observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

Lately . . .

Lately …

. . . We have been entertaining by having couples over for brunch — what a great way to entertain! Nearly everything can be made in advance so that the morning-of all that’s needed is toss things in the oven, pull the fruit/berry plate out of the fridge, brown the sausages, and wait for guests to arrive. Since everything is ready at once, it’s a matter of setting things out, sit, eat, and enjoy some friendly conversation. We’ve had three rounds of serving brunch so far and plan on doing another one very soon.

. . . At our last supper club (we do it potluck style with 6 other people) the theme was Thai food — what a great meal! And doing it potluck means it’s easy peasy since each of us only needs to prepare one dish to serve for dinner. Another great way to get together with friends.

hand written thank you notes ||  www.dianeschuller.com

Don’t you love receiving hand written notes and thank you notes?

. . . Book club. Well, I love my book club but I must admit there have been a few books that I’ve had to read in recent months that I truly do not recommend. So I’ll pass on those and move on to share my thoughts about the two most recent books I read (one was for book club and the other for pure pleasure) and give you my thoughts.

The Gift of Rain: A NovelI don’t have a photo because I read it on my Kindle. Before I mention the story itself I have to mention how much I enjoyed the author’s use of imagery and story telling. The story takes place during the invasion of Malay by the Japanese during World War II. This one is very unique compared to all other novels using WWII as it’s background or its main historical component.  I found the characters well fleshed out. It’s a quiet sort of story despite what is going on but because I really enjoy an intelligent literary novel, this definitely rates high with me. Recommended.

A quote from the novel, “Like the rain, I had brought tragedy into many people’s lives but, more often than not, rain also brings relief, clarity, and renewal. It washes away our pain and prepares us for another day, and even another life. Now that I am old I find comfort, like the spirits of all the people I have ever known and loved.” ~ Phillip Hutton, protagonist in The Gift of Rain.

Gone Girl: A NovelWritten from the perspective of each protagonist. The chapters alternate between each of them with the story unfolding from each perspective. It has a real interesting twist part way through that you won’t see coming. If you enjoy a page turner with plot twists, you will enjoy this one.

Gone Girl recommendation

. . . Knitting. As busy as summer is around here, I’ve been craving getting back to knitting. But before that, remember that pretty Saroyan leafy scarf I finished several months ago? It desperately needed to be blocked but I still haven’t been to the city to try and find a blocking board and pins or else those spongy interlocking things that people use in kids rooms (yes, they seem to make an ideal surface for blocking hand knits). I was browsing around YouTube looking for a useful how-to for blocking and one of the titles grabbed my attention. You can steam block if you don’t want to (or in my case don’t have the materials for) wet blocking. The video was brilliant so I got my steam iron out, ‘flattened’ out my Saroyan and began steaming and shaping. It turned out AMAZING! Brilliant. So now I can begin a new project without the guilt of not having blocked my last project.

Saroyan scarf ©Diane Schuller

Saroyan hand knit scarf now blocked

Saroyan scarf in black & white ©Diane M Schuller

And new on the needles:

I bought two beautiful skeins of hand dyed sock yarn from Yarn Indulgences in the colour “Water and Sprouts” a while ago. I gifted one to a lovely neighbour who knits beautiful socks. The other skein I am turning into a shawl — my very first shawl. I attempted another pattern before this one but had nothing but grief so turned to a real simple pattern and it’s so addictive that it’s really moving along. Mind you I haven’t yet reached the lace ‘feather and fan’ section though I’m sure I can tackle it. So here’s a peek at my Multnomah shawl in progress.

Multnomah shawl by www.dianeschuller.com

I know, it’s all garter in this section but I like that the garter will make it squishy and stretchy.

knitted shawl in progress ©Diane M Schuller

NOW YOU!  What’s on your needles (for those who knit) … or … What book have you read lately that you recommend? … or … What’s your favourite way to nosh with friends (dinner, appies, brunch, backyard BBQ, or ?).

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Jessie - August 21, 2014 - 10:02 pm

Every time I read your posts I find myself wishing I lived closer… you know something less than two time zones away… Because your food sounds amazing! We’d reciprocate though, I promise! You invite us for brunch and we’d be happy to have you over for dinner. Johns specialty is grilling (he’s got some excellent pulled pork recipes) and I’ll make sure there is something tasty for dessert…

I also enjoyed Gone Girl, that was a book club book for me, good discussion on that one! I just finished Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. Loving the whole epic fantasy (good epic fantasy) I was super excited to have her bring back my favorite of her characters in the start of a new trilogy. So much so that I went back and re-read some old ones. Good stuff (Starts with Assassins Apprentice and even a few of my non-fantasy loving friends though it was great!)

As for knitting, the last dishcloth I was knitting is still on my needles, sad thing has been there since shortly after my oldest daughter was born… maybe one day…

Sherry - August 22, 2014 - 8:17 am

I love your posts, Diane, and all the goodness contained therein! Your knitting projects simply amaze me and since I have two left needles, I cannot contribute anything interesting there. I’ve been rereading Elizabeth Lesser’s A Seeker’s Guide lately, not a novel but her life story. Just bought a couple of new books I’m dying to read: The Motion of the Ocean… and The Monks and Me. Can’t decide whether to save them for the boat or not…As for eating with friends, we recently participated in a tapas evening with 5 others. Each contributed a small plate course, including dessert. A different wine was paired with each, except dessert. It lasted about 5 hours and was just wonderful! We smoked some salmon and trout and I baked blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars for the first time. Yummy, easy and perfect to transport. I didn’t get any pics though so it will have to live on in my memory ;-)…

lisa - August 22, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Diane, it sounds like you are having a wonderful summer, and your brunches sound like the perfect way to stay in touch with friends, and eat lots of yummy things too!! Cannot go wrong there!

Your scarf is gorgeous. I love the delicate edge on it.

Around here, it’s still a matter of working on the downsizing. Hopefully excavation begins next week (it’s been held up by the very rainy weather).

I wish you a wonderful weekend, my friend! xo.

Candace - August 22, 2014 - 8:37 pm

You sure are a social creature, Diane! The knitting is beautiful. I keep meaning to download Gone Girl on my Kindle and keep forgetting. Hopefully, you have jogged me. The other book also sounds good but I like to read light in the summer (don’t know why because I’m not on vacation or anything)so I’ll keep that in mind for later reading.

Susan - August 22, 2014 - 8:51 pm

I’m about to decorate my kitchen/eating spot/sitting area in the very same colours as your shawl. Once gardening season begins I have little time or energy for reading. I save it all up for the grey days of winter. Soon it will be time to make my book list, a highly enjoyable activity. The two you mention sound good candidates.

Andi - August 26, 2014 - 3:11 pm

Ah, those lucky people that have the pleasure of dining and sharing meals with you! What absolutely brilliant idea to have a supper club potluck.
Your Saroyan turned out so pretty, Diane.

Susan - September 3, 2014 - 11:24 am

Looks and sounds like you are having a wonderful and very productive summer! I love the colors in that shawl you are knitting, inspires me to get my needles out..maybe once the weather gets a bit cooler here!

[…] had to look to see which were the last books I mentioned and, after looking it up, see that I am further behind than I thought. Well, there is definitely […]