our book club reads happy books!


First things first – I missed last month’s book club. Boo me! (and there’s a very good chance I will be miss this month’s meeting to – I have to work, I think. Boo me again!)

Last month’s book was “The Divorce Papers” by Susan Rieger. I had  a very hard time getting into this book and the details of it just didn’t stay with me. My biggest recollection about it was skimming (and when I say skimming ,I mean skipping) through all the boring (to me) legal documents. I am really curious to see how everyone else liked it – what was the consensus – thumbs up or thumbs down?

So on to unfinished business. In my last (long ago!) post, I hinted that I had picked a word for 2015. For about 6 months or so, I have had this postcard propped up on a shelf in my sewing room.


The  postcard is an advertisement for a fabric line and  was included in a package I received of fabric purchases.

I must admit, when I first read it my initial thought was, “that’s not true!” A picture of an empty swimming pool and disastrous consequences of leaping  popped into my mind! But I knew that wasn’t the intent of the card and it really gave me food for thought (especially the fact that my mind had instantly gone to that dark place!) At the time, I was working (struggling!!) with designing this quilt:

hot mess

I was really feeling like giving up. I didn’t have to complete it, I  had been inspired by a particular fabric to create a wall hanging for my office. No one would know or care if I never finished it. But I got that postcard in the mail and I propped it on my shelf and it began to give me the message: try something, eventually something will work. And eventually I came up with this:



So, I have changed my attitude about this little postcard and it still is propped up on shelf. I no longer see empty swimming pools! Now when I’m not sure how to get something done, I just start, and work it out as I go. And it has made me more aware of the many people who always are there, willing to help. So that is why I decided to make my word for 2015 “Leap”. And that is why, in addition to book club books, this year I will be reading books like this:


I started classes to get my Masters. It feels like a big leap for me, but so far, exciting and good. I have leapt,and so far, the nets have appeared!


New Year, Old Business

We’re well into 2015 and I realize I never wrote about our December/Holiday/craft/book club extravaganza.

As in past years, Stacy did not disappoint!

There was good food, good book talk, good crafts, good fun, and good friends.

As usual, the quantity and quality of my pictures are poor. I thought about making it a new year’s resolution to get better at this, but I know it probably won’t happen – I’ve never been a picture person. I’ll just say, I’ll try to do better.

In the meantime, one picture of the crafts we did.

xmas craft

(Not shown, all the laughter and fun involved in putting these masterpieces together.)

The book we read was “The 13th Gift” by Joanne Huist Smith.  It was the perfect book for the season, reminding us that the smallest of gestures can make a big difference in a person’s life.

Have you made any reading resolutions for 2015? Maybe you want to take part in a reading challenge like this one:


I was tempted, it would help  to get more variety in my reading. I’m going to pass though. I decided I don’t crave variety as much as I do reading books that I really love. Someone asked me recently for the title of a good book to read, and I struggled to recall one I had been crazy about lately. Before I worked in a library, one of my favorite pastimes was taking a looong time in the library, browsing books, not worrying about what was popular or other people’s recommendations. I just read book jackets and what home with a stack of promising books. So that’s my reading challenge  for 2015: seek out books that I really want to read and I really like.

 I’m happy to say, I found my first one:


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I’m having a hard time putting it down. it’s so good, so moving, and yes – so sad.

I guess I will always like sad books!

How about you? Have you made a resolution for 2015? Have you picked a word for 2015? I have, but I think  I will save it for another post.

Happy reading and happy 2015!

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May Your Christmas…

Be Merry and Bright…


Be Classic…

mantle xmas

Come without ribbons, come without tags, come without packages, boxes, or bags…


Be Handmade…

featherweight xmas

featherweight xmas2

Be Brand New…

xmas nadia

Merry Christmas! (and Happy Holidays!) to all…

…and to all a good night!!



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A Thankful Week!

Welcome to Monday!

Today wraps up a very busy week for me – probably for you too.

Of course it all kicked off last Sunday with Book Club and our traditional November soup party at Beth’s house.

Our book was China Dolls by Lisa See.china dollsThis was a fascinating book about a subject I knew very little about. We had a very interesting discussion.

Another highlight of course was Beth’s soup! She went with a dual Autumn/Chinese theme, so there was  Butternut Squash soup and Chinese Chicken. I had the squash and it was delicious – I heard the chicken was great too.

As always, the fun and food was excellent.

Onwards to Thanksgiving!

I must admit when I think of Thanksgiving my heart is with my entire family. I grew up with Thanksgiving being a minimum of 11 people. Anything smaller never feels Thanksgivingy enough to me. The Thanksgiving in 2009 at my  Mom & Dad’s Northeast Philly twin home with 32 people kind of was the pinnacle. Fun for sure, but no one wants a repeat!

Here’s why:


If it looks like every one had to sit down and stay there until everyone got up, and if it looks like we were jammed in there so tight some of us could barely move our arms to lift our forks to our mouths, you’ve got the idea!

So when Trish decided that she didn’t want to brave this kind of crowd with baby Nadia, I completely understood and pulled out all my Thanksgiving recipes and started to cook.

Things I’m grateful for:

1. Our band of four has increased to six- more than halfway to eleven!

2. I get to buy cute outfits like this:nadiath3. A husband that makes things like this awesome cranberry jalapeno sauce.

cranberry4. That I remembered to not put the potato peels in the garbage disposal, even though they are garbage and it is called a garbage disposal.

potatopeelsWe have changed the garbage disposal twice after Thanksgiving due to potato peels, and I would rather be jammed into a small room with 32 people and try to eat a turkey dinner than do that again! I will just call it the “water that is a little bit grey with a couple of  teeny tiny pieces of garbage in it disposal”.

On Saturday we celebrated my baby sister’s 50th birthday. I have two sisters that created beautiful scrap/memory books for each of the siblings 50 birthdays. On Saturday all 11 of us and our spouses got together to present the final scrapbook. It felt like a milestone and another thing to be grateful for: that my Mom, Dad, and all 9 children could be together to celebrate this event.

On Sunday, we celebrated yet another milestone: Nadia Clair was baptized.

She wore the christening dress her Mom wore (another little girl in a white dress):

christening dress

Such a joyful day!




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!!


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.

wiggly ubb7

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!

bb8 bb9 

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.


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!!



One Good Dog

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


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:


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.


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


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



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:
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…


…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:


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.














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