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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Harry Potter Forever

Harry Potter.  *sigh*

Although I had no problems rushing to see the very last ever Harry Potter movie ever, in 3D, I have been somewhat reticent in commenting about it.  (Partly because I have an *awesome* fantazing HP-inspired field-trip on the horizon)(it’s very top-secret/hush-hush)(shhhhhhhhhhh!)

Obviously the movie was *AMAZINGBLOWMEOUTOFTHEWATER* x*INFINITE*IN3D*, and I have one or two thoughts on the movie, but I certainly don’t want to be spoilery for anyone who didn’t make it to the midnight show because they had to choose between another once-in-a-lifetime event of awesomeness and weren’t sure if the concert would get out in time to get to the midnight show, which even though they were able to make it, it was sold out anyway and they had to wait and see HP7.2.3D at the 10:40am show instead….Oh, wait, that’s me.  And even though it’s been a week already and everyone’s had kabillions of chances to see it already, I know from reading facebook, that not everyone has actually seen it yet.  I seriously don’t know what they’re waiting for.  Seriously.  seriously.  But still, I don’t want to be spoilery.  Just know (that, like everything else remotely HP-related), it is completely awesome and everything that I hoped it would be.

But still, all around, there seems to be a sense of Harry Potter being over.  More so, than when the last book came out.  Everyone reflecting on HP, and what it means to them.  Some people literally grew up with Harry.  I didn’t discover Harry/join the party until college, when the first movie came out and the fourth book was released.  But that’s still been about a decade of my life.

So…do I reflect?  Re-watch all the movies together?  Re-read all the books cover to cover?  Cyber-stalk Pottermore until it opens???  Make Harry Potter friendship bracelets?
Sure. Yes. Yes. Yes.  Hells yeah!

Yes, I said Harry Potter friendship bracelets, the perfect summer fashion statement.  What better way to show off your HP-fandom than by sporting the house colors of Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff?

My sister teaching me to braid friendship bracelets is one of my earliest memories.  Most bracelets involve simple braiding or knotting, and it’s super easy to pick up.  And as I discovered as a child, provides hours of entertainment for loooooooooong car rides.


Ingredients:
Scissors (to cut floss)
Tape or Safety pin (anchors bracelet while you’re working on it)(I recommend a thicker tape, or use a couple strips, because you’ll be pulling on it more than you think, and it’s annoying to have to stop and re-tape mid-knot/-braid)(and if you are *really* desperate and have the floss but are without safety pins and tape, you can always use your teeth.  I’ve done it; it works.  Super portable.  Just remember to pause and swallow a couple times if you notice yourself begin to drool.)
Embroidery floss in Harry Potter house colors, or colors of your choosing:
Gryffindor: red and gold (gold)
Slytherin: green and silver (silver)
Ravenclaw: blue and bronze (bronze)
Hufflepuff: yellow (yellow) and black (y’all know what black looks like, so let’s not go there)

Tips:
The more floss you use, the thicker/wider your bracelet will be.
The more complex a pattern/more knots/more threads you use, the longer the floss you’ll need.
I don’t like to go by strict measurements—A child will need less thread than an adult; women usually have smaller wrists than men—but I kind of have thick wrists (don’t judge), so if I’m making a bracelet for myself, I’ll cut more string than if I’m doing it for a friend.
If it’s too long, you can always cut the thread so it’s shorter.
If it’s too short, you can always give it as a gift to someone else (they are *friendship* bracelets after all)—But as a rule, I’d rather cut string longer and be on the safe side.

So, how much floss should you use?  For a simple bracelet, I like to be able to wrap the straight floss around my wrist about four times—For something with lots of knots, I like to be able to stretch it about two arm lengths (sometimes a little more if it’s a pattern I haven’t tried before.


—Doubling up on floss is instant gratification, by working with two pieces of thread instead of one, your work will go faster, and thus you’ll begin to see results faster.
Don’t worry if it doesn’t look right.
—Sometimes it can take five or six rows before you can begin to see a pattern; I like to go through all my colors at least once before I decide if I’ve screwed up or not.
Don’t give up if you make a mistake.
—Sometimes accidents can end up looking really cool, plus it makes your bracelet unique from everyone else’s
—If you mix up your color order, you can usually readjust the threads when you go through with the next color and no one will ever know the difference!


The two most basic designs I know are a braid and a wrap-around.
—I like to cut the floss twice as long as I need.  Then I fold it in half, make a small loop (no more than a finger’s width) and make a knot.  This is an easy way to double up your floss colors, which I think makes my bracelets look brighter and brings out the colors I’m using.  Also, the loop is a great anchor to pin down while you’re working, and a handy way to tie-off your bracelet when you’re finished.

BEGINNING YOUR BRACELET
1.  Cut the desired length of floss
2.  Tie your strings together.
—If you’re doubling up, hold the ends in one hand and use a finger on the other hand to find the middle, make a small loop, and knot them.
—For single strands (can be useful if you’re low on thread), knot all the strands together at one end.
3.  Anchor your bracelet.
—Tape is great if you’re at a desk or a table, or a car where you have a sturdy surface to work with.  Give it a couple tugs to make sure it’s secure.  Also, be careful not to tape below the knot when you’re first starting, because, you won’t be able to pull your thread tight if the tape is in the way.
—Safety pins are great if you’re on the go or just on the couch—you can pin them to your jeans/shirt/couch/pillow/snuggie/book bag/purse (just don’t stab yourself!).  I like to pin through the knot, rather than the loop, so that the bracelet is more secure.  If you find your bracelet twisting as it grows longer, you can always re-pin the bracelet closer to the threads you’re working with.
4.  Separate your threads by color

Now you’re ready to go!

DESIGNS
Braiding
—If you’re braiding, just go at it!

Wrap-Around/Forward Knot
1. Separate one color from all the rest
2. Holding all the other colors together, use the separated color to make the shape of the number four (4).
3. Bring the tail of your separated color through the hole in your number four (4).
4. Pull tight.
—This is called a forward knot, which is easy to remember—Just thing 4/forward!
—Make at least two knots before moving onto the next color.
—More knots=longer blocks of color.

*The Backward Knot is just the opposite of the Forward Knot.
—Instead of making a “4” shape, make a “P” shape with the strings.

Wrap-Around Variations*
(working from left to right)
Instead of wrapping one color around all the others, you can wrap the first color around each color by itself
—To create tight columns:  If you have three colors, you would wrap color 1 around 2, then around 3, and repeat (make sure you do each row at least twice!)
—To make diagonal stripes:  wrap each color individually; Using three colors, you would wrap color 1 around 2 (at least) twice, then wrap color 1 around 3 (at least) twice.


After you’re done with the first color, it will now be on the right side.  Repeat with colors 2 and 3.

Chevron
The Chevron bracelet is the pattern of a “V” shape.
This uses both the Forward and Backward Knots.
1. You’ll want to start the same way you would if you’ve doubled up your threads, but instead of doubling up the colors after you’ve made your loop, you’re going to want to separate them.
—Three colors doubled up will make six individual strands.
2. Separate your colors to look like this: 123 321
3. On each side you work toward the middle.
—On the left side use the Forward Knot with color 1 around 2 and 3; on the right side use the backward knot.
4. Knot the colors when they meet together in the middle.
5.  Repeat with the remaining colors.

*Keep checking your knots for tightness; knots that are farther apart end up with a more lacey appearance—which is perfectly fine if that’s the look you’re going for.
*Try combining different techniques to make your own unique patterns
*HAVE FUN!!!!!!

ENDING YOUR BRACELET
When you get toward the end, measure it against your wrist, to see how much farther you need to go.  When I get close to the end, I like to start braiding or knotting the design into the loop so that I don’t have a lot of leftover string-tails.  You can also separate the strands into two sections to and knot them together through the loop.
—If the bracelet is a gift, wait to cut it or bind it off until you give it to the person and get the best fit.
—It’s ok if it’s a little tight, the bracelet will give a little with wear.


 I went with a simple Wrap-Around Variation for my Hufflepuff colors and a Chevron-style for Ravenclaw (I couldn't find any bronze thread that I liked, so I just went with blues, grays, and black, which are what come to my mind for Ravenclaw).

I decided to experiment a little with my Gryffendor and Slytherin bracelets.  The Slytherin bracelet uses two different greens, gray, black, and silver.  I used a modification of the Diagonal Wrap-Around style—I used the Forward Knot to go left to right, but when I got to my silver color, after completing my rows of Forward Knots, I started a new set of Backward Knots, then followed with my other colors. When I got to black again, after a full set of Backward Knots, I switched back to Forward Knots.  It turned into a zig-zag pattern that makes me think of snakes and Nagini and Slytherin.


As for my Gryffendor bracelet, I used black, a light and dark gold, and two different crimson colors.  I wanted to try a different kind of zig-zag pattern, this one is kind of more like a staircase, but made me think of Harry's lightning scar.  Ok, now I pick these kind of things up pretty quickly, sometimes it takes one or two tries—But so far this is the hardest design I've ever used (check out the pattern yourself)—Usually once I get a pattern down, I'm good to go, but I think this one will take a couple tries before I have it down; it's like the hokey-pokey of friendship bracelets, "forward, leave out the ends, forward, add the ends back, forward, take out the ends, forward, add the ends back, backward, take out the ends, backward, forward....."  There are tons of cool patterns and designs out there to try, but it doesn't hurt to practice with some of the basics first!





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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Forbidden


So…I’ve noticed a lot of people are reviewing Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden—And I totally understand—I mean, calling a book Forbidden, is like saying, “don’t push the giant red button in the middle of the room.”  Well, then you shouldn’t have a giant red button in the middle of the room if you don’t want people to push it.  And likewise, people are going to read this book.

And I don’t think readers will be disappointed.  From the blurb on back, I expected something like V.C. Andrews Flowers in the Attic.  And it’s really not a bad comparison.  But while Flowers in the Attic was a more fantastical wild story, Ms. Suzuma does a great job of creating an all too realistic world for Lochan and Maya.

Forbidden is the story of Lochan and Maya, a brother and sister forced to take on the adult roles of parenting their three younger siblings, and the unexpected consequence of finding themselves attracted to each other, and even falling in love with each other.  Lochan and Maya are barely a year apart, and they’ve always been close; there’s always been a bond between them.  Their father walked out on them years ago, and their mother is an unreliable alcoholic.  But as their mother gets serious with a boyfriend, she begins to disappear more and more from their home and their lives, missing for weeks at a time, stopping back reluctantly to give the children money for food and bills.  Lochan is almost eighteen; Maya seventeen.  Willa is five, Tiffin eight, and Kit thirteen.  Kit is probably old enough to help Lochan and Maya with the younger kids, but instead, he’s the most troublesome.

I wasn’t really looking for surprises when I started reading Forbidden— This is a young adult book, so nothing explicit; I knew what the story was about, a brother and sister falling in love—And because of the entire premise of incest, I wasn’t expecting a happy ending.  But even knowing what the story was about, I couldn’t help wondering what Suzuma would do with the story, how she would bring the two characters together in a believable way.  And of course, how Lochan and Maya would be found out.  Again, this is no Flowers in the Attic.

I have to give Suzuma a lot of credit, because I fought and questioned every twist and turn in the book, looking for gaps and weaknesses.  But the truth is, no matter how much no one likes to talk about it, or how rare it may be, incest is real.  And Suzuma takes great care to deliver a plausible story of what could happen to two young, confused children (teenagers), without adults to guide them or look out for them.  Technically, the children do have adults, teachers that look out for them and want to help; that they could turn to, but Lochan and Maya are more afraid that their large family will be split apart, which keeps them from reaching out for help, and instead looking inward.  Lochan and Maya are lost and abandoned, with only each other to turn to, which is what makes this such a heartrending story.

With Forbidden, Suzuma has turned out a tragic love story along the lines of Romeo and Juliet (without the Montagues).  I recommend you save this book for a dark and stormy night—Forbidden isn’t a casual summer fling, but rather a haunting and beautifully written story that was doomed from the beginning.  





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My honest and uninfluenced opinions.  Thanks to Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab for review copy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Letter from Camp NaNoWriMo, Week 1


Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but it definitely feels like summer here!!!!  And one of my absolute favorite summer places is camp!!!

Which is why I was crazy excited when I found out there was going to be a Camp NaNoWriMo!!!!

Ready to get your 50,000 on?  For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, which takes place every year in November, encouraging all aspiring (deranged) writers to put there pen to paper, get in touch with their keyboards, and whip out 50,000 words in one month.  Or a little over 1,600 words a day.  And for the first time ever, NaNoWriMo is doing a summer session for everyone who wants to attempt noveling more than once a year, or for anyone who needs a month other than November in which to accomplish this daunting feat.

I found out about NaNoWriMo just last year and tried it for the first time…Let’s just say I learned a lot of things not to do this time around!

Camp started July 1st, so I’ve been going strong for a solid week!  Yay me!!!! :D  I’m also excited, because they’re going to do a second Camp session in August—Which means there’s plenty of time for anyone who wants to join in!!!!

Now, of course, writing is totally fun on its own—But I’ve been especially excited about bringing the camp atmosphere into my home for the summer!!!

Around this time of year, I start to get a little homesick for camp—I never knew I would love living in a tent so much, until I got an awesome job working summers just outside of Yosemite.  I wish I lived closer, but since I can’t go back, Camp NaNoWriMo has given me the perfect excuse to bring all the fun of camp to me!!!  (just not the bugs)

So, what does camp mean to me?

Well, it’s not camp, unless you’re sleeping in a tent.  And I don’t have a backyard, so I had to be a little creative…  Who says you can’t set up a tent indoors? ;)  I got a hold of a small junior scout tent—It’s just a little bit wider than my mattress, so I made a few modifications, slipped my mattress in…And now it’s like having a little canopy over the head of my bed!!!!

I also found one of my old camp activity schedules and started to modify it for writing camp:

Arts&Crafts= friendship bracelets, knitting, scrapbooking, tie-dying...or whatever else

Hikes= taking walks around the neighborhood, or driving to the beach or the park on weekends

For games, I’m making an effort to meet up with friends to play cards or board games.  As for sports, it turns out my WII has most of the activities my camp used to offer:   ping-pong, volleyball, baseball, basketball, and archery.

Back at camp, I used to wear swimsuits under my clothes and made use of every available opportunity to be in the water—even if it was freezing cold!!!—Our pool was a damned off river, which ran through camp.  And the water source was snow-melt from the mountains.  It was not for the faint of heart.  But I loved it so much!!!!  So I have absolutely no excuse for not taking advantage of a perfectly good (heated) pool inside my own complex!!!

We had some pretty talented cooks while I was at camp—No matter how hard I tried, I never seemed to lose any weight! ;)   But my favorites were always the classics—hot dogs, brats, hamburgers; pasta night, taco night, and of course steak night.  *drool*  Granted, not the most slimming of fare, but always mouthwateringly d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s.

And last, but not least, a schedule.  Because that’s the only way we were able to pack all that awesomeness into our days at camp!!!

A big thing I learned from my first NaNoWriMo adventure was how easy it was to get lost in the details and let myself get consumed with the pressure…And it turned out, that was not a very productive experience.

So this time around, it’s all about moderation and taking the time to incorporate fun into my life.  To not stress so much.  And to rock my summer!!!

And with a week down, it’s been super productive!!!!  :D  Woo hoo!!!!






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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And the Winners Are...Fintastic FINS ARE FOREVER TLC Swag Giveaway


Hello!!!  I hope everyone had a SUPER FINTASMIC 4th of July!!!!!!!!

Personally, I’m still celebrating last week’s FINTASTICAL release of Tera Lynn Child’s Fins Are Forever!!!!(—and p.s. Forgive My Fins is now out in paperback!!!)

And speaking of the release…I’ve got some winners to announce from my Fintastic Fins Are Forever TLC Swag Giveaway!!!!

Winners
(all winners have been notified)
(as chosen by Research Randomizer)
(in no particular order):
Amy@bookgoonie
Maidenveil
Stacey C.
Jessica
Jodie C.
Katrina
Kulsuma
Virginia R.
Yolande B.
Grace



And Stacey C. (randomly chosen from the random winners) will also be getting a *SIGNED* Sweet Venom bookmark *AND* a Sweet Venom postcard with a link to an extended excerpt of Tera’s new exciting trilogy!!!!



Congrats to all the winners!!!!

And thank you to everyone who entered!!!!!—I really hope everyone gets a chance to check out this awesome book!!!




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