Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Sewing Bucket List started

Early in January I posted that I planned to take part in Whipstitch's 2015 Sewing Bucket List, and I have finished my first item ---# 16, a project using an unfamiliar tool or machine.  I am new to the challenge world, and maybe I am supposed to complete these in the order written on the blog.  Since I didn't see any clear directive, I am going to do the list as opportunity and purpose dictate.

I always like to make something homemade for some of the February birthdays in our family, so my first project of the bucket list is a table topper using a large 60 degree ruler.  I've had the ruler and the pattern for some time, but never got around to trying them out.  I loved both and will be using them again.  Cutting with a triangle ruler may not be much of a challenge but getting the whole idea of creating the layers and then using the ruler was new to me!

 The pattern is called Box of Chocolate by THIS & THAT, Sherri K. Falls and I found this cute little one page pattern at Sew Pieceful Quilting in Tomahawk, WI  Once the method is understood, the mixtures and layers of fabric could easily be altered as long as you end up with six panels that can be cut with the 60 degree ruler. I was able to use scraps from my brown and gold box, but the pattern is also perfect for charm packs.   As I said before this will be a gift.  The hexagon shape is perfect for round tables.

I love it when new patterns work out so easily and lend themselves to being used again and again. Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way and then I feel like I wasted time and materials.  Yesterday I tried a new purse pattern (messenger bag style) that I was sure I would love.  The pattern called for all the outside pieces to be bound to an iron-on interfacing before sewing.  I misjudged the weight, thinking I was supposed to use some of that newer stiff interfacing made for purses and bags.   I should have listened to my inner voice that said that the stuff I had bought was too stiff and would be hard to work with.  I had a very hard time sewing the project, especially at corners.  I broke several needles, kept hopping from one machine to another, and ended up doing some of the sewing on my 1922 hand crank Singer machine.  It seemed to be able to handle the thickness, but even on that machine I broke two needles.  I almost gave up but ended up finishing it and figured it will make a fun bag for the girls to use when they play store.  I doubt I will use it as a purse because it feels so stiff.  I may make the pattern again but with lighter interfacing or I may try to adjust the pattern so I can use batting.  I like the shape of the purse, but now that I see it finished, I see that I would need to make adjustments in depth to accommodate all my stuff.  Hope my next project goes better!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Wander over to LITFUSE PUBLICITY who is organizing a blog tour for the new book THE CASE OF THE JEWEL COVERED CAT STATUES. You'll be able to enter to win a bracelet and other goodies.  Also, read on to get a taste of the mystery.  I'll be blogging about it on Feb. 1

OR YOU CAN GO TO to enter the contest and to learn more about the series.


Buckley and Bogey, Cat Detectives, find their next big case with the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Agency to be their most complicated ever! It all starts when someone hides a mysterious package in their Mom’s antique store – in the middle of the night! Of course, the boys find it, and put it in a nice, safe place, until they can open it . . . and, find the rightful owner. But that’s when a whole bunch of suspicious people show up in St. Gertrude, and every single one of them seems to be after that package! Holy Catnip! Plus, everything happens just when a priceless, jeweled statue collection goes on display at the St. Gertrude Museum. Missing from that collection are two jewel covered cat statues that disappeared almost a hundred and fifty years ago.
But soon Buckley and Bogey wonder how long those statues will stay missing. Because this is one case that really keeps them on their paws! From a trip to the Museum, and to an old church for the Blessing of the Animals; and from dinosaurs to diamonds, they end up dodging shady suspects the whole time. It sure helps to have their friends with them, especially when the bad guys make a beeline for boys. That’s because it becomes very clear, very quick — the priceless cat statues aren’t the only cats those crooks are after! Holy Mackerel!
Cindy Vincent


Cindy Vincent was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and has lived all around the US and Canada. She holds an M.A.Ed, and is the creator of the Mysteries by Vincent murder mystery party games and the Daisy Diamond Detective Series games for girls. She is also the award-winning author of the Buckley and Bogey Cat Detective Caper books, the Daisy Diamond Detective book series, and the “Cats are Part of His Kingdom, Too: 33 Daily Devotions to Understanding God’s Love.” She lives with her husband and the real, live Buckley and Bogey, who run surveillance on her house each and every night.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Saintly Killing: A Faith Morgan Mystery by Martha Ockley

Jacket ImageA SAINTLY KILLING, the third Faith Morgan mystery, continues the story of a British policewoman turned vicar (minister).  While mostly settled in her new role at St. James in the village of Little Worthy, Faith is feeling slightly overwhelmed with all the preparations for the church's 900th anniversary.  (Just what activities would be significant enough to mark a 900th anniversary, anyway?)  When the body of Sal Hinkley is discovered, Faith sets aside her stack of "post-it" notes and begins to investigate who might want the controversial artist dead?  Did her death have anything to do with her commission for the anniversary painting of St. James?

To me, Martha Ockley's writing is a perfect example of a cozy mystery.  Faith is warm and genuine, and readers will care about her decision to be a vicar, her former life as a police officer, and her continuing feelings for her department partner and boyfriend Ben.  And the side stories of her sister and her mother who has early stage dementia add another realistic layer, but one that is gentle and true, not one added for drama or mere filler.  I liked being transported to Great Britain -- its language and quaint villages.  Imagine being the gardener or parishioner of  an edifice that has stood for 900 years. or living in a blacksmith's cottage that has belonged to your family for more than five generations?  Being American, I can't claim such a heritage, but reading gentle British fiction gives me the tiniest taste.

If you liked MURDER SHE WROTE, ever read Agatha Christy, or consume one of the new cozy mystery series like candy drops, why not give Martha Ockley a try?  It'll be a trip.  I want to thank Kregel Publications and Lion Fiction for the opportunity to read a copy of this book and review it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

I've Got You Under My Skin, by Mary Higgins ClarkLaurie Moran has tried to build a life for herself and her son after her husband's brutal murder several years earlier.  That her son, then only three, witnessed the shooting and heard the attacker yell that he would be next, then his mother leaves a sense of imminent danger that will not fade.  Laurie's father, retired from his job as a police detective to protect the young family, is very uneasy when Laurie announces that she will be directing a new reality show which examines cold cases.

The first show will feature a twenty year old murder case, known to the press as The Graduation Murders.  Four friends had celebrated their college graduations together at the home of socialite Betsy Powell and her wealthy husband, only to awake the next morning to the screams of the housekeeper who had discovered Betsy's dead body.  For twenty years each girl has lived under suspicion and even Powell himself feels he remains a suspect.  All gather together at the Powell mansion along with the television crew.  Laurie's father fears that the publicity of this show may prompt Moran's killer to carry out his threat despite his absence for five years.

I used to grab every Mary Higgins Clark book as soon as they hit the library shelves, but have missed a couple in the past few years.  When I saw the this one sitting on display, I could not resist and I am glad I didn't.  It appears that Laurie Moran may show up in future books written by Clark with a co-writer.  Clark usually writes with multiple points of view, and like many thriller writers, relies on a making the villain an anonymous narrator whose demented mental state adds tension, mystery and fear to the story.  This book reads a little differently.  We soon find out that each of the college girls had a reason to hate Betsy Powell and each is a little foggy about what they did the night of the party. For the past twenty years, each has hidden a secret fear that she may have murdered Betsy and not remembered it.  Like readers of Agatha Christy stories, readers will be piecing the bits together to solve the mystery. Soon, we'll know that the four girls are not Betsy's only enemies. Meanwhile, Laurie, so caught up in the twenty year old cold case, doesn't realize that other danger is just steps away.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I first heard about Heimo Korth and his Alaskan Arctic life from my two sons.  Hunters, canoeists, and fishermen, they are always on the "hunt" for a great wilderness book.  Heimo originally left for Alaska as a young twenty year old in the 1970s, determined to never return to the lower 48.  Since he grew up in Appleton, WI, his story stayed with me.  When at our cabin a while back, I heard on NPR  several audio segments of THE FINAL FRONTIERSMAN, the story of Heimo Korth and his family, written by Heimo's cousin, James Campbell, also a Wisconsin native.  As Campbell highlighted Heimo's teenage daughters and wife and their views of living 10 months of each year above the Arctic Circle, cut off from civilization, I knew I wanted to read the whole story.  This January with its below zero temperatures was the right time to read about survival in temperatures that dip to minus 50 on a daily basis for months on end.

Published in 2004, the book obviously is not totally up to date.  The girls have grown up and no longer live out with their parents.  Even so, I was totally captivated by their story.  This is a hard life and danger is always present.  A daily routine like checking the traps can turn into a life and death situation within seconds - a failed snowmachine, a fall into the ice, or poor visibility are always possibilities.  As Heimo learned his first winter out, the daily task of keeping a fire going burns more calories than he could provide himself.  Securing enough protein (caribou, duck, fish, squirrel, grouse, beaver) is constant and the family always faces a true scarcity of  food, therefore nothing is wasted.  Greenhorns like the readers probably think the arctic is filled with animals, but we quickly learn that migration patterns, seasons, and the vast wilderness itself make the presence of game an ever fluctuating commodity.

Despite being published ten years ago, I still recommend this book  It has become a classic of outdoor/wilderness literature.  Ever curious of the "rest of the story" I googled Heimo Korth's name to find an update on him and his family.  Lo and behold, I found a blog written by James Campbell's teenage daughter, who had been four years old when her dad spent several trips to Alaska to live with the Korths.  What has this teen been doing?  Going to Alaska to the Arctic to witness first hand what her dad wrote about.  Haven't had the time to read about this Lodi, Wisconsin girl's adventures, but I have the blog marked and I will be checking back to read more.

THE FINAL FRONTIERSMAN is my pick for A GENRE I DON'T NORMALLY READ in the Bethany House Challenge.  I read nonfiction on a regular basis, but not titles about wilderness, survival stories.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found myself reading sections outloud to my husband all the time.  So glad I was able to locate a copy through our library system.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The River by Beverly Lewis

Sisters Tilly and Ruth both left their Amish home behind, but for different reasons.  Tilly could never shed the guilt she felt after their younger sister drowned at a family outing near the river.  When several years later, young Ruth had her tender heart broken by her Amish suitor, she reached out to Tilly and eventually joined in the fancy world.  Now happily married and the mother of twins, Tilly is hesitate about going back home on their parents' anniversary despite being told by her older brother that she and her sister would be welcomed.  But when Ruth hears that their father's health is failing, she convinces Tilly that a short visit would be wise.  

Beverly Lewis has again selected Lancaster County for her new Amish tale,  However, the time period is not the present, but late 1970's.  Perhaps, Lewis did not want her "fancy" sisters to have the luxuries of cell phones and computers.  No matter the reason because the themes of acceptance and redemption which dominant the story fit any time period.  Clearly Tilly and her father have had a rocky relationship even before her decision to leave the Amish way of life.  While others assure her of his love, she knows that he has always treated her more harshly than he did other siblings. On her return, Tilly is not subjected to a full out shunning by her father, but neither is he ready to accept her or her new way of life.  Ruth seems to be accepted with more openness, but being unmarried and only gone for a couple years, everyone expects her to walk back into her Amish life.  When her former beau seems to have reformed his "bad boy" ways and shares that he has always had feelings for her, it appears Ruth may return to the plain life.

Beverly Lewis is one of the only Amish fiction authors that I had read before I started reviewing titles and blogging.  I believe she remains one of the best, telling stories that have an authentic feel. I fear too many other authors are writing to fit a market demand.  Lewis, I believe, still has a message to tell in her stories.  My husband even watched  and enjoyed the movie versions of her stories THE SHUNNING and THE CONFESSION.  While I felt THE RIVER was a gentle, well told story, I personally did not find it as intriguing as, say, THE FIDDLER, which remains a favorite of mine.  If you are a fan of Amish fiction, do pick up a copy of THE RIVER.  You will want to meet Tilly, Ruth, and their strong mother.  

I found my copy of THE RIVER by Beverly Lewis through the Winnefox Library System. As part of the 26 Books to read in 2015 Challenge (see, I am counting this as A BOOK FROM THE LIBRARY.  That is sort of a LOL because almost all my books come from the library!!  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Recycling and revisiting 1987

A few years ago I scored a few vintage calendar towels at a garage sale, thinking I would be recycle them in some sewing project.  My original idea had been shopping bags.  Well, that never happened and the towels got stored with the fabric stash, to be rediscovered today when I was searching the stash for something I needed.  The bright colored birds on this towel caught my eyes anew, and while daydreaming about how I could use the panel I noticed that January 1st was a Thursday.  This January 1st was a Thursday.  Sure enough the whole year matched, no Leap Year problem.  I glanced at the bottom to see that the towel year was 1987.  I've since hung the towel in our sunroom where I watch the birds eating at the feeders each morning while I eat my breakfast.  Now I will also reminiscence about 1987 when ---

I turned 38.  At the time that did not seem young, but it sure does NOW!  We celebrated our 16th anniversary that year.  Who would have thought that would seem like newlyweds to this couple of almost 44 years.  

I was just a couple years into my educational career, working with at-risk students at the time.  It was
a good job and I got along with the kids, but I have to confess I enjoyed teaching English and being librarian better.  However, I always liked the adults I worked with and Markesan was (is) a great school district.

Life at home was more hectic than today -  Vince would turn 7 that year, Olivia 10, and Clint 15.  It was about time that Clint moved himself to makeshift bedroom in the basement so he could have some privacy.  Sharing a room with a little brother 8 years younger was difficult when you liked loud music and Mom thought your brother should go to bed at a reasonable time.  Lots of running around with the kids for 4-H and friends.  Russ would have been working nights, and I certainly don't miss all those nights alone, feeding the woodstove and corralling the kids to bed at a decent hour.   

Give it a thought.  What are your 1987 memories?  Let me know!