Saturday, March 14, 2015

PaperBack Swap and the Local Used Bookstore.

I find that I am actually having a bit of trouble focusing myself this evening. My plan was to share my favorite place to find new books and pass along old, but I am torn and can not honestly decide between two such places. So I will share them both with you.

The first, PaperBack Swap, I discovered about 8 years ago. It is an online book swapping community. It works on a point system, basically it is a book for a book, any book hardback, paperback, adult, child, 500 pages or 40 pages. *Except audio book those are two points. It is not always the best place to go if you want a book quickly. Books are only available if someone has the book to swap so you have to wait until someone posts it. Then even if it is available you still have to wait for the mail and these are mostly shipped "Media Mail," which means slowest route possible. If you have the patience though it is a wonderful place to find books that are otherwise very hard to get your hands on.

Up until a month ago the only cost was for the sender to ship the book to the person who requested it, but after being around for 10 years they have decided they need to charge a small fee (.50cents) to the person making the request. I have been happily using PaperBack Swap for long enough that I am willing to stick through this new change and hope for the best. This honestly has created a little niggle of worry and has diminished my favor a wee bit and that is why I have added a second favorite location, the local used bookstore.

My parents introduced me to the wonders of the used book store when I was still quite young. As I mentioned yesterday there was one near the college I attended in Seattle that added greatly to my collection. Every city I have lived in I have looked for a local used book store. That, to me, was as necessary as finding the nearest grocery store and bank.

The first used book store I found was a nightmare. The inventory was quite sparse, 2/3 of which was romance novels. the prices were ridiculous and the owner was horrid. The second, was much to austere, again the prices to high and it was hard to figure out where I wanted to look. The third shop though was exactly what I was looking for. It was like finding a really comfortable old chair and a warm mug of cocoa. It was a small, bright, narrow aisled, charming, tall bookcases with more books in boxes and in piles on the floor, shop. It even has that wonderful old, worn and loved book smell. The proprietor is also eccentric and lovely. The official name of the store is "Browsers Uncommon Books.", but immediately after my first visit I affectionately call it "Little Man Book Store" because of the charming owner. When I enter this shop I come with no preconceived plans. I just look aisle by aisle, shelf by shelf and many times box and pile by box and pile. I am never disappointed and I always find something to bring home with me.

I would love to hear about your favorite places to find books.

Many blessings to you on this fine night.--Kate

P.S. Here are a few of my favorite Used Book Store finds.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Unashamed Bibliophile

The collection that began all collecting. The very first thing I can remember collecting was books, (well maybe stuffed animals too,) and I have never stopped.

I still have most of the books I collected as a young reader. The picture books that were shared with my siblings (like Dr. Seuss,) are probably long gone, ruined in basement floods or by pens and markers. Which is really to bad because there was a book called But No Elephants by Jerry Smath that solidified my love for those amazing gentle giants.

The first series I remember really being addicted to, the one that had me begging my parents to take me to the bookstore was the Sweet Valley Twins. I already loved reading by this point but I just read the books my parents found for me and they had done a great job, but this was the first time I craved trips to the book store to find something new to read.

Many of my really close friends were also avid readers and I remember we shared our favorite books and series with each other. Books by Caroline B. Cooney and R.L. Stine, but also Philip Pullman's Ruby in the Smoke. There was also this Christian fantasy series that I started reading and loved, but have since completely forgotten the titles of. I have a hazy recollection that the third book had the word "tower" in the title. I would be over the moon if I could find this series again.

In sixth grade I had a teacher who would read stories to us every day at lunch. She opened up a whole new world of books for me. Some of my favorites from that year were Brian Jacques' Redwall, Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows and Roald Dahl's Witches.

There are many other book's from my childhood and adolescence that have remained in my collection. The books by Scott O'Dell, The Black Stallion, Choose your own adventures, Several different Nancy Drew series, The Dancing Cats of Applesap, Julie of the Wolves, Judy Blume and Beverly Clearly books, The Outsiders, Doll House Murders, The Cricket in Time Square, L.M. Montgomery series especially the Emily books and many, many others.

My love for books has only grown over time and with the help of a charming used book store in Seattle-"Twice Sold Tales, " my collection exploded. Today I am quite sure that I have at least 1,000 books in my home. Not all of them are mine my husband is also a book lover and he added a hefty amount to the pile. I am not even going to try to add in the number that belong to our children who have definitely inherited our Bibliophile ways.
Rest assured I do not keep every book I read and I still love checking books out from the library. In fact I use it most often to check out audio books to listen to while working on my sewing projects. I have listened to so many Agatha Christie and Janet Evanovich books this way. There are also a number of books that I have enjoyed (or not) that I do not feel the need to keep in my collection. Tomorrow I will share with you my favorite source for finding and passing along books.
I can quite happily say that my book collecting days are far from over. I am also looking forward to the day our kids start diving into the collection that my husband and I have created.

Many blessings to you this fine night.--Kate 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Knitting Pattern I Love

Early on in my time working at a yarn shop I discovered a beautiful pattern for a wrap in a Vogue Knitting magazine. It used 20 skeins of bulky alpaca yarn and was knit holding two strands together. (For you knitters out there you know how big that would make the finished project.) It made a huge, thick, luxurious wrap that is completely unwearable. Now I am a tall girl and this thing is way to much even for me, but it is beautiful, so soft and I adore the pattern. The leaves come out almost hand sized. I have had this finished, beautiful wrap sitting in a bag for nearly seven years now. So this pattern that I love has been hidden away.

Finally I decided that it was time to remake this pattern with yarn that was much more practical. I found a gorgeous angora/cotton blend that I have had in my stash for probably 10 years. I followed the pattern exactly still using two strands together, but knit with a size 10 needle, (instead of 19) and a much thinner yarn (DK weight.)

I am totally thrilled with the finished product. A thick, luxurious scarf that is completely wearable, (but probably better suited for the colder days of winter.)
 *The humor of posting a winter item the day after I posted a summer top is not missed by me, I assure you.

The pattern was from the Vogue Knitting International Magazine - '08/'09 Winter issue. It is one that can be purchased on Ravelry for $5 if you fall in love with it as I did.

Many blessings to you on this fine night.--Kate

P.S. Here is a size comparison with my daughter.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Summer Scarf Shirt

A few of the sewing and customizing books I have been reading lately suggest taking old scarfs and turning them into light and breezy tops. The last few days have been exceptionally warm and it has me thinking about summer. So on a resent trip to the thrift stores with my girl I was on the hunt for scarfs. I was very excited when I came across these two that had the same pattern in colors my daughter loves.

Quick and simple construction. Sew at each top edge 5 inches in on each side or leave the center just large enough to get your head through. Then on the sides, from the bottom up, sew 12 inches. I put a ribbon on just to corral the fabric a bit. The placement is 3 inches down from the arm hole openings. You want to sew it wrong sides together (inside out.) Then turn it right side out and it is ready to wear.

The whole top took less then 10 minutes to construct, and it is reversible.
Many blessing on this very fine night.--Kate

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Girl's Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

I have posted this chocolate cake recipe previously, but it is so good it is getting a second go. I also used a cream cheese frosting instead of the chocolate so there is that change. 

Decadent Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes 1 – 9 inch cake. Double the recipe if you want two layers.)
1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans
5 large organic eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
3/4 cup xyliol plus 1/2 teaspoon liquid pure stevia extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon filtered water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  grease a 9″ cake pan with coconut oil or  a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan (put a couple drops of oil so that is doesn’t curl, then grease the top of the parchment lightly.

Drain and rinse beans and shake off excess water. Place the beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, stevia and salt into blender. Blend on high until beans are completely liquefied. Make sure there are no chunks.  Mix together cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter with xylitol until light and fluffy. Add the remaining two eggs, beating for one minute after each addition. 

Pour bean batter into egg mixture and mix. Finally, stir in cocoa powder and water  and beat the batter on high for one minute or until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Cake is done with the top is rounded and firm to the touch. After 10 minutes, turn out cake from pan, and flip over again on to a cooling rack. Let cool until cake reaches room temperature, then cover with an overturned bowl.  (Frost immediately before serving)

 To make this cake I needed two bowls and a blender.   

Cream Cheese Frosting
(I was able to frost the cake the cupcakes and had enough frosting left to use it as a fresh fruit dipping sauce. So this could easily be cut in half, or use the full batch and you could have plenty to frost a double layer cake with a layer of frosting in the middle.)

2 – 8 ounce packages of organic cream cheese, softened 
1/2 cup plain Amasai or organic heavy whipping cream 
1 tablespoon vanilla 
1/2 cup Xylitol or spoonable stevia to taste


Mix all ingredients together with a hand mixer until well combined.  For a thinner consistency, add more Amasai or whipping cream.

 It is the perfect party cake recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Many blessings to you this fine spring like day.--Kate

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Day of Rest

Yesterday was wonderful but thank goodness for a restful day.
Many blessings to you this sunny Sabbath.--Kate