Sunday, September 2, 2012

August UFO

I've been very productive this summer and stayed on track in my sewing room to finish lots of projects and quilts.  Here is my finish for August.  I was so disgusted with this one, it almost ended up in the trash.

I started this during a class several years ago.  All pieces are cut with a 60 degree ruler and every seam in there is a Y-seam!  Well, the teacher used my fabrics to demo the technique and cut my fabric the wrong direction!  So, I had to proceed doing the entire quilt backwards with the angles and Y-seams.  Well, I did it but I don't think the effect worked so well color wise.  The quilt is named "Pretzel Party".  My daughter thinks it looks more like a Jewish star.  It think it is sweet and would make a lovely quilt for a baby girl.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Book Club titles

August went by so fast, I didn't get our August selection posted.  It was more of a "classic" that I recommended.  It isn't really so classic, just about 15 years old but a wonderful story of strong women, their culture, and bonds during Old Testament times.  The book was The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant, published in 1997.  It's the story of Dinah, only daughter of Jacob, and sister to Joseph.  It's a very powerful and moving story, definitely a "chick" read.  I read it when it was first released and loved rereading every page for book club.

The Red Tent

September's selection is more contemporary and a little wacky sounding.  But we all loved the story summary and I've got it downloaded on my Ipad.  It's also available in paperback which is a prerequisite for our book club.  Here it is:


The book was written in 2011 by Karen Russell.  It's about a family living in Florida, running a gator wrestling theme park.  Here's an excerpt from the review on  The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

I can't wait to read it!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

End of Summer Flowers

My husband sent me these beautiful flowers, delivered during a staff meeting at school Friday.  There was a lovely note about our fabulous summer.  It was fabulous.  We went to Monterey, Lake Tahoe, New York City, Cedar City, and Pine Lake.  It is fun being empty nesters!  I'm ready for the start of a new school year tomorrow.  But we already have several weekend getaways planned for the fall.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cooking up Salad Nicoise

We seem to get in a cooking rut at times, especially here in the four months of 105+ temperatures.  It's just too hot to use the oven, so the grill is big and so are salads.  Well, I was in a salad rut so I tried something new this week.  I went to my favorite cookbook author, Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  It seems her recipes are easy to follow and use good fresh foods.  I didn't know if my husband would like this but he does love Ahi Tuna, so I went for it.

Here's the recipe -- I was a little worried because there was a recipe within the recipe for the French Potato Salad.  But I made it through all the pages and it was wonderful.  My husband gave his approval and said it was good to have again.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August UFO - Swoon

I am just crazy for quilts!  And this was a lot of fun to make.  The pattern and fabric line is by a mother/daughter team.  Their patterns and fabrics are so bright and happy.  The quilt pattern is named Swoon, and it almost made me swoon with delight!  The pattern required 18 fat quarters and that's for real!  The blocks are 24".  I added the two borders.  I just thought the quilt was floating with all the white out there.  It's big, 90" X 90".  I think it is destined for a niece of mine.  It just looks perfect for a sweet little girl, don't ya think?

Here's a closer look at one of the blocks.

And a closer look at this scrumptious border fabric:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reading and Listening

Summer vacation is winding down for me, it's back to school next week!  It is always exciting to start a new school year.  I know my reading time will be limited again.  It is such a luxury for me to spend time reading because unless I listen to an audio CD, I can't multi task.  I know I should get over it and just take time to read each day.  Maybe I will!

Anyway, here are some highly recommended books.

Vaclav and Lena 

Okay, I really LOVED this book.  It is wonderful and heart wrenching at the same time.  Vaclav and Lena meet in Brighton Beach at age six, children of immigrants that are in the same English as a Second Language class.  Vaclav dreams of becoming a magician with Lena as his lovely assistant.  But Lena doesn't really have much of a home with her aunt who works nights at a "nightclub".  Vaclav's mom comes to her rescue which leads to a separation for the two friends.  They do reunite years later.  There is much sorrow but more wonder with a sweet ending.  I loved every page.

Emily Griffin Where we belong
This was another lovely story, bittersweet and I'm not sure the ending was happy but more unsettled.  It's about a woman who gives a baby up for adoption at 18.  Of course, you can guess, the daughter shows up at her Manhattan penthouse door late one night.  There are many bumps for each of them as they try to fit into each other's lives.  And there is a lot of self reflection, drama, and tears.  But overall I loved it.  My daughter has it now.  It's a quick, easy read and worth the time.

Deep Dish

Mary Kay Andrews is a writer I enjoy.  She's funny, plots are easy to follow, and there's usually a happy ending!  Sometimes that's just what you need when you sit down to read a book.  This doesn't disappoint.  Gina Foxten is the host of a TV cooking show, Fresh Start.  Her life is falling apart -- her boyfriend is sleeping with a married woman (and the show's sponsor's wife), her show is about to be cancelled, and her younger sister is living with her in the condo she will soon be unable to afford.  Tate Moody is the host of a rival TV show and they are thrown together in a reality show cook-off with the winner getting a new show.  It's predictable at times but always enjoyable.  I listened to this book.

The Paris Wife

This quote is from Paula McLain's website and is a great teaser for the book (which I listened to): 
The New York Times Bestseller
Set during a remarkable time, the same period as Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises, Paula McLain's The Paris Wife brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman—wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother—and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the twenties.

I have several friends that read this and recommended it.  One thought it was too sad and depressing.  Another loved every page and was inspired to re-read Hemingway's novels.  I'm with the second friend.  I just loved this too.  Hadley is very strong and really does triumph eventually and finds happiness, which we all know Ernest never did.  She was his first wife, married her at 21 and they went to Paris where Ernest wrote the Sun Also Rises, met Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and his second wife.  I may find time to read some of Hemingway's novels again -- it's been since college and that was a long time ago!

Anyhoo, these were all winners in my humble opinion.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Frayed Dresden

I found this quilt out in our family room when we got home from vacation too.  It was a quilt as you go quilt with the frayed edges look.  It's my older daughter's quilt. 

I really love the pale turquoise background with all the bright colored Dresden blades.  I think it's very hip for today's girls.  This was the backing.

I could make another one of these quilts!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Snowball Quilt

We came home from a vacation and found this quilt out in the family room.  Guess one of our girls were wrapped up in it while watching TV.  It's only 106-110 here right now!  It's a snowball pattern.  This is a great scrap quilt pattern and super easy to make.

I had some of that lovely bright green polka dot fabric left over from an old project.  It's very neon there.  I even pieced the backing from scraps.

This quilt would not win any beauty awards for sure.  But it does feel nice and warm when you wrap yourself up in it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pretty Pillows

This pattern I showed you several months ago.  It's a lot of embroidery and some sewing, two things I just love to do.  I made it in two color ways -- one for a boy and one for a girl.

I just think they are super sweet.  I love the song Twinkle, Twinkle, little Star so that's why I bought the pattern.  Someday I'll learn to stuff pillow corners correctly!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Oldie but a GOODIE!

My grandmother was an amazing quilter.  She retired to a very small town in Arkansas and shopped at Walmart for fabric.  There wasn't anywhere else nearby and she was not interested in computers or internet purchases.  She also used her own vintage fabrics -- things she had saved.  She died several years ago and I still miss her a lot.  I was given three of her quilt tops to make into quilts.  The first one is done.  It's a bowtie quilt.

I just finished the binding on this big quilt and have a plan for it, which cannot be revealed in this place.  I do cherish it though.  She signed a corner block and had finished the quilt top in 1993.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Some good books

This post is definitely more positive.  These are some great books (in my humble opinion) and these are highly recommended.  I am still a big fan of getting them from the library.  I make a trip there weekly.

Product DetailsI really loved this book although it did take me awhile to read it.  It's about a little girl with Hansen's disease (leprosy) taken from her family to live on the island Moloka'i for most of her life.  It is so interesting,  heartbreaking, and uplifting.  I love her story and couldn't wait to get back to it when I had to put the book down.

 Burnt MountainThis book I also loved.  Anne River Siddons is a good author and I usually enjoy her stories.  This was not an exception.  There's love, romance, mystery, heartbreak, and laughter in the book.

Porch Lights: A NovelI listened to this book while finishing some quilts in my sewing room.  This was a great summer read (or listen).  It's a great story about a mother, her young recently widowed daughter, grandson, handsome doctor neighbor, estranged husband, best friend, and a hurricane.  You'll enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July UFO

I've also been busy sewing.  I am on a roll with it and loving it.  It seems I didn't have much enthusiasm the past few months and am making up for that now.  This is a really quick and easy quilt.  I bought the fabric in a sweet quilt shop in Texas last summer.  I tried to machine quilt it myself and had bobbin tension problems and just plain gave up!  I took out my awful stitching and took it over to a favorite longarm quilter.  She quilted just what I tried to quilt, wandering stars.

I just love these fun cowboy fabrics.  Here's a close up:

And don't you just LOVE this backing?  It's an Alexander Henry print.  He makes some fabulous big prints.

This will be a Christmas present for someone special this year.  Giddyup!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Books - You Decide!

I've been able to get quite a bit of reading and listening done lately.  I don't know why I'm on such a roll but I do love having time to read.  These are a few of my recent reads that I wouldn't rate highly.

Truth Like the Sun 

This novel is about the man behind the Seattle World Fair and construction of the Space Needle.  A journalist is covering a story about him and the fair and uncovers some unsettling information about Seattle's hero.  It moves back and forth in time.  It's well written but the main character just exhausted me.  I made it to the end of the book with a great deal of effort.

Skinnydipping: A Novel

This book was written by the popular Bethenny Frankel and is on the NY Times bestseller list.  Same as the last book, it's fairly well written.  But it's a little too trendy and hip for me.  It's hard for me to think women actually live like this.  And the protagonist is a little too frenetic for me, again I was exhausted by her escapades.  But it's a big seller so most people must like it.

The Next Best Thing

 I like this book a little better and have enjoyed this author.  Her stories are really deep and well developed, but they usually entertain the reader.  This was okay.  I liked the story line and small town, overweight girl making it big.  But there were some glaring problems in the book and I'm surprised the editing wasn't better. 

These are all fun summer beach type books.  I would get them from the library, none are really worth an investment in my humble opinion.  But you decide == you might love them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Making Applesauce

I went out into our back yard and picked some apples last week.  There were a LOT of apples, seems it was a great crop for us.  But the two of us could not eat all these apples before they went bad.  

These are from our tree.

Added some from the fridge that weren't the best flavor raw.
Here's the finished product, 8 pints and 4 half pints, no sugar added.  I use these for fat free baking and with pork chops and pork tenderloin.  It was lots of work but worth it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A New Book, sad though

The Dovekeepers: A Novel
I've tried to read this book twice, and just couldn't make it through.  It's so sad.  The women are powerful and withstand so many heartbreaks and tragedy.  It just didn't seem there was a glimmer of hope for any of them so I put it down again.  Maybe I'll come back to it someday.  It is highly rated and reviewed.  Of course, Alice Hoffman is a marvelous author.  Below is the Amazon Best book of the week review.  You can decide for yourself.

Yael was born of a dead mother and father who knows how to become invisible. Revka learned silence when her grandsons lost their voices after witnessing their mother’s brutal murder. Aziza became a boy to protect herself, and hates being forced to turn back into a woman. And Shirah will do anything to protect those she loves from the horrors of the world. The power and violence of these women is evident in every word of The Dovekeepers. Hoffman’s prose is vivid and unforgettable, scorching like the desert heat, and will stay with you long after you finish the last page. A story of sacrifice, endurance, and above all, survival, The Dovekeepers is homage to anyone who’s ever held fast to their beliefs in the face of nearly insurmountable adversity. --Malissa Kent

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

June UFOs

I was busy during June finishing lots of UFOs.  Most of them were smaller projects left hanging around my sewing room for years.  You already saw On the Line on June 23rd's post.  Here are several other projects I finished last month.  It feels great to have them done and my gift chest is replenished.  I just love giving a hand made present to someone special.

From the Smarty Pants pattern; cute baby gift; I've made 6 sets

Tiara pillow #1; those are lots of French knots with metallic thread, not fun!

Tiara #2

Sweet jacket but the little girl is too big for it now!

Jacket pattern, really fun and easy, just time consuming.

Thanksgiving coasters

Christmas card baskets, lots of tutorials if you Google it.  They are tedious to make, my yarn is messy!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Book, fun author

Sonoma Rose 
I found this new book by a favorite author, Jennifer Chiaverini, at my local library. It was prominently displayed on their Claimjumper shelf.  That's a shelf for new releases that are available for a three week only check out.  Well, I've read many of Jennifer's quilting themed books and was disappointed by the last few of them, just seemed a lot of repeated plot from previous books.  Well, this one was a fun surprise.  It's all new material about a lady who must be very brave to protect herself and her children during Prohibition.  She has an abusive husband, old love, grandma's quilts, and a winery to contend with.  I recommend this, but check it out from the library.  You'll have it done in a couple of days and it will be time well spent.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Easter Baskets

Sweet Jelly Bean Basket

Here's one for one of the big guys

A couple of these for the baseball players

Vintage for my sister

Mod for my daughters

More jelly beans

The table is all set and looks lovely, I think!

So this post is pretty late being published.  I debated about it but decided these baskets were just too much fun.  I found the idea on another fabulous blog,  These were quick and easy to make with  minimal sewing.  I used brads to attach the handles.  My husband freaked out when I decided two days before Easter to make baskets for the 14 coming to brunch.  He thought they were full sized baskets.  These are small and were our table decorations and placecards.  We put Easter grass, a paper egg for names, a Peep, and a $5 giftcard in each baskets.  It was fun deciding on each person's gift card and was more work than I thought driving around to buy them all.  It was a fabulous day and everyone raved about everything.  Here's a Honey Bun I bought at the local bread shop for the table too, isn't he sweet?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Club Titles

The Art of Fielding This was our book club selection for May, so you can see I'm a little behind.  Anyway, it was a fabulous read, in my opinion.  I read it on my Ipad and I couldn't put it down.  It was on the New York Times list of best 2011 books.  It's about a star college baseball player.  But it is more than a book about baseball.  It's a campus novel and a romance.  It's also a book about life, searching for perfection, literature, and finding yourself.  I highly recommend it.  Most everyone in our book club loved it.  I have a bias towards baseball since both of my nephews are stand out players and I've been to lots of games in my lifetime.

Our June selection is this: 

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting FulfillmentI'll be on vacation so I won't make the meeting.  I want to read it though, it's all tips on being "happier".  And who doesn't want that?

Our July read is a decadent beach read.  We chose Norah Roberts, Sacred Sins.Sacred SinsWe decided most of us take a beach vacation sometime during the summer and take a sexy romantic novel to read with us.  So we decided to pick one, spend a few hours at the beach, and get it done.  No stress, analyzing, looking up words in the dictionary, literary guides for us in July!