Saturday, January 31, 2009

January UFO report

While I didn't actually finish anything from my UFO list in January, I made significant progress on three projects. I should easily finish them by the end of the month and maybe one or two others besides. Meanwhile, here is where I stand:

First up, here is the one that's closest to being done. It's a simple 9-patch throw for my son's friend. All that's left to do is to whip stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. You can see the binding clips around the edges. It will be a perfect hand sewing project to work on during tomorrow's Super Bowl. I'm not sure how far I'll get though if I have to keep looking up to watch the commercials, LOL!

This one is the result of a block exchange with two friends. The pattern originally appeared in the July 2007 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. Thanks to a timely winter storm, I had two snow days at home this week and finally took time to assemble the top. I pinned it into a sandwich tonight and it's ready to be quilted.


This is "Springing Up Fun" from a class I took last summer. The pattern is by a local designer, and was recently picked up by Nancy's Notions. Congratulations, Christine! Anyhow, I'm giving serious consideration to donating it to Brenda Novak's annual auction to benefit diabetes research. The auction starts in May, so I would want to get this finished by the end of March. It's pinned and ready to quilt.

That's this month's report. Hopefully February will be another productive month.

Friday, January 23, 2009

UFOs

To a quilter, a UFO is not an Unidentified Flying Object, but an UnFinished Object. Many of us suffer from an excess of enthusiasm for the next project. Actually, it's probably really ADD, but no one wants to admit it. I know I am not the only quilter who flits from project to project, eventually finishing some of them, but not always all of them. And my guild is proving it.

We're having a guild challenge this year to finish our UFOs. We had to list them and turn the list in during our November meeting. We have until November of this year to finish as many projects on the list as we can. Each time we finish a project from our lists we are entered to win cool prizes. Frankly, what a great idea. I am very motivated to work on what I already have rather than go and spend money for yet another project to start. My goal is also to post my progress here. A monthly UFO Day, just like TBR Day.

But first, you have to know just how bad it is. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was this bad. And I only listed things that I thought I could reasonably finish this year. As I pulled things out to list and photograph, there were many more kits and projects I left on the shelf.

First up is a picture of the shelves where my works-in-progress are stored:


There are kits, tops that need to be quilted, fabric assembled ready for cutting, and works in some stage in-between. I pulled out some projects on my list and laid them out on the floor:


This is all of the stuff I'm working on my hand. In the hoop is a 4-block sampler. The blue thing is a snowflake applique. And then there are some flower blocks for a 9-block sampler. Some blocks are by machine, others by hand.


These are tops waiting to be sandwiched and quilted. Three will be done by machine, 1 (the small pink one at the top) by hand.

These are all kits or patterns with the fabric already puchased and ready to go. I think there are 13 of them up there.


I have fabric set aside for 5 purses. One is already cut out and ready to assemble.


A top partially quilted.


Another top partially quilted and in the machine. I'll finish it by Sunday. Yea!


A top waiting to be quilted. I LOVE this quilt. I am very proud of it and scared to death to start in on it. I know exactly how I want to quilt it, but it will be slow-going and painstaking. I think I have to be in the right mood to start it.


Flower pots waiting to be assembled into a top. I think I'm going to get that started, if not finished by Sunday.


These squares and strips were cut and assembled by my mother-in-law who passed away before she got to start sewing them together. The fabrics are gorgeous and I think this will be stunning when it's assembled.

This is a fun, funky top from a class last summer. I've actually added 2 more flowers to this since I took the picture last week. The top is almost done and may also be finished by Sunday. Below is my work table where all the stuff I'm using for this project has been sitting since June:

How am I going to get so much done by Sunday? Well, the guys are going camping, woo-hoo!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TBR Day. Déjà You / Lynda Sandoval. 2007



Keishon's 2009 TBR Challenge kicks off today. This year we've been challenged to read specific types of books each month and this month's theme is category romances. I admit that not so long ago I looked down my nose on categories, but I have come to appreciate how difficult it must be to craft a good read with such a limited word count. I've been fortunate to read dozens of good categories over the last few years and I do like the fact that they're easy on the pocketbook. At any point in time I have 6-10 of them on my PDA and this month's selection is one that's been there for over a year now.

Déjà You is the second in Lynda Sandoval's "Troublesome Gulch" miniseries, published in the Silhoutte Special Edition line from Harlequin. Troublesome Gulch is a ficticious Colorado mountain town where 12 years ago, on prom night, a horrible accident occured, leaving broken lives and broken hearts. The survivors all chose careers in emergency services (police, firefighting, etc.) and eventually find faith, hope, and love. Each book in the series is about one of the survivors of the prom night tragedy.

I first saw the series on Fictionwise last January, when the 3rd book, You and No Other was released. I bought all three, read (and enjoyed) the first one, The Other Sister, but never got around to reading the other two. Until this week.

From the blurb: When a deadly apartment blaze sparked memories of the prom night accident that took her fiancé and unborn baby, firefighter Erin DeLuca ran...and lost herself for just one night. Erin was left pregnant, and the stranger who'd offered solace was nowhere to be found. Until he showed up in Troublesome Gulch. And irony of ironies, Nate Walker was a pyrotechnics engineer—and when he saw the mystery woman who got away, now very pregnant, his entire being lit up. For Erin, it was a déjà vu moment brighter than any fireworks display—not about reliving pain, but about the joy of being in the arms of a loving man....

Erin became a firefighter after the prom night accident. Her prom gown caught fire that night and she was left with burn scars over a large portion of her torso. She's had no other significant relationship with a man since her fiancé died. The book opens with her fighting a fire in which a young man dies, leaving behind a pregnant wife. The memory strikes too close to home and Erin hops in her car, drives to Denver and ends up having a one-night stand with Nate. All she knows is Nate's first name, so when she winds up pregnant she has no way to contact him. Fortunately, Nate shows up in town as he's been hired to engineer the town's July 4 fireworks and Erin's on a task force to make sure no wildfires ensue. Both are haunted by memories of the other and both are shocked to see one another again.

The book is mostly about Erin and Nate getting to know one another, agreeing to be parents together, and eventually falling in love with one another. There was a lot to like in this book. First, when they end up sleeping together they actually have a talk about protection. Erin's convinced she can't have children because of all of the scar tissue and she hasn't been with anyone since prom night. Second, when Erin and Nate meet again, Erin apologizes for running out on Nate and making it impossible for either one to contact the other. She acknowledges her mistakes. Third, Erin realizes that in order to have a future with Nate, she has to put her past behind her once and for all.

For the most part, this book seemed very real to me. There was one section near the end where Erin has a dream that was a little too other-worldly for my taste, but I could see how it would appeal to many. Nate was a typical beta hero--all around nice guy who insists on being there to help raise his child, but doesn't come across like an HP Greek tycoon insisting upon marriage. The book is nicely paced and the action and dialogue move it along well. Other characters from the town who have been, or will be, featured in the other books are there, but don't detract from Erin and Nate. There's just enough information so that you could read this on its own. I really enjoyed reading it and definitely recommend it to you if you're looking for a good category read.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Phyl's 5 Phaves from December

Heh. Bet you thought I forgot. No, just been lazy.

December was a good reading month. That's because I spent 2 weeks at my in-laws where I had quite a bit of time to read. Those long plane flights helped too...

5. Faking It by Jennifer Crusie. This description from JC's web site is a good one: She has a history of forgery she's trying to forget. He has a knack for scamming he's trying to resist. But one fateful night, their good intentions go bad, and what they get up to is downright immoral, illegal, and irresistible. This book has a huge cast of characters, but JC has a knack for helping you keep them straight and as usual this was fun and funny. I think it's only the 3rd JC book I've read and I eventually want to read her whole back list and then move on to her collaborations.

4. Divorced Desperate and Dating by Christie Craig. Another very funny book, this is also a romantic suspense as the heroine is a mystery author who is the subject of death threats. Her hero is a police detective who grew up in foster care and has abandonment issues. This book manages to be poignant as well as charming. And I was guessing about the mystery up to the end. As I was getting the link for this entry I just saw that there's an epilogue on CC's web site. I was right--Jason loves Christmas.

3. Dark Champion by Jo Beverley. This was my December TBR entry. I am now reading its sequel, Lord of Midnight. Just started it while doing my time on the treadmill tonight.

2. Dead Silence by Brenda Novak. This is the first book I've read by BN. It's part of The Stillwater Trilogy, 3 books connected by the story of a 19-year old missing (murdered?) reverend. In this book, the reverend was the step-father of heroine Grace who returns to Stillwater to put the past behind her and in the process also finds the love of her life. I found this to be an absorbing story with very well-drawn characters. I like how the mystery is revealed and that there is still more to learn in the next two books.

I have all 3 books in the trilogy which I won last year in BN's annual auction to raise funds for diabetes research. BN and I each have type-1 diabetic sons who are the same age. I was thrilled to win these (autographed!) copies and it was about time I started reading them. Book 2 is next up after I do my January TBR.

1. Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly. I blogged about this when I read it. It has continued to receive lots of good reviews on other sites as well. I'm thrilled to know there will be two more books in this series later this year.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Veiled Passions / Tracy MacNish. 2008

I finished this book a week ago and have been meaning to write this ever since. But I consider it a good sign that I still remember the book well enough to write about it. Unlike some books that I forget within days, if not hours.

Veiled Passions by Tracy MacNish is the 3rd book in a series. I did not read the others first and while I might go back and do that someday, I didn’t feel I was missing anything regarding this story by not having read them. VP is a historical set in 1777 Venice and England. The time period and setting alone were enough to make me interested in this. This blurb describes a traumatized heroine and had me eager to find out more:

Three years ago, Kieran Mullen was a carefree, confident beauty. One fateful night, everything changed, and she became solitary and aloof, reluctant to leave her London home even when her brother, Rogan, insists she accompany him on holiday to Venice. There, amid the wild revelries of Carnivale, Kieran is attacked by a masked villain and rescued by a charismatic stranger who offers her the one thing that might free her from her haunting past: revenge...Matteo de Gama is a study in contradiction - a gambler and a philosopher, a reckless libertine and a most unlikely saviour. When he pulls Kieran from a canal's watery depths and learns her secrets, he resolves to help her exact justice. But soon he has another mission in mind - to release the unmistakable fire buried beneath her icy beauty, and teach her the bliss that comes with trusting in her own desires, and in their fierce, abiding love...

Three years before the book’s opening, Kieran was the victim of a crime which left her ashamed, humiliated, and horrified. She buried herself behind an aloof, cold façade that no one could break through—not even her loving brother. She runs into the villain of this crime while in Venice. A clumsy attempt to get Samuel out of her life fails and she ends up being rescued by a Venetian who senses the depth of her despair and offers her an alternative. At first she ignores him, but when circumstances have Matteo traveling back to England with Kieran, she begins to listen and consider taking back her life by exacting revenge. Kieran is fascinated by and attracted to Matteo, but she has an awful lot of garbage to wade through.

I really appreciated how the author slowly brought Kieran along. Details of Kieran’s trauma are brought to light a little at a time until she tells it all to Matteo. The crime is not quite (although close to) what you might think it to be. Instead the crime is actually a bit more complex and Kieran’s shame much deeper. As Kieran makes a decision about how to handle Samuel we’re given a lot to think about including the nature of revenge and justice. Can these things be achieved without losing a piece of our souls?

Matteo was a wonderful hero, even too good to be true. He is the illegitimate son of a prostitute who manages to escape that cycle of life and death and become an educated, charismatic charmer. He sees Kieran’s wounded spirit and for the first time in his life meets someone he wants to take care of. He wants to help her right the wrongs that were done and takes it upon himself to do so. He feels deeply the social chasm that is between them. He recognizes his love for her rather soon, and even confesses to it, but continually tells Kieran that he’ll go back to Venice as there can be nothing between them.

I found this to be a really meaty book with a lot to consider as I read it. I liked the unusual settings and while I’m no expert, I think many of the actions, including those of the villain, were consistent with the time and place. The late 18th century was a decadent time; men of high rank had unquestioned power and while that’s no excuse for Samuel’s actions, I could understand why he thought his behavior was not out of line.

As much as I did like this book, I was disappointed in the last 20-30 pages. Kieran has a confrontation with Matteo’s ex-mistress. Now, over the course of a rather lengthy book, Kieran has learned to trust Matteo with just about everything. So why does she suddenly allow herself to believe Carina’s lies? To me this became a contrivance to set up a dramatic ending. It just didn’t ring true that after all of the changes Kieran has been through she still needs to hang onto her pride, especially since Matteo continually makes himself vulnerable to her.

Nonetheless, I do recommend this book. It was a nice long read that I stretched out over several days and enjoyed coming back to. While a couple of other reviews have said they didn’t like the heroine, I found her actions pretty believable (until the end as I just said). And Matteo was a great hero--much different than your typical historical romance hero.

One question though, for some reason I kept waiting for a mention of people and their powdered hair. It was the 1770s. What a gross custom that was. But I don’t recall seeing it mentioned once in this book. Seems like it should have been. Did I miss it?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Aren't I lucky in my friends?

So I was at quilt club Thursday night and A. hands me a little package. Inside is this gorgeous book cover. I had to put it to use right away! Thank you, A. I love it! The heart is perfect for all my romance books. Hmm. Does the purple refer to purple prose?????


Of course, here's a peak at what's inside:


I'd rather be reading it than blogging. It's quite good and I'm enjoying this immensely. It's so well written that no doubt I'll be watching for more by this author. I may even get ambitious and review it! A. & T., you guys need to read this one, too.

Lots of football this weekend. I love the playoffs! It means I'll do lots of sewing, especially with snow moving into the area. Double the reason to stay home. I did finish something recently. It's about the only sewing I've done since before Thanksgiving. I just free-motion quilted the images in this souvenir panel I brought home from Sisters last July.