Thursday, January 13, 2022

Covid, Doing Little, 2021 Books

I'm recovering from Covid and at the point where I really want to do something but have nearly no energy, either physical or mental.  It's a strange situation because I'm not one to sit and do nothing.  Sometimes life gets so busy I think, wouldn't it be nice to be able to just sit for an hour.  I'm not so thrilled now that I can do that. 

I finally picked up Cheddarback and began a little slow quilting.  And I've been reading.  And napping.  And just started taking walks again, such slow walks, around our neighborhood.  By all I've read, mine has been a mild case of Omicron.  (It felt like a sinus infection to begin with.)  I've been able to weather through it at home.  It didn't sink keep into my lungs though I do have a cough and I didn't lose my senses of taste or smell.  I haven't have much of an appetite.  I'm ready to feel good again.

We just took our Christmas tree down today but other pre-Christmas things are still cluttered around.  The nisse along with her patterns and papers sit in her box with unfinished neck scarf, Dear Prudence lays under the cutting mat awaiting a choice of binding and a trim, the Christmas wreath is still on the door, and a bag of Christmas gifts sits near the couch in the family room.   

I've missed all the end of year wrap-up posts (too late for that now) and all the planning for 2022 posts (I don't have the mental energy yet), but I thought I could share a list of (most) of the books I read last year.  I came up with a new system to rate them:  loved them, liked them, ho-hum, strongly disliked them.  I tried to include notes about language and intimacy and whether light fantasy.  I may have missed some language notes, though.  If you have questions I'll respond to comments or you can check goodreads for reviews.

I Loved These Books
  • This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing: A Memoir.  Jacqueline Winspear
  • South of the Buttonwood Tree.  Heather Webber (light fantasy)
  • Hamnet:  A Novel of the Plague.  Maggie O’Farrell  (positively lyrical though the ending could have been stronger, one intimate scene)
  • The Lake House.  Kate Morton
  • Midnight at the Blackbird Café.  Heather Webber (light fantasy)
  • The Kitchen Front.  Jennifer Ryan
  • The Downstairs Girl.  Stacey Lee
  • The Lost Spells.  Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris (breathtakingly beautiful)
  • Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting.  Lisa Genova
  • The Paris Library.  Janet Skeslien Charles
  • The Lights of Sugarberry Cove.  Heather Webber (light fantasy)
  • Every Secret Thing.  Susanna Kearsley
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words.  Pip Williams
  • The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive.  Lucy Adlington (non-fiction, amazing ways the women worked together to save each other!)
  • The Rose Code.  Kate Quinn
  • The Keeper of Happy Endings.  Barbara Davis

I Enjoyed These Books, Worth Reading
  • WinterFrost, Michelle Houts (children's chapter book with a nisse)
  • The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding.  Jennifer Robson
  • At Home on Ladybug Farm.  Donna Ball
  • Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family.  Cameron Bloom & Bradley Trevor Grieve
  • Growing Up.  Russell Baker
  • The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (children's)
  • News of the World.  Paulette Jiles
  • The Second Sister.  Marie Bostwick
  • On the Wings of Morning.  Marie Bostwick
  • The Last Garden in England.  Julia Kelly
  • The Ride of Her Life: The True Story of a Woman, Her Horse, and Their Last-Chance Journey Across America.  Elizabeth Letts (non-fiction)
  • Seven Perfect Things.  Catherine Ryan Hyde
  • The Shadowy Horses.  Susanna Kearsley (some language)
  • A Desperate Fortune.  Susanna Kearsley
  • The Paris Apartment.  Kelly Bowen (some language in difficult circumstances)
  • The Nature of Fragile Things.  Susan Meissner
  • Pumpkin, The Raccoon Who Thought She Was a Dog.  Laura Young
  • I'll Be Seeing You: a memoir.  Elizabeth Berg
  • Hannah Coulter.  Wendell Berry
  • The Keeper of Lost Things.  Ruth Hogan (some language)
  • The Last Thing He Told Me.  Laura Dave
  • The Last of the Moon Girls.  Barbara Davis (light fantasy)
  • Never Fall for Your Fiancée.  Virginia Heath (a fun farce; some intimacy)

Good Enough, Not Fabulous
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.  V. E. Schwab
  • The Uncommon Reader:  A Novella.  Alan Bennett
  • A Piece of the World.  Christina Baker Kline
  • The Promise Girls.  Marie Bostwick
  • The Lost and Found Bookshop.  Susan Wiggs (placed here because of the ending)
  • The Last Year of the War.  Susan Meissner

Books I Disliked and Wish I Hadn't Wasted My Time Reading
  • The Lincoln Highway.  Alex Towles

I hope you're having a good new year!

Friday, December 31, 2021

The Last Finishes of 2021

hand quilted hot pads
My daughter asked for hotpads for Christmas.  In the scheme of things, these are tiny finishes (compared to a quilt) but finishes they are.  They are all made from scraps or unused blocks.

Before washing and drying the top ones measured 7 5/8" square and the bottom ones measured 8 1/4" square.  After washing and drying they measure 7 1/4" and 7 7/8", respectively.  So, they shrank about 3/8".  I made them large knowing they would shrink but I expected more shrinkage.  They'll still work.

I debated about using two layers of Warm and Natural batting and finally decided on three layers.  I've made hotpads before but I didn't document exactly how I made them which left me to figure it out again.  After making the tops I cut the batting and background a little larger and anchored them in place.  I hand-anchored two sets, then used a long machine stitch to anchor the other set.  Then I cut them to size and added the 2" folded binding around the edges.  That didn't work very well.  The quarter-inch seam seemed to almost disappear in the thickness of the batting and it seemed less than a quarter inch..  I don't know how else I would have done it though because I don't have a quarter-inch presser foot for my machine.  I'll give it more thought before making more hotpads.

My daughter's kitchen walls are that tealish color and her favorite color is red.  Next time, though, I don't think I'll use such a light color as the off-white in the wedding ring hotpads.  I don't know about you but my hotpads often pick up discoloration when the they touch the edges of a pan where they meet the food.

And that's the end of 2021 (in less than four hours).  Good riddance, I say.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 30, 2021

A Nisse FInish - December's One Monthly Goal

Maileg-style pixie or nisse
The past few days, a week, even, have been greyer than grey, all clouds and overcast with rain scattered through some days.  Not a ray of sunshine to be seen.  There was no chance of taking a photo of this little nisse outside--it would have required a flash there, too.  You'll have to trust me that she really is very sweet.  And she seems to love her stuffed chicken.
Maileg-style pixie or nisse
From head to toe she measures 13" and from tip of hat to toes she measures 17".  She hasn't been helpful this year but I attribute that to the fact that she only received her eyes this afternoon.

Maileg-style pixie or nisse
I've been knitting her a little tubular scarf using a French knitting spool I made.  I think it's a little too large but hope it will shrink in the washer and dryer.  If it doesn't, I'll make another using a smaller tube and fewer pegs.

Finishing this nisse -- sewing her eyes and mouth and making a dress -- was my One Monthly Goal for December.  I'm glad to have finished in time.  Thanks to Patty of Elm Street Quilts for hosting the One Monthly Goal Link-ups every month.  Click here to see others' goals and results.

Covid certainly has made a mess of the health-care system.  Nearly every common ailment that one would normally have gone to a doctor for two years ago now seems to be a symptom of Covid and requires a negative Covid test to see a doctor.  For example, I have allergies and what I believe is a sinus infection but can't see the doctor until at least Wednesday, the day after I take a Covid test and ONLY if the test comes out negative.  In the meantime I have a grueling headache that won't go away.  This, too, shall pass.  (And I hope it passes sooner than later!)

I hope everything in your world is set to rights.


Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas!

At this season of light,
when we celebrate the birth
of the One Who is the Light,
I wish you and yours
a Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 6, 2021

Finishing a Nisse - December's One Monthly Goal

nisse or Maileg-style pixie
When Lori of Humble Quilts posted photos of her nisse last year, I fell in love with each one.  (No Danish or other Scandinavian ancestors here that I know of, just a love of dolls.)  Soon after seeing hers I found a pattern to make one but knew I couldn't get it done before Christmas, so a few weeks ago this year (before sciatica) I stitched together this character.  She has been sitting here since, awaiting embroidered eyes and mouth and a stitch of clothing.  (Her current eyes are pinheads and her mouth is a penciled line.)   

The pattern came from Shabby Art Boutique and is based on Maileg pixies which are created by Dorthe Mailil.  Most of the original dolls have red and white striped arms, legs, and bodies, with red hats, mittens, and boots, and are dressed in red, grey, or other natural colors.  I used twill fabric for this doll which, it turns out, was not the best choice when it comes to stuffing.
nisse or Maileg-style pixie
A nisse is Danish folk character who helps in the barn or house.  If a nisse receives a bowl of rice pudding or porridge with a pat of butter on top on Christmas morning, he or she will be happy and helpful for the rest of the year.  If not, expect things to go at least slightly awry or have outright trouble.  WinterFrost by Michelle Houts is a chapter book with a cute story about a nisse who didn't get his rice pudding one Christmas morning.

My One Monthly Goal for December is to embroider or otherwise add the nisse's features and make a dress.  Embroidering features is always a challenge for me.  I hope it goes well.

I'm linking this post to December One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.  Thank you for hosting, Patty.


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