A bonus post for today! We checked on the birds yesterday. We still don't have any birds nesting in Box 2 but the others are doing fine.
The Chickadee is still hunkered down in her nest. We do not know if they have hatched yet.
The Bluebirds have passed the ugly baby stage and all 6 are looking healthy.
April was a very interesting reading month. I seemed to have been plagued by some bad narrators. With audiobooks the narrator is key and ruined several of these for me.
by Ben Coes
This is the 1st book in a series featuring Dewey Andreas, a former Delta Force member. As this book opens he is managing an off shore oil rig that is attacked by terrorists. It's only one of many targets and Dewey is working to find the culprits.
As I think back it was a pretty good story. LOTS of action but also a good dose of absurdities. What really ruined the book for me was the narrator. He couldn't really do different voices very well so his solution was to give them strong accents. The head of the FBI is Mexican, an NSA chief is Irish and, best of all, an interrogator is German....but they are all American. The main character always sounds angry and the rest of the narration is in a tone like he's telling a secret. Incredibly annoying.
The next book in this series has a different narrator so I'll likely give it a try.
by Alex Berenson
This is another 1st in a series terrorist/spy novel. I liked it much better than Power Down. In this one John Wells is "the only American CIA agent ever to penetrate al Qaeda. Since before the attacks in 2001, Wells has been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, biding his time, building his cover." The CIA isn't sure if he's still friendly or has crossed.
The narrator on this one, Dean Robertson, is much better too.
The Fifth Gospel
by Ian Caldwell
Reviews compare Ian Caldwell to Dan Brown. I suppose that's because of the subject matter. This book is a story built around the Shroud of Turin. "In 2004, as Pope John Paul II's reign enters its twilight, a mysterious exhibit is under construction at the Vatican Museums. A week before it is scheduled to open, its curator is murdered at a clandestine meeting on the outskirts of Rome." It's an interesting story with believable characters and a mostly plausible story line.
I read the DaVinci Code and several other Dan Brown books and I'm not a fan of his writing. Ian Caldwell is a much better writer developing deeper characters and a more plausible story plot. I'll read Ian Caldwell again. I've read 2 Dan Brown books and that was my limit with him.
The Ghost War
by Alex Berenson
It's rare that I read 2 books in a series in the same month and I'm not sure how it happened this month. But I thoroughly enjoyed another adventure with John Wells. This time there's a mole in the CIA and China threatening attacks on the US. This is a sequel to The Faithful Spy.
This one was narrated by one of my favorite narrators: George Guidall. He's outstanding.
The History of the Ancient World
by Susan Wise Bauer
April was a month of big accomplishments for me including this website and finishing 2/3 of the great playroom wall. I can also count finishing all 26 1/2 hours of this book.
My history education in Bassett, VA in the mid-1970's leaves much to be desired and my interest in it was zero. I'm much more interested in history now and enjoy reading history books. This one is a comprehensive history of the ancient world (East and West) until the Fall of the Roman Empire.
Now I could listen to John Lee read the telephone book and he kept me going through this but it was a lot to slog through. It was interesting but I think this would be a better book to read with access to maps, timelines and maybe Wikipedia. I don't retain chronological history well and that's what this is. It's thorough but requires a lot of concentration. I made it through and I don't regret reading it but this one will not have wide appeal.
The Kill Switch
James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
James Rollins writes the Sigma Force series. I read the first one, Sandstorm, and didn't love it because there was too much of a fantasy element.
This one is the first in the Tucker Wayne series. Tucker is ex Sigma Force and travels with a well trained Belgian Sheppard.
His assignment is to extract a pharmaceutical researcher from Russia. Of course it's not simple. He and Kane end up on a long adventure to save the world from a weaponized pathogen.
This book was a nice break after the History of the Ancient World! It's not the best mystery book I've read but it was interesting enough to try the next one in the series.
By Dan Jones
I read another Dan Jones book, The War of the Roses, in January. I enjoyed it and was looking forward to this one.
As long as audiobooks have been out and as polular as they are, there's no excuse for poor narration but that's exactly what we have here. After 4 house of listening to Clive Chafer I decided that I did not need to suffer through a bad book and gave up.
The Silent Girls
by Eric Rickstad
At least I finished the month on a relative "up" note. I usually only buy books over 10 hours but this was a bargain book so I gave it a try.
Frank Rath is a private investigator. He raised his niece after his sister was murdered 17 years ago. Now the murderer is up for parole, his daughter is in college and there are young girls missing.
It was a good story with good characters and it left off begging for a sequel!
When I moved the old blog content to this new site I got to read through some of my older tutorials. A few of them weren't nearly as clear as then needed to be. One of those was my tutorial on centering a quilt back on the longarm. I used the QOV quilt this week to take all new photos and completely rewrite it. If you are a longarm quilter I hope you will find this technique useful.
Just so I don't leave you without photos. Here are the 2 quilts that forced me to figure out how to do this. You can read all about these special quilts here. These photos of the backs were taken after the quilts were quilted and bound.
If you are in need of a custom dyed quilt back I can dye one for you in any color combination or pattern.
It's done! I officially have 2 finishes for April. It may look familiar because I made my Shaken, Not Stirred quilt with the same pattern last year. My quilt club helped by making most of the blocks.
I'll admit that my favorite part is the spiral ice dyed back. I like making the tie dyed backs and then centering them on the longarm. If I get my act together I'll have an updated tutorial tomorrow for how I do that. If you want to see more details of this quilt check it out here.
If you need a custom dyed quilt back for your quilt contact me. I can make them in any color combination.
This week I have 2 gradient back in stock and the start of a new collection of Stash Packs.
Twilight is back in stock. This fabric will give you the perfect gloomy night sky. Deborah Levy used it in her High Priestess quilt.
Red Dawn is sort of back in stock but it's new at the same time. I've redesigned it with a true red instead of the deep pink in the original. This one is a true tomato red blended to dark blue.
This Sunset Stash Pack is new and came about from a customer query. She is making a quilt that calls for 78 fat eighths. I liked the quilt enough that I thought I might make one for myself. I'm using the Color Wheel fabrics as my base color palette and will design at least 3 packs using those 10 colors blended. This Sunset Stash Pack is the first of the three.
On Monday I started playing around with the design to make a 95" square quilt. I shared these 2 options to see what people thought about including black. The version with black won out in a big way.
I'm pretty sure I will make this quilt and may do it in more muted tones for the guest house. I might make both!
Within the next couple of weeks I'll write up some directions and fabric requirements for different sizes if you think you might like to make one too.
The photos today are awful because we waited too late to to check. But we were excited about what we found and I wanted to share.
In Box 1 we now know that we have a Carolina Chickadee nest!
In the Bluebird box we now have 6 hungry babies! I'll get better photos in a few days. I don't like to disturb them too often.
I just discovered this morning that people are having issues downloading my free patterns and tutorials. I am in the process of changing the way that works so it will work for everyone. As of now the Bleeding Quilts instructions and the Quilt Tutorials are all fixed! The rest will be done by tomorrow. Thanks to Linda for letting me know!
Saturday was a great day to spend away from the house at a fun Oyster Roast on the Rappahannock River. Yesterday I got back to work but spent most of the day ironing fabric. Not very creative but at least it's done.
Today I'm going to do some fun things and red seems to be my color of the day.
I'm taking another glass class and packed up some glass last night to take and work on. Whatever I make is going to feature this beautiful red confetti/streaky glass.
Last night I decided to load another set of veterans quilts and this one is from Betsy. I got it started last night and hope to finish it today and load the next one. After these I'll work on my own quilts for a while.
Well yesterday didn't go quite as planned. I got all of my dyed fabric rinsed out and soaking and I got the sleeve on Lura's Choice half sewed on. Beyond that, not so much. I wound up spending a lot of the day on the internet. Today I'm taking the day away to go to an oyster roast at my friend's house. It's going to be a treat to spend the day outside at the river.
Back to the web site. One of the things I love about the new site is that everything is so much better organized, especially the tutorials and free projects. On the old blog they were all linked off one page and it was a lot to filter through. Hopefully the sub-categories will help people find things better here and I find myself more motivated to make new ones.
So, what brought all of this on? Well, I got a Facebook message this week from a reader who made my favorite tutorial, The Gift Quilt. My friend, Anne, and I designed this pattern to use some of our collections of fat quarters. We called it The Gift Quilt because it's our go-to pattern for making quick and easy quilts for gifts. Bernie Crawford also thought it was fun and easy. She made 2 of them!
She made one for her daughter in Hawaii and one for her guest room. They turned out great! The instructions include full and queen size quilts. I'm grateful to Bernie for sharing her quilts! I love to see anything that you make with my fabric or using one of my tutorials.
Here's one that I made in 2007 using a collection of African print fabrics. We gave this one to a friend to hang in his hunting trophy room. It fit perfectly there.
If you need to make a quick and easy quilt give The Gift Quilt a try. The pattern is a free downloadable PDF file.
It's really embarrassing to admit that I only really clean Vicki's playroom (aka the basement) about once every 18 months. I sweep pretty regularly but I don't move tables, clean out cabinets or do any serious cleaning until it starts to get on my nerves. That's why it took me 2 whole days!
It's almost embarrassing but mostly I consider it an overwhelming victory. He has the garage and it's a complete disaster (in my opinion). I don't even walk in there.
We've both achieved our goals.
But I have 2 other tasks that I want to get done today (aside from washing out 40+ yards of dyed fabric).
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I'm Vicki Welsh and I've been making things as long as I can remember. I used to be a garment maker but transitioned to quilts about 20 years ago. Currently I'm into fabric dyeing, quilting, Zentangle, fabric postcards, fused glass and mosaic. I document my adventures here.