Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Reviews...

Quote for the Day:
"Anyone who says they have only one life to live 
must not know how to read a book."
 ~Author Unknown

I have come to the conclusion that I will need to live several lifetimes to read all the books that I want to read!  

I have a list going all the time.  I used to hand-write it and keep in by the computer and would scratch off the books as I read them.  Usually, only about 1/10 of the books were scratched off because for every one I scratched off, I would add 3-4 to the list!  

Since I get most of my recommendations in print, one way or the emails from people (namely my sister, Mary Ellen, who likes to read memoirs as much as I do!!), or from an email book list I belong to, or now, from browsing the Barnes & Noble book site looking at what books they offer for the Nook reader...I have now started "copying & pasting" the book title and author onto the "notepad" function of the computer and saving the list on my computer's desktop!  So much easier and neater than handwriting the info on a paper, or more likely, on a post-it note that then gets lost on the desk. 

This is what my current list looks like (before I started putting the list on my computer...which just started today, by the way!  LOL)   So there's another 6 books or so on the computerized list, in addition to this list!  :) 

 FRONT of list...

BACK of list... 

And this doesn't count the books I've already downloaded onto my MP3 player or Nook reader! will take me several lifetimes to read everything I want to read because the list just keeps growing!

But on to the book reviews...

First up is "The End of Normal:  A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life" by Stephanie Madoff Mack.  

  • When the news of Bernard Madoff 's Ponzi scheme broke, Americans were shocked and outraged, perhaps none more so than the unsuspecting members of his own family. After learning that their father's legendarily successful wealth management company was "all just one big lie," Mark and Andrew Madoff turned their father in and cut off all communication with both parents. Mark and his wife, Stephanie, strove to make a fresh start for the sake of their two young children, but Mark could not overcome his sense of betrayal and shame-he and other family members were sued for $200 million in October of 2009. He hung himself on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest. Left to raise her children as a single mother, Stephanie wrote this memoir to give them a sense of who their father really was, defend his innocence, and put her personal statement on record once and for all. In this candid insider account, she talks about her idyllic wedding to Mark on Nantucket, what it was really like to be a part of the Madoff family, the build-up to Bernard's confession, and the media frenzy that followed. It is about the loss of the fairytale life she knew, adjusting to life with a man she hardly recognized anymore, and the tragic and final loss of her husband.  
I listened to it on audiobook and it was read by the author herself.  This book was written and read less than one year after her husband's suicide and you can tell when she gets to the raw parts because you could hear the emotion in her voice like she was about to cry.  It was very moving.  Yes, there are parts where she talks about the "house at Nantucket" and other things known only to the rich.  But overall I found the book riveting!  I highly recommend this book!

Next up is  "The Girl's Guide to Homelessness" by BriannaKarp.  

  • Brianna Karp entered the workforce at age ten, supporting her mother and sister throughout her teen years in Southern California. Although her young life was scarred by violence and abuse, Karp stayed focused on her dream of a steady job and a home of her own. By age twenty-two her dream became reality. Karp loved her job as an executive assistant and signed the lease on a tiny cottage near the beach.And then the Great Recession hit. Karp, like millions of others, lost her job. In the six months between the day she was laid off and the day she was forced out onto the street, Karp scrambled for temp work and filed hundreds of job applications, only to find all doors closed. When she inherited a thirty-foot travel trailer after her father's suicide, Karp parked it in a Walmart parking lot and began to blog about her search for work and a way back. 
Though this book is written by a young girl who has made some bad choices, I still found it interesting and it definitely held my attention.   I would give it 4 stars (out of 5).  :)

Remember...the advice is always free on this blog...and you get what you pay for!  :)


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Feed Sack Quilt Finished!

Quote for the Day:
"Do not plan for ventures before finishing what's at hand."

Tonight I finished the binding and then labeled the Feed Sack Quilt.   It has now been washed and is currently in the dryer as I type this post.  :)

I picked up this vintage quilt top at an estate auction for a mere $2.00 back in 2007.  It didn't lay flat, but I "nipped & tucked" it into submission and got it to lay fairly flat before quilting it.  I was then able to "quilt out" what I wasn't able to "nip & tuck" into flatness!   (is "flatness" a word?) 


I added the cream calico print border to make it large enough to fit comfortably on a full-sized bed.  (Most older quilts are smaller than today's quilts because our beds are bigger now than they used to be.)

Here's a side view of the quilt that shows the border better...

I used a thrift store-purchased sheet for the backing.  However, the stripes were brighter than I really wanted for this subdued quilt, so I used the WRONG side of the sheet for the backing and put the RIGHT side of the sheet to the inside of the quilt!  :)   (I always browse the sheet section of thrift stores because you can pick up a king-sized flat sheet for $3.00-4.00...much cheaper than backing fabric!  HOWEVER...DON'T use a sheet on a quilt you are going to HAND quilt!  It is nearly impossible to needle through a well-made sheet by hand!  I only use them when I am going to machine quilt a quilt.)

Out of all of the different blocks, I think this aqua fabric is my favorite!  :)  It is such a "happy" color!  :)  

And here's the label...

All in all, I'm quite pleased with the way the quilt turned out and I would hope that the original quilter who made the top would feel I did it justice.  :)


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Quote for the Day:
"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me."
~ Psalm 23, Holy Bible 

It is with great sadness that I make this post...

We thought we'd be celebrating the arrival of a new grandbaby at the end of this coming summer.  But, alas, it is not to be.  :(

Our son and daughter-in-law lost their unborn baby on Friday, only one day after they had made the announcement to friends of their being pregnant.  (Family already knew they were expecting.)

We are all devastated by this horrible turn of events.  

I ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers while they go through this valley.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Random Stuff...

Quote for the Day:
"A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do."
~Lois Wyse

I'm very excited to announce that we are going to be grandparents again!!!  :)   We found out a couple of weeks ago, but I was waiting for my daughter-in-law to make the official announcement before I let the news out!   Trinity made her announcement today, so I feel free now to shout it from the rooftops!   :)

Last fall I made this scrappy baby quilt top, Scrappy Carpenter's Star, but didn't add borders, yet, because I figured I'd wait until it was "needed" and then I'd add borders based on the sex of the baby.  

I can't wait to find out what color borders to put on and then finish this off for my new grandbaby!  (Secretly, I think the borders will be pink!)  :)

While machine quilting today on the feed sack quilt, I ran out of white thread.  Who runs out of white thread???  It's such a basic color!   LOL   Oh well...I had seen I was getting low, so last Sunday I ordered a bunch online, as well as some other basic colors.  My order should be arriving soon so I can get that quilt finished up.

In the meantime, I decided to pull this quilt out and get it into the hand quilting frame...

It's a vintage, hand-embroidered block quilt that I purchased off of Ebay several years ago.  The embroidery was complete and all of the blocks were sewn together.  All I did was add the two borders using fabric from my stash. 

The above picture shows it being loaded onto my 3-rail Hinterberg hand quilting frame.  It's now all loaded and ready for the first stitch!  

I just love embroidered quilt tops and am excited to quilt this one!  I'm hoping to have it done by Spring and ready for the bed this summer!  :)  I think it should take me 3-4 months to get it done. 

Here's a close-up of the embroidered block...DAFFODILS!  :)


Except for my quilting, I'm not very "domesticated" and don't cook very often.  But tonight I thought I'd make my special home made potato & ham soup...a favorite with my family...

Hubby loved it!  And that makes me happy! 


Books Reviews...

Quote for the Day:
"A child of five would understand this. 
Send someone to fetch a child of five."
~Groucho Marx

I have just finished two books and thought I'd do a review on them for all you bibliophiles out there!  :)

For those of us who grew up in the USA in the 60's and 70's, we had few sports heroes, unlike today when there are MANY sports "idols".  

In boxing, we had The Great Muhammad Ali..."floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee".  In basketball there was Karim Abdul-Jabbar.  And in chess we had Bobby Fischer...the man who made chess popular in America.

That brings me to my first book review..."Endgame:  Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall-from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness" by Frank Brady.   

  • Endgame is acclaimed biographer Frank Brady’s decades-in-the-making tracing of the meteoric ascent—and confounding descent—of enigmatic genius Bobby Fischer.  Only Brady, who met Fischer when the prodigy was only 10 and shared with him some of his most dramatic triumphs, could have written this book, which has much to say about the nature of American celebrity and the distorting effects of fame.  Drawing from Fischer family archives, recently released FBI files, and Bobby’s own emails, this account is unique in that it limns Fischer’s entire life—an odyssey that took the Brooklyn-raised chess champion from an impoverished childhood to the covers of Time, Life and Newsweek to recognition as “the most famous man in the world” to notorious recluse.

This book was very interesting and definitely showed how narrow the divide between "genius" and "insanity" can be!   Until reading this book, what I knew about Bobby Fischer came from the news I heard about him when I was in school when he was on his winning streak.  I had no idea what a truly mentally ill person he was as he pretty much dropped out of the public eye from 1972-1993.  Don't let the almost 400 pages scare you off...the last 75 or so are just "notes" and references. 

The second book was an audiobook I've been listening to... "A Widow's Story:  A Memoir" by Joyce Carol Oates.   


  • Early one morning in February 2008, Oates drove her husband, Raymond Smith, to the Princeton Medical Center where he was admitted with pneumonia. There, he developed a virulent opportunistic infection and died just one week later. Suddenly and unexpectedly alone, Oates staggered through her days and nights trying desperately just to survive Smith's death and the terrifying loneliness that his death brought. In her typically probing fashion, Oates navigates her way through the choppy waters of widowhood, at first refusing to accept her new identity as a widow. She wonders if there is a perspective from which the widow's grief is sheer vanity, this pretense that one's loss is so very special that there has never been a loss quite like it. In the end, Oates finds meaning, much like many of Tolstoy's characters, in the small acts that make up and sustain ordinary life. When she finds an earring she thought she'd lost in a garbage can that raccoons have overturned, she reflects, "If I have lost the meaning of my life, and the love of my life, I might still find small treasured things amid the spilled and pilfered trash." At times overly self-conscious, Oates nevertheless shines a bright light in every corner in her soul-searing memoir of widowhood.
Another LOOOONNNGGG book...85+ chapters.  The beginning captivated me but I found the redundant theme of her depression and of her loss of will to live seemed to drag on interminably.  However, it was like watching a train wreck...I couldn't stop.  I really felt like if I didn't finish the whole book then she would be left forever in her depressed state and I just didn't feel like I could abandon her there.  I really did want to find out how the book ended, and to do that...well...I just had to finish listening till the end.  (That's the bad thing about can't flip pages and skim passages to get the "gist" without actually reading the whole thing.)    :(   In the end, it was spending time outside in the fresh air and sunshine and taking up a new hobby that finally started bringing her out of her funk.   
Sunshine and a hobby help lift depression...who knew???  *Loretta says sarcastically* is with certain reservations that I recommend this book.  I found the beginning part, from where her husband gets ill to where he dies, very eye-opening from a nurses' standpoint.  Sometimes as nurses we tend to get a little hardened as to what the hospital experience is really like for patients and families.  This book really made me look at things from the family/spouse's side of things.  For this reason alone, I thought this book was definitely worth the read.   You can take it from there and decide if you want to slog through the rest of the book...or just skip to the end...

Remember:  The reviews/recommendations here are always free...and I make sure you get your money's worth!!!  :)


Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Sunday Quilting...

Quote for the Day:
"The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was 
is so we can tell them about our own weekend."
~author unknown

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days...I've been up to my eyeballs in work and appointments this past week.  :(

The good news is that I finally had my appointment with the Pain Clinic doctor...who was VERY nice and understanding, by the way...and am now scheduled for an injection into the right sacro-iliac joint on March 1.  I know, I sounds very painful.  But I'm hoping that this will allow me some semblance of "normal" again in my life.  

I have made so many "changes" in my life and the way I do things so as not to aggravate the pain in my back.  I've really missed not being able to just "do" what I want, but always having to consider how it will effect my back and cause pain, etc.  Having back pain is kind of like having a sleeping dragon that you don't want to awake!  And that is how I've been living my life for the last 1.5 years...doing anything necessary to NOT wake the dragon!  :(

Several years 2007...I purchased this quilt top made from 1930's feed sacks at an estate auction for $2.00!!!

If you are unfamiliar with the term "feed sacks", years ago "staples" such as flour, sugar, rice, and even animal food was packaged in cloth bags.  After using the items in the bags, women would then take the bags apart and use them as fabric to make clothing, quilts, and other household items.  The practice of using cloth bags for packaging ended sometime around the 1940's, so now real "feed sack" fabric is an expensive commodity, but can still be found at estate sales and antique stores.  It is highly prized by quilters because of its history of being used in quilts.  How I ended up with the quilt top for only $2.00 is still a mystery to me.  :)

Anyway...I've had it around, knowing that some day I would finish it into a quilt.

Fast forward to January 2011 when Andy & I went to Florida for a visit/vacation with my sisters and we stayed with my eldest sister, Mary Ellen, at her condo.   In the guest bedroom where Andy & I slept, the bed had a POLYESTER BEDSPREAD on it.  OH, the HORROR of it all! was one of those slippery, ugly bedspreads that you find on motel room beds.  :(  

I'm very used to nice, comfortable, cotton quilts.  :)   So while we were there I'd wake up HOT in the middle of the night because of the polyester.  Then I'd through the covers off, go back to sleep and wake up COLD.  This went on several times a night for the duration of our stay there.  At that time, I told Mary Ellen that she needed a nice, homemade quilt for the guest bed.  (She already has a quilt I made her for her own bed there.)  :)  I knew then what I would finish the feed sack quilt top into a quilt and have it ready for our next visit down there. 

Since our next trip there is in just a few weeks, I thought I'd better get on the stick!  LOL  One problem, though...the quilt top had been sloppily cut and sewn and didn't lay flat.  It had, what we call in quilting..."C" cups.  Yep...the blocks pooched out in the middle and looked like they should have been holding breasts.  This is why it is soooooooooo important to cut accurately and sew everything fits together like a puzzle...not like a bra!!!  :) 

Before I could quilt this top, I had to "nip and tuck" it to get it to lay flat.  I used a very fine (60 wt.) white thread to sew down the tucks.  Here's a close-up view of an area that I tucked and then zigzag stitched down...

Here's another area after it's been quilted....

You can see that the stitched tucks blend in with the other machine quilting stitches.  :)

I'm machine quilting this top for a couple of reasons:  1)  because of the age of the fabric/seams and the tucking that I had to do, I felt it would hold together better with machine quilting instead hand quilting;  and 2)  I need to get it done fast!  :)

I started quilting it yesterday and am about 1/3 of the way done!  :)

Well...I'd better get back to my machine and get as much done today as I can!  :) 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Quilt Project Started...

Quote for the Day:
"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. 
Art is knowing which ones to keep."
---Scott Adams

Today was the day that Pat came over and we started making the quilt blocks that are being taught in the Craftsy block of the month (BOM) that I mentioned in the last post.   I had put together a lasagne in the crock pot before she arrived and she brought over some crab dip & crackers.   Crock pots dinners are great to sit down to after an afternoon/day of sewing.  

Each month of this year, will post directions to 2 new quilt blocks, so today we made January's blocks.  Pat is using this opportunity to learn how to piece quilt tops.  (I had taught her previously how to hand quilt so that she could finish a quilt that her "Mamaw" started but never finished before she died.)

Block 1:  The Asterisk Block...

The one on the left is mine and the one on the right is Pat's.

Block 2:  The Wonky Pound Sign...

Again...the one on the left is mine and the the darker blue on the right is Pat's.

Here's a picture of my two blocks side by side...

After we made these blocks and then ate supper, we went back into the sewing room and I helped her put together a few bowtie blocks that she had cut out but hadn't sewn together, yet.   Unfortunately, I forgot to take some pictures of those.  :(  

I had fun and hopefully, Pat did, too!  Each month we are going to get together and do the new blocks for that month.  By the end of the year we will have enough blocks to make a lap-sized quilt.  :)


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Quilting Project...

Quote for the Day:
“From small beginnings come great things.”

My friend Pat and I have decided that we are going to do a Block of the Month (BOM) quilt project that is being offered for free by   They give you the directions for two blocks each month and at the end of the year, you have a lap-size quilt!  Pat is coming over on Sunday afternoon and we are going to make the first two blocks.  :)   She is also going to bring over another project that she needs me to give her some help with, so we are going to be busy sewing away in my sewing room!  

It's always more fun to quilt with a friend!  

These are my fabrics that I've picked out for this quilt (though I reserve the right to make changes at any time!  LOL)...

I'm gonna stay with the pastels for this quilt with a tone-on-tone white for the background.  I can't wait to see what Pat picks out for her fabrics!  :)

Starting and preparing for a new quilt project is always fun!  What is especially fun about this project is that there are no pictures of the finished quilt so it is a bit of a leap of faith that colors will work out!  :)


Monday, January 2, 2012


Quote for the Day:
"New Year's Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."
~Mark Twain

I know, I know...technically New Year's day was yesterday.  But it's quite obvious by now that I'm a "day late and a dollar short" most of the time...and in the USA, today is the official "holiday" I guess I'm not really late at all!  See...I can reason ANYTHING out to make it go my way!  :) 

I've been taking advantage of this 3-day weekend to catch up on some sewing and finish up a quilt.  On Saturday night, TBS was going to run a marathon of my favorite TV sitcom...The Big Bang I decided to hunker down in my sewing room and get some stuff done.

My massage therapist's mother is a quilter...or rather...a "piecer"...since she likes to piece tops but not quilt them.  My massage therapist had two of her mother's quilt tops machine quilted be 2 different people.  The first one came back to her already bound, but the second one didn't.  At my last appointment she asked me if I would bind it for her, and I agreed to do it in exchange for a free massage session.  Financially, it's a win-win situation...she doesn't have to pay out the $$$ to have it bound and I don't have to pay out the $$$ for a massage session...all the while I get to play with a quilt in my quilting room while watching TV!   :) 


I started out Saturday evening by binding this queen-size quilt for her...

Then I moved on to binding and labeling the Sunflower quilt...

On Sunday when I was cleaning up my sewing room and putting everything away from the last quilt I'd made, I noticed that my 1.5" strip container was overflowing... I decided to make some more scrappy Log Cabin blocks.  The blocks are 6.5" unfinished and will finish at 6" square.  

I make these when I get a bunch of 1.5" strips saved up, and when I have enough blocks, I'll join them together into a quilt top.  

Here's a picture of the ones that I had made previously...

...and the new ones I've made this weekend will be added to them.  It may take a while for me to get enough to make a complete quilt top, but the entire top will be made out of leftover scraps when it is done!