Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Books I Have Read

... or am reading, or will read again.

I love to read.  Oh yeah, reading a book, that's a perfect summer day activity.  Or a perfect winter day activity if you include an afghan or a quilt.  Snuggled up in the corner of the couch, reading away until someone interrupts with conversation or I have to go to the bathroom.  That's my idea of heaven.

I just finished reading Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.  (I wouldn't give you 2 cents for BO'R on Fox News Network.  I think he's a pompous you-know-what.  And I don't know how much is BO'R and how much is Martin Dugard.  I could hazard a guess.  Martin Dugard is a New York Times best selling author on his own and has written historical works before.  He plays nicely with others including James Patterson.)

Killing Lincoln reads with all the excitement and tension of a novel and whoever was the brains behind it knew their stuff.

My DD gave me that book and Killing Jesus for Christmas.  One guy at work saw me reading it and said he read it too.  He also read Killing Patton, Killing Kennedy and he's reading Killing Jesus.

Unfortunate titles, I guess.  I passed Killing Lincoln along to another coworker who is also anxious to read it.

I'm also listening to an Anne Perry novel on CD in the car.  I'm excessively fond of her Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, and her William Monk detective novels.  She also wrote a couple or three World War I novels, the first one of which is called No Graves As Yet.  That's the one on the CD in the car.  So far it's good, classic Anne Perry with lots of details and very accurate historically.

When you listen to books on CD you get an interesting perspective since a lot depends upon the skill of the reader.  If they have an accent, or if their inflection is good or not so good, it can change the whole experience.  The person who is reading No Graves is a man with a British accent, and he does subtle tone changes so you can follow who is speaking pretty well, even if he wouldn't be saying "said Joseph hurriedly".

This book is about the pre-war activities at Cambridge and the surrounding area.  It's so good that sometimes I want to just stay in the car and listen instead of coming into the office!

Thomas Pitt is a detective/commoner married to a gentleman's daughter in Victorian London.

William Monk is a policeman who lost his past memory, married to a nurse, also Victorian London.
I read book books, borrowed from the library or purchased.  I'll buy second hand books or as I call them "pre-read" books.  The words are all there after all!  I tried to list all the books I know I've read on Library Thing but I exceeded their free quantity so I stopped. 

On a recent Facebook challenge for how many a person read of the 100 on this list, I read over half.  Some I've read multiple times.  I have read Gone With The Wind at least three times.  Ditto Pride and Prejudice, The Hunt for Red October, and Black Beauty. 

I also read books on my Kindle, and I sometimes listen to them on CD in the car.  Lately I haven't listened to any in my sewing room because most books on CD are now MP3 files, and I evidently have an ancient CD player which doesn't 'read' the MP3 files.  Maybe time to start my Christmas wish list...

Here are some more authors I love and books I need to locate and put on my 'to-do' list:

A Jesse Stone novel, now I see Tom Selleck when I read them. RBP has passed away but the new writer is nearly as good.

Stephanie Plum, girl bail-bondsman, a riot and a half.  They made a movie of one of her novels and a friend of my son's from high school played one of the characters, Stephanie's cousin the cop.

Love JK novels, most of the feature Alex Delaware, a psychologist who works with the LA Police Dept.

Another favorite author, and a detective who is very flawed and human.

The newest Inspector Gamache novel.  Contemporary mystery, takes place in Canada.
If you see me near the book racks in my local Goodwill, please walk past quietly, I'm not supposed to be buying any more books.  I currently have 50 on my bookshelf that I should start reading.

But what the heck, they don't cost THAT much...

Read on...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UFOs - Gotta Get Busy!

I'm scheduling some vacation time around Labor Day... Lots of people go to their cabins for the last long weekend of summer, or plan some outdoor activities with family or friends. 

I plan time in the sewing room.

The pile of UFOs or Un-Finished Objects is getting large...

Top to Bottom:
  1. Halloween Quilt
  2. Jelly Roll Quilt
  3. Red/white/blue quilt
  4. Garden Florals
  5. Poppies from the kit I found hidden
  6. Almost Twighlight - quilted, just needs binding
  7. Black/white/red stars from Buck a Block
  8. Black/white/red/gray bow tie quilt that needs a border
  9. Primary colors charm block quilt
  10. Green and dark red borders that go on a quilt that's not on the pile
  11. Two Christmas quilts, one is mine and one goes to my daughter
Not on the pile are two more, one is a panel for a blue baby quilt that is flannel and chenille with a large frog in one of the corners, and the other is the pink quilt with the panel of 2.5 inch squares in the center.
One the design wall are these string blocks:

They're six and a half inches square.  Somewhere not in the pile or on the wall is a partial top made with more string blocks alternating with squares of denim from old jeans.

If I live long enough to finish all my projects I'll be around to a ripe old age!

While cleaning up my sewing room on Sunday I noticed this on the wall near I desk I use for scrapbooking:

This is what Miss A does while I'm sewing... and this is the new math I guess.  You make lines for tens and dots for ones and then you count them all.  Wish they'd done it this way when I was young, I might not have memorized those math tables!

Looking forward to the long weekend of finishes coming up!

Sew on...


Monday, August 24, 2015

The Weekend

This weekend I didn't do much except communicate with grands... the Jackson grands came over on Saturday because DS was working on a tall building downtown.

It went something like this:

Them:  Hi Gramma, <smiles> Is Miss A here yet?
Me:      Not yet, it's kind of early.
Them:  Awww... <long faces> can we go get her?
Me:      Not yet, let her get ready, she'll be over when she is.
Them:  Ohhhh kayyy <more long faces>

Me to myself: What am I, chopped liver??  <long face>

When she did come over, Miss A made all the faces light up.  They played.  They made those little cups of mac and cheese with noodles shaped like SpongeBob.  I peeled carrots and cucumbers and made sandwiches.

J said "Gramma, your table always looks like this when we come over.  Lots of different foods."


Then they wanted to swim in the backyard.  Here's how it goes...

The trail starts with shoes

Clothes are everywhere

More shoes (boy shoes can't be near girl shoes)

"Don't get me wet!!"  Buddy, if you don't want to get wet you're in the wrong place...

The day was GORGEOUS... I didn't mind sitting on the patio watching the mermaids and man.  I read nearly all of the second half of the book I was reading, Killing Lincoln.  It's a good read, if you like history and especially if you like books about Lincoln.

Sunday was a lazy day.  We had rain in the morning.  Later in the afternoon Miss A was playing outside with the neighbors. 

A boat had recently been removed from the patio, so they had lots of room for scooters. 

Unfortunately DH discovered an insect nest of some kind and had to spray to remove them from the eaves of the house.  So late in the evening there was stinging and screaming and searching for bites and "GRAMMA WHY DID THEY STING ME ALL I WAS DOING WAS PLAYING I'VE NEVER BEEN STUNG BY A BEE BEFORE I WASN'T BOTHERING THEM AT ALL I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!!!!"

You know what, sweetie, sometimes they just sting because they can.  It's what they do, they're bees.

Keep calm and carry on...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I've Been Busy...

I just realized it's Thursday and I haven't blogged for a few days!  It's not that things haven't been happening, they have, but they're not always fit for this blog.  I spent last Saturday with my church quilt group in the morning, and with my favorite aunt in the afternoon.  Sunday afternoon is kind of a blur... I know I did stuff, but I don't remember what!  Do you ever have days like that?

I've been busy. 

Yesterday the work day was so packed it was 12:45 p.m. before I realized it was lunchtime.  Then I grabbed my salad and chewed fast in order to make my 1 p.m. conference call, which I could not blow off because it's my job to open the call...  The afternoon flew by, and suddenly I realized I had worked 9 hours.  Again.

It's been that kind of a week.

Our fiscal year ends in September, so during the last Quarter (July/Aug/Sept) there are tons of extra reports to do, and tracking spending gets insane.    In the middle of the quarter is the last month of summer in Wisconsin, and the kids have to do a lot of back to school stuff, like getting supplies and setting up lockers, finding out what bus route you take, etc. 

This fall my daughter also goes back to school, so we've been trying to help out with the errands.  Last night I was supposed to pick up a yellow notebook and a purple notebook for Miss A.  I walked around Walgreens thinking "I have to get something, what was it???"

Lucky for me DH is going to Target today.  I wrote a list for him. 

I should have written one for myself...

I haven't been in the sewing room at all since Sunday, so no progress on finding my pants pattern yet.  I did cut and organize some quilt kits for church, though, and I have been carrying those around in my car trying to remember to drop them off.  If I don't get there, they'll get delivered on Sunday.

I have some vacation scheduled around the Labor Day weekend. 

I thought this busy quote was very appropriate...

Keep calm and carry on...

Friday, August 14, 2015

Partway to Pants Goal

Went into the sewing room while DH watched the first Packer preseason football game... and I found some of my pants fabric.  I ran the cut edges through the serger and washed and dried the pieces.

I'm starting with these four fabrics.  Any more than that might result in no sewing actually happening because there are too many choices.

Top:  Lightweight olive green bought at Vogue in Evanston, IL, who knows when.
Next layer:  Darker green twill from Gayfeathers in Madison
Next layer:  Gray softer pants weight, sort of suede-finished also from Gayfeathers
Bottom:  Aqua denim from the Sewing and Quilt Expo in Schaumburg last spring

I think I'm going to start with the bottom fabric and work up the pile because I have lots of tops that will coordinate with those two... once I get to the olive, the choices are more limited.

I pulled boxes of patterns but can't locate the one I want.  I found the master pattern but I know I have pieces traced off and folded up in a baggie or envelope somewhere.

If I don't find them, I can always trace off another copy, make the adjustments I know I have to make, and store them somewhat more intuitively this time!  (Like with the master pattern, maybe?  Duh-O!)

Sew on...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Look Changers and Pants That Fit

noun: wardrobe; plural noun: wardrobes
  1.     a large, tall cabinet in which clothes may be hung or stored.
    synonyms:(clothes) closet, armoire, locker, cupboard, cabinet
    "she opened the wardrobe"

  2. a person's entire collection of clothes.
    "her wardrobe is extensive"
    synonyms:collection of clothes;
    garments, attire, outfits;
    "she bought new shirts to expand his wardrobe"

Years ago I had a VHS tape (remember those) called Look Changers by Judith Rasband.  I had seen her at a seminar at Nancy's Notions Sewing Weekend.  She was teaching people how to coordinate a wardrobe so you could get a million looks from like two and a half pieces of clothing, a purse and a burlap sack.

I exaggerate, but that was the theme.  She made core groupings of things like jeans, a white shirt and a red sweater, then added a jacket, another pair of pants and a scarf, a skirt and a tee shirt.  From this outfit, by changing accessories, you could get anywhere from three to ten outfits and you could look different every day.  Supposedly people would not notice that you wore the same sweater six times.

Judith, bless her heart, was a slim woman, maybe a bit larger on the bottom than the top when she stood before us in her black leotard and tank top.  She proceeded to whip things off a clothing rack and put on the outfits she had organized, one by one.
This is NOT Judith's rack.  Hers was much more color coordinated.
It was inspiring.
The female body types... that's me, second from right.  ;-)
For someone who thinks they look like the third from the left but actually looks more like the second from the right in this little lineup it was also kind of frightening!  How many times have I stood in front of my closet and said things like:

I wanted to know everything about her clothes and have that same kind of closet!  I do (or used to much more frequently than I do now) sew clothing items as well as quilts.  I've been sewing since I was  -- well, a little girl. At 8 or 9 years old, my grandma taught me how to use her treadle sewing machine and I was off and running.
So why do I have nothing to wear?? 
  1. I'm short.  Most of the pants and skirts being sold today fit the 'average' woman.  Even the ones that say "Short" on the label are very often too long.  So even if I bought them, I still have to hem them up. 
  2. I know how to make pants, but when I get into my sewing room, I get distracted by the shiny stuff of beaded bracelets and patchwork.  It's like I'm a cocker spaniel and I just saw a squirrel!
  3. I'm above average sized.  I don't look good in every style out there.  Yes, I should lose 10 or 50 pounds. 
  4. I find a lot of designers are making ugly clothes.  They might look good on a 16 year old, or a model.  Not so much on me.
  5. I love colors, almost all of them.  I like patterns more than plain things.  It's hard for me to put on a plaid skirt and a printed blouse no matter now many times I see it on the runway.
  6. I'm cheap.  I often say "I'm not paying $40 for THAT, I could make it for $10."  And my daughter will give me that look and say "Yes, mom, but WILL YOU?"
  7. I think more is better.  Less is not more.  More is more.  If I find a sweater I like in blue, and it also comes in green, red, and black, I want them all.  And four red sweaters are better than one.
  8. The Goodwill is my favorite shopping place.  I can get more there.
Actually, I have lots of things to wear but I'm so tired of black and navy pants I could barf!  I know, I know, many of you swear by those two colors, they "go with everything".  But seriously - are you wearing five pairs of black pants, or one pair five days in a row?  Who can tell?
So today I vow to myself and my three faithful followers that I am going to go into my sewing room tonight and pull out that pants pattern.  I spent a lot of money on that pants fitting seminar with Sandra Betzina, and a few more on another seminar with Marta Alto. I know how to make pants that fit like they were made for me because they are.  I'm going to find those dozen fabrics I bought specifically for this task.
I am not going to play with any more shiny stuff until I make at least ONE pair on non-black, non-navy pants that fit.
Fingers crossed...
Sew on!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Patchwork Pouches and Schoolhouse Night

At last night's quilt guild meeting, we had Schoolhouse Night as we have for several past August meetings.  We had four demonstrators, and five stations, the fifth station being snacks. 

You always need snacks.

I volunteered to demonstrate a small tote bag I made from a kit I'd purchased at the local quilt shop, Patched Works last year.

The bag is small, 2.5" x 2.5" x 6" when made according to the pattern.  Of course you can make it any size, limited only by how large a  zipper you have.  They do have that zipppers on a roll that's about 8 yards long...

The hardest thing about doing this, besides fitting it in in 15 minutes and talking for an hour and a quarter?  Making step-outs that make sense.  I cut a bunch of kits up, and then started stitching.  The first one I finished.  The second time, I almost did the last step and stopped myself just in time from cutting off something that I wanted to leave on.

Once I numbered the steps for myself it was easier, but not easy.  I just wanted to keep going, and get them all done. 

The pattern was in the kit.  It was free from the Moda Bakeshop.  When I made mine, I'd had the kit for about six months.  At that time the pattern was still on the MBS website.  When I went to find it for the class it was still there.  I looked for it today to link to it and could not find it.  It's got a big logo at the top that says Made with Love, and underneath that are the small words "Patchwork Pouch".  Here's a jpeg photo of it. 

Anyway, the class was fun, every 15 minutes I had to reorganize my step outs (which I numbered and that helped a lot) for a new group of faces.  They all had different ideas about how they could do their own bags and what they'd use them for... I will look for many bags at show and tell in the next couple of months!  By the time the last group came I had the dialog down pat.  And I needed a serious glass of water because my mouth was the Sahara Desert.

Now that Schoolhouse is over, I can finish all my bags...

Sew on!