A Kitty Tail and Some Catching Up

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Hmmm…someone’s been hiding and it’s not just me!  The last couple of weeks of summer are always hectic but the last two have been very, very busy with back-to-school and last-minute stuff.  Plus, yours truly had a birthday and was treated to one of the nicest weekends that I’ve had in ages!  Both my daughters were booked with school things during the day so I had a lovely sewing day and then we headed to the Portland Art Museum for their free Friday night and then to meet my husband to join us for dinner.  The next day, we went to my brother’s house and watched Doctor Who on his big screen with some good friends.  All together, a quite fabulous weekend!  Now, school starts tomorrow and week I have two fabulous days with no children during school hours!  The weather is cooler, my sewing room beckons and there are three blog hops to get ready for!  What are you doing to celebrate the change of seasons?

What’s in a $1 Scrap Bag?

Remember this big bag of yummy fabric from the quilters’ yard sale at my LQS?

My  goodies!

My goodies!

Well, today I was  in need of a fabric petting session so I decided to cut up one of the scrap bags while the kids did their reading time.  (Specifically, I cut up the one you can see peaking up on the right with the light blue showing.)  What was hiding in that little bag? Here are the contents before I starting cutting.

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And here are the usable strips that came from those pieces along with the small pile of cutting waste.

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I did a little analysis on what I had and the outcome was

Twenty-nine 2.5″ strips (12 width of fabric, 6 more than 20″ long, and 11 strips that were 1/4 of the width of fabric)

One 2″ width of fabric strip

One 1.5″ width of fabric strip

Three strings

Altogether, it adds up to just past 1-1/3 yards of fabric if I’d cut those strips from a continuous piece.  All for $1.  Now that’s cheap therapy!

Happy quilting!

Beth

P.S.  Linking this post up to “The Purge” over at Stitched in Color!

 

“The Butterfly and the Violin” is a Haunting Love Story

untitledSera James is on the hunt for a picture, a beautiful, haunting portrait of a young woman and a violin that Sera saw once in a Paris gallery. Now she’s seeking the portrait as the crowning piece to a display of Holocaust era art and, frankly, to satisfy her own curiosity about the beautiful woman with her shorn head and tattooed forearm. When a duplicate of the portrait is located in an estate sale, Sarah is delighted. The owner, however, has his own decidedly peculiar terms for helping Sera on her quest for the original portrait.
I very much enjoyed “The Butterfly and the Violin.” Skillfully woven dual timelines take the reader back and forth between Nazi-occupied Austria and present day stories. The dialogue is well done, the horrors of the camps and the daily life and death struggles are brought to vivid life. The modern story line is interesting and fresh (although I wasn’t completely taken by the ending.) I think both romance and historical fiction readers will enjoy “The Butterfly and the Violin” by Kristy Cambron and I look forward to what she writes next!
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own.

Historical Fiction Fans Will Love “A Triple Knot”

untitledJoan of Kent, cousin of King Edward III, knows that she is destined for a political marriage. Edward is engaged in a struggle for the French crown and plans to use Joan to further his goals. Joan, who has seen her father betrayed to his death by this same family, isn’t resigned to her fate as royal pawn and secretly pledges herself to one of the king’s knights. She struggles to remain true to her vow while the king continues to plot her marriage to another.
Emma Campion does an excellent job of capturing the political intrigue and manipulations that helped plunge England and France into the 100 Years’ War. The characters are vibrant and interesting and the court life is portrayed with a fine eye for detail. Joan of Kent’s story is a true one brought to life with skillful writing and excellent dialogue. Emma Campion has done her research and delivered an interesting side chapter of Plantagenet history. I believe that historical fiction fans will truly enjoy “A Triple Knot.”
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own!

A Lovely Year of Finishes Goal Setting

Well, it’s that time again. I’m trying to see what to do for August and I’ve decided (again) to finish my Jamestown Landing top this month. I only have a few rows to go and the piano-key border but it’s hot and my sewing room is on the third floor and I misplaced my mojo. (Whine, whine, whine…lol!) So, I’m going to caffeine up, sweep under the rug and find my mojo and get this one off of my piecing list! I have a friend’s quilt to quilt, too, and a baby quilt and, well…you have a UFO list, too, I presume so I don’t have to explain it.

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Linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes over at Fiber of All Sorts!

Happy quilting!

Beth

 

 

“Captured by Love” Didn’t Quite Captivate Me

captured-by-love-662x1024Michilimackinac Island has been taken by the British Army during the War of 1912 forcing residents to submit to British occupation or run away to join the American forces. The remaining citizens are left behind to survive the conflict as best they can. Angelique MacKenzie is no stranger to deprivation and violence at the hands of her cruel step-father. She longs for the end of the war to bring back her fiancé and childhood friend but instead she finds herself face to face with his older brother who is a fur trader with a bad case of wanderlust. Pierre hardly recognizes the young child he used to know when he sees the beautiful young woman. As they negotiate the dangerous situation they’ve been placed in, one thing becomes apparent. Although Angelique has promised herself to Pierre’s brother…her heart may have other ideas.
While the history of Michilimackinac Island during the war of 1812 is fascinating (the war was over for months before they were able to be notified) and the idea of survival under the thumb of an occupying force is always interesting, “Captured by Love” didn’t really grab me the way I hoped it would. It was about a three on my reading scale which places it squarely in the, “It’s not the worst but I wouldn’t rush right out and buy it.” I do give it points, however, for decent dialogue and a few nice plot twists. This book is suitable for readers in middle school and up.
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own!

“A Woman of Courage” Didn’t Thrill Me

courageAmanda Pearson has been jilted by her fiancé the day before her wedding and decides that she is going to take this as a sign to give up on romance and make her way to the Oregon Territory to join the Spaulding Mission. Instead, she finds herself alone and recovering from a close brush with death in a trapper’s cabin. His very pregnant Indian wife is grateful for her company and nurses her with care but her faith stirs anger in the trapper and his half-Indian friend. Amanda doesn’t know how she will continue her journey but prays that God will soften the trappers’ hearts so that they will be inclined to help.

I have to admit that I’m willing to suspend some belief for a good set of characters but, frankly, Amanda and her companions left me cold. Setting aside some of what I felt where, at best, historical improbabilities, Amanda is preachy and annoying. Everyone in this book has a series of standard-issue spiritual revelations that don’t feel particularly resonant or real. I realize that Romance as a genre is fond of happy endings but there is only so far one can go before the improbability factor begins to grate on the nerves. Overall, I’d give this one a three. I can’t really recommend it, but maybe it will suit someone else’s taste better than mine.

This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review.  The opinions, however, are entirely my own.

So How Was Your Weekend?

I’ll admit it.  One of the things I miss about working in an office is having the chance to exchange weekend stories.  Especially after this weekend.  This weekend was the annual Willamette Writers Conference here in Portland and I had such fun!  To make it even better, I was able to go to a Quilters Yard Sale hosted at Pioneer Quilts on my way into town for the Saturday conference.  Fabric and people who don’t look at you funny when you rhapsodize about language.  It can’t get much better than that!

So, about the fabric.  This is a yard-sale kind of sale with quilters selling everything from pre-made items to their old stash.  I started at a table with a “fill a lunch bag of scraps for a dollar.”  Three other ladies and I finished off their tub in quick time!

My paper bag of scraps!

My paper bag of scraps!

I also found a few fat quarters, a few larger pieces and a few more bags of coordinated scrap pieces.  I spent about $20 and my haul looked like this!

My  goodies!

My goodies!

So, I don’t know if you’ve read that over at Stitched in Color, there is a purge challenge going on…I think I’ve got it backwards as we were supposed to be using up but I’m adding to!  I’m going to try to see what I have in the bag and what I can plan from it.  It’s ok to start purging with what you just bought, right?

The writers conference was amazing as usual!  I took a couple of classes with Larry Brooks and volunteered in the VIP room.  On Saturday, I looked up and there was my all-time favorite author walking in the door, Mr. Ivan Doig!  I didn’t completely go all fan-girl but I did ask him after he spoke at the banquet if I could get a photo with him.  If you’ve never read his work, do read one, or two or all 14 of his books!  (My current favorite is “The Bartender’s Tale.”)

Me with my writing hero, Ivan Doig!

Me with my writing hero, Ivan Doig!

I wasn’t originally planning on going to the banquet but was gifted with a ticket at the last minute and so was able to her Diana Galbadon (author of the Outlander Series) speak, too.  What an amazing night!  She was an extraordinary speaker and now I want to read her series.

The other amazing thing at the conference was that we had two birds of prey in residence down the hall and they came to visit us once or twice.  Our fearless leader is a falconer and couldn’t leave these two home alone.   Here’s one of our VIP’s holding the hawk

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And here’s the adorable falcon that I got to carry down the hall!

Rowan

Rowan

It was a fun, busy, exciting weekend and I loved every minute of it!  By Sunday night, though, I was pretty ready for some of this

Just putting my feet up!

Just putting my feet up!

But there’s never a dull moment around here and instead, we got this

My goofy girl!

My goofy girl!

So, that was my weekend. People who love words and people who love fabric…both, in my opinion, the best kind of people out there! Now I’m off to finish some book reviews and start playing with some fabric (in between swim lessons and errands and, well, you know the drill!)

So, how was your weekend?

Beth

 

 

 

A Trio of Inspiration from Taunton Press

Recently, I had a chance to review a set of sewing/quilting related books from Taunton Press. I decided to group these together into one post for ease of reading. Some of the books didn’t translate well to Kindle format but they were formatted well enough for me to review. So, what fun books did I get a peek at?

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First up was “Hand-Stitched Home” by Susan Beal.  This book is full of fun projects focusing on using Pendleton Wools.  If you’ve been living somewhere distant for the last hundred years or so, Pendleton Wools are a staple in the Pacific Northwest and Pendleton is still one of the oldest running mills in the Pacific Northwest.  Susan has packed this book with an impressive assortment of home sewing projects that range from table runners and draft stoppers to bags and blankets.  Even more interesting to me, though, was the history of the Pendleton Mills.  Whether you choose to make the project in the distinctive Pendleton woven designs or another wool of your choosing, you’ll find a ton of fun uses for wool in this book!

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Next up is “Stitch It Simple” by Beth Sheard (with an introduction to Kaffe Fasset.) This book presents 25 simple to create projects designed to appeal to newer crafters.  Using  bright, fun colors and a modern palate, Beth presents a range of projects from aprons and table runners to totes and gift bags.  These projects have a nice range and assortment and the instructions are nicely illustrated with step-by-step directions that should lend confidence to the least experienced crafters.  I’m rather taken with the felt elephants, myself, and may have to sew up a batch.  This is a great book to start working through with a younger sewing enthusiast as many of the projects with teach new skills while achieving a quick and satisfying result.

“Stitch It Simple” is currently scheduled for a October, 2014 release.

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Next up, Anna Mazur has put together all the information you need to take your bag making up to the semi-professional level.  This book is not for the casual tote bag maker but for the sewing enthusiast who wants to turn out designer-style bags that will have your friends wondering what bank you robbed to afford such a beauty!

True to the “workshop” name, this is more than merely a collection of directions for various bags.  Starting with the definitions of tools and bag types, this book is an intensive workshop in book form that will allow serious bag makers to expand and perfect their skills.  Coming from Taunton Press in October, 2014, “Handbag Workshop” will make a great holiday gift for a bag enthusiast who wants to advance their skills.

All three of these titles were provided to me by the publisher for this review.  The opinions, however are entirely my own!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hmmm….What’s Wrong With This Picture?

So, I was working away on my baby quilt project for July. I’d busily made four-patches and then headed on to 1/2-square triangles. Unfortunately, I must have been somewhere else when I was cutting because my blocks ended up like this

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Slight size difference.  I guess my mind was saying “2-inch strips” but my hands went right to 2.5″.  These two simply won’t play well together.  However, I am a quilter and there’s always a world of possibility in mistakes.  I already have a plan…stay tuned for an update!  Oh, and I realized that I haven’t done my block count since March…I’m actually planning to go back through my posts for a count.

Does this kind of thing ever happen to you?

Beth