Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Life is So Full

Life is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings. - Robert Louis Stevenson
 
I'm a happy king queen, continuing to leap-frog through my she cave

It's the home stretch on the "All Dressed Up" mini quilt I'm making from Kelly Young's My Quilt Infatuation new book Scrappy Improv Quilting. I've been asked not to share all of the project until my October 18 reveal day, but I'll tell you that I enjoyed quilting it. I haven't quilted free motion hooked swirls in a long time, and - as I am doing more often these days - I added some big stitch quilting. 

For week four of the QuiltFortCo Finger Paints QAL, these are blocks 4 and 5. 

Thus far, here's how it looks. I like it more and more.

Curated Quilts asked quilters to make and mail them a 5½" X 10½" block for the Harmony Quilt they plan to feature in their "Collaboration" issue, and display at QuiltCon. This is my contribution, made with a Guicy Guice print.

A Jacksonville (Florida) friend, Paula @sewmodernchicky has an online quilt shop (she has also been a Marketplace vendor for Quilting Guild of The Villages). When she recently had a sale on wide backs for $9 a yard, I picked up a couple, and a few sale prints. I've always liked Anna Maria Horner's "Echinea" print and managed to buy-out two of her remaining color ways. I'm thinking "purse." That palm print might make into a nice shirt too.

This tired-looking jelly roll has been in my possession since 2009, when it was given to me by a quilt-y friend, Di B., who lives in Sydney, Australia. She gifted it as a souvenir of six weeks I spent in Sydney, teaching beginner quiltmaking to a group at her church, St. Mark's Anglican Church. The fabrics are all Australia prints. 

Truth told, I've never bought a jelly roll because the prints are often overly-matched. But when Big Cypress Quilters (my every Tuesday quilting group) announced that this Tuesday - this afternoon! - would be Jelly Roll Race Day, and having never participated in a jelly roll race, I remembered this jelly roll. 

We were instructed to watch a Missouri Star YouTube video to see how to make a jelly roll quilt, and told to join our strips together before the Tuesday meeting. 

I'm all set to go, with pressed-open seams and miles of strips ready to join.

I'm almost embarrassed to post the two pictures below, but this is the best I could do with my Canon point-and-shoot camera.

Last Wednesday evening shortly after 8 pm, after watching on TV the countdown for the Cape Canaveral launch of Inspiration4, we rushed outside to watch, from 109 miles away, the rocket's progress across the night sky. 

Inspiration4 is a SpaceEx capsule that sent four civilian astronauts into space. It was pretty exciting to watch! This is one of the booster separations.

I paid the price for being outdoors for five or six minutes though! Mosquitos love me. Eleven mosquito bites, some of which swelled to two inches in diameter, as well as itching like crazy. I hope every mosquito that bit me died a horrible death from my drug-thinned (Plavix and Xarelto) blood!

I recently had a check-up for P.A.D. (peripheral artery disease - for me, it's a genetic condition caused by blood with too much plaque in it) that has been problematic in my legs. In addition to blood-thinning drugs and cholesterol med, my doc continues to recommend rigorous exercise to keep the blood pumping and arteries open. Besides Walk Away the Pounds and line dancing, I power-walk twice a week.

When walking, I use a Map My Walk phone app to track distance, speed and elevation. Below is the route of my last 4.22 mile walk, for 1 hour/8 minutes, at a rate of 16:18 per mile. (It's always audiobook listening time for me!) I like seeing where I've been, and have even seen pictures of a specific route a walker or jogger has taken, so their course spells out a word! How about my cute little cul de sacs? Inspiration for a quilt?!

Book Recommendations 
The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn is a nicely-written book about Esther, a young wife and mother in the 1930s, suffering from postpartum depression. Her husband sends her to a Scilly island (off the UK) mental institute. Though initially she resists, the doctor's gentle kindness, and the therapeutic lifestyle of seven people living on an island, begin to work wonders. Tragedy changes that. 

In 2018, Rachel takes a position in the Scilly Islands as a marine scientist, studying the life patterns of clams. A rough storm finds her near a tiny island where she's rescued by a woman who lives there alone. While waiting for the weekly supply boat to return her to her home base, Rachel spends five days making discoveries about the island. Hidden in a suitcase, she finds letters written to "E" from "R." Rachel needs to find out who they are, and how their love story ended. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5.0

In The Therapist, by B.A. Paris, Alice and Leo have decided to move in together. They find a condo in The Circle, a gated area of 12 homes, in London. Alice can't figure out why some of the neighbors are whispering, and excluding her from their get-togethers. Deciding to make friends, Alice invites everyone for an evening of drinks. When an uninvited guest shows up, and it seems that Alice is the only one who meets him, she determines to find out who he is.

Still, a few women seem stand-off-ish. When Alice learns that something happened in her house, her world turns upside down, and her relationship with Leo changes. Determined to get to the truth, she questions everyone, suspects everyone, and unknowingly puts herself at risk. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

I have fond memories of watching my dad make ham salad. He clamped a heavy, cast iron meat grinder to the kitchen table, and cranked it out using bologna. Not having eaten it in ages, we decided to make it, and bought a one-pound hunk of "German bologna" from the Publix deli. To make it into ham salad, we've determined that bologna magically turns into ham as it goes through the meat grinder! It was delicious! 

We're living and eating like a King and Queen! Linda

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More In-Process

Another week of going and going, with no finish line in sight. 

Another week of project-hopping, or leap-frogging, as it's now called.  

For Kelly Young's new book Scrappy Improv Quilting, I "made fabric" from scraps. (My turn on her blog hop is October 18.) No surprise about the colors I chose, right? Honestly though, initially I wanted to make a different color combo. But I quickly realized - horror of horrors! - I don't have enough scraps in other colors to make fabric! Not enough pinks. Not enough reds. Not enough purples. My scrap bins are getting down to the nitty-gritty! So unless I indulge in some stash enhancement, my days of making scrappy quilts are limited. But I'm looking at it as a good thing. I'm truly "using-up."

Keeping up with Laura Loewen's @quiltfortco Finger Paints QAL (quilt along), these are blocks 3 and 4 for this week, the third week of the QAL. I'm using only solids.

By Friday, I'll post this picture to Instagram, so I'm in the running for Laura's weekly giveaway. My friend and Central Florida MQG president, Karen @sunrayatplay won last week. 👏

Blocks 1, 2 and 3 are in the top row. Block 4 is in the second row. Five more blocks to go. I like how it's looking... bright and hot!

Mostly I've been big stitch quilting. Every day I am sure to pick up this - my entry for the MQG's Artisan Fabric Challenge.

This quilt is about 50" X 56" because my preference is to make quilts that are useable - a size that can be given away for someone else to appreciate. So it's taking a bit longer to stitch. 

After finally getting my design wall cleared-off, this morning I plunked these blocks back up. What a hodgepodge! I have no idea how I'm going to deal with them. But I must. I'm coordinating South Florida MQG's "Curve Around Challenge," and how bad would it look for me not to participate?! I'm gonna need LOTS of inspiration to figure out how to do something with these. Help!

Book Recommendations
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner is a trending title on the Hoopla library app, so I checked it out because it had a 4.5 rating. I wasn't disappointed. Though the first chapter was a slow start, and I wondered if I was listening to a sci-fi tale, the book just got better and better.

It's 1791, and Nella runs a London apothecary inherited from her mother. But she's secretly dispensing more poisonous drugs than remedies - helping women escape men who disuse and control them. Precocious 12 year-old Eliza visits Nella's shop to pick up a specially requested order, and the two develop an unlikely relationship.

In present day, Caroline is in London celebrating her tenth wedding anniversary alone, since learning of her husband's infidelity. A history-lover, she finds an unusual blue apothecary bottle, and ends up spending her holiday seeking more information. As she discovers an unsolved crime, she not only unearths a mystery, but also a greater understanding of herself and what she wants for her future. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

If you have enjoyed any books by Mary Kubica, then you'll like Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell. Taking place in a London suburb, the Fours family is temporarily living in a rental while their home is being renovated. Choosing to reside in a rental that's in a more posh area, mum Cate finds the quiet streets somewhat disturbing. Following a series of sexual attacks in the area, Cate believes that the odd young man, Owen, living across the street, could be the perpetrator. 

Owen is a teacher at a local university, and is dumb-founded when the human resources department tells him that two female students are charging him with sexual misconduct, and that he's being put on leave.

Saffyre is a beautiful teenage girl with an aversion to men. At age ten, she suffered trauma that prompted her uncle to get help from child physchologist Roan Fours, Cate's husband. With suspect interactions and many secrets among Owen, Saffyre, Roan, and even the Four's 14 year-old son, Josh, Cate wonders what's really going on, perhaps even in her own family.

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

We love our Texas little boys, and have these on our frig as a daily reminder of how much we miss them. The school pictures are from this year; they're sixth and second graders now. When we visited them in late July, Luke and Bapa made the fish, just for me, from Perler beads. If you aren't familiar with Perlers, here's the website. 

Hoping to leave you with a smile today.
Apparently it's tough to come up with a funny that includes "Bernina." 😀 Linda

Thursday, September 9, 2021

In Process

Everything I've touched lately continues to be in process. I'm making headway on each project, albeit slowly. 

The QuiltCon 2022 Artisan Cotton Fabric Challenge (such a long title to remember!) is due October 31, along with all QuiltCon 2022 entries. 

I've been quilting my challenge entry, hopping back and forth between machine walking foot quilting and big stitch quilting with size 8 Wonderfil Eleganza perle cotton.

There's no rhyme or reason to quilting designs. I'm just going with the flow, adding stitches here and there, and using thread colors as the mood strikes me.

With this approach, the quilt may end up looking unplanned, but I'm having fun with it. Each evening, I look forward to sitting in my comfy aqua chair, under my Slimline 2 floor lamp for hand stitching time. 

Participating in the Finger Paints Quilt Along, I made blocks 1 and 2 this week. They're each about 22" square. I've been surprised to look at my finished blocks and believe I improv cut these pieces - I didn't use a ruler. 

Guess my 40-plus years of making quilts has given me a "good eye," though I wish that wasn't the case! Still, I know I'm going to like this quilt.

Though this quilt top is done, I'm not yet sharing a picture of it - my Central Florida MQG Chips and Charms Challenge quilt - because I submitted my design for publication. If it doesn't happen, I'll share later.

Good Eggs by Rebecca Hardiman was a happy read, after my disappointment with the last book (Malibu Rising).

Good Eggs is a charming, family story that takes place in Ireland. A family of five is struggling through careers, keeping up with kids, and dealing with a somewhat eccentric grandmother, Millie. Kevin, the dad, is at the heart of the story, trying to navigate his own unemployment and his middle-aged attraction to another woman, while handling Millie's quirkiness, and a rivalry between his teenaged twin daughters. Sixteen year-old Aideen is so recalcitrant that boarding school seems the only option. Not surprisingly, Millie and Aideen understand one another, so running away from home together doesn't seem like a bad idea.  

I really enjoyed the audiobook narrative, listening to well-acted Irish and American accents. Not to give too much away, but when part of the story happens in Florida, I felt a real affinity for the character's impressions of the state.

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

This morning, while golf carting to 7:30 am line dancing, I paused to appreciate God's beautiful creation. The sky was stunning. In one direction, sunshine glowed on fluffy white clouds, and in the other direction this double rainbow appeared in a gray sky. 

Later, alongside the golf cart path were three sandhill cranes. I love seeing them! They're distinctive and very majestic-looking. Since they're a protected species in Florida, everyone stops - golf carts and automobiles alike - when they wander across roadways. 

To keep them in perspective, they're about four feet tall.

While I had a lovely cart drive to line dancing, and this was the sky on my way into the rec center...

...my drive back home at 9:30 was rainy. Tropical storm Mindy is making her presence known. Linda

Friday, September 3, 2021

Leap-Frogging

My friend, Melissa (@mtweedel on Instagram) posted this week about leap-frogging, a tendency some of us have to jump from project to project. I completely identified with that term! It seems I function best when switching from one project to another, like following a whim.
Leap-frogging has been the norm this week. 🐸

Mostly in the evenings, I've continued to hand-appliqué circles onto half-square triangles, for my Chips and Charms Challenge quilt. These are blocks 73 to 80 - so I finally reached the 80 appliquéd blocks needed for my quilt design. Whew.

Kelly Young at MyQuiltInfatuation has a new book Scrappy Improv Quilting, and it's now available. I received a copy to make a quilt for Kelly's book introduction blog hop; my turn is Monday, October 18. All patterns in the book are to make mini quilts from scraps, so I've begun "making fabric" from which I'll cut pieces. 

The Finger Paints Quilt Along, hosted by Laura Loewen of QuiltFortCo began Monday. This week's assignment was to choose the 31 fabrics needed for the project - nearly all of mine are Painter's Palette solids - and cut them out. My rotary cutting was entirely ruler-free, so it remains to be seen how my blocks will turn out!

All that cutting produces lots of fabric snippets that I toss into a fabric bag clamped to my sewing machine table. It doesn't seem to take long to fill a bag with fluff to make a nice pet bed to locally donate. This bed is made from leftover home dec fabric, and measures about 23" X 26".

Fully aware that on September 1 the MQG opened-up QuiltCon 2022 entries (due by October 31), I'm slowly progressing on my Artisan Fabric challenge quilt. My plan is to domestic machine quilt, and then add big stitch quilting.  

Melissa, the same person who explained leap-frogging, shared this progress picture of putting together redwork hand-embroidered blocks. Do they look familiar? These are the some of the 91 blocks found in my grandparent's Ohio farmhouse that I sent to Melissa. Read my June 4 blog post about it. She's gonna have a beautiful quilt when she's done! (Yes, one of the blocks is embroidered "1899".)

Book Recommendation 
It's times like this that I wished I'd labeled my "Book Recommendations" - "Book Reviews" because I can't favorably recommend Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Call me a prude, but my low score is because I don't care for stories about privileged stars who mistreat others, have sex with whoever crosses their path, turn marital infidelity into a practice, indiscriminately sire children, drink too much, ingest drugs like candy, and unabashedly swear. 

The book is about soon-to-be-famous singer Mick Riva who marries the beautiful daughter of a couple running the local seafood restaurant. They have four children fathered by Mick, but not his wife. The eldest, Nina, unexpectedly finds herself taking care of the family when their father abandons them and their mother turns to drink. The story is about Mick and his reckless lifestyle, and  those children - how they struggle financially, and what they accomplish, becoming a: champion surfboarder; famous model; famous photographer; and college student. The entire book takes place in one day (with frequent returns to the character backgrounds) - a day that ends with a huge, wild party in a gorgeous Malibu cliffside home, and Santa Anna winds that fuel a fire. From the ashes come endings and new beginnings.
Linda's score: 2.8/5.0

Instagrammer, Jamie Lynn @purejoycreative is the wife of a pastor, mom to six, and an extremely talented artist. She teaches art, partime, in a parochial school. Most months, Jamie Lynn offers free cell phone wallpaper. This month's is a good reminder of how God wants all of us to live. 

Though I fail most of the time, God never does. Linda

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Teaching, Challenge Quilt

On Friday and Saturday, I taught all day (six hour) workshops with Southeast Georgia Quilters in Kingsland, Georgia, and Jacksonville Modern Quilt Guild in Jacksonville, Florida. It felt like a whirlwind!

That's because after quietly celebrating our 49th wedding anniversary on Thursday, I was up at 5 am Friday morning for a 6 am departure to drive to Kingsland to teach. I arrived shortly after 9 am, and at 10 am the workshop began. I taught a class of 11 students (one missing from the photo) how to use a Quick Curve Ruler to make an Urban Abacus quilt, and a Quick Curve Mini Ruler to make a table runner. 

It was a good class, with friendly students, who were a gentle warm-up to lead the same workshop again on Saturday. 

After spending the night with a lovely, hospitable member of Southeast George Quilters - her husband's  barbecued brisket was delicious! - on Saturday morning I drove to Jacksonville. Again, a lovely class of 12 students happily engaged in learning how to use their rulers, and piece gentle curves. 

To be clear, almost everyone wore a mask during both workshops. I sure did.

I drove home Saturday evening, arriving shortly before 7 pm, feeling pretty much wiped out - knackered, as Aussies say. Between the intensity of teaching and long drive, it felt good to kick back for some Saturday night TV-watching.

Still, I find teaching very satisfying and rewarding. I enjoy sharing my knowledge, and appreciate those moments when I hear something new-to-me - about online business I'm not familiar with, or a unique product, or occasionally, seeing a method of doing something differently than I do. It's all good!

A speaking engagement or workshop gives me the opportunity to be in tune with real-time quiltmakers, learn what interests them, and what they're creating. Thank you Southest Georgia Quilters, and Jacksonville MQG for inviting me!
 
In my sewing room, I'm 99 percent sure I've settled on the final layout for my Chips and Charms Challenge quilt for Central Florida MQG. Here are a several comparison layout pictures that led to settling on the last one. 
Patriot blue HSTs in a medallion setting

Patriot blue in an "arrow point" setting

My favorite with the center block accented

I'm continuing to hand appliqué circles to HSTs until I have enough to piece the quilt top.

Book Recommendation 
One of the perks of driving alone is being able to listen to an audiobook. That's the reason I was able to finishing The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica. You might notice that my last review was also of a Mary Kubica book. She's a good author! 

The Other Mrs. takes place on an island in Maine. Sadie and Will, and their two sons have moved from Chicago to an old house after inheriting it from Will's sister. Along with the house, they've been given custody of Imogene, Will's 16 year-old niece. From the first moments of their arrival, Sadie, an emergency room physician, feels uncomfortable. Add to that Imogene's dark habits and rebellious nature (and language) toward Sadie, and Sadie's finding it difficult to adapt to their new living conditions. When a neighbor is found dead, and it's called murder, apprehension about what's happening around her causes Sadie to question everyone's behavior and ulterior motives, including those of her 14 year-old son Otto. 

The story jumps between present day, and a narrative from a six year-old girl called Mouse. Who is she? How is she part of Sadie's story? Well, once again, an author caught me unaware. And even though I'd just read a Mary Kubica book, she managed to completely surprise me.

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

This morning's online worship service at Lutheran Church of Hope was again enriching. The message hit a chord, as did the music of a guest choir that sang two songs. I was moved to tears when I realized that they wouldn't remove their masks to sing. How sad that this is the world we're living in now. And how completely lovely that they sang in spite of wearing masks... sounding wonderful. Bless them. Linda

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