Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Days Before Christmas

Still in pre-Christmas prep mode, beside cleaning house, I'm also making handwork ready, in case I have quiet sit-down time. With four young grandsons in our house, who am I kidding? Right? 

This past week's free time was spent cutting fabrics - enough to prepare 40 more glitter blocks to add to the 152 blocks I'll need to put together a Glitter Quilt. The pattern is by Jen Kingwell. 

Here's a picture of my New Zealand friend, Wendy's, award-winning Glitter Quilt.

Several options are available for putting together blocks - EPP, hand-piecing, and machine-piecing. I'm going with a combination of techniques.

You can see, left to right, that I'm machine-piecing the center section, and hand-piecing to add four outside corners. For accuracy, hand-stitched Y-seams are best for me.

I just can't seem to keep from making Kawandi! I've begun my ninth small one, though larger than others at 18" X 24". My plan is to graduate fabric colors as I place scraps and stitch toward the center. 

Instagram giveaway wins arrived promptly! This pattern and bundle of FPP papers came from Erica Arndt. I can see myself using the papers and scrap fabrics to make a scrappy quilt. 

Bethanne Nemesh sent the quilting rulers I selected from her website. Her quilting designs are rather elaborate. 

I'm looking forward to trying these rulers, particularly the ultra-curvy one called "Lotus Lines" (bottom center). It's meant to be used to "steer" a quilt around particular shapes (appliqué for Bethanne), and do something with the concave part of the ruler that she calls "needle entrapment." It's new to me. 

After watching her video, I could appreciate the ruler's application to quilting around modern shapes too.

Last Saturday afternoon was my final 2021 virtual meeting as a member of South Florida MQG (SFMQG). I'm not renewing my membership because of time commitments with two other guilds, not because I didn't enjoy being part of the group. I did! I made many new friends in SFMQG, and thoroughly enjoyed chatting and making friends during monthly Sip-and-Sews. It wasn't an easy decision to not renew.

The meeting was also the culmination of SFMQG's year-long "Curve Around Challenge" of which I was chair. In November, members got to see 19 finished entries in the challenge, and cast their votes. These are the award-winners.

First place received a $50 gift certificate to The Quilted Peacock. In the spirt of paying it forward, I've donated it to the SFMQG charity committee.

The "Cassandra Beaver Award" (chosen by Cassandra herself!) is a $50 gift certificate to Feel Good Fibers. Two awards! I'm completely humbled, and honored. Thank you SFMQGers! 

Book Recommendation

Sadie by Courtney Summers is an audiobook that's presented as though it's a podcast. The male narrator is the person who's a podcaster, looking to uncover information about the death, in a small town in Colorado, of 13 year-old Maggie, and help in the search for Maggie's missing 19 year-old sister, Sadie. 

Story narration passes between the male podcaster and Sadie. But mostly, the story is told in recorded, live interviews, with dozens of characters telling their stories. It's an unusual way to present an audiobook, but very engaging.

It's only sad that the main thrust of the book is about real and unsettling situations for vulnerable young girls. There's no happy ending, but it's well-written.  

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

I'm glad I could share this book review because after I posted on December 15 that I was third on the waitlist for book nine of the Outlander series: Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, and that my turn would be coming soon, the next day I received my "it's your turn" notice from the library! I immediately stopped listening to a Vera book by Ann Cleeves, and started 49½ hours/156 chapters of Go Tell... I have 20 days to listen.

So far, even after a long interval since book eight, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, I was able to get right back into the story. Hearing narrator Davina Porter, who has acted all the Outlander books, is like visiting a dear friend. And author Diana Gabaldon has sprinkled-in enough conversational refreshers about past experiences that it's been easy to recall significant events in previous books. 

I know I'm being premature in giving this my "Linda score," but... 

Linda's Score: 5.0/5.0 

This is my 70th book-listen for 2021. 

Christmas blessings my friends! Linda
Holy Family made in 2011 from a design by Dilys Fronks
in the 2006 issue of Quilt It: For Christmas magazine

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Fun Stuff and IG Wins

Right after Christmas our kids and grandies are coming to visit! This will be their first time here over the holidays, since we moved in 9½ years ago. We're pretty excited about them coming - four boys between the ages of 7 and 12 for six days? How chaotic could it be?! 

This also means that, for the first time since moving to Florida, we're putting up Christmas decorations! Recalling exactly where everything went in our Iowa home, I've had some challenges finding places to put things. The focal point - the tree - is this six foot-tall artificial bamboo tree in our chat corner.

We've never owned an artificial Christmas tree, and decided not to invest in one this year. For one thing, they're expensive, and for another, it goes against traditional to have anything but a real evergreen tree.

So maybe this bamboo tree looks a little hokey, but it works because it holds many special ornaments, and is alongside a favorite counted cross-stitch nutcracker, and a 24"-tall kneeling Santa. 

Our kids fondly refer to him as "touchdown Santa." 

Sewing-wise, I finished making a total of seven Inside Outside Pouches and Boxy Clear Pouches. They're wrapped and ready for gifting. 

Last weekend I also made a ukulele pillow for my "Peace, Love, and Ukulele Club" leader. I posed it with my own ukulele. Did you know ukuleles come in four sizes? Mine is a concert; the pillow is a soprano. 

I used a dotted fabric to make the bridge (at the bottom of the strings). Strings are a strand of cotton string that's been satin-stitched with light gray-colored thread.

The top tuning pegs are buttons. 

I intentionally positioned this colorful peace symbol in the center back, and you can see where I added my label (with my name and FlourishingPalms).

The big difference between the pillow I made and the free pattern from Sew4Home is that I made my version with box edges, rather than a knife edge. Mary, after unwrapping it.

In other fun news... If you're an Instagrammer, you've surely noticed that a number of companies and small businesses have been hosting giveaways - "12 Days of Christmas" sort of things. I enter most of them, as do many of my Instagram friends. 

What a surprise to learn this week that I won two of them! 

 One prize is a set of square-in-a-square paper packs and the Geneva quilt pattern from Erica Arndt

The second prize is even bigger - $100 worth of products, of my choice, from Bethanne Nemesh of White Arbor Quilting, who is also a quilting instructor (!). Her quilting style is very decorative, and feathery. Bethanne told me she had more than 900 entries in her contest.

I'm choosing four of Bethanne's quilting rulers. Because my Illinois friend Michelle @bacontheneggs and I tagged each other for the giveaway, Michelle also wins a set of Bethanne's quilting rulers. Some prizes, huh?!

Audiobook listening hasn't gone smoothly. I listened to at least a third of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue before returning it. Too sci-fi, and unbelievable with part I flat-out didn't like. But I'm into a good one now. 

Also, I'm third in line to listen to the newest Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon - Go Tell the Bees that I'm Gone - the ninth title in the Outlander series. If you haven't yet read Outlander, you're missing out on reading the best book of the century! Diana's latest book, read by the fabulous Davina Porter, is 49½ hours of listening! Wowsa! I'm fearful my library turn will come up while family is visiting. Even if I am able to listen, can I do 49½ hours of listening during the 20-day checkout period?! 

Outdoors, our weather has been looking less than December-ish. In fact, it's been gorgeous - perfect temps and low humidity. When I was power-walking Sunday afternoon, absorbed in an audiobook and looking down, I nearly stepped on this guy! He's a pretty ugly Florida soft-shell turtle. Only a mother could love it. 

But, our scenery is beautiful! The flowers have been especially showy in the round-abouts.

I love December in Florida!

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Hi Friends! My thanks to you for leaving congratulatory and good wishes comments on my last blog post. It's been humbling, and very exciting to realize my quilts will be hung at QuiltCon. Attending the show next February will be the event-of-the-year for me.

Gotta get my last quilt, Playin' Around shipped, so I'm making and hand-sewing a sleeve to the back. It's a tedious but necessary task to prepare a quilt for a show. This 61"-long sleeve is made from leftover backing fabric.  

Preparations and activities have defined this week. While I no longer write Christmas letters or send cards, and we don't put up a Christmas tree, I do spend time preparing my heart for Jesus's arrival, and trying to share the love by making special gifts, and doing some baking. 

For gift-giving I've been making zipper pouches. They required a special trip to JoAnn Fabrics for Pellon SF101 fusible interfacing, but I got enough for these seven pouches and then some. 

I'm making three Boxy Clear Pouches, and four Inside-Outside Pouches (patterns by Aneela Hoey) to gift to line dancing instructors, hair and nail stylists, and family members. 

The slowest part of each one is hand-stitching binding to both ends of the bag.

As I've been creating, I've frequently been using Clover Wonderclips. However, I'm disappointed in their performance. I've thrown away at least a dozen of them because the clear plastic tab at the nose bend (note clip on the far right) and in some cases have broken off. 

That's been surprising. Is it because they're old? Eight years or so is too old? Or, might it have something to do with our Florida climate? The plastic doesn't stand up to humidity? Though, we're in a climate-controlled home. But, I've had a similar thing happen with vinyl shoe soles crumbling.    

Something I've added to the bags I've been making is this new label. I don't mind making EQ Printables quilt labels to create a custom design with buckets of information, but until these arrived, I haven't had a way to label small sewn items. Now I do, from Ever Emblem.

The label design I picked is "Sparkle Emoji - Satin - 1.5" wide." My name (including my surname) is on the front, and my handle is on the back. When the label is folded, it tucks nicely into a sewn seam with info reading in the right direction on both sides. 

Book Recommendations
While channel-surfing a couple months ago, I came across a British detective show called Vera. After watching it, I knew hubs would like it too. Ever since we've been recording programs to continue watching. Vera is based on a series of books written by Ann Cleeves, so I found the first book and listened.

The Crow Trap
 is about three women - Rachael, Anne, and Grace - who share a remote cabin while they conduct an environmental study on behalf of a company that wants to build a reservoir in the area. The story opens with team leader Rachael driving into the area. As she walks to nearby Baikie's Cottage to visit her friend Bella, in the dusky light she finds Bella dead, hanging from a rafter. 

Rachael cannot believe that Bella, who loved her life on the farm, took her own life. When another woman on their environmental team is found murdered, Inspector Detective Vera Stanhope arrives at Baikie's Cottage to solve the crime.

Rachael desparately wants to forget a bad relationship; Anne is using her time to engage in a liaison; Grace isn't eating, sharing anything about herself, or even acting normal. 

The book is written in three parts, each from a character's perspectives. With lots of details to the story, it required some intense listening, but I loved it! 

Apparently this particular story is the third episode of the Vera TV series, but as we missed the first five seasons, it's unlikely we'll see it. Though I wish I could!

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

The Moonlight Child
 by Karen McQuestion is poignant and satisfying story that takes place in Wisconsin.  One evening, Sharon, a 60-something woman who lives alone (Through chapter 2 I smiled through her take on technology.) steps outside at 11 pm to view a blood moon. While watching it, through an uncovered window in the house behind her she notices a small girl washing dishes. Since the residents are a couple and their teenage son, she wonders who she's seeing. The next day, former foster child Niki, must move from a bad living situation, so Sharon welcomes her. From her upstairs bedroom window overlooking the neighbor's backyard, Niki also sees some unusual activity. Between them, they decide they must do something. If a little girl is living there, why doesn't anyone know about her?

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Sunday was the second Sunday of Advent. As usual, I worshipped virtually at Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike's message "Is the End Near?" referenced Revelation, and Jesus's second coming. Pastor Mike wrapped up his message with this list of distractions that keep us from loving more. Several of them resonated with me.

This is the week for Christmas get-togethers, that started Tuesday afternoon with a box lunch with Big Cypress Quilters.

This evening is my last Zoom "Sip and Sew" with members of South Florida MQG. I've decided not to renew my membership with SFMQG in 2022 because I simply can't keep up with activities in three guilds. Though I've made some great friends in the chapter, and I'll very much miss our Sip and Sew chit-chats, two guild memberships will be plenty. 

Saturday morning is our Central Florida MQG annual holiday party. We'll share holiday treats and have a Chinese gift swap.

Saturday evening is our neighbor's holiday party - pizza, and more holiday treats!

Then, the partying is over! I've never quite understood why celebrations here are so early in the month, and that nothing happens after December 15 or thereabouts. But, that's how it is. On the positive side, that's just more time for new projects! Linda

Sunday, December 5, 2021

QuiltCon 2022 Quilt Submissions

This year, the three jurors tasked with choosing quilts for display at QuiltCon (February, 2022 in Phoenix, AZ) were certainly on their toes. The deadline for online quilt submissions was October 31. With more than 2,000 quilt entries to view - one full quilt photo, and one detailed photo of each! - it was a surprise to received "accepted" and "unaccepted" emails on December 1 (December 15 in previous years).

I submitted a total of five quilts. Three were accepted.

1) My first submission was May 3 in response to a request for modern quilts to display at the International Quilt Festival in Houston (in November). On May 17 I learned that Illusions of Victor (made for the Central Florida MQG Mid Century Modern Artist Challenge. Detailed blog post about it here.) was among 19 quilts accepted for the special exhibit. Having a quilt accepted into that show meant automatic acceptance into QuiltCon 2022.
Illusions of Victor, 48" X 65"

2) Then, on November 2 I was notified that my 2019 Temperature Quilt (detailed blog post about it here) was accepted into QuiltCon 2022, and needed to be sent right away to Golden, Colorado for inclusion in QuiltCon magazine! That's exciting because I've never had a quilt appear in that special publication. Until everyone was notified about QuiltCon, I was sworn to secrecy about it being accepted.
2019 Temperature Quilt, 72" X 84"

3) In a December 1 email I learned that Playin' Around was accepted. This is the Curve Around Challenge Quilt I made as a member of South Florida MQG. Click here to view challenge entries. I need to put a sleeve on it and prep it for shipping to meet the January 13 arrival deadline. 
Playin' Around, 61" X 70"

To view a wonderful virtual quilt show, check out the Instagram hashtag #quiltconreject and #quilltconreject2022. There are so many amazing quilts to be seen!

These are my two #quiltconreject quilts. My Central Florida MQG Modern Scraps Challenge, Orbits...
Orbits, 70" X 80"

...and my Artisan Fabric Challenge Quilt, Columns.  Detailed blog post about it here.
Columns, 50" X 55"

I'm glad I choose to make large quilts, because every one of these will eventually be given away. 

If you read my November 15 blog post, you'll know I didn't expect Columns to make the cut. Perhaps that's because, from viewing SO many modern quilts (at QuiltCon shows, and virtually), I've learned to recognize a modern look. I've developed a sense of whether a quilt is modern or not. However, that sure doesn't mean I can always make such a quilt myself! 

Given that QuiltCon received more than 2,000 entries and that 450+ or so quilts will be displayed at QuiltCon (based on previous year's numbers), I'm very happy. 

This is the fifth time I've submitted quilts to QuiltCon: Austin 2015; Savannah 2017; Nashville 2019; Austin 2020; Phoenix 2022 - and been able to attend the show in person! Each time I've been fortunate to have at least one quilt in a show. When I start feeling guilty about it - and very lucky! - my husband reminds me that luck has nothing to do with it. It's about dedication, hard work, preparation, and opportunity.

Being personally familiar with the hard work put into every QuiltCon quilt, whether it's accepted or not, I respect and admire every quiltmaker who enter QuiltCon. You are worthy. And your quilts are worthy. Linda

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Thanksgiving Travel

For the first time in at least ten years, family got together for Thanksgiving. Dan and I drove to Kansas City (a two-day trip) on Sunday/Monday, November 21-22 ((Why is it that every time we stay overnight in Paducah, Hancock's of Paducah is closed (Sunday and Monday)?!)) and stayed with our daughter until Monday, November 29. We returned home Tuesday evening, November 30. 

Being with all our grandchildren was wonderful! Our two KC grandsons were there, Celina flew home from NYC, and our two Texas grandsons flew in. 

Two second cousins came over the day after Thanksgiving, so it was a fun time for these kids. 

Austin and Luke played with dominoes. I helped with this one! 

Celina had an apple pie recipe she wanted to try, and spent much of the day before Thanksgiving preparing it!

Hubs and son-in-law were responsible for the 20-pound bird, and did a fabulous job with it. Not only did we have stuffing, but more dressed was served on the side. 

Being more of a baker myself, I made two pies, and these cinnamon rolls (an Alton Brown recipe) that were a hit the day after Thanksgiving.

These are siblings and me with our dad. He's looking good at 91 years young, isn't he? I was able visit with him four times during our week-long stay.

Of great interest to me while driving to/from KC, was seeing cotton country in Georgia, near the city of Donaldson. Fields and fields were ripe for picking, or had recently been picked. 

Every little bit of ground in the area was planted with cotton. Obviously cotton farmers are taking advantage of the high price of cotton to earn a profit. 

With hubs having worked at John Deere Des Moines Works, where all JD cotton pickers are built, he was knowledgeable about these trucks we passed on the highway. They were designed to haul cotton bails that at one time were rectangular-cube-shaped. 

The newer picker model bails cylinder shapes! Letters and numbers are identification codes.

Trucks were headed to or from this gin. The property was covered with these huge cotton bails. 

Cotton spilled out the ends of some bails, and bits of cotton were all along both sides of the highway.

As I said, it was really interesting to see. I'd love to talk with a cotton farmer to learn more. I certainly wondered whether this is stripper cotton - a more commercial grade of cotton (such as for upholstery) - or higher quality cotton like that used used in clothing and fabric.

As I mentioned earlier, we returned home Tuesday evening, November 30, and to my surprise, at 8:20 pm that I received acceptance and rejection emails from QuiltCon. I submitted five quilts into QuiltCon 2022 (in February, in Phoenix, Arizona), and learned that three of my five quilts were accepted. No surprise about the two rejects. If you regularly read my blog, you'll know that I didn't expect my Artisan challenge quilt to be accepted, and it wasn't. More in my next post. 

Book Recommendation
I had only travel time for listening to a book, but I sure enjoyed this one. 

The Island by Mary Grand was an intriguing story from the very beginning when Juliet returns to her family on the Isle of Wight (UK). She, her three sisters, and mother are at the hospital, awaiting news about their dad/husband since his recent car accident. On his deathbed, he gives Juliet several cryptic instructions relating to secrets that he refuses to share. His only warning is: "Be careful, you don't know them as well as you think. Remember - anyone can kill."

Returning to their childhood home, the four sisters - now all young-to-middle-aged women - find it somewhat unsettling to spend time together. The usual familial relationship is uncomfortable. Juliet determines to make the best of their sad situation, but after a family gathering, when another unexpected death occurs, everyone, including their mother, is holding back - keeping secrets. Juliet is determined to get to the bottom of each unanswered question/death, even if it means being suspicious of her own sisters. 

Though I found it somewhat difficult to keep track of individuals by name (I occasionally jumped back 15 seconds to re-listen to a particular bit of information), I was completely hooked on the story, and though I smugly thought I knew who-done-it, I picked the wrong person! 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Worshipping virtually at Lutheran Church of Hope last Sunday - the first Sunday of Advent - I appreciated Pastor Jeremy's message about God... that through Jesus, He's calling each of us to believe in Him, and guide us through life.

In this annual season of reflection on the significance of Jesus's birth, let us each remember that we are His. Linda


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