Showing posts from 2009

Holiday Candle

One of my UFOs was this holiday candle pattern called Candles Aglow by Castilleja Cotton designs. I'd purchased a yard of a beautiful gold star fabric for the border when I bought the pattern. Even though the guild UFO challenge for 2009 officially ended last month I decided to work on this anyway because I wanted something new to hang on my front door as part of my Christmas decorating. The hard part was selecting the fabric. Believe it or not, I do not have an extensive collection of Christmas fabric. But once I got past that it took no time to trace and iron on the applique pieces. There are only 9 of them. So I got the top made and quilted the background and candles. I used a gold metallic thread to quilt flames in the background. I had to fool around with needle sizes to prevent the thread from shredding and then it was pretty smooth.

This is how far I got by Saturday afternoon:

But when I went back to work on it on Sunday I looked at my leftover gold fabric and realized I had …

Phyl's 5 Phaves from November

All-in-all, November was a pretty good month. Thanksgiving weekend was extremely quiet with only 3 of us here at home. I left the house for no more than 20 minutes on Black Friday, just long enough to pick up my Daily Diet Coke. Bring on Christmas. I'm ready!

5.5. I have to give a shout-out to "Christmas Promise," a novella by Carla Kelly appearing in the anthology A Regency Christmas (2009). Another wonderful story by the awesome Carla Kelly. Not everyone can pull off the format of telling a complete story in 100 pages, but Kelly can. A war-weary naval captain reunites with a woman he had always loved and never thought to have.

5. Broken Hero by Anne Whitfield. I started the month reading this ebook that I'd had on my PDA for ages. The book is set along the Yorkshire coast of England during WWII and involves a family that is allowing their home to be used by the British Army as a convalescent home for soldiers suffering from what we would probably now label as PTSD. …

TBR Day. Marry in Haste / Lynn Kerstan. 1998.

This month's theme in Keishon's TBR Challenge is "thanksgiving." I carefully looked through my inventory of books and I couldn't find one that matched the theme. But with Thanksgiving around the corner here in the US, I wanted to do something that would at least acknowledge the theme. So I chose this book and I'll explain my thinking at the end of the review.

I first read Lynn Kerstan back in 2003 when I began reading romance again. I loved The Golden Leopard so much that I even briefly considered putting it in my Winsor List last month. Anyhow, back in the day I ordered a bunch of her old Regency traditionals and they ended up stashed away in the closet all this time. It was time to bring them out.

Marry in Haste is the story of Diana Whitney, a young woman and substantial heiress living with her chaperone at an old manor in the country. With the assistance of the Earl of Kendal (hero of an earlier book), she is in hiding from her uncle (and legal guardian) wh…

25 Years of Quilting -- Baby Quilts

I was in my late 20s when I started quilting, and not surprisingly, many of my friends & relatives were busy popping out babies. Naturally, as a quilter I wanted to supply baby quilts. But back in those days I only worked by hand and it took me about 6 months to crank out a quilt. I wish I could have gifted more of my friends and family with baby quilts, but it simply wasn't possible. Here are 3 of the half dozen I made between 1986 and 1990. (Sorry if the images are fuzzy; these are scanned photos.)

But by 1995 I had a new sewing machine and I was putting tops together within a matter of weeks and learning how to use my walking foot to machine quilt straight lines across a quilt. When a co-worker and very close friend found herself pregnant with twins I actually managed to crank out 2 quilts AND finish them within weeks of the twins' birth.
Check out the Elvis fabric in this first one. My friend is a huge Elvis fan. The old world map fabric in the 2nd quilt was to celebrate…

UFO Challenge Ends. So, how'd I do?

At our guild meeting Thursday night, the 2009 UFO Challenge officially came to an end. I turned in a list of 28 UFOs (UnFinished Objects) that I thought I had a chance I'd work on. I finished 8. On the one hand, that's pretty pathetic. On the other hand, I kept starting other new projects. One woman in our guild reported that she spent over $900 to pay a long-arm quilter to finish her UFOs. I can at least report that I did all the work myself. But there are times I'm darned tempted to pass all those unfinished tops on to a long-armer.

So anyway, here is the 8th and final quilt for this year's challenge. It is totally hand pieced and hand quilted. It's been a long time since I made anything completely by hand. I started it back in 1995 when I taught a small class of women in my church how to quilt. I taught them some simple hand piecing methods and we made this 4-patch sampler. I started quilting it by hand a couple of years ago, but began to seriously work on it fo…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from October

My Phillies have just lost the World Series. But October was a fabulous month as they made their run this far and I have to admit I enjoyed baseball more than reading. But I did manage to pick up a few books to occupy my time between games.

5. Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas. The latest offering in the Hathaway family series was a fun, enjoyable read. Kleypas rarely fails to deliver, although this won’t be among my very favorites by her. Nonetheless, I rather enjoyed the way Harry Rutledge manipulated events to get the woman he wanted, even though it took him awhile to realize he was in love with Poppy. However, I did think that for a man as jaded and closed off as Harry, his transformation to happy family man was a little too quick. I’m looking forward to Leo’s story next. That one looks fun.

4. A Virgin River Christmas by Robyn Carr. I continue to enjoy this series and the full cast of characters in Virgin River. Once again we have a widowed heroine and a hero hiding from the wor…

Black Silk / Judith Ivory. 2002

Not long ago, Jessica mentioned on her blog that she was going to post a review of Judith Ivory’sBlack Silk. A few commenters mentioned how they were looking forward to the review. I have to admit, that got me curious. I’d heard of this book, but couldn’t remember where or what. So I looked it up at AAR and found quite a compelling DIK review of the book by Sherry Thomas. Naturally, I had to see for myself what all of the fuss was about, so I reserved Black Silk from the library and finished it up this week.

Oh my. There’s no way I can do this book justice.

If you love words, if you love rich, evocative prose that delivers you into another time and place, this book is for you. It is not meant to be read quickly, but slowly and thoroughly. That means sticking through the first part of the book with its long descriptive passages. There's not much action at first, but the setup is used so effectively to reveal the personalities and characters of the protagonists, Graham Wessit and his…

TBR Day. His Wicked Kiss / Gaelen Foley. 2006.

After a two-month hiatus, I'm back with another TBR review. October's theme is Horror. But I don't read horror and I've pretty much given up on paranormal, so we'll go with another Regency historical because that's 95% of what's in my TBR pile in the first place.

This month's book is number 7 in Gaelen Foley's "Knight Miscellany" series. I read the first 6 books some 4-5 years ago and I'm not sure why this one sat on my shelf for so long--I think it just got buried. I remember that I had really liked those books. But I admit I don't remember the details real well, just that I had always meant to keep reading her books.

Here is the back cover blurb:

An English rose blooming in the untamed jungles of South America, Eden Farraday lives a life of independence–unheard of for a lady–with her doctor–turned–scientist father. But Eden misses England desperately. When the dangerous and darkly charming Lord Jack Knight sails into her life, she s…

A UFO Finish and a New Beginning

Over a year ago my son took a beginner's sewing class & made his own pillowcase. I made him this matching throw (it's just a bit smaller than a full-sized quilt). He picked out the fabric. All that gold. Oh my.

I still have 21 of my original 28 UFOs still to finish. So naturally I started a totally new project. I took a plain sweatshirt, much like this one.

I carefully cut off the ribbing and ripped out the seams. Then I cut the body apart into a front and back. I was left with these pieces.

I spray basted the fuzzy sides to this gorgeous Jinny Beyer fabric. It'll be the lining.

And here are the strips all ready to sew to the front. Won't this be a beautiful jacket?

Phyl's 16 Phavorite Romance Novels

Jessica suggested that today, Oct. 16, we honor what would have been the 90th birthday of Kathleen Winsor, the author of Forever Amber, a classic romance first published in 1944, that some probably consider a forerunner of the modern romance novel. (I confess that I've never read this book, although I have heard of it.) Jessica credits Maili for the idea of challenge in honor of Ms. Winsor that is for us to list our top 16 romance reads of all time.

This was not an easy thing. I'd rather list at least 25. But after some thought, these are the ones that continue to stick with me (i.e. I actually remember what they were about) or I turn to when I want to re-read something familiar.

16. Parting Gifts by Lorraine Heath
15. The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman
14. An Arranged Marriage by Jo Beverley
13. To Die For by Linda Howard
12. Heart Thief by Robin D. Owens
11. My False Heart by Liz Carlyle
10. The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh
9. Tapestry by Karen Ranney
8. The Outsider by Penelope Will…

25 Years and Counting

25 years ago this fall I took my very first quilting class. I had moved to a brand new town and barely knew a soul. I was homesick and missing my old job. On a whim I decided to sign up for an adult education class at the local high school hoping that maybe I'd make a friend or two. Who knew that I'd walk away changed so very much? Eventually I made friends beyond my expectations and I gained an obsession that has never, ever waned.

So let's celebrate by looking back. Over the next few months I'll treat you to some of my early creations. Lucky you! Here's proof that both the fabric industry & I have come a very long way!

I ended up taking two sessions of the quilting class. We learned only hand sewing techniques which was fine by me because back in those days I was literally afraid of my sewing machine. In the first class we made 3 simple little projects. Here are the two that still survive today. I cannot find the little 9-patch red & white table topper.

I st…

Phyl's 5 Phaves for September

Is is October already? Don't know what it's like by you, but already it feels like November here. Yuk. I need to escape into some good books. So here are some I enjoyed in case you want to escape, too!

5. Fade to Black by Leslie Parrish. This is the first in Parrish's "Black CATs" series. The "CATs" are FBI "Cyber Action Teams" working on Internet-related crimes. This was a suspenseful, entertaining read as the team investigating a serial killer find their way to a small Virginia town because a missing girl from that town may be one of the killer's victims. The team is led by agent Dean Taggert and he works with town sheriff Stacey Rhodes to catch the killer before he strikes again. I liked Stacey because she was smart and capable, not a TSTL bone in her body. Dean is trying to juggle his job and his relationship with his young son (Dean is divorced). The characters seemed realistic and the plot was sufficiently gruesome to keep me glued t…

Summer of Two Wishes / Julia London. 2009.

In what can only be a wild coincidence, 2009 has brought us a second book with a hero who comes back from the dead after his wife has remarried. In Jennifer Haymore's A Hint of Wicked (which was a Phave back in June) we had the story of Sophie who presumably lost her first husband at Waterloo. She remarries years later and shortly after the marriage her first husband returns. In this new book by Julia London we have Macy in a contemporary story of a woman whose husband is presumed killed in Afghanistan when all that is left are his dogtags after an attack on his vehicle. Turns out that Finn was captured by the Taliban and escapes only to find that his wife had remarried just 7 months previous to his escape.

Despite the disparity in time and setting, not to mention the legal situation, both books are eerily similar. They do not tell the romantic journeys of the protagonists in what might be considered traditional romance fashion. Instead they focus on the decision the heroines must …

Phyl's 5 Phaves from August

I was going to write this up on Tuesday, but then I started reading Jo Goodman's Never Love a Lawman and, well, I just had to finish that first!

5. Never Romance a Rake by Liz Carlyle. This was one from my TBR pile that I've had for a year now. The hero, Rothewell, is one of those heroes who is about as dark as they come. A horrific childhood combined with a boatload of guilt over the circumstances of his older brother's death have filled him with a lot of self-hatred. He gambles with some very disreputable people and finds himself agreeing to a wager that, should he win, commits him to marry the illegitimate daughter of his gambling partner. Camille is desperate to be married, period, and makes it clear she supports this wager. The two are drawn to one another immediately, and must learn to make their marriage work, despite their secrets and their pasts. This was another beautifully drawn book by Carlyle that focused on the relationship between Rothewell and Camille. Camil…

Latest QBFF challenge

We were inspired when some of the mini groups in our guild showed quilts that were based on fabric exchanges. So each of the 3 of us picked out a fabric and passed a fat quarter of it to the other two.
Predictably, I picked a blue. The blue has bits of orange in it. Yes, I was going out on a color limb.
But my QBFFs picked fabrics that were not going to let me get away with something comfortable.
We ended up with this:

So, I took a deep breath and randomly pulled out a whole bunch of brighter/intense fabrics and paired some until I got 5 pairs of fabrics.
Then I made those stars I showed you a few weeks ago.

And here's what I came up with:

Mountain Wild / Stacey Kayne. 2009

Today is TBR Day. I totally forgot.

Over the weekend I read an older Karen Ranney that I downloaded from Fictionwise. My Wicked Fantasy has a paranormal bent as a ghost is involved. Rather different and since this was first published in 1998, it would have been before everyone else jumped on the paranormal bandwagon. I was going to write a review because of the way the ghost is used and the hero's insistence on the cold light of logic. But then I decided I'd rather make more stars. So I sewed instead of wrote. It'll be a Phave though.

Then on Sunday I started Karen Rose's latest, I Can See You. That was a mistake because on Monday after work I was supposed to be doing a boatload of PTA stuff. Instead, after supper, I buried my nose in the book and didn't come up until nearly midnight when I finished it. There were lots of dead bodies, an incredibly sick, twisted villain, a scarred heroine, a determined hero, and Karen's trademark tight plotting. This is the star…

I'm seeing stars

I should be working on UFOs. Instead I started a new project recently and made some pretty decent progress today. These are HARD. Irregular angles and bias edges made it hard to piece these accurately. I ripped out numerous seams until I got the hang of how to place the edges together.

I drew a star on an 8" block of freezer paper and cut it apart.

I ironed the freezer paper templates onto two 12" blocks of fabric (stacked together right sides up).

I cut out the star block adding 1/4" seam allowances.

I sewed the blocks together.

Credit where credit is due: This pattern is from the July/Aug. 2007 issue of Fons & Porter Quilting.

I can't show you all the blocks because 1) they aren't done yet, and 2) this is part of the latest challenge my QBFFs & I are doing and they aren't allowed to see it yet. Sometimes they read this blog.

UFO update

I actually finished this while on the way to California last month. It was a wedding gift for my niece and her new husband. This piano was made from a kit my late mother-in-law left behind when she passed away 3 years ago. I thought my niece might like to have something her grandmother had intended to make. The pre-printed piano keys and music-themed fabric made this a very easy quilt to put together. The curved seams are easier than they look and this was a very fun quilt to make.

So, one more UFO down. Gee. Only 23 more to go.

Oh. Just have to say--I'm never buying that cheap batting from JoAnn's again. It shed worse than a pet.

Phyl's 5 Phaves from July, Pt. 2

Many of us readers have particular authors that we gravitate toward. Their writing and their stories have that certain "something." It was no surprise as I compiled this list to realize that the 5 authors represented here are among the ones I most look forward to reading. I have gushed over a few of them in this blog previously. Without further ado, last month's Phaves:

5. Loving a Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney. When I started reading romance again about 6-7 years ago, Putney was one of the first authors I discovered. Her Shattered Rainbows is one of my top 10 reads of all time. Putney took a detour into the paranormal (with mixed results in my opinion) and then a publisher switch meant a two-year gap between books. It was with a great deal of anticipation that I read her first straight historical in some 5 years. The hero of this story is the victim of an accident that leaves him with amnesia. He suddenly appears in Mariah's life just when she's in the need of a pr…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from July, Pt. 1

In June I could not muster enough enthusiasm to select 5 favorite books from what I read. Not a problem for July! Of course, with all those miles to spend reading, I had much to choose from. So as a bonus I have 5 honorable mentions to go along with my 5 phaves. Aren't you all so lucky!?
My biases are definitely showing with this group of 10. Seven of the 10 are historicals (6 of those Regency-set). Only 1 book was a new-to-me author; the other 9 authors I count among my favorites and I try (when the budget allows) to purchase rather than borrow books by these authors.
So in this post, in no particular order, are my Honorable Mentions. Tomorrow I'll post the top 5.
Jade Lee'sThe Dragon Earl was a fascinating tale of a lost peer who has come home to take his rightful place as Earl. In this case, hero Jacob Cato was left for dead in China when he was still quite young. He had been promised to Evelyn Stanton when they were small children. Jacob returns to England just as Evelyn …

Vacation by the Numbers

1 Wedding.
1 Minor Fender Bender.

1 Lunch with a Super Librarian.Pie was included. What a treat to meet Wendy and I thank her for taking her lunch hour to make time for me.
2 National Parks. The Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.

7 States slept in. Indiana, Missouri, Texas, Arizona, California, Arizona (again), Colorado, New Mexico.

7 Quilt Shops visited. My personal attempt to aid the economy.
8 hot air balloons sighted in the cool morning air over Albuquerque as I rode to the airport on Saturday. Practice for the annual balloon fiesta?
11 books read. Several candidates for my monthly Phaves list.
11.5 yards of fabric purchased. Plus one kit and 2 notions. If you look closely at the picture you'll see some fabric with the Route 66 logo. Since we were on or parallel to Rt. 66 from St. Louis to LA it seemed appropriate to buy some Rt. 66 fabric. I also got some Southwest Indian-style fabric and have a great idea to make a quilt with it. Then just some general yardage that struck my fancy.

26 degr…

No TBR review this month

I'm on vacation and reading up a storm. But intermittent access to a computer and the internet mean no TBR posting this month. I'll be back soon!

Phyl's 5 Phaves for June. Sorta'

June 2009 was probably my lightest reading month since I began this blog. I read 11 books. Normally I read at least 20. I just ended up getting busy with stuff, not to mention I had to finish a quilt for the wedding I'm attending tomorrow. (Picture to come.) As I look at the list of what I read, I will say that I enjoyed them all, but really, only 3 deserve the status of "phave." They are:

3. Gotcha! by Christie Craig. I continue to thoroughly enjoy these funny books with their witty dialogue by Ms. Craig. Can I call them light-hearted romantic suspense? That seems an oxymoron. There's definitely tension as the heroine is being stalked by a seriously bad dude. But her attitude, her relationship with the hero, as well as her relationships with her family members are wonderfully depicted. The secondary characters are lively, not dull wallpaper background for the hero/heroine. There's snappy pacing and it was truly hard to put this one down.

2. Don't Tell by Kare…

Sh! I'm supposed to be packing

We're headed out west in a few hours. Driving cross country to my niece's wedding. With DH doing the driving I should get lots and lots of reading done. No blogging though. I owe a 5 phaves for June. Sigh. Happy 4th everyone!
When I get back, pictures of the quilt I made for a wedding gift. Simple, but striking.

A color lesson

Our retreat this year featured an opportunity to make a mystery quilt (instructions are passed out in phases--you bring the required fabric, but have no idea what you'll end up with). I had cheated by finding the pattern online. I decided the project would be a great way to use up some of my green fabric and make my first monochromatic quilt. Here's the quilt top that I finished the other day:
As I selected the fabrics for this I first aimed for some true green in the 3 required values of light, medium, and dark. To add interest, I chose greens that were on the yellow side of the color wheel and on the blue side of the color wheel.

Now that I study the completed top, I see that I should have worked harder to incorporate the blue/green. Only one blue/green fabric stands out, but you can see quite a bit of yellow/green. When I picked these fabrics, I really liked how they looked together. Indeed, I still do. But after making Springing Up Fun and my Flower Pots, this quilt seems k…

TBR Day. Dead Giveaway / Brenda Novak. 2007

This month's TBR theme is "tortured hero or heroine" and I think Clay Montgomery from Brenda Novak's Stillwater trilogy fits the bill.

I was the winning bidder last year at Brenda's auction for an autographed set of this trilogy. I finally got around to reading the first book back in December. I liked it very much and really meant to read the next two sooner than this. But conveniently for me, when I needed a tortured hero I knew just what to read.

This romantic suspense trilogy tells the story of the Barker/Montgomery family who is deeply affected by the mysterious disappearance of their father/step-father, the Rev. Lee Barker, some 19 years before the books begin. The Rev. Barker was a beloved figure in tiny little Stillwater, Miss. and despite a total lack of evidence, step-son Clay Montgomery was presumed guilty of murder. With no body, Clay was never charged, but he is largely shunned and left friendless over the years by a community convinced he is to blame …