happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

Leap!

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.

leap

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:

qt2

 

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:

IMG_2012

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!

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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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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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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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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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Reading Resolutions

Here we are 2 weeks into the new year, and I haven’t posted my reading resolutions for 2013. Why reading resolutions? As 2012 came to a close, for the first time in my life, I felt my reading was causing me stress.

Reason Number 1:

That huge stack has started to feel like it's going to crush me!

That huge stack has started to feel like it’s going to crush me!

I counted 14 novels on my nightstand at the end of December, waiting to be read. This did not count the various other books from the library scattered throughout the house: wedding books, wedding shower books, baking books, diet books, quilting books, craft books,  “this looks like a cute quick read” books. This does not even take into account the books I  already own. Books are everywhere, and I am beginning to feel like the huge stack will crush me!

Reason #2:

This post– Pat’s Top 5ish for 2012.  It was originally supposed to be a top 10 list, but sadly I did not feel like there were 10 books I read this year that I truly loved. Considering all the reading I do, that’s a lot of effort for a little pleasure.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Time for some Reading Resolutions:

1. I’ve found the perfect place to store all those library books  – the library! I’m taking back 1 or 2 a day till I only have 2 or 3 library books  at home – one I’m currently reading and 1 waiting in reserve. If there is one non-fiction book I am currently reading or referring to, I can keep that. No more till I take 1 back. The genius of this is they have a very organized system at the library for storing books. If  I need one of these books again I’ll know where to find it – this isn’t always the case at my house!

2. It’s time to take a look at what I’m reading and why. I have so many books I want to read. I get ideas recommendations everywhere – reviews, blogs, friends, family,  library patrons, movies that are coming out, and just working at the library. Sometimes I  do judge a book by its cover! What to do about this? I think it’s time to get serious about Nancy Pearl‘s (author of Book List and guru to librarians everywhere) “Rule of Fifty”:

“If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up.  If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.  Since that number gets smaller and smaller as we get older and older, our big reward is that when we turn 100, we can judge a book by its cover!”

According to this rule, if I don’t like a book after reading 45 pages of it, I should give it up.  This is something I’ve always struggled with, but I’m happy to say I’ve already had success this year. See ya “Cloud Atlas” and “Life of Pi”.

3. I also need to take a look at all the series I read. When I go over them in my head, it is very overwhelming.  Some of them are good but some of them I continue to read because I’ve invested a lot of time in them and want to see whats happening to the characters. I can’t think of one series I read that I’m excited when the next book comes out. When the new Evanovich came out, I was quite content to be 200-something on the hold list for it. My resolution for this? Some of the series I want to continue I will listen to on audio in the car. I like to listen to audiobooks that are not too deep or complicated, in case my mind drifts off while I’m driving (it happens a lot!). Most of the series  I read fit this criteria. Some series I will drop. The first one I am giving up is Henning Mankell’s Wallender series. I started reading it after watching the TV series, but I think the show is enough. The books aren’t as interesting if you know what’s going to happen!

So these are my 2013 resolutions. Have you made any of your own? Do you have any hints for me in keeping my resolutions? Please don’t suggest e-books! I read those too and I haven’t touched on the subject of my digital holds list and the stress it is causing me!

I will close with the story of my most successful (only?) resolution ever. I don’t remember the year, but it must have been at least 20 years ago. I found myself getting dressed a lot and never having an appropriate shoe to wear with my outfit. I resolved to buy more shoes. My closet has never been the same! I guess that’s the key to keeping resolutions – resolve something fun! Wishing everyone more fun in the new year!

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Nashville!

The “Parthenon”

I’m back from “Music City”, “Athens of the South”,… Nashville, Tennessee. Howdy!!!

I had a great time seeing the sites of Nashville:

It won’t surprise most people who know me that what I enjoyed most at the Country Music Hall of Fame was, what else, the costumes!

I will spare you the 100 pictures of Taylor Swift costumes I took and just show 2 favorites:

The two most frequent questions I found myself asking:

How can any human being be  tiny enough to fit into those Taylor Swift costumes? And…

Who was the first person who thought it would be a good idea to wear something like this?

                     or this?

or this??

I shook off my disappointment at missing the Patsy Cline exhibit by four days,

I’m sorry I missed you, Patsy, but I’m not going to “fall to pieces” about it!

resisted the urge to buy a “Crazy for Loving You” refrigerator magnet for my hubby, and the equally strong urge to go out and buy rose embroidered cowboy boots. (Believe me, they were everwhere – in stores and on feet. After a while, you do feel like they would be a good idea!)

 Time to discover the true spirit of Nashville! And by that I mean this:

Pulled Pork

Barbecued Ribs and Mac & Cheese

and this:

Country Fried Steak and Gravy with mashed sweet potatoes

And here’s a huge shout out to Puckett’s Grocery (which we actually thought was a grocery store, but in reality is an awesome restaurant). We ended up going there just about every day for lunch. They taught us about “Meat and 3” (and 2, and 1), they gave us fast friendly service, they always offered to give us separate checks, and most of all, they gave us delicious food. Fried Green Tomato BLT – yum!

I miss you already Puckett’s!

But I didn’t come to Nashville for food and fun, I came for Library Boot Camp!  And it was an intense week filled with learning new things, meeting new people, and looking at things from a new perspective. I felt so lucky to be there, and learned a lot. It didn’t hurt that this was the setting for “Boot Camp”:

Is this heaven?
It’s the Nashville Public Library.
A library? I thought it was heaven!

The Nashville Public Library was gorgeous!

It was a great week, but now it’s back to reality.

And if I ever think the stack of books by my bed is too high, and I’ll never get to them all, I’ll look at this picture:

At least my “to be read” pile isn’t this high!!

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Not Quite Fifty Shades…

So I work in a library, and a couple of weeks ago I put up a book display titled “Not Quite Fifty Shades…”. Needless to say, it is the most successful display I’ve ever done – the books are flying off the shelf!

Image

Give the people what they want, I say. The problem is, I’m running out of books for the display. And I must admit, I haven’t read “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I know, there are only a couple of us who haven’t! So I know some of you must have. Do you have other favorite “romantic” authors?  Do you have any suggestions for read-alike authors? I’m looking for books with “hot”, “steamy” or “erotic” in the description.   Any suggestions??  Thanks in advance!

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