Monthly Archives: January 2016

Book Review: “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer

Book Review: "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer
Book Review: “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer

I haven’t written a book review in quite awhile so it says a lot about Jon Krakauer’s writing that I’m moved to write one now. “Into Thin Air” is his personal account of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster which is a pretty well-known story. There are two movies about it and several books. I’m interested in outdoor activities so I’ve read a few articles about the incident before reading this book. The articles in no way made me develop an interest in trying high-altitude climbing for myself and this book reinforced my opinion many times over! Just driving my Jeep up the Pike’s Peak Highway in the 90s scared the heck out of me and gave me such a bad migraine I had to take to my bed the rest of the day! I’m very grateful I live at 479 feet above sea level!

I wanted to read this book because I was curious about what it’s like to attempt such a climb and this book gave me a pretty good idea – it’s horrible! Just to get to base camp apparently involves more physical torment than I would ever dream of putting myself through. The kind of person who is willing to try this is a very different breed. I admire such people in a way though I frankly will admit I think they are crazy! Extreme forms of human behavior are interesting to read about.

If you get to the summit you’ve really achieved a major feat of endurance, but it doesn’t sound like any fun at all. To get back down safely is even harder. Many people make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to try or while earning a living helping others try. There is a lot of money spent, a lot of environmental damage, a lot of cultural changes in the local area and a lot of injuries and mental suffering for some of the survivors in the attempts. Whether or not it’s worth it is a question you will ask yourself if you read the book.

The people in the expedition endured a lot of suffering by their own choice. A lot of people in this world endure suffering without any choice in the matter, so I don’t think this book is exactly inspiring. It is compelling and I won’t soon forget it – one for the permanent library. There are a lot more questions in it than answers and I like that in a book. It will make you appreciate your nice warm bed which is where I read it!

Here are some of my other older book reviews.


Crafternoon at Studio:art on February 2, 2016

Crafternoon at Studio:art
Crafternoon at Studio:art

Crafternoon is a regular gathering of crafters who bring projects to work on while doing a bit of socializing with each other. Studio:art is hosting Crafternoon on February 2. I’ve been to a couple of these before and had a lot of fun. I hope you can join us!

Date: February 2, 2016
Time: 12-3 pm
Location: 7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood MO, 63143
Fee: None, but bring your own refreshements

Upcoming Class with Carolyn on February 6, 2016: Valentine Cards

Upcoming Class with Carolyn on February 6: Valentine Cards
Upcoming Class with Carolyn on February 6: Valentine Cards

I hope you can join me for my first class at my new Studio! Learn rubber stamping and other paper craft techniques as we make Valentine cards. Participants will be provided with enough paper and cardstock to make four cards, four different card sketches and written instructions to take home. I’m not sure if we will have time to go through all four cards step-by step as a group, but once you know the techniques for the first card you will be able to complete the other cards on your own if you want to.

I will have paper, cardstock, templates, rubber stamps, punches, decorative scissors, ink, stamp pads, paper cutters, markers, stamp mounting blocks, tape, glue sticks, colored pencils and other tools and supplies available for you to use during the class. If you have any of the following tools or supplies, it would be helpful to bring them – there will be less wait to use tools if participants bring some – but it’s not a requirement. If you bring tools please mark them to indicate ownership.

Optional tool and supply list:
Clean scrap paper
Bone folder
Metal ruler
Craft knife (X-Acto or something similar)
Cutting mat
Scoring tool
Rubber stamps (Valentine themed, postal themed, alphabet stamps)
Stamping ink pads and re-inkers in the following colors: Black, dark brown, rust brown, red, lt. ochre, hot pink, lt. gray, lt. tan
Acrylic stamp mounting blocks
Double-sided tape
Paper cutter
Heart shaped punches
Standard hole punch
Decorative scissors with postage stamp perforation pattern or deckle edge pattern
Glue stick
Masking tape
Unused white plastic eraser with flat sides (like Magic Rub)

If you have any questions about the class please feel free to contact me.

Class: Valentine Cards
Date: February 6, 2016
Time: 1-4 pm
Location: 7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood MO, 63143
Cost: $17 if paid in advance, $25 day of class
Signup form:

Four of the eight available spaces are filled, so don’t wait too long to reserve a spot if you are interested! If you choose to pay ahead of time to get the discount for pre-paying, I will send you a PayPal invoice via email. Beginner stampers are welcome. Children under 18 must be enrolled with a parent as I think parents are best able to judge their child’s ability level and what tools they should be allowed to use.

Supplies for the class are included in the class price. I will have some paper crafting supplies available for purchase the day of the class in case you see anything you want to add to your stash but you will not need to purchase anything additional to make the class project.

Valentine Card by Carolyn Hasenfratz


Schnarr’s Hardware is launching a new gardening newsletter…

Garden Notes from Scharr's Newsletter

…and I am the editor and one of the contributors. Our bi-weekly email will include lawn and garden ideas and fun projects with an emphasis on seasonal tips to help you enjoy your garden all year round.

If you would like to receive our new gardening email newsletter, “Garden Notes from Schnarr’s”, please click the button below and fill out the short form.


Spiced Coffee Soap Bar

Spiced Coffee melt and pour soap bar
Spiced Coffee melt and pour soap bar

This soap bar is colored entirely by real coffee beans and the fragrance comes from the beans, vanilla powder and also from soap fragrances. If you enjoy the smell of coffee and spices you should like this one! The goat’s milk powder will soften your skin too.

Read more

Garden Update – Results of Condo Association Building and Landscaping Committee Meeting

If you haven’t read my previous posts here is the story so far:

Is it possible to have a permaculture garden when you live in a condo complex?

Garden Update – Results of Condo Association Board Meeting

As was decided at the November 17 board meeting, I attended the Building and Landscaping Committee Meeting on December 9 to explain my garden plan in detail and answer questions. The committee as a whole determined that I was following the by-laws and previous decisions by the board so I was to continue my plan with the compromises we agreed to worked in. The person who complained about my garden is to get a letter saying I’m managing my garden in accordance with the board and the by-laws and they can manage their own garden the way they like it. The landscapers came around for another round of leaf removal in late December and once again skipped my garden as agreed and I am very happy!

On January 1st and 3rd, I applied 20 more bags of mulch, bringing the total number of bags of mulch I’ve applied this season to 82. This time I went to the Clayton mulch pile where they have shredded leaf mulch available for the taking. It’s darker in color than the wood chip mulch I’ve been using, so I’m hoping topping the beds off with a darker layer will help my garden blend in a little bit with the neighboring areas which have not been mulched yet (that’s usually done in February and only every other year) and have only bare soil showing.

I do think the results are an improvement as you see here:

From left to right - front garden, side garden and back garden on January 4, 2016.
From left to right – front garden, side garden and back garden on January 4, 2016.

Comments from others have given me some ideas and I think the results are better than if I had not had any feedback – so far the collaboration and cooperation is resulting in a more attractive garden than if we had gone all my way or all their way. This is how it should work, how I hoped it would work and is the reason I engaged management at each step. If I can successfully pull off a sustainable garden in a condo complex, many others might learn from my experiment how to go about it. Many people all over the country who want to garden in a way that benefits the environment are dealing with the same challenges. Although I am not trying to grow food like the people in the article I can relate to some of the difficulties – for example getting permission for something according to the by-laws then getting threatened with punishment for doing it, which has happened to me more than once. Many organizations and governments are working at cross-purposes and giving their citizens mixed messages and not communicating effectively with each other or the people they are supposed to serve and the citizens suffer as a result. I think too many large organizations see their constituents or customers as subjects. The communication situation in my case has improved greatly and I’m optimistic about the future.

I’ve considered removing more of the liriope since it is not a plant native to Missouri and I want to have more native plants, but I changed my mind because liriope is all over the entire complex and having some in my garden will help with visual continuity. I’ll just keep planting around it and thinning it now and then to keep it in check. Some of the feedback I got indicated that the garden doesn’t so much look bad in their opinion as it looks different and that bothers some people. Looking different was definitely my goal because I don’t think the rest of the complex is as attractive as many other people think but since I know what a healthy garden is supposed to look like I’m seeing it in a completely different way than most people and I do realize that. To me a healthy garden is a beautiful garden, to others an unhealthy garden might be more attractive because they don’t understand what they are seeing. I think blending it in a bit better will help.

I didn’t have enough mulch this time around to cover the path area in the back as well as the planting beds, so my next step in the garden will be to get some more wood chip mulch to cover the path areas. The back garden in particular tends to look a little chaotic at times because my goal is to leave some of the dead plants standing through winter to provide habitat for wildlife and to keep the garden healthy. I think the contrasting color path area does help the appearance because it makes it look a little more ordered.

Once that is done, the next aesthetic issue I would like to address in the garden is that white pipe cap sticking up. I have an idea for a way to conceal that and another cap that is nearby that is not shown in these pictures. I’ll write about what I plan to with that later, and we’ll see if the condo association approves it.

In addition to mulching to cover up the fallen leaves in the planting beds, I applied more fertilizer and raked up the front yard. I’m not required to care for the grassy areas – the landscapers remove the leaves periodically – but it’s in my best interest to rake the area around my garden because when the grassy areas look messy my garden gets blamed. It’s understandable that people don’t distinguish between the parts I maintain and the parts the association maintains – how would they know? It looks like one unit and I’m going to start treating it as such. The leaf blowers the landscapers use leave some of the twigs behind and it does look better with the twigs raked up as well. I used what I raked up to help build up a small raised bed where I hope to grow something later.

Examples of erosion in areas that are not mulched. On the right, you can see plant roots exposed.
Examples of erosion in areas that are not mulched. On the right, you can see plant roots exposed.

These photos show spots near my unit that are not part of my garden that are suffering from not being mulched – with all the rain we’ve had lately in the St. Louis area (which I’m sure you heard about in the news!) erosion can be a problem. My garden area did not have erosion at all because it was well mulched. I’ve gone through a lot of expense and time over the last 11 years building up better soil in the planting beds – I don’t want it to go down the drain!