happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

Building Blocks Update!

I’ve completed my 3rd week in the Building Blocks Quilt Along, so I thought I would update and link up to Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project! It has been fun seeing everyone else’s progress and I have admired the people who have shared their “not so perfect” work. I figured I would return the favor. It is inspiring to see beautiful work and comforting to know others are encountering similar challenges as you.

I completed my wiggly U’s last week:

wiggly u

Um, I think these are a little wiggly in the wrong places.

This week I encountered other challenges and one kind of obvious discovery that made me go “duh!”  I love my new Babylock Jane but I guess I’m still getting used to it. And I’m not really sure how I feel about the free motion foot yet. But I realized today it has a cool little notch which makes following a line easier.

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I know – obvious right? I can’t believe I didn’t notice before! It emphasized to me that I was looking at the needle instead of looking where I wanted to go. And it also made me realize that this is kind of a hard habit to break – but I’m making progress.

One mishap this week: I sewed through my Magic Slider. Boo!! I taped it with painter’s tape like I know I should have done in the first place. Sometimes shortcuts are not worth it. Luckily, it still works fine – I’m sorry my magical Magic Slider!

slider ripped

My biggest challenge this week was marking the green batik fabric. I gotta find something that shows up on this! I feel like I could have done a much better job if  I could just see what I was trying to quilt! I guess this will be my mission for this week.

So here is the grid pattern I quilted today along with a picture of the backs of both blocks.

gridbacks

I can’t say I am proud of them, but I will say that the month of January has been crazy and stressful for me(not in a tragic or heartbreaking way, just in a crazy and stressful way). Even though I have not practised as much as I should, taking this time each week to participate in this quilt a long has added much-needed fun and relaxation to my life.

And I’ll end on a fun note. Since I got my new machine I have way too many projects going on. (4 that I’m actively working on and a couple more lined up.) The chaos was making me a little crazy.

So here is my whole Building Blocks kit in one bag: blocks cut up, bagged and labeled; batting and backing squares; binding fabric and completed squares. So thanks Stacy – I’m glad I bought this bag!

31 bag

(I’m trying not to delve to deep into the fact that organizing things in a bag is my idea of fun.)

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Because Everyone Else Was Doing It. . .

. . . I put the Goldfinch by Donna Tartt on hold at the library.

 

goldfinch

The current status of my holds:

Bucks Library: 142 out of 150

Bucks Overdrive (e-book) 57 out of 63

Philadelphia Overdrive (e-book) 346 out of 384.

It seems to be on everyone’s year-end best book lists.

I hope “beautifully written” isn’t code for “long and boring”!

Care to you join me? Have you read it yet?

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New Year’s Fun

Warning to my regular readers: the majority of this post is about quilting!

I’ve never been one for successful New Year’s resolutions, until a year about 20 years ago when I made a resolution to buy more shoes (I was a stay at home mom and never had shoes to match an outfit if I wanted to put on grown up clothes and venture out into the adult world!) . This resolution was a resounding success, and my closet is currently overflowing with shoes!

So this year I decided it was time to make another fun resolution. Ever since I bought my new sewing machine I have been more anxious than ever to improve my quilting skills, especially my free motion quilting skills. This is the reason I bought my new machine after all! I have been reading books and blogs to get tips and hints. I had found the Leah Day Free Motion Quilting Project a year or so ago and was intrigued, but I’ve never put in the time to practice this skill. When she announced her Building Blocks Quilt Along it sounded like:

1. just what I needed to practice my quilting skills

2. a slow enough pace that I would be able to keep up with it

3. Fun!!

So I am on my way! Last week i picked out my fabrics. Leah recommended solids so the quilting would show up and we could see our mistakes. I liked hers so much I just decided to copy hers. While looking on-line for fabric, I became seduced by all the pretty colors. I thought to myself: navy and a bright lime green will achieve the same result. Before I could get to the fabric store, I started to experience a little guilt. I recently did this:

Pat's Iphone 810

to my fabric with the hopes that I would actually use it more! See that lime green batik sticking out? Possibly enough there  to use? When I measured it and realized it was 2-3/4 yards, the exact amount required for this project, I knew it was a sign! I’m using the green from my stash and bought a navy blue for the rest.

I spent Monday morning making this weeks 3 blocks. When it came time to press the seams open, I really resisted. I love pressing to the side, butting the seams together and creating perfectly joined seams!!

But I said to myself: “You have already ignored the advice about using solid colors, you”re going to ignore this advice too? You joined this project to learn something – you can’t learn if you don’t try something new!”

I pressed them open.

Here’s the result. Never fear, I have no problem seeing my mistakes!

qb#2

qb#1 I think I do a better job matching seams when I press to the side, but the block definitely lays flatter when seams are pressed open.

So far, I’m enjoying my first quilt along and hoping I can keep up. I love my fabric choice and don’t think I will get tired of working with it all year long!

Today I’m linking up with The Free Motion Quilting Project (another first!)

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Happy 2014! Happy Reading!

Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s that time of year for new beginnings, resolutions, and… “best of 2013” book lists. I added my own list at the end of 2012. But I don’t think I’ll do that this year. Instead I’ll list a couple of authors that I read for the first time this year and really enjoyed.

1. Kate Atkinson. When I started hearing rave reviews for her new novel “Life after Life” I thought I should check her out. I started reading the books in her Jackson Brodie series. (I was under the mistaken impression that “Life After Life” was a part of this series). Atkinson is a great writer and her characters and stories keep you reading. I’ll be reading more by her this year and maybe checking out the BBC series that were adapted from these books if I can find it.

2. For a road trip to Shenandoah National Park I selected Philippa Gregory’s “The White Queen” on audio. I had been seeing a lot of advertisements for the Starz production  of this novel. I got hooked. The audio narrator was excellent and I went on to listen to the next 2 books in the series. It reminded me of a time in my life when I was crazy about historical fiction. I will be listening to more of these – she has lots!

3. Linwood Barclay. I’ve never considered myself a big reader of thrillers (I’m one of the handful of people on the planet that doesn’t read James Patterson), but when a co-worker recommended “Trust Your Eyes” I was happy to “trust my co-worker”. So glad I did! Great stories and characters that you really care about.

I’ll conclude with a book that I happened to read between 12/31/13 and 1/1/14. It turned out to be the perfect New Year’s read. It was “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey.  I admit my motivations for bringing it home were not the best. I had never heard of the book or the author but we got several copies delivered to the library and not enough room for them all on the shelves. The stark but beautiful cover intrigued me, so I brought it home.

 

 

This beautiful story of a childless couple, homesteading in the Alaska wilderness in an attempt to escape their grief is entrancing. It is inspired by a Russian folk tale by the same name. I am not a big fan of magic or fantasy in novels, but by the time these are introduced I was completely hooked by the story and couldn’t stop reading. (And is it really magic? You’re never quite sure.)

It turned out to be a perfect New Year’s read. Some inspiration I will take with me:

” We are allowed to do that , are we not , Mabel? To invent our own endings and choose joy over sorrow?”

and

“In my old age, I see that life itself is often more fantastic and terrible than the stories we believed as children, and that perhaps there is no harm in finding magic among the trees.”

This book casts a spell on you with its gorgeous writing, its beautiful setting, and its tale of the joys and sorrows that make us human. It is truly an amazing fairy tale for adults.

As a footnote, I will add that I was so smitten with this author’s name that I googled the pronunciation (its Ay-o-win) and found out this was the name of a character in “Lord of the Rings”. (I told you a don’t like fantasy –  I never read it or watched it!! Does this make me a failure as an English major??)Turns out Eowyn Ivey’s mother named her after this character (http://eowynivey.com/bio/) Did Eowyn  have any other choice but to grow up and write such a fantastical book?

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