Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees

I have added a book review of A Sound Among the Trees on my Millionaire Tips website. It is a book about a modern day bride who moves into a house in Virginia with a troubled history.  It is rumored to be haunted by a Civil War spy.

I have successfully participated in the 30 Hubs in 30 Days challenge, and am currently working on the 100 Hubs in 30 Days challenge.  Basically this means I am writing a large number of articles about quilting, genealogy and personal finance.  I am running slightly behind schedule, because I am trying to make sure that I keep up the level of quality as I increase my output.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts

I won the book Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts: 13 Quilts Projects to Piece and Applique in a giveaway by C & T Publishing on their blog, and received it yesterday.  It is a beautiful book with 13 beautiful patterns.  There are some that are completely applique, some that are completely pieced, and some that have a mixture of both.

The quilts represent quilts that were discussed in the eighteen novels by Jennifer Chiaverini about the Elm Creek Quilters of Waterford, Pennsylvania. It was a real treat to see the quilts and see how they compared to the ones I imagined while I was reading the novels.  The quilts are beautiful, and the instructions appear to be thorough, but generally do not provide quilting instructions.

There is one quilt that is appropriate for a beginner quilter, but the remainder appear to be for the confident intermediate or advanced quilter.  This is a refreshing change from the many beginner books I have been drawn to lately.  Sometimes we need to stretch and expand our skills, and a book like this is a good way to do just that.

Many of the quilts involve using templates, curved piecing and / or intricate applique. I think we should not limit our quilting techniques to those that use modern rotary cutting if a template provides additional value, but there was a square that was provided as one of the template needed for a quilt. It would have been nice to modernize the directions to avoid using templates when they are not necessary.

I have also reviewed the book on my Millionaire Tips website, and have included pictures of some of the quilts in the book on that site.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fabric Samplers

Since I have been taking weaving lessons, I have been looking at other fiber arts. I saw a beautiful canvases with fabric and scrapbooking paper collages. I am definitely going to have to try this idea.

When I went to the crafts store to buy scrap booking paper for my niece, I came across this book.that immediately caught my attention and would not let go. Fabric Samplers: Journals Bookcovers Mini Purses, Pincushions/Create Wonderful Collages with Wool, Felt, Fabric, Floss and Accents
is written by Carmen Daumer. It includes different projects such as journals, book covers, mini purses and pincushions. All of these projects include a wonderful mix of wool, felt, fabric, floss and accents. I haven't used wool yet in any projects - mostly because I am afraid to start a whole new stash, but I think I am pretty convinced that I need to start. They all have wonderful touches, and you can examine each piece for a long time to catch all the details.

And since they are patterns you can customize, you can personalize them to make a beautiful and creative Christmas gift. Each of the projects would make a unique gift that is sure to please.
This is the index page showing the projects in Fabric Samplers by Carmen Daumer.

This is the index page showing the projects in Fabric Samplers by Carmen Daumer.
Just look at the table of contents! In case you can't see the index very well, there are several different types of journal covers - Cup Cafe Journal Cover, Sew Journal Cover, I Love Ewe Journal Cover, Hearts Journal Cover, Pretty in Pink Journal cover, Girls Journal Cover, Boys Journal Cover, and Socks Journal cover. Other projects include mini purses, Seed Purse, Games People Play book cover, Framed Seed art, Harvest Pumpkin Purse, Pumpkin Harvest Journal, Gardens Blooms, Flower Pincushion, Sewing Purse, Boxes, Wall quilt, and Tomato Pincushion. I think the journals and journal covers and framed art can all be intermixed, so if you want framed art, and like the journal cover pattern, you can simply make it art.

The first part of the book includes beautiful photos of each of the projects, basic descriptions and tips. The rest of the book include detailed instructions on how to make each project. I found all of them to be quite adorable, and am very happy with my purchase. These projects are not quilts, but they certainly are perfect projects for a quilter to expand her skills. These projects would make great personalized Christmas gifts. Wool projects make me think of primitive style of quilts and folk art. The projects are very stylish and contemporary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crazy Quilted Memories

This book is the perfect combination of quilting and genealogy. You can record your family heritage in a beautiful quilt and create a wonderful heirloom to share with future generations.

Crazy-Quilted Memories: Beautiful Embroidery Brings Your Family Portraits to Life by Brian Haggard showcases many different quilts that can help you honor your family.  The link takes you to Amazon which offers a look inside the book to see some of the pages.

I really enjoyed the soft nostalgic colors that he used in all of the projects, even though I didn't use them in the quilt I made. Those colors might show up in future quilts though! The book shows you how to do photo transfers, and provides some embroidery designs, and crazy quilting templates, and encourages you to try your own designs to customize the quilt just for you. I especially like the clock shown on the cover.

There are directions on making specific quilts, but there is a lot of customizing for the size of the photo, the designs of the fabric, etc. This book might be overwhelming for beginners because of all the different techniques - piecing, embroidery, photo transfer, etc, unless the beginner is confident or liberated enough to try things to see how they go.

All of the projects in this book - quilts, pillows, bags, crests - are beautiful. Most of them are small enough projects that they don't look overwhelming to me, and I think I might be trying to make several of these.

The book is published by C&T Publishing. I got it from the local library.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One Day Way

I have to admit that I don't read a lot of diet books. They seem so depressing. They rush into what you should eat and what you shouldn't eat and what exercises to do, and they quickly get overwhelming. I read this book because it was a free for review book from Waterbrook Press, but I am glad that I did. The One-Day Way: Today Is All the Time You Need to Lose All the Weight You Want by Chantel Hobbs spends one chapter on exercise, and one chapter on food.  They are important chapters and provide lots of good information.  There are many (31) different simple exercises to try. And the food provides a weekly menu of simple, easy to prepare, normal foods to eat.  But what I like best about the book is that the rest of the chapters helps you create the mindset to successfully live your life in a healthful manner without beating yourself up for past mistakes or getting overwhelmed with lofty goals.  Choosing today as the point of no return, you won't be looking at whether you were successful yesterday.  You keep moving forward day by day.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Celebrity Sudoku

I picked up a couple of books for light reading on the plane.  Even though these two books traveled to Italy with me, I wound up not reading very much, and finished another book instead.  I did manage to read them since then.  They were a lot of fun to read.  Liza Kelly creates sudoku puzzles and writes a newspaper column.  She somehow winds up being around murders, which are somehow related to the puzzles, and of course investigates the murders. The books include sudoku puzzles (with answers in the back), and tips on how to solve them.  There are a series of books written by Kaye Morgan which include:
Sinister Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Murder By Numbers (A Sudoku Mystery)
Death by Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)
Ghost Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery)

In Celebrity Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is hired to create puzzles for celebrity week on the hit show D-Kodas.  An earthquake and a missing celeb, who turns out to have been murdered sets off the mystery.

In Killer Sudoku (A Sudoku Mystery), Liza is one of the competitors in the West Coat Sudoku Summit. One of the contestants drops dead in the middle of the competition and soon other competitors are also falling dead. Liza has to solve the mystery, before she becomes a victim.

These books are part of a series of books from Berkley Prime Crime which includes Earlene Fowler with quilting mysteries featuring Benni Harper, Needlecraft mysteries, scrapbooking mysteries, knitting mysteries, decoupage mysteries and sewing circle mysteries.

I found the sudoku books entertaining and fun. The mysteries are interesting, with lots of characters, some humor, and the story of Liza's life is moving ahead in the story. The puzzles are placed in the book to fit at the top or bottom of a page, so they don't fit in exactly in place with the story, but once you know that, it isn't a big deal.

The tips are also educational, but I think reading the series in order might help with some of the explanations. Some of these explanations are cumbersome to read through - which is understandable when you have to explain where the number is and how it is related to other numbers in the set, but they do make sense if you pay attention and think it through one step at a time.

One problem with borrowing these books from the library is that another patron already filled out the solutions in one of the books. I did get some satisfaction when I noticed that a puzzle had been solved incorrectly. It is a rather difficult one, and I am still working on finding a way to solve it. In the book, someone gives a lecture on how to solve the difficult one, but the explanation is not given in the book, probably to keep the focus on the crime.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

We have all known that teenagers are now treated as big children instead of small adults for a while now. They continue to live with their parents much longer than in the past, and even when they move out, they continue to receive assistance from us. Instead of striving to push themselves, they feel entitled to the luxuries they have become accustomed to at home. And I've gotten a nagging feeling that we should be doing something about that, but it just seems so hard - that we need to change the entire culture.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old by Joseph and Claudia Worrell Allen, PhDs helps put a magnifying glass on the problem and provides possible solutions. Their findings are based on research. It explains how this phenomenon is hurting the teenager as much as it is annoying the parents and society. It helped change my thinking about many situations.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence

Here are just a few of the topics covered in the book:
  • They discuss the history of teenagers. In the past, teenagers were treated as budding adults, and became apprentices to learn the skills to go forth on their own. We now send them to school, where they are surrounded by their peers and very few adults to serve as role models. Juvenile delinquency was not common in the past and in other societies. The authors postulate the reasons for this.
  • Teen brains are more capable than adult brains in important ways than we give them credit. We need to take advantage of these differences and capacities instead of wasting them. We tend to underestimate our teenager's abilities, even though they routinely handled the same tasks in the past.
  • We stifle our teens by worrying about rare dangers, such as abduction by strangers, and completely ignore the common risks. The book lists the common risks and tells us what we can do to avoid them.
  • The authors have found that we can reduce teen pregnancy rates by 50%, without ever having any discussions about sex.
  • They have found that the popular kids tend to have higher rates of drug use and delinquency than less popular kids. The authors explains why this is the case.
  • Simply getting a job for teens may not be the right answer. There are other methods that are more effective.
  • Even when parents are struggling financially, we tend to give kids everything they want. This leaves them with a feeling of entitlement, and other effects of "precocious affluence".
  • By sending them to school, and stifling them from the real world, we have given over the process of socializing teens to the peer group. The book shows how we can take it back.

Escaping the Endless Adolescence Book Review

I have read several books lately that talk about people of this generation, with their sense of entitlement, and their unwillingness to grow up to become dependable and responsible adults. These kids are not willing to struggle and start from the bottom to work their way up. They expect things to be handed to them on a silver platter, and continue to get assistance from their helicopter parents.
Their parents have given them a sense of fear about the bad world outside, and make them feel that they aren't capable of doing things on their own. The world is much more complicated today than in the past, but our kids are fully capable, if only we would give them our confidence that they can do it.
I know lots of people who are getting support from their parents - these people are underemployed and could very well do better. But I'm not sure how much of it is also due to the economy. It is harder to get a job, especially starting out without a lot of experience. In a poor economy, it is tough to take that much rejection, and since there is such an easy fallback of continuing to rely on the parents, I can completely understand why they would continue to do so.

My daughter is willing to work hard and do what it takes to get a job and become a responsible adult. She wants that, and I am sure that most people of her generation do too. By trusting in their abilities, and providing them with solid adult role models and mentors, they can succeed and lead happy, adult lives.

This book shows ways that we can help our children and other adolescence in our lives to become productive adults.

I got this book from the library and I highly recommend reading it. It is useful not only for parents of teenagers and would-be teenagers, but also people who are around teenagers in their lives, so pretty much society at large.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


When my family cleaned my house while I was on vacation, I was a little worried. I had just finished reading a book Boomer Burden about planning to or having to handle your parent's stuff after they are deceased. What if my family got a glimpse of what it would be like after I was gone? My sister did say that I didn't have as many things as she thought I would.  But that's not all, I was also reading this book about compulsive hoarding.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost and Professor Gail Steketee, PhD is a very insightful book about the accumulation of things and the thinking processes of the people who collect things. It helped to see what the people were thinking, what their reasons for collecting and keeping things are, etc.  The authors really seem like they want to help people, not make fun of them or sensationalize their condition for profit.

I have often thought that having a quilting stash is hoarding in a way.  If I buy fabric for a quilt I am going to be making soon, then it is fine. But buying just for the purpose of adding it to the stash seems like hoarding to me.  By the time I go looking for fabric in the stash, it might be too out of date and ugly for me to use. It is unlikely that a good fabric will not be available at the store when I am ready for it. I have to keep telling myself that, since I also have a counter-argument: I know I like scrap quilts, and having a collection does help when I make them.

I am not a hoarder. You can see my floors and my walls, except the part that is covered by furniture and decorations. But a lot of the excuses do make sense to me, and I think all of us have a little bit of hoarder in ourselves. And to that extent I am a hoarder.  Even before these books, I have been trying to reduce the amount of stuff I have. I think that besides the fact that it will help my family when I am gone, I think having less stuff makes it easier to clean the house, and have fewer places dust can hide, and I will have less to worry about moving if and when I move.  But in the meantime, the stuff is taking a great deal of my time, as I sort through it to decide what to give away and throw away and what to keep.  And to find better places in my home for the things I am keeping.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Alarmists

Alarmists, The is the third novel written by Don Hoesel, but it is the first one I've read. There is action, suspense, a love story, exotic locales, and religious debate.

Sociologist Brent Michaels is a sociologist who has been asked to join a special Pentagon unit to uncover why there seems to be an upsurge of activity - both man-made and natural disasters. He and the unit find activities from all around the world in December 2012, and as we all know, the Mayan calendar says the world will end on 12/21/12. They have to try to make sense of data from all around the world and try to determine the connections. They decide that these are not caused by normal causes - that someone is manipulating events.

The book alternates telling the story of several characters, especially Brent Michaels and Mr. Canfield, who uses the alias Miles Standish. Canfield is hired by a wealthy businessman, Jeremy Maxwell, whose aim is to become the richest man in the world, like King Solomon.

I really enjoyed reading this book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House in exchange for this review.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Get Your Own Free Books

If you want to get your own free books to review, the process is very simple.

First, you find the program or programs you want to join. You can simply look on your favorite publisher's website to see if they have a review program. Since we are required to include a disclosure, "I received this book from XXX publisher in exchange for this review", you can look at reviews on your favorite online retailer to see which publisher keeps showing up on books you like.

Or you can look for book review programs on a search engine.

Second, simply read their rules for the review program and simply sign up.  Then choose a book to request from their list of available books. Most of the rules are pretty simple. Generally they ask you to review your book on your blog, and on a major retailer's website. Then you let them know you did the review, usually on their website, but sometimes by email.  If you do it on their website, they might have a place for you to review it on there as well.  The copy and paste function works well for putting your review in all two or three places as required.

Here are the ones I subscribe to:

Waterbrook Multinomah Publishers


Bethany House

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Daughter's Walk

If someone said they would give you a million dollars to walk to New York City, would you do it? 

This book review of The Daughter's Walk by Jane Kirkpatrick has been moved to Millionaire Tips.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding

Just in time for the royal wedding, depending on how fast you can knit, you can create your own royal wedding. Maybe make up your own exciting story.

Knit Your Own Royal Wedding by Fiona Goble gives you directions on making this large cast of adorable characters for the wedding.

I'm sure that all of them are much more advanced than my meager knitting skills - I have trouble with a simple scarf for a doll.  So I can't give you a review for how well the instructions are written.  But aren't they just so cute!

If you aren't interested in the wedding, know that there are also other similar books on knitting a nativity scene, and about knitting dogs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Union Quilters

The Union Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel

The book review for The Union Quilters by Jennifer Chiaverini has been moved to Millionaire Tips.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Courting Miss Amsel

Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a love story set in 1882-1883 school year in the small town of Walnut Hill Nebraska. After having cared for her younger siblings after the death of her mother, Edythe Amsel is finally leaving her father's depressing home to move to Nebraska to teach in a one room schoolhouse. She is independent and has teaching methods that are shocking to the town. She is dealing with an unruly child and fending off advances from the town's bachelors.  Miss Amsel is reading the Bible for the first time, and there are many references to her conversion in this book.

Joel Townsend is a farmer who is raising his orphaned nephews, and could use a wife. He also has outlandish, more modern farming methods.

The story was a lovely read, and it was a nice change to read fiction for a change.

This book, like the Union Quilters talks about the beginning of the womens' suffrage movement.  I don't know enough about history to know if the methods are accurate for the time period. For example, I am not sure a teacher of that time would think to teach her students how to cook, since that would be something that would naturally be taught at home. It is pretty far from reading, writing and arithmetic. It is possible that the "outlandish" teaching methods are just our modern methods taken back in time. Whether it is true or not, I don't think it matters.  It makes for a good story anyway.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Good morning.  I am creating this blog to post my book reviews.  I am a member of several (three right now) book review groups. Generally about once a month, a publisher generally gives us a list of a few books, and I choose one.  It is mailed to me, and after I have had a chance to read it, I post my opinion about it.  I am not required to post a positive review. I have to admit that I don't read all books all the way through. Time is too precious to waste if finishing the book isn't going to add any value to the review.  Since all three of these publishers publish Christian books, some of the books do tend to be very religious, although others merely mention Christian themes.

I enjoy this, because it gives me a chance to expand to books in subject areas and opinions that I would not pick up on my own. This does mean that this blog will contain reviews for books that range from really bad to mostly mediocre to awesome.

To keep it balanced, I do like to pick up books from the library and review those as well.  Those are generally ones that I think are worth the read.

I link the book titles to Amazon, so you can see how much it is and what others think about it. I am a part of their referral program, so if you choose to buy a book through them, I will get a referral bonus.

I hope you enjoy!
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