Showing posts from 2011

Phyl's 5 Phaves for November

November was a great reading month. I read quite a bit, helped in part by Thanksgiving travel that saw me trapped in the car for hours on end (I'm a good in-car reader as I let my DH do all the driving). I really liked almost everything I read and it was not easy to pick my top 5 for the month. The "winners" include not one, but TWO "chicks in pants" historicals. Loved them both.

5. SEAL of My Dreams by various authors. This anthology was released on Veterans Day and I was happy to purchase it as the proceeds go to a worthy cause. The stories in the book are quite short and some are better than others. Overall, I really enjoyed this. They are a wonderful tribute to the sacrifices that military service members make on behalf of our country.

4. Sea Change by Darlene Marshall. Besides being a very nicely done romance, this book was a fascinating look at life at sea during the early 19th century. This was the first of the two books I mentioned above featuring a her…

T-shirt quilt for 2011 Brenda Novak auction

My 2011 contribution to the Brenda Novak Online Auction for Diabetes Research was to make a t-shirt quilt for the winning bidder. The winner gave me a pile of old t-shirts and I turned them into a twin-sized quilt. This turned out to be an especially fun thing to do, because this pile of old t-shirts represent special memories for their owner. It was interesting to get a small glimpse into the life of the winner.
My first task was to turn the shirts into blocks. Because the motifs were of various sizes, I had to do some planning. Fortunately the winner was willing to let me design this however I liked. Being a tad anal, I decided I wanted a symmetrical look to the quilt. I also did my best to balance the colors, although that orange t-shirt did throw things off! I created 10 12-inch square blocks and then 4 blocks, all 15 inches wide, but of varying heights. Here is the layout I decided on:

I had a discussion with the winner. We decided green would make a nice background for the shir…

TBR Day. Christmas at Candlebark Farm / Michelle Douglas. 2010

I found this on my Kindle when looking for a holiday-themed book for this month's TBR Challenge. I have no idea what prompted the purchase. But when I saw it was Australian-set I thought it might be fun to read a Christmas story set down under where it is hot and sunny right now (as opposed to cold and rainy like it is here).

Keira Keely is a young woman, 10 weeks pregnant thanks to an IVF procedure. She has no man in her life and is looking to have a baby now because a medical issue could prevent her from getting pregnant later in life. She has taken temporary lodging at Candelbark Farm while she arranges the sale of a house she'd inherited from a great aunt.

Luke Hillier is a widower with a 15-year old son. Luke has to work long and hard to keep his farm running; he's renting out a room to earn a little extra cash.

This book is full of some fairly common themes or stereotypes:

Kiera is sunny and optimistic about almost everything.Luke is gruff and anti-social.Luke can…

Coming Home for Christmas / Carla Kelly. 2011

Christmas-themed books are a popular staple this time of year. The frequently-used themes of home and family are popular images we like to associate with the holidays. Often, though, circumstances force people to be away from loved ones at this time of year, and the three novellas in this collection explore that idea. Although the title includes the words "coming home," only the 3rd story involves a journey home; the first two stories take place far from the leads' homes.

Carla Kelly has put together a wonderful collection of stories here that involve three members of the same family, each from a different generation. Thomas Wilkie is a British Naval surgeon stranded in San Diego in 1812. The second story is about his widowed daughter, Lilian, who is one of Florence Nightengale's nurses in the Crimea in 1855. And the final story is of Lillian's son, Wilkie Wharton, an American army doctor assigned to Fort Laramie in 1877. In each story, Christmas is approaching. …

Phyl's 5 Phaves from October

Silver Linings by Jayne Ann Krentz. I saw a reference to this a while back (on Smart Bitches?) and was able to read it because my local library has a fine collection of older Krentz titles in large print. Hugh was once engaged to Mattie's sister, Ariel. When Hugh and Ariel broke up, Mattie threw herself at Hugh, but Hugh turned her down. Shortly after that, Hugh realized his mistake, but Mattie won't have anything to do with him. Finally they reunite--over a dead body. Hugh rescues Mattie and manages to insinuate himself back into her life. This is a campy, fun story. Originally published in 1991, it's quite dated to those of us now accustomed to daily use of the internet and cell phones. Still, Mattie makes a great foil for Hugh who is typically alpha and sometimes quite clueless. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Heart Search by Robin D. Owens. Owens' "Heart" series is for people who are fond of fated mates and cats. As I've said before, I love the world of Celta…

Today I give thanks, 2011

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day. Last year for Thanksgiving I wrote this post where I listed 53 things for which I am grateful. As I said then, a healthy percentage of us will spend the day with family and/or friends. We'll eat too much, watch some TV (football!), and hopefully even spend some time counting our blessings.
In what has now become tradition, tomorrow, Friday, another healthy percentage of us will run out the door at some freakishly early hour to spend tons of money. Because despite how grateful we may be today, apparently we still don't have enough stuff.

I hate shopping (unless it's for fabric!) and I hate crowds. I'll be hibernating at my parents' house.

Last year, since I was 53 years old, I decided to list 53 things for which I was grateful. This year I've edited the list a little to reflect some of the changes in my life. And I added one since I'm a year older. In the order in which they occurred to me:
My husband.My son.My…

Phyl's 4 Phaves from September

I'm trying to remember what the heck I was doing in September that kept me so busy. Because apparently I only read 8 books and a small collection of 4 very short stories. Weird. Because all it did was rain. It's not as if I went outside and did something active or useful. I didn't finish a quilt either. Oh well. But that leaves me with only 4 books that I want to talk about this month. And they are:

4. The Unmentionables by Karen Ranney. Here is the product description from Amazon: The Unmentionables is a collection of short stories told by Victorian undergarments, from the under appreciated pair of drawers belonging to a countess, to the corset owned by a young miss, to a pair of enthusiastic stockings, and finally to a maid's shift.This collection of very short stories barely took me 30 minutes to read--about 5-10 minutes per story. It's a fine piece of whimsy that was both romantic and interesting as I considered how different the Victorian clothing was from wha…

It's a Mystery!

No, sorry, I'm not referring to this month's TBR challenge. I even started a Barry Eisler John Rain book (which I am enjoying). But I put it on the back burner because my sewing machine came home from the hospital and I got an itch to make up for lost time (my baby was gone for a whole month!).
So, no TBR book for me this month. Instead, I've been working on a mystery quilt! It's a mystery because I have no idea what I'm making. I just follow the instructions handed out once a week by AQS and see where they take me.

Here's where I started with Block Buffet, a 6-week mystery challenge designed by Linda Hahn. You can see the color chart on the left. Since I am making this totally from my stash, there are some colors where I'm having to use 2 or 3 fabrics. Hopefully this will add a nice slightly scrappy look to my quilt. Based on all of the pieces I cut out, this quilt will be a very bright, colorful piece. I'm excited to see the end result.

First, I had …

Fall Table Runner

Just popping in to show off another table runner made from the Waffle Time pattern by Atkinson Designs. This makes at least 3 of these I've made now. I do love this pattern.

Projects like this help me practice my machine quilting and even play around with some slightly different motifs.

Best of all, it looks nice on my kitchen table!

Phyl's 5 Phaves from August

I'm catching up!!

5. Swept Away by Karen Templeton. Someone must have mentioned this book in their blog back at the beginning of the summer (probably for TBR day). I wish I could remember who so I could say thank you. Anyhow, I'm glad they did as this was a nice inexpensive download for my Kindle that I really enjoyed. Carly Stewart is a retired ballerina who is traveling through little Haven, OK with her recently bereaved father when their RV breaks down. What starts out as a brief stay grows into something more when Carly finds herself attracted to rancher Sam Frazier--widower and father of 6 kids, including a 15yo teenage girl with an attitude. Carly is an atypical heroine. She's not the mothering type and she is truly struggling over the loss of her career. Sam had married his high school sweetheart and never figured he'd fall for someone like Carly who is independent, tough, and a little prickly. This short category romance is an example of the genre done right. G…

Another new purse

I recently finished this purse with matching wallet. The purse is from a pattern by Quilt Plus. I bought the pattern at a quilt show in Pennsylvania a couple years ago. If I take my purse to another show where the owner is vending again, I get a free pattern and I'll have my picture taken for her handbag gallery. Hopefully she'll be in Cincinnati for IQF in April. Meanwhile, it's fun to look at the wide variety of bags and purses in the gallery. The owner of this company is very talented.
The wallet pattern is by Atkinson Designs. The pattern makes it very easy to attach the zipper. Zippers are intimidating.
My Pfaff had to go to the hospital again. I miss it :-(

Phyl's 5 Phaves from July

5. Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath. When I finished this book, my immediate reaction was to admit that I was simply impressed by the risks Heath took in writing about a couple who deliberately commit adultery. I'm writing this several months after having read it, and I'm still ambivalent as to whether I consider it a "phave" or not. In case you missed it, Jayne is married and her husband (Wolfort) is paralyzed from a carriage accident several years previously. His health is (conveniently) declining as well. Wolfort wants Jayne to be able to have a baby and he suggests that Jayne and his cousin (and best friend, Ainsley, the Duke) have an affair in hopes that she would become pregnant. Since this is set in a time when divorce was this close to impossible, you know going in that Jayne's husband will have to die in order for there to be a happy ending between she and Ainsley. And how happy a future can you envision when a relationship begins in such a way?…

TBR Day. Die Before I Wake / Laurie Breton. 2008

I remember when I bought this book. The Borders receipt was still inside the cover when I dug it out last week. I had a $5.00 off coupon and I thought I'd try something different. I like Romantic Suspense, but I'm not fond of 1st person books, which this is. But it turned out OK and while I doubt I'll re-read it, I did find myself engaged by the story.

I can't find a traditional website for the author, although it appears she has a MySpace page here. This is the back cover blurb:

Just five days after they meet, Julie Hanrahan and Dr. Thomas Larkin exchange vows on a moonlit Caribbean beach, the whirlwind conclusion to a romance that's swept her off her feet. Tom is sexy, witty and charming and Julie's sure she's found her Prince Charming.

But not every fairy tale ends happily ever after.

With a workaholic husband, a hostile mother-in-law and a resentful stepdaughter, the honeymoon doesn't last long. Especially after Julie finds out that Tom's first wif…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from June

5. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn. Even though I usually prefer a little more meat to my historicals, Quinn is still one of my favorite authors. Her humor and likable characters make her books fun, and sometimes, very emotional reads. Set in her Bridgerton world, this is the first in a new series featuring the unfortunate young women made infamous by the Smythe-Smith Musicales referred to in the earlier books. Marcus and Honoria have known one another since they were young as Marcus is her brother's best friend and Marcus spent much time with Honoria's family. While it's not quite a "friends to lovers" story, it is a story of two people who begin to see one another in a new light. Thoroughly enjoyable for fans of Quinn's work, although not my favorite.

4. A Marriage of Inconvenience by Susanna Fraser. This is the second book by Fraser that I have read and I liked it as well as her first one. While published second, it takes place before the events in The Ser…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from May

May was the month of The Quilt of Many Squares. Seriously, just about every spare minute I had was spent working on that thing--assuming I had the energy. I didn't read much, or when I did it was late in the evening or on breaks at work. Sadly, I look back and don't remember a whole lot about these, but I do know that I enjoyed them and they were a welcome respite from sewing deadlines and trying to get The Teen to finish the school year on a positive note. It was a brutal month.

5. Harper's Bride by Alexis Harrington. I can't remember what prompted me to purchase this for my Kindle, but I'm awfully glad I did. It was originally published in 1997 and it would appear that most (if not all) of Harrington's back list is in e-book form. Melissa Logan marries Coy Logan to escape her abusive family, only to find herself dragged off to the Yukon gold rush and then sold to shopkeeper Dylan Harper to pay a debt. Melissa cooks and cleans for Dylan, and even starts her ow…

TBR Day. The Soldier / Grace Burrowes. 2011

This month's TBR theme is something erotic or steamy. I don't have anything specifically like that in my collection. However this one has a fair share of heat, so hopefully it qualifies.

Grace Burrowes is a new author and The Soldier is her second book. I read her debut, The Heir, last January and liked it well enough to pre-order this for my Kindle. It was released in June. Obviously it hasn't been waiting to be read very long, but I was in the mood to try it, so here it is.

This is going to be a strange review. As I look back there was a lot in this book that bothered me. But while I was reading it, I genuinely enjoyed the experience. I think Burrowes does a great job with her characterizations and her prose. This is a character-driven story without much external conflict and I do enjoy books of this nature. I had a hard time putting it down and stayed up late the other night to finish it.

The book has three main characters, and they were all born out of wedlock: Devlin …

More Paint Chip Challenge

Last year, the QBFFs, my sister, and I decided to do a "paint chip challenge." That is, we each started with a paint chip and had to come up with any kind of quilt using only those colors. I got green, H(onorary) QBFF C. got coral, T. got orange, and A. got yellow. You can read more about mine here
Today I have some pictures of the final projects and then a photo of the 4 of us together w/ our quilts. Since my sister, HQBFF C. does not live in this area, it was a real treat for the 4 of us to go out to dinner and talk quilts and quilting.
First, QBFF A. She made 7 panels and then added these purple sunflowers. I could accuse her of cheating, but those sunflowers sure make the panels pop.
Next, QBFF T. She made a lovely Storm at Sea quilt using her colors. This picture isn't very good; the quilt is more orange. I think the colors are better in the final shot at the bottom.
This is C. holding up her paint chip along with her quilt. Her border fabric has some green and brown …

Phyl's 5 Phaves for April

You know, if I don't catch up on these posts pretty soon, I'm going to totally forget what I read.

5. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Allen's unique lyrical story-telling made me a fan with her first book, Garden Spells. Like her previous books, there's a touch of mysticism, a touch of romance, and several quirky, interesting characters. Allen certainly manages to do a lot with just a few words (her books are relatively short compared to most novels). The themes in this book include the nature of friendship, forgiveness, tradition, and secrets. It's hard to describe this book, so I'll just say go read it!

4. The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig. This is another solid entry in Willig's Pink Carnation series. Laura Grey, a graduate of the Selwick spy school, goes to Paris and poses as a governess in the home of Andre Jaouen, an official in Bonaparte's Ministry of Police. Laura had hoped for an assignment a little more dramatic than watching over An…

The Inspiration behind The Inspiration

Back in May I blogged here about a quilt I was working on that was made up of 1600 2-inch squares. At that time the top was finished, but hadn't been quilted. I finished the quilt, but never got around to posting pictures of it here. And meanwhile, just the other day I learned something very interesting that really enhanced -- for me -- the meaning of this quilt.

To recap: Last summer I saw this graphic that was to be used as the logo for my professional association during the 2010/2011 year:

To put it simply, I fell in love with it and became obsessed with using it as the basis for a quilt. I received permission from AALL to exhibit any quilt I would make (as long as they received credit) and they went so far as to ask me to bring it to Philadelphia last weekend for our annual meeting. Ouch. That meant I had a deadline. I worked like a dog for 6 weeks from Easter through the first week of June to finish it.

Here is the finished quilt. You can see that I tweaked the design a littl…

TBR Day. Cupboard Kisses / Barbara Metzger. 1989

This month's TBR theme is "fairy tales." I was pawing through my TBR pile and I couldn't find anything that would match the theme. So I went with this very early Barbara Metzger book (her 4th I believe) that I have wanted to read for some time.

So, according to this entry at Wikipedia, the title of the book refers to kisses that are given in order to receive a reward. It's an apt title as the book is a farce featuring a series of misunderstandings where the heroine is mistaken for a courtesan. Cristabel Swann is a well-bred orphan who has spent the last several years teaching at a school near Bath. She learns that her uncle has died and she goes to London expecting to claim an inheritance that would allow her to live independently. Meanwhile, before his death her uncle had lost everything he owns to Captain Kenley Chase, a naval hero who has recently returned home to step into a Viscountancy (is that the right word?) that he inherited when his older brother died.…

New Purse

I've been a bad blogger the last few months. I have plenty of excuses. One of them is this purse that I just finished making. Technically, it's not quilted. Fabric is wrapped around stiff weaving strips and sewn in place. It took me about 2 weeks to make it in my spare time. The pattern is called Breezy Weave Bag by Aunties Two of Portland, ME. If you like totes, bags, purses, and baskets, check out their website. They have some very cool stuff.

I'm going to go read a book now. Maybe I'll blog about it some day.

TBR Day. The Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress / Kimberly Lang. 2009

This month's TBR Theme is contemporary romance and this HP is one I picked up during the author signing at last year's RT convention. Kimberly Lang'sThe Millionaire's Misbehaving Mistress is not your ordinary HP and the ridiculous sounding title even made sense after I read the book. Unlike most HPs which take place in Europe, this engaging story takes place in Dallas (how fitting as I was watching the Mavs win the NBA title). The blurb:

As Dallas’s most eligible bachelor and heir to his family’s fortune, billionaire Will Harrison knows how to handle the paparazzi—but his little sister Evie is a worry….
Miss Behavior, etiquette expert Gwen Sawyer, has only three weeks to work her magic on Evie before a society ball, and so moves into Will’s luxurious penthouse. However, she discovers too late that etiquette is the last thing on devilishly handsome Will’s mind….

Will is the head of his family's company and is trying to shepherd the business into new Asian markets. He&#…

Phyl's 5 Phaves for March

Yes, March. I started this blog post in early April. Since then I have been seriously quilting my brains out. I spent April & May making 2 competition quilts for the June NQA show. I've read less than usual and barely blogged. Seriously, I'm exhausted. I've barely cleaned my house in 2 months, I've quit exercising (ack--gained 7 pounds!!), and I've consistently nodded off at night during my normal reading time. But the quilts are now at the show getting ready to be shown June 16-18 and perhaps life can get back to normal. It was worth the effort, though. I think The Quilt of Many Squares will turn out to be one of the best things I've made to date.

So. Back to the topic at hand. For March an honorable mention needs to go to A Light at Winter's End by Julia London. This sequel to The Summer of Two Wishes was a book I had been looking forward to reading. I certainly recommend this book whether you read the first one or not, but I think it's more meani…

1600 2-inch squares

Last summer I saw this logo:

All I could see were those pretty colors and the modern, pixelated design. Color gone wild! I wrote to AALL and asked for permission to turn their logo into a quilt. They said Yes!
So I dug into my stash (see photo of said stash in sidebar to right) and started cutting squares. I cut and I cut and I cut.

Then I began sticking them up on my design wall. Only I did them in reverse (red on the left, blue on the right--hot to cold). And when I was happy I started sewing them together in pairs very carefully to keep them in the right order. The pairs would be sewn in to small sections and the small sections into large sections... well, you get the idea. It looked like this:

2-inch squares in a setting of 40 rows by 40 rows. That's 1600 squares. The seam allowances shrink the finished squares down to 1.5 inches. The final quilt will be 60" x 60". Here's the top all finished:

And here's that logo again:

My thanks to the American Association of Law…