Thursday, July 28, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} Marriage and darts

"You know what marriage is like? ... It's like picking the place you're going to live for the next fifty years by using a wall map, a blindfold, and what you really, truly, deeply believe is your lucky dart." -- Kathleen, Judith's mother, in To Be Sung Underwater by Tom NcNeal

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

{read: another great debut novel} Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner

I listened to the audio version of Vaclav & Lena, and I was immediately drawn in by the male reader. He does an excellent job bringing Vaclav to life. This story of two Russian immigrants, ages 10 and 9 and 11 months, could also be titled "What Was Wrong With Lena." Vaclav and Lena are best friends - in fact, they are each other's only friend. Vaclav plans to be a magician and Lena will be his "lovely assistant." Rasia, Vaclav's mother, has taken an interest in Lena since her aunt and caregiver leaves Lena home alone all the time in an apartment filled with dirty clothes and dishes, cigarette butts, and no food. Each night, Rasia feeds Lena dinner, walks her home (pretending that her aunt has called to ask Rasia to walk Lena home) and tucks her into bed with a bedtime story. But one day Lena doesn't come to school when she is sick. When Rasia goes over to check on her that evening, she doesn't come home until 5 a.m. the next day and Lena is gone - turned over to Child Protective Services because of what Rasia saw.

Fast-forward to Lena's 17th birthday, and the two meet up again. Lena is obsessed with finding her parents so she knows where she comes from, but as her relationship with Vaclav progresses, bad memories surface. Vaclav's solution is both sweet and perhaps a bit naive.

I really enjoyed this audio book. Although I thought the first section and the last section were the most compelling, I was intrigued enough to find out more about Lena and Vaclav to keep reading through the slower middle section, and it may have been a change of narrators that made it less interesting for me in the middle.

Vaclav & Lena by Haley Tanner (The Dial Press, 2011)
My rating: 4 stars

Monday, July 25, 2011

{crafts} Tie Dye

I had an abundance of hand-me-down white t-shirts, so over the weekend I decided to tie dye them. Dharma Trading Company is my favorite place for tie day/batik supplies, and they have great instructions on their web site. Check them of my t-shirts will be posted soon.

Tie-Dye Basics

Tie-Dye Basics

What is Tie-Dye?

There are many traditional variations of tie-dye around the world, each unique but basically Tie-dye is a way of creating patterns of color by folding, tying, stitching, crumpling or otherwise preparing the fabric to inhibit the flow of the dye into the folds of the fabric. The pattern of the folds and where the colors are squirted determines the final design. With experience, the end result can be predicted and controlled to some extent, but surprise is part of what makes tie-dye an exciting and interesting art form that even a first timer can have great results with. A fun & easy craft for children, camps and groups.

What is Tie-Dye?

step 1: fold and tie your garment

Fold and/or tie the fabric into the desired patterns. For more defined patterns wet the shirt and squeeze or spin out excess water before folding. We have several books and DVDs with great pattern ideas!

step 2: soak garments in soda ash solution

Wear your dust mask & gloves! Use - 1 cup (8 oz.) of Soda Ash Fixer per gallon of warm water. A gallon will soak 10-12 adult XL tees – so way more kids tees, fewer dresses, etc.

Soak the tied garments about 5-15 minutes. Squeeze out the garment so it is damp but not dripping. You can reuse solution until gone.

step 3: mix your dyes

Wear your dust mask & gloves! Measure urea and warm water into a container, an old pitcher works well. Use the chart below for amounts. Paste up your dye with the urea water (see below), then add rest of water and stir ‘till thoroughly dissolved. Pour into squeeze bottles with afunnel. An already wet, tied up adult tee will absorb about 4 oz of liquid dye, depending on how much you apply. Use this as a guide to help you decide how much to mix up. Check the name of each color on the label of the jar, some colors need more dye, they are marked with an * or ** by the name.

step 4: squirt on your dye

Apply dye with squeeze bottles, paint brushes, sponges, etc., as many colors as you want. (see below for tips).

step 5: let it rest

Put tied fabric in a plastic bag (you want to keep it damp). Let it cure for at least 4 hours but preferably 24 hours for the brightest colors. In temperatures below 70ยบ F, it takes longer.

step 6: wash it out

Pre-fill your washing machine with hot water and 1/4 cup Synthrapol or Professional Textile Detergent. Rinse the tie-dyes thoroughly before putting in the machine. Leaving ties on, rinse under cold running water (faucet, hose or shower), to stop the dye reaction. Next rinse in warm water while you untie the folds, keep rinsing until water runs fairly clear. Throw in machine as soon as it is rinsed, running it through a full cycle.Don't wash more than the equivilant of about 8 adult size t-shirts at a time or the water gets too muddy. You can use Milsoft professional fabric softener in the final rinse to make your tie-dyes super soft!.

What is Tie-Dye?

  • Any natural fiber is great for tie-dye: cotton, rayon, hemp, linen, ramie etc. If you can’t find 100% natural shirts a 90% cotton and 10% polyester or lycra is ok, but avoid 50/50 blends (come out very pale).
  • When tie-dyeing silk or wool or other protein fibers, keep in mind that Fiber Reactive colors shift on these fibers, and you cannot get a true black. Soda Ash is also very hard on these fabrics, so use half as much, and don’t cure for more than 4-6 hours, or use the vinegar / microwave method instead of using Soda Ash.
  • It is always good to pre-wash your fabric and garments; fabric softeners and other finishes can prevent the dye from absorbing into the fiber.
  • Cover your work surfaces with old newspapers or folded paper towels to absorb extra dye. Elevating the garment of the table is great to, we like old cookie cooling racks for this. Be sure to wear old clothes, dye will stain!
  • Make sure you get everything covered with dye. After applying dye to one side, flip garment over and repeat the process. Inject the tip of the squeeze bottle into the folds for best dye penetration and less white on the final product.
  • Put a small amount of Sodium Alginate thickener or Super Clear liquid thickener into dye mixture (step 3) to slow down the rate that the dye spreads and to create sharper edges.
  • Got a leaky Squirt bottle? A couple wraps of white Teflon plumber's tape around the threads solves this problem perfectly. It is cheap and available at any hardware store. No tie-dyer should be without it!
  • In step 4 any method keeping the fabric wet is OK, needn't be a plastic bag — cover many with plastic drop cloth, wrap in plastic wrap, etc. The warmer the temperature where you lay out your tie-dyes to cure, the quicker the chemical reaction.
  • Use Water Softener if you suspect you have "hard" water
  • DON'T USE HOT WATER. The dyes work best in lukewarm water (105 degrees). #250- Jet Black does like hot water (140 degrees)and does NOT do well for tie-dye (unless you cure your tie-dyes under an electric blanket!).
  • Urea helps dye to dissolve, so dissolve the Urea in the water first. Add this water to the dye powder gradually and paste it up to avoid lumps. Undissolved dye makes "explosions" of color or "freckles", so if a color is difficult to dissolve, straining through some light fabric might be necessary. Coffee filters only work if the dye is really liquid. Otherwise, they filter out too much of the dye
  • If you have trouble making a paste of the colors, a little Calsolene Oil can help because it breaks the surface tension.
  • With this dye, there is always lots of "excess dye" to be washed out. Don't crowd your washing machine with too much tie-dye or the water gets too muddy and so will your tie-dyes. A key to clear, brilliant tie-dyes is the rinse and washout procedure - don't skimp!
  • Delicate items like rayon are better hand washed or should go into a mesh bag on a gentle cycle so the agitation doesn't shred them.


Check out these basic folding Patterns on our website (For more advanced folds Check out the books and DVDs!):

SpiralPeace SignScrunch4th of July


  • Dye shirt a solid color first using Tub Dyeing Method, then tie-dye using above method.
  • After step 4, untie and re-tie in contrasting pattern.
  • After tie-dyeing item, re-tie and use Discharge paste to bleach out a contrasting pattern.
  • Sprinkle pure Procion powder onto tied and pre-soaked item for different effects (super intense color! Use a salt shaker with lots of salt and some dye for a lighter application)
  • Planning a tie-dye party? We can make it easier with our Group Tie-Dye Instructions.

What is Tie-Dye?

Fiber reactive dyes attach permanently to cellulose fibers using a covalent (electron-sharing) bond. These molecules carry a "chromophore" which absorb varying spectra of the light, allowing only certain spectra to reflect. Covalent bonding is one of the most basic and strongest types of chemical reactions. This reaction happens gradually over time depending on temperature and/or the Ph level of the surrounding environment.

The Soda Ash pre-soak raises the pH level of the garment or fabric to approximately 10.5. Raising the pH level of the solution that the fabric or garment is soaked in raises the level of negative hydrogen ions in the dyeing environment. The chemical bonding process uses these ions in the reaction. Pre-soaking in Soda Ash fixer solution is what allows the fiber reactive dyes to work at room temperature. The reaction can also be aided with heat. Some tie-dyers have had success with using baking soda and microwaving their dyed articles. Since baking soda is a weaker alkali than Soda Ash, it must be accompanied by heat. Some people who are "chemically sensitive" choose to use this method.

The dye is allowed to react in a desirable host environment for up to 24 hours. After this time, the bonding sites on the cellulose should be saturated with dye molecules. Excess dye molecules that have not bonded permanently are washed away using warm water rinse and a dye-carrying detergent like Synthrapol.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} The flow of life

"Sometimes life is like that. It goes on and on at a certain level and then there comes a year when everything changes." -- Alistair MacLeod (Island)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

{wordless wednesday} jump frog jump!

We uncovered a pond full of lilly pads at Judge Morris Park in Newark, Delaware. Happy Wordless Wednesday!

To buy a print of this photo, visit inkOVERpaper on Etsy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{read: debut fiction} Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Dr. Jennifer White used to be a hand surgeon, but she retired when she began to show symptoms of Alzheimer's. This stunning first novel is told from her point of view. Sometimes she remembers people and their names in the beginning of the book, but mostly these things have left her mind by the end. Complicating matters is the murder of her best friend and neighbor from three doors down, Amanda. Amanda's body was found with a head wound and the fingers on one hand severed and missing. Another neighbor saw Jennifer go into the house and she is, at the very least, the last person to see Amanda alive. But despite the repeated questioning of police, Jennifer doesn't remember anything about the murder. In fact, each time they question her they have to break the news to her again that Amanda is dead.

One review that I read said that if one of the goals of literature is to allow readers to inhabit worlds and perspectives that they would otherwise not be able to access, then this novel is outstanding, and I agree. The writing is very fluid, and although Jennifer's level of awareness and sense of time change frequently, I didn't find the story hard to follow. The complex relationships between Jennifer and her husband and Jennifer and Amanda are well developed, as are those with her own children.

This novel made me think about things that I don't usually ponder: how can we best care for Alzheimer's patients while respecting their dignity? As the disease progresses, it becomes increasingly frustrating for the patient, the caregivers, and the family members, who can be denied a chance to say good-bye if they keep putting it off, thinking there is more time.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2011)
My rating: 4 stars

Monday, July 18, 2011

{recipes} Gazpacho

Summer is a great time for fresh fruits and vegetables. On a hot summer night, there is nothing better than a delicious bowl of cold soup. Check out this easy recipe for Gazpacho from


Gazpacho soup was invented for the summer. Refreshingly cold on hot summer days, this adaptation of the classic Spanish cold tomato soup deliciously combines the best of summer vegetables. Make sure you only use the freshest, highest quality ingredients for this soup.

Print Options

Gazpacho Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes


  • 6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 purple onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarian option)
  • 4 cups tomato juice


Combine all ingredients. Blend slightly, to desired consistency. Place in non-metal, non-reactive storage container, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to blend.

Yield: Serves 8.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} A new perspective

"I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived." -- Chris Cleave (Little Bee)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

{wordless wednesday} Sunflowers!

Happy Wordless Wednesday! Driving on my way to work I noticed this large plot of sunflowers all in bloom. I made sure to take the camera this morning and pull over to get some shots. It was a beautiful summer morning...enjoy!

To purchase a print of any of these photos visit: InkOverPaper on Etsy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{read: World War II fiction} The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson

I've started to seek out some World War II novels that tell the less-publicized stories of the war. One great example of this is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum, which explores the role of Nazi sympathizers and what people will do to survive. Another is Resistance by Owen Sheers, which focuses on what happens in a Welsh village after all the men disappear one night and the Germans occupy the village.

The Katyn Order focuses on the Warsaw Uprising and the Katyn Order, which was signed by Stalin and authorized the execution of 20,000 Polish military officers, lawyers, and other educated people. When the bodies were discovered, Russia and Germany each blamed it on the other country. The protagonist, Adam, is searching for a copy of the order to have proof that Russia was the aggressor.

I found this book hard to put down, despite the war atrocities and cruelty that occurred. The romance is a secondary story, and Jacobson brings the fear and desperation of the 1940s to life. He doesn't hesitate to let bad things happen to characters that you like.

The Katyn Order by Douglas W. Jacobson
My rating: 4 stars

Monday, July 11, 2011

{crafts} felt donuts

I have bookmarked this page, hoping that sometime I will find the time to create these felt donut treats. For only $3.99, sweetiepiebakery is selling the complete pattern with directions and material list so that you can easily create them. Check the irresistible treats out on

Thursday, July 7, 2011

{a thought for Thursday} Motherhood

"A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after." -- Peter De Vries

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

{read: new fiction by bestselling author} State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This had enough plot twists to keep me guessing and enough description of the Amazon jungle and its tribes to keep me interested even while nothing much was happening. I liked it better than Run, but I read Bel Canto so long ago that I can't compare it to that (although I remember also liking Bel Canto better than Run).

In State of Wonder, Dr. Marina Singh is a scientist - a former doctor-in-training - who goes to the Amazon jungle to confirm the unexpected death of her colleague and to get an update on a drug that Dr. Swenson (her former teacher) has been developing for years. Along the way, she loses her luggage two times, battles maternal urges, and learns to practice medicine with almost no supplies. She also learns a surprising truth about the medicine under development and its implications. There are cannibals, a battle to the death between a snake and a human, poison arrows, live births, still births, and hallucinogenic mushrooms and tree bark with mysterious properties, not to mention lies galore (both implicit and explicit) and screaming nightmares. There's also a love story or two thrown in for good measure, as well as some footloose and fancy-free bohemians. What's not to love? I read this in the summer and enjoyed it, but it would also be a good book for the icy months of winter since it's set in a hot, tropical climate.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Harper, 2011)
My rating: 4 stars

Monday, July 4, 2011

{food} 4th of July Fabulous Flag Treats

Have a party to go to where you need to bring a festive treat? These are gorgeous and fitting for a fun summer holiday. Originally posted on Two Hearts Together, here is the creative snack idea:

Look at these fabo red white and blue rice krispie treats using the original household favorite cereal! The trick to getting smooth bright colors for the flag is using tangy Airheads perfect for adults and kiddos!

4th of July Fabulous Flag Treats recipes



* Crispy rice treats
* Airheads Cherry bars
* Airheads White Mystery bars
* Airheads Blue Raspberry bars
* Small kitchen knife or scissors
* Small star-shaped cookie cutter (optional)


1. Cut crispy rice treats into rectangles
2. Cut part of an Airheads® Blue Raspberry bar to make the upper blue corner of the flag.
3. Cut alternating strips of Airheads® Cherry and White Mystery to make the flag’s stripes. Arrange pieces on crispy rice treat. Trim to fit.
4. Using either a star-shaped cookie cutter, or by hand, cut out a star shape from an Airheads® White Mystery bar. Place star on the blue square.
5. Pack into kids lunchboxes or keep them for a great snack at home.

Tip: If Airheads are hard to cut, take them out of their wrappers and place them on a microwave-safe plate. Warm them slightly in the microwave on Low for 10 seconds.