Monday, August 31, 2009

Reading via Kindle

I love books.

One of my very first memories is being read to. I think it was my father reading to me, I really don't remember. But I do remember the book - The Poky Puppy, a Golden Book and the little puppy was fuzzy. I was probably hooked on reading from the first time I was ever read to.

From Golden books to Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn and all and everything in between. I loved to read. When I was little the Milwaukee Public Library system had a summer Billy Bookworm Club. Oh - I loved that and strived to read as much as I could each summer.

I truly believe that one of the best thing about America is that we have a free library system. We can walk into any library in any state, city or village, sit down and read to our hearts content. I rarely purchase a book unless I will use it for reference or it is one of my all time favorites like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

And, the books. Thick, thin, large font or small. There is just something about holding a book, paging through it - even the smell of a new book at a bookstore makes me feel absolute delight. What adventures are within these pages? What laughter and/or tears? What will I learn? How will I feel when reading it? Will it stay with me long after I am finished?

My boyfriend also shares my love of reading. He reads every night before bed, lying on this tummy. It's kind of cute. He prefers non-fiction, historical books; however, we have shared books and it is fun to discuss them. Even if we are not reading the same books and don't plan to, we will talk with each other about what we are reading.

So, for my birthday he bought me a Kindle. A Kindle is an electronic book. It is about the size and weight of a paperback and you can download books from or other places. Most books cost to download, but it is cheaper than purchasing the actual book and there are lots of books you may download for free. You can page forward and backwards, download newspapers, blogs - all sorts of things. It has a back light so you can read in the dark and you can change the font types to your specifications. It's pretty cool.

I have to be honest and when he told me what he had bought me I was very disappointed. I have a rule: No presents that need to be plugged in unless requested and then think twice. He seems to have forgotten that as I got a GPS for Christmas. But, I digress. By the time I unwrapped it, I had checked out the website. I admit I was starting to get curious and excited. His logic was that I would be able to take it with me when traveling and I could download books from anywhere. He really was being thoughtful when he bought it for me.

I have completed my first book on Kindle. Luckily, it was a delightful little book that I really enjoyed - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, otherwise I may not have liked using the Kindle. And, I did enjoyed using it. It takes a litle while to get use to, but it worked out just fine. It will be great for traveling as it is easy to pack and carry. I like it and will use it a lot. It was a great gift.

However, for me, it cannot ever replace a real book. A Kindle will never, ever replace the joy of walking into a library or bookstore where I can walk up and down the rows of shelf after shelf of books, picking one up here and there, thumbing through pages and exploring what lays under the cover.

I hope years from now electronics don't replace all books and libraries. What a sad state our world will be in then.

P.S. - interesting observation. Notice I always say "use" a Kindle and "read" a book? Hmmm. . .

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Underground Railroad Part 2

I got the first three blocks of the Underground Railroad completed.

It's fun as I don't feel any pressure to work on it so I can put it away for weeks at a time if I want. (But I won't!)

The first block to the left is Jacob's Ladder and the one next to it is Monkey's Wrench. In Eleanor Burn's book she calls Jacob's Ladder the Underground Railroad block. The Monkey's Wrench sure looks like a double Church Dash to me!

I was very nervous to attempt the Wagon Wheel. However, the instructions were very easy to follow and while it is not a perfect circle, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

Only 12 more blocks to go!

Friday, August 28, 2009


I love being surprised with flowers. I could have flowers in my house every day of the year. Because I have SAD I do buy myself budget bunches all winter during those long months and they help me make it through the long Wisconsin winter.

August 26th is a very special day for me. My boyfriend sent me these flowers with a very sweet and thoughtful card. The flowers are all yellow so I think it must be the "Sunshine Bouquet." Here in Wisconsin on the 26th it was cool, rainy and down right dreary. The flowers really brightened things up. I appreciated his thoughtfulness.

I kept them at work since I am there more than at home during the week. They filled my office with a wonderful scent. I brought them home on Friday. Oh, a big, bright balloon came with the flowers. How fun!

Thanks honey. For the flowers and remembering a very important day. You made it special!

Ancient Greeks Wrote Quilt Patterns?

I am happy to be part of the Friendship Ladies quilting group that meets once a month at Ye Olde Schoolhouse quilt store. As you may remember, we last worked on a Mystery Quilt and it was a lot of fun.

This go around the group, along with Jeannie, the store owner, decided to do 2 blocks a month. Each month Jeannie will give us 2 patterns and we will purchase one fat quarter that Jeannie picked out. We have to use the fabric in the fat quarter in each of the 2 blocks. The other fabrics in the blocks are our own choice. Each month it will be a new fat quarter fabric. This month we used beautiful fabric by Barbara Brackman for Moda (sorry I cut off the name of the fabric).

Sounds like fun, right? Well, I'm still a newbie quilter and these wonderful ladies have been quilting for many years. They can glance at a pattern and figure it out. Jeannie, God Bless her heart, handed me two patterns that I swear were designed by ancient Greek quilters. There are no instructions - just how much material to cut and a rather bad picture. Yikes! No measurements. No step-by-step instructions. No glossy colored pictures.

After seeing my blank and panicky look, Jeannie and Laurel (a wonderful lady who works for Jeannie) devised a diagram for the first block. Maybe they took Greek in high school, I don't know. On the second pattern they gave me some measurements.

Anyway, here are pictures of the patterns and here is one of my results. The brown fabric is the fabric that must be used in both blocks. I will admit I had fun going through my scraps. This block could have up to 5 fabrics, but I wanted it simple.

I know, I know, my center points are cut off. My grandmother use to say (and I have heard Jeannie say it too) "if you can't see it from a galloping horse it is just fine." (Well, that horse is going to have to be on the other side of the barn.) Do you that that might be ancient Greek philosophy? Hey - Maybe the patterns are hieroglyphics taken off an ancient Greek cave.
It's all Greek to me!

P.S. If any one know where these patterns came from, please advise! I promise not to tell Jeannie you squealed.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

August 23rd was my 54th birthday.

Phil came up and we had a nice time together. He gave me a Kindle for my birthday present. I wasn't sure I would like it, but I do. More on that in another post.

That evening I invited a few of my gal pals over and we had a s'mores party. Very low key, but fun. My great niece, Shannon, stole the show. She wore the "princess" outfit I bought her. I think it fits her very well! And, how many
people get to have a real live princess attend their celebrations?

Pam and my sister, Linda to the left and Sharon and Amy to the right. Amy and Janet below. Didn't get everyone, including me!

Gracie and Lucy Lou had on their party attire, too, but Lucy Lou was camera shy.

Shannon has a s'mores face!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poor Doggies

My Lucy Lou had been pawing at the side of her mouth so I took her in to the vet. Well, she had an infected, impacted tooth - poor dog.

One vet bill wasn't enough as I decided Gracie should have her teeth checked and cleaned, too. So, yesterday both girls went to the vet early in the morning for a tooth extraction (Lucy Lou) and cleaning (both).

Luckily, after Lucy Lou's bad tooth as removed both girls where deemed to have healthy teeth and just needed a good cleaning. No other teeth removed.

Since they were put under for the cleaning, both were still groggy when I picked them up last night. Down right silly, too, until Gracie started shaking and had the dry heaves. I got her curled up on the couch with a quilt over her and towels under her and she fell back into a sound sleep. She hardly raised her head the whole night. I had to carry her to the back door to go potty and carry her upstairs when it was time for me to go to bed. Have I ever mentioned my dogs are spoiled?

Lucy Lou needed to be by my side the whole evening. Unfortunately, her back legs kept giving out from under her due to the anesthetic. The first time I heard a "thump" and looked to see Lucy Lou sitting there with a dumb look on her face. The second time I heard a "thump" I saw Lucy Lou sitting with a bewildered look. The third time I actually saw her butt go down. I gave her lots of hugs and cuddles. She was really confused. When it was my bed time I walked up the steps behind her and sure enough, I had to help her back end up the stairs.

Lucy Lou has to be on a soft diet for a few days so about 8pm I added a mixture of hot water and beef broth to their dry food. After an hour it was mush and Lucy Lou gobbled it down. Gracie turned up her nose.

This morning they seemed almost back to normal although Gracie would only eat the "mush" if I hand fed it to her. It delayed me by 5 minutes, but again - they are very spoiled dogs!

The bill for all of this? $301.17. The beauty of their sweet doggie smiles? Priceless.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Going through Withdrawals

My house is a mess.

I have "Do It Right, Dave" over - handyman extraordinaire. The name of his business is Do it Right Home Improvements, but we prefer the first name. By "we" I mean many of my single women home owner friends who pass Dave back and forth when we need work done. And, I am having a ton of work done from fixing my front porch, replacing the ceiling in my office, basement work, bathroom work . . . it goes on and on. Dave does excellent work, is reasonable, efficient and will not rip you off. And, several times he told me how to save money and still get excellent results on a project. Thank goodness for Do It Right, Dave.

In the meantime, I have no access to my computer, sewing machine and cannot even figure out how to get to my projects as stuff is piled up everywhere (office completely emptied). I am quickly writing this post from work.

Luckily, I have several quilts to finish hand binding on, so I can still sew. But, I got 2 of the Underground Railroad blocks completed and I am hooked. It will just have to wait until next week.

Patience is not a virtue I have!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Underground Railroad Quilt

I think I'm nuts.

I have now decided that I would like to make Eleanor Burns' Underground Railroad quilt. Like I need one more quilting project. Like I need a hole in my head.

I went out to Ye Ole Schoolhouse and tried to purchase as much of the material in reproduction c. 1840-60 fabric as possible, so that the quilt looks true to its name. There are 4 background materials and 3 each of blues, reds, greens and browns.

Following the directions in the book (which are very easy to understand) I cut and I cut and I cut and I cut each individual piece, placed them in zip lock baggie, added a label to the outside of the baggie and then placed each baggie in the appropriate huge zip lock bag according to the quilt square. So each little baggie tells me which block it goes to:

North Star Block
Red #1
6" square
Center piece

Then it got popped into the larger zip lock bag marked "North Star Block"

This way I can pull out a block and every thing I need is pre-cut and labeled. I grab the book for instructions and off I go to the sewing machine.

Yeah - I got a million other projects going on, plus I handyman coming in to do a ton of work around my place.
Oh, well . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Day at the Fair

I love going to the Wisconsin State Fair. I enjoy going to the county fairs, too. I so enjoy seeing how hard the FFA and 4-H kids work. I love the displays and ribbons for the home goods, sewing and art work of both the kids and adults. I love the animals. And, boy - I love the food!

Yesterday, Terri and I both took a vacation day and by 10am were at the fair. It was a perfect summer day - nice and warm, but with a breeze and no clouds in the sky. Great weather for the fair. We did just about everything we could do. Saw the llamas, sheep, chickens, cows, pigs, goats, bunnies. Missed the horses, now that I think of it, but did see some beautiful Clydesdale's.

One highlight of the Wisconsin State Fair is the cream puffs. It is a must to eat at least one if you go to the fair. We got to the booth early and didn't have to wait in line at all. Yum. All that wonderful Wisconsin cream. Good thing they removed all of the calories for us (LOL - I wish!).

We went up and down nearly every aisle of the Expo Center, saw the 4-H displays and all of the awards for jams, jellies, pies, cakes, etc.

Ohhh - the beautiful quilts. They were inspiring and intimidating! It was difficult to pick our favorites.

We viewed the pig races. We listened to music. We found inventive places to sit and relax!

And, of course, we ate. The big thing this year is the chocolate covered bacon on a stick. Of course, we tried it. One or two bites was enough! Terri had a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a stick. That was good. Basically, we ate a lot of deep fried or "junky" food, but it was worth every bite!

By 5pm we were pooped and headed home. Once in my recliner I was exhausted. However, the dogs kept staring at me so after a quick shower and a little more relaxing, I took them for a walk. By the time I fell into bed, it felt like I had walked over 500 miles. But, worth every step.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I'm Feeling a Little Witchy

I love Halloween! I do believe it is my favorite holiday.

When I found this panel kit in a catalog I just had to order it. However, upon receiving it I decided I loved the backing material too much to use it where it would never be seen. So I added it as a border and am very pleased that I did. I have enough left for binding and I thought that it would look great. However, Terri suggested an orange fabric for the binding. If I can find it, I think that is an even better idea.

Now I just have to purchase the binding and backing material, have it quilted and hang it on a wall in October.

My Springtime Quilt

Maybe because I made this quilt at the end of winter/beginning of spring I have always thought of it as my "Springtime" quilt. The colors are soft and cheerful.

Last week I finally finished hand sewing the binding and label on it and now it graces my bed. The dragonfly quilt will be brought out for winter use.

I had Meandering Mary professionally quilt it for me and she did an all over design. Again, she did a beautiful job.

All of my first bed sized quilts were variations of 4 or 9-patch. Now I've move on to more challenging quilts, but I still like simple patterns.

I have to admit - I'm am really enjoying sleeping under my own quilts.