happypathbookclub

our book club reads happy books!

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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“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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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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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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A Blogging Worm Hole

I recently found myself caught in a blogging worm hole and it took me a long time to get out!

It  started out when I started looking online for a sewing table for my new sewing machine. I found a lot of ideas, but the table that best fit what I had in mind was this one.

I knew this would be a snap for my husband to make. I also knew the hardest part of convincing him to make it for me was the Ikea table that was involved. ( I really don’t have an adequate explanation for his hatred of all things Ikea). Suffice it to say, I moved on. And on, and on and on….

I had entered a quilting blog wormhole!

In the course of my search, I came across many Modern Quilting websites. My favorite was SwimBikeQuilt.com. I came for the interesting blog title. I stayed for the beautiful quilts.

Photo courtesy of SwimBikeQuilt

I was certainly aware of the Modern Quilting movement and I’m ashamed to say, had kind of dismissed it. Ironically, the things that caused me to initial reject this kind of quilting are now what draws me to it: the (deceptively) simple designs and the frequent use of solids, particularly white. Looking back, I think my lack of confidence in my quilting skills made me skeptical of these kind of quilts for me. Years ago I used a solid color for the backing on a quilt and I was horrified – every mistake stood out so much! Ever since, I have used a print as backing fabric. Well actually, I use prints for the back and front of my quilts. I have no solids at all in my fabric stash!

I kept reading and reading about Modern Quilting. And looking and looking at pictures of gorgeous quilts. I felt a little guilty about my obsessive blog reading. Here is a short list of the more productive things I could have been doing:

1. Cleaning the house (who are we kidding?!)

2. Reading an actual book.

3. Talking to people.

3. Getting the paperwork together for tax prep (again, who are we kidding?!)

4. Doing paperwork for my husband’s business.

5. Making actual quilts.

6. Cooking for my family (ok, just kidding with that one)

7. Building an actual sewing table. (stay tuned)

In spite of feeling slightly guilty for spending too much time reading quilting blogs, I don’t regret it. I have emerged from my wormhole with   ideas for some fun new projects.

What did I learn? Keep your mind open to new ideas and be willing to try something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Good advice for quilting,  and  for life!

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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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Pardon for the delay…I was cleaning up the glitter…

Yes, this week was Book Club/ Holiday Craft Fest! Read about last year’s craft fest here.

Business out of the way: There was a book: “Wishin’and Hopin”” by Wally Lamb. We liked it – “Best Christmas Pageant Ever” for grown ups!

On to the food:

Brownie ice cream Pie and Cookies

Brownie ice cream Pie and Cookies

Tea Sandwiches and Petit Fours

Tea Sandwiches and Petit Fours

I don’t know what it is: I’m really bad at remembering to take pictures, or we were all starving. Probably both.  Either way, all the pictures I took were of half empty plates! And everything was delicious. Sorry I didn’t get a photo of everything: Candy Cane Oreo Truffles, veggies & dip, spinach dip, hot cider. I’m sure I forgot something. And how cute are these:

Christmas trees made of peanut butter cups and Hershey kisses!

Christmas trees made of peanut butter cups and Hershey kisses!

On to crafting! The glitter and paint were flying!

Decoupage plaques

Decoupage plaques

Balloon painted snowmen!

Balloon painted snowmen!

A good time was had by all! Thanks Stacy, awesome job as usual! We missed everyone who couldn’t  make it! Happy holidays all!

group

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It Should Have Been My Arm!!!

Catchy title brought to you by Lauren – thanks Lauren!

This month’s book was “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarty.

the_husbands_secret

And here’s a hint: the husband’s secret isn’t that he’s  bought a beautiful bouquet of pink flowers for his wife!  This best seller is an over the top story of murder, betrayal, infidelity, a (super!) creepy mother in law, and of course, maternal guilt.  The book examines the secrets we keep and those that we reveal, the grudges we hold and the grudges we let go of,  the guilt we live with, and the forgiveness we choose to extend (or not!) to ourselves and others. In short, it has it all. So many things to discuss! We all agreed that we would have read that letter in a heartbeat (what took Cecilia so long!) and the secret Tess chooses to keep at the end was the right secret to keep.

There were no  hot cross buns to munch on, but the delicious baked goods Kathy provided were even better. Thanks Kathy!

One thing we didn’t get to discuss at book club, this description of Cecilia i found on Shelfari: “The perfect mom, homemaker, volunteer, Tupperware sales rep.”  Take out the word Tupperware, and I think we can all think of a certain book club member who fits this description! I’m sure her husband has no gruesome letters tucked away for her, though!

I  don’t consider myself that much like Cecilia, but one scene in particular I could relate to. When Cecilia feels her life crumbling around her, she goes into her super organized Tupperware filled pantry to try to relax.

My house is a mess and I have the opposite of a super organized pantry, but I couple months ago, I did this:

Pat's Iphone 810

and this:

Pat's Iphone 809

And this:

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and this:

Pat's Iphone 812

This is all my quilting fabric that previously was stashed in various boxes, bins, and closets throughout the house. I spent the weekend sorting and folding while watching TV. (Can’t remember what I was watching, but I have a feeling it was something inspiring and intellectually stimulating – Like Season 1 through 4  of “Arrested Development”!) I won’t say it was best weekend ever, but I will say I enjoyed it a lot! And I find myself going in there occasionally, opening the drawers and admiring my handiwork. So I guess I do have a little bit of Cecilia in me after all!

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