Thursday, June 30, 2022

Reflecting on Design, and Friends

Every day for the past week,  I've been practicing designing using EQ8. Since taking Amy Friend's @duringquiettime Improv Paper Piecing workshop in March, and being dissatisfied with the design I came up with, I've wanted to create an improv FPP design I might actually like to make.

Lately, I've worked on a design for an hour or so, trying new layouts and color combos, and becoming frustrated. Still, I'm finding it interesting to review some of the 60-plus designs I've "saved to sketchbook." When revisiting them all, a couple stand out as possibilities, though with more tweaking needed.

I'm learning about myself that I need breathing room in between bouts of designing. Ideas need time to percolate. For me that means time away from the sewing room; sleep; and perusing other modern quilts. I pulled out four modern quilt books and browsing through them has given me an idea - not to copy - but to expand upon in my own way. 

That's what happened as I was considering what to do with these (shared last week) squares, circles and triangle-in-a-square blocks on my design wall.

I chucked set aside the circles and triangle-in-a-square blocks, cut more 8½" X 8½" squares for a total of 96 different solid colors from my bin of "about fat quarter-sized pieces." These are solids from Benartex, Painter's Palette, a few Kaufman Kona, and a sack of random solids bought for $5 at a garage sale! I have more to do on this one that's about 63" X 84" at this point.

On Tuesday, hubs and I "took the day off" 😂 and drove two hours to Honeymoon Island State Park on the Gulf Coast. We spent a few hours enjoying sunshine, sand, and gentle oceans waves - I even got in, though it felt like bath water.

Perhaps due to holiday week vacationers, this beach was slightly more crowded than Fred Howard State Park when we visited a couple weeks ago.

Book Recommendations
I'm wrapping up June having listened to ten audiobooks. These are #9 and #10. It seems I'm in a rut, albeit a good rut, with books I've enjoyed.

The Fence by Meredith Jaffe takes place in Rosedale, a suburb of Sydney, Australia (another lovely Aussie-accented narration) where two homes and two neighbors have lived amicably for decades, sharing garden space between their yards. When Babs dies and her house is sold by her son, the new family creates problems. They're an unhappily married couple - Francesca, the breadwinner/ him, the stay-at-home childcare giver - and their four children under the age of five have different property needs than Babs did. Gwen who lives next door, was Bab's lifelong friend, and is a knowledgeable gardener with her own gardening column. She's appalled by what the new neighbors propose - a structured fence! They face local arbitration which worsens Francesca's and Gwen's relationship. When Francesca's children visit Gwen's husband's dollhouse-building garage workshop, tensions heighten. Francesca's children aren't behaving as she believes, nor is her husband. Gwen's husband is developing problems too.

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Malloy had two twists, so unexpected that I had to go back a full chapter to re-listen to make sure I understood what I thought I'd heard!

Dr. Sam Statler is a therapist who's recently married Annie Potter. They've moved back to his hometown in upstate New York to set up his private practice, and keep an eye on his mother who's in a nursing home. Sam sets up his dream office in the remodeled basement of a stately old home, and begins seeing a mostly female clientele. He and Annie occasionally run into old high school friends who recall Sam's mother's work in the school cafeteria, and his teacher-dad who left them to run off with a young Talbot's model. When Sam goes missing on the night of a terrible storm, friends turn out to search for him, as Annie uncovers secrets Sam was keeping from her. But no one has a bigger secret than... 

I can't give this away, but trust me... this is definitely a "gotcha!" story. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Pictures of blooms, below, are from my front yard.

Though I can honestly say I have the joy of the Lord in my heart, my spirit has been heavy for several weeks as friends have passed away:

Norma, a quilter-friend from Hope Quilters
Larry, a former Vietnam P.O.W. friend who was in a couples Bible study group with us
Joanie (age 68), a friend whose husband and mine worked at John Deere, and with whom I shared, and our children shared, much time when we both lived in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

All three dear souls were Lutheran Church of Hope members.  

On Monday, we lost a 64 year-old local quilter-friend Missy, from Central Florida MQG.
allamanda (yellow) and begonia (pink)

My dear Sydney, Australia friend, Di @darlingdi, who many of you know because of her month-long stay here in February 2017 (I wrote a series of blog posts about her visit) received an ovarian cancer diagnosis, had surgery two weeks ago, and now faces months of chemotherapy.

It's all enough to make me cry buckets. A new friend in my Wednesday morning Zoom Bible study reminded me: "All your friends are at Jesus' feet, and looking on his beautiful face." I so appreciate that thought, and visual aid.

Trusting that God's promises are true, I have faith. "Saving faith is putting all our hopes in what God is going to do for us in the future because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross." Linda

Thursday, June 23, 2022

One Decade

Today, June 23, marks our tenth anniversary of living in The Villages, Florida. What we've both remarked about is: It feels like we've been here "a couple years." Each day passes slowly but the years are flying by. Can anyone explain that?
Interestingly, we moved into this house just as a tropical storm Debby began. With the help of our son and DIL, we'd just finished unloading the U-haul truck into the garage, and put down the garage door when rain started to pour, and lasted for three days! 

In years past, on this date I've shared pictures of how The Villages has grown and changed. My words will have to do. It's grown exponentially (82 square miles). When we moved into our brand new house in 2012, the population was about 82,000 and we were on the south end of town. Because of continued southward growth, we are now in the middle, with a population of roughly 140,000 people. Quilter-wise, we have more than 1,100 quilters who belong to 26 chapters of Quilting Guild of The Villages

I could go on about the current number of recreation centers, social clubs (more than 3,000); community swimming pools and golf courses (54, though we don't golf). If you're interested in more info, go here.

Quilting-wise, I've been determined to make changes to my design wall. I took action! First, I finished piecing, basting, and machine quilting my "Celebrate 30" challenge quilt for Quilting Guild of The Villages (QGOTV) "2023 Showcase of Quilts." 

I opted for ruler quilting using Sew Steady's Circle on Quilts Templates Set 1 to make several concentric circles designs. Here I am in action, on my Bernina 770QE: 12 seconds at triple speed! 

Since the template makes circles only up to 12" (1" spacing), I used a 1" Ruler Foot Echo Guide to make 13" and 14" circles. Just slip a circle (comes in three sizes) onto the ruler foot and then guide the edge of the transparent foot along the previous quilting line. 

After machine quilting, big stitch hand quilting commenced using size 8 Wonderfil brand Eleganza perle cotton. These four saturated colors - red, aqua, green, and yellow - are found in the QGOTV logo, as are flying geese. There's no aqua in this quilting yet because I had to order five more balls of Eleganza which I also need to keep going on my Kantha quilt. 

On my Kantha quilt, I finished hand stitching columns that are ¾" apart. Now I'm working on the in-between columns. 

At least the texture is beginning to show. So far I've stitched along the 75" length of the quilt 66 times. Sigh. Will I ever finish? 

This is my design wall. I took down two improv starts (folded and put them away in a bin) and pulled out two UFOs: 2 for 2. One UFO was no further along than cutting out 8½" X 8½" squares in a lot of different solid colors and a few sewn-together quartered circles. The other UFO was a stack of pieced 4½" X 4½" triangle-in-a-square blocks, made with a Bloc Loc ruler. 

Initially, looking at them put together was uninspiring. But after sleeping on it, I have an idea or two to play around with. The only thing I know for certain is that I'm going for large - like 64" X 72". Otherwise, this project is "let's-see-what-happens." {shrug}.

Book Recommendations

Rabbit Cake by Annie Harnett is what I'd call a quaint story.

It's about a family of four - parent/two daughters - who have just struggled through the unexpected death of the mom. The story, from the point of view of the youngest daughter, 11 year-old Elvis, focuses on mom who often baked rabbit cake using a cake tin to make a three-dimensional rabbit.

Each of them grieves in their own way: Elvis talks to her school counselor and comes up with different reasons her mom died; Dad has taken to wearing his wife's bathrobe and lipstick; Lizzie fights with her best friend, breaks her jaw and not only sleep-walks but begins sleep-eating. Elvis finds her place volunteering at a local zoo where she accumulates knowledge about the animals she cares for, and comes to terms with death. That's life in small town Freedom, Alabama. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

Don't I love a Sally Hepworth book?! It's probably because I also enjoy accented narration, and so it is with The Good Sister that takes place in Australia. 

Rose and Fern Castle are fraternal twins - one blond; the other dark. Rose seems happily married, working in commercial decorating; Fern is single and working at a public library. From the get-go, you learn that Fern is "special," with a unique personality that makes her interpret and understand facial expressions and dialog as literal. It's revealing to get inside her head to follow her thoughts, and in some cases agree with what she says - though we'd never say such things ourselves!

A chance meeting outside the shower room at the library, changes Fern's routine. "Wally" becomes important to Fern just as Rose is insisting that Fern stay closer to Rose. Tension develops between the sisters and, prompted by Wally, Fern begins to question everything Rose has told her.

It's another story with secrets to be revealed - unexpected, and very engaging.  

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

Like many friends (we were just talking about this in my Wednesday morning Zoom Bible study with Lutheran Church of Hope women) I am disinclined to watch the news. Lately I've been feeling the burden of praying for many people with concerns related to medical problems. I know that news-watching isn't uplifting. Yet when I saw this picture I took notice.


Monday, June 20, 2022

#2 Grandson Visit

Other than stitching a dozen more columns in my Kantha quilt - I'm participating in the Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along - sewing room time has been limited.

That's because our 12 year-old grandson, Austin - second-born, in the order of grandsons 😊 - from Texas, spent a week with us. He's getting so big! Exactly 5' tall now.

We picked him up in Orlando, after he'd spent five days at Disney Parks. It might have been a little difficult for Nana and Bapa to "compete" with Disney, but we did our best!

Riding the golf cart is always one of our (four) grandsons' favorite things to do. We also played boccé three times, going in the morning because of 90-degree plus afternoon temperatures. 

Plans for other activities, like a private archery lesson, and a trip to Homossass Springs wildlife park, had to be cancelled when we learned Austin's mom had come down with COVID. After testing Austin, we learned he was positive too. Thankfully, he didn't get more sick than a headache (fixed with Tylenol), and some congestion. After that, we mostly stayed home to play Rummikub, watch a few movies and Aerial America, and generally "hang out." 
playing Rummikub

Early Friday morning we left home for a meet-up with Austin's dad in Sulphur, Louisiana. We went a day early so we could stop in Mobile, Alabama at USS Alabama Memorial Park where we toured the aviation building, USS Drum submarine, and the USS Alabama battleship. It's a very interesting place to visit and we would have stayed longer if it hadn't been so hot!
Austin on the battleship

After an overnight in Lafayette, LA, we met-up Saturday morning in Sulfur to hand-off Austin, feeling sad about saying good-bye. It sure becomes comfortably normal to have a young person around the house.

Hubs and I took a very long 12-hour drive back home, arriving Saturday night at 11:35 pm. 

Now it's back to more of this as I finish the last few passes to make each line ¾" apart.

Once that's done, I'll add one or two more passes between each ¾" line. 

This is my design wall, as it's been for several weeks now. Four projects! At the top is my Prudence EPP; on the left and right sides are improv projects á la Sherri Lynn Wood, and in the middle is my Quilting Guild of The Villages "30" challenge piece. I'm determined to make progress on something this week!

Car-riding time allowed me to finished listening to an audiobook, and read the second book in Elly Griffiths "Ruth Galloway" series. 

Book Recommendations
Dead Ringer by Lisa Scottoline is about Bennie Rosato who owns a law practice that's nearing failure. If Bennie doesn't find new clients, she'll have to let go a staff of crack female lawyers and assistants. But it's tough to get new clients when someone is making Bennie appear to be an irresponsible dog-owner, a drunk, a thief, and a liar. Bennie suspects it's her identical twin sister who's come back to make life miserable. She not only has obstacles to overcome, but a new hunky-looking man wants to help catch her sister.

This is possibly one of the most humorous books I've listened to. The author has a delicious way of turning a phrase, and making a situation laugh-out-loud funny.

But once again, I wasn't diligent to read the book synopsis before I began. I realized as I was reading it that there was a back story I was missing. Ah-ha. This book is #8 in the "Rosato & Associates" series! Good grief. I prefer not to jump into a single book that's part of a series. 

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths is part of a series, and I knew that going into it. I've only been able to find these "Ruth Galloway" books as e-book, but reading on my iPhone has been satisfying, as was this book.

Once again, forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is involved in a summertime dig in northern UK. She's called to a demolition site to check out bones that have been found under a door threshold. The house being demolished was build decades ago as a private residence, and later turned into a Catholic children's home. Now the area will become a block of small trendy homes. Ruth must determine if the small bones are indicative of ancient Roman's belief in bodies put into foundations to appease a god, like Janus the god of doorways. The more Ruth digs into finding out why the head (found in a well) has been separated from the torso of the bones, the more warnings she gets to stop her investigation. In the meantime, Ruth is coming to terms with her first pregnancy, how to tell her born-again Christian parents about it, and when to tell the father... the already-married father. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Have you seen advertisements for the July 15 release of the movie Where the Crawdads Sing? Yep, they've made the wonderful book into a movie produced by Reese Witherspoon. Though I don't often go to the theater, this is one I want to see. Linda

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Freehand Rainbow Appliqué

I haven't had many finishes this year, so even a small one feels good. Such is the case with this Freehand Rainbow Appliqué design that I made into a pillow. It finished at 19" X 19", no doubt due to my pillow-finishing method that includes binding along the edges. 

Each rainbow arc was freehand cut, and hand-stitched to a background with needle turn appliqué using 80-weight Aurifil thread. 

After machine sewing together the nine patches, I made a quilt sandwich (with Quilter's Dream Request batting, and white muslin on the back) and hand-quilted with 12-weight perle cotton - specifically, Spaghetti by Wonderfi. 

I finished the piece using my favorite sewn pillow method. The back has an overlap opening (practically invisible here!) in which to insert a pillow form.

This is the spot where I do all my handwork. My comfy aqua swivel glider allows me to turn to appreciate the view of our front yard Bismarck palm, and I have a Daylight Slimline II floor lamp nearby for evening stitching. 

This Freehand Rainbow Appliqué design is the creation of Jo Avery of @joaverystitch who lives in Scotland. I first saw Jo's design here on her blog, and then saw Anorina's @sameliasmum cushion, made from Jo's design. Of course, then had to make it myself. Wouldn't a whole quilt made from these blocks be wonderful? 

As always, when I'm doing lots of handwork, I most often listen to a book. 

Book Recommendations
Rock Paper Scissors
 by Alice Feeney is about Adam and Amelia Wright who have won a weekend away at a remote converted chapel on a loch in Scotland. Amelia thinks their time together is needed because lately their relationship has been rocky. She works in an animal shelter. Adam is a screenwriter who's been working too hard. He also has face blindness, a condition where he cannot recognize faces (a real condition; I looked it up!), even that of his wife. 

When they arrive at the chapel, in the dead of a winter snow storm, they're surprised to see there's no one to welcome them: no heat; no food; no hot water. Amelia swears she sees a woman looking in through a window. What kind of place is this? They're suspicious, and begin wondering if the other person is lying about why they're here. Who's being honest?

In this one, you'll definitely find plot twists and turns that will keep your attention through to the end. Thanks, Cindy @liveacolorfullife for sharing this title in your recent blog post

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Heather Gudenkauf is my new favorite author! In Not a Sound (the third title I've read by this author), we meet nurse Amelia Winn who, in the past two years, has become completely deaf due to a tragic accident. She's just getting back on her feet after becoming an alcoholic, ruining her marriage, and being separated from her only daughter, her husband's child from a previous marriage. Amelia is coping by engaging in rigorous activities. She does everything with her trained service dog, Stitch, who is not only her ears, but her best companion. When they find a body, Amelia's world comes apart again. It's a nurse friend. Now she must not only cope with her hearing loss, but she simply must figure out who might have killed her friend. 

Once again, I really enjoyed the author's use of Iowa in the story. This time, I appreciated that the nurse-friend's husband's alibi was that he worked at (John) Deere, and was in Waterloo at the time of his wife's murder. (Some of you may know that my husband is a John Deere retiree from the factory in Des Moines, Iowa.)

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

The Crossing Places 
by Elly Griffiths is the first book in the "Ruth Galloway series." My library app had it available only as an E-book, so I read it on my I-Phone. I'm hooked! Thank you Cindy @liveacolorfullife for mentioning this series in a recent blog post.

Ruth Galloway is a single, slightly overweight archeology professor at a local college. She lives with her two cats in a remote area of northern England, in the Saltmarsh. When a body is discovered in the marsh, she's called in by police to determine whether it's a local girl, Lucy Downey, who went missing ten years ago. It isn't. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson appreciates her forensic skills, so when another girl goes missing, Ruth becomes more involved. She reads a series of letters the police have received over the years, and determines to figure out who sent them, and why. 

I intend to read the next book, The Janus Stone (#2 in the series), and it too is available to me only as an E-book. Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Just to show that I don't spend all my time at home, here's where we were Thursday. We decided to drive two hours to the Gulf side of Florida and spend an afternoon on the beach. This was the first time we'd visited Fred Howard State Park, near Tarpon Springs. It was lovely. Watching the ocean and clouds was the nicest way to pass the time. 

To top it off, we stopped on the way home for a Twistee Treat hot fudge sundae. The day couldn't have been more perfect. Linda

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Project Rotating

I noticed several Memorial Day sales and took advantage of two of them. One purchase was from Stitch Craft, a shop in Boca Raton that's going out of business. Everything was 40 percent off, so I picked up 11 pieces of fabric totaling 7¼ yards.

I bought Sashiko supplies: two preprinted fabric pieces, and nine skeins of Sashiko thread at 15 percent off from Snuggly Monkey. The little thank you (upper left) gift I received is a packet of wildflower seeds. 

These pre-printed fabric Sashiko samplers are called Kuguri, which is a type of Sashiko where stitches are first made, and then you weave through them. It makes me think of chicken scratch, which I did in the 1990s. 

Anyway, I'll have new handwork to do when I finish what's currently keeping my attention.

That continues to be my Alison Glass Stitch Club Kantha Sew Along. This picture of the back shows the progress I'm making with columns of hand stitching now ¾" apart. Texture is becoming apparent. 

Handwork alternates between Kantha, and these freehand rainbow appliqué blocks. I finished making the nine blocks, sewed them together, layered a quilt sandwich, and started hand quilting with #12 perle cotton. Mostly I'm stitching with Wonderfil Spagetti, but one spool of Aurifl is making an appearance. I've twice applied to be an Aurifil Artisan (and been twice rejected), so I don't have thread brand loyalty.  

It's so satisfying to hand quilt like this! I love it.

After alternating handwork projects, I occasionally return to the sewing machine where I'm making incremental progress on the 24" improv quilt I'm making for our Quilting Guild of The Villages "30" challenge. I decided to take cues from the guild logo in my choice of colors and the use of flying geese. As you can see, 30 is in Roman numerals. 

Handwork time means listening time which has been "Pastor Mike Drop" podcasts by Pastor Mike Housholder at Lutheran Church of Hope, or an audiobook.

Book Recommendation
Come Back to Me
by Sara Foster is an entertaining story, but not very plausible. It took me until the end of the book to figure out who the title references.

Chloe works at a law firm with Mark, a man with whom Chloe had a past relationship. When Mark invites Chloe and her husband Mark to dinner to meet his new girlfriend, Julia, it's apparent that Alex and Julia know one another. What follows is series of views into each character's reactions to the meeting - Chloe trying to second-guess what secrets Alex has kept from her; Alex wanting to find Julia and revisit their past; and Mark feeling angry and confused as his emotions about Chloe are stirred up. Julia only wants to get away from all of them because she still can't face her terrible past experience. Along the way, we learn about Mark's parent's dysfunctional relationship, and Chloe's annoying, over-talkative mother.

This story includes lots of emotional baggage, upheavals, revelations, and fact-facing. While I like all of these features in a book, this one seemed to work overly hard to ensure I understood how much pain the characters in. On the positive side, story situations take place in London, England, and Perth, Australia, so there are some great locations to visit. 

Linda's score: 3.6/5.0



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