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Showing posts from 2016

More Mini Quilts

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In my last quilting post I talked about some Instagram swaps I joined this fall. The second swap was a Christmas Tree mini quilt using the Geometric Christmas Tree pattern by Kristy Lea. My partner in this tree swap wanted a modern minimalist look and a glance at her Instagram feed gave me the idea to use a black constellation fabric I found last summer. I made a test quilt, didn't quite like the very light green that looked white, and made a second one for my partner. I finished them both, and kept the first for my own Christmas decorating.

So here's the first one:

I think the gray thread that I used for the quilting overshadows the constellation print just a little. Still, I really do like how this turned out.
But my second attempt was MUCH better:
I used black thread for the background and a wider cross-hatch for just the tree. The constellations are easier to see. I also got rid of the pale green fabric as I mentioned above.

Here's the lovely tree I received in return …

TBR Day. A Kind of Honor / Joan Wolf. 1980

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Wow. This book is nearly 40 years old. And no, it hasn't been in my TBR pile 36 years. I bought it used a number of years ago, so I have had it a while. The romance I read these days is written much differently than it was back in the 80's. It was kind of refreshing to read a book so noticeably different in style and tone from those published today.

A Kind of Honor is Joan Wolf's second published book. (And it's a vast improvement over her first book, which I reviewed for TBR Day 6-1/2 years ago.) This one takes place during the winter/spring of 1812-13. England is preparing for what it hopes will be a final and decisive blow against Napoleon's army in Spain. But there's a traitor leaking vital information to the French. Our hero, Adam, who is home after being wounded in Spain, is tasked with finding and stopping the leak.

It's made obvious right away that the traitor is a French émigré, the Duc de Gacé. Gacé is married to an Englishwoman, who is described …

A Few Finished Projects

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I haven't shown off any of my finished projects since last spring when I finished the purple and green quilt I'd first begun for my sister. As I look around, it doesn't seem as if I've finished all that much stuff, yet I've been spending a lot more time sewing over the last 6 months than I used to. As is typical for me, I am working on half a dozen thing simultaneously. It's kind of like how I read--a library book here, a book on my phone everywhere, another book on my Kindle over there, and an audio book in the car. Sometimes I feel like a poster child for middle-aged ADD. But I'm managing to be productive.
One thing I'm also doing? Hanging out on Instagram. It's where a lot of the other quilters are. I've discovered swaps! Too. Much. Fun. There's more about that below.
Anyway, there's proof I've made stuff!!
First up is this little backpack. I found the pattern on Craftsy. It's not very big, about 8" x 11" and not de…

TBR Day. Cold Pursuit / Toni Anderson. 2014

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I've had a few book in Toni Anderson's Cold Justice series on my Kindle for a while now, and finally read the first one last month. Since the theme this month includes suspense, I had a great excuse to move on to Book 2. And I'm glad I did. I found this book just as engrossing as A Cold Dark Place, with a nice blend of suspense and romance.

Cold Pursuit opens with a bang-- literally. Single mom Vivi is Christmas shopping with her young son, Michael, in a Minneapolis mall when terrorists strike. Also shopping in the mall is an FBI agent who is part of the same Behavioral Analysis Unit as the heroine from ACDP and on leave. Jed is a veteran and immediately goes into combat mode. Vivi hides her son in a small cabinet and quietly goes looking for an escape route. Jed helps Vivi and some others get out and then goes back for Michael. Along the way, SWAT arrives and most of the terrorists are taken out. But one one avoids capture. During the ensuing investigation, it is discover…

Phyl's 4 Recent Phaves

In no particular order, here are some VERY brief remarks about four recently-read books that I really enjoyed.

A Cold Dark Place by Toni Anderson. If you are squeamish or easily triggered by violence or sexual assault, this is NOT the book for you. But if you like well-written, suspenseful romantic suspense, I do recommend this one. The hero is a hired gun who steps in when the criminal justice system fails. The heroine chose a career in law enforcement specifically to try and find her twin sister who was kidnapped, and never found, when the girls were young. The conflicts were not forced, and very interesting moral questions were raised. To top it off, there was just enough romance.

The King's Man by Elizabeth Kingston. Twitter friend Jessica raved about the audio version of this book, narrated by the incomparable Nicholas Boulton. It's a medieval that features a hero whose life is not really his own (see the title) and a heroine who can fight and lead as well as any man. Unfor…

TBR Day. The Secret Heart / Erin Satie. 2014

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The Secret Heart is Erin Satie's debut novel, which is almost hard to believe because it was one of the more polished books I've read in a while. With one book, Satie landed on my auto-buy list. I'm kicking myself that I didn't read it much sooner than this.

Caroline Small, the daughter of an impoverished Marquess, knows that if she doesn't marry, and marry well, she and her younger brother face very precarious futures. She happens to be staying at a Duke's estate where an old friend of hers lives as the Duke's ward. There she meets Adam, heir to the dukedom, the man who becomes the focus of Caro's attentions. For marriage to Adam would solve Caro's problems.

Caro and Adam each have a secret. Caro dances, having learned ballet from her governess. Adam boxes anonymously, as it would be a huge scandal for the heir to a dukedom to be caught brawling with the lower classes.

Rather than spend a lot of time describing the plot I simply want to say how muc…

TBR Day. Vacation pictures

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Well, another month, another TBR failure. So how about some vacation pictures? I just got back from two weeks of driving out to the Rocky Mountains and back. I'm too swamped to write about anything I read, but I can post pictures!

We had a picnic lunch next to a prairie dog colony at a state park in Kansas:

In Estes Park, CO, two elk wandered into the town square:

Mama moose and her baby in Rocky Mountain National Park:
Sunset over our campground in Utah:

We drove through Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and stopped to see the views:
On the west side of the Grand Tetons are Idaho's wheat fields:
Wildflowers spotted along the way. Don't ask--I have no idea of their names:

Late afternoon over Lake Yellowstone, a few hundred yards from our campsite:

Waiting for Old Faithful to erupt:

Beehive Geyser, near Old Faithful:

Hello Mr. Bison!! (shot with a zoom lens--I'm not stupid)
 Sunset over Yellowstone's Hayden Valley:

Driving through Nebraska on the way home:

We s…

TBR Day. Unsuitable / Ainslie Paton. 2014

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I'm two weeks late with this and almost considered skipping again, but I liked this book so well that I decided to suck it up and finally write my TBR post.

The home page of Ainslie Paton's website, has a little box that says "Favourite Tropes - New Takes" and in that box are pictures of a bunch of her books, including this one, Unsuitable. Unsuitable is a new take on the "busy executive needs a nanny for his kid" trope by making the executive a woman and the nanny a man. I thought this made Unsuitable a fun choice for "Favorite Trope" month.

Here's the blurb:
Can they make trailblazing and homemaking fit, or is love just another gender stereotype? 
Audrey broke the glass ceiling. Reece swapped a blue collar for a pink collar job. 
She’s a single mum by design. He’s a nanny by choice. 
She gets passed over for promotion. He struggles to find a job. 
She takes a chance on him. He’s worth more than he knows. 
There’s an imbalance of power. There’s an…

Pretty Purple Quilt

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In my February posts about my sister, I mentioned that she gave me a ton of her stuff--fabric, tools, a machine, and lots of partially completed projects. I brought it all home, stacked in the guest room and tried to figure out where to store it all. Gradually, I organized it, re-arranged some of my own stuff, and figured out how to put it away. It was an emotional process and it took months. I didn't always get a lot of sewing done; it was hard to find the energy as I continued to get used to her being gone.
A few months before she passed away, Char handed me this particular quilt and insisted that I finish it soon. It's actually a quilt top that I made for her back in 2006. She sent me the pattern and fabric and asked me to make just the top. She was going to use it in the book she was writing. When I was finished I sent her the completed top, the pattern, and the leftover fabric. In the book, it's used to demonstrate a basting technique. So she basted the layers togeth…

TBR Day. Special Interests / Emma Barry. 2014

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I remember reading a number of positive reviews of this book when it came out almost exactly two years ago. I'm sure I purchased it on the strength of those reviews, but like too many of the books I buy, it got pushed to the back burner. I was scrolling through my Kindle titles recently and realized that this would be an excellent choice for this month's TBR Challenge.
The blurb: Compared to love, politics is easy Union organizer Millie Frank's world isn't filled with cocktails and nightclubs…until she's turned into an unwitting minor celebrity. As if being part of a hostage situation wasn't traumatizing enough, now her face is splashed across the news. But Millie's got fresher wounds to nurse—like being shot down by the arrogant bad boy she stupidly hit on. Parker Beckett will do whatever it takes to close a deal for the senate majority leader, including selling out union labor. Charming and smart on the surface, he's also cynical and uncommitted—an asse…

While You Were Mine / Ann Howard Creel. 2016

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I sort of stumbled across this book when it was a March Kindle First* offering. As near as I can tell, Ann Howard Creel (no website found) is primarily a YA author. This is her second "adult" novel. I can't tell if it's being marketed as a romance or not, but it definitely meets the definition, HEA and all.
While You Were Mine uses the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-J Day as it's jumping off point.  The blurb:
Everything she loved could so easily be lost. The end of WWII should have brought joy to Gwen Mullen. But on V-J Day, her worst fear is realized. As celebrating crowds gather in Times Square, a soldier appears on her doorstep to claim Mary, the baby abandoned to Gwen one year earlier. Suddenly Gwen is on the verge of losing the child she has nurtured and loves dearly. With no legal claim to Mary, Gwen begins to teach Lieutenant John McKee how to care for his child, knowing that he will ultimately take Mary away. What starts as a contentious rela…

Re-reading the Psy-Changling Series

Last spring I decided to re-read Nalini Singh's entire Psy-Changeling Series when I discovered my public library owned it in downloadable audio format. Yesterday I finished Shards of Hope, the latest book in the series. All together it took me about 9 months to listen to 14 books (I did not attempt to re-read any of the novellas). It was an interesting experience. Last July, when I was part-way the series through I blogged this:
First, I'm extremely glad I decided to do this re-read. It's been almost nine years since the 1st book, Slave to Sensation, was published and over the years I've forgotten as much as I've remembered. Some books have been more compelling, and thus more memorable than others. Some, like Blaze of Memory have not been so memorable. Case in point, with BoM-- as I listened I knew I'd read it before, but honestly couldn't remember any of it until near the end. And this is kind of important because Singh has carefully built the Psy-Changelin…

TBR Day. Badlands / Jill Sorenson. 2014

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It's series catch-up month for the TBR Challenge and this month it was a pretty easy choice. I have several books from this series that I've been wanting to read, so it was time to get back to them.

Badlands by Jill Sorenson is the 3rd book in her romantic suspense series named after the first book, Aftershock. I loved Aftershock and I also enjoyed the first book in her MC series, Riding Dirty. This book picks up with two of the characters from Aftershock and uses some of the same settings in Riding Dirty, around the Salton Sea of southern California.

Penny and Owen were trapped with several others in the earthquake described in Aftershock. In Badlands it's now five years later. Thanks to his heroics in the aftermath of the earthquake, Owen, an ex-con, is now working as a bodyguard for Penny's father, a presidential candidate. For years the two of them have kept their feelings for one another to themselves. Penny is a single mother devoted to raising her son, Cruz, and…

A Sampling of Char's Quilts

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To those of you who offered me your condolences on the passing of my sister, I want to say thank you again for your kind words. It meant so much to me. It has really helped to finally talk about it.

So now I want to brag on my sister just a little bit. She really was exceptionally creative with her quilting; she put a lot of thought into the quilting of the quilt. Rather than try to tell you about it in my words, I'll just let these pictures of her quilts speak about it.

First up this is a little baby quilt. If you click to enlarge you'll see the pattern of flowers, leaves, and stems quilted in red and green.

Here's the quilt she did for the QBFF paint chip challenge back in 2011.

I currently have this one hanging in my kitchen nook. I love looking at it.
The small sections quilted with the rainbow variegated thread are a great touch.
The center section is quilted with metallic thread. This is not easy to do. It requires the right needle in your machine and adjustments to …