Thoughts on the McCall’s Fall 2014 Pattern Releases

M7025

So, the fall patterns were released by McCall’s last week, and I feel the need to comment on them. As with Butterick’s fall 2014 line, there were some hits and misses. Some of the patterns I really, really wanted to like but just can’t. Like, for instance, M7025, which should be cute, but just looks like a piece from a movie’s costume wardrobe:

I really, really want to like it, but it’s just a bit too over the top with its military detailing. Others, like M7024 were (yawn) boring.

M7024

M7024 – Yawn

There were, of course, several patterns in the collection that I liked and that I’ll probably pick up when I have a chance. These were:

M7017 is so cute. SO CUTE! I love this little skirt and top combo. It’s so feminine.

M7017

M7017

I like M7014 a good bit as well. The lines are clean, and it makes a good fall wardrobe staple into something a bit more interesting.

M7014

M7014

For us moms with kids, M7018 is an easy style to wear. It’s a nice way to look put together while still being comfortable enough to lift up tiny people and carry them around. this one may become a TNT pattern in my collection when I pick it up.

M7018

M7018

I also really like M7020 for similar reasons. It looks like something I could put with leggings. It would be easy to work from home in, and it would be something that with the right skirt and material could be dressed up. It also is versatile in that belted, it looks more dressy, but loose, it accommodates bloat.

M7020

M7020

M7023 is the first vest pattern I’ve seen that I like. It’s been a long while since I considered wearing a vest, and I think this one could be really cute as an addition to my wardrobe.

M7023

M7023

I’m in love with the skirt in M7022. I think there’s a lot of versatility there, and I look forward to adding it to my wardrobe. Oh, and while thrift-store shopping over the weekend, I found the perfect fabric for it as well.

M7022

M7022

M 7026 had a lot going for it. I thought “Awesome! Look at this cute running jacket and running pants! LOVE!

M7026

M7026

Then, they showed me the back. Um…what?

M7026

Angel wings on your running jacket? What???

I’ll probably still pick up the pattern and make the normal looking track jacket.

Speaking of “What were they thinking?” They gave us plus size girls nothing to work with. I mean this is the worst of the three:

M7027

M7027

When will pattern companies learn that women of size do not want to wear comforters as clothes? I mean, I’m sorry if you like this style, but to me it says “I couldn’t find anything to wear, so I cut a hole in my quilt and threw it over my head.

I mean, seriously!

I want to embrace my curves. I don’t want to hide them. Bulk just makes you look…bigger! If that’s your thing, then hey! Go for it. I prefer well-fitted clothes that are female figure-flattering. After all, our curves are what make us different from those angular menfolk!

Enough said about that.

I found myself also a bit disappointed by their new kids’ patterns. Their stuff was either “yawn” or similar to patterns I already have in my stash.

What were your thoughts about the fall release from McCall’s?

 

 

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Operation: Genocide Book Blast & Giveaway $25 for an Amazon/B&N Gift Card

 

An inhuman agenda… A clandestine organization… And the killing isn’t over yet…
 

 

Publication Date: September 2013
Genre: Thriller/Murder Mystery

An inhuman agenda…

In 1982, Annette Pretorius lives a life of privilege afforded to those of European descent in South Africa, but when her husband is murdered, she discovers a shattering secret: he’d been commissioned by the whites-only South African government to develop a lethal virus aimed at controlling the growth of the black population–already oppressed under the cruel system of apartheid.

A clandestine organization…

The murder came with a warning to Annette from a secretive organization: keep our secrets or you too will die. Captain Trevor Watson, Annette’s former boyfriend, is appointed to lead the investigation. Watson’s loyalty is tested as the evidence stacks against his high school sweetheart.

And the killing isn’t over yet…

When the investigation points in a terrifying direction, Annette and Watson face a wrenching choice: protect those they love or sacrifice all to save innocents from racial extermination.

A refugee from communism and the bitter cold of Poland, I lived in South Africa for 16 years. It’s certainly not a trendy setting for a novel, and I know people on either sides of the political spectrum will find OPERATION: GENOCIDE controversial. By trying to portray what South Africa was like at the height of its apartheid era, by inspecting both sides of the coin, I’m sure I’ve managed to offend all parties.

Still, I’m not sorry. South Africa means a lot of things to a lot of people: lions in long yellow grass, diamond mines, apartheid, Nelson Mandela, rugby. All of those images are right, yet none of them – in my opinion – are representative of the misunderstood country or its people. None of them describe what it’s like to live in South Africa, both in the 1980s and today.

I’d like my readers to smell the red dust of the continent and to fall in love with Africa the way I did when I first set foot there as an impressionable teenager. I left my heart in Africa, and I invite you to do the same.

Messy Beautiful Love Book Launch

Love is easy.

Marriage is HARD!

There, I said it. Even in a good marriage, there will be times when you and your spouse are struggling to get along, when you have one thing after another coming at you from all ends of the spectrum, or when some hurdle comes up that causes a great deal of stress.

Love is not neat and orderly. You can’t put it in a box at the end of the day and expect it to stay in the same place. It grows and changes and shifts and…

You get the idea.

I was selected to be a reviewer and part of the book launch team for Messy Beautiful Love by Darlene Schacht. I’ve been reading the author, Darlene’s blog The Time-Warp Wife for a while and inspired by many of her posts on how to make a stronger marriage.

Yup, I’m old fashioned like that. I don’t talk a lot about my beliefs on here, but I do think that it’s important for us marrieds to make our marriage a priority in our lives. Yes, that means even when you have children. I have two. One is 16 and one is 8 1/2 months old. Marriage is still important!

In fact, the best way to stay together through the tough stuff is to stick together through the simple stuff. That means making your spouse a priority in your life. Yeah, it’s not easy in an age where work expects us to be on-call 24 hours a day, but it’s necessary. After all, tough stuff ends, kids grow up and move out, friends change jobs and situations, but at the end of the day, at the end of the season, at the end of the career, you have your spouse.

Enough of my soap box.

Messy Beautiful Love begins when things get messy. Financial problems, aging parents, a chronically unhappy spouse – all things that are beyond our individual control threaten to derail us on our quest for a long, happy, and healthy marriage if we let them. The book talks about surrendering your relationship to God, and waiting out the storm, while coming together as a couple. Look, it’s easy to be married in the honeymoon period. It’s considerably tougher when you wake up and realize that you’re in this lifeboat together, and what you do not only affects you, but it affects your spouse and your marriage.

The book talks about how it’s important to be your husband’s cheerleader – whether you’re with him or he’s out of sight. How many of us know that person in our group of friends who says awful things about her husband when he’s not around? I’ve written on why this sort of thing bothers me in the past. I don’t like husband bashing, and I don’t like it when people constantly husband bash. Isn’t this the person you stood next to and promised your love to? Religious or not, we owe our spouses our respect, love, and kindness.

In all, the book promises to be one that focuses on how to get through the tough times together – not just the easy times. You can pre-order it, and when you do, you’ll receive over $50 worth of free goodies.

goodies

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received on having a long and healthy marriage? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Book Review: Hand of Chaos by J. Hamlet AND $50 Giftcard Giveaway! #ChaosTour

HOC Banner

 

In Hand of Chaos by J. Hamlet, we meet Anna Wei, a member of a kind of supernatural SWAT team. I have to say Hamlet does an outstanding job of creating a strong female lead – it’s definitely something to applaud. That’s not easy to do.

What think is great about this book is the weaving together of crime fiction and fantasy fiction, making the book fun, of courses, but also making it so that the story stands out to readers. Ethan, the antagonist, is also well-rounded. This is an important skill for writers to have, as making villains who read like cardboard cutouts can be an easy crutch for writers. I haven’t read a lot of books in the urban fantasy genre, so I found this a good introduction to it.

I’ve always been a fan of the X-Men. While this book is not about superheros, per sae, there is something about it that reminds me of the same spirit within the X-Men; And I think it’s because of the stark contrast. While in the X-Men universe, the mutants are seen as the enemies by the government, in Hand of Chaos, magic is freely embraced by the government.

There’s a bit of X-Files meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer going on here too. Anna works for a secret government agency where she has to take care of zombie-infested apartment complexes, necromancers, and undead hordes.

In all, this was an enjoyable book to read; it was a quick read. It will be fun to see what he does with the second book in the series.

 

Hand of chaosTitle: Hand of Chaos

Series: The Chaos Theology #1

Author: J. Hamlet

Publication Date: September 4, 2013

Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy

 

Synopsis

Exhausted, cynical, and confused, Anna is always there to report for duty. She’s part of a clandestine government team that defends the nation against supernatural terrorism—a job that understandably leaves her life in shambles and drives her to drink a little more than she should. Toss in a fear of intimacy with a desire to have friends and lovers like a normal person and, well, Anna is a troubled soul wrapped in a special agent with arcane, magical powers. Waking up hungover at five–­thirty in the morning with a zombie­–infested apartment building in the heart of DC to deal with, she knows she’s got the makings of the worst morning possible.

Her team is its own challenge. A battle­–scarred Nigerian shaman, a bookish shape­shifter, an inept summoner, and a brilliant but cantankerous wizard round it all out. Her partner, an immortal and cursed Paladin, is the only person she knows more jaded than herself. Getting them all to work together is never easy, with Anna often caught in the cross fire.

Their target, Ethan Morgan, is one pissed off necromancer. His brother was KIA by his own government, the victim of an experimental magical weapon they decided to test on the battlefield. Now bent on revenge and sponsored by one of hell’s most powerful demons, Ethan has a plan of his own to make us all pay. Anna and her team are fighting against the wake of destruction, but Ethan is always one step ahead. With the number of bodies he leaves and reanimates growing exponentially, Anna’s wondering if they’ll stop him before he engulfs everyone in an undead horde.

 

 

 

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Buy Links

Amazon  |  Goodreads

author

 

 

Final Author pictureEveryone needs a hobby. And, like most people, I hope one day that my hobby will liberate me from my mind–­numbing day job. I chose writing. Not one of the easier ones. I chose it at the tender age of 14, churning out terrible science fiction novels that heaped on the cliches and barely hidden tropes of all space operas. Thankfully, those creations reside in the prison of an old Commodore 64 hard drive and several 3.5″ disks (kids, ask your parents) in a landfill somewhere. And, let me be clear, the world is better for it.

Along the way, I kept writing. Through college. Through grad school. Through the beginning of my career, such as it is. I like to believe I picked up skills. I wanted to write novels that had things I wanted to see. Hand of Chaos, my debut novel, brings together elements of a spy thriller and a police procedural with dark and urban fantasy. I followed that with Scarred Earth, a serial alien invasion novel I’m releasing entirely through tumblr. I’m probably going about this all wrong, but I don’t know any other way.

Social Media Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr

 

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Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this tour. A $50 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.

 

Open Internationally. Ends 9/15. Void where prohibited.
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The Clipboard: Many Uses for This Overlooked Tool

English: A common clipboard.

English: A common clipboard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of years ago, I “rediscovered” the clipboard. I found it in my old box of college junk. I don’t think I ever really used it in college, but I thought I would give it a second chance. I put it in my computer desk, and it just sat there unnoticed for another year. All of a sudden I found myself working a part-time job (in addition to my day-job of raising three young children), starting a MOMS Club, and creating a business from scratch. One day, I just picked it up when I needed to carry something around to make notes. That was the day my clipboard became my most indispensable tool.

 

Currently my clipboard contains the stuff of my life: my Menu Planner for October, my Menu Planner for September (for reference), my Weekly Planner for this week, my Weekly Planner for next week, my Halloween Party Planner for the get-together we are having at the end of the month, my notes on what I want to include on the agenda for my MOMS Club board meeting, a list of recommended books for the book club, an itinerary for last week’s houseguests, my Monthly Cleaning Schedule, a list of articles I’m planning to write, articles I’m editing for submission, and this article which I prefer to write freehand and then type into the computer later.

 

A clipboard doesn’t require holes to be punched in the paper it holds. Pages and notes can quickly and easily be added or removed. It is portable, sturdy, comes in a variety of colors, and has a handy spot for my pen when it is time to get to sleep. A clipboard allows my inner preschooler to manipulate pen and paper. I may go where electricity may not be found and give my eyes a rest from the bright lights of a computer screen. Surely a woman who needed to prepare her daughter’s birthday party between doing several loads of laundry and bathing her children was the original creator of the clipboard. Maybe she had a letter to her Kindergartener’s teacher to write while her 3-year-old played on the playground. It is highly likely that she had grocery lists, to-do lists, and Christmas card lists to compile while waiting in the Dentist’s office. That woman knew she needed a firm, dry (non-sticky) place to write that she could carry with her as she went from one task to the next. Mrs. Clipboard, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

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Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find more than 500 printable lists, checklists, and planning pages to tote around on your clipboard and put your world in order.

 

Notes on Wines “And the Winner Is”

English: Concha y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diab...

English: Concha y Toro 2005 Casillero del Diablo Carmenère wine bottle and glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As promised, here are notes on wines that we’ve tasted in the past, which never made it to the blog. Creekside Cellars has since closed (excuse me while I shed a tear), but the wines are definitely worth recommending. This tasting is from February, 2013.

1. Saint Hilaire – Brut Sparkling – Limoux, France – $15.00 – This sparkling white was very nice. It had a nutty, almond flavor, and hints of vanilla.

2. Boutari – Santorini-Assyrtiko 2010 – Cycladic Islands, Greece – $20.00 – If you haven’t had a lot of Greek wines, might I recommend them to you? They are crisp, have a mineral taste to them, and are quite nice. This one had notes of olive oil as well, and would pair very nicely with some of the lighter Mediterranean dishes and Greek salads. We really liked this one.

3. Leveroni – Chardonnay 2010 – Carneros, Sonoma – $16.00 – This wine was very nice (like the Boutari, it earned a star and two exclamation points, which means given unlimited resources, we’d add it to our cellar). It was dry yet buttery and lots of oak (but in a good way). It had all these qualities balanced with cloves. It was a really robust chardonnay. It would hold up well with my chicken Swedish meatballs recipe.

4. Belle Glos – “Meiomi” Pinot Noir 2011 – Monterey, Santa Barbara, & Sonoma Counties, California – $27.00 – This wine was very good. With the nose, we were concerned that it would be very rubbery. It’s funny how this wine developed. After the swirl, it had more of a wasabi nose, and upon tasting, it was filled with cloves, vanilla, and peppers. It did very well with the cheeses that had big flavors, and I’d definitely pair it with spicy food and foods with a lot of punch.

5. Kokomo – Zinfandel 2011 – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma – $27.00 – this wine was decently good. We felt it tasted a lot like Hickman Family Vineyards’ Zinfandel, and given the choice, we preferred the Hickman wine over Kokomo’s.

6.  Perry Creek – “Altitude 2401″ Petite Sirah 2009 – El Dorado County – $22.00 – This wine was also a star and one and a half exclamation points wine. It was high octane! It was very tannic, but it had a good fruit balance. This wine would pair well with comfort foods. The cheese plate we ordered had hush puppies, and it went very well with those.

7. Mitolo – “Jester” Shiraz 2010 – McLaren Vale, Australia – $22.00 – This wine was decently good. It had hints of mint, coffee, chocolate, and the tannins were noticeable.

8.  Concha Y Toro – “Marques de Casa Concha” Cabernet – Puento Alto, Chile – $ 24.00 – On the nose, we thought this wine would be too sweet and that it would be almost like plastic. On the taste, it was not bad; it went well with the hush puppies. It had an understated spice to it. It would be nice with spicy Mexican dishes.

We did not taste the d’Arenberg “Hermit Crab” because we’d previously had it, and enjoyed it very much. In fact, we have some in our cellar.

Have you tried any of these wines? Please share your thoughts about them in the comments section.

The Curvy Sewing Collective and Postpartum Wardrobe Planning

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

This sad little closet needs more clothes!

If you haven’t had a chance, you’ll want to cruise over to The Curvy Sewing Collective.  You’ll find inspiration as the site owners band women together to create more of a curvy sewing blogging community. While there, you can read my post, “Post-partum Wardrobe Planning for a Closet Full of Me-Made Clothes.” While I spoke on the blog here some about my plans to sew a complete wardrobe, you’ll find entries on how I went about the planning process over there. The other ladies are fabulous as well – you’ll want to check out some of the recent posts including:

I know that it’s helpful to see what sewing projects look like (and what problems to expect) on people of all different shapes and sizes – and not just the models the companies give us – when choosing which patterns I will purchase and what projects I will work on. It’s also a great way to build confidence – because hey, we all have different bodies, and that’s a good thing. How boring would the world be if we all looked the same?

Many of the bloggers over there are people I’ve been following for some time, so I’m happy to highly recommend the site – not just because I’m contributing there, but also because I think it is a quality place to spend time.