happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

Building Blocks Complete!

This past January I wanted to make a fun New Year’s resolution, so I joined Leah Day’s “Building Block Quilt Along” .

Today, I’m happy to say, I’m finished!!

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I was so happy to be done this quilt that when I finished it yesterday morning I needed to take a picture of it immediately before I put it in the washing machine. (I always have this fear every time I wash a new quilt: either the colors will run, or it will fall apart.) I was mad because it was raining so I couldn’t take a picture outside. But then I asked myself – “self, what are you going to do with this quilt right after you take the picture? Put it in a washing machine with water? Rain is just water –  take your picture!”

So I stood outside on my front lawn in the rain in my pajamas and took a picture – I hope no one got a picture of that!

I’ll be honest, by the end of this quilt along I was more than ready to be done. When I started, I was working at a very leisurely pace. Every Friday night I worked on the new block for the week. In between, I worked on other projects. But the pace picked up just around the time I started work on some projects that had tight deadlines, and it started to feel not so leisurely and I fell a little behind.

But I’m happy I pushed through and caught up, because I think it was a good idea to get it done before the holidays. I don’t think I would have completed it by the end of the year otherwise. I’m working on holiday gifts now and with many other holiday activities coming up, this project would have been hard to squeeze in.

I chose this project because, inspired my new sewing machine, I really wanted to get better at free motion quilting.

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These wiggly U’s are my first block.

This wonky star is one of my

last blocks.

Is there improvement? I’ll let you be the judge.

I know I have learned a lot from this quilt:

  1. I don’t like super dense quilting.
  2. I hate marking designs. I started out meticulously tracing each design with a light box, which was a big part of the project beginning to feel like a chore. By the end, I had given up on the light box for all but the most intricate designs. I gave up tracing circles  – even if I traced them perfectly (I didn’t!) I would not sew them perfectly.
  3. When trying to pick my favorite blocks, all the ones I picked were ones with straight line quilting. Which is kind of funny, since I never thought of straight lines as a free motion quilting design. I thought of it as walking foot design. But FMQ lines are so much faster. And it is easy to mark – you just need a ruler and marking pencil – no light box!

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I love these straight lines!

I have to say, the thing I love best about my quilt (besides having finished it) are my fabric choices. I started out the year with the idea that I wanted to use fabric I already owned in my projects this year before buying any more (BTW, this was a miserable failure – I bought a LOT of fabric this year). I owned just the right amount of the green batik for this project, but didn’t have enough solid fabric (well, I didn’t have any solid fabric), so I bought the Kona navy with a half price coupon at JoAnn’s. This project was great for using up odd pieces of batting. For backing, I used various print navy’s that I had on hand.

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I have seen so many beautiful & creative  quilts on the Building Block Facebook group. But I have never regretted my fabric choices. Everytime I sat down to sew, that navy and green made me happy. I hope everyone else working on the project had the same experience.

Finally, I have to say another great part of this project was following along with other quilters on the Facebook groups. Sometimes the internet can be a mean place, but I didn’t see that once with this group. I posted some of my progress pictures occasionally, and when I did, I was overwhelmed with the generosity of the group with their praise and encouragement. It made me feel bad that I didn’t comment on others posts more often. So to all the group members,let me say, thank you for sharing your amazing work with us! And thanks Leah for a great Quilt Along!

Here’s a picture after washing – yeah it’s still a quilt!!

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One Good Dog

Our book this month was “One Good Dog” by Susan Wilson.

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This was a very nice story about how a mistreated dog helps a man heal. Traumatic events from childhood has led to the loss of everything Adam March values in his adult life. Of course, everyone knows the love of a good dog can fix just about anything! Well, it may not fix everything, but unconditional love is always nice and by learning to love and take care of a dog, Adam learns to take responsibility for his actions and to make a new life for himself.

The meeting this month was at Kathy’s house, so we all knew we could look forward to delicious bakery treats. We were not disappointed!
And they were adorable too:

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Thanks Kathy for the delicious treats and being such a great hostess!

I’ll leave you with a picture of my “One (pretty) Good Dog” I loved the depiction of retrievers in the book, because their lovable nature and eagerness to please is why I love having labs. Feel free to tell me about your good dog too!

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Latest Finish!

I completed this project in August.

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I delayed posting about it because I felt like it needed one more thing:

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Meet my grandbaby, Nadia Claire!
She is such a delight and I love her so much!

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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:
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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:

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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…

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…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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Big Girls Do Cry

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

 

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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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