Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Rose Quartz - NOLA, originally uploaded by Soasa Designs.

As you probably already know I'm very involved in the SUNY New Paltz chapter of Habitat for Humanity. This spring we're participating in the Collegiate Challenge, which offers us a chance to fundraise like mad and take a trip down to New Orleans to do some building during spring break. This is a wonderful opportunity for us, and we're coming up on our deadline very quickly. If you check out my site you'll see that I've listed some items as "NOLA" items. For each of these that I sell I'll be donating 50% to our trip. Please consider helping us out! Any purchase of these items will earn you a postcard from the group while we're there! If you're interested in any of the fundraising events we're hosting on and around campus, or otherwise getting involved, please feel free to e-mail me!

For those of you local to me, some of my work is now available at Trudy's Beauty Shop behind the IGA and across the way from the Hillsdale House in the center of town. She's got some super cute Valentine's Day earrings.

Speaking of Valentine's Day! It's coming up quickly, and if you're looking for something special for your someone special I've got all kinds of pretty things, and new pieces on the way! If you've got something particular in mind I'm open to working with you to design the perfect gift!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nose to the Grindstone

I'm back at school, and being a silly girl I left my computer home when I moved back into my apartment. People are saying I did it on purpose so that I would have an excuse to go home again. Needless to say I'd rather be home than here, and people know it.

For the most part my classes seem good, I've got some really, really heavy reading courses, and we'll see how long that lasts. At least they don't start out easy on us!

I think I won't have a lot of time for making jewelry, but I'm hoping that my Enameling class really pushes me forward in that area. Right now I'm making small things, mostly to benefit New Paltz Habitat for Humanity. We're fundraising for a trip down to New Orleans to rebuild over our spring break. It's challenging and frustrating and exciting all at once!

I'm reading:
Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey for the YA Challenge
Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol for Sociological and Philosophical Foundations of Education
This Land Was Theirs by Wendell H. Oswalt for Indians of North America
The History and Tradition of Jazz by Thomas Larson for History of Jazz
The Art of Enameling by Linda Darty for Enameling

Monday, January 21, 2008

#7 The Worthing Saga

Book: The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
Pages: AudioBookEntertainment Rating: 2/5
Snooty Rating: 2.5/5
Total Rating: 4.5/10
Books Read Total: 7/50
Pages Read Total: 1630/15,000

This book was hell. So violent, dark, angry and depressing. Somehow I couldn't stop listening, despite the anxiety it caused me. I think had I been reading it myself I would have put it down a long time ago, but having paid for it and spent the time downloading it I felt like I had to hear it out. The storytelling is pretty good, not as wonderful as Ender's Game, but it's fairly well done. I just wish it wasn't so unbearably oppressive. There's a bit at the end from the author about how the book came about, and how it's a collection of stories he wrote when he was first beginning. It's a very angsty, fire and brimstone collection.

I really don't recommend this one at all.

YA Challenge 2008

So I was browsing through Nymeth's various (and awesome) blogs I came across the YA Challenge and joined because I needed another challenge, obviously. I just couldn't resist! (Do you see what results from a couple comments in a blog?)

And so, from Thoughts Of Joy I bring you The YA Challenge 2008.

This is really just a glorified excuse because I love quality YA novels. I'm being careful to read new ones (only a couple of these are nostalgic re-reads). I'm going to link each to my comments on it as I read them.

1. The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
2. The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
3. New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
4. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
5. The King of Ireland's Son by Padraic Colum
6. The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
7. Best Shorts: Favorite Stories for Sharing by Various, including Avi, Peterson, Alexander and some other favorites
8. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (I'm finally breaking down and going to read this)
9. The Secret School by Avi
10. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
11. Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle
12. Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey

Super excited, and these are bound to change.

I'm subbing The King of Ireland's Son in and taking out The Book Thief.

It's just occurred to me that the reason I didn't like The Book Thief was because I was looking for The Thief Lord (there seems to be a lot of thieving on this page). So maybe I'll replace something else with the book I was really wanting to read.

#6 The Tears of the Giraffe

For the What's in a Name? challenge: A book with an animal in its title

Book: The Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Pages: 240
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 3/5
Total Rating: 7/10
Books Read Total: 6/50
Pages Read Total: 1630/15,000

There's something very quaint and comforting about Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. The writing is simple and the story line is straightforward and to the point. The characters are lovable and sometimes surprising. I never feel frustrated or like I've wasted my time when I read these books, and yet there is nothing about them that is exceptionally striking. Read them on the beach, on a rainy day, or in the bath (if you're prone to reading in the bath, as I am).

P.s. I thought it was fitting to put "Marginalia" one of my favorite poems, in the margins of my blog. (Haha, get it?) Check it!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Whimsy and the Lily

Whimsy and the Lily, originally uploaded by Soasa Designs.

From my new line for 2008, Whimsy. See more on Flickr and for sale at

I'm having a grand old time with these gorgeous, rich colors! I'm in love with Vintaj and pearls and green!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Goodies, originally uploaded by Soasa Designs.

All my orders are coming in this week! It's a blast:) Here are some goodies from, Off the Beaded Path and The Beady Eye. Agates, Jades, Carnelians and pearls. Yum!

I really think I might...


...try and comb my locks out. I love them, I really do, but they're driving me ballistic, and the fact that I'm so terrified of not having them is telling me I might need to do something about it. Next time I want lots of skinny dreads. I've not been sewing in my loose hairs for months because I love to pet it and run my fingers through it. I don't think this will be my last set of dreads, but yea...I think they need to go. My stomach hurts. Maybe I'll start with the front two and make bangs? Yes, I think that will be the answer.

I know I don't really talk about my hair on this blog, because at this point in my life it's something I'm used to, but my dreads have been a great learning tool for me and I truly love them. It's just time for a change, I think.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A is for Amethyst

For the ABC-Along on Flickr.

A lot of the Amethyst I come across is light purple with lots of quartzy white in it, but this particular strand was a special treat to myself, rich and plum colored with glittering facets! It's paired with a strand of creamy handmade ceramic beads and a rich brown leather with a Thai Silver pendant, beads and findings.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

True Love

I just thought I should let the world know that I officially love Norah Gaughan and will be knitting as many of her patterns as I can find the time for!

The Author ABC Challenge

" when my manager (i work at a used bookstore) mentioned that one of her customers used to chose authors alphabetically, i thought, now that is peculiar and promptly decided to take up a new reading project! As soon as i got home i started to brainstorm and came up with some guidelines. Since i didn't want to spend the next 6 months trudging through books just cause i needed a letter, I allowed books that i have finished in the past 6 months to be included, and i would henceforth complete the rest of the alphabet. If I read a compilation, the editor's last name would apply. Most recent reads would be listed, even if i find them embarrassing (see "F"). In order for the book to count, I'd have to read it completely. No rereads. First names don't count. No cheating. Rated yes, no or maybe so. Here goes..." - readyset_no on

I'll be including the books I read in the last 12 months, because I'm a busy girl...


A: Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
B: J. M. Barrie - Peter Pan
C: Aiden Chambers - The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn
H: Frank Herbert - Dune and Dune Messiah
K: Thomas Kelly - Empire Rising
L: Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
N: Mary Norton - The Borrowers Series
P: Tamora Pierce - Trickster's Choice
S: Anita Shreve - Body Surfing
T: Junichiro Tanizaki - Naomi
W: Tad Williams - The War of the Flowers

To Be Read (or finished):

D: *Ram Dass - Be Here Now
E: *Ianto Evans - The Hand-Sculpted House (Almost finished)
F: *William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
G: David Guterson - Snow Falling on Cedars
I: John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany
J: *James Joyce - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
M: Frank McCourt - Angela's Ashes
O: *Kenzaburo Oe - The Silent Cry
Q: Raymond Queneau - Zazie in the Metro
R: *Ayn Rand - Anthem
U: John Updike - The Witches of Eastwick
V: *Kurt Vonnegut...not sure which yet
X: *Cao Xueqin - Story of the Stone (Read parts of)
Y: Banana Yoshimoto - NP (Is her name really Banana?)
Z: Roger Zelazny (Because he's got two z's!)

* signifies that I have the book on my shelf
I'm excited to say I haven't read anything by any of the authors in my TBR pile! Adventure awaits!

EDIT: My "Y" author is going to be Jane Yolen's "Touch Magic" rather than Banana Yoshimoto. Maybe I'll still read Yoshimoto, who knows?
My "F" is now Nancy Farmer's "The Sea of Trolls", "The House of the Scorpion" and any others I can get my hands on! I'll probably still read Faulkner at some point.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

#5 Blessed Are the Cheesemakers


Book: Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
Pages: 324
Entertainment Rating: 5/5
Snooty Rating: 2.5/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 5/50
Pages Read Total: 1390/15,000

This is an adorable book! The characters are lovable and witty and boy oh boy do I love cheese! I read the entire thing last night, only setting it down for periods of 3 or so minutes to brush my teeth or find a snack. It's easy breezy reading, nothing especially thought-provoking or challenging, just a good though somewhat unrealistic story. Take it to the beach, read it on the train, it's charming and entertaining.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Terrorize me, please.

Yep...I'm finally seeing a Physical Therapist, fondly referred to in my family as Physical Terrorists. My mom, a PT of 25+ years, got me in to see one of her co-workers about my (allegedly chronic) knee pain. Turns out there's a very good chance that we can get me back on my feet! After more than 6 years of knee pain, weight gain and gym-fear it's possible that this problem I've been told is chronic can be manageable. My therapist is teaching me how to tape my knees, I've bought new sneakers (apparently I supinate and they make special sneakers for that...who knew?), and my mom has been working her (painful) magic on my poor muscles that have been pulling my kneecap off course for years. My next appointment is tomorrow afternoon, and I'm excited!

I could be in shape! I could exercise and go hiking again! I could play soccer with my brother out in the yard!

#4 Travels with Charley in Search of America


For the What's in a Name? challenge: A book with a place in its title

Book: Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
Pages: 277
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 4.5/5
Total Rating: 9/10
Books Read Total: 4/50
Pages Read Total: 1066/15,000

Steinbeck really does something for me. I didn't like The Grapes of Wrath but I loved the sense of connection it gave me and the cultural references it informed. Neil Young songs took on a whole new meaning. Travels with Charley gave me the same feeling of awareness, though I didn't go into the book feeling that way. If you want a taste of this country, read Steinbeck.

Travels was written with much more humor than Grapes but it is still a critical observation. Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, travel across the country in a pick-up with a camper top, "rediscovering" the country that has changed so much in their lifetime. The relationship between these two is comical and endearing. I think what makes Steinbeck exceptional is in his talent for humanizing. He conveys emotions, characters, and connections in an accessible and natural voice, and makes no effort to raise himself above basic human reactions and thoughts.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Rosie - Necklace

I've been making a lot of jewelry these past few days. I'm really enjoying having the time to do the things I want to do! I'm also placing an order with Fire Mountain Gems in the next couple days if anyone would like to jump in and order at the 200+ discount?

What's in a Name? A reading challenge

The challenge is to read a book who's title fits into each of the 6 catagories found What's in a Name.

My list is as follows:

1. A book with a color in its title: The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (heh, does that count?)

2. A book with an animal in its title: Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

3. A book with a first name in its title: Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

4. A book with a place in its title: Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck

5. A book with a weather event in its title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

6. A book with a plant in its title: Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet

Sunday, January 6, 2008

#3: Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

Book: Body Surfing by Anita Shreve
Pages: 291
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 3.5/5
Total Rating: 7.5/10
Books Read Total: 3/50
Pages Read Total: 789/15,000

I've never read any of Shreve's other books, though I've heard her name tossed around before. I picked this one up last night because I was a bit wound up before bed, and Children of Dune just wasn't doing it for me at the time. I started it around 11:30pm, and I didn't go to sleep until I had finished it around 3:15am. I'm not sure what kept me reading. I have to say that there was more to this book than I expected. Nothing really profound happens, Sydney is a woman with one divorce and a recently deceased second husband, adrift and trying to find some sense of self and connection. There are some really lovable characters, and some characters that are meant to be despised.

The narrative is strange, bouncing back from past, to further past, to present, always in the third person. The book seems to be right inside Sydney's mind without actually saying "I", and seems to float in and out of layers of time as thought might. At first I found the constant analysis of characters to be a bit strange, but when I settled into the weird out-of-body narrative it began to make sense, as Sydney, the main character, is a 29 year old woman with an unfinished Masters in adolescent phsychology. The author, who is presumably not Sydney, is still approaching the world as Sydney might.

It's a book about a part of a woman's life. It's about family, falling in love, and the ocean. I would call this a vacation read, but a good one, as the narrative is really quite interesting.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

And again...

Backyard II, originally uploaded by Soul of a Starving Artist.

And people wonder why I never want to leave home...

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Backyard I, originally uploaded by Soul of a Starving Artist.

This is what I see when I look up from my work. I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

#2 The Handmaid's Tale - Nobody is above quotation marks...

...and Atwood would to well to remember that.

Book: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Pages: 295
Pages Read: 1-172 + 20ish at random
Entertainment Rating: 1.5/5
Snooty Rating: 1.5/5
Total Rating: 3/10
Books Read Total: 2/50
Pages Read Total: 448/15000

I kept reading this book because I was determined to stick it out until something happened. The first half was so unbearably monotonous that I figured there must be some really great twist in the second half. The story did begin to pick up a bit as I crossed the half-way point, but by then I wanted nothing more for the characters than a swift kick in the ass for being so boring. The dream scenes were bland and emotionless, offering no solace from the monotone droning of Atwood's writing. Her topic should have evoked rage and passion in me, but try as I might I couldn't feel anything but resentment towards the characters, and even then it was only because I felt they were wasting my time. Truly the only reason I'm giving her ratings at all is because she wrote a book and somehow got it published, which I suppose deserves some recognition. Perhaps her publishers will reimburse me for my time wasted.

My next book was going to be Atwood's Alias Grace but now I'm not sure. Has anyone read it? How do the two compare?

1st book of the year (and a new format!)

Book:A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Pages: 256
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 4.5/5
Total: 8.5/10

I'm not quite sure how I read this as a child. The first half was a pleasure, Charles Wallace is simply charming, and poor Meg is...poor Meg. The book read easily but was well crafted and witty. The middle gets a bit dicey and becomes more of a chore for a reader who wants any clear picture of what the characters are experiencing physically. This is saved by the overwhelming sense of hopelessness and helplessness. At times it actually hurt to keep reading! Again, I don't understand how I read this book when I was young without being haunted by it for days afterward. Perhaps "evil" and "desperation" simply weren't words with much meaning for me when I was little. Thankfully! The book has a very strong good vs. evil theme, and evil is uniformity and lack of free will, while good is the freedom to move to your own beat. A complex book! It's a socio-political cautionary tale marketed to children...Bizarre.

Up next is Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I'm about 60 pages in and not much has happened. My frustration with this causes me to reflect even more on L'Engle's book because they seem to share a common theme, but L'Engle gets right down to the point while Atwood seems to need lots and lots of setup.

256/15000 (And this time I'm really going to try and keep track of my pages.)

Goodbye 2007 - A long post, I'm sorry!

Preface: If anyone knows how to hide chunks of text with a link to them so that I don't devour your screen, please tell me?

2007 is over and with it the 50 book challenge that I bestowed upon myself with support from a livejournal community of the same name. I've had a livejournal for something like 5 years now, and at first it was a typical lj, silly, angsty, neglected. Then it was just neglected. Now it's my reading journal. It occured to by that having two blogs is sort of silly! Seeing as I spend a fair amount of time writing about the books I read (Or I like to think I do) I thought I should start sharing some of those writings over here!

I started the 50 book challenge because despite my childhood obsession with reading, being involved with another person really sucked up all my free time and in the two and a half years I was with him I probably read a total of ten books. Then I found the challenge. I started it on January 7th, 2007, but ended it on January 1st having read 48 books. I decided that for ease of keeping track in the future I would start counting from the 1st of the year.

Blah blah! without further ado, my 2007 reading list!

This year in books, with the most favorite bolded, most boring italicized, and links to my thoughts on the ones I wrote about:

1. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
2. Sleeping in Caves: A Sixties Himalayan Memoir by Marilyn Stablein
3. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
4. This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aiden Chambers
5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
7. Naked by David Sedaris
8. Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins
9. Walking After Midnight by Katy Hutchison
10. Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
11. Empire Rising by Thomas Kelly
12. You Gotta Have Balls by Lily Brett
13. Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins
14. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
15. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
16. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
17. War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
18. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
19. The Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews
20. Books 1-10 of the Analects of Confucius
21. The Inner Chapters of Chuang tzu
22. Assorted Readings from The Shorter Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature
23. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction
24. Mythology by Edith Hamilton

25. The Monkey and the Monk
26. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
27. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon
28. The Story of the Stone Vol. 1 by Xueqin Cao
29. The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyong, Memoir of 1805
30. Selected Japanese Ghost Stories: The Crysanthemum Vow, The Reed-Choked House, The Serpent's Lust
31. Selected Chinese Ghost Stories: Ren's Story, The Rakshas and the Sea Market, Ying-ning, Yuan Mei, In the Country of Women
32. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (audiobook)
33. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (audiobook)

34. Kokoro by Natsume Sōseki
35. Selected Stories from Lu Hsun
36. Naomi by Junichiro Tanizaki
37. Dune by Frank Herbert (Audiobook)

38. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (Audiobook)
39. Peter Pan by J. M. BarrieThe Borrowers by Mary Norton
41. The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton
42. Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce (Audiobook)

43. The Borrowers Afloat
44. The Borrowers Aloft
45. The Borrowers Avenged
46. Lapidary Journal
47. Art Jewelry Magazine

48. Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce (Audiobook)

Unfinished but in progress:
49. The Hand-Sculpted House
50. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

For 2008 I resolve to read 50 books total, at least 6 in Spanish, and the following books:
Children of Dune
Life of Pi
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Slaughterhouse 5
Como Agua Para Chocolate
Naked Lunch
The Makioka Sisters
At least one of the many James Joyce books I have


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