Thursday, February 20, 2020

Another Cross-body Bag

I like my orange-and-cork Zippy Crossbody bag (pattern by Sallie Tomato) so much, I wanted another one in aqua. It seems I wear aqua more often than orange, so it was the best color choice.

You can see how much I like aqua. Pics were taken in my sewing room, in my aqua chair.

Aqua cork, purchased during QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville, looks good with Christa Watson's "Fandangle" fabric by Benartex. If you're really observant, you'll have noticed that my orange crossbody bag is also made with Fandangle, in the orange colorway.

Two zippers are on the front side, and one is on top.

On the back is another zipper, and my addition of an ID badge pocket.

Every wristlet, tote or bag I make gets the added feature of an interior zipper pocket. I follow this Easy Zippered Pocket Tutorial by VanillaJoy. That pocket is such a good place for keeping important items secure.

I mustn't neglect to thank Dan for his help!

I discovered I was out of D-rings (two are needed for each side of the bag), and he drove the golf cart 16 miles (round trip!) to JoAnn Fabrics (!) to buy two swivel-clasp/D-ring sets for me. And as long as he was there, bought three yards of Pellon SF101! What a champ to do that so I could keep sewing! Though I'm not sure how much sacrifice it was for him to take a leisurely drive on a beautiful day, while enjoying a cigar!

I'm not in the business of making items to sell. For me, it's no fun making things over and over and over and earning a pittance for it. But when a line dance class acquaintance asked if I'd turn a bag of MandMs into a zipper pouch for her military daughter stationed in Afghanistan, I agreed. I'm still saving bags, mostly coffee bags, to make more. They're such nice gifts. If you haven't yet made any of these, here's a good YouTube video to watch.

My latest audiobook listen is Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson. The story takes place shortly after the Civil War and follows 16 women who sign up to travel from St. Louis to Coyote, Nebraska expecting to leave their pasts behind, and acquire homestead land. Unaware, until they arrive in Plum Creek, that they've been duped, the pluckiest among them make alternate plans. In the process each acknowledges her own innocence (in certain matters), and develop the spirit, backbone and fortitude needed to make their way in an untamed land.

Each chapter begins with a pertinent Bible verse and the plot is liberally sprinkled with faith references to their faith. I find that a refreshing change from the hard language in more trendy novels. The narrator, Ruth Ann Phimister, gives a nice read, but it's apparent she's unfamiliar with farm terminology. Several times she read "hay mow" literally - like "mow the lawn" - rather than the proper pronunciation of "hay MAU" as rhymes with cow. Missed details like that drive me nuts!

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Florida State Fair

Last Thursday, February 13, Dan and I spent a day at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. It was the first time we'd attended, so we picked a day when a senior ticket discount was offered. It was $9 each to get in; parking was free. The weather was perfect!

Because we're seasoned fairgoers, having attended the Iowa State Fair many consecutive years, I couldn't help but make comparisons during the eight hours we were there.

We watched some of the draft horse pull competition. I didn't take pictures because the arena was in shadow.

Typical for a fair was a focus on agriculture, though Florida's emphasis is on a smaller scale. This container garden included kale.

Kids around a stand were making fresh-squeezed orange juice. We never saw anyone doing this at the Iowa State Fair! 

It seems that aerial rides are a state fair standard, but few people were riding. 

A "big slide" must also be a state fair standard too, though no one was sliding when we looked.

We know how often political views - and candidates - appear at the Iowa State Fair. Often! This is the only booth I saw at the Florida State Fair. 

What Dan and I noticed most, and commented on several times, was low attendance. It's likely more challenging for the fair to complete with all the huge, and wildly popular theme parks. The Florida State Fair is also held during school; Iowa's is in August, before school starts. 

Not one customer to see the albino alligator.

Quilts, needlecrafts, photography, artistry, woodworking, aquariums, and even Lego structures (!) are displayed together in the "Florida Center," a permanent building on the grounds. 

Display space was in abundance, but I didn't see even one modern quilt.

There's also a spacious demo area in the center of the building, but few demos were happening. Likely, different crafters demonstrate on different days. I'm sorry to have missed the weavers, as I am fascinated by loom weaving. Believe it or not, even with more than 1,200 club and activity groups in The Villages, I can't find one that does weaving.

I got a kick out of this "dress" on display. It's "made" of paint chips!  

We listened to a couple bands that we enjoyed, and one of them - Southbound 75 - was especially good. It's too bad that only 40 or so people attended their free show. If they'd been performing somewhere else, doubtlessly they would have attracted a huge crowd.

We stayed until 7 pm or so, to wait until an I-75 Interstate traffic jam cleared. That morning, at 8:20 am, a cattle truck crashed through a guardrail near the exit to Wildwood. We were southbound that morning and we passed more than four miles of stopped northbound traffic.
I felt sick for all the people who had to wait until 4 pm for the road to reopen after gathering 19 dead cattle and rounding-up 83 cattle - "baby cows" according to the news article.

At night, the ferris wheel is especially impressive. It changes colors and radiates various designs.

We concluded that the Iowa State Fair is the one not to miss.

It's included in the book 1000 Places To See Before You Die.

Fair admission is $12 for adults, and parking ranges from $10-$15.

It's more. Bigger. Crowded. Attendance during the ten days of the fair tops 1.3 million people.

Here's one of my blog posts about the Iowa State Fair.

I read the second book in the Jessie Hunt series - The Perfect Block, by Blake Pierce.

Jessie is learning how to become an expert criminal profiler who was herself victimized as a child. Between that horrible experience (watching her father murder her mother), and her soon-to-be ex-husband's attempt to kill her, she carries a lot of emotional baggage while working to enhance her profiling skills as a detective with the Los Angeles police department. She's assigned a case involving the death of a wealthy socialite, and faces personal challenges while trying to solve it.

While I enjoyed the first book, the second book didn't measure-up. The author gives Jessie an unhealthy/unrealistic dose of life challenges, while she behaves incautiously... when she is supposedly gifted with a sixth sense. Also, I still can't figure out how the title relates to the story. Jessie doesn't live on a block; she visits cells blocks. Or maybe "block" is about the subterfuge of a high-security inmate who blocks-out (arranges) Jessie's leads. Hmm.

Linda's score: 2.8/5.0


Friday, February 14, 2020

1,001st Blog Post

I've heard more that one quilter say (write) lately that blogging is making a come-back. This is somewhat heartening news, and is encouraging to me. I have blogged for 11 years. This post is a mile-stone - I've posted 1,001 times! - and more than 1.5 million views of my posts have occurred!

A few interesting statistics about blogs:
  • Most bloggers post 3 to 6 times a month
  • On average, a blogger spends 3.5 hours writing a blog post
  • On average, a blog-reader spends 37 seconds reading a blog post
In light of how challenging it has become to comment on blogs, I am especially grateful for those of you who continue to comment.

{Start Rant}
Blogger (the platform I use for blogging) has "done something" - I am not technologically literate enough to understand  - that no longer allows ME to comment on OTHERS' Blogger blog posts. To be perfectly clear, I cannot comment on anyone's Blogger blog post from my MacBook computer. I must use my phone to comment, and have been doing so since mid-December.

Before you ask... yes, I have attempted changing my computer's security level, and I have loaded and used a browser that isn't Safari. Neither made a difference. I also spent one-on-one time with an Apple tech who concluded that Blogger has a problem. I am SO OVER tapping out comments from my phone! I wrote up my "issue" in Google discussions. No one has replied.

I know I'm not alone with this problem. It all conspires to make blogging even more challenging.
{End Rant}

Did you hear that Paula Jean's Creations, the company that makes Kwik Klip basting tools is shutting down in June?

Just like the demise of Thread Heaven a couple years ago, Kwik Klip tools will no longer be available. When I teach beginner quiltmaking, it's one of the tools I suggest students try, to close their safety pins. Now I'm wondering if I should stock up!

No doubt you're getting tired of seeing my temperature quilt show up in every blog post! But honestly, it's the only thing I've been working on except for occasional brief periods of hand quilting grandma's vintage quilt.

I'm seeing steady progress, especially if I can make myself quilt every day! Ha!

My temperature quilt status report:
  • 378 four-inch blocks
  • each block takes 15 minutes to domestic machine quilt with rulers and free motion quilting
  • 256 blocks have been quilted (64 hours of quilting, so far)
  • 122 blocks have not been quilted (30 more hours needed to finish quilting)
  • I'm 67 percent finished

This week I gave my "Big Stitch Quilting and More" presentation to members of the Central Florida MQG (read about it here). Afterward I received several lovely emails thanking me... something that makes a teacher's heart swell with grateful appreciation. My friend, Jane, took a few pictures of me teaching. When it comes to quilting, I really get into whatever technique I'm talking about!

Odd as it may seem, I'm starting this week's book recommendations with a book I didn't read! Well, I read the first three chapters and then stopped.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolintano flat-out gave me the willies. The book is about a passenger plane flight from Newark to California. Readers get to know quite a few of the passengers before the plane crashes and everyone dies except a 14 year-old boy.

I am terrified of flying. It's all I can do to force myself to walk into an airplane. Listening to the book, I found myself sitting in a seat, anticipating a crash that would inevitably happen. I consulted with @gynconnie who had read the book, and she agreed that it's not a book for me. In fairness, I can't rate it; I won't ever finish it.

The next book, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett was good. The house is outside Philadelphia, and is a stunningly designed home, built by a cigarette baron. Upon the passing of that family, the Conroys move in, wherein the reader gets to know the four Conroys - children Danny and Maeve - and the life they make, including a remarriage, and how they do and don't get along. The plot is charming without any obvious or hidden, motive or mystery. The audiobook is narrated by Tom Hanks who I, at first, found a little off-putting: he doesn't "do voices," as other narrators do. However, as the story unfolds from Danny's perspective, Mr. Hanks does a wonderful job of inflecting believability into his character.

Linda's Score: 4.0/5.0

Thursday, February 6, 2020

More Quilting, This and That

I'm a happy MacBook user again! The Apple store repaired/replaced our MacBook batteries in six days. We picked it up Sunday, and it's working beautifully. I will never stop appreciating what I can do on a computer, as I've been putting the last touches on a "Big Stitch Quilting and More" presentation that I'll present next Monday, February 10 to members of my Central Florida MQG chapter. I'm also working on a "Domestic Machine Quilting With Rulers" presentation that I'll give on March 4 to members of the Orlando MQG. And EQ8 has been invaluable for designing a modern baby quilt for the beginner quiltmaking classes I'll start teaching in April. Hooray for technology!

This is still going on. Quilting my 2019 temperature quilt. Endlessly it seems. 

By my latest count, I've quilted 211 of the 378 Drunkard's Path blocks. That means I'm 56 percent done. My aim is to quilt 10 blocks a day, which takes about three hours, because I'm changing thread colors often, and tying off thread tails as I go. So that means at least 16 more days of quilting - unless I really go for it! 

For a brief respite from quilting, last weekend I made this Zippy Crossbody bag (pattern by Sallie Tomato) using orange cork and Christa Watson's "Fandangle" fabric. As you can see, the front side has two exterior pockets with another at the top, and one on the back! (Pockets are why I like the pattern.) I used skinny strips of cork as zipper tab ties.

Though I followed the pattern, I made two additions to it, the first being a clear vinyl pocket on the exterior back, to hold my Villager ID card.

My second modification was to add one more interior zipper pocket.  

That's a total of five zippers in this 8" X 8" bag! Love it!

A couple weeks ago we went to Blue Spring State Park, near Orange City, Florida, specifically to see the manatees. When the weather turns colder, these amazing creatures swim away from the colder ocean water to inland rivers and springs. The day we visited, the park's manatee count was 293. 

They're such graceful creatures. I love the "shushing" blowing sound they make when their nostrils break the water for air. They come up every two to five minutes, but can remain submerged for as long as 20 minutes.

Every dark shadow in the water was a manatee. 

I'm so glad we had a chance to visit and afterward, eat a good Cajun lunch at Fire on the Bayou.

If you're interested in life in The Villages, all I can say is "It's still growing!" I don't have numbers to hand, but at least 2000 more houses are in the works. Where we were once considered "living on the south end," we're now in the middle. As The Villages sprawls farther south (even along Interstate 75!), the need increases for more rec centers, shopping, and golf cart accessible roads.

This is the only place you will ever find golf cart bridges crossing major highways. The first of three new golf cart bridges was set in place in August 2019, but hasn't yet been used. It crosses state highway 44, but there are no golf cart roads to/from the bridge! Yet.

This is my picture of the second of two golf cart bridges that will cross four lanes of highway 44. Video here. Each bridge is constructed alongside its location. Then, on a designated night, the highway is closed so the bridge can be lifted into position. It's fascinating, I think. 

A third golf cart bridge will cross the Florida Turnpike! This is an artist's rendering of it. 

Being able to go everywhere in a golf cart is one of the reasons we love living here. Our golf cart (the second one we've owned) will be five years old in March and it has nearly 26,000 miles on it.

Each Saturday Dan and I take our golf cart to the Farmer's Market to buy a week's supply of vegetables for daily juicing. Every juicing includes spinach, celery, carrots, cucumbers, lemon, turmeric root, ginger root, and kale - along with mother's apple vinegar, flaxseed oil, and apple (for me). Lately, the kale has been absolutely gorgeous! This is three huge bunches that more than filled one side of the sink. Can't you just see "healthy"?

Since visiting the Apple store on Sunday, my audiobook-listening has gotten easier. While at the store I inquired about AirPods - wireless earbuds, and happily I came home with them.

They're so easy to use! Just charge the little case, and then slip the pods inside the case (they're magnetic, so they pop right in) to charge them.

The audio is very clear, and they're great for phone conversations. Now I'm lovin' that I can quilt at my machine, with the quilt piled all over, and not worry anymore about the cord (between the earbuds and iPhone) getting tangled in the quilt. In fact, the AirPods work 40 feet away from the iPhone! 

When I'm listening to a book, and need to hear something (someone) else, all I have to do is slip a pod from my ear, and the book (or music, or radio) stops. When I put the pod back in my ear, the sound resumes right where I left off before removing it! How great is that?!

All of my audiobook-listening has been through my public library apps: Hoopla, and Axis 360. As of February 1, books are now also available through RBDigital. Happily, that gives us Outlander (by Diana Gabaldon) lovers access to the Outlander series audiobooks. Yay! Even though I've already listened three times, a fourth listen would be just fine. Don't you agree? I would also like to listen to Gone With the Wind which I read 50 years ago (not kidding), but I can't find that title on any of these three apps.

So, from RBDigital I borrowed The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K Chesterton. Because I enjoy the Father Brown public television series, I thought I'd get a different perspective from the books. Apparently Mr. Chesterton is the second most-famous British detective author, right behind Arthur Conan Doyle who wrote Sherlock Holmes books. Mr. Chesterton's Father Brown character first appeared in a series of short stories in 1910. The Innocence of Father Brown is a compilation of those first dozen stories.

After listening, I especially admire the acting skills of Mark Williams who plays Father Brown on TV. I kept picturing him in each story. Still, the short stories didn't hold the same appeal. Perhaps it's because Mr. Chesterton's Father Brown smokes a cigar; or he travels to different places (doesn't seem to have a parish of his own); or that his friend is a Frenchman, Flambeau, a former "bad guy" who changes his ways and becomes a detective (there's no always-irritable Inspector Mallory); or that Father Brown doesn't pedal anywhere - though he does carry a ratty umbrella. The writing style was archaic and involved frequent conversations discussing ethical and moral philosophies, apropos to the time, but not my cup of (English) tea.

Linda's score: 3.2/5.0


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Blogging With a Handicap

I’m popping in with a brief hello this week because I am index finger tapping this post on my iPhone!πŸ‘†πŸΌ

Our MacBook Pro, which I typically use for writing blog posts, is undergoing service work for a swollen battery (of all things). We drove more than an hour to an Apple store in Orlando to learn that’s the reason the notebook hasn’t been laying flat on a table, nor the lid closing completely. Our particular model, made in 2015,  has batteries that are integrated with the keyboard, so the bottom of the MacBook has to be replaced. Of course, I am unhappy to be without it, realizing how much I depend on it. We won’t get it back until next week!

A whole lot of quilting has been happening on my temperature quilt. Of the 378 four-inch Drunkard’s Path blocks that comprise the quilt top, 173 of them are quilted. Even after 30 to 40 hours of quilting invested in it, I have a long way to go.

A little hand quilting has also happened, though it’s practically invisible!

And a couple more rows have been added to my crocheted afghan.

I think I’ve exhibited great restraint in not starting something new, especially as I’d like to participate in our Central Florida MQG Mid-Century Artist Challenge, due April 6. And I have a new cross-body bag pattern I’d like to make.

It’s a typical quilter’s lament, isn’t it? Too many projects; too little time.

Oh! And I mustn’t forget to mention a happy January 26 FlourishingPalms blog-iversary πŸ€— for 11 years of  non- stop blogging! Thank you especially to a dozen or so of you who’ve followed me since the early years, and continue to make blogging worthwhile by regularly commenting.

Debbie J.; Anne D.; Susan S.; Karen R.; Rosemary B.; Elizabeth E.; Sue; Pat; Nancy; Farm Quilter; Robbie; Teresa; Janice; Paige and several others. 😊 I appreciate you!

It’s simply heart-warming to have formed friendships!

Two more audiobook finishes bring my January total to eight.
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult is about 13 year-old Jenna who has never stopped thinking about Alice, the mother she lost one tragic night. Now living with her grandmother, Jenna reads her mother’s journals and searches for online information about her mother while saving babysitting money to hire a detective and a physic, and pursue for herself what happened. The story revolves around elephant life in the wild, and in a New England elephant sanctuary. The book is liberally filled with information about elephant behavior that parallels a mother’s behavior. I found it completely fascinating. I’m giving this high marks for being riveting. I didn’t want to stop listening.

Linda’s score: 4.5/5.0

 This title - The True Love Quilting Club - by Lori Wilde is the second book in the Twilight, Texas series. The title is misleading; I thought I was picking up a book about a quilting group, but discovered that the quilting club has shirttail involvement in the story about Trixie Lynn who changes her name to Emma and pursues an acting career, while always thinking about the 14 year-old friend, Sam, she left behind in Twilight. When they reunite 16 years later, sparks fly. It’s an extremely steamy, graphic romance... if you’re into that sort of read. And honestly, I wondered if the author was ever actually around quilters making quilts because her terminology seemed a little off. I wasn’t overly fond of this book, mostly because it was trite.

Linda’s score: 2.8/5.0


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