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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Good Listens

Do you "read" audiobooks? I do!

I realize that I don't update the blog as often as I should, so I thought I'd throw in a few of my little book review blurbs.  I've been a life-long listener of books--in fact, those read-along books with audio cassettes are how I taught myself to read at age 3 (according to my mother). 

I enjoy listening to books while I sew, drive, and exercise (I'm using that last term liberally, ha!).  In recent years, I've shifted from primarily listening to fiction, to almost exclusively listening to nonfiction.  I've found that I learn so much more from these books than I ever did in history class in school. 

I've also learned not to judge books by their genre.  Those of you who know me in real life know that I have an aversion to fantasy--castles and dragons and magic--no thanks!  Despite this aversion, I found the Harry Potter audiobooks to be simply delightful, thanks to Jim Dale's phenomenal performances in that series.  So, your recommendations for great audiobooks are more than welcome, so comment or email away! 

Here are a few of my recent finishes:

ArtemisArtemis by Andy Weir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not bad, but not great. I thought the audiobook was superbly read, but found the protagonist to be utterly unbelievable. A super-hot, overly sardonic, highly technically trained, contraband-smuggling, Saudi woman with a reputation for promiscuity? I just couldn't take her seriously. That being said, it was still a fun story that kept me listening for days on end--just don't expect to be caught up with any of the characters this time.

View all my reviews

Into the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-defying Adventures in Extreme WeatherInto the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-defying Adventures in Extreme Weather by Reed Timmer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So bizarre to have been in the middle of this book when one of its protagonists (should I call him that?) suddenly died in real life. I was raised to have a fascination with natural disasters, so I can relate to Timmer's enthusiasm for chasing these storms. This is a book that I judged by its cover, and it didn't disappoint. It's just one of those, I-wish-I-was-there-and-not-just-reading-about-it kind of books. Overall, worth the listen.

View all my reviews Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic MurderAtomic Adventures: Secret Islands, Forgotten N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder by James Mahaffey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Much more technical than those "brief history" type books, I enjoyed the challenge of trying to keep up with a subject I only have superficial knowledge of. Overall, I thought this book was all over the place. Granted, he kind of sets us up for that in the title, but I kept having to regroup and remember where I was each time I resumed listening, because the subjects varied so widely from chapter to chapter. Despite its wandering, I still found it highly entertaining.

View all my reviews

Astrophysics for People in a HurryAstrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice, concise overview. I wish it had gone further in depth, but the title says it all, no? Very quick listen.

View all my reviews

Blue on Blue: An Insider's Story of Good Cops Catching Bad CopsBlue on Blue: An Insider's Story of Good Cops Catching Bad Cops by Charles Campisi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it. I might be a bit biased in my line of work, but I get tired of cops getting such a bad reputation in the press. Who better to set everyone straight but the guy that ran NYPD Internal Affairs for umpteen years? Just a great read about cops catching bad cops, and the cool investigative work that goes into building cases against crooked cops. I'd love it if all of my friends read this one.

View all my reviews

Friday, January 19, 2018

Memory Quilt

This project is a long time in the making.  In May of 2016, a coworker lost her husband suddenly.  I had occasion to speak to him fairly often, as he was semi-retired and working as a security guard at the courthouse I work at.  From time to time, he would come into our office to visit with his wife, and would always say hello.  I distinctly remember him joking about how he was available to deliver my baby in a pinch, because he ended up delivering their youngest child twenty-something years earlier when the medical staff left his wife unattended in the hospital! 

Well, fast forward several months, and my coworker brought me a bag of her husband's shirts she wanted me to make into a quilt.  I was honored, but terrified--I'd never made a quilt out of shirts before!  So it was with great trepidation that I jumped in and started cutting:

Thankfully, most of the shirts were woven dress shirts that he wore to church.  It still felt wrong taking the scissors to them.  In the end, I found myself with a neat stack of squares.

I had read somewhere that you should back knit fabrics with woven interfacing to reduce warping while piecing and quilting, so I backed the knits with Pellon Shape Flex.  I ended up with seventeen 13.5" x 13.5" squares.  I picked out a neutral beige solid to sash the squares, and started putting them up on the design wall.   I ended up hating how it looked, so I left the squares up on the wall (in the hallway to our bedroom) so I'd be forced to look at it several times a day.  My sweet hubby is the one who suggested cutting the more plain squares into smaller pieces to add interest to the quilt.  Well, duh! 

In the end, this is the layout we decided on.  We settled on this basic layout because I really, really did not want to mess this up.  It's not like yardage, where if you mess up cutting, you can just cut more off of the bolt!  I rapidly sashed all of the pieces and ended up with a not-too-shabby top:

Anyone else love making binding?

I quilted it with a simple cross hatch.  Once again, I was terrified of messing this up, and wanted something foolproof. 

Some more photos:

In the interest of privacy, I'm opting not to share photos of the back of the quilt, which was a simple wide back fabric that I personalized.  This was a long and rewarding journey.  I now know that I will probably never make a commissioned T-shirt quilt, though I might end up making a few for my children when they're older. A bittersweet finish.  Until next time, God Bless. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Lil' Schep's Dino Quilt

Lil' Schep is two.  Two! 

I guess that's how parenting goes.  You just look up, and years have gone by.  We did a dinosaur theme for his 2nd birthday party, so of course, I had to make a dinosaur quilt to go with it.

I've been pressed for time lately, so I ordered a toddler-sized quilt kit from an Etsy shop with some really fab dino prints. 

The following is basically a primer on how not to take photos, ha!

The simple layout = quick finish!

Obviously not big enough for a bed, but it's still much bigger than his little body, so he sleeps with this quilt. 

Found a free "Jurassic" font online, and cut the letters out on my Cricut. 

I managed to find some dinosaurs to pose with the quilt. 

If you're one of the lucky few that got to attend this little guy's birthday party, your thank you cards are going to be mailed soon--I hope!

Linking up to Finished or Not Friday, Finish it Up Friday, and TGIFF.  I hope to make more time for sewing this year, so until then, God Bless. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas, y'all!

So, as usual, there's an unexpected break: the hubby, the little guys, and I all decided to share some bug around Thanksgiving, so I've spent the last month catching up.  Here's a recap in photos:

Lil' Schep's 2nd birthday was a blast--I just love balloon arches:

Next time, more balloons!
I used 9 inch balloons to make the arch.

Love the favors purchased from Oriental Trading.

Homemade (from a box!) cupcakes.
In case you didn't know, I come from a family full of crafty, artsy folk.  My aunt is an actual trained artist, and sent these beautiful hand stitched ornaments to my mom:


My little sister (another crafty one) graduated from nursing school:

And the boys got their very first swingset!

I'm pretty sure I'm still way more excited about than they are, but that might have something to do with how much work it took to put it together!

I managed to get a touch of handmade into the Christmas gifts this year:

Coozies for the hubby's side of the family.

Filing tote for Grandma, who watches/homeschools the boys for us.  (Fun crafty things inside!)

Closer view of the vinyl lettering.  Hubby picked it out for his sweet!

So, while I didn't get any of the quilty Christmas gifts done in time for Christmas gifting, you can see it's been an eventful month around these parts.  I'm grateful that I'm able to document our lives in photos--there are so few photos left of my childhood, so I'm learning to treasure the pictures I take of my children and our life together.  Thanks for taking the time to look at them--I truly enjoy sharing them with you all.  

Until next time, God Bless.

Friday, November 10, 2017

#babyschep's nursery progress: Solar System Quilt

I keep raving about my Cricut, but that's only because I use it so much!  There's this solar system cutting file on their website that I have used over and over again while preparing BabySchep's nursery.

Earth and Mercury on the pressing sheet

It's been fun deciding how to color the planets--after all, a lot of the coloring you see in "photographs" of space is artificial.  We figured we'd just have fun with it.  My hubby played a huge role in picking the fabrics for this quilt. 

My sous-sewer?

Here he is helping me measure the background fabric.  We went with a light gray, because we felt that it would interfere the least with the chosen colors. I once again opted for Heat n Bond Ultra permanent adhesive--I don't intend to stitch these planets down, so I guess we'll find out how permanent it actually is!  (I reckon I'll eventually let y'all know how it goes...)

Most of these planets are two or three layers, meaning some of them are very thick.  I'm glad I decided not to sew them down.

I opted for premade bias tape for the orbits.  This was my first time using the double needle on my Quantum, and it worked beautifully.  I used a bobbin as the second spool of thread. 

I ordered some glow-in-the-dark thread at my husband's suggestion.  While I loved the idea, I HATED the thread.  I had to work out some tension issues on a practice quilt sandwich:

I got about one eighth of the quilt done with the glow-in-the-dark thread before I got fed up with the shredding.  It didn't matter what tension, or how fast or slow I stitched, the thread continually shredded and broke in the machine.  I finally yanked it out and replaced it with some Aurifil white thread, and whaddya know? it sewed up like a dream:










Fun and fast quilt that I hope BabySchep will enjoy it for years to come.  Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF and My Quilt Infatuation this week.   I just gifted another finish this week, so more on that soon!  Until then, God Bless!