Thursday, August 31, 2023

End of August Tally

August was a disappointing yardage-tracking month. I added 1.42 yards to my stash. Darn. But it was necessary. 

The 2 yard piece I added is Painter's Palette solid - Limelight (pale green) - a needed refill of background fabric for the 30 Days of Improv quilt along I participated in during August. Since I haven't completed the quilt top, I haven't added that yardage to the "out" side. I'll do that in September which will hopefully reflect a nice reduction. This top is at least 58" X 58". 

The only thing I actually pieced were two 36-patch blocks, and one 64-patch block using 1½" X 1½" as leaders/enders.

Good grief. No wonder I didn't use-up fabric in August!

I spent nearly all of my August sewing room time quilting the maximalist quilt. As a result I used lots of thread - which I am not tracking! After dozens of quilting hours, that's part is finished. And I'm nearly done adding these puffy, hand-appliquéd circles.  

What I did accomplish in August was lots of audiobook-listening while I was machine quilting, adding 13 more books to my 2023 list that now totals 68. 

Book Recommendation
My most recent finish is The Favor by debut author Nora Murphy. McKenna and Leah are two strikingly similar-looking, and similar-behaving women who have never met one another.

When in a liquor store, Leah sees a woman who seems very much like herself. Leah arbitrarily follows her home because she's curious about her life. What Leah discovers is a woman who appears to be in a home and marriage that's similar to Leah's with a husband who expects a meal on the table when he returns home from work; a husband who expects his wife to look good (so he looks good). And the other woman's circle of friends is small, or non-existent. And she seems to fear her husband. 

As the story unfolds, the reader comes to completely sympathize with a controlling force in each wife's situation, and therefore also share in her triumphs. Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

If you've read my posts in the past year, you know I have a fondness for spice drops. In fact I was craving them when they weren't stocked at Publix or Dollar General, or even Amazon! Thankfully, availability has returned. 

My friend Jody visited Wisconsin for a couple months, and while there she intentionally stopped at Dollar General to buy all the spice drops on the rack! The crazy girl even flew home with these 20 heavy bags of spice drops! Is she a considerate friend, or what?!

The card she gave me with the spice drops says:
"A friend is a beautiful act of kindness from the heart of God."
I have the same sentiment about her. 

Now. how is it that two bags of spice drops are missing gone, already?!  😁 Linda

Monday, August 28, 2023

Variety, and Idalia Coming

As I continue - yes, still - to quilt my maximalist quilt, I thought you might like to see a couple of the rulers I've been using for ruler work. 

This "Wiggly Wave" ruler is made by Sarah Thomas who is @Sariditty. I've used both sides of the ruler - a narrow wave and a broad wave

I still often use Fine Line Rulers, by Accents in Design. They're the first rulers I owned, and I still like the stand-up posts that give me something to hang onto. I have these rulers in various straight lengths, and curves. 

For the #30daysofimprovqal, last week I pieced Week 4 blocks: Curves. This was my favorite week of improv. Though, I think I'm the only person to NOT have made quarter circles!

Now comes the really difficult part - puzzling them together. I just re-stocked two yards of Painter's Palette Limelight that I will use as background, because these blocks need some breathing room!

As I was piecing improv curves, I used 1½" X 1½" patches as leaders-enders... completely unmaking and then remaking the 8" square block I'd pieced (using only print fabrics) the week before. I decided to insert solids between every print, and thus use-up solid scraps too. Different colors of 8" square blocks are my new leaders-enders plan. 

Book Recommendations
The Lonely Hearts Book Club
by Lucy Gilmore was a refreshing change from the psychological thriller/murder/who-done-it books I've been reading lately. In fact, it was a happy change of pace. From the beginning, the story had me hooked. And smiling.

Sloane is a librarian, engaged to an up-and-coming doctor - a chiropractor whose mother couldn't be more proud of her son. Sloane loves her job, and in a twisted way, looks forward to the daily library visit of old, yet distinguished-looking, curmudgeon - Arthur. He takes great pleasure in insulting her, and everyone he meets. 

When Arthur doesn't come to the library, Sloane misses him, and in spite of a library policy of keeping a patron's information private, she goes to Arthur's home. She meets one of his neighbors, and later Arthur's grandson. Soon Sloane has enough friends to form a book club that she is sure will keep Arthur engaged. 

The book is about friendships, and how they form unexpectedly - in unexpected circumstances. It's a charming read. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

In the book The Lonely Hearts Book Club Arther had been a college English literature professor, so he and Sloane (the librarian) often bantered about books, discussing everything from his favorite historical tomes to her favorite Anne of Green Gables.

Noting a title they discussed, I selected for my next read: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I'm so glad I did!

This is the first book I've read that's narrated from a dog's point of view, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the descriptions of Enzo's (the dog) demeanor and behavior reflected what Enzo was thinking. He's a dog with a human soul. I couldn't help but think of our dear Hogan, who died four years ago this week - August 31. 

The story begins with Enzo looking back at how he came to belong to Denny, a young man with an up-and-coming race car-driving career ahead of him. When Denny brings home Eve, Enzo learns to love her too. And when they bring home baby Zoë, Enzo knows that his job is to entertain and protect her. But other than Dennys, Enzo's love is racing. When he gets to ride along with Denny around a track, he's happier than he ever imagined.

When a book brings me to tears, as this one did, I know it's exceptionally good. I'm delighted to make this must-read recommendation to everyone. 

Linda's score: 4.4/5.0

After that great book, it was tough to select a contender. So, I fell back on the usual - and most often available - mystery/who-done-it. 

Not a Happy Family,
by Shari Lapena, is the story of a very well-to-do family (worth at least $30M) that lives in the posh Brecken Hill, in upstate New York. Their financial success was through Fred Merton's company, that he's recently sold. 

The story opens with the three adult children of Fred and Sheila - Katherine, Dan, and Jenna - gathering at the Merton home for Easter dinner. Each of the children is spoiled, and have great monetary expectations from their parents. So when an announcement is made about Fred and Sheila's plan to sell their home, it's met with mixed reactions. 

Two days later, the Merton's life-long nanny/housekeeper finds the bodies of Fred and Sheila who have been savagely murdered. 

The story follows two detectives, determined to find out who killed the Mertons. As motive after motive, and another new motive is uncovered, and each of the three Merton children and their partners are brought in for questioning, the reader takes a long and winding path toward understanding. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0 

Weather has certainly been in the news! 

When I saw this Instagram post from @Eric_Hanson_kcci in Des Moines, I couldn't help but think how well it spoke about the heatwave recently experienced across Iowa. Three women in Clarion put cookie dough in a car window at 8 am...

...and by 3 pm they had warm, baked cookies to enjoy. Seriously! 100+ degree days will do that.

And second, that a family could have good fun in a farm field, setting up this picture in their corn field of corn POPPING (HA!) in the heat. What a hoot!

Likewise, here in Florida we are watching the path of Idalia (pronounced "Eye-dahlia") as she has been a tropical storm and will be upgraded to a hurricane later today. At this time, we are in the path of Idalia, who, by the time she reaches our area in the wee hours Wednesday morning, could possibly be a Category 3 hurricane. 

Though we do outdoor prep and are taking precautions, we live in one of the safest (from hurricanes) areas of the state. We don't anticipate more than several inches of rain, and perhaps some high winds. 

I've frequently been thinking of and praying for our four grandsons, now ages 9, 12, 13, and 13 who have returned to school.

I very much appreciate that during Sunday worship at Lutheran Church of Hope we prayed for everyone - teachers, administrators, staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodial staff, and kids.

May God bless them all, and keep them safe. 🙏


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

More of the Same

Listening to an audiobook while quilting my maximalist quilt is my main daily activity. I haven't working on anything else since last Thursday.

When I need a little change of pace, I hand appliqué a few more circles onto the quilt. 

Basically, what's left to quilt is about 8" around the perimeter. Maybe I'll finish quilting next week? 

So the highlight of this post is to review two more books I've listened to.

Book Recommendations
The Inmate
is the second book I've read by Frieda McFadden. The previous book is Never Lie, reviewed here last month. 

In this psychological thriller, the reader takes an in-depth look into what happened to Brooke Sullivan when she was in high school.

The story begins a decade later, with Brooke starting her first day of work as a nurse practitioner in a men's prison. She helped put her high school boyfriend behind bars in this same prison, and she's hoping she never runs into him. Of course, she does. 

While working at the prison, she's living in the house where she grew up because her parents died the year before. She's on her own, being a single parent to ten year-old Josh. When she runs into her former best friend, Tim, who's living in his parents home a few houses away, and is now the assistant principal at Josh's school, they rekindle their friendship. As their relationship becomes more serious, and Brooke continues to nurse Shane in prison, she begins questioning everything she thought she knew about what happened that one night. Could the wrong man have been convicted? 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Now is Not the Time to Panic
is also the second book I've read by Kevin Wilson who wrote Nothing to See Here that I reviewed in April 2020

It's 1996, and 16 year-old Frankie lives with her divorced mom, and triplet older brothers in a small town: Coalville, Tennessee. Frankie meets Zeke at the swimming pool. He's new to town. They become friends. As they learn about each other and are looking for an activity to keep away summer boredom, they collaborate to make a poster.
Frankie, who loves to write and is working on a novel, writes: 
"The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."

Zeke, who's an artist, creates the drawing to go with Frankie's lines.

Together they find satisfaction in making copies of their poster to hang and put in mailboxes throughout Coalville. The local newspaper writes about the poster and its meaning, and a series of incidences puts the poster in the news. Everyones' speculating about what it means - An author's discovered manuscript? Devil worship? Satanic symbolism? It's getting out of hand. Zeke to want to end what they're doing; Frankie wants (needs) to keep making copies and distributing them. When Zeke leaves town, and Frankie has to face her life that won't stand still, and that she found meaning in it only with Zeke.

Decades later, the source of the "Coalville Panic of 1996" has never been revealed. Perhaps it's time for Frankie to come clean. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


Friday, August 18, 2023

Quilting, and QuiltCon Registering

This week has been about more of the same - domestic machine quilting. I keep going. And keep going - custom quilting my maximalist quilt.

Like me, you're probably getting tired of seeing it. I'm about half-way done quilting. 

The highlight of this week was Tuesday morning, registering for QuiltCon. For the second year in a row, the MQG has used a fair system for MQG members to choose workshops and lectures for QuiltCon 2024 in Raleigh, North Caroina. Last year, I wasn't as fortunate as I was this year. 

Online registration began at 10 am, but members could enter as early as 9:45 am. I entered the online waiting room at about 8 minutes until 10. This was the screen I looked at.

At 10 am, I knew I was in line because the little green man on the left was me, walking.

At my first update, 151 people were ahead of me. Before I knew it, there were 132 people ahead of me. During my wait, I exchanged text messages with a couple friends who let me know their positions: 1,100 and 1,200! That's where I was when I registered last year!

The line moved fairly quickly because by 10:04 I was next in line!

By 10:10, I had selected my four-day show pass, two workshops, five lectures, and checked out! It was slick! 

The two workshops I'll be taking are: 1) "Improv Tiny Piecing" with Jo Avery @joaverystitch of Scotland (Jo and I, along with and Karen Foster, presented the MQG's "The Highs and Lows of Temperature Quilts" webinar together); and, 2) "Large Scale Minimal Improv" with Ashley Downs. 

Whew. So glad that's all done and dusted. I'm already anticipating the fun that's coming next February!

The MQG said on Instagram that this QuiltCon registration event was the largest one they've ever had. The event is going to be epic! 

This week's #30daysofimprovqal prompt is Triangles. This is what I pieced using quilting cotton, two linens, and already-stitched Kantha fabrics. 

That dark green triangle in the upper right, is cut from a Kantha patch. 

This week I used 1½" X 1½" leaders and enders to make a planned block, rather than the scrappy, use-all-the-colors block I made last week. Why? I changed my mind. 

A question from my New Zealand friend, Linda of Kokaquilts asking if I planned to make all my 1½" patches into scrappy blocks, made me give that a think. Hmm. Maybe I'd like a quilt that was more planned. So with that thought, and a cue from my friend Patty @elmstreetquilts who made this gorgeous Postage Stamp Scrap Quilt, I pieced a 36-patch block in one color way. That purple block will likely be the only purple block I'll make, because... well, I don't have many purple prints.

Book Recommendations
After Anna
by Lisa Scottoline is the story of a happily married couple - Noah and Maggie. Though Noah's wife died, leaving him to raise his son, Maggie has come into his life. She too was previously married, but lost custody of their infant daughter, Anna, due to Maggie's severe mental depression following Anna's birth. 

Unexpectedly, Anna contacts Maggie. She's 17 now, and after living in boarding schools in France, she's in the US and wants to connect with her mom. Maggie is thrilled. She goes to Anna's school, meets with Anna's therapist, then Anna's lawyer, and arranges for Anna to come and live with them - a happy family of four. 

From the start, when Anna pushes to buy a new car, familial relationships become strained. When Anna accuses Noah of inappropriate touching, Maggie makes him leave their home. But something doesn't seem right. The worst happens, and Noah is on trial.

The book follows one of those patterns of "now" moments (a courtroom case), alternating with "before" moments. It's all about Anna, and who she really is. The author kept my interest through the entire story - an entertaining read.

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

North of Nowhere
 by Allison Brennan takes place in Montana, and the whole book pretty much happens during a 48 hour period of time. 

For the past five years, teenager Kristin and her eight year-old deaf brother Ryan have been living on a ranch, living fairly normal lives in the care of a man they love. Kristin has learned to shoot a gun, track in the wilds, and be ready in case they need to run quickly to their hidden cabin. 

The book opens with the three of them running for their lives. While trying to take-off in a small plane, the plane and pilot are shot, forcing an emergency landing near Lost Lake. Knowing they're being chased, they take off into the woods. Behind them are the children's dad, Boyd, and his thugs; their Aunt Ruby whose former military; the ranch owner and his teenaged son; and law enforcement. The reason for it all is the family matriarch, Grandmother Frankie who wants the children back. She wants to force Kristin, by threats and manipulation, into the family business that is nothing but illegal activities. 

Once again, I found it amazing that an author could keep so many characters going at once, with each of them having a perspective on what's happening. This book includes brutal murders, hatred, and cold-hearted calculations... that I want to believe never happen this way in real life.

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

As you'll note by this book review, with another score of 3.9/5.0, all the books I've been listening to lately are cut from the same cloth, so to speak. They're all written in the mystery/who-done-it style. 

The Last to Vanish
 by Megan Miranda takes place at The Passage Inn, an upscale resort on the edge of the Appalachian Trail. The resort and community of Cutter's Pass have been in the news spotlight several times because people have gone missing. The latest man to disappear is a journalist who stayed at The Passage Inn while he researched and began writing about previous disappearances. 

For the past ten years, Abby has been living in a basement apartment of the resort, working as its manager, She's the one who, four months after the journalist's disappearance, checks-in his brother. He's determined to find out what happened. He stays in the same cabin his brother did, and with Abby's assistance, hikes the trail where his brother may have disappear, and he meets the local sheriff. When Abby discovers in the resort's container of left-behind items a backpack that belonged to a female photographer who went missing several years ago, she determines to find out why all the people who've disappeared are connected to The Passage Inn. 

Linda's score: 3.9/5.0


Friday, August 11, 2023

Quilting, Piecing, and Presenting

When I wait a whole week to write a blog post, I have too much to share! Must do this more frequently, so I don't keep you reading for too long!

Quilting on my maximalist quilt continues. I keep switching from walking foot quilting to ruler quilting to free motion quilting and back again, sometimes changing thread colors, though always using 40-weight Aurifil on top.

My color selection of 40-weight threads is limited, so that means using seven colors, one of which is not orange, though I wish it was a color I had. 

Week 2 of #30daysofimprovqal - 30 Days of Improv Quilt Along - is "L-Shapes." I couldn't help myself, as I kept improv-cutting L shapes, that it's "my week." All about Linda. Ha, ha. 

I enjoyed using two 5" charm squares from my Kantha pack in two of my blocks. blocks in the top row - far left and far right.

I don't plan to waste any bits of these precious, already-quilted, old Kantha quilt pieces - in this picture, it's the print with the spots. The green fabric on the left is linen.

As I've been piecing improv blocks, I decided to inbetween-piece leaders and enders using 1½" squares from my almost-overflowing basket. (I cut scads more pieces during my springtime romp through scrap bins.)

After seeing what @Laurie3.14 is making with her 1½" squares, I decided to start piecing too. I'll make 8" (finished) blocks using 64 patches. 

Another activity this week was giving my "Big Stitch Quilting and More" program to quilters of Lady of the Lake Quilt Guild in Lake City, Florida. About 30 quilters were in attendance. 

After my presentation, where I share info about Boro, Kawandi, Kantha, Visible Mending, Boho, and Sashiko, the guild gave prepared stitching kits to members: a small quilt sandwich with linen on top, perle cotton, and a needle, so everyone could try stitching. I don't present this as a workshop, but rather a brief exposure to taking big stitches with perle cotton. 

It was apparent these quilters had hand-stitching experience. 

I loved seeing what they tried.

Though I'm not teaching much anymore, I still find it rewarding to share something that's new to a quilter. 

Book Recommendations
You might guess that because I've been doing a lot of quilting at the sewing machine, I've been in my best book-listening mode. I have three titles to recommend this week!

My Murder by Katie Williams has an unexpected premise. It's about advanced medical technology that allows a dead person to be regenerated - cloned/restored to life. That's what happens to Lou who is the fifth victim in a series of brutal murders of women. The MO for each is the same, with the dead woman's shoes neatly paired beside her body. 

As Lou attends a regular group meeting with other victims, she's also adjusting to lost memories of her own murder, her still-close, loving relationship with her husband; and trying to be a good mother to her nine month-old daughter who doesn't "take" to the new version of her mom. As Lou becomes friends with another murder victim, both of them killed by the same man, they decide to confront him, and ask why he did it. When the they meet with him, he denies killing Lou, though this is the first time anyone has heard him say this. 

What follows is a series of englightening bits of information that lead Lou to pick up on things that maker her certain she isn't being told everything. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour is his autobiography of his birth, upbringing and young adulthood as a Palestinian Christian in Galilee where he lived in a small, neighborly village where Christians and Jews shared happy lives together. His first-hand account is eye-opening - of what happened in 1947, when Israel was given independence by the United Nations, and their lifestyle change when thousands of Palestinians were killed, and forced into refugee camps.

I sympathize with what Elias and his family endured, and admire how he turned his anger toward understanding, and a deep faith and belief that God was using Elias as a peacemaker. His story helps me better understand why there's conflict today. 

This book was written in 1984, yet contains valuable insights for today. It should be required reading for anyone thinking to visit the Holyland.

Linda's score: 4.6/5.0

Everyone Here is Lying by Shari Lapena is an engaging story about a young family that outwardly seems like every other family - dad, mom, a son, a daughter. But dad, William, is having a weekly liaison with a married woman, Nora, who is also part of a seemingly normal family of four. 

When Nora tells William their affair is over, William is distraught. He heads home, expecting to find an empty house where he can think. He finds his nine year-old daughter, Avery, at home alone, though she should be at choir practice. When she mouths back to him, he slaps her - hard - knocking her to the floor. After apologizing, he leaves. 

Later, when Avery isn't at home, and can't be found, the police are called in to investigate. The search begins. William must lie about what happened. His wife is distraught. Avery is missing, so everyone becomes suspect - a neighbor's autistic son; another neighbor's teenaged son who was seen in a tree house with Avery; and another neighbor's son who gives Avery a ride. Meanwhile, there's the nice, single nurse down the street, who knows more than she's letting on. 

I suppose this book did what the author intended which is make me detest Avery, a belligerent, mouthy, demanding, conniving nine year-old who thinks she can manipulate every adult. Ergh! I wish the book hadn't ended where it did, because I would have love to know the details of her getting her come-uppance. 

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0


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