Tuesday, January 31, 2023

January Tracking

Why did I feel compelled to - starting in 2023 - participate in fabric tracking? I guess I thought I'd be the quilter who decisively uses-up more of her fabric stash than what she takes in.
Fabrics from Sew Modern Chicky (Jacksonville, FL)

January is already proving me wrong. 
  • Why did I wait nearly two years to spend a $50 gift certificate to Feel Good Fibers? I placed my order in December; fabrics arrived in January. 
  • I received a thank-you-for-participating-in-our-challenge fabric bundle from Central Florida MQG.
  • Then, Showcase (quilt show) was last weekend, and there was a vendor... Sew Modern Chicky
So with 12 incoming yards in January, my measly efforts, making several small items, didn't do much to offset gains that total 9.77 yards. 

To clarify, this is not a fabric tracker of one's TOTAL stash. I did not spend days measuring and calculating the yardage I already have. Rather, this fabric tracking effort is meant to monitor one year's worth of incoming and outgoing fabric. 

My friend Debbie at www.aquilterstable.blogspot.com regularly tracks her fabrics, which is where I learned about this intriguing idea. In an email conversation she opined:
Invariably fabric will come in! In fact sometimes it needs to for you to accomplish something in particular, or for a variety of reasons. Take it in stride and just keep sewing!
I love that bit... "Take it in stride and just keep sewing." That's my plan! 

And for what it's worth, I did give away seven quilts this month - three 36" X 48" baby quilts to Healthy Families Florida, and four to friends in Minnesota.

My latest efforts have been to cut fabrics for a 42" X 54" scrappy baby quilt.

The pattern is one I saw on Instagram called Crossroads quilt design by @treehousetextiles, I figured out my version of it using solids from my scrap bins, and lots of novelty prints. See those Angry Birds in the lower left block?

As I cut out pieces for 36 blocks, I listened to audiobooks.

Book Recommendations
Smoke Screen by Terri Blackstock is about Nate, a firefighter in Colorado. He's one of those fearless men who jumps from a plane into the heart of a raging fire. When he sustains second degree burns while saving a family and their dog, he returns home to recuperate. He hasn't been home for more than a decade. Staying with his brother while healing, Nate reconnects with Brenna, a woman he hasn't forgotten since high school. She's going through a difficult time, adjusting to a divorce from a power-hungry man who wants full custody of their two children. While Nate is ready to give Brenna all the support she needs, he's adjusting to being around his father who has just been released from 14 years in prison for a murder - of Brenna's father! - that he claims he did not commit. Tensions are heightened because Nate too has been accused of something he didn't do - burn down a church. It's time for all of them to support, forgive, and love each other. 

I enjoy Terri Blackstock books because characters seem real. There's no profanity; no sleeping around; and protagonists have a wholesome spirituality. This story includes several lovely nuggets of profundity that I found very encouraging.

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six
 by Lisa Unger is a story about the interesting and possible negative outcomes of genetic testing. Tracking one's parents may provide information a child really doesn't want to know. 

Mako is a successful tech entrepreneur. He and his wife Liza are hosting a get-away weekend for Hannah, Mako's sister ,and her husband, along with a family friend and her new boyfriend. They head to a very remote location in Georgia as a tropical storm is coming in from the Atlantic. 

Hannah is uncertain about the weekend. Not only must she leave behind her baby girl, but something doesn't feel right - like they shouldn't go. So, on the first evening of their arrival, when the power goes out, the backup generator doesn't kick in, no one has cell phone service, and Liza is missing, everyone wants to leave. But they can't. The storm is too violent, the road is blocked, and truths must be revealed - ones that will prove costly to every person there. 

While this was entertaining, its use of profanity and promiscuity gave it the opposite feeling of Smoke Screen, 

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0 

Recapping January, these two books bring my total listened-to/reviewed/scored total to eight audiobooks. Two of them earned scores of 4.5/5.0 - Long Way Gone and Wrapped in Rain, both by Charles Martin.

In the continuing saga of the unavailability of spice drops... 

As I'm waiting for the promised February 14-16 Amazon delivery of spice drops ordered December 17, on Monday I stopped at a Dollar Tree store to check for them.

Coastal is the brand of candy that Dollar Tree typically carries. As you can see from the empty pegs, and after a brief chat with a Dollar Tree clerk, spice drops still are not available. Only peppermints are in stock.

I shared this picture and my disappointment with two South Florida friends: Sherry (who generously mailed me spice drops in December) and Maureen. 

Maureen said she too couldn't find them at Dollar Tree, nor the orange slice candies she favors, stating "empty shelves here too." 

Her sage observation:
As if the world hasn't gone crazy enough... now they are trying to take our candy away!

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Showcase Review

"Showcase," the biannual event for Quilting Guild of The Villages (QGOTV) was Friday and Saturday.

The 500 quilts displayed represent 27 chapters of QGOTV. Membership is approximately 1,200 quilters. When each chapter is founded, those quilters make a chapter banner.

This is the Big Cypress Chapter banner. I wasn't a member when Big Cypress was founded, about ten years ago.

These are some of the newest chapters. One is called Happy Hour! 

My three quilts were awarded: 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention. 

In the category of Pieced (Large) Ruth Strocchia placed 1st.

In the category of Pieced (Large), my 2019 Temperature Quilt placed 2nd.

Thirty-eight quilts were entered in the 24" X 24" 30 Challenge category.

Two quiltmakers received "Best Interpretation of Show Theme." - Ruth Strocchia

Sharon Joplin

1st place was award to Alice Smith.

My Party Times 30 (upper right) was awarded 3rd. It sold for $50 to another QGOTV member. 

Many of us were thrilled to see how well our Central Florida MQG (CFMQG) members did in the Modern category. Yes, many of CFMQGers also belong to QGOTV.

Michaelynn Nicholl's quilt was awarded Judge's Choice.

Gwen Fry's quilt was awarded 2nd.

Linda Thomas's quilt was awarded 3rd.

My Playin' Around quilt was awarded Honorable Mention. 

Big Cypress Quilters were responsible for making the 128 ribbons that were awarded. It's interesting to realize that I very likely helped make at least one of the three ribbons I received!

A special exhibit of quilts made in QGOTV workshops with guest presenters, found this modern-looking group of quilts. CFMQG quilters Gwen Fry and Becky Chianese made the upper left and lower left quilts, respectively. 

Our QGOTV president, Ardie, who is also a member of CFMQG gave this quilt her President's Award. Ardie told me she picked it: "Just because it made me smile." Made by Kathy Thrall.

Best of Show winner was this Judy Neimeyer design made by Mary Ann Caggiano and longarm quilted by Linda Spence.

4-H kids, led by another CFMQG/QGOTV member, had their own display. I was tickled to find nine year-old Eden with her quilt, and her first place ribbon. The center bottom pineapple has this written on it: 
Be like a pineapple. Stand tall. Wear a crown. And be sweet on the inside. 

In her description she wrote: 

Hand sewing the binding on the back of the quilt was hard and took a long time. I hope to make more quilts and will try to do better at matching points.

 I know all quilt makers wish for that!

Eden longarm quilted it too. She was a proud little girl, and rightly so!

You might notice that Eden's wearing a blue ribbon. These badges were placed on each ribbon-winning quilt, to be worn during the show.

This show is a ton of work, put on exclusively by volunteers. No doubt everyone's ready for a long recoup. The next Showcase is January 2025. Linda

Thursday, January 26, 2023

14th Anniversary!

Today, Thursday, January 26, 2023 marks the day, 14 years ago, that I wrote my first blog post. Little did I know that writing these would be a seemingly lifelong commitment. 

This is my 1,203rd published blog post! I guess I never run out of things to say!

While there have been times when I haven't posted for as long as a week, most of my posts are at five to eight day intervals. There's no rhyme or reason to that, but I'm glad I have posted often because my blog has become a useful chronicle of things I've made, and products and brands I've used.

When I began blogging, I posted much more frequently because, in those days - before Facebook and Instagram - it was the only way to connect with like-minded people. 

At one time, I followed more than 80 bloggers, commenting on all their posts. 

I still follow 80 bloggers, and I still comment, but about half of those bloggers haven't blogged for months, and even years.

Times change. 

Moving right along, I've got a few things to share. 

We had company from Minnesota for four nights last weekend. Being dear friends, I couldn't let them leave without offering them some quilts to take home and use! They live in Minnesota, after all. These are the four quilts they chose from the nine I offered. I'm posting them here, mostly to document that I gave them away. 
Comfort Quilt, 72" X 95"

This Disappearing Four-Patch is an oldie! I posted its finish in August 2011.
Disappearing 4-Patch, 57" X 65"

Buckles and Belts, 40" X 50"

It's All About Color, 31" X 31"

Quilting has consisted of taking my long-term Prudence English paper piecing with me to Big Cypress Quilters to work on. I'm joining row five of 13 rows.

Free motion quilting has started on my Finger Paint quilt, a top I finished in October 2021 during Laura Loewe's @quiltfortco quilt along. 

Thus far, I've been ruler quilting with this curved Fine Line ruler by Accents in Design. The tape you see through the bottom is skateboard tape. I add pieces of it to the back of all my rulers, to help grip the fabric. EDITED TO ADD: Here's the link to the 11" X 50" Clear Skateboard Grip Tape Sheet that a friend and I bought and split. 

Also, I've begun making a dozen more travel trays that I plan to give as gifts to special friends. I get such a kick out of picking colorful prints for the exterior of each one. 

If you want instructions to make your own travel tray, here's the link to my free pattern.

Book Recommendations
Just the Nicest Couple
is Mary Kubica's latest (January 2023) who-dunit. 

Nina and Lily are co-workers and close friends at a Chicagoland high school. Nina and her husband Jake, have a quarrel about Nina spending too much time with her mother. When Jake doesn't return home, Nina is sure he's going through his his threat to leave. In the meantime, Lily and her husband, Christian, have just discovered that Lily's pregnant again, after several miscarriages. Just as they're becoming hopeful, Lily reveals that she had an unwanted encounter with Jake, and that maybe she's the reason Jake hasn't returned home. 

While I found this book a little slow-paced - one of those where you're in the character's head and they keep rehashing all the what-if's - the plot has enough twists that you might not be able to figure it out. I'd call it entertaining. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

My Oxford Year
 by Julia Whelan is narrated by the author herself, and she's an excellent actress! I am impressed at her ability to switch from female and male character voices, and from British to Scottish accents. She's talented!

Ella Durran is a 24 year-old Ohio girl whose dream has been to attend Oxford University in England. She's finally achieved that by becoming a Rhodes Scholar intent on studying old English literature. While she's charmed by the community, the university, and new British friends, she also can't escape the charm of Jamie, her literature instructor who is more than handsome and elegant. They begin a relationship based on a mutual desire for honesty, but when Ella learns that Jamie isn't where he said he'd be, and a friend tells her that Jamie's brother Oliver isn't alive (as Jamie said he was), she becomes angry. Her plans - to return to the US to take a high profile position for the woman who's expected to be elected president - are her way out of this relationship. But is that the best option for her future?

Linda's score: 3.7/5.0

In addition to today's blog anniversary, I'm also rolling into the tenth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis in February 2013. I always remember what an unlucky year - healthwise - 2013 was for me. This past Tuesday I had my first Senobright mammogram - one where you get an IV and after being flushed with saline, iodine is injected. Then you have a typical slam-o-mamm. I was delighted that the same radiologist who performed my 2013 biopsy was the same radiologist who read my "all clear" mammogram on Tuesday. Praise God for such results!

Today I'm dropping off three quilts at Seabreeze Rec Center for the Quilting Guild of The Villages "Showcase of Quilts" that's Friday and Saturday. I'll be back at Seabreeze at 8:30 AM Friday to finally learn what ribbons my quilts received. 

Party Times 30, 24" X 24"
Happily, I've also already sold one of the quilts! My 24" X 24" Party Times 30 challenge quilt will be shown at the AQS show in Daytona Beach (Florida), February 22-25, and then it will go home with its new owner.

I couldn't be more tickled! 


Wednesday, January 18, 2023


A couple of small accomplishments...

I finished hand appliquéing and hand embroidering the 11" X 13" ukulele block for Clara @bimbambuki_blog who is collecting them to make "A Quilt of Things That Bring Me Joy." I'll give her this block in person at QuiltCon.

Hand appliqué is finished on this 21" square clamshell piece. Now what?

Our Quilting Guild of The Villages (QGOTV) every-other-year quilt show, called "Showcase of Quilts" is coming up next week Friday and Saturday, January 27 and 28. 

Last Wednesday QGOTV members dropped off their quilts for judging. I took three. On Saturday, I picked them up.

If a yellow tag was attached to your quilt bag, it meant you won a ribbon. 

When I stepped up to get my quilts, all three of them had yellow tags! What a shocking and happy surprise!

These are the three quilts I entered: 72" X 84" 2019 Temperature Quilt which was at QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix, appeared in QuiltCon magazine, and last year for a month was in a modern quilt exhibit at the Bailey Contemporary Arts Center in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Playin' Around was also at QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix. It's 61" X 70" and was my challenge entry in the South Florida MQG "Curve Around Challenge," where it took first place and won the "Cassandra Beaver Award." 

Party Times 30 quilt is my entry in the QGOTV "30 Challenge" to celebrate the 30th anniversary of QGOTV. All submissions had to be 24" X 24". I chose to piece flying geese in primary colors because they're in the QGOTV logo. Besides domestic machine quilting, there's big stitch hand quilting in this one too.

So all three quilts won ribbons, but I don't know yet what places each received! I'll find out Friday morning, January 27 when there's an 8:30 preview for ribbon winners, before Showcase opens to the public.

I also learned that Party Times 30 will not be returned to me after Showcase. It will be traveling, along with the 37 other challenge quilts, to Daytona Beach, Florida for a special exhibit at the AQS (American Quilter's Society) show! Happy days!

In the past, I have attended the AQS quilt show, however, this year it's February 22-25 - the SAME weekend as QuiltCon, so I can't attend. It's AQS that changed their show dates; not QuiltCon.

In Florida, you never know when you're going to encounter interesting wildlife. This is a threesome of sandhill cranes that surprised me on my Saturday power walk.

At first they were in the street, and startled me! They're not usually seen as a threesome, most often being in pairs (they mate for life). I can't tell if one is a colt (juvenile) or perhaps a loner they adopted... do they even do that? 

II am always fascinated to see these large, beautiful creatures up close. Being around people doesn't seem to bother them.

Sandhill cranes are a Florida endangered species with penalties of incarceration and/or a fine if one is killed.

Book Recommendation
I had a chance to check out another Charles Martin book from my public library's Hoopla app, and once again, Mr. Martin didn't disappoint.

Wrapped in Rain
 is about two brothers who grow up in Alabama, at Waverly Hall, a former plantation, rebuilt as a castle by their money-hungry father. They don't know their mother, and their father, Rex, is a controlling, 
abrasive, and abusive man who gets worse with drink. If it wasn't for their hired nanny/housekeeper Miss Ella Rains, they would never have been cared for, nor known love.

As grown men, they're each dealing with demons. Tucker has been traveling for years, mostly avoiding home as he expresses himself through photography. Tucker's younger brother, Matt hasn't fared as well. After years of traveling across the US in railway cars, he's living in a group home with a psychiatric disorder. His compulsive behavior, obsessively cleaning, and an ability to take apart and rebuild anything, is a curse and a blessing.

When a childhood friend, Kate, comes back into their lives, bringing her young son Jace with her, together the four of them stay at Waverly, face their pasts, and find wholeness. 

I admire the way Mr. Martin uses Miss Ella to weave Scripture through this story. He has a subtle, gentle skill for sharing faith in an encouraging way.  

Linda's score: 4.5/5.0 


Friday, January 13, 2023


Typically I am a flitter-er, and that's what I've been over the past week. Jumping from project to project, I've given attention to my clamshell piece. Only the last two rows left to hand needleturn appliqué.

I took my Dropcloth Sampler with me to stitch while at Tuesday afternoon's Big Cypress Quilters. It's coming along. 

It's not unusual that weekly Big Cypress Quilters meetings include a table of freebies. People who are are cleaning out, or have lost interest in quilting and crafting will bring their stuff to find new homes. I picked up this old box of never-used rug-braiding tools. Instructions were published in 1987!

Since I am very interested in braiding, and have made three braided rugs using Ilka White's (Australia) method learned during two virtual workshops, this method seems attractive because it's so different. Fabrics are fed through a tool that turns raw edges to the inside. After braiding, the rope braid is woven together with strong cord. I'm anxious to try it. 

Also, because I'm a quilter, all non-quilters think I want, or know of someone who wants, quilting items. This week, one of my line dance instructors handed me a bag with these two large hunks of fabric. They're very old (no year on the selvage) printed panels made by Springs, Inc. They're definitely not me (!), but I'm sure someone at Big Cypress Quilters will take them. 

At 2022 QuiltCon Phoenix I met Clara of @bimbambuki_blog who's on Instagram, and is a blogger. She's originally from Germany, and now lives in Manhattan. Clara's group quilt, Dance III (left) won a third place ribbon at QuiltCon Phoenix.

She's had another group quilt accepted into QuiltCon Atlanta (February 23-26).
When Clara put out a call for blocks for her latest group quilt concept, I let her know I'd like to participate, especially since I can deliver my block to her at QuiltCon.

Her idea is called "A Quilt of Things That Bring Me Joy." Basically, I need to make a block (10 cm to 30 cm) using only solids, with a white background and something that reflects an item that brings me joy. Hopefully you can tell I'm hand appliquéing a ukulele. I'm using the back-basting appliqué method. 

This is my Enya tenor ukulele that was new to me last October. 

Though I've been playing a ukulele for about five years now, until last fall, all I've done is strum. My new uke has prompted me to try to learn more, which I've been doing by watching YouTube videos and practicing about an hour a day.

Plucking and chucking, are what I'm learning, though I can't say I'm seeing much improvement! I feel like I'm head-learning - knowing more chords and plucking patterns. Physically my fingers are NOT keeping up with my head knowledge. I've mentioned this to other ukulele-players and every one without fail says keep practicing. I'm at a plateau, and will make another up-climb. Hmm.

 Clara asked me if I'd play my uke, so here's my one-minute, reluctant, clumsy, very nervous, and fumbling attempt to play I Love to Tell the Story - flub-ups and all.

Rather than play the ukulele for a blog audience, I feel much more comfortable giving you a book review! 

Book Recommendation
Of course I'd learn after reading Sugar and Spice that it's the fourth in the Bella Vista Chronicles by Susan Wiggs. However, it reads well as a stand-alone book, so don't let that keep you from it.

Salt is the name of a dream-come-true restaurant designed by Margo Salton, a young and beautiful Texas barbecue queen who has settled in San Francisco. She's left a past that included the death of her mother, supporting herself at the age of 16, and a vicious rape that resulted in her unjustly spending months in jail.

Now, as she's nervously anticipating the opening of
Salt, she's concerned that the new friends she's made - they own the Sugar bakery that she shares the building with - may not want want to be around her once they learn about the past she can never leave behind. 

The author has included in her story: interracial marriage; homosexuality; and controversial abortion and adoption situations. She gives the reader lots to think about.

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0



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