Thursday, December 29, 2022

2022 in Review

It's good to reflect on one's misses (also known as WIPs and UFOs) and accomplishments over the course of a year.

One of my favorite things to review is which Instagram posts others liked best. I went to entered my Instagram name - FlourishingPalms - and this is the picture Top Nine came up with of the most "liked" posts I posted to Instagram in 2023. 

The #1 Instagram post with 2,847 likes (wow!) was of the first Seaglass quilt I made and gifted to a Bible study leader who's in the bottom right photo.

#2 is my 2019 Temperature quilt hanging at QuiltCon Phoenix;

Then there's a Patchwork Pony (pattern by Jo Avery);

the quilt that sold at QuiltCon (yay!);

EPP Prudence quilt blocks arranged on the design wall (remaining unfinished, though an active WIP);

2023 QuiltCon acceptances;

and a Kawandi (lower left).

Surprisingly, during a year I thought I would cut back on quiltmaking, I completed 14 quilts! Yikes. I'm not doing so well!  Pictures of each quilt are on a different blog page. Tap the tab at the top of the home page: "2021-2022 Quilts" if you'd like to see them. 

Of these 14 quilts, I'm noting that four quilts have been given away; three are for sale (while hanging at QuiltCon 2023); and five are small, table-top size. So, my net gain isn't too bad.

In addition are other assorted creations:
  1. hand appliquéd pillow
  2. scrappy zipper pouches
  3. ukulele case
  4. knitted dish cloths
  5. Patchwork Ponys
  6. camera tripod case
  7. braided rag rug
  8. travel trays
  9. sleep masks
  10. thread catchers
  1. hand appliquéd pillow; 2. scrappy zipper pouches; 3. ukulele case; 4. knitted dish cloths;
    5. Patchwork Ponys; 6. camera tripod case; 7. braided rag rug; 8. travel trays; 9. sleep masks; 10. thread catchers
The items I kept for myself are the pillow (#1); ukulele (#3) and tripod ((#6) cases; and a sleep mask (#9). Friends and a charity received everything else. 

I've been in a bit of sewing slump. Which project will get me going again? Stitching hasn't been more than continuing to add big stitch hand quilting to Tilted Tiles, and doing prep work to ready three quilts for the January 27-28 Quilting Guild of The Villages Showcase of Quilts (a biannual event).

Each quilt needs its own drawstring bag with an outside label - name, phone, and quilt number - and another label with the quilt number sewn to the quilt back. Along with sewing on sleeves and covering homemade labels, it's several hours of work. 

I don't know when I'm going to call Tilted Tiles "done," but it will be before the end of 2022, to count as #14 among this year's finishes. See this quilt in the tab "2021-2022 Quilts".

Book Recommendations
The Girl in the Garden
 by Melanie Wallace takes place in a small coastal town in New England. June and her baby are abandoned by the baby's father at a resort cabin. Mabel, the resort owner takes pity on them and allows them to stay. But with winter coming and no heat in the cabin, Mabel determines to find a more suitable place for them to stay. A cottage on the grounds of Mabel's reclusive friend Iris, is where she goes, and where each of them find much-needed restoration.

Linda's score: 3.5/5.0
The Locked Room
 by Elly Griffiths is the last book (thus far) #14 in the Ruth Galloway series, and it did not disappoint. In fact it was - in my opinion - a great "last" book.

This one finds Ruth still living with her daughter Kate, now 11 years old, in the small house on the Saltmarsh. A young woman, Zoe, a nurse, has moved into the rental next door, along with her Maine coon cat, Derek. As Ruth and Zoe are getting to know one another, DCI Harry Nelson and his team are investigating a series of apparent suicides by elderly women. Just as they're suspecting foul play, the world turns upside down -the Coronavirus pandemic. Everyone's lives change when schools begin remote teaching (Ruth learns to teach via Zoom), and a dear friend is felled by the virus. 

I appreciated how the author reviewed the ways different people responded differently to the pandemic. Still, the book ended with an I-wonder-what-will-happen-next, "Let's talk." I hope that means Ms. Griffiths will continue to the story. 

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

I anticipate listening to two more books before the end of 2022 at which time I'll share a complete listing, with scores, of the 99 books I listened to and/or read in print during 2022. Hopefully such information will be a resource for choosing your own books to read. 

A recent golf cart drive to line dancing, at 7:10 am, presented me with this glorious sunrise sky! It's another of many things to be grateful for. 


Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Days Before Christmas

Days "before Christmas and all through the house..."

"the stockings were hung by the chimney with care..." 

I'll stop there because that's not a picture of my house! We haven't decorated for Christmas. We aren't having company. We aren't visiting anyone. No need to spend time putting out Christmas reminders when my heart and soul know the true reason for the season. This morning I completed The Wonder of Advent Bible study, so I'm gratefully embracing and appreciating the hope, joy, peace and love that the birth of Jesus Christ is to me - to all of us. 

Therefore, quietly anticipating Christmas, my activities have been as usual with pauses to give thank-you gifts - homemade zipper pouches, fabric bookmarks, knitted dishcloths, and travel trays - to activity leaders for their year of volunteering.

Progressing toward a finish of this 63" X 83½" Tilted Tiles, I have completed custom domestic machine quilting on my Bernina 770QE with designs I chose as I went along. 

While machine quilting, dozens of tiny bits of batting covered the quilt top, especially evident on the dark burgundy, claret solid. When I began big stitch hand quilting and I saw more little bits, I resolved that issue by going ahead and binding the quilt. Binding is made with three different fabric colors. 

Hopefully I've done the right thing! I don't think the big stitch quilting I'm continuing to add will distort the finished quilt. I'm moving forward with no quilting plan other than to pick one of five colors of #8 perle cotton and add stitches wherever I think they look good.

As we've had cooler (50℉) mornings and gloomy, rainy days, it's been nice to sit with this quilt across my lap as I stitch. 

On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights our temps are supposed to get down to the mid-20℉. We're planning to cover temperature-sensitive perennials with blankets. This area of Central Florida may set a new low-temp record, set in the 1930s! Still, there'll be no ice or snow, and that's a blessing. 

Book Recommendations
Send Down the Rain
 is another great book by Charles Martin @storiedcareer, my new favorite author. (Iowa author Heather Gudenkauf @heathergudenkauf books run a close second.)

Allie is married to a truck driver who spends more time away from home than with her. While she has worked hard to keep her parent's popular Florida Gulf coast restaurant open, she doesn't have the money to keep going. When her husband's semi-truck, loaded with fuel, misses a curve in the road and explodes, she envisions a different future. But her dreams are crushed.  

Joe has removed himself from his past by living in a remote mountain cabin. But when he hears cries during a snowstorm, and ventures out to investigate, he finds a mother, two children. A little girl has fallen into frigid water. His heroic rescue and return to his cabin with the family reveals more of their story. Yet Joe has the ability to improv their circumstance. When he does, his life and Allie's, changes for the better... until some bad men find them, with the promise of revenge. Joe's past then catches up to him, and the reader understands he's not covering for himself, but someone he loves. 

I can't say enough good things about Charles Martin stories. Every one has been entertaining, enthralling, and tinged with faith in God that gives subtle understanding of each protagonist's true character. 

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

So as to fully savor Charles Martin books, I'm continuing to alternate his titles with other authors, The Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock was my next read. 

Twin baby girls, adored by their parents, are left with their loving father when their mother dies in a car accident. Raising babies alone, he falls in love with Amanda. Just as their marriage is getting started, he too dies. Left with three-year old twins, Amanda becomes the mother she was meant to be. Yet, knowing of the family's fortune, the twins' maternal grandparents lay claim to the girls who are taken from Amanda to live in squalid conditions where they're slapped, told to stop crying, and locked in closets. The girls grow up in filth, with little food, and not knowing love or how to care for and respect themselves. They grow and come of age, while Amanda continued to love and care for them from a distance, remembering them on every birthday. Yet their greedy grandparents tell the girls lies, and assure them that a billionaire's fortune is theirs for the taking. 

Though this book too is written with an underlying faith theme, the story bothered me because it was obvious that a judge made an incorrect ruling - awarding custody to nere-do-well, greedy (for money) grandparents. Even though a happy resolution to the story was coming in the end, it took a frustratingly long time for the situation to be set right. I'm wondering if such a mistake, so apparently wrong has ever/could ever really happen. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Merry Christmas to all my blog-friends in my MacBook Pro computer! I'm leaving you with this delightful video of the Christmas story, as told by children and enacted by adults. Only three minutes long, and I guarantee it will make you smile.

Christmas blessings, everyone! Linda

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Sleeves and Labels and Books

Though it seems like all I've been doing is making quilt sleeves and labels, I did get to attend two quilt groups' holiday parties. Big Cypress Quilters' party was Tuesday, December 6, and Central Florida MQG was Saturday, December 10.

I made a quilted case, about 6" X 28" for my collapsible camera tripod...

...where I can tuck my camera in the top, drawstring it closed, and put it over my shoulder for carrying. 

Thus, I was equipped to be a designated photographer for both holiday gatherings.

My Central Florida MQG friends know what to expect when I'm put in charge of taking a group photo. Always "normal" first; then "crazy."

Other than these diversions, and the usual line dancing, ukulele-playing, and Bible study, it's been nothing but making and hand-sewing sleeves onto quilt backs - the three going to QuiltCon - and label-making and affixing.

I'm also thoroughly checking each quilt to smooth out thread nests; re-quilt missed stitches; bury missed threads; clip missed threads, and run a lint-roller over all the surfaces. Now it's time to hunt-down a large box in which to ship them to Austin, Texas. 

I've also attached labels to these three 36" X 48" baby quilts that are ready to be donated in January to Healthy Families Florida. Labels were purchased as yardage from Spoonflower where our CFMQG logo-designer, Emma, turned our logo into labels and fabric

Book Recommendations
The Record Keeper is book #3 in the Murphy Shepherd series by Charles Martin. This title was released in July. Since finding Charles Martin's books, and discovering that, thus far, I have thoroughly enjoyed every book I've read, I'm trying to "ration" my reading of his titles. 

The Record Keeper follows The Water Keeper (#1) and The Letter Keeper (#2) to continue the story of Murphy and Bones as they try to get to the man at the head of an international sex trafficking business that's been keeping the two of them busy rescuing young girls and boys. Though friends for decades, Bones finally reveals to Murphy the truth of his upbringing: a drugged-up mother who gave birth to twin boys; the twins being passed along, owned, and used; and how each of them handled enforced confinement by priests in an Italy monastery. Frank, Bone's brother is the man heading the organization that's enticing and using these kids, so when Bones is abducted, Murphy must gather his physical strength (since his recent near-death), and with the help of Free Town's tech team, find and rescue Bones. 

Linda's score: 4.5/5.0

Intentionally saving another Charles Martin title for later, I listened to The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell. She's the same person who authored Hamnet. Read my Hamnet review here.

The Marriage Portrait began a little slowly, following the upbringing of Lucretia, one of eight children born to an Italian Duke and Duchess who live in the 1550s to 1560s. Lucretia is different from her siblings who tease and exclude her. When her betrothed older sister suddenly dies, Lucretia becomes the 13 year-old replacement bride to the 26 year old Duke of Ferrara who is desperate for an heir.  Lucretia reluctantly marries him, moves to his country home, and eventually goes to court in Ferrara. Her life is entirely controlled by her husband, but she finds escape in drawing, painting, and riding her white donkey. Lucretia senses that things are being kept from her, and her concerns are affirmed by her sister-in-law. When a portrait painter and his apprentices are hired to paint Lucretia's marriage portrait, she becomes more certain about what her future holds. She's urged to escape before it's too late.

The author's note explains that this work of fiction is based on real people and incidences. I always like that... thinking I've learned something while enjoying the story.

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0 

Delving into Advent, I've been participating in a weekly Bible study called The Wonder of Advent. Each week there's a video to watch, followed by five days of workbook study/questions. It's been very worthwhile, especially the Wednesday morning time spent with my virtual friends at Lutheran Church of Hope (West Des Moines, Iowa). We've been discussing Hope, Joy, Peace, and next week, Love. Did you know these are each represented as a candle in a four-candle Advent wreath? 

In January, this same virtual group will use The Chosen (at as a study. The Chosen is an excellent movie-quality series that portrays the life of Jesus. We'll watch season 1 episodes and follow The Chosen Season 1 study guide. 

Have you seen The Chosen? Season three has just been released. To watch all episodes for free, go here. Linda

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Newsy Week

This week has been a wild, but exhilarating ride! It began with the Monday arrival of emails from QuiltCon/MQG letting entrants know whether or not their quilts were accepted to QuiltCon 2023, in Atlanta. I had entered four quilts; three were accepted!
2089 quilts were entered
481 quilts were accepted
If you're attending QuiltCon, you'll see these three quilts hanging there. If you aren't attending, here they are now!

My most favorite quilt is Log Jam, a 68" X 70" quilt that gave me the most angst as I made it. It was accepted into the QC "Log Cabin Challenge" category, and is a quilt I made by my I'll-figure-it-out-as-I-go method. 

My second favorite quilt is Harborage, 50" X 44", made during Instagram #30daysofimprovqal (QAL is quilt a-long) with Shannon @shannonfraserdesigns and @broadclothstudio This is the first time I've attempted to enter a quilt in the improv category (I've been told it has the most entries), and with my I-don't-quite-get-it relationship with making improv, this is a very pleasant surprise acceptance. It has a combo of machine and big stitch quilting.

At nearly the last moment, I decided to enter Elemental a 66½ X 80" quilt made for our Central Florida MGQ "Inspired by Architecture Challenge" at the beginning of 2022. My design is based on elemental architectural aspects of the Miami (Florida) Children's Hospital. It will appear at QuiltCon with other minimalist quilts. It's machine quilted with several weights of quilting thread.

The quilt that wasn't accepted is Glad Heart; Happy Face, the Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along quilt that I hand stitched... and stitched, and stitched (more than 30,000 stitches) through late spring and summer. This was my first-ever entry in the hand stitching category, but I get why it wasn't accepted. The quilt design isn't very modern. 

And in one more way, I played a small part - making one 12" X 12" quilt block - for a QuiltCon-accepted quilt that's the brainchild of Patty @elmstreetquilts.

She invited me, along with six other quilt makers, to make blocks for a Rube Goldberg quilt. I didn't know who Rube Goldberg was until I found a couple YouTube videos that physically demonstrate his cause-and-effect machines. Here's a good YouTube example. 

This is the "action" block I made using fabrics Patty mailed me. To understand what you're seeing, visualize a ball dropping into the block from the middle left side, rolling along the track and spinning the wheel of thread spools that push the ball upward and over the thimble, before it free-falls onto the track and into the next quilt block at the lower right.  

Patty assembled, quilted, finished, and entered it - accepted in the group quilt category at QuiltCon. Great work, Patty! I'm honored to be part of this amazing quilt and can't wait to see it in person! 

Now it's time to begin making three quilt labels and three sleeves, all of which are entirely hand-sewn to the quilt backs. Then, these quilts must be in Austin by January 11, at the latest. Yes, we're to ship them there because it's where they'll be judged before going to Atlanta.

It's been easy to have a joyful and happy heart (a topic of discussion in virtual Bible study using the book The Wonder of Advent), because of these acceptances, and because on Wednesday we headed to Orlando and The Florida Mall to buy a new MacBook Pro computer at the Apple store. After having used the last MacBook Pro for seven years, and finding that the speakers were rattling and causing feedback during Zoom calls (eliminated only by wearing AirPods), we were due for an upgrade. New features on this MacBook are great, including the fact that I can directly upload pictures from Photos to my blog! (Previously, I had to export photos to a desktop file as PDFs, and then upload them to Blogger.) Yay for small pleasures!

Since the weekend, I made eight Travel Trays to give as Christmas gifts. In case you aren't familiar with them, they're 7" X 9" fabric trays meant for traveling flat in a suitcase. When you arrive at your hotel or destination, snap together the four corners of the tray and use it as a place to keep keys, rings, jewelry, wristwatch, prescription pills, and such. I use one at home all the time for morning pills, as well as another one when I travel.  

If you'd like to make your own Travel Tray, I've written free instructions that you can find on my blog site under "Tutorials," or go directly to the download here.

By the way, the tray with the peace symbol on it is for my Peace, Love and Ukulele Club leader. Last year, from the same Spoonflower fabric I made her a ukulele pillow

Book Recommendation
The Night Hawks is the 14th book in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Again, I appreciated being able to listen to this one, as most books have been e-books. Only two more in the series.

Once again Ruth is at the center of an investigation when a body - actually two bodies! - is found along the ocean. One is a man from the Bronze Age; the other is a young man, recently released from prison.

Ruth has left Cambridge and her relationship with the American, Frank, and has returned to live in her salt marsh house with daughter Kate, and their pompous cat, Flint. This puts her into more frequent proximity to Nelson, who's investigating not only the bodies found along the ocean, but an apparent murder/suicide at a remote property called Black Dog Farm. It's more than coincidental that all the bodies were found by a group of metal detectorists called the Night Hawks. 

Ruth, now head of the Archeology department at North Norfolk College, is working alongside her replacement who is insinuating himself into Ruth's life, and gives her reasons to be suspicious of his motives. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Sunday, December 4, 2022

To Kansas City and Back

Hubs and I were gone for six days, on an 18 hour (each way) road trip to Olathe, Kansas to visit my Dad who lives in assisted living. He's been hospitalized three times since September - the latest being from the day before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The timing of our visit was such that we could take him to two different doctor appointments, and pick up a prescription, as well as spend good chatting time together. We're happy to see him recovering. He's back to his usual activities that include daily exercise either walking or pedaling a Nu-Step recumbent stationary bike, and keeping up with several farming-related Vlogs that he subscribes to.

Thirty-six hours of passenger time meant handwork for me. This is what I did:
  • Completed five knitted dishcloths with Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn. 
  • Hand-pieced ten more Glitter blocks
  • and joined two rows of English paper-pieced Prudence blocks.

Seven more rows need to be joined, but because I usually stitch these only while in the car, it may be months before that happens. 

Before going to Kansas, I bought vacuum cleaner attachments from my favorite local sewing machine shop: Sew Together, also known as Sharky's. With this bundle of narrow tubing and tiny brushes, I can do a better job of cleaning my sewing machine - only a $30 investment. 

Another recent purchase is the ring on my index finger - a Threadcutterz ring with recessed blades for cutting threads. Mine is decorated with six aqua crystals in a glow-in-the-dark setting. Velcro makes the ring adjustable for any finger, or it can be wrapped around a spool of thread. The green "ring" on my middle finger is a long-ago made pin cushion fashioned from a two-liter bottle cap. 

While in Olathe, one of several special stops was a first-time visit to Hy-Vee (a Midwest grocery store chain) Market Grille for lunch. Hy-Vee is a Kansas City Chiefs sponsor. 
Thinking I'd have a light lunch, when each of us saw pork tenderloins on the menu, we were "doomed." Oh gosh... eating this was heavenly! No place in the US makes pork tenderloins like they do in the Midwest. As you can see, the tenderloin, which was also at least a half-inch thick, was much larger than the bun. The French fries were fresh. I could not eat it all, but I tried valiantly! 

Book Recommendations
Fellowship Point
 by Alice Elliott Parker is a long, 20-hour audiobook listen. The story spans three generations of the Lee family who, together with close friends, built summer homes on wilderness land in Maine. Each summer, these families gather to escape the mundane and heat, and make memories.

Agnes Lee is an intractable woman who has found financial security as the author of a series of "When Nan..." children's books. Agnes shares life with her friend and married next door neighbor, Polly. Untold stories in Agnes's past come to light when Maud, a budding publishing editor, initiates correspondence with Agnes to convince her that she should write a memoir and share Fellowship Point - its beauty, and how "When Nan" stories came to be. But Agnes doesn't want to share everything. Yet when she begins to do so everyone is irrevocably impacted. 

Though the scenery in this book is marvelous, my score reflects the fact that I didn't enjoy the book's philosophizing. 

Linda's score: 3.5/5.0

 by Louise Kennedy takes place during Northern Ireland's turbulent years. I'm not familiar with issues between Catholics and Protestants, but this is the era of the story.

Cushla is a 24 year-old Catholic primary school teacher who has a special fondness for a student, Danny, whose family is poor and ostracized. When she helps them through difficulties, she makes problems for herself and her family who run the local bar where Cushla is an occasional barmaid. It's there that she meets Michael, a handsome, married barrister with whom she develops a relationship. To cover their impropriety, Cushla also spends time with Jerry, another school teacher, who knows something illicit is going on. All their lives drastically change when a death occurs, and the police take Cushla in for questioning.

I didn't like that the author wrote with explicitness and vulgarity. But I enjoyed hearing the narrator's Irish brogue... albeit at times, difficult to understand due to the accent and colloquialisms.  

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Friday, November 25, 2022

Post Thanksgiving

Whether you spent Thanksgiving with family or friends, I hope you all had a nice holiday. Neighbors invited us over and we had quite a feast that included my homemade contribution - a from-scratch apple pie which was my mother's specialty. I'd like to think she'd be pleased with my effort. 

Since Jonathan apples are non-existent in Florida, an inquiry among quilty friends had me using a combination of Honey Crisp and Gala apples for this pie. Thanks to my pie chimney, the juices didn't overflow in the oven, though according to my dad, a running over apple pie means it's a good pie! 

A little more hand sewing time and I now have 80 Glitter blocks. Progress means I now need to dig into stash to cut out 72 more blocks.

Looking at the two quilt pictures above, you're probably noticing similarities in colors. I'm embarrassed to agree that I seem to be in a color rut - orange, yellow - more orange and yellow - and a smattering of rosy colors like pink and burgundy. I will change that.

When Snuggly Monkey recently had a 25 percent off sale, I selected a few items: my first Dropcloth Sampler (Debbie @aquilterstable, you've had an influence on me!); and three Clover water soluble pencils. I'm already trying out the blue pencil as I'm quilting Tilted Tiles. 

Here's walking foot and free motion quilting progress on Tilted Tiles. Each block has a little different design than the block next to it, but I'm repeating designs. 

Intentionally leaving unquilted areas, I will add big stitch hand quilting using a few new-to-me colors of Wonderful Eleganza (size 8) perle cottons also from Snuggly Monkey.

With both of my guilds making quilts for babies and children's charities, I cut up scraps to make this 36" X 47" quilt to donate in January to Healthy Families Florida.

Using stashed fabric as backing, I free motion quilted from the back. A light green top thread is on this side; the bobbin thread (on the front) is YLI variegated 40-weight. 

I drew in red the quilting paths I followed. With the right backing print/pattern, it's sure a quick way to quilt. 

Have you ever following a fabric pattern for quilting? What did you think?

Book Recommendation
I've been on a waiting list to read The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin, available to me only as an e-book. I checked it out yesterday and finished it this morning! My goodness. Yet another Charles Martin book that had me riveted!

Dr. Ben Payne is on his way back to Jacksonville, Florida after attending a medical conference. Ashley Knox is on her way back to Atlanta after an interview for a magazine article she's writing. They're both in the Salt Lake City airport, awaiting a flight that's been delayed due to an incoming snowstorm.

When the flight is cancelled, and Ashley reveals she's desperate to get home for her rehearsal dinner and wedding, Ben finds a charter pilot to get them to Colorado ahead of the storm. When the worst happens, and they're injured and alone in a million acres of wilderness, Ben's medical skills and mountain-climbing experiences become the only things keeping them alive. 

This book was written in 2010, and though it was made into a 2017 movie with Kate Winslet, after watching the trailer, I'm not a bit interested. I could readily see that the movie took liberties with the plot, adding bits that weren't in the book. No movie could be better or more engaging than this book! 

Blog reader-friend KatieQ says she "blubbered" her way through When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin. I admit to doing the same with The Mountain Between Us.

Linda's score: 4.7/5.0



Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin