reading life {january 2020}

I feel like my reading life so far in 2020 has been pretty scattered. I’ve picked up more books than I’ve finished and I found myself this week overwhelmed. I want reading to be a release and a joy and this week it started to feel more like a burden. I challenged myself to finish two of the books that were sort of hanging out there – one was a pre-read for my son and the other was for my book club. I’m happy to report I finished both with much joy. I’ve got one more on the horizon I’m hoping to finish this week and then I think I’ll feel a little less buried by books.

FINISHED

  • Sense and Sensibility – I liked this one. It did feel a little different for an Austen book. I can’t totally put my finger on it – perhaps because none of the men seemed likable? They all seemed like doofs. Maybe that was her point?
  • Frankenstein – this is a pre-read for my 10th grader and it took me a little bit to get into it, but when I did I kind of liked it. He’s still on the fence whether he’s enjoying it or not, but honestly I’m not sure I enjoyed it the first time I read it in high school. There are a handful of great literary discussion points and I think this book would probably be more enjoyed reading with a group rather than just your mom.
  • Tidelands – this is probably the worst book I’ve read in a long, long time. I kept reading it because I kind of wanted to know where she was going to go with this silly story. I’ve read many of Gregory’s book previously and loved them. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more familiar with the history of this time period or if her writing has just gone down hill, but this had the most ridiculous character development I’ve ever read.

CURRENTLY

  • The Fiery Cross (Outlander #5) – I took a break from this series for a while and I finally let myself start on the next book as a reward for finishing S&S. I’m happy to be back in the world of Claire and Jamie.
  • Out of the Silent Planet – we are reading this slowly aloud as a family. Our 10th grader read it a few years ago and it was his vote to start to read together. So far so good.
  • The Only Plane in the sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001 – I’m listening to this on audio and it’s AMAZING! I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to buy this to have. It’s super, super good. Hard, but so many things I didn’t even know about.
  • The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction – this one is my goal to finish asap. It’s a small book and super interesting. His take on recommending books to people has been really interesting.
  • The Mind of the Maker – I’m reading this with a writing forum that I’m in and this book is hard, hard, hard. It was on my list to read this year at some point and when my writing forum chose it as a book club I figured this would be the best way to get it done. Was I ever right. I would totally have given up by this point if I wasn’t able to read/discuss with other people.
  • Joan of Arc by Mark Twain – this is a pre-read with my 7th grader. It’s been really good – which I had heard from many people. We’ve read many things about Joan of Arc over the years, but this has probably been the most interesting version we’ve read so far.
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – this is a re-read for me. I’m not sure why I felt a pull to read it again, but I did and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m sort of prayer journaling through the chapters this time around and it’s been a great way to really let sink in what she’s going for in each chapter.
  • I’ve got a handful of other books I’m sort of reading, but not really. It’s either I’m reading them for school and I’m behind or I started them and then picked up something else. You can keep up with all those on Goodreads if you are so inclined.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Honestly I just want to finish some of these books hanging over me. I’ve got a few pre-reads for school I really just need to finish and a few other’s I started one day that I just need to close up too. I’ve been super awful about using my tea time to just sit and peruse my phone versus reading which is so bad! I’m not starting 2020 with good habits by any means.

2020 Sewing Goals :: Garments

I didn’t do as much garment sewing in 2019 as I would have liked, but the few things I did make I actually wear and love. This is progress for me. Most of the time I end up hating what I’ve sewn or it ends up in the U.F.O box to languish forever. I’m trying to be more thoughtful about what I try to sew – when choosing fabric and a pattern and realizing the extent of my sewing skills. I’ve pretty much determined I’m going to stay away from anything with a zip fly or a finished waistband…these are not in my wheelhouse nor something I care to get better at.

My favorite make from 2019 was my kelly green Gypsum skirt. This is definitely on my list to remake in 2020 and I’ve got just the fabric to make it with. I also made a Strata top, but I can’t seem to find any photos of it. I will definitely be making more of these too! In my quest to be more thoughtful about purchasing patterns to sew, I’m realizing that Sew Liberated patterns probably fit me the best of any. I’m a fan forever of Meg’s patterns and how she constructs garments.

So here’s my list of what I want to try and sew this year. This is a pretty extensive and long list of garments, so I’m not too positive that I’ll actually get it accomplished.

I already have fabric for:

  • Hinterland Dress by Sew Liberated (a lovely grey dot cotton gauze)
  • Love Yourself Hipster Underwear by Wardrobe by Me (I’m wanting to make try a few pairs for myself, but I’m mostly using this pattern to make some period panties using the kit from Sophie Hines. I already have some knit scraps that I’m partially using, but I did break down and order some thicker knit to use for these.
  • Another Gypsum Skirt in a lovely green and white cotton gauze. I’m thinking I make the version without the big a** pockets (as we call them in our house)

I’d like to make a dress or two in addition to the Hinterland and I’m trying to figure out which one of these I love the most. I’d love to do a denim/chambray like dress, but I also would really love to do a raw linen dress too.

  • Merchant and Mills Whittaker – I’ve long wanted to try a M&M’s pattern (and I’d love to try some of their linen too) and this is high on my wish list.
  • In the Folds Rushcutter
  • or Raglan Dress Both of these dresses are really similar, but there are some differences and I’m trying to decide which one I’d rather have in my stash on repeat.

I’d love to try a couple pairs of pants, but I’m sticking to elastic waists. Here are my top options right now…

  • Named Clothing Ninni Culottes – I keep seeing these on Instagram and I pretty much always love every version I see. I think these would be amazing out of some raw linen.
  • Blank Slate Patterns Skye Joggers – Blank Slate is another pattern company I’ve wanted to try and I’m all for comfy pants.
  • Sew House Seven Free Range Slacks – I’m sort of on the fence with these. I’ve seen tons of makes of them and I always love them, but when I look at the waist construction I just keep thinking it’s going to make me look super frumpy.

If there is one thing I do need in my closet, it is shirts. These are all pretty similar in many ways so I’m still working through which ones I think I’d love to have and remake.

And then one make for the men in my house if I could get my hands on some good knit.

  • Finlayson Sweater

I seriously doubt I will come anywhere close to making this list, but it’s good to have them put down (sort of like my master book list) to refer back to. First up, I need to work through the fabric and patterns that I have and then figure out what’s next!

Here’s to 2020 being a year of happy sewing!

{reading life} 2020 Goals

The last couple of years as I’ve made my list of books to be read I’ve sorted them into just a few categories; fiction, non-fiction, spiritual growth, personal growth etc. I’ve also had a list from a book club that I’m in. (Sadly with the loss of my website data, I can’t go back and link to my previous reads)

This year, I’m trying something a little differently and making a bunch of different categories. Introducing my 2020 Book List. [Anything marked with a * is a carryover from 2019.]

Fiction: Modern

  • Watership Down by Adams
  • The Tatooist of Auschwitz* by Morris
  • The Chosen* by Potok
  • Brideshead Revisited by Waugh
  • The River by Heller
  • The Dutch House by Patchett

Fiction: Classics

  • Little Men* by Alcott
  • The Great Gatsby* by Fitzgerald

Fiction: Short Stories

  • That Distant Land* by Berry

Fiction: Fantasy

  • The Odd and Frost Giants* OR Stardust* both by Gaiman

Fiction: Long Novel

  • Anna Karenina by Tolstoy

Non-Fiction: Memoir

  • Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Pruitt Stewart
  • Lost without the River by Scoblic

Non-Fiction: on Writing

  • The Writing Life by Dillard

Non-Fiction: Biography

  • The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Millard
  • Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Pavlac

Non-Fiction: A Historical Period (this year the period of Reconstruction)

  • Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Robinet
  • Chariot in the Sky: A Story of the Jubilee Singers by Bontemp

Non-Fiction: A skill/Art focus

The Quiet Eye: A Way of Looking at Pictures by Judson

Non-Fiction: Personal Growth

  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Duhigg
  • Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Duckworth
  • Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Turkle
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by van der Kolk

Non-Fiction: Education

  • Tending the Heart of Virtue* by Guroian
  • Rethinking School: How to Take Charge of Your Child’s Education* by Bauer
  • Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning by Littlejohn

Non-Fiction: Essays

  • Circle of Quiet* by L’Engle
  • Mind of the Maker by Sayers

Non-Fiction: Devotional

  • Keep a Quiet Heart by Elliot
  • something by CS Lewis TBD

Non-Fiction: Nature

  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek* by Dillard

Reread:

  • Walking on Water by L’Engle

For the Book Club:

  • Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts… by Arnold
  • Sense and Sensibility by Austen
  • O’Pioneers by Cather
  • The Blue Castle by Montgomery
  • The War of the Worlds by Wells
  • The Phantom of the Opera by Leroux
  • Dinner with Skeptics: Defending God… by Vines

{reading life} 2019 in review

According to Goodreads, I read 18,009 pages and 60 books in 2019. I’m not totally sure if that’s accurate. I know that there are a handful that I started and abandoned and I’m not sure how they factor that in.

My Top Picks:

I’m not a huge non-fiction lover, but I’ve realized this year that if I’m going to read non-fiction the memoir is hands down my favorite thing to read. Or essays. My top picks from this year are from those categories. Basically , these are books that I would highly recommend, I have recommended and/or I would totally read again.

The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. Basically, I just love Ann Patchett. I like her fiction, but I love her non-fiction voice even more. She writes like she is sitting next to you and I love that. Even more I love that one day I could actually walk into Parnassus in Nashville and run into her. One day.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. This book satisfies my wander-lust. I’m realizing that I love the idea of traveling so, so much and the idea of living somewhere totally different and wild. But I don’t know that I’d ever actually do it.

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet. This book just makes me want to be a better mother. One that is less full of fear and more wild and willing to take risks.

Fidelity by Wendell Berry. I do love Berry, but of the couple of his novels I’ve read, it was this collection of short stories that made me really love him. They are all really, really good, but the title story is amazing.

The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I just finished this one and I’m still processing. I had not read Steinbeck since high school and I really loved him then and this book reminded me why. This book was really eye opening to a facet of history that I really know nothing about (the time of the depression and Dust Bowl) and the characters were so, so rich and good.

Folklore of the Scottish Highlands by Anne Ross. I’m super, super, super slowly writing a book and I read this book as research for the novel I’m working on. It was super interesting – it does help that I’m partially Scottish too.

Abandoned Books of 2019:

I abandoned only 5 books this year. I think that’s a record. It’s funny how I’ve finally reached that point in my reading life where I feel like I can actually abandon a book. Sometimes it was because they were for homeschooling and we decided they weren’t working (or were lousy or weird or whatever) and sometimes it was because I just couldn’t take it (such as Flannery O’Conner…yes, yes I know. That’s another post though). I started Phantastes by MacDonald because it was Lewis’ favorite book, but it was totally odd and I couldn’t get into it so I gave up. The last book was about Hadrian’s Wall, which was actually interesting, but I had to return it to the library and just decided it wasn’t worth getting again.

If you want to see the list of all the books I read this year, you can check out my Goodreads Year in Review.

{sewing} some favorite tools and some goals

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of being introduced to some new tools for sewing that have quickly become some of “my cannot do withouts”

For Embroidery:

Sulky Stick n’Stitch – I saw this stuff all over instagram for a long time and couldn’t bring myself to use it. There was something that just made me think it was the lazy way out to transfer patterns – and honestly I didn’t love the feeling of stitching through a second layer. There are some things that I just can’t use this for (like custom portraits), but for pretty much everything else I’ve become a total convert. The ability to just design a pattern, print it out and then slap it onto a piece of fabric and get stitching has completely won me over. I highly recommend it.

Thread Heaven – the original Thread Heaven went out of business a couple years ago and I bought up a bunch of those little blue boxes before and man I am so glad I did. Originally I used this with my wool threads to smooth them out while sewing, but as I’ve started using more of the Stick n’Stitch it’s been the one thing that has made using it a must have. It changes the feel completely and I almost forget I’m sewing through two layers.

Sulky Cotton Petites – these were also new to me and I don’t know what I would do without them now. They come in a wide array of colors and their variegated colors are really awesome. They are a single strand thread which makes them super quick to go through when pulling threads for a project. They are about the thickness of 2-3 strands of divisible floss. I haven’t had any trouble yet with them bleeding onto projects, which has happened more than once with DMC threads.

For Quilting

Sulky Quilting Cotton Threads – I’ve long been a Gutermann girl when it comes to sewing threads and my understanding of different thread weights was pretty much nonexistent. I’ve learned this year that thread weight is a huge deal. Sulky’s 50 weight cotton thread has become my favorite thread especially when it comes to english paper piecing. I’ve used it for some simple hand quilting, for various paper piecing projects and machine quilting.

Aurifil Threads – For my latest quilting project, I decided I wanted to try Aurifil thread. I see it all the time on social media and I had never tried it out. Like the Sulky threads, I’m totally in love. I see many more spools of this in my future.

Add a Quarter Ruler – This is one of the first tools I bought when I was getting ready to take on my Fancy Forest Quilt and it has been a Godsend. I absolutely love it and I need to get my hands on the Add an Eighth one so I can work on some smaller projects I’ve seen out there. It has been completely necessary for the paper piecing projects I’ve done.

Quarter-inch foot for my sewing machine – I pieced probably half of that Fancy Forest Quilt without this and finally broke down and found one online. This is totally another tool I couldn’t quilt without. I have a Juke sewing machine, but found an after market generic one on Amazon that has worked perfectly.

Other things –

In 2019 I decided to be brave and join my local Modern Quilt Guild. I am so happy that I have. I’ve seen so many different things and met so many different people and it’s been such fun. I’m excited for all the charity projects that they do and look forward to becoming more involved with this group in 2020. If you are even remotely interested in quilting I would strongly encourage you to see if you have a Modern Quilt Guild where you live and have some courage and try it out.

Seasons – I’ve long felt my embroidery life dwindling down the past couple of years. As I’ve gotten older my eyes have finally started getting worse and honestly so have my hands. After almost 5-6 years of constantly hand embroidering, I think it’s really caught up with me and I cannot do the detail work that I used to. I’m excited that I’ve taken up quilting, as the paper piecing work gives me something to do with my hands without the precision and detail that hand embroidery demands. I’m not sure where this will leave my Etsy shop. I do love designing patterns, but I’m not sure that I am going to continue to custom work.

2020 Goals

This for sure is going to be the year of quilting. There are a few garments that I’ve got on the docket for this year, but my list of quilting projects is way longer.

I’m always hopeful that this is going to be the year I take up weaving, but I keep telling myself as much as I want that loom, I don’t want it until I know that I can actually make space to learn and use it.

starting over

It wasn’t my intention, but in an attempt to streamline this whole website/blogging/hosting thing, I moved to a different server and lost all my old content.

It’s a funny thing though – it was almost 13 years of content that is now sitting on my computer desktop and I’m not sure how to access it – and I am really ok with it.

That said, if you’ve hit this page because you were looking for stitching videos – please check out this website while I work on making new videos and/or re-uploading my original ones.

Here’s to new beginnings.