I did not post yesterday because a post about me laying around and napping through this cold isn't post worthy. I'm lucky that today is the last day of the month and I can post about my December books.
December was a particulary good month for books. There's only one that I'd specifically recommend not reading although I think Algorithms would be better in paper than audio if the topic is of interest to you. My big winners of the month are Salt, Escape Clause, Citizen Creek and Cure but the rest are worthy too.
Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team Six Operator Adam Brown
By Eric Blehm
With that unweildy title you get the gist of this book. It's the biography of Adam Brown and Fearless is the right title. By all accounts he was fearless from birth and had an incredible tolerance for pain.
If you like books like Unbroken and American Sniper you might like this one. Adam Brown is a brave and driven person with flaws. He became a Navy SEAL as a goal to help him escape a drug addiction. It's a true rredemption story. My only caveat is that if you do not like Christian literature you will not like this. I didn't realize it had heavy Christian overtones until I was reading it and it's an integral part of his story and life. It might turn some readers off but if not, I think you will appreciate getting to know Adam Brown.
The Shut Eye
by Belinda Bauer
It was news to me that a Psychic is also called a Shut Eye but now I know. This is the story of a missing toddler and his mother's desperate search to find him, even by asking a local Shut Eye to help. She's seen as crazy by everyone except one detective who has been obsessed with a missing girl case for over a year.
I got this on one of Audible's Daily Deals so had very low expectations. I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The author tells a great story with lots of interwoven details.
by Lalita Tademy
Oh wow, what a gem of a book! I knew going in that it was a "historical novel" but thought it was a general historical story telling what life was like for a slave of a Native American tribe. It wasn't until the end that I discovered that the two main characters of the book were real people.
Cow Tom started life as a slave and was a translator for his chief of a Creek Indian tribe. Rose is his granddaughter. The book is told in 3 basic parts: Cow Tom's life until he had his family free of slavery, the period of time when his life overlapped that of his granddaughter Rose adn the third part about Rose's life. It's an amazing story. Rose's grandson is Jake Simmons, Jr, one of the msot famous and successful oil brokers.
Lalita Tademy is an outstanding writer. If you read this you will KNOW these people and want to spend more time with them. It's a beautifully written book.
Salt: A World History
by Mark Kurlansky
"Who knew?" That's what I kept saying as I listened to this book. It's exactly what it says it is. It's world history told through the history of salt and salt mining. It's loaded with "Oh, I had no idea" moments and is sprinkled with ancient and traditional recipies, especially recipes for traditional ways to preserve meats and vegetables with salt. If you like nonfiction, you will enjoy this book.
Because We Are
by Ted Oswald
Continuing my month of good luck in books is this gem. It's, as it says on the cover, a novel of Haiti as told through the character of a young orphaned girl named Liberty.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book but Liberty drew me in from the first chapter. The author, I believe, truly conveyed the realities of life in Haiti and showed us a culture where children must grow up fast. He may have given Liberty and Jacques a little too much maturity and wisdom but the story was so good that I didn't mind. The narrator was PERFECT! The only complaint I have is that it was a little difficult to keep up at times when the story switches back and forth between scenes and times. There was no break in the narration to indicate a change. Otherwise it is a beautiful book.
A Tapping At My Door
by David Jackson
This is the first book in a new series and is a typical murder mystery with a detective with a lot of baggage. It' set in Liverpool England and opens with a woman opening her back door to shoo away a raven tapping at her door. Then the killer strikes. DS Nathan Cody is assigned to the case and he brings along a lot of emotional baggage from a previous undercover case gone bad. The second murder reveals that the targets of the murders are all police officers.
While the storyline is somewhat formulaic, the story is really well told and I was interested throughout. I usually listen to books as I fall asleep at night but I couldn't listen to this one because I was too engrossed to fall asleep. That's a good sign for a book!
Algorythms to Live By
by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
I admit, I had low expectations for this book but it was a Audible Deal fo the Day so was only $4 and worth the risk. Sometimes I loves these geeky books. Sometiems not. This is a "not".
First, my #1 rule of books is that the author should NEVER narrate the book. They are always bad at it and this is no exception. He knws this topic inside out and seems a little bored with it himself. I generally don't buy author-narrated books but this one slipped by me.
The subject matter is interesting. It's about how we can manage decision in out lives, like how many people to interview and who to hire for a job. But it's presented too dryly for those of us who aren't enigneers or mathematicians. While A Tapping At My Door kept me awake at night, this one is a good sleep aid and I'll work my way through it in that way.
by John Sandford
Thsi is #9 in the Virgil Flowers series and he's trying to find 2 tigers stolen from the local zoo before they are killed for Chinese medicines.
It's John Sandford and Virgil Flowers. What's not to love?
by James Kaufman
Joe Hart has a illustrious Navy career and now has a perfect wife and a successful law career and then his wife is killed by a drive-by shooter. He heads to the mountains to escape. Preston Wilson is a wealthy owner of several car dealerships and he's about to lose all of it. He needs the help of the right attorney and Joe Hart is it. Coincidentally, their paths have crossed in the past. Preston hikes into the mountains to beg Joe to take his case.
Sometimes you read a book and you know it will make a great movie. Tom Clancy, for example, gave is Jack Ryan and he's perfect for the big screen. While I was reading this book all I could think about was how this was written as a Lifetime movie scrpit. Joe is too perfect. We don't get to see him work. The work just seems to magically happen because he's so busy going off and taking care of his collectibles. It's soap opera with no depth of character.
Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body
by Jo Marchant
No book has surprised me more than this one. I have no idea why I picked it but am so glad I did. This isn't a new age book about how you can cure your diseases using Acupuncture, Reiki, Homeopathy or other non-traditional treatments. It's about the current research in the placebo effect and how effectively it can be used for things like pain management, reducing drug doses and managing side effects. Those methods might be Homeopathy or other non-traditional treatments but we aren't getting better becasue of the treatment but because we think we wil get better. Even when we know we are taking a placebo we can still get benefit. Jo Marchant shares the research being done using mind over body for pain manegement, MS, IBS, CFS, labor and delivery and other chronic medical issues. It's very enlightening and I recommend it to everyone.
I'm saving this one to read again.
Thanks to a killer cold I'm actually not getting much done today. Mom is here and we loaded her quilt this morning and she's quilting away in the playroom. Meanwhile, I'm playing a little on the living room floor.
Seriously, I wasn't sure this day would come! The applique on the center is done and I'm ready to start piecing the rest of the blocks. I have 10 extra blocks so I'll play with this for a couple of days to make sure I'm happy with it and that I have all of my favorite blocks included and then start putting it all together.
I didn't expect to be this far along. If I focus I can probably have the outer borders ready to start appliqueing by the Super Bowl!
I'm back from my internet Christmas break. We didn't do a lot for Christmas which is exactly the way we like it. I did wake this monring to find that someone gifted me a cold so I'll have that for a few days.
I continued to focus on the mosaic wall and have a few more sections done.
I got the idea for this one off Pinterest so I can take no credit for it. It's my tribute to family vacations at the beach. I had planned on a pale blue sky but once I started putting the sky pieces in I hated it. I decided for a sunset (or sunrise). It's multi colored because I didn't have enough bits of any one color to do the whole thing. Sometimes when we are forced to make do we actually get something better and I think that's true in this case.
I've been wanting to do this chicken for a while. I've also been wanting to add some purple to the wall and this seemed a fine place to do it. Aside from the beak and legs I tried to make every element a non-traditional color. So we have a purple chicken with green wings, a blue flower with a pink stem and mirror grass with a yellow sky.
You can see that I have the next section "basted" in place.
The side sections are really difficult (and boring) for me so when I came up with the bead element for one section I decided to carry it into the next one too. Two side sections done pretty quickly.
I have 3 full sections, 2 bottom sections and 1 side section left to do and I'm planning to keep pressing to get this wrapped up!
I decided that the dyeing that I do this week will be for myself and that means tie dyeing! Yesterday I tied and soda soaked all of these and will dye them today.
I've got 3 beach towels, sone baby clothes and a few t-shirts to try out some new techniques and my new set of hemostats.
I'll be back next week with the results. I"m going to take off the rest of this week and probably early next week for my holiday break.
Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's fabulous!
After the failed attempt at placemants I decided that I needed to end yesterday on a positive note. This section of the wall was partly done so I knew I only needed to finish the background.
The center tile in this block is from Chris' time in the Navy Department of Legislative Affairs. We were dating for that period of time. He lived in DC and I lived in Virginia Beach. Every time I went to visit him I would get lost. I eventually discovered that I needed glasses. Chris is from this area and he had an absolute blast during this time.
I bought a set of Washington DC ashtrays off Etsy and added those for the monuments. I did the background in pink to symbolize the cherry blossoms. I only have 5 full sections to go and might make a push over the bext 2 weeks to get this wrapped up.
I printed these fabrics a few years ago using gigantic leaves from some weed plant in my yard. It's hard to tell but there are 3 separate prints on this one fabric. The plan was to make placemats. I started stitching them a few months ago and kept hoping that the next layer of stitching would turn them into something acceptable.
This one is actually the best of the group and I was far enough into them that I've just kept on stitching the past two days.
Then this happened and that was all I needed to bring this project to an end. These will either be donated to a shelter for cat bed liners or put in Chris' painting rag bin. I'm not spending one more minute on them
I have another set of 4 printed fabrics in gold/green colors and I don't know what I'll do with them. But I'm moving on to glass or binding or mosaic today and not wasting any more time here!
My applique project took a back seat since Thanskgiving while I addressed postcards and did my Christmas decorating. I'm done with Christmas preps now even though my tree will not light. For a while we could get light for 10 minutes but it's totally dead now. After Christmas I'll take it down and return it to the store....they've already agreed to take it back even though I bought it last year.
Meanwhile, I'm saving electricity and am back to my applique.
Remember that this is the center of the quilt and it will be on point. I have 3 of 4 corners done! I'll start the 4th corner tonight and plan to finish it Thrusday night. I hope to start sewing the rest of the blocks to the center the week after Christmas.
This is the Cowboys Bucs block that I finished last night.
This is the block that I'll start tonight. As I look at this photo I think I need to make another orange circle tonight. This one is way too lumpy.
I have been making and sending Christmas postcards for a long time. I didn't keep great records but I know which ones I've made since 2007 and I have enough left over for 2 more years. 2008 is totally missing from this photo. I called Mom and the earliest one she has was from 2006 so I'll assume that's when I started. I didn't make as many in the early years as I make now but I'd guess that I've made over 650 of them.
This is the first time I've actually pulled them all out to see them together. Some are better than others. I started making postcards to learn some new techniques and design principles and I'd say that I've accomplished that goal. I have 2 big bins full of cards that I've received in various trade groups that I've participated in.
Last year, for the first time, making the cards was a chore. The ideas didn't come easily and I felt rushed. I almost stopped making them but decided to give it one more year. This year the ideas came quickly, the making was fun and I've received more feedback from the recipients than ever before. People have sent me photos of how they display them and sent me lots of messages about how much them love them.
I suppose I won't stop. Plus sometimes I get cards in return! Here are the cards that I have that are displayed on my fireplace mantle for Christmas.
After I took this photo I found even more!
I think I need to figure out another way to display them. I know from receiving these how much people like receiving them so I'll keep it up and start thinking of designs for 2017!
I've been very busy this week getting caught up on gradients for the shop. All of these are now back in stock!
Christine Cetrulo made her art quilt using the Meadow Sunrise gradient.
Deb Levy made Once Upon a Dream using the Twilight Gradient.
Patricia Caldwell made Sand Dune Tree with the Beach Walk gradient.
Forest Canopy and Woodlands are coordinating fabrics that use the same color palette.
Rene Iannarelli made her abstract landscape using the Woodlands Gradient with several other fabrics.
I finished these cards last week but just got around to editing the photos this morning.I made these for December birthdays. I always think about the December cards a lot because I want to make sure the cards are nothing like Christmas. The sunsets at the river over Thanksgiving inspired. Fortunately I have a good stash of shibori fabrics to choose from!
I thought I'd take some time and show how I made them.
I start by preparing some card bases. I use Stiffy interfacing from Longcreek Mills. It's close enough to Timtex but a lot less expensive. I am almost through a 35 yard roll and ready to order more! I fused Mistyfuse to one side and then cut it into 4" x 6" postcards.
Next is picing the fabrics. I wanted a dark sky so picked a blue and black shibori pieces. Each was overdyed with orange to give me the sunset streak. I had a yellow/orange shibori for the horizon line and a brown textured dye for the water. I cut these into roughly the sizes that I need and amde sure that the sky pieces all have orange along the bottom edge.
Next I arranged the fabrics the way I wanted them and fused everything in place. The sky and water pieces are always on top of the orange. Once they are fused I trim from the back to the edge of the postcard base.
The stitching is very simple on this. I used monofilament thread and stitched along the bottom of the sky (to hold it in place) and then along a few of the shobori dye lines. it's amazing how much that little bit of stitching added movement to the sky.
I wanted to add more to the horizon line so I pulled out some yarns and couched them to the horizon. The secret to this is having long tails on the yarn pieces so that you have something to hold on to as you start sewing. I used a wide zig zag and monofilament thread. Trim off the yarn ends after everything is stitched down.
For the water I found a shiny dark brown thread and stitched along some of the dye lines. This stitching is done with a free-motion zigzag. If you have never tried free-motion stitching with a zig zag give it a try. It makes a very cool line.
After this stitching I fused on the back. For my backs I prefuse Mistyfuse to some fabric and then cut it into 4" x 6" rectangles.
The fussiest part of these cards was the edge stitching. I changed colors for each section and it really didn't take that long. This idea came from Monica Kinner-Whalen. I've been following her art for several years and she uses this finishing technique on her cards.
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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.