Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Bookshelf

October was a busy month involving a lot of quilts and a lot of driving.  This means I went through a lot of audiobooks!

Brian's Return by Gary Paulsen
I'm kind of stuck on this series of outdoor adventures for young boys.  I think I need one more, but someone at the library is hogging it!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love this book just because it uses the word "cannot" in the title.  I love "cannot" as much as I love the Oxford comma and two spaces after a period.  There, I said it out loud; let the hate-mail pour in!  I pulled this book off the NY Times Bestseller list.  I don't believe that the books on this list are necessarily better than other; I simply believe that they are books folks are talking about so I read them to join in the conversation.  I'm on an odd "accidentally read tons of stuff about WWII" kick right now, and this was yet another book set during WWII.  I enjoyed the viewpoint of the German child and the French child and how they were impacted by the war.  This was beautifully written and I highly recommend it.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I requested this from the library when I knew I'd see the latest movie in the theater, and many months later the audio book finally became available. I worked in a bookstore as an evening "Get Mom out of the house" job when Jurassic Park was first published.  Reading all of the new releases was a huge perk of the job.  I enjoyed this book then, but 25 years of watching the movie made me forget the book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
When the quilting gets tough, the tough listen to a Harry Potter marathon while working to keep them on task. I've read this series through several times, and I was due for another go-through.  One book down...

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo
I read this book when it first came out and used it to get rid of all the books and fabric that didn't "Spark Joy."  My sewing room is still a creative mess, but it is a creative mess that doesn't nag or cause me guilt.  I love that.  I listened to the audiobook while prepping kits for Houston and I liked the book even better the second time.  I will put this on my "read at least once a year" list.

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick
I have been reading segments of this on my Kindle for several flights.  I finally finished it when flying home from Denver.  I expected it to be a light and fluffy novel, perfect for airplanes, but I didn't expect to enjoy it so darn much.  I'll have to put Marie Bostwick's books on my to-read list.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
After a 2:45 am wakeup and three flight delays, I had to start working as soon as I got into my house after a trip to Denver.  I have other books I should be listening to, but I wanted to listen to something fun to get started.  Harry Potter is fun.  Very fun.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
At this point in the month, I was incredibly brain-dead.  I was tickled pink when I popped the first CD of this set into my laptop and heard Kathleen Wilhoite's reading of a fun book.  I wanted to quilt longer just to hear more of her energetic narration.  This book wasn't the great American novel, but it was fun and kept me quilting 'til the wee hours of the morning so I could make a UPS deadline.  That's a two-thumbs-up review from me!  I am so disappointed that there are no more Maria Semple or Kathleen Wilhoite audiobooks in my library system.  This was a one-hit wonder for me, but it came at just the right time.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
This was a basic murder intrigue book, but then... POW!  I won't reveal spoilers, but it was fun to watch this thing unfold.  I love when I can't predict where a book will go.  This audiobook had several narrators, the last one being Keith Szarabajka.  I love his gravelly voice, but never knew how to say his name.  I just hear his voice and think, "Oh, it's the guy with the eye-test for a last name!" (says Debby Ritenbaugh Brown).  I listened to the end credits on the book and they pronounced his name "sarah-bike-ah," so now we know.

I took a few breaks from books while quilting and periodically binged on some Netflix whilst quilting this month:

Person of Interest, seasons 1-3.  Jim Cavaziel has the same acting range as Kristin Stewart, but the stories were easy to follow while quilting.

iZombie, season 1.  I typically don't watch comedies.  At first I groaned, then I laughed, then I got interested, and then I watched all 13 seasons in 24 hours.  I do like zombies.  Braaaiiiinnnnnsssss..........

Legends, season 1.  Ali Larter is not a favorite of mine, but I do love me some Sean Bean.  The show was meh, but good enough to watch while napping in my hotel room while on a super-secret quilting adventure in Denver this month.

Back to the Future, I-III
Because, October 21, 2015 was the future date in the movies.  And we still don't have hovercraft.  I feel robbed.

I get a lot of my audio books on CD from my local library, but I also have an Audible account.  It is worth every penny to me!  Amazon is offering a special promotion if you want to check out Audible and see if you love it, too.  Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jinny Beyer's Dahlia block

I recently finished my first paper-pieced block from Jinny Beyer's Block of the Month quilt.  I have a lot to say, but I can sum it up with "I learned a lot!"


I learned that it's important to use ALL of the pieces of fabric (yes, little purple petal, I'm talking to you!).  I learned that it's not a great idea to "just move this piece over a little bit to fix that last piece."  I learned how many times one can take out stitching before a foundation falls to pieces. I learned that persistence pays off!

I'm pleased with my block and not so frightened of the next one!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I flew to Houston today for School House, Quilt Market, and International Quilt Festival.  I think I'll be here for 10 days.  Maybe 14 years.  I'm not really sure at this point.

Let's talk about my stuff.

  • I packed six huge cartons of quilt kits for my students at Festival and they are arriving at my hotel.  I will transport them to the convention center for classes next week.
  • I packed one small suitcase with 39 pounds of notions and supplies for my classes.  It is heavy and I could have carried it on the plane if necessary.  It wasn't necessary.  Thank you free first-class upgrade.  Phew.
  • I packed one large suitcase with 41 pounds of quilts and supplies for School House, Market, and my classes at Festival.  
  • I packed one large suitcase with 51 pounds of clothes and a dolly (for the above-mentioned cartons).  
  • I packed one extremely heavy backpack with a laptop and projector for my presentations.

I feel like a pack mule.  It was difficult getting these bags into the airport and checked in, but I was able to move freely through the airport with just my heavy backpack.  Not bad at all.


I tried to reclaim my luggage in Houston.  My little suitcase came out just fine.  My big suitcase of quilts was just fine.  Phew!  Then my clothing suitcase arrived and, um.... not fine.  I picked it up off the carousel and the baggage handlers had ripped the suitcase open.  My clothes flew EVERYWHERE.  I was running along the carousel, shoving my clothes back into my suitcase (still on the carousel) hoping to pick it up in mostly one piece.  Alas, several strangers handed me pieces of clothing.  Underclothing, naturally.  Fortunately, I'm old enough not to embarrass easily.

I knew one of the quilter/passengers on the plane and she packed cellophane tape in her luggage.  She let me use a few pieces so I could at least get my luggage to the luggage office.  Linda, you are my hero!

I met the man in the luggage office.  That poor man.  I tried to be gentle with him, but strangers had just fondled my drawers causing me to lose my cherub-like demeanor.  He didn't call security on me, so I must have reined it in, just a bit.

Me:  "Hi.  The baggage handlers ripped my bag open and threw it on the belt.  My clothes flew everywhere and strangers were handing me my undies."  (Yes, I said undies to a man I've never met.)  He just stared at me, gearing up for the battle to come so I continued.  "I can't get my luggage to the rental car let alone home.  And I have no idea what is missing."

He hustled behind the counter and pulled out a carry-on size suitcase.  "Well, I can replace your suitcase with this."

Me again:  "Sir, if you can figure out how to get all of the contents from my bag into that one, it will be a miracle."

Him:  "I can give you two bags"

Me:  "That would work, but how am I going to check four bags going home?  I get three with a first class upgrade, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.  I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars in baggage fees because the baggage handlers ripped my luggage."

Him:  "I'll see if I can get a voucher for the baggage fees, but I'll have to upstairs.  Only management can approve this."

He ran upstairs and the other passengers in the office were staring at me.  "Did he just give you a suitcase?"

Me:  "Yes, and he'll give me another one before I leave."

Them:  "They can do that?"

Me:  "Yes.  They have a room full of brand new suitcases to hand out in situations just like this one."

Them:  "Are they really going to give you two new suitcases and pay your baggage fees?"

Me:  "Yep."

Them:  (mouthing) "wow"

Me:  "Watch and learn."

The outcome of today is that I own two new small suitcases.  One doesn't have 360* wheels (grrr -- Princess Problems) and the other does.  Shuttling 4 suitcases with mismatched wheels through the airport to the rental car shuttle and then to the counter and then to the car was a bit of a nightmare, but it worked.  I will  check all of these bags going home and it won't cost me a penny.

I am doing a careful inventory of my clothing.  I don't think anything is missing, but I order most of my clothes from Lands End.  Receipts will be super-easy to get if necessary.

Postives:  This happened on the way here so all of those clothes were clean.  Imagine if they were all dirty and smelly?  Also, I have 4 suitcases which equal 200 pounds of checked luggage.  I can actually shop while I am here.  Mmmmmmmmmm.......... fabric. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... thread.

Negative:  I need to buy another large suitcase when I get home.

I could demand they replace my large suitcase, but I'm letting this matter drop.  The baggage handlers were wrong.  The agent did what he could to make it right.  The end.

So, how was your trip to Houston?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jinny Beyer Quilt -- Basket of Lilies

This just in:  I finished block #9 of my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt!

This block dealt with fussy cutting, hand piecing, inset seams, and paper piecing.  I am starting to fall in love with this quilt!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jinny Beyer's Beech Basket

This block is the one that will make or break my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt.

Beech Basket:

I am really happy with how the piecing turned out.  I like this basket as it is, but since I've turned down Jinny's kind suggestion of applique so many times, I decided that on this block, and only on this would, I would add the recommended applique:


I feel like I'm finally getting in the swing of things with this quilt and might actually finish in 2015!

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Marie Kondo invaded my closet and this happened:

If you haven't heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, then please let me enlighten you.  This tiny little book was written by a Japanese organizing expert and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for about a year.  Some of her ideas (thanking your clothes as you fold them) are probably not going to work for me, but her idea of asking "Does it spark joy?" when you are deciding whether to keep or get rid of something really worked for me.

Earlier this year, I decluttered my books and only kept those that made me happy.  I don't look at my shelves and groan "Oh, I really should read that someday."  I know why each book is there and I can find each one easily.

I have also weeded through my fabric collection and only own fabric that makes me happy.  I no longer have the "Why did I buy this?" and "What was I thinking?" fabrics and I've found new homes for the fabrics that well-intentioned friends have gifted me.  I've put a lot of those fabrics on the backs of my quilts and I've donated the rest.

Recently I went through my linen closet.  I found six perfectly-folded sets of sheets for twin beds  (folding fitted sheets is my super-power), but I don't own any twin beds.  I mentioned this problem to a young momma friend of mine (mother of five) and she jumped at extra sheets for those middle-of-the-night accidents!  In my closet, I also found six sets of sheets for double beds.  Again, I don't own any double beds.  I am passing these along to a recent college grad who is just setting up housekeeping and on a very tight budget.

Proof of my fitted-sheet-folding super-powers:

Marie Kondo suggested tackling your entire house at once.  I have a ridiculously full travel and teaching schedule with a lot of super-secret sewing projects thrown in just for fun, so I'm taking work breaks to clear small areas at a time. I have so much more in my house that needs to be sorted and donated, but I feel I've made a great start.  The parts of my house that are no longer stuffed full and bursting at the seams make me so incredibly happy!

To sum up, if you've heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing and wondered if it was any good, I'll say that it was some good.  Some parts of the book I am choosing to pass by, but if this short little book can inspire me to get my house organized, it's a good book!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Progress can be noisy

Remember when I replaced the ugliest bathroom in the world?



This bathroom makes me happier than chocolate cake!

Well, I also own the second ugliest bathroom in the world and it's time has come.

Anyone want an avocado toilet or sink? 

How about disco ball lighting? 

C'mon.  You know you want an avocado fiberglass shower unit:

(warning:  it leaks and has destroyed the kitchen ceiling)

Doesn't everyone need a real wood clothes hamper with a fake marble top?

I've never been a fan of the wallpaper, but it is much better than the original wallpaper we found during demolition.  Can you see the metallic paint around the orange flowers?

I am starting a "Museum of ugly wallpaper" and these two papers are exhibits A and B.

Does anyone have ugly wallpaper to donate to my new museum?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

This will be funny later

I am up to my eyeballs in top-secret sewing projects and might, just maybe, be losing my sense of humor due to lack of sleep.

I was rather-excited to have the LP gas truck deliver fuel for me this morning so I could maybe bring the temperature in my sewing room to over 58*F.  Sadly, I couldn't re-light the pilot.  I called the fireplace company three times for advice and they left me with "we don't know what to tell you."  I spent well over an hour throughout the day trying in vain to create fire.  No luck.  A fireplace repair dude is scheduled to arrive at 9am tomorrow.

Super-hubby received flurries of texts from me throughout the day detailing my plight.  As he entered the house, he told me that the gas delivery guy turned off the valve on my tank.  30 seconds later, I clicked the little "auto-start" button and I now have heat.

Super-hubby has yet again earned his title.

The temperature is 61*F and rising.  I might not have to wear a parka indoors anymore.  And yes, that is the largest Hello Kitty PEZ dispenser in the world.  It dispenses entire packs of PEZ.  The folks at Bits 'n Pieces thought I needed this ... and they were correct!

This will all be hilarious... in November.

Jinny Beyer quilt: Birch Basket

Another week, another finished basket block from Jinny Beyer's block of the month quilt.

Birch Basket:

Isn't it pretty?  I really, really like this one.

Are you working on this quilt?  Am I the only one behind?

Jinny Beyer Birch Basket

I'm moving right along on my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt from Craftsy.

This month's Birch Basket has another beautiful handle, but this one is paper-pieced instead of appliqued.

Who knew that my world could be rocked by tall and narrow basket handles?  I learned something new about myself with this quilt.

This basket also had optional appliqued flower which I am opting not to do.  I could never cover up such a beautiful basket handle!