Beads and Books by Michelle Mach - Handmade in Colorado Beads and Books: Handmade in Colorado en RSS2 30 Thu, 07 Dec 2017 02:12:21 GMT 8 Unusual Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts business gifts & home decor jewelry 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="8 Unusual Places to Shop for Unique Holiday Gifts" src="" /><br /> </p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>8 Unusual Places to Shop for Holiday Gifts<br /></strong><br />Do you remember that episode of <em>Friends</em> where the group was stuck in a remote area and the guys ended up buying Christmas gifts at a gas station?&#160; Joey and Chandler presented the others with gifts like windshield wiper blades and cans of soda.<br /><br />Funny, yes, but also a good reminder that most gas stations aside, you can often be richly rewarded for shopping at places other than the local mall or big box store.&#160; Not only can you find some unique items at the places in this list, but when you buy an independent artist's work directly or at a local venue, you're supporting multiple small business owners.&#160; Instead of giving a your dollars to a corporation for shareholder dividends and private jets, you're giving money to a small group of individuals to use for groceries, health insurance, car payments, rent, and art supplies.&#160; It makes a real difference!<br /><br />Holiday craft shows can be a fun way to find unusual handmade items, but they're not the only game in town.&#160; Here are a few other places to consider:<br /><br /><strong>1. Museums</strong><br /><br />Museums often have terrific gift shops that you can shop any time, even if you don't visit an exhibit.&#160; The people who run art, history, and science museums such as the <a href="">California Museum</a> or the <a href="">Foothills Art Center</a> know how to curate collections, that is, find and highlight unusual things that fit with their aesthetic and tie in with current exhibits.&#160; Think home decor, jewelry, accessories, games, cards, and books.&#160; Don't forget the many smaller museums with highly specialized collections such as the <a href="">PEZ Museum</a> or <a href="">National Mustard Museum</a>.&#160; Gift shops provide a significant amount of funding for many museums.&#160; Your gift buying helps ensure that museums can keep doing the things they do best.<br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Book Love Necklace by Michelle Mach" /></a><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>2. Libraries</strong><br /><br />Some libraries, especially those in larger cities, have gift shops at their main branches.&#160; <a href="">The New York Public Library</a> has a huge one, while <a href="">Seattle Public Library</a> runs pop-up shops at various branches in addition to its main location.&#160; These shops are often run by volunteer Friends of the Library groups.&#160; Some only sell used books discarded from the library's collection, but others offer unique ideas for the readers in your life.&#160; Think jewelry, notebooks, mugs, bookmarks, and T-shirts with literary quotes or book motifs.&#160; Purchases made at these gift shops often fund important programs such as reading programs for children or home delivery services for seniors, so you can feel extra good about your purchase. <a href="">The Library Store in Columbus, Ohio</a> uses some of the proceeds to fund areas such as Homework Help Centers.&#160; These shops sometimes offer discounts to members of Friends of the Library, so it might be worth your while to join.<br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Mitten Ornaments by Michelle Mach" /></a><br /></p> </p><ul> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>3. Craft Supply Shops</strong><br /><br />Small craft shops that cater to jewelry makers, knitters, potters, woodworkers, and other crafts often sell handmade items along with high quality materials you can use in your own crafts.&#160; These handmade items are often (but not always) related to the main craft.&#160; Finished jewelry, for example, is often sold in bead shops.&#160; Staff are generally very knowledgeable about their craft and may also teach classes. The <a href="">Garen Huis Yarn Studio</a> is an example of charming yarn shop located in Holland, Michigan. Some shops are very specialized even within a single niche.&#160; For example, <a href="">The Twisted Spindle</a> specializes in materials for those who spin their own yarn, while <a href="">Suzi Yarns</a> focuses on organic, natural yarns.&#160; Sometimes shops will make a special effort to showcase handmade items for sale during the holiday season.&#160; For example, <a href="">Lambspun</a> in Colorado hosts an annual artist sale.<br /></p> </p><ul> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>4. Subscription Boxes</strong><br /><br />Everyone loves to get mail that isn't a bill or an advertising flyer.&#160; You can find a subscription box services on almost any interest you like. Popular themes include pet items, snacks, beauty products, books, and clothing.&#160; <a href="">Call Number</a> specializes in boxes related to contemporary Black literature and authors.&#160; It's curated by a librarian, so you know you'll be getting books and products that have been carefully selected.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>5. Artist Studios</strong><br /><br />Some artists work in a co-op building with other artists.&#160; You can chat with the artists, watch them at work, and buy finished items.&#160; One great example is the <a href="">Torpedo Factory Art Center</a> in Alexandria, Virginia. Sometimes individual artists hang out a temporary shingle to sell their work during the busy holiday season.&#160; Some only sell their own work, while others might sell a small selection of handmade goods by others. The artist of <a href="">Studio 768</a> sells her own garden sculptures, along with items by Etsy sellers, on a seasonal basis in Wisconsin.</p> </p><ul> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>6. Theatre and Event Gift Shops</strong><br /><br />Increasingly, experiences such as travel have become popular gifts.&#160; It can be fun to combine an experience with a related gift.&#160; For example, at the <a href="">Kansas City Repertory Theatre</a>, you can stop by the gift shop before or after a show such as <em>A Christmas Carol </em>to pick out a handmade gift.&#160; (In a previous blog post, I shared the <a href="">ornaments I made</a> this year.)&#160; Sometimes these shops are permanent and other times they just appear during the holiday season.<br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Breathe Necklace by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>7. Grocery Stores</strong><br /><br />This might seem a little too close to the <em>Friends</em> episode, but grocery stores with a specialty focus such as healthy living often sell giftable items.&#160; I've purchased items such as organic chocolates, handmade mittens, and handmade soaps at such places. Gene's Health Food Store in Owensboro, Kentucky sells my handmade jewelry with inspirational messages along with organic produce and body care products. <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Mad Here Keychain by Michelle Mach" src="" /></a> </p> </p><ul> </ul><p> </p><p class="whiteline"><p><strong>8. Handmade Shops</strong><br /></p>Some shops focus entirely (or almost entirely) on handmade or small batch items.&#160; These beautiful stores may be located downtown or out in the far reaches of the suburbs.&#160; Many downtown areas, particularly those in smaller towns, are well-decorated for the holidays with lights and greenery, so if you want an immersive Christmas shopping experience with all the literal bells and whistles, it's worth it to park your car downtown and walk a few blocks. <br /><br />Each shop will have a completely unique feel as the owners pick out items that will work well together.&#160; Some shops may offer classes, throw themed parties, or offer special services such as gift wrapping. Think of these as a live version of the online <a href="">Etsy</a> marketplace.&#160; Examples include <a href="">Homade.</a> in Minnesota, <a href="">Market on Main</a> in New York, <a href="">Three Hearts Home</a> in New Jersey, and <a href="">The Artisan Center</a> in Colorado. </p><p class="break"><p> </p> </p><p class="break"><p><br />Happy shopping (and thank you)!<br /> </p></p> Thu, 07 Dec 2017 09:53:00 -0700 December Reading Challenge: Fantasy book reviews 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><strong>December</strong> <strong>Genre Challenge:&#160; Fantasy<img align="left" vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" /></strong><br /><br />The last theme of the year for the <a href="">12 genres in 12 months</a> reading challenge is fan<strong><a href=""><img align="right" vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Harry Potter" /></a></strong>tasy. This year I'm re-reading all the Harry Potter books and watching all the movies, so I feel like I've had an unusually large dose of fantasy already this year.&#160; (I even read the script <a href="">Harry Potter and The Cursed Child</a>.) Reading these books so closely together has given me new appreciation for how much planning J. K. Rowling put into this series.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended Reads</strong></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Beyond Harry Potter, here's a few fantasy books I've read the last few years:<br /></p> </p><ul> <li><a href="">Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children</a> by Ransom Riggs</li> </ul><p> </p><ul> <li><a href="">Wrinkle in Time</a><br />I reread this when I saw that a new movie with Oprah Winfrey was coming out in 2018. <br /></li> </ul><p> </p><ul> <li><a href="">Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH</a><br />This was one of my top favorites from my <a href="">Newbery project</a>.<br /></li> </ul><p><strong>What I Might Read</strong><br /> Here are the books that made my short list: </p><p class="whiteline"> </p><p class="break"><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic" /></a><br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #1: </strong><a href="">The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic</a> by Emily Croy Barker<strong><br /></strong><br /><strong>Why this interests me:&#160; </strong>I found the description irresistible: &quot;If Hermione Granger had been an American who never received an invitation to Hogwarts, this might have been her story.&quot;<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">11 Magical Books to Read If You Love Harry Potter</a><br /></p><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="The Princess Bride" /></a><br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #2: </strong><a href="">The Princess Bride</a> of William Goldman<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me: </strong>I'm curious about the book that inspired such a popular movie.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:&#160; </strong><a href="">Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy Books (NPR)</a><br /><strong><br /><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Another Fine Myth" /><br /><br />Possibility #3: </strong>Another Fine Myth by Robert Aspin <br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me:</strong> I know that December is always crazy busy for me, so I like to look for books that I can read quickly without complicated plots or a cast of thousands.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by: </strong>A personal recommendation from a friend.&#160; I asked for a fantasy book that was short and funny. <br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="The Little Shop of Found Things" /></a><br /><br /><strong>Possibility #4:</strong> <a href="">The Little Shop of Found Things</a> by Paula Brackston<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me:</strong> I have a soft spot for magical shop settings.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by: </strong>This book cover popped up when I was browsing Pinterest.&#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>I'll be reading one (or possibly more) of these books this month.&#160; <br /><br />This is the end of the 12 genres in 12 months challenge.&#160; I do feel that I stretched myself a bit reading books that I normally would not.&#160; Sometime (probably in January) I'll pull together a list of the best books I read this year.<br /><br />For other book ideas, check out my <a href="">Book Recommendations</a> board on Pinterest.&#160; Happy reading!<br /></p></p> Fri, 01 Dec 2017 09:16:00 -0700 Inspired by A Christmas Carol: Handmade Ornaments gifts & home decor inspiration 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p> This year I made several ornaments for the <a href="">Kansas City Repertory Theatre</a> to sell in their gift shop during their production of <em>A Christmas Carol</em>.&#160; The show runs from November 17, 2017 (today) through December 24, 2017.&#160; Here's the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of these ornaments:<br /><br /><strong>About the Book</strong><br /> <img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens" src="" /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><em>The Christmas Carol</em> by Charles Dickens is a classic published in 1843.&#160; It's never been out of print.&#160; If you're not familiar with the story, a miserly old man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve, including his dead partner Jacob Marley.&#160; After the visitations, he changes his ways and celebrates his newfound Christmas spirit.<br /><br />I did a little research about the story and learned a few new tidbits:<br /></p> </p><ul> <li>Dickens wrote the novella (under 30,000 words) in six weeks during the fall of 1843.&#160; (Maybe he should get credit as the first to participate in <a href="">NaNoWriMo</a>?&#160; The writing speed, timing of the year, and book length feel similar.)<br /><br /></li> <li>He <a href="">originally planned to write a pamphlet</a> titled &quot;An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man's Child.&quot;&#160; He had just read the government's report on child labor which showed that employers thought of children as the cheapest tools, easily discarded when broken.&#160; This sentence in the <a href="">Time magazine article</a> struck me as one that could be written today: &quot;Dickens reminded his 19th century readers—and today's—not to mistake their good fortune of landing in a high place for their worth.&quot;<br /><br /></li> <li>The book was considered <a href="">a financial disappointment</a>. It sold out of its initial 6,000 copies quickly, but the cost of producing the book was so high (fancy binding, gold lettering, gilded-edged pages) that there was little money left for the author.&#160; It also did not help that two months after publication, another publisher pirated the book.&#160; Dickens sued and won, but the other publisher simply declared bankruptcy, forcing Dickens to pay all costs.<br /><br /></li> <li>Ten years after publication, Dickens started to give <a href="">public performances of the book</a>.&#160; Working people loved it, but many others thought the performances were beneath him as a gentleman.<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p> </p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Gathering the Materials</strong><br /><br />The materials were easy.&#160; I wanted the ornaments to have a bright, classic look.&#160; I used some little metal snowflakes that I had painted with a pearlized, snowy paint.&#160; (The photo shows a mix of painted and unpainted snowflakes.) The circles of aluminum are quite thick and difficult to bend, which is always important when creating something that's going to be handled. I used wire to create my own ornament hooks.&#160; The photo shows (in the upper right corner) some of my letter stamps that I used to create the quotes on the metal.&#160; Each letter is hammered into the metal one at a time.&#160; This is why letters may not be precisely aligned.&#160; The letters tend to be thicker and stronger than machine engraving which often travels very lightly across the surface.&#160; I enjoy this method of adding text to metal as it ensures that each item is completely unique.&#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Supplies to Make Snowflake Ornaments" src="" /> </p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Researching the Quotes</strong><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>I wanted to use several quotes from the story.&#160; I did a search online and found several that seemed like good candidates. They were relatively short (a bonus when doing hand work) and well known.&#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>But before I could start stamping, there were some problems to solve that probably only an English major (me) would care about.</p> </p><p class="break"><p><em>A Christmas Carol </em>is considered in the public domain.&#160; That's good news in that it means that anyone can use the story for whatever purpose without asking for permission or paying to use the rights.&#160; On the down side, it means that for over 170+ years everyone has shaped and tweaked those words however they like.&#160; I found <em>so</em> many versions!<br /><br />For my research, I primarily used two sources.&#160; First, I found <a href="">a copy of the 1843 text</a> put out by <a href="">Project Gutenberg</a>. Founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg uses use volunteers to put plain-text versions of books online.&#160; This version isn't pretty, but its plainness makes it very quick to search.<br /><br />I also found <a href="">a 1911 version at the Library of Congress</a> which showed scanned pages.&#160; This proved useful since sometimes quotes were immortalized in both illustrations and text.<br /><br /><strong>Bah?! Humbug?!</strong><br /><br />For the Bah Humbug quotation, the problem was the punctuation.&#160; Here are a few of the versions I found online:<br /><br /><em>Bah! Humbug!<br /><br />Bah, Humbug!<br /><br />&quot;Bah,&quot; said Scrooge. &quot;Humbug.&quot;<br /><br />&quot;Bah!&quot; said Scrooge, &quot;Humbug!&quot;</em><br /><br />The last version is the oldest one and the one used on my <a href="">Bah Humbug ornament</a>.<br /><br /><strong>God Bless Y'All</strong><br /><br />For the &quot;god bless us&quot; quote, I found several versions with different spacing and punctuation:<br /><br /><em>God bless us, everyone<br /><br />God bless us every one<br /><br />God Bless Us, every one.<br /><br />God bless us, every one!</em><br /><br />Since I used an uppercase font for the main quote, I did not worry about capitalization.&#160; (I did end up using a lowercase font for &quot;tiny tim&quot; just to emphasize the cute factor.)<br /><br />I think these variations might stem in part from the fact that Tiny Tim says this line twice.&#160; Once earlier in the story and once at the end.&#160; Each one is punctuated differently.&#160; The one at the end tends to be the one that people remember, so that's the one I ended up using for my <a href="">God Bless Us ornament</a>.<br /><br /><strong>I Can't Spell Honor Without You</strong><br /><br /><em>I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.</em><br /><br />The big change in this one was the spelling of &quot;honor.&quot;&#160; In the American versions, it's spelled h-o-n-o-r and in the British versions it's spelled h-o-n-o-u-r.&#160; I decided that since Charles Dickens was a British author I would use the British spelling for my <a href="">Christmas Honour ornament</a>.&#160; (You'll see that I also shortened the quote to fit the space.)<br /><br />This quote comes from the reformed Scrooge.&#160; He seems to have all the best lines!<br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Ornaments Inspired by A Christmas Carol" src="" /></a><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>&quot;A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to the world.&quot; ~ Scrooge<br /><br />(See what I mean?&#160; All the best lines!)<br /></p> </p><ul> </ul> Fri, 17 Nov 2017 08:13:00 -0700 November Reading Challenge: Mystery book reviews 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><strong>November</strong> <strong>Genre Challenge:&#160; Mystery<img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" src="" /></strong><br /><br />This is the fiction genre I read the most, so I was happy to see it on the list of <a href="">12 genres in 12 months</a>.&#160; My own tastes in mysteries can vary from month to month or year to year.&#160; Sometimes I read a lot of cozy mystery such as those by <a href="">Donna Andrews</a>, <a href="">Elaine Viets</a>, or <a href="">Gillian Roberts</a>.&#160; Sometimes I'll choose ones that have a certain setting such as the national parks in the series by <a href="">Nevada Barr</a>.&#160; I like mysteries with private detectives as the main characters (see authors Karen Kijewski and Marcia Muller) or journalists (see authors <a href="">Laura Lippman</a>, <a href="">Edna Buchanan</a>).&#160; Occasionally, I'll read mysteries that combine other genres like the science fiction-themed Bimbos of the Death Sun by<a href=""> Sharyn McCrumb</a>.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended Reads</strong></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Here are just a few mystery authors that I enjoy:</p> </p><ul> <li><a href="">Laurie R. King</a><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" alt="The Beekeeper's Apprentice" src="" /></a><br />This year I've been reading the entire Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series.&#160; The first book is <a href="">The Beekeeper's Apprentice</a>.&#160; I'd recommend it if you like historical fiction.<br /></li> <li><a href="">S. J. Rozan<br /></a> Her series features the P.I. partners Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.&#160; The point-of-view varies between them, which makes for interesting books.<br /></li> <li><a href="">Marcia Talley</a><br />The main character in this book is a cancer survivor and very likeable.&#160; I've only read a few books in her series, but so far, so good!<br /></li> <li><a href="">Ayelet Waldman</a><br />She wrote the &quot;Mommy Track&quot; mystery series about a lawyer mom with small children and a husband who works in Hollywood. I like the balance the author strikes between the mystery and the main character's personal life. <br /></li> </ul><p>To find new authors, I often look at the regular <a href="">mystery awards</a>, particularly the Agatha (for cozy mysteries) and the Edgar (for first-time authors as well as young adult or children's mysteries). I also read quite a few mystery short story anthologies, which are another great way to find authors you like.&#160; See my earlier blog post on <a href="">Thrillers/Suspense</a> for additional author recommendations.<br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>What I Might Read</strong><br /> </p> </p><p class="break">Here are the mystery books that made my short list:</p><p class="break"><br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Woman in White" src="" /></a><br /></p><p class="break"><p>&#160;</p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #1:</strong> <a href="">The Woman in White</a> by Wilkie Collins<br /><br /><strong>Why this interests me: </strong>Just as with <em>Rebecca</em>, this is one of those books that I've known about since high school but never got around to reading. (I did finally read <em>Rebecca</em> this year.)<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">50 Essential Mystery Novels That Everyone Should Read</a><br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="And Then There Were None" src="" /></a><br /><strong><br />Possibility #2:</strong> <a href="">And Then There Were None</a> by Agatha Christie<br /><strong><br />Why this interests me:</strong> I went through an Agatha Christie phase in high school, but I don't remember reading this one that kept popping up on &quot;best of&quot; lists.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">100 book everyone should read before they die</a>, <a href="">BookBub Picks: Our 16 Favorite British Murder-Mysteries</a><br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="The Outsmarting of Criminals" src="" /></a><br /><br /><strong>Possibility #3:</strong> <a href="">The Outsmarting of Criminals</a> by Steven Rigolosi<br /><br /><strong>Why this interests me:</strong> The description made me laugh:&#160; &quot;It's the rare mystery reader who doesn't secretly believe that she'd make a great detective.&quot;&#160; (It's true!)&#160; <br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong> <a href="">5 Mysteries for Women Who Read Like Fiends (</a><br /><br /><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Y is for Yesterday" src="" /></a><br /><br /><strong>Possibility #4: </strong><a href="">Y is for Yesterday</a> by Sue Grafton<br /><br /><strong>Why this interests me:&#160; </strong>I'm committed to this series to the point that I worry that the author might kill off one of my favorite minor characters in the last book.&#160; (I'm partial to Henry, her landlord.)&#160; I will read this book for sure, although I don't know if it will be in November.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by:</strong>&#160; Me.&#160; I've read A through X, why stop now?<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>I'll be reading one (or possibly more) of these books this month.&#160; <br /><br />Next month (December): Fantasy.<br /><br />For other book ideas, check out my <a href="">Book Recommendations</a> board on Pinterest.&#160; Happy reading!</p></p> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 08:48:00 -0600 7 Pumpkin Facts I Learned in October 2017 humor 0 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="7 Pumpkin Facts I Learned in October 2017 by Michelle Mach," src="" /><br /><br />My relationship to pumpkin is complex.<br /><br />I'm the type of person says that it's fine if we don't have turkey for Thanksgiving, but we absolutely <em>must</em> have pumpkin pie.<br /><br />At the same time, I would <em>never</em> buy pumpkin spice shampoo.&#160; That's just crazy talk.<br /><br /><strong>7 Facts About Pumpkins I Learned In October 2017</strong><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Orange, bulbous, inhuman creatures have certainly dominated the news this month.&#160; Here are a few new things I've learned about them:<strong><br /></strong></p><strong> </strong> </p><ol><strong> </strong> <li><strong>Pumpkin is not really pumpkin.</strong><br />You know that can of pumpkin you buy at the store every autumn, the one that says &quot;100% pumpkin&quot;?&#160; Yeah, not so much.&#160; It's actually squash!&#160; Apparently squash makes better pies than real pumpkin, which can be rather bland.&#160; I first learned this on NPR's Marketplace podcast (&quot;<a href="">Your pumpkin pie is a lie</a>&quot;) and then confirmed it by reading <a href="">Bravetart</a> by Stella Parks, a book I highly recommend.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks has dairy in it!</strong><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" src="" alt="Pumpkin Spice Keychain" /></a><br />I found out this one the hard way.&#160; If you're trying to avoid milk, ordering your pumpkin spice latte with soy, almond, or coconut milk isn't enough.&#160; Real milk gives me migraines, so I did a little digging after my second (and last!) pumpkin spice latte.&#160; Yep, sure enough I found: <a href="">Is Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte Dairy Free?</a><br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Some people <em>really</em> don't like the smell of pumpkin.</strong><br />According to <a href="">an article in The Washington Post</a>, a school in Baltimore was evacuated due to a bad smell that made it difficult for some students and teachers to breathe.&#160; The Hazmat team was brought in and they determined that the cause was a pumpkin spice air freshener.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>One reporter went pumpkin spice crazy.</strong><br />One reporter wrote about <a href="">buying every pumpkin spice item</a> she could during one week.&#160; My favorite quote concerned her pumpkin spice dog biscuits: &quot;My dogs loved them! They also love eating garbage straight out of the can.&quot;<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>The pumpkin capital of the world is Morton, Illinois.</strong><br />I learned that the Libby plant in Morton cans 80% of the world's pumpkins in this <a href="">article by Good Housekeeping</a> featuring 15 pumpkin facts.&#160; (Note: The <a href="">city website</a> claims over 85%.) I always love learning about small towns that have a singular point of pride.&#160; The even have an annual pumpkin festival that attracts 70,000 people.&#160; (The town population is around 16,000.)<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Pumpkin beer is not a hipster invention.</strong><br />I always thought pumpkin beer was new (and frankly, weird), but it actually dates back to colonial times, according this &quot;<a href="">Pumpkin Beer History</a>&quot; article.<br /><strong><br /></strong></li><strong> </strong> <li><strong>Pumpkin carving has gone way, way beyond triangle cut-outs for facial features.<br /></strong>See some of the amazing pumpkins that are <a href="">carved as part of Pumpkinferno in Canada</a>.&#160; I am astounded by the <a href="">pumpkin dragon</a>. Wow!<br /></li> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p><a href=""><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="" alt="Pumpkin Earrings by Michelle Mach" /></a><br /><em>Shown here: My handmade <a href="">Pumpkin Earrings</a> are made with hand stamped copper and niobium (hypoallergenic) ear wires.&#160; The handmade <a href="">I [Heart] Pumpkin Spice Keychain</a> is made with copper and finished with a strong stainless steel key ring.</em><br /></p></p> Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:05:00 -0600