Monday, August 30, 2010

Books - "A Woman's Place" by Lynn Austin

Earlier this summer, I read a fantastic book by Lynn Austin.  I've really gotten hooked on her books lately.  While I'm not usually one to read Christian novels, Ms. Austin's writing has a great balance between telling the story and mixing in Christian principles without being "preachy".  Here's the write-up for "A Woman's Place" from Amazon:

In an engrossing read, three-time Christy Award–winner Austin explores the lives of four women in smalltown Michigan during WWII. The unlikely quartet of heroines—a mouthy Italian, a farm girl desperate to go to college, a spinster schoolteacher who's inherited a fortune, and a bored housewife—meet and become fast friends when they take Rosie the Riveter jobs at a local factory. On one level, the novel is simply about the bonds that form among the principals, recalling Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt and Lynne Hinton's Friendship Cake. But the subtext, as the title suggests, is about gender roles. Can and should women defy their husbands? What does the Bible say about wifely obedience? Such questions present themselves urgently to each of the four protagonists (and, one imagines, to many of Austin's female evangelical readers). Austin sprinkles some lovely images throughout—a newborn's fingernails "like drops of candle wax"—and a humorous depiction of inadvertently tipsy church ladies will have readers in stitches. All in all, Austin offers a very enjoyable journey to an earlier wartime America.
The entire storyline revolved around 4 women during WWII.  As most people are aware, during WWII the majority of the US male population was sent to the front lines to fight, which left a huge hole in the US production environment.  With all the men gone (and women not typically working outside the home), there were very few people left to work in the factories to make the supplies that the men on the front lines needed.  The women of America stepped up to the plate and joined into industries that were always male dominated.  The four women depicted in the novel have their own individual problems and worries at taking a job outside their home.  It was definitely a good book to read.

I think part of the reason I was really drawn to this novel is the fact that even though we're 60+ years after WWII, we still have women fighting for our rights to work in a male dominated world.  While women are definitely prevalent in the working society, there are still certain professions where there are very few of us.  Engineering is definitely one of those fields.

Throughout college, I was one of maybe 2 females in my upper-level classes of 30 people.  I learned to live in a male-oriented world, which has had its own affects on me.  Even now as I hold a very good engineering position, I am the only female in our group of engineers and drafters.  We have two females in our global sites, but I am the only female based here in the US.  While most of the time it doesn't really bother me, there are times when I feel like the odd person out simply because everyone else is male.  It does make things a little more "challenging".

All I can say is for the mothers out there with young daughters....encourage them to get into math and science.  Teach them that just because an industry is mainly male doesn't mean that they can't do it!  Set the foundation right when they are in grade school and middle school and they will do well in today's society. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quilt for Sale on Etsy

I finally did it!  I listed my first quilt onto Etsy's website.  :-)  Now that its on there, I feel a little nervous.  I think its kind of like the fear of rejection.  What if no one likes my quilt?  What if no one wants to buy my quilt?  I hope that someone will like it and purchase it.  It will be somewhat weird once it does sell and I have to ship it off.  All of my quilts so far are either here in my home or given to family or friends.  It will be kind of strange shipping the quilt off to a complete strange.

If anyone here is's the listing for the quilt:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Things that make you go "huh?"....

Being the dutiful wife, Sunday I washed all the clothes, towels and other things for the week.  After drying the dark load of wash, I started folding it and came across this:


I have no idea how that happened!  Those are both the exact same socks (I only have one pair that have the little purple squares).  How the heck did one get to be 5 inches longer than the other??!!!  I think the only thing that didn't get stretched out are the diamond shapes.

The other week we had a showing for the house (yes - we're STILL trying to the Albatross).  In cleaning up, we found a bag that had a bottle of Clorox2 tipped over in it.  Neither of us had noticed that it had fallen over (or we would have picked it up).  A feeling of dread went through me when I realized that the bag was wet as I picked it up.....the bottle had leaked.....right on the hardwood floors.

Since we were scrambling to clean the place for a showing the next morning (during the work week), we didn't really have time to figure out a "proper" fix.  This was my husband's solution:


"What is he doing?" you may ask....why he's coloring the floor!  He decided the "quick fix" would be to take the colored pencils and color the grooves where the Clorox2 bleached the floor. 


We were tempted to call his sister and have her bring her 2-year-old down and help, but we didn't think she'd appreciate us teaching Allie how to color on the floor.


Surprsingly, the colored pencils did the job and you can't tell that the wood in the grooves between the boards is a little different in color.  Thankfully, its not in a highly traveled area (especially since the Clorox2 took some of the finish off the floor).  Now we just have to keep trying to sell the house.

Shine on Bayou Cane Quilt - Progress Update

This past weekend, Rich and I pretty much just relaxed the entire weekend.  We did a few errands on Saturday and did grocery shopping/laundry on Sunday, but the rest of the weekend was free.  With Rich's hand still healing, we didn't want to work up at the lot cutting down trees.  Plus, since it rained all day Sunday there wasn't a whole lot to do outside.

I finished up all the blocks for Shine on Bayou Cane from Judy L's book "Weekend Quilts".  I actually have them sewn into vertical columns with light green sashing between them, but I don't have a picture of that.


I think the blocks came out pretty well.  My corners and star points aren't perfect, but they are much better than the last time I tried to do QST's.  I'm hoping with more practice that I'll get better at it.  I always seem to have more trouble because of the seam allowances.  Its hard to press these blocks when you have all the layers coming together at the middle of the block. The seams just don't want to lay flat...even when I use spray starch.  Maybe next time I'll try pressing the seams open and maybe that will alleviate the problem.

On another quilty topic, I did get fabric ordered, washed and pressed for a baby quilt.  Its a boy...can you tell?  ;-)


I've already cut the yellow-ish fabric and the light blue fabric to the left of the yellow fabric.  I still have a lot more to cut though.  From the yellow fabric alone, I needed 192 2" squares!  From the other fabrics, I'll have another 192 2" squares.  I also have a bunch of 4" squares to make HSTs in the design.

This fabric should have been added to a stash busting post, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.  I think I'll have it add it in this weekend.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shine on Bayou Cane Quilt & Stuff

I've been slowly making progress on my "Shine on Bayou Cane" quilt from Judy's book "Weekend Quilts".  I bought the fabric last year (when Judy had the pattern as a Quilt-for-an-hour quilt) and had intended to make it last year.  Work and life got in the way, as it usually does, and here I am more than a year later finally making progress on it.

These pictures are a little old at this point, but since I don't have anything else uploaded right now...this is what you get. ;-)


The pieces in the above picture are now all assembled into the actual 9.5" blocks for the main portion of the quilt.  I finished up the last of the blocks last night and I just need to press them. 

I've also been pressing fabric for another baby quilt.  One of our friends is expecting a baby boy this fall (they already have two girls...twins...from their first pregnancy).  I'm hoping to get the fabric cut out this weekend, but we'll see what life has in store for us.

Last weekend, my husband decided to go for a bike ride with his sister while we were visiting their parents.  He got 90% done with the bike ride and decided to forget that the bike he was on slipped gears sometimes when you changed them.  As he stood up on a pedal to put force on it, the gear slipped and there was absolutely no resistance on the pedal.  He went head first over the handle bars and managed to bang himself up pretty well.  We thought he may have even broken his hand.  We waited until Monday to get x-rays because we didn't really want to fork over the cash to go to the emergency room and we didn't think it was broken...possibly fractured though.  Thankfully, no fractures or broken bones, so just a very bad sprain.  So besides his hand now turning lovely bruise colors, he has road rash on his knee and something kind of like rug burn on his shoulder.  He landed hard on his shoulder when he fell, but the shirt kept the road from really doing damage, but it essentially caused a huge rug burn.  We've been bandaging it and putting neosporin on it.  At this point, its not oozing anymore, which is good, and it doesn't have to be bandaged but it hurts like a really bad sunburn.  The skin is really tight from the "rug" burn, too.  I'm going to try to convince him to put some heavy duty lotion (without any alcohol) on it to see if it will help.

Its just another bump in the road to recovery from all the other aches and pains hubby has had this year.  It gets pretty discouraging when you're hurting all the time for 8 months straight.  Hopefully this is the end of the stupid things happening.

Friday, August 6, 2010

August Book Finish #1

Earlier this month, I finished reading a booked called "Under the Lemon Trees" by Bhira Backhaus.  The book initially looked intriguing, but I think in the end it just wasn't me.  The reviews on Amazon for this book are all good, but I honestly found it rather boring.  Here's the info from Amazon:

"Backhaus's debut novel explores love, loss and the tangled web of family in the matriarchal Oak Grove, Calif., Sikh community of 1976. Teenage narrator Jeeto is already caught between two worlds, the college-bound crowd of her American classmates and the traditional marriage, arranged by her mother, to an unknown young man from India. Through Jeeto's conflict, Backhaus explores the tension between the traditional and the new in her sister, relatives and neighbors. Uncle Avtar, who fled India for a life of opportunity, loses his heart to an American waitress, but finds his loyalty to the Sikh community pulling him back into the fold. Jeeto's sister, Neelam, in love with a young man of undesirable parentage, passively accepts her arranged marriage to a stranger, while Jeeto's friend Surinder openly rebels against community mores. Intertwined, their stories of loss, connection and the search for identity create a rich, sensuous portrait of a culture in transition; unfortunately, her myriad cast is populated largely by stock characters, keeping Backhaus's world from coming fully alive."

I found it very hard to follow the story in the book and it took a long time for me to actually finish the book.  I think part of it was just the fact that being an independent woman growing up in the US, I just can't fathom being forced to follow cultural traditions.  I'm American and I have a lot of Irish in me, but that doesn't make me follow every little tradition that the Irish have.  My father in-law is 100% Italian, but he doesn't follow every Italian tradition.

Maybe its part of the Indian culture though.  It bothers me when I hear of women having to marry someone they've never met and have never spoken to.  You're going to live with that person for the next 50 years, you should at least know what type of person they are.  I guess I just don't understand a culture where your family would dis-own you for going against their wishes.  Sure, my parents were unhappy with my sister for a while because she eloped instead of marrying in a church, but they came around and even though they weren't happy about how she got married, they were happy for her.  They held a reception for her and her husband the next time they were here to visit.  Just because someone doesn't do something the way YOU would do it doesn't mean that its completely wrong and that you should shut that person out forever.  Cultures that require ultimatims are things of the past and in order for that culture to grow it needs to give its people some freedom.

Needlepoint - Starry Night

Over the past few months, I haven't had a lot of energy to do quilting.  Partially because I've been lazy at home and partially due to trying to sell the house.  Since we were having a lot of open houses and showings, for a long time this spring it was difficult to get into quilting because as soon as I would get stuff out I would have to put it away again for a showing.  So instead...I was able to get a lot of progress done on my needlepoint.

The pattern I have is a huge pattern.  I believe the end size of the needlepoint will be somewhere around 25" wide and about 15" tall....that's a lot of stitches.  Below are two pictures from this past year for the needlepoint.  With the pictures right next to each other, its pretty neat to see the progress that has been made.

Starry Night from February 23, 2010.

Starry Night from July 29, 2010.

In the second picture, where the section is about 30-40% filled in, that's about 80% filled in now and its only been about a week since I took that picture.  I guess I make a lot of progress when I don't feel like doing anything else in the heat. ;-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August Goals - Post #1

Since I seemed to do pretty well last month with my goals, I'm trying it again this month.  I've added a tab at the top of my blog for "Goals & To Do List".  This will be where I keep the running progress of my goals, but I'll also post here for the larger updates to it.  So here's what I plan to accomplish in August:

  1. Post weekly on blog.  -- I'm currently at post #2 for this month.
  2. Assemble all 30 blocks for "Shine on Bayou Cane" quilt.
  3. Read 3 books. -- I'm currently reading "Gods & Kings" by Lynn Austin.
  4. Finish page 11 on "Starry Night" needlepoint.
  5. Assemble "Patches & Pinwheels" for Tim & Liz's baby boy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

July Goals - Completed

For the 6 goals that I set out to complete in July....I actually got them all done! :-)  The last one got finished up on July 30th, so I actually finished with 1 day to spare.

  1. Post at least weekly on blog -- I posted every week and sometimes multiple times per week.  In all, I had 11 posts.
  2. Finish pressing and trimming all QSTs for Shine on Bayou Cane quilt -- I finished up the last of the QSTs on Friday evening.  So I have a total of 120 HSTs and 120 QSTs made for the quilt.  This next month, my goal is to get them all sewn into blocks.
  3. Upload pictures from England -- This got finished up fairly early in the month.
  4. Read 3 books -- I actually finished 4 books, so I excelled on this one. ;-)
  5. Finish up page 10 on Starry Night needlepoint -- this also got finished early in the month.  I've been doing quite a bit of needlepoint lately.  I haven't felt the energy after work to get the sewing machine out, so the needlepoint has been getting a lot of attention.  I'm probably about 50-60% done with the next page.
  6. Get together with friends for tea -- this was finished up just last weekend (7/24).
I'll be posting the goals for August within the next day or two.  I also owe a stash report since I received fabric on Friday.  I should have posted a stash report this past weekend, but we were very busy working on the lot and celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday.  I should get everything updated for this coming Sunday's report.