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Showing posts from 2012

Phyl's 5 Phaves from November

5. Angel's End by Cindy Holby. This is the first book in a new historical western series about a small Colorado mining town. A drifter by the name of Cade Gentry stumbles into town during a blizzard. He'd been wounded during a gunfight and is wearing the coat that belonged to a preacher who was on his way to Angel's End to serve in their church. The people who rescue him assume he is that preacher and to protect himself from those who might be looking for him, he doesn't correct their assumption. He is nursed back to health by a widow, Leah, with a young son. As Leah and Cade get to know one another, they fall in love. But Cade is afraid his past will catch up with him, putting Leah, her son, and the people of Angel's Fall in harm's way. He doesn't feel worthy to be with her. Cade has to come clean with the truth and Leah has to be willing to risk loving again. This was a sweet romance that I found quite enjoyable.

4. An Infamous Marriage by Susanna Fraser.…

TBR Day. A Dixie Christmas / Sandra Hill. 2011

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I've never read Sandra Hill before. Judging by her website she's a popular and prolific author of paranormals, Viking heroes, and humorous contemporaries. I've certainly seen her books in the book stores, but I rarely see them mentioned in my favorite corners of Romancelandia. I think the only reason I downloaded this to my Kindle was that it was free.

All I can say is that I don't think Sandra Hill is for me. I quit about 20% of the way into it and downloaded Mackenzie Family Christmas to read instead. Quite the nice palate cleanser that was, too. Sadly, this is not a review of MFC.

A Dixie Christmas is actually two novellas. One is called Blue Christmas which was originally published in 1998. During the short time I was reading it I could tell it was written before cell phones were ubiquitous, so it was jarring to see that Hill had gone in there and in a line where the date is mentioned inserted "2011." I almost lost it there, but I kept going. For a little…

Recently finished stuff

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Last month I wrote about a class I took with Phillipa Naylor on precision piecing. I finished that little wall hanging and used it to practice my free motion machine quilting. Here's the finished quilt, which is 22" x 22":
Here are a couple of close-ups of the quilting. There's so much of it--this sucker is stiff as a board, lol!

 I got my Christmas present a bit early--a new camera! So I had to play with the close-up feature. Nice, huh?

 And I decided I needed a festive holiday purse! I used some poinsettia fabrics here:


TBR Day. Ride with Me / Ruthie Knox. 2012

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This month's theme is a book that received a lot of hype. I suppose the definition of hype can vary, but I remember seeing lots of comments on Twitter about this book, as well as positive reviews at Dear AuthorSmart Bitches, and elsewhere. At some point I was obviously compelled to buy it and it's been sitting on my Kindle for several months. I'm awfully glad I finally got around to reading this. I think I needed something with a good dash of humor. It had been a rough week. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and several times I laughed out loud. I found it smart, sexy, and emotional. Now I want to go read more by this author.

For those of you who missed the hype, Ride with Me, by Ruthie Knox is the story of Tom and Lexie, two people who are doing a cross-country bicycle tour on the TransAmerica Trail. Lexie advertised for a companion to ride with; Tom had intended to go it alone. But Tom gets maneuvered by his sister into riding with Lexie and the two of them set off toget…

Phyl's 5 Phaves for October

5. Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes. My first Christmas book of the year was a very enjoyable story in Burrowes' Windham family series. Lady Louisa would very much like to retire from the Marriage Mart and head off into a life as the family's spinster aunt. But a scandalous encounter finds her wed to Sir Joseph Carrington. Louisa is a wonderful heroine. She's a very smart woman trapped in an era when women were given few opportunities to learn. In addition, both Louisa and Joseph have secrets. As their relationship begins to deepen, it's wonderful to see Joseph notice, and appreciate Louisa's talents. This makes it easier for Louisa to trust Joseph. For Louisa in particular, the demons of the past need to be laid to rest. Louisa's various family members all leap to her defense, but it soon becomes apparent that Joseph is the one who knows, and appreciates her best. Meanwhile, Joseph has his own big secret. The family dynamics are fun and som…

Philippa Naylor, Quilting Rock Star

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Philippa Naylor is an award-winning quilter whose quilts I have admired for several years. She came and spoke at my guild last week and gave a wonderful, funny, and touching talk about her journey from fashion design to quilting. The next day I got to take a class from her called "Precision Piecing" where I learned some new stuff. Lots of pictures follow. Here is Philippa during her lecture (sorry for the grainy picture from my phone). She brought two quilts with her. She dyes her own fabric and then densely quilts them on her domestic sewing machine.







For the class, this is the small project we worked on. She taught us her methods for achieving sharp points and matching seams.

Lots of helpful demonstrations.


This is my work area and my block, partially assembled, on the left.
 The class at work.

 Some of my classmates' completed center blocks.



And here's mine with the borders added. It's 22" square and it shouldn't take long to quilt it. I hope to finish…

TBR Day. Extreme Exposure / Pamela Clare. 2005

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I actually remember where and when I bought this book. I was in Pittsburgh with my sister in May 2009 attending Quilt Market, the quilting industry's trade show. There was a book store near our hotel and while I had, up to that point, read books 2 and 3 in Pamela Clare's I-Team series, I had never read the first one. So I snapped it up, intending to read it right away. OK, so that plan didn't work so well. But since this is PNR/RS month, it was clearly time to read Kara and Reece's story.

Kara McMillan works as an investigative reporter for a Denver newspaper. Clare writes what she knows here, as a former reporter herself. The inside look at journalism in this book, and the whole series, is interesting and Clare manages to incorporate the details without going overboard. Anyhow, as the book opens Kara meets State Senator Reece Sheridan at a bar that she goes to with a friend one evening after work. Despite the influence of too many margaritas, Kara makes quite an impr…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from August

Things are usually pretty slow here at Phyl's Quilts and Books. They've been slower than usual of late because I badly pinched a nerve in my lower back in mid-August. Pain, drugs, and physical therapy have dominated my landscape since then. The good news is that I'm way better than I was a month ago. The bad news is that I'm still dealing with some pain, weird nerve activity, and weakness in my right leg. The goal is to avoid back surgery at all costs, so I've been faithful with my exercise routine. I'm glad to be resuming most of my normal activities, including sewing, but at the risk of being repetitive, it's slow. So very slow.

Fortunately I actually wrote a couple of these (#5 and #3) right after I read those books, before the pinched nerve. I read #1 and #4 while I was stuck in bed. Frankly, I'm amazed I remember anything from the "Vicodin is my best friend" days. But here we go:

5. The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand. I've been luck…

TBR Day. The Birth of Venus / Sarah Dunant. 2003

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I'm bending the rules a little this month. This book was not in my personal TBR pile. It was a library book I'd picked up at the urging of my QBFFs who had read and loved this book. Since they often read the romances I recommend to them, it seemed only fair to follow up on a rec from them. It was almost due and I needed a non-romance for this month, so I decided to write about Sarah Dunant's rich historical novel set in Florence during the turbulent 1490s.

Dunant is apparently well-known for her suspense novels, including a series of crime novels with the recurring character, Hannah Wolfe. The Birth of Venus was her first historical novel. She's since gone on to write a few more. At any rate, I found this to be a very interesting novel, full of details about the art and politics of Florence during a time when a monk named Savonarola temporarily wrested power from the Medicis and preached a very puritanical gospel. He defied the Pope and claimed to have visions that wo…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from July

5. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I wish I knew where I saw a recommendation for this book. It's YA, I genre I really tend to avoid. But the story intrigued me so much I had to read it and once I started I couldn't put it down. This is the story of Julia, an 11-12 year-old girl who writes about the year the Earth's rotation began to slow down. The earth's 24 hour rotation slows to over 72 hours by the end of the book. The magnetic fields of the earth have shifted, people's circadian rhythms are disturbed, and the world slowly begins to die. Be warned, this is not a book with a sudden miraculous happy ending. Julia, already a lonely only child, finds ways to cope with the changes around her. She's resilient and determined to move forward. This first novel by Walker is compelling and emotional. Thank you to whoever mentioned it online. I'm so glad I read this.

4. Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. This dystopian story is set on earth at an unspecified…

TBR Day. Doukakis's Apprentice / Sarah Morgan. 2011

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This month's TBR theme is something steamy. You can usually rely on an HP to provide the heat, so I decided to finally read this RITA winner by Sarah Morgan. This is one of several books that caught my eye when the RITA nominations were announced last spring because I remembered reading some positive reviews of it. I found this one here at Dear Author and another at The Good, the Bad, and the Unread.

Polly Prince may be "just" an assistant in her father's marketing firm, but in truth she's the inspiration behind their successful campaigns, and the glue holding the foundering company together. Damon Doukakis is a self-made, successful businessman with an ax to grind against both Polly and her father. As the book opens, Damon has purchased the smaller company and Polly is desperate to do what she can to save everyone's jobs. The board of directors has bled the company dry, while taking credit for any success Polly and her team have had. Damon already has a low…

How I spent my summer non-vacation

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Since school let out for both my husband and son a little over 9 weeks ago, I was home alone for 5 of those weeks. I had to work while they were busy being camp counselors or driving out west for our vacation (I flew out on July 4th and we all drove back home together, after our tour of Oregon). When I wasn't at work I was busy working on a graduation present for the youngest son of a very good friend of mine. She sent me a box of her son's favorite t-shirts from middle and high school and I turned them into this: His high school colors are orange and black, so those were the colors I used for the background. I began cutting apart the t-shirts in very late June, about a week before I left home. In that week I fused the stabilizer onto the back and cut the blocks to size, deciding on a final layout. I didn't do any sewing until after our return on July 21. This morning I mailed it off to him. It took a total of 3 weeks (just 21 days!) to sew the top together, quilt it, and…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from June

Hello to you, my poor neglected blog readers. I keep thinking of lots of things I'd like to write about, only it seems I'm caught up doing other things instead. So much going on: It's been a hot, hot summer. We enjoyed a delightfully cool vacation in the Pacific Northwest that included another trip to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. I've been sewing like a mad woman and so I'm almost finished with a t-shirt quilt. It will be a gift for my godson who heads off to college in little more than a week. I'm also working on what (I think) will be a very cool baby quilt. And Olympics! I love to watch Olympics.

I'm reading. But not quite as much as usual. My last two monthly reading lists have been a bit shorter and here it is the 12th of August and I've finished just 3 books. That's a very low total for me. At any rate, here's what ended up being the top of the heap for June:

5. Overseas by Beatriz Williams. Based on comments I saw around the web, peopl…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from May

5. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn. You know, I had some issues with this book. My main issue was that the hero, Daniel Smythe-Smith, wasn't more careful with the reputation and circumstances of the heroine, Anne Wynter. But darn, I do love the humor and emotion that Quinn can infuse into a book. I cared about Daniel and Anne and enjoyed their story. I don't have a lot more to say about this other than this was a quick and fun read.
4. The Proposal by Mary Balogh. For Balogh's fans, this book has been a long-awaited story involving a minor character from previous books, including the first Balogh I ever read, A Summer to Remember. It's also the first book in a seven-part series (7!) featuring six men and one woman who are survivors of the Napoleonic wars. Plenty of fodder for angst, something Balogh often does really well. In The Proposal Gwen, Lady Muir, is a widow. Her marriage had been a troubled one, and just before her husband's death she'd suffered a ri…

I made it BACK to Sisters!

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So, if you can stand more nonsense about my vacation, here are some pictures specifically from last Saturday, July 14. As part of our Pacific NW vacation I dragged my DH and Teen to Sisters, Oregon for the day to attend their annual outdoor show. I got to be there four years ago and had a wonderful time. I couldn't wait to get back and it was a treat to be able to do so. One day when I'm retired, I'm going out for the whole week (there are classes and lectures and other events prior to the day of the show).


Lately I've become fascinated by what is being called the modern quilt movement. There's a wonderful definition of modern quilting here. The quilts here seem to me to meet the definition of modern quilting and are among my favorites of what I saw. I absolutely fell in love with these pineapples below. My picture doesn't do this quilt justice.

Both of these appear rather straightforward in construction so what shines is the use of color and shading. 

One of t…

I've Been Vacationing!

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Things have been a bit quiet around here. I've been busy, though. Exploring the Pacific Coast.
From the Northwest Corner of Washington.
 From the Olympic Peninsula.
From the Mouth of the Columbia River.
To the picturesque Oregon coastline.
 Sometimes it gets a bit foggy.
Lots of times the sun is shining!
It's all too much fun.
P.S. Even with a week to go I can tell you there'll be no TBR post this month!

Moss Garden Quilt and more

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Time for a quilting post! I've done a fair bit of sewing lately. As usual, multiple projects going at once seems to be the way I've been working. And after several months of no finishes, I have 3 projects I can show off.

This first quilt was mentioned here just over two years ago. It's called "Moss Garden" and the top was made by my late mother-in-law. It was made from a kit she purchased to go with a pattern in a book called Inspirations from Japan by Maria Tamaoka (no web site found). The fabrics are a combination of Japanese wovens and American commercial cottons. I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing my mother-in-law finished the top in the 6-12 months before she died. She usually had someone else quilt her tops on a longarm, so I imagine only her final illness kept her from sending it off to her favorite quilter. So, after basting it into a quilt sandwich two years ago, I finally buckled down in the late winter and quilted it. I bound it in May an…

TBR Day. Once a Cowboy / Linda Warren. 2007

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This month's TBR theme is Westerns (historical or contemporary), a sub-genre that I enjoy, but don't go out of my way to collect. I wasn't sure I'd even find any in my collection, but as I scrolled through my Kindle I did run across this one. As I recall, Harlequin made a number of its e-books available for free in celebration of its 60th anniversary, and this was one of them. It's the third in a series of connected books, but it stands alone quite well, except for the cheesy baby-filled epilogue which seems pretty standard for this sort of book. It's a contemporary romance set in and around Dallas, TX. This Philadelphia Phan will try hard not to hold that against it.
Linda Warren'sOnce a Cowboy is the story of Brodie Hayes, a retired rodeo star who now lives on a small ranch near Dallas. Private Investigator Alex Donovan works with her father Buck at his agency, and occasionally takes on missing persons cases. She is approached by Helen Braxton who believe…

Phyl's 5 Phaves from April

Hi all. I have been seriously AWOL lately and I am sorry for that. Unfortunately I had some minor, nagging health problems that had me just sitting around much of the time feeling lethargic and sorry for myself. I'm hopeful that the worst of it is behind me now and I can catch up and show off some recently completed quilts!

Meanwhile, let's see if I can remember what I liked about these books:

5. The Christmas Child by Linda Goodnight. This book was listed as a RITA finalist in the Inspirational category and when I saw it at the library I decided to pick it up. It's about a couple who are brought together when a lost, mute, 6-year old boy shows up in the small town of Redemption, OK. Kade is a big-city undercover cop recuperating from a tough assignment when the little boy is found huddled in the back of a dumpster. Sophie is an elementary school teacher who takes an interest in both the boy and the man. This is a sweet story about love and faith that is told with a light …

TBR Day. Passion's Song / Carolyn Jewel. 1988

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I hear the term "old school" thrown around a bit and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what that means. It does conjure in my mind an image of slightly more lurid covers, although given what Avon still puts out, I'm no more confident of that assessment either. I didn't really start reading Romance until 2003. When I got into it, I looked for the back lists of only a handful of authors (Balogh, Beverley, Kelly, Metzger, and Putney). For this month's TBR Challenge I don't own too many pre-2000 books. This one goes all the way back to 1988 and I chose it because it's Carolyn Jewel's first published book and I'm a fan of her recent historicals, especially Scandal from 2009. If it didn't say so on the cover and on her website, I would never guess that this book was by the same Carolyn Jewel. The style is so markedly different. As it has been nearly 25 years, it's hardly fair for me to expect otherwise. But this book is so different that …

Auction time!

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Are you an author? Do you know any authors? Would they like to have a quilt designed and made by ME featuring up to four of their book covers?
Kinda' like this one here. I made it for Brenda, just to see if I could :-)  Well, and to thank her for the awesome job she does every year to raise money to find a cure for diabetes, a disease both our sons have.

 Here are a couple of close ups:



So, if you know someone who wants one of these tell them to go BID! Bid early, bid often! RIGHT HERE. Or feel free to link to and/or tweet this post. I thank you for your support!

Phyl's 5 Phaves from March

5. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. This was available as a free Kindle download back in November and I decided to give it a try. This is not a romance (although there is a bittersweet romantic element). Holmes is a Christian inspirational novelist, and Crossing Oceans was her debut in 2010. It's the story of Jenny, a single mother to a 5-year old girl. Jenny has learned that she has incurable cancer, so she takes her daughter and moves back to her father's to find a new home for little Isabella. She has two choices--her own father, from whom she has been estranged since she became pregnant; or David, her daughter's father who never knew anything about Isabella. Jenny has some fences to mend. Jenny is not always likable, but I think that made her human and realistic. She's dying, doesn't always feel well, and has a lot of ground to make up in the short time left to her. I enjoyed this book that was well outside what I normally read these days.


4. Kill Shot by Vince …

TBR Day. Fatal Affair / Marie Force. 2010

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This month's theme is "new to me author" and Marie Force came immediately to mind when I was deciding what to read. One of the best things about TBR Day is that it forces me to read things that have been on the back burner waaaayyyy too long. Really. I should have read this (and the rest in the series) back when I got them last summer. I was the winning bidder for Force's "Fatal" series in the 2011 Brenda Novak auction and if I enjoy the rest of them as much as I liked the first, I'm in for a treat.


I had seen Marie Force's name mentioned several times on Twitter and elsewhere as an author to check out. That's how I ended up bidding on these books. The "Fatal" series is similar to JD Robb's "In Death" series in that it follows the same couple throughout. And while heroine Sam Holland is a police detective like Eve Dallas, the similarities pretty much stop there.

Fatal Affair is book #1 and it's where we meet Detective …