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Monday, December 26, 2011

Breath of Scandal by Sandra Brown

Breath of ScandalBreath of Scandal by Sandra Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A revenge novel, "Breath of Scandal" benefits from well-developed characters behaving in a setting and in patterns that are believable.  Jade Sperry is a determined and capable protagonist with good reason to focus her life on destroying those who robbed her of her dreams.  Her focused desire for revenge leads her to success and love.

A well-told story.

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Heat Lightning by John Sandford

Heat Lightning (Virgil Flowers, #2)Heat Lightning by John Sandford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dead bodies with oranges stuffed in their mouths are turning up at veterans' monuments in Minnesota. Lucas Davenport, busy arranging security for the Republican convention, assigns the cases to Virgil Flowers, his younger, outdoor writer/detective who is as comfortable solving murders as he is fishing for muskies. Unassuming and charming, Virgil searches for the link between the murders and finds himself in more complex circumstances than he has ever encountered.

As usual, Sandford's characters are well-developed and interesting, the plot is thick and fascinating, and the conclusion is dramatic.

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Internation Quilt Festival, November 2-6, 2011, Houston, TX

It has taken me a while to get around to this post. There was so much to say about this fabulous show. And, it was a great trip with quilting friends Rosemary, Dale, Catherine and Regina. So, let me describe it chronologically.  From Wednesday through Saturday night, I stayed at the Embassy Suites Hotel three blocks from the George R. Brown Convention Center.

George R. is the largest convention center I have ever seen.  About three blocks long and three stories high, it was vast.  The vendors' booths were located on the first floor. Here is a view of about 1/3 of the vendor floor space.
The Houston skyline is spacious and new.  It seemed that everything in Houston was fairly new.

On Thursday, I took an all-day bus tour to see a bit of Texas.  We visited La Grange, Giddings, and Round Top. LaGrange was the most interesting.
It is the home of new Texas Quilt Museum.  The Museum opened just to give us a sneak preview that day.

We were not permitted to take photos inside the museum.  The quilts on display for the inaugural exhibit were all made by Texas women.  They were pretty amazing.  I liked the courthouse steps borders that were favored by many of the quilters and will definitely try my hand at creating them in one of my future projects.

The Museum is right on Courthouse Square in La Grange. Great care was taken to restore the building to its original condition.  It is about 100 years old.  We were treated to baked goods when we were settled back on the bus.  The area was settled by  German, Czech, and Moravian immigrants.  And their baking skills have survived and thrived here.  I would come back here just for the bread and pastries!

In Round Top, we spent some time at the Copper Shade Tree, an artists' boutique for quilts, jewelry and other handcrafts.  This shop was Texas outside and 5th Avenue inside! The hand-crafted jewelry was really pretty. I dropped a bundle of money for Christmas gifts here :)

Did I mention that all of the items were crafted by men? Yes, indeed, there were no women allowed.  This is a men's art collective.

On Friday, I spent the day in a class taught by Charlotte Angotti of Quiltmaker's Studio. What a hoot!  This talented lady should be a stand-up comic.  In one day of instruction and non-stop sewing, she walked us through an almost complete construction of one of her latest designs, "Amber Waves of Grain."  I just got mine back from Janice Jamison (great long-arm quilter, and will tell you more about it after I get the binding on and take some pictures.

Saturday was a time to spend viewing the festival quilts, meeting Alex Anderson, and ending the day by enjoying the concert performed by Ricky Tims.

At home, I want to find a couple of the fabrics featured: Robert Kaufman's "Florentine" and "Jewel & Earth" as well as "Etchings" by Moda.

I purchased a CD with professional pictures of all of the winning quilts.  There are restrictions on posting the quilt pictures on a website. So, if you would like to see the quilts, I would be happy to lend you the CD.

It was a great trip.  I can cross "Attend the largest international quilt show" off of my to-do list :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tea for Two

The anticipation of a new baby reminds all of us that life is a miracle and a gift in a cycle that will keep going after we are gone.  It refocuses our attention to the responsibility of raising responsible, warm and compassionate children to become the adults that will create a better world. This is a cause for celebration.

Yesterday, we celebrated the joy of expectation of little Hannah Reeve with a tea for her and her happy Mom, my daughter Jackie. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...IN OCTOBER!!!!

Nutley was blanketed in the first snowfall of the season yesterday.  Starting as heavy drops of raining slush around 10:30 a.m., it changed to heavy wet snow by 11:30 a.m.  Throughout the day it melted on the ground, however, by 4 p.m. it was accumulating on the ground. Snapping and swooshing noises signaled branches breaking and trees falling.  Going from window to window to door after every crash, we saw branches down everywhere.

Dianne called last night to say that Mayor Cocchiola declared a Nutley state-of-emergency because so many trees were down and branches and trees were still falling.  The Mayor also postponed the Survivors' Brunch scheduled for this morning.

My sister Jackie called around 10 p.m. to say that she heard we were in the middle of a snowstorm.  She was in Minneapolis at the airport hoping that flights to Philadelphia would not be affected.

This morning, the sun is shining brightly and the landscape is littered with leaves and snow and trees and branches.  Bob and Grace were here last night.  It took him a while to clean the ice and snow off of his car this morning.  He returned with coffee from Dunkin' Donuts to report that it was really bad around town. Trees were down everywhere. The Farmer's Almanac predicts a mild winter, but I wonder....

Friday, October 28, 2011

"The Reversal" by Michael Connelley

The Reversal (Mickey Haller, #3)The Reversal by Michael Connelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved "The Lincoln Lawyer" and looked forward to reading "The Reversal." It was interesting to see Mickey Haller as a prosecutor working alongside his former wife Maggie "McFierce."  And, of course, Harry Bosch is here doing the investigating.  Jessup is a dastardly child murderer freed for a new trial by DNA evidence.

It was a good story. The ending was unexpected, a nice twist.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

My *heart* daughter

On Sunday, 9/25/2011, I spent the day with my delightful daughter.  We were checking out tea rooms in the city as possible fun places for her baby shower.  It was a beautiful day that ended with our visit to the Queens Museum.  I had not been to Flushing Meadow since the World's Fair!!!  I was in high school for crying out loud.  It was strange to be out of the car, passing by, and on the ground looking at the structures that I remembered from the long ago trip.

The Meadow is now a beautiful park and the Panorama Building is the Queens Museum of Art.  The helicopters that we rode in to view the Panorama have been removed, but the ramp is still there.  It serves as a viewing deck around the Panorama for visitors to walk around.

The Panorama is a scaled down model of NYC that has been kept reasonably up-to-date.  The reason for the visit was a talk by author Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) who stood in the East River on the Panorama with a sign language translator to tell us about his journey to success as an author and his new book Wonder Struck in which the Panorama is a character.  If you are unfamiliar with Selznick, perhaps you are interested now :-)

Jackie was a bit rattled by the autograph session, the crowd was a little out-of-control, but, she was so determined to get her copies of the books signed to share with her kids at school that she hung in there to the end.

I have a beautiful daughter with a loving husband both expecting their first child.  She is happy to spend a day with her mom and is so in touch with her life.  My heart is bursting with pride for the woman she has become.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fine Arts & Crafts Show, Anderson Park 2011

What a beautiful Sunday morning!  Church, diner and then the fine arts & crafts show in Anderson Park, Upper Montclair.

It could not have happened on a nicer day - cool, clear, sunny.
Putting out a few bales of hay always makes me think of autumn.
This was the cutest booth!  Filled with clothes and shoes for American Girl dolls, it was filled with little girls in the afternoon.

This was unique!  I had not seen a drinking fountain that accomodated dogs before today.  I liked it and so did the dog. :-)

Fifteen minutes to relax on a bench and listen to this talented musician was not nearly enough.  I could have stayed there all afternoon!  And, I could also watch the soccer game going on in the middle of the park.
A wonderful walk, a little shopping, music, sports - this day had it all.
Then, off to the Nutley Farmers' Market to get some fresh corn for dinner tonight.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Hard to believe that it has been 10 years, I watched the memorial service today.  The new national memorial in NYC is spectacular.  I have not been downtown to that area since the attack, but now a visit would be good.

It was especially nice to hear the readers of the names thank the first responders, the volunteers on the pile, the construction workers and everyone who is responsible for this beautiful permanent memorial.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Jackie's School Bag

Finished in time, this school bag is the same as the project bag that I made for my friend Linda.  When Jackie saw that bag, she thought that the same pattern would make a great school bag for her.

She had little time left to take on a new project before school opened.  She was thrilled and I was happy to offer to make it for her. She even had fabric that she thought would be perfect.  And, after I realized that the raindrops should fall down rather than sideways, it turned out to be one of the cutest projects I have ever made.  AND, it is soooooo Jackie. 

I made that little tuck-inside purse from leftover fabric from the same line - Tula Pink's Prince Charming.  It will be so convenient when she just wants to leave the big bag in the car while she runs into a store.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rob's Birthday

Rob's Birthday is today!  We had a nice family get-together yesterday at the Cheesecake Factory in the Menlo Park Mall.  With everyone so busy, we decided to meet there to reduce the travel time for everyone.

Reading the cards and opening the gifts are always fun.  It was a very pleasant afternoon.

I have a feeling that Rob is going to have another great year :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blue Jersey:: Ed Reform 101 Starts Tomorrow

This will be a very informative series to follow. Education reform is an emotional issue with the governor.  He is "passionate" about reforming all of the schools in New Jersey, not just the few under performing schools.  The education system in New Jersey is one of the best. This series will present facts to counter the governor's emotional arguments.

Blue Jersey:: Ed Reform 101 Starts Tomorrow

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Irene Flood Before and After

Hurricane Irene

Irene reached the area this morning.  I was surprised that it was so quiet, just a steady downpour and raging Third River. The river has crept higher by about three feet since I began taking pictures of it around 7:15 a.m.
Here it is at 9:30 a.m.   The Memorial Park pathway is next to the row of young trees and streetlight.  It is underwater.  The Mudhole pond is indistinguishable from the river overflow.

Power is still on in my neighborhood although I saw a FB post earlier from a friend in town whose home is without power.  If it goes out during the day, I am prepared for an evening of audiobooks and lantern light.  I even purchased a few flowers to sit next to my candle to soften the mood.

My emergency supplies and more pictures from my windows and doors.  Check this video. The good part begins around 1:01.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Waste not...

 My sewing room is a little cluttered with fabric leftover from recent projects.  So, I was inspired to make a few small gift items last night! Here is a crochet hook folder for Linda.  It matches the tote I made to give to her for Christmas.
 These are small purses that are great for carrying ID, a bank card, and a few dollars in a pocket when going for a walk or a quick trip to the grocery store.  They are nice holders for gift cards as well.

I have to get a storage bin for all of the gift projects I have completed so far.  Perhaps there is room in the garage.  Hmmm....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Linda's Bag

My friend Linda Fisher is an avid crochet crafter. When she is not grading papers for her high school English students, her hands are busy crocheting.

Her family traditions include gifting her with sock monkeys.  When I saw this whimsical sock monkey print with a coordinating brown banana leaf print and a banana yellow banana print, her Christmas present was "in the bag." There was even enough fabric for a little wallet and purse tissue cover.

The pattern for this bag is "Cindy's Bag aka The Monster Tote" by Marlous Designs, The Cross Town Carry Collection.

Now, I need to make one for myself!