this year, but you can still enjoy her writing. Try another of her works:


As Ariana Franklin – The Adelia Aguilar Medieval Historical Mysteries

  1. The Mistress of the Art of Death
  2. The Serpent’s Tale
  3. Grave Goods
  4. A Murderous Procession


As Diana Norman -The Makepeace Hedley Historical Fiction series

  1. A Catch of Consequence
  2. Taking Liberties
  3. The Sparks Fly Upward

The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1966

We’re traveling all the the way back to the swinging 60s for this month’s Best Sellers. In case you weren’t around, these are a few of the things that happened in 1966:

  • Indira Gandhi is elected Prime Minister of India. She is of no known relation to Mohandas Gandhi, but she was the daughter of another famous Indian – Jawaharal Nehru (January).
  • Groundbreaking takes place in Manhattan for the World Trade Center (August).
  • The Beatles begin recording their legendary album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (September).

Relive the era through a book. Here are the New York Times Best Sellers for the week of November 13, 1966. Groovy!



1. Valley of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

2. The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton

3. Capable of Honor by Allen Drury

4. Tai-Pan by James Clavell

5. All in the Family by Edwin O’Connor

6. The Birds Fall Down by Rebecca West

7. The Adventurers by Harold Robbins

8. The Fixer by Bernard Malamud

9. Giles Goat Boy by John Barth

10. A Dream of Kings by Harry Mark Petrakis



 1. Rush to Judgment by Mark Lane

2. How to Avoid Probate by Norman F. Dacey

3. Everything but Money by Sam Levenson

4. Games People Play by Eric Berne

5. Human Sexual Response by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson

6. With Kennedy by Pierre Salinger

7. The Passover Plot by Hugh J. Schonfield

8. The Search for Amelia Earhart by Fred Goerner

9. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language

10. Flying Saucers: Serious Business by Frank Edwards

Civil War Sesquicentennial – Women

Frances L. Clalin, disguised herself as "Jack Williams" in order to fight for the Union in the Civil War.

In times of war, women are often asked to shoulder the burden on the home front – to take care of the children, keep up the country’s morale, and provide whatever assistance they can without actually entering combat. In our most recent wars, American women usually dealt with these problems far away from the action.

During the Civil War, women on both sides of the divide had to cope with the issues of a war fought on home ground. Some turned to journals and writing, some disguised themselves as men and joined the fighting, and some of them even passed secrets to the other side. Regardless, many of them helped to shape the “new birth of freedom” that came about after the fighting ended.

Learn more about the ways in which women also “fought” during the war with one of these titles:



Civil War Wives: The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant – Carol Berkin

The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African-Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle  -Margaret S. Creighton

Confederate Heroines: 120 Southern Women Convicted by Union Military Justice – Thomas P. Lowry

Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War – Nina Silber

Disarming the Nation: Women’s Writing and the American Civil War – Elizabeth Young

First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis’s Civil War – Joan E. Cashin

Mary Chesnut’s Civil War – Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut

Mary Edwards Walker: Above and Beyond – Dale L. Walker

 Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First lady and a Former Slave – Jennifer Fleischner

The Mysterious Private Thompson: The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier – Laura Leedy Gansler

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy – Elizabeth R. Varon

Stealing Secrets: How  Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War – Donald H. Winkler

They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the American Civil War – DeAnne Blanton

An Uncommon Soldier: The Civil War Letters of Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, Alias Private Lyons Wakeman, 153rd Regiment, New York State Volunteers – Sarah Rosetta Wakeman

Wild Rose: Rose O’Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy – Ann Blackman

Women in the Civil War: Extraordinary Stories, Spies, Nurses, Doctors, Crusaders, and Others  – Larry G. Eggleston