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Book Review: "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes

I liked the book far more than the movie. The book is a memoir, and not plot-driven. The author describes her summers buying then restoring an ancient villa in Tuscany. She describes everything from the plaster to the workmen to the food she eats to the shopkeepers she befriends. I enjoy her style of prose quite a bit, the author is quite poetic. Reading this book really allowed me to vacation in Tuscany in my mind, her descriptions were so vivid I feel as if I would recognize her town if I came across it in real life (apparently many tourists do go there now to see in person what she's described so eloquently).

Interestingly, she includes some of her favorite recipes she makes while in Italy. I grow a few of the same vegetables here in Virginia, and will try a few of the recipes before I return the book, they look delicious!

Book Review: "Prep" by Curtis Sittenfeld

This book was far more literary than I expected, and that's a good thing. The main character was not particularly likeable, and there wasn't much plot to drive the story. But the author did a good job of capturing the insecurities and self-absorption of teenagers. I can't speak to the accuracy of her portrayal of boarding school, but it was realistic enough to me that I got drawn in, as if I were there.

It reminded me how much awkwardness all teenagers go through, and made me appreciate being an adult now.

How To Make Denim Fringe Piping

I didn't have any cord to use to make my own piping or welting, so I had to get creative if I wanted to avoid another trip into town. So I decided to try making denim fringe piping, and it turned out well. Here's how I did it:

I cut one leg of an old pair of jeans into two-inch strips (crosswise cuts, perpendicular to the outside seam). Then I cut out both seams so I had two flat strips per original piece.

I folded each piece in half, and pressed it. Then I sewed through the middle of each strip, creating a folded side 1/2" wide and a side with two cut edges 1/2" wide. I had bunches of strips since I cut a whole leg for this project, and I just kept the thread attached between each piece, so they were strung together like sausages.

Then I clipped the cut edges, roughly every 1/4 inch. I ran the strips through the wash with other jeans (I purposefully washed them with heavy items to encourage fraying). Then I put them into the dryer to finish. The strips frayed up nicely, although not completely-- that will come with wear.

When they came out of the dryer, I had to iron them-- the cut edges had flipped outward, toward the fold. I had to iron them back flat so I'd be able to insert this fringe into seams without sewing over the frayed part.

Here's what it looks like on a work in progress:

Pretty cute, and it seems to work well to reinforce and protect the edges. And the more beat-up the item gets, the more the trim will fray, and the better it will look. It's also very convenient that you don't have to worry about stitching together continuous trim-- just butt two pieces together and sew, once can't tell from looking at the fringe where one strip ends and the other begins.

Stuff White People Like

Nora is training for a half-marathon, and was telling us about her fabulous new running shoes. It came up in conversation that running marathons was "stuff white people like". So true. My friends also mentioned that moleskine notebooks were on the list. I've got some.

Today I read the whole list and associated entries and was very amused. Sure enough, I like a lot of the stuff. I've got sea salt in my cabinet, I throw a Halloween party every year, listen to public radio, and eat organic food. There are 126 items on the blog list, and probably half the things fully apply to me. The other stuff doesn't apply since it's too left-wingy for me (vegetarianism, socialized medicine, et al) but it's all definitely very white. The site is a hoot, check it out.

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