Chirped by Tina and Cass
October has come and gone, and time has flown by like the leaves from the trees in our backyards! It’s been a busy month, but we’re taking a moment to appreciate another top ten list of the whos, whats, and wheres that lit the candles in our jack-o’-lanterns last month!
Favorite Book of the Month
A perfect book for October, Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman was an edge-of-your-seat mystery thriller. I (Tina) listened to it in the car on Audible over the course of several long trips. Don’t be alarmed that it’s read by the author – Steadman is also an actress, and a fantastic narrator! Told in the first person, with a lot of reality-checking, self-doubting questions directed at the reader (“Well that’s what you do? …Isn’t it?”) I was totally captivated. Yes, I was cringing and yelling at the main character for some of her questionable choices, but when she was scared, I was gripping the steering wheel tight. As a book club book, it can lead to some interesting “what would YOU do in that situation?” discussions, too. And it hooks you from the first paragraph: “Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age…” It’s possible that it’s even better as an audio book than as a traditional book, because you get all the nuances the author/narrator intended? Might not be high literature, but it sure was entertaining!
Favorite Local Restaurant
Our favorite restaurant of the month is Slate Bleu in Doylestown, PA. This cozy French bistro has an amazing variety of creative small plates and an extensive beer and wine list. Chef Matyas studied in Paris and hails from the famous La Grenouille restaurant in New York City. Everything is made from scratch in the Slate Bleu kitchen, with the help and oversight of the rest of the Matyas family. “Panko shrimp with preserved lemon sauce and jicama-carrot slaw” and a delicious citrus soufflé (there’s some debate whether ours was lime or lemon…?) were just two of the evening’s many highlights. The selections change often and with the season, but you can get an idea from the sample menus on their website.
More Gifts from a Favorite Aunt!
More hand-knit winter-wear! My aunt just sent me a new hat and infinity scarf to keep me warm and toasty over the next couple of months. I’m told the soft blues and lavenders bring out the blue of my eyes. (-: My aunt calls herself the “Mad Hatter”. This latest hat is the sixth addition to my collection from her! I’m rocking a lot more variety in my headgear these days, with all these wonderful choices… Thanks, Aunt Podgie! ♥
Crafty Weekend with Friends
Cass and I planned a ladies’ weekend away at an off-season lake house and invited a few crafty friends to join us. Unfortunately, at the last minute Cass’s son needed help with a move, and she couldn’t make it. For the rest of us, it was a relaxing two and a half days of scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, Christmas card-making, eating, drinking, and merriment. (Not to mention lots of 70’s music and a misty morning sunrise!) Off-season vacation houses are a great way to get the most bang from your buck and minimize distractions from all the crafting that needs your attention. (-: Having crafty friends with their own vacation houses is even better! Getting away from your day-to-day chores and obligations really frees you up to get your creative juices flowing. Check out January’s post about our Scrapbooking Weekend for more ideas on hosting or at least packing for your own craft getaway!
Favorite Newly-Discovered App
While I was in the mountains at the craft weekend, Cass was across the country moving her son from Arizona to California. At a furniture store, they were admiring a big piece of art that was on clearance, the last one in stock. The store was unable to deliver it with the rest of their order. After measuring her son’s car and realizing it wouldn’t fit, the salesperson suggested Lugg. Lugg, similar to the app GoShare, is a service that will pick stuff up from your favorite store and deliver it to you. You can request the number of helpers based on the item(s) being delivered – and delivery is usually same day. After downloading the app and plugging in a discount code from the furniture store, the art arrived two hours later at Cass’s son’s apartment. Lugg doesn’t seem to be a thing here in PA, so you’d have to check your local availability, but good to know apps like this exist! What a great service if you don’t have a vehicle large enough to haul big stuff!
Easy Hike in the Woods
We were recently in the Pocono mountains with friends and went to explore the Raymondskill Falls Trail in the Delaware Water Gap. This relaxing .6 mile round trip trail had two viewing areas to admire the “tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania”. The falls weren’t running at full capacity on this beautiful fall day, and we were a little underwhelmed. To be the tallest in PA, they include three different tiers, which all together are just feet short of the height of Niagara Falls. But, since we only saw them in sections from the trail, they didn’t exactly inspire the same awe! Still beautiful though… (-:
Cool New Toys
Tina is helping with some of the craftier aspects of her friends’ upcoming wedding, including monogrammed pocket kerchiefs for the wedding party. After creating a design in Photoshop (inspired by the bride and groom’s shared passion for Game of Thrones), she imported it into a 30-day free trial of Hatch Embroidery software. Hatch has some easy tools for automatically digitizing a .JPG file and exporting it into a .PES file that an embroidery-equipped sewing machine can read. Luckily a friend of ours has just such a machine (a Brother SE400, now replaced by a Brother SE600). After tweaking the stitch angles to smooth out some curves, and rearranging the order in which different sections would “print” to minimize spool changes, Tina was able to copy the design files directly into the sewing machine’s memory. Once they got the hang of switching out the thread colors, it took about a half hour to print out each five-colored monogram. Good thing the wedding party isn’t too big! Both the software and the fancy sewing machine were a blast to play around with. Now Tina’s wondering whether to put them *both* on her Christmas/birthday/Arbor Day wish list? Lol. (-; Here’s a very short clip of the machine in action…
Costuming on a Dime
Where do you go to find an inexpensive costume for a college student? The thrift store, of course! On the way back to school from fall break, we stopped by Care and Share Thrift Shoppes in Souderton, PA. After combing the racks we found the perfect red overcoat, gold scarf, black vest and t-shirt. These were essential items for some obscure anime character costume that only *some* of my son’s friends will even recognize. All together the ensemble cost a whopping $20! Zoom in to see the inspiration image pictured on his phone… (Head deliberately cropped out so as not to embarrass the boy, lol.)
Fall seems to bring out the last hurrahs from the insect world before the cold air of winter sets in. Maybe they’re just more visible, without all the leaves to compete for our attention? We spotted this spectacular Marbled Orb-weaver spider clinging to a tree branch on our waterfall hike. And the yellowjacket on my window was making sure he was well groomed – Fall Formal with the queen, perhaps?
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder…
When their moms are away, those left behind in the empty nest (aka: the doggies) miss them terribly! We are always smothered with their affection when we return home from a trip. Puppy kisses anyone?
So many things to appreciate and be thankful for every month! Making our list is a great way to get in the zone for the Thanksgiving holiday. Stay tuned for next week’s chirp about making a “Thankful” poster for your own family get together!
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