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?


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!


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.


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


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?


Sisters Re-Cap, a Manic Mom-day and a Winner!

Let’s do this in order.  First, our annual camping trip/quilt show trip was great!  Good company, great location, some funny camping stories to add to the list…everything you could want except I didn’t get to go swimming.  I did, however, get to meet Mary Lou Weidman who was at the show with an awesome Cow Quilt Exhibit and meet one of my Flylady Quilter friends at the show (along with spending a lovely day with my older daughter and cousin.)  Oh, and Nick, our 12 year-old Lab got to attend the show for the first time and he loved all the attention.  We also found an awesome place for a quick gluten-free lunch and they even sold “Butterscotch Beer.”  Here’s a quick peek at some of the fun…just what was on my phone, I only unearthed the camera today!

Of course, every vacation ends with a harsh return to real life and ours was yesterday.  My younger daughter is doing theater camp this week and yesterday started with an ortho appointment for her, followed by feeling sick at camp, followed by a rush to the doctor’s office, to the ER for pain management and then home.  The good news is that we have a plan of action to avoid this in the future but the bad news is that the preferred treatment is not covered by her insurance and would have cost $900 for the Rx!  Thankfully, there’s a totally doable Plan B.  I was a tad frazzled after all that so I was very thankful that my husband thought to bring a chicken home from Costco.  It’s hot, hot, hot here in Oregon and we are all wilting.  He said there was a line at the deli in Costco with rotisserie chickens getting picked up as soon as they were packaged.  Obviously, no one wanted to cook any more than I did!

And now, for a winner.  Thank you to everyone who commented on the 501st post giveaway.  The winner, according to Mr. Random is comment number 46. wpid-ncm_0188.jpg

Keep your eyes open for a birthday giveaway.  At the end of next month, I’ll be turning 51 which I’m hoping will be a tad more fun than turning 50 was!  Now that I’m mostly past post-vacation re-entry trauma, I’m planning a few little fun projects.  I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, happy quilting (and reading!)


“Sting of the Drone” Will Keep You Turning Pages!


Richard Clarke takes you on an exciting and terrifying thrill ride through the US Predator Drone program in this fast-paced and exciting new book from the author of “Against All Enemies.”   The American Drone program has taken us into a new kind of warfare, one where a pilot sits in a darkened room and kills enemies a world away.  Now the enemies have decided to fight back…and the results may be worse than we can imagine.

Richard Clarke has a fine and polished writing style with an eye for detail and drama that will pull you right into the story and grip you until the end.   Clancy-like in his details of military operations, Clarke makes the reader feel as though they’ve really had a glimpse into the classified world of drone warfare.  If you like action, political thrillers and a good, modern take on a dog fight, pick up a copy of “Sting of the Drone.”  I think you’ll be glad you did!

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

Greetings from Sisters!


It’s that time again, when Sisters, Oregon, becomes Quilt Town!  Today, the girls and I had fun at Scout Lake then came into town for an iced drink… we saved you a seat, wish you could join us!

A Fabulous Fourth and a Different Kind of Finish

Friday morning, the all-talented handyman husband says to me, “Honey, I have a three-day weekend and I don’t get many three-day weekends…let’s redo the entryway floors.” Well, I had, in fact, invited people to come over for fireworks on the Fourth but the baby I watch two days a week is minutes away from crawling and there are only so many throw rugs you can put down over a trashed, pine floor.
So, Friday found me pulling everything out of closets and sorting while my husband took something like 36 pieces of quarter-round off the walls (numbering as he went…smart man!)
We had an awesome time in the evening. My cousins brought their portable fire pit and we set off fireworks and hung out around the fire. I made a rhubarb crisp with rhubarb right out of the garden and an apple crisp.

The next morning, we picked up sanders at he hardware store and the race was on! By Sunday night, the final coat was on and my formally-trashed-made-of-soft-wood-because-the-contracter-was-cheap entry floors looked like this…


Pretty nice, right?  Now, if you look closely, the quarter-round isn’t back on yet but that’s because it has to be painted.  Then, the wallboard will need a new coat of paint.  Then…isn’t that how home improvements work?  One project leads to another and then another.  Hmmm, sounds like quilting!

I’m off tomorrow to Sisters for the quilt show.  On the list of things to do is another batch of book reviews but look forward to some quilty and camp photos soon. I’m taking my hexie bag and my hiking shoes so it should be a very good time!

Happy quilting.


ALYOF July Goal

Ok, so I’ve been way out of the loop on my Lovely Year of Finishes goals but the second half of the year starts now and that’s a kind of New Year’s do-over, right?

So, our guild has fabrics for baby/doll quilt inspiration and I picked up these last time.DSCN3025

I’m not sure what the final baby quilt is going to look like but I started in with four-patches and strips for 1/2-square triangles.


As you can tell, there’s a bit of excavation of the mini-sewing area that needs to happen before I can get started again!

I’m linking up to ALYOF over at Sew Bitter Sweet Designs.

“The Opposite of Maybe” Has an Unlikely (or is that Unlikable?) Heroine

71rjsiR5s0L__SL1500_Jonathan and Rosie have been together so long and are so entrenched in their childless, slightly bohemian lifestyle that friends are shocked with Jonathan proposes and asks Rosie to move across the country to start a new life and new job with him. In the midst of all the planning and packing, however, Rosie begins to wonder if her life with Jonathan is what she wants or just what she wandered into. With the help of her aging, feisty grandmother and her grandmother’s handsome live-in gardener, Rosie learns how to look at her life from a new angle…what does she want out of life?
While “The Opposite of Maybe” is well-written and the characters are interesting, it was hard to really like the main character. She seemed more whining and insipid to me than anything remotely like inspiring or empowering. That, however, begs the question of what is a main character’s job, anyway? Do we have to like them, respect them, or agree with them to be entertained by them? Probably not. In “The Opposite of Maybe” I found myself ready to toss the book and the main character overboard but the grandmother was worth the read and enchanting in a sort of “grumpy Shirley MacLaine” kind of way. So, while two of the supporting cast were intriguing, “The Opposite of Maybe” is kind of the opposite of a book I’d recommend. I give it a three for good writing but overall, I’d give it a miss.
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own.

“Daisies are Forever” Grabs but Doesn’t Hold the Reader

_225_350_Book_1200_coverGisela Cramer was sent to East Germany to keep her safe from the war but the Russians have brought the war to her doorstep, again, and she finds herself running for her life while charged with keeping her two nieces safe. Mitch Edwards has survived most of the war in prison since his capture by the Germans in 1940. His recent escape puts him in danger from all sides. A chance meeting with Gisela forms an unlikely alliance that may blossom into more…if they can stay alive that long.
Unfortunately, while this book has a good, accurate historic ring to it (which it should being based on the life experiences of two real women), it lacks the emotional depth to really grab and hold the reader. The action is interesting but the characters are lacking that spark of “spirit” that would bring them to life on the page. The story is well-conceived and nicely paced but lacks a certain zing that truly great fiction needs. Instead of living the story, we “read about” Gisela and Mitch and, frankly, I had no problem leaving these characters behind at the end of the novel. I would give this one a three. Not bad fiction but not great fiction.
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own.

“Child of Mine” is Sweetly Predictable

51sM8INLTsL__SS300_Kelly Maines is determined to find her stolen daughter no matter what tricks she has to resort to. A little deception for a good cause is ok, right? But when she meets flight instructor Jack Livingston in an attempt to see if his adopted niece is really her daughter, Kelly forgets a recent promise to be honest and creates a lie to cover her appearance in their lives. When she begins to feel a real attachment to Jack, however, she realizes that her lie might cost her everything she ever wanted to find.
This “romance with a touch of Amish” is sweet but predictable. While there’s no shortage of complications for the plot, the ending is far too simplistic to cover the reality of having your child stolen from you. It is, however, romantic fiction and we like our romantic fiction to deliver “happily ever after” so it’s an easy transgression to forgive. Kelly’s search for a daughter meshes nicely with Jack’s nieces longing for a mother and the ending will satisfy one’s yearning for a sweet ending. Romance fans and fans of Amish fiction will enjoy this novel by David and Beverly Lewis. It’s a bit like apple pie…follow a classic recipe and you can’t go too far wrong!
This book was provided to me by the publisher for this review. The opinions, however, are entirely my own!