happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Well, I wanted to scream anyway, while reading this book!

 

Or I should say, avoiding reading, falling asleep while reading, skimming. All these are more accurate. “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” by Susan Jane Gilman was our book club selection for this month. This was 512 pages of misery. Which I normally don’t mind, but I found the main character so unlikable I wasn’t interested in her story.

The one good thing about this book: its large size ensured that I did not even consider taking it with me to Jamaica to read on the beach!

jamaicaI’m glad nothing spoiled this view! And when I visited the resort’s self-serve soft serve machine (daily!) I didn’t think of Lillian Dunkle once!

Why did I bother to finish this book you may ask? One reason is because I do like to finish book club books so I can contribute to the discussion (perhaps this is really something that is imprinted on me forever – I always did my homework when I was in school. Always. I know. Obnoxious. I blame my parents.) The other reason I finished the book was so I could get to the happy part of the book where she received an operation so her leg was miraculously healed. And she could wear semi-cute yellow shoes. Like I was promised on the cover of the book. I know there is a saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but nobody is ever actually talking about books when they say that, are they?

So…other than the book, book club was great!! Norene had delicious refreshments. We had something from all four food groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, and M&M’s. And of course, ice cream for dessert. Reminding us, in spite of what we had just read, that ice cream is indeed, a good thing.

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Goodnight June

A couple of weeks ago was Book Club. Our book was Goodnight June by Sarah Jio.

Everyone seemed to enjoy this fanciful account of the origins of the classic children’s book, “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown.

I thought Norene’s email summed up the night perfectly, so I hope she doesn’t mind that I add an excerpt here:

“You all missed a great book club meeting last week … a few of us traveled all the way (haha) to Philadelphia, PA in the Northern Liberties section.  It literally took us maybe 20 minutes to get to Trish’s house and she made it a great night!!  We also planned to hopefully get together when the movie Gone Girl releases and have a Girls Night Out at the movie theater, which is scheduled to hit the theaters October 3rd.”
The refreshments were yummy! In keeping with the Italian restaurant theme of the book, we had some antipasti and delicious biscotti from Termini’s bakery. Sometimes its worth it to make the trip to the big city!
We also had a Book Shower for Trish, which was fun. The new baby already has  a good-sized TBR (to be read) pile!
I’m only bummed that I forgot to bring this little gift that I bought months ago, specifically for an occasion like this:
bib2
Oh well, she’ll get it eventually. I better get on the ball and  get better at this Grandma business!! It won’t be long!
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Head in the Clouds, Nose in a Book…

Ever since I purchased my new sewing machine in November I’ve been sewing like a mad woman. I come home from work and sew for a couple of hours. So fun and relaxing! Between November and the end of May I completed 4 t-shirt quilts, 3 handbags, 2 twin size, 1 wall hanging and 1 baby quilt. I was always working on 2 or 3 projects at once, and all of them but 2 had a deadline. And I kept adding more projects to the list of things I wanted to make in the very near future.

At the end of May, I stopped to take stock (and to dig my sewing room out of the chaos that working on 3 projects at a time creates.) I had met all my deadlines, but I knew I had another one looming in October. Looking at what I didn’t accomplish on my previous list, of course the things that didn’t get done were things I wanted to make for myself. One thing in particular stuck out. Back in February I bought a piece of fabric which I wanted to make into a wall hanging.

reading in treesReading & quilting – two of my favorite things. I wanted to make this fabric into a wall hanging for my new office at the library. And I had not started it yet. I realized two things were standing in my way: no deadline and no design.

The deadline was the easy part. I figured I just wanted a small wall hanging – I could be finished by the end of June. The design was really what was holding me back. After searching books, magazines, and the internet for a pattern of the design I had in my head, I decided it was time to bite the bullet and design my own quilt. Gulp! I do not have quilt design software, I can’t use Adobe Illustrator, I can’t draw. I can do math, but I don’t like to. But the math teachers always say,” someday you’ll need this stuff”. That day had come. I went totally old school:

graph paper

In an hour or so I had sketched out my idea for the quilt and broken down the design into steps. If I tackled one little step each day, I should have no problem meeting the deadline.

Ha! Truthfully, there were no “little” steps.  I had no idea how to execute this design.

I thought it would be cute to duplicate the starburst hanging from one of the tree branches in the fabric. Surely I could quickly find a star pattern and make the block. But none of the pieced star patterns were exactly what I wanted. Reluctantly, I realized that I had to delve into the world of paper piecing, and I finally found what I wanted.

While certainly not the most difficult paper pieced block in the world, not really a beginner project, especially in a 6″ size. Especially since I was determined to use a striped fabric for it. I borrowed a Carol Doak book from the library and I quickly understood why she has such a reputation as an expert in paper piecing.

I was encouraged by my 1st try with “practice” fabric…

sunburst

…but definitely saw areas I needed to work on. And it was at this early point in the project I had to accept that it would never be as perfect as I imagined it in my head.

The third time was the charm:

starburst

On to the next challenge: the stack of books. Again, I thought it would be easy, and again, it wasn’t really. How do you make  random strips of fabric look like a stack of books? But then I found the idea of using the fabric selvedges for titles, and I was off and running.

People, to make a long story a little shorter, I will just say that every aspect of designing and making this quilt was hard!! I pondered over every element and agonized every time I had to cut into my “good fabric”.

Here is the quilt in its “hot mess” phase, when I seriously considered abandoning the quilt altogether:

hot mess

But out of sheer stubbornness I persisted. I tackled applique even though I am bad at it. I ripped seams, I made half square triangles when I never had any intention of doing so. I eliminated fabric that I really, really wanted to use because it didn’t work. I made a squirrel even though I hate squirrels.  I endured some moments of  panic, worried that I wouldn’t know when the quilt top was finished – I would just keep adding things to it and it would keep getting crazier looking!  But I realized as soon as I sewed the Perle cotton from the tree branches to make the star and books look they were hanging from trees that it was finally finished.

quilt top

 

And then I promptly took the Perle cotton off , because, really, how do you expect to quilt it when there is loose thread on a quilt top that you want to remain loose. (I really meant it when I said I did everything at least twice.)

I quilted it and hand bound it and put the Perle cotton back on. And I even named it. Which I never do. But the name just came to me, so I accepted the gift, because that was the only thing that “just came to me” on this quilt.

“Head in the Clouds, Nose in a Book” designed & made by Pat Hartman.

Inspired by the “Quiet Time” fabric collection by Tamara Kate.

qt2

 

 

 

 

 

quiettime1

 

qt5

 

 

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Big Girls Do Cry

I couldn’t stop smiling when I got this text message the other night:

 

text

 

Because I know how great it is to read a book that moves you to tears.

And because it’s so hard to recommend books to other people and I’m so happy when I hit a home run.

By the way, the text was from my daughter and just  a few hours later she wrote a great review of “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell on her blog. She summarized really well everything I loved about this book.

Read it here:

http://dishranawaywiththespoon.com/

I should mention, I “read” this book on audio. The narrators of this book did a wonderful job of capturing the voices and emotions of Eleanor & Park. If you have  a long car ride coming up, it might be just the ticket!

Just remember – no driving and crying!!

 

 

 

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“The Blessings”

Book Club was at my house this month. The book was “The Blessings” by Elise Juska.

blessings

I really enjoyed this book. As I noted at book club, it reinforced for me how much I love a depressing book! Although, I did not find this book as depressing as most other club members did. While the Blessings face many challenges in the course of the novel, doesn’t every family? And I found the way the family supported and accepted  each other inspiring. I found many of the relationships moving, particularly the one between the matriarch and the young widow, Lauren. I also loved the style in which it was written. Each chapter is told from a different family member’s point of view. Other book club members wanted the details that were missing from each person’s story, but I feel like all the snippets came together beautifully to tell the story of the whole family.

One thing we all agreed on: we loved that the setting was Philadelphia. Although all but one of us live in the ‘burbs, I still consider myself a Northeast Philly girl. The details of the story were very different, but this family felt very much like my own. And while I have never actually ate pink fluff, I know exactly what it is and have avoided it on many occasions. I actually considered that it would be the perfect refreshment for book club, but decided to have something that people would actually want to eat! I decided to go with some classic Philly food: pretzels, Federal donuts, and Goldenberg Peanut Chews. And a little fruit salad just because it’s good for you.

FederalDonuts-HalfDozenInBox-2

So we had a good book discussion and good food, but something else that caught my attention was Janet’s fun Birthday project. To celebrate a milestone birthday, she has set a goal to do 50 fun things this summer. It has been fun seeing what she has been up via her Facebook posts!

It got me thinking about having fun too! So even though I don’t have a specific goal in mind, here are some fun things I have been up to:

1. Booked a vacation to Jamaica! As we know, anticipation is half the fun.

2. Made plans with my friend Mary to attend Quilt Odyssey again this year! I’m really looking forward to it and can’t wait to hear about all Mary’s quilting accomplishments since I’ve seen her. I know she was as  inspired as I was last year and she got busy with her quilting too.

3. Went to see the movie “Jersey Boys”. What made it even more fun was my son asked me to go with him. It was nice to go with someone who wasn’t just going because he owes me for “Edge of Tomorrow” (and he still does!). It brought back nice memories of seeing the Broadway show together and we both really liked it way more than we thought we would. I must say I was never a Clint Eastwood fan and when I heard he was directing and producing it, I was nervous. But I’m happy to say I was wrong. He did a great job translating a fun show into a fun movie. Music, the mob, and merriment! What more could you want? Go see it!

3a. I saw the trailer for “Gone Girl” before “Jersey Boys”! I had seen it on the internet before, but seeing it on the big screen got me excited all over again! Creepy and amazing! I must admit, when I saw “opening October 3rd”, my immediate thought was, “I hope Trish holds off having the baby till after this date”.  She is the #1 person I want to see this movie with (even if she has to leave the theater 10x to go the bathroom!). She’s the one I know will enjoy seeing what kind of movie they make of the wonderful novel. And she will enjoy bashing it with me if they wreck it. (Hello, “Time Traveler’s Wife!) But I have high hopes for the movie. David Fincher who directed “The Social Network”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, and “House of Cards” is the director. Hopefully he will do his usual brilliant job. And while I initially had my doubts about Ben Affleck as Nick, the idea is growing on me. He has the right look, and the one-facial-expression-for-every-occasion acting style he displayed in “Argo” may work for portraying  a dazed man who is the prime suspect in the disappearance of his wife.

Watch the trailer! And do fun things  this summer!

 

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Me Before You

me-before-you-book-cover

May’s book club selection was “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes. I had heard great things about this book at the library and that is the main reason I suggested it.  I was so happy that other book club members enjoyed it more than I did.

If you go over to Goodreads, it is amazing the amount of 5 star reviews this book got.  Most of them claiming that the reviewer cried their eyes out. I must confess, no tears were shed by me. I agree with the 2 star reviewer “Litchick”.

Beth, as usual, had lovely refreshments. Tea, cake, and scones  so we could pretend we were having tea in a small English town with a castle in it!

Next month’s book is “The Blessings” be Elise Juska. This is what LibraryReads has to say about that:

“This finely-crafted story is told through a series of Blessing family members’ points of view over a two-decade span of time. A deceptively small book with very big themes, this novel is gentle and wise. It made me look at my own close and extended family with new eyes; now I see the ways in which we are alike, not the ways in which we are different. A transformative reading experience. Highly recommended.”

I’m preparing to be transformed – well at least my house is! Well, transformed from dirty to clean – book club is at my house next month. So I’ll start cleaning soon. But not yet – it only stays clean for half a minute – wouldn’t want to have to do it twice!!

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Are Capri Pants Still a Thing…?

…and if not, what’s a middle-aged woman who’s self-conscious about her baggy knees supposed to wear in the summer?

(Note to self: explore skirts as a summer life-style choice)

clothes on bedAll the clothes are going! hangersSo are the hangers.

This is halfway through the process of emptying out my closet.

shoes

I need to rethink the shoes. This is the keep pile.

pink shoes

Look what I found! I still love them – they’re staying. I will wear them one more time to be absolutely sure they hurt like hell.

pursesNone of these purses or bags cost more than $30. Why do I have such a hard time getting rid of them?

fanny packYes. That’s a fanny pack. I am tossing it. So I will never be tempted.

hatsHow do I have a drawer full of Phillies hats in my closet? That I never wear? (They are still there. Is it even possible to get rid of a Phillies hat?)phillies hatAlthough, I have almost reached that stage in life when I can give stuff to my daughter and say, “”I thought the baby would like this.” (and then she can throw it out for me!)

pantyhoseI can’t remember the last time I wore pantyhose. Why do I have a drawer full of it in my closet? If I ever have need of it, I will run to the drug store that is a minute and a half from my house and buy myself a brand new pair. (Wait, do they still sell pantyhose?)

white pantyhoseI am not now, nor have I ever been, a nurse. I am grateful that I cannot remember the outfit that went with  this white pantyhose!

Full disclosure: I bagged up the pantyhose and put it in my sewing room. In case I ever make a stuffed animal. Hello, my name is Pat and I am a hoarder.

Holy UFO, Batman! I found another unfinished object I forgot I had.

ufoI bought this Block of the Month project because I thought it would be a good way to learn to quilt. Ha! This is a very applique-heavy project that was way beyond my skill level at the time. (It may still be above my skill level.) It is amazing that I ever became a quilter.

Have a great weekend everyone! I’m off to go shopping – I have a closet to fill!

 

 

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Hey! I Wrote a Blog Post!

I’m happy to be back blogging after a short hiatus. The main reason for the absence  is because I missed the March meeting – for the first time! (Except for the very first meeting, but I hadn’t joined the group yet.)I was so bummed that I had to miss the meeting , because the book was “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Stinson.rosie projectI had read the book back in October, so I wanted to re-read it to refresh my memory. I mostly hate re-reading because I feel like it takes away  time I could be spending reading something new. So I listened to it on CD. To be honest, I think I loved it even more on audio. I never heard how everyone else liked it – please leave a comment and let me know!

 

This month’s book was “Drama High” by Michael Sokolove.

drama high

This book seemed like a no brainer to me because our book group is composed of former “drama mamas” and high school drama participants. And the story is very local – it is about the drama program at Truman High School and its drama teacher Lou Volpe. I may be exaggerating a little when I say Bensalem High School considers Truman its arch rival, but I was interested to see how everyone responded to the book. Some of our members have met Lou Volpe and seen the productions chronicled in the book. Most of the members seemed to enjoy the book. The two members that really hated it were members of BHS drama not so long ago. I understand why they were irritated – BHS has a great drama program and teacher also. But it was a reminder that there are great teachers everywhere and they make a big difference in children’s lives.

I can’t resist posting a memory quilt picture of my great times at drama high:BHS Drama quilt frontThe most fun I had at book club was sharing this piece of news I received right around Valentine’s Day:

bib

I can’t wait to be a Grandmom! Here’s how I’ve been practicing:

When I see a brand new baby, I do not say, “That baby needs a hat!”        I’m not sure why I get the urge to say the phrase  that irritated me the most when I was a young mother. (And what was I thinking – that baby probably did need a hat!!)

 

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Don’t Mess with Mr. Darcy!

I feel like I’ve been neglecting book club with all the recent quilty posts, so I thought I would catch up with book club news today!

Unfortunately, I missed January’s meeting. The book was – wait for it – “The Book Club” by Mary Alice Monroe. I don’t have much to say about this book. I found it not very interesting and the characters kind of unlikable. Not sure how everyone else felt about it, so leave a comment and let me know!

February’s book was “Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding. I admit I was disappointed in this book, which is sad, because I love Bridget Jones. My first disappointment was the death of Mr. Darcy. (see post title above!). “Bridget Jones” is an homage to “Pride & Prejudice”, specifically the BBC mini-series starring Colin Firth. Was there ever more brilliant casting than Colin Firth as Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones’ Diary”?

The two Mr. Darcys:

Colin Firth in “Pride & Prejudice”

Colin Firth in “Bridget Jones’ Diary”

Jane Austen was smart enough never to write a sequel to “Pride & Prejudice”, especially one without Mr. Darcy. “Mad about the Boy” lost me once I realized Mark was dead. The brief mentions of him in the novel just made me miss him more.

The other problem I had with the book was its style. Which is a shame, because Helen Fielding was cutting edge when she wrote Bridget Jones in diary format. But it’s been done so often since, it seems kind of dated. I was looking for something more original.  I struggled all month to read this book and in the end, just skimmed. But it was nice to make it to book club and hear what everyone else had to say and have some delicious treats!

In other reading news, on January 14th I  wrote this post, about putting “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt on hold. I got it from the library on February 28th. Actually, it didn’t take me as long as  I thought it would to come in (I still have the eBooks on hold: I’m 104 out of 473 in Philadelphia and 46/116 in Bucks County). It’s a big thick book and it is riveting right from the start. I’m in the middle of it now but so far it certainly doesn’t meet the “happy book” criteria. I’ll keep you posted!

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Star Bright

I haven’t got any work done on my Building Blocks Quilt Along for the past 2 weeks. Here’s why:Star BrightThis is the “Star Bright” baby quilt I made from a pattern by Katie Blakesley from SwimBikeQuilt. (and a big thank you to Katie for this free pattern!)

I have a baby shower to go to tomorrow and I wanted to make a gender neutral quilt. I had been wanting to make a quilt with a modern feel and when I saw this pattern it was a no brainer. Every baby is a super star!

I had so much fun making this quilt!

1. I had to buy all new fabric for this quilt – only one small piece of the yellow print is from my stash. I headed over the bridge and visited a lovely quilt shop for the first time – Olde City Quilts. About 20 minutes away and such beautiful fabrics and a wide selection of threads. And the staff was so nice! I’ve already been back once, and I’m planning another trip soon.

2. I didn’t do any free motion quilting, but I’m pretty happy with what I did with my walking foot. In the past I only used it for stitching in the ditch. I ditched the ditch stitching this time!

star quilting

3. Tried spray basting for the first time – loved it!

4. Used striped fabric! First I have to say I hate stripes. I knew I wanted something graphic for the binding and when I saw this striped fabric I felt the colors were a perfect match and didn’t over think it too much. Once I got it home I wavered between “well, it will match the colors of the quilt” and “I hate it!” It wasn’t till I took the last stitch, turned it over, and held it up to admire that I was able to say: “The stripes are cute – I love it!”

5. Flannel on the back and custom labels! Fancy!

label

6. I  copied off all the quilting blogs of been reading and took my quilt outside to photograph the quilt. I even uttered the words “I wish we had a fresh coat of snow so I could photograph it on snow.” I’m sorry! Now that I decided my weathered deck would work fine, I take it back. No Snowmegedden this week please!!

Now that this quilt is finished (Good-bye! I will miss you!) I will catch up on my Quilt Along. But I am also thinking about another fun project. When I saw this fabric, I didn’t think twice – I ordered immediately!

reading in trees

Considering the name of my blog is “Happypathbookclub” and I work in a library, the only question could be “why wouldn’t you buy this fabric?” This looks like the happiest book club ever! (The fabric is Quiet Times by Tamara Kate) I didn’t notice the “I Heart Books ” carved into the tree trunk when I ordered, but it just made me love it more! Now I’m about to do something else I’ve never really done  before – design my own quilt. I have a couple of ideas so far. One of them involves that star shape ornament hanging from a branch. Anybody have ideas or advice for me?

 

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