Tuesday, December 15, 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 enough to make a second one, or even a couple of small versions. And here's what I came up with:

The "big" one measures 14" x 24". This smaller version is only 10" x 13.5" and does not have the heavy background quilting. I made 2 of them and finished them up tonight. One will be a gift for a friend. The other will be my very first blog giveaway! So, if you read all the way to the end of this post, be sure to leave a comment by 0500 GMT Saturday morning (midnight Friday night U.S.--EST) and you'll be entered in a random drawing to win. I will ship outside the U.S. Last I looked I only have a couple dozen readers of this blog. So the odds of winning are excellent. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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. One of the daughters of the family, Audrey, falls in love with the psychiatrist who has been sent to treat the patients. Jake, a doctor and Army Captain, has a tragic past of his own and is resistant at first to Audrey's overtures. Of course, love eventually wins out, but not without some bumps along the way. I especially appreciated reading a historical with this setting and would love to see more authors use it. I see that Whitfield has written several books with a variety of settings and I'd like to see if I can find more.

4. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts. Book 2 of Roberts' Bride quartet was another winner, this time featuring florist Emma and long-time friend, architect Jack. It's clear that Roberts had a lot of fun writing about the bridal business. The book is humorous as Emma and her partners deal with Bridezilla and continues to celebrate the life-long friendship between the women. Jack & Emma are challenged by their own friends-to-lovers story, because their relationship with one another impacts the other people in their lives. It seems very realistic. The only quibble I have with this book is near the end when Emma goes off the deep end when Jack doesn't seem as committed as she is. Her tirade seemed out of character from what had gone before. Fortunately, this is a relatively short digression, and the make-up scene is touching and romantic. I'm loving this series.

3. Kindred in Death by J.R. Robb (a.k.a. Nora Roberts).This was another satisfying entry in Robb's In Death series. As others have pointed out, there's great comfort returning to this cast of characters again and again. I think that's the main appeal of this book. The murder is rather gruesome and personal and exemplifies why I typically steer clear of mysteries. But the relationships in this book trump the gross stuff and I am firmly along for the ride. Once I began this one I had a hard time putting it down.

2. Sold to a Laird by Karen Ranney. If you've read this blog for any length of time, it's no secret I'm a big Karen Ranney fangirl. I love her work. It's emotional and there's usually a plot twist I never see coming. This book is no different. Lady Sarah is the daughter of an autocratic, ruthless duke. The duke insists that Sarah marry a wealthy inventor, Douglas Eston, and Sarah is left with no choice but to obey. Douglas goes along with it because he falls in love with her the moment he sees her. (I love these kinds of stories.) Soon after they are married, tragedy strikes and as Douglas cares for Sarah through the tragedy she, in turn, grows to love him. With Douglas' help, Sarah learns more about herself and her family, and finds an inner strength that she didn't know she had, although Douglas sees it from the first.

1. Marry in Haste by Lynn Kerstan. This was my TBR read for November, so I already wrote about it.