Monday, October 30, 2023


We had a really nice visit with our son, and grandsons, ages 9 and 13. In anticipation of their visit, I went to Target and bought the Lego Wildflower Bouquet, thanking that would entertain them for a day or so. Ha!

They finished putting it together within a couple hours. I love it. 

While Austin shot a bow and arrows for an hour or so... 

...Luke and I visited a nature preserve. We hoped to see an alligator, but no luck. Moorhens were the most exciting critters we saw. 

We spent time playing table games, with Rummikub and Mexican Train Dominoes being favorites. 

We also played boccé.

Though the visit was short, it was great seeing them!

My sewing room reset, to a guest bedroom, lasted three days and three nights. Now it's back to this, ready for playtime. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023


Company's coming! Can you tell? My sewing room has been reset to a grandsons' bedroom. Needing to reset the room occasionally is why my sewing room furnishings were intentionally chosen, to be moveable. 

Everything is pushed to the side of the room. Having company is also a great reason to remove dust bunnies! Everything has been dusted - baseboards, window blinds, and the ceiling fan.

As you might have noticed, the design wall is showing off the four foundation paper pieced blocks I've made, so far, in Amy Friend's Satisfaction QAL. Pointed Crown is 18" block number four. That red print is a newer Anna Maria Horner fabric; the yellow is a Christina Camelli print. 

To be perfectly honest, I had to piece together off-cuts of the AMH print, so as to have pieces large enough for two of the crown points. Hopefully, in the busy-ness of the print, you can't see my seams. 

In prep for being unable to use a sewing machine for several days (really not a problem for me), I finished quilting Finger Paints, and got binding sewn to four sides - a different solid color on each side. I can pick up the quilt, anytime, for hand-sewing down the binding. 

I also thread-basted my 30 Days of Improv quilt. I haven't done big stitch hand quilting for a while, and the composition of the top needs big stitch to pull together the whole design, so I'm looking forward to working on it. I'll be using Wonderfil size 8 perle cotton. 

It's been a while since I shared my Prudence English paper piecing project, but I'm making progress. A few rows are sewn together now, and I've begun removing papers where I can. I've discovered that removing papers is a nice pastime while chatting on the phone.  

Book Recommendations
Gone Tonight
 by Sarah Pekkanen follows the lives of Catherine Sterling, the 24 year-old daughter of Ruth. Catherine works in the memory care area of a nursing facility, so when Ruth begins showing signs of early-onset Alzheimer's, Catherine realizes she must not move to Boston after graduation from nursing school. She needs to spend as much time with her mother as possible. 

However, Ruth is living a series of lies that began when she was 16 years old and fled her hometown, unaware that she was pregnant. What followed were years of deception. She deceived others; she deceived Catherine. Ruth has jumped from job to job, in city after city, seemingly just as Catherine has begun to finally make friends. 

Looking into the mind of Ruth, the reader comes to understand why she's behaving as she is, just as Catherine has decided she's had enough, and decides to investigate what Ruth has told her. Now Catherine and Ruth's closeness is gone. But their trust has to be restored before it's too late. 

I found the storyline interesting because I got an little closer look into what it's like to be around people with Alzheimer's, and the mystery itself was a real nail-biter. 

In case you aren't familiar with Sarah Pekkanen, I recommend her as an author. The first book I read of hers, You Are Not Alone, was co-written with Greer Hendricks. I gave that one a score of 4.7!

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

To Fetch a Thief
 by Spencer Quinn is book #3 in the Chet and Bernie (my fingers keep trying to type "Bernina") series about Chet, a hundred-plus pound dog who knows who the "perps" (bad guys) are, and Bernie (one of these times, I'm gonna leave it "Bernina") who runs Little Detective Agency, mostly doing divorce work. But their real talent is locating missing people. 

This time, Bernina Bernie takes his eight year-old son, Charlie, to the Drummond Family Circus, only to find that the show's been cancelled - Peanut, an Asian elephant, and his trainer are missing. Charlie is certain his dad can find Peanut. Chet sure can! Peanut has a strong scent that Chet follows, taking them to a gate leading out of the circus grounds. 

Further search takes them into Mexico where a corrupt policeman and his associates do their best to harass Bernina. When he and Chet are separated, Chet is sure he smells Peanut. Chet's on the job, hearing Bernie's voice in his head telling him to "take it easy big guy." Chet thinks, "Me and Bernie. We're on the case."

I'm smiling my way through all these Chet and Bernina books. While I wouldn't want a steady diet of them, they're lightheartedly refreshing after listening to more intense mysteries.   

Linda's score: 4.0/5.0

Now, I'm all set - reset - to enjoy and soak-in being with grandsons for a few, too-short days. Linda

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Improv, FPP, Quilting

This week I finished my 30 Days of Improv (from August) quilt top. It's 52½" X 61½"

I also pieced a 56" X 66" backing that had me digging deep into stash to find larger pieces.  You can see I used improv blocks and scraps that weren't used on the front, along with cobbled-together print stash.

Though at first glance it looks like I have lots of prints in my stash, the size of each piece is often insubstantial and unusable for my purposes. Even coming up with a fat quarter or two, for making 18" FPPed Satisfaction quilt blocks has been challenging.

The cabinet and closet shelves are messy from being pawed through so frequently. 

But, I'm using up, and that's the point.

Week three (of 12) of the foundation paper-pieced Satisfaction QAL is this 18" flying geese block. I used an older Christa Watson print as the focus fabric, and a very old (from my traditional quiltmaking days) pale green floral. 

Before moving ahead on anything new, I'm determined to finish quilting this Finger Paint quilt, from the 2021 QAL. 

After first ruler quilting in every block, I'm going back in to add free motion quilting, changing-up the quilting design in each section.

Book Recommendations
 by Karin Slaughter takes place in a small town Georgia where everyone knows each other. The biggest business in town is the local college. Sara is the local pediatrician, who is also the county coroner. Her ex-husband, Jeffrey is the chief of police.

Sara meets her sister for a late lunch at a local restaurant. When she goes into the bathroom, she finds the bloody body of Sibyl, a college professor who's the sister of Lena, a detective. Sibyl was blind.

As much as Sara wants to ignore Jeffrey, they have to work together to determine what exactly happened to Sibyl. Then, a college girl goes missing. When her naked body is found on Sara's car, Sara rushes into action to save her. All the signs are pointing to a single sadistic killer. 

It's time for Sara to share a long-held secret, so she leaves a courtroom transcript with Jeffery. He thinks Sara's story connects with what's happening right now. Lena going missing confirms the need to identify that connection.

When describing the sadistic acts of a predatory man upon his victims, the author uses graphic descriptions of torture, brutality and sexual acts. For me, that's the stuff of nightmares. This is the first book in the Grant County series, but I won't be reading the rest. 

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

I was tickled to get Sally Hepworth's latest book, The Soulmate, so quickly. It didn't disappoint. 

Pippa and Gabe are happily married with two young daughters. They haven't lived long in their cliffside home, but have quickly learned the downside of such a location. The cliff's edge - the drop - is a notorious spot for suicides. With his genial personality and outstanding good looks, Gabe has become sort of a local hero, talking with nine people and convincing them not to jump. 

Until. One day, Gabe's talking doesn't work. From the house, Pippa watches what happens, and thinks she's seen it wrong. Did Gabe push the woman? When the woman turns out to be Amanda, the wife of Gabe's former employer, the circumstances of Amanda's death aren't as straightforward as they may appear. 

Hepworth takes her readers on an involved story that looks back on Pippa and Gabe's lives, from their chance meeting at a botanical garden (as she's picking up dog pooh), to their two daughters who are only six months apart in age, to the intensely reactive behavior Gabe displays in his job as an investment broker for an up-and-coming tech company. The reader also gets Amanda, the dead woman's perspective on all of it.

One of the reasons I enjoy Hepworth books so much is the narration, always by an Aussie - that lovely accent. This one was read by Jessica Douglas-Henry and Barrie Krienik, the latter being a narrator whose voice/acting I appreciate. 

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0
Life feels like that sometimes, doesn't it?

Such times, and our concerns about the Israeli conflict, make me grateful for my current Bible studies - When You Pray, and Lost - that keep me focused on the Power Who's greater than all of us, and Who knows, for certain, about end times. Linda

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Lucky me!

I don't consider myself lucky, but in 2023, I've had my share of wins. In February at QuiltCon, my win was an 18-piece fat quarter bundle of Anna Maria Horner prints; in March it was the win of an Oliso iron (my best win, ever!) and some pressing spray; and last week it was a 6-piece fat quarter bundle of Painter's Palette solids from Erin who's @intuitive.maker

And do I have a story there!

When you win an Instagram giveaway, the giver contacts you by DM (direct message)/PM (personal message), whichever you prefer to call it. The giver always asks for your mailing address. When I provided mine to Erin, you can imagine my surprise when I learned she lives in a town less than 20 miles away! When I kiddingly suggested she could deliver the bundle to me at our next Central Florida MQG (CFMQG) meeting, she was interested to learn more about our MQG chapter. I invited her to our meeting on Saturday. She attended! We met IRL (in real life). Turns out she's already an individual member of the MQG, and now she's a member of CFMQG! Is that cool, or what?! I'm looking forward to getting to know her better.

This is the scramble block, block number two in Amy Friend's @duringquiettime 12-block Satisfaction QAL. I pieced the first two blocks using the FPP freezer paper method. I have decided to go back to using foundation paper. 
18" scramble block

The reason is that after pressing the first two blocks, there's been more "wonk" than I'd like. Lotsa pieces on the bias. Amy told me that the reason she uses a paper foundation is to alleviate stretching. So for the third block I'll go to paper again, though I don't enjoy removing the paper afterward. 

This week I also spent time ruler quilting and FMQing my Finger Paint quilt. Good grief. The top was finished in October 2021! I keep putting quilting on the back burner, but I'm determine to finish it by year end.

Also, this 30DaysofImprov quilt top has been on and off my design wall since August. This week I decided to finish the top. It's almost there. I put masking tape on the design wall to delineate the edges, and give me something to aim for. Rather than doing a lot more piecing, I'm giving myself more negative space in which to do big stitch hand quilting. I've been re-motivated, imagining the triangles, stripes, and curves I'll be able to hand-quilt into it. 

Do you have those sewing room moments when you feel that "none of the above" projects are what you want to work on? That happens to me occasionally. Some quilters call them "squirrel" moments - when you (if you're a dog) see something that catches your attention (a squirrel) and impulsively take off after it. I did that this week. 

In my closet, I was moving stuff around to get to something else, and pulled out a zipper bag overflowing with selvages. Not the selvages with words and color windows (those are in a separate bag), but the opposite side - the boring selvage side of yardage. I always cut off ¾". 

I joined all those selvages end to end by slightly overlapping one with another and machine stitching - with a much-shortened stitch length. 

Then I rolled them into a ball. Now the selvage bag is empty and I have this 7" diameter ball all set for peg loom weaving. I don't really need another rug or chair pad, but I feel the need to weave. But, if I don't get to it anytime soon, at least I'm all set to go! That was a nice done-and-dusted/taking care of business moment.

Book Recommendations
After We Were Stolen
 by Brook Beyfuss is the story of a teen girl, Avery, and her brother, Cole, who are two of 12 children. Their parents are doomsday, survivalists who teach their children self-sufficiency because they are "chosen." Too late, Avery realizes that her parents have selected her to continue to increase the number of people in their family. 

One night, a fire breaks out on their compound. Avery and Cole have a chance to get away. Though they survive in the woods, they're unprepared for the real world, where their lack of education aren't sufficient in a world of too many people. When Avery and Cole learn who they really are, their lives and what they understand about life are turned upside down. They each have to find a new way to survive. 

Though this was an interesting look into a cult lifestyle, it was sad and somewhat depressing because of the challenges faced by abducted children who are returned to their real parents. 
Linda's score: 3.9/5.0

This classic, My Antonia (pronounced Ann-tone-E-ah) by Willa Cather was written in 1918. It's the story of young Jim, who, after the death of his parents, moves from Virginia to the plains of Nebraska to be raised by his grandparents. Jim arrives at his grandparents farm in the vast prairie at the same time a Bohemian family has moved into a sod home closest to Jim's grandparents. Antonia is the Bohemian family's oldest daughter who is four years older than Jim. He teaches Antonia how to speak English. They grow up together. In adulthood their lives take different paths, but their friendship remains. 

The book gives an excellent perspective on the lives of settlers and immigrants in the Midwest. Since my own grandparents were farmers, I could picture the hard lives they experienced, particularly the cold and snow - tunneling through snow to get to livestock in the barn - of a prairie winter.

I never reading Willa Cather books in school, so when my favorite Iowa author - Heather Gudenkauf - shared on Instagram that My Antonia is her all-time favorite book that she re-reads every year, I thought I should read it too. I'm glad I did. 

Linda's score: 4.2/5.0

The First Husband
 by Laura Dave is about Annie Adams who has lived with Nick for five years - she is a travel writer; he is an up-and-coming movie director. 

Every time Annie watches her favorite movie, Roman Holiday, something unexpected happens. This time, Nick tells her he's found someone else. Deciding to forge ahead with her life, Annie finds herself in the bed of a bar tender/chef, Griffin, she met the night before. A few months later, after a Las Vegas wedding to Griffin, she's shocked to find herself in small-town Massachusetts as Griffin's wife. There she meets her brother-in-law and his twin boys, and also the woman Griffin lived with for 13 years. Now Annie's not sure she still wants Griffin. Maybe she really wants Nick back.

Ugh. Too much sleeping around, deciding on a whim that this man or that man is better/worse than another. I didn't see the point. I soldiered through, and I'm glad it's done. 

Linda's score: 3.3/5.0

Ending this post on a more upbeat note... an Iowa friend shared this on Instagram this week.

Ya know, I'm okay and sorta proud of coming from a least remembered state (Iowa). How 'bout you? Linda

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Crumby Finished Quilt

Last April, as I was wildly pawing through all my scraps in an attempt to get them under control - referred to as "scarp with scraps" or "scarp my scraps" or "scarping with scraps" - I simultaneously cut up fabric and cut out pieces for two quilts. The first, a planned quilt, was Unallocated.

The second was this 71" X 85" quilt that I'm calling Crumby (pronounced like "crummy"). 

The name comes from making fabric with randomly piecing together little bits of similar colors - crumbs -thereby creating fabric. From that I cut convex and concave half-moon shapes to make blocks. I roughly followed this Harvest Moon tutorial by Megan Collins.

However, I modified some of the blocks to make these yin-yan sort of transposed blocks that I positioned around the perimeter of the quilt. 

Quilting on my Bernina 770QE involved ruler quilting circles, and free motion quilting in between those circles. Thread is light gray 40-weight Presencia. 

The backing is pieced from leftover wideback (the diagonal rainbow print), a column of scraps... 

... and one spare yellow Harvest Moon block. 

It was a windy Tuesday afternoon when I asked my quilter/ukulele-playing friend Sarah @ukesally to hold my quilt so I could take pictures! She was a trooper. 

This is outside the Big Cypress Recreation Center, where Big Cypress Quilters meet weekly. 

Sarah had her hands full, dealing with such a big quilt and the wind. Thank you, Sarah! 

While at QuiltCon in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to meet Clara of BimBamBuki. As I like to do when meeting a fellow quilter face-to-face for the first time, I made a gift - a Travel Tray. 

Also while at QuiltCon I gave Clara a block I'd made at her open request in a blog post. She asked for quilters to contribute a block of "a thing that made me happy."

I gave her a ukulele block.

After collecting blocks from 37 women, Clara pieced them - quite creatively I think; I love her unique circular layout! - and then hand-quilted this 84" X 84" quilt she named A Quilt of Things That Bring Us Joy. See more pictures at the link.

My block is in the 1:00 position. 

Clara has entered this into QuiltCon 2024 (Raleigh) in the group quilt category. I hope it's accepted!

It's an honor to play a small part in a group quilt, as I learned after being invited to participate in the making of Patty's (Elm Street Quilts) Patent Pending. That was a fun one too!

Book Recommendation
Thereby Hangs a Tale 
is #2 in the Chet and Bernie series by Spencer Quinn.

Even though this job's gonna pay well, Bernie's a little reluctant about taking on security detail for dog. However, threats have been received.

Just after Bernie (owner of Little Detective Agency) and Chet (a failed police dog) meet the prize-winning dog Princess and her owner, both go missing. Suzy, a journalist who's following their abduction, also unexpectedly goes missing.

With such high stakes, it's time for them to solve the case - for Bernie to follow his hunches, and Chet to make use of his sensitive nose and penchant for bringing down a perp by his pants leg.

I want to thank Nancy at Grace and Peace Quilting for turning me onto this series. Now my dad and hubs also are preparing to read them!

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0



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