Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Mid-Spring Book Report and a Summer List

Today was book group day.  A very good day.  Did I tell you that I'm now in two book groups?  (In 2013 I was in 0 book groups!)  And they meet on the same day?  And this month we discussed the same book?  My favorite book from last year -- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  (Have you read this yet?  Please do.)  A very, very good day.

On our pal, Christie's,  recommendation, Clay and I read The Girl You Left Behind last week.  So good.  Like The Goldfinch, this story centers around a painting and the people who become tangled in its ownership.

And then, because Jojo must love me as much as I love her (and she must know how I hate to say goodbye to my favorite characters), she wrote Honeymoon in Paris, a little book which is only available in e-form, and is a quick read and a sweet addition to the novel.

I was excited to read Amy Tan's Valley of Amazement.  But then I was amazed to find I didn't much like it.  I have loved every other Amy Tan novel, but this one was long, repetitious, sad and gave the full inside scoop into early 20th century flower houses in Shanghai (please don't call them prostitutes.  It's completely different.  Did you know that?  Do you care?  After the first 100 pages, I didn't.  After 589, I still didn't.)  I'll read her next one, but if I never see the word "pudenda" again, I'll be really, really  happy.

I listened to The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin in the sewing room, but I want to buy a copy and hand it around to my friends.  This is a beautiful book, set in Washington state at the turn of the century.  It's all about strangers and saviors -- what do we owe to those who simply appear in our lives?  (The reader of this book on Audible was amazing.)

2014 Summer Reading List:

First off, I'm reading Alice Munro's Runaway for our friend, Tim's, library reading group.  Actually, after returning the book to the library after I failed to get past the first story in the two weeks I had the book, I'm now going to listen to it while I sew tomorrow.
Then, for June book group, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

This one, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase, is an NPR recommendation.  It was published in 1983, and is set on a farm in Ohio.  Why have I never heard of this book?  Crossing my fingers . . .

Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman was recommended by my friend, Becky, who read it with her son's reading group -- they read some very interesting books.  This one is the the story of Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland, who raced around the world in 80 days a la Jules Verne.  I am really looking forward to this one, although my last few forays into historical fiction were sad disappointments (The Aviator's Wife, Loving Frank, The Paris Wife) -- but since I have no great pre-conceived notions about Nelly Bly as I did about Lindbergh, Wright and Hemingway, I bet this willl be enlightening and fun.

I See you Made an Effort:  Compliments, Indignities and Surreal Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch.  Do I need to say more?

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.  This one has been on my Amazon wish list for months.  It was an "if you liked The Goldfinch . . ." recommendation. The story revolves around a 14 year-old girl and a teapot -- I'm not sure where the wolves come in to the story . . .

 And One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, which comes out in July.  I can't wait, I can't wait, I can't wait.


Also on the list:  My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner, I Shall Be Near You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman.  The summer won't be long enough . . .


Monday, May 19, 2014

SMS Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to all who commented on my SMS Giveaway -- the winner is Bonnie from Illinois!
(I used that random number generator thingie again, and it came up with #43.  I wish I knew how to post a picture of that here like so many bloggers did.  I wish I wasn't so lazy and would go find out how to do that!)

But I had a wonderful time looking at all the Giveaways, and am now following a lot of new blogs through bloglovin'.  I think it's a little easier to follow blogs through this site than other ways I've tried before.

And, of course, so I can be like the rest of the kids on the playground, there is a bloglovin' button over there you can use to follow my blog, too.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day! A Gardening Apron

I think I've told you before how much I appreciate Sew, Mama, Sew -- it's a website dedicated to furthering sewing interest and skills, full of tips, tutorials, patterns and ideas.  If you like to sew, or want to learn, you should bookmark SMS ASAP!

Twice a year SMS sponsors a Giveaway Day, on which sewists like me can say "thanks" to the sewing community by giving something away on their blogs.  This spring, my giveaway is this gardening apron:

Last year, I knew I needed to make myself an apron like this for my gloves, shears, and other gardening tools.  But I never did.  I just kept setting down my shears and then forgetting where I put them.

So this year, as we enter the high gardening holy days, I decided to make myself one.  And then I thought someone else could probably use one, too!

The fabrics are all things I had in my sewing room.  My sister handed on the main fabric to me last year -- someone probably donated it to preschool!  It's a coarse fabrics with a wide weave, and not soft enough for pillow cases or pillows -- but perfect for an apron.  I used a lot of fusible interfacing in hopes of making the apron sturdy enough for outdoor use.  The turquoise and green are left over cottons from other projects.

I didn't have a pattern, but looked at many aprons on pinterest, and came up with this -- it's basically a rectangle with pockets and ties!  I constructed it like a pillowcase, so I guess you could say it's reversible.  If you like your pockets on the inside!

Inside the right pocket, I put in another pocket with velcro -- I thought this would be good for a cell phone, and hopefully would keep it clean:

And on the left side, I added a fabric-covered elastic loop for a garden tool.  I had seen this in many garden aprons, and thought it might come in handy:

I top-stitched around the whole apron for a little more structure.

If you would like to win this giveaway apron, just leave a comment below -- tell me just a little something about why you love to sew or what you love to sew.  I'll use one of those random-number generator thingies to pick a winner, and you have until Friday evening at 8:00 to enter.

Now, I'm off to look at some of the participating giveaway blogs.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweet Spring Flowers and a Quilt


I wish you could smell them, because they would make you happy.

Until I come up with something better, my old-fashioned lilac bush is the best place to hang little quilts for outdoor picture-taking.  And when the lilacs are blooming, it's a double treat.

This is my most recent completed baby quilt, made for friends of Will's who just had a sweet baby girl.  The fabrics are from the Wee Wander Collection from Sarah Jane Studios, supplemented with some orange I had in my piles of fabrics, plus the yellow with orange dots I found at Sharynn's Quilt Box in North Vernon. 

I divided the main panel of children catching fireflies and inserted two rows of pinwheels, a la Stacy at freshly handmade -- such a great idea.  I added some sashing, and a border of more pinwheels, because now that I have the great ruler I told you about earlier, these half square triangle blocks are much more fun.  

And I'm doing a little better with my machine quilting.  

After lots of reading, I realize that there are several keys to good machine quilting:  a sharp new needle, good thread and correct tension.  And practice.

I think I went a little overboard on this one, but things were going so well, and I just kept quilting.  And quilting.  And quilting.  

I added a few little words:

Peace is on there somewhere, too.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring! Sewing, Socks and So Forth

What is more beautiful than daffodils after a harsh winter?  Not much.  

Someday, I hope to have thousands of daffodils all over our yard, just like my grandma did.  She had all varieties, from tiny narcissus to jumbo all-yellow King daffodils.  Grandma would always send my mom home with a huge bouquet, and we kids would get smaller ones, wrapped in a wet paper towel and aluminum foil.  

Last October, I wrote "PLANT BULBS" on our kitchen chalkboard.  Then, one evening, our friend Blake came for supper and told us that he always plants his bulbs in "that thaw we always get every January."  So, since he's a smarty about all things horticultural, I thought I would follow his advice.  Guess what?  No January thaw.  No February thaw, either.  So, just a few daffodils in our gardens.  Next year . . . 

Meanwhile, I love the daffodils that are there, even though they might not be too beautiful by Easter:

The yearly photo of the star magnolia tree.  It is beautiful, but delicate, and a strong breeze or rainstorm will send white petals everywhere.

This quilt along I'm participating in really has me itching to sew more.  Since I am knitting socks now, and have plans for more, I thought I needed my own little sock knitting bag like the one I made for Christie a couple of years ago, over there on the left.  

You know I have this thing for matroyshkas and matroyshka fabric -- this bundle is called Little Matryoshka from Riley Blake -- so cute.  Once again, I used this easy-to-follow free pattern from Pink Penguin -- she had designed it originally as a lunch tote, using laminated fabrics.  I want to try that soon, too. 

 Drawstring top:
 And it holds all the sock knitting paraphernalia just right:
Almost to the toe!

I'm finally delivering a wedding present to a sweet couple who were married in November.  So many people helped to make this wedding so special -- all the friends of the MOB pitched in to decorate, cook, sew . . .   The prayer flags decorating the reception space were my contribution:

So I made Annie and Andy a pillow to match:
 It's that same easy applique technique I used on the Disney pillows last fall -- just use the darning foot and sew around and around till you get what you like.

I tried to sew in symbols of a happy marriage -- a home, rings, heart, cross.  Plus their wedding date.

I forgot to take a picture of the back, where there is a little pocket for love notes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Layer Cake Sampler Quilt -- Blocks 9 and 10

Here are my next two blocks in the Layer Cake Sampler QAL hosted by Material Girl, Amanda.

I've seen this block called "Windblown Square" in quilt books.  I really like this one.

And  I found one reference to this one which names it "Octagon,"  but I'm not really sure why.
 I had big trouble with this one -- my points just weren't coming together correctly.  But I purchased a new ruler mentioned by one of the participating bloggers and I think my next two squares will come together much better.  (I'll let you know!)  Plus, Amanda has linked to some good sites for piecing advice, which I'm going to go read right now, before I start on 11 and 12.  Today, I am 4 blocks behind -- Friday, I will be 6 behind!

And here are my wonderful prizes which arrived yesterday:

The jelly roll is a beautiful spring palette, designed by Marjolein Baslin -- I love her watercolor greeting cards, but I didn't know she was a fabric designer, too.  I can't wait to make something from this bundle.  And, I can't wait to paint my nails, but I think I'll wait until after I get back from retreat at the CYO camp this weekend. Many thanks to Heather at CT for donating this prize!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Small Thought for Today

I, like every other human (and most cats) on the Earth, like to think I am right.
And sometimes I am wrong.

But even if I am wrong according to civil law, church law or just popular opinion, I hope I err on the side of peace, justice and love.

Perhaps that will be my new motto and bumper sticker:  Err on the Side of Love.

Because that just can't be wrong, can it?