September 27, 2013

Conejo Valley Quilters Showcase "A Gathering Under the Oaks"

The Conejo Valley Quilters guild held a wonderful Quilters Showcase last weekend called "A Gathering Under the Oaks".  My mom belongs to that guild and had her own showcase booth, so of course our family was thrilled to be able to visit the show on Sunday and view all of the beautiful quilts and fun vendors.

The first thing we happened upon when we arrived was the "Quilt My Ride" display outside the front of the auditorium.  Members of the guild made mini quilts that were then attached together to cover the entire vehicle.  Attendees got to vote for their favorite mini quilt.  What a fun idea! My mom's is the Patriotic themed square near the back of the car.
After purchasing our entry tickets, we visited the booth where you could purchase tickets and enter drawings for lovely gift baskets. This was my dad and my husband's first quilt show, and when they realized they had a chance to win a golf themed basket, they bought a bunch of tickets and my mom and I pitched in to help them fill them all out.

My mom displayed a sampling of her favorite quilts in her showcase booth and everything looked wonderful! I had so much fun being there to see her beautiful work hanging up for everyone to see. Here she is posing in front of her handiwork.  :)

Can you believe that heart quilt was the very first quilt she ever made? Pretty ambitious! And so gorgeous, too.

I overheard a lot of people saying really nice things about her quilts, and the one that got the most attention was her puff quilt.  It's so fun and colorful, and it makes you want to walk up and squeeze it! She named it "Hawaiian Dream Puffs".  I secretly want one of these really badly.  Hi, mom. ;)

This neat one is called "Bali Pop Braids."  The pattern worked so well with the rich colors that it really draws you in. 

Two of my mom's fellow quilt guild members are also friends of our family and it was neat that each of their booths were right next to each other.  The first one is our friend Chris Cole's booth.   She and my mom have spent many hours quilting together and she has also been a great resource for both of us about quilting techniques and tips.  I knew that this booth was hers before I even saw the tags because I'm familiar with the types of quilts she makes and the colors she enjoys. Here are some pics so you can enjoy them too.

She titled this one "Urban Legend". I thought that all the different quilting techniques she used were beautiful and added lots of great texture. 

This fun one is called "Windmills of Your Mind." Aren't the shapes and colors eye catching? 

 The next showcase was put together by our friend Janet Hinderer.  We were next door neighbors for many years and I grew up playing with her kids pretty much every day.  I have a lot of fun memories from that time.  She displayed many different types and sizes of quilts using varying techniques.

She titled this "Spinning Out of Control". I like that she juxtaposed the swirling stitch technique on top of the geometric shapes. It feels very whimsical. 

This one is called "Shochikubai". I love the stitching technique she used to create the light colored flowers and leaves pattern over the dark background. 

We all had a lot of fun wandering through the quilt show and admiring everyone's work. Here are some others that we really liked. 

 "Happy Scrappy Challenge Quilt" by Karen Schweiger

 I didn't catch the name of this one but the guys had a lot of fun trying to name the different varieties of fish. 

"Seeing Stars" by Monica Sayre

 "Yo-Yo" by Ellen Rankin. Can you believe there are 3,000 yo-yos all stitched together?

That one definitely needed a closer look. Wow!

"Wild Chicken Tea Party" by Barbara Woolson (I am a big chicken fan)

It was so fun for me to have the guys along with us this time. My mom and I have attended many a quilt show and we always come home with lots of stories to tell them. This time they got to see what we've been talking about and it seemed like they were really into it. They even studied techniques and asked interesting questions. I was very impressed. :)

After all that time we spent filling out entry tickets, Chad ended up winning the Golf gift basket! What a bonus!  

The Conejo Valley Quilters Showcase was undoubtably a success, and a pleasure to attend. Congratulations to my mom and all of the guild members for a job well done!

September 10, 2013

Reviewing "Tattler's Branch"

"Tattler's Branch" by Jan Watson, is a historical mystery novel set in the early 20th century in a small coal town called "Skip Rock" in the mountains of Kentucky.  The main character, "Lilly Corbett Still" is the doctor for that mining community and leads a very full life, taking care of the town and her younger sister.  Lilly's good friend, "Armina" has a strange series of events happen to her, and suddenly the entire town in involved in figuring out the mystery.  The suspense takes you through to the very end of the book, when you find out the fate of the main characters.
I really enjoyed reading this book, although it didn't enthrall me from the beginning.  The first half of the book seemed a bit slow and there was a lot of energy spent concentrating on an illness that one of the main characters was battling. I found that it picked up a lot about halfway through, and then turned into a tension filled page turner for me, in a good way.
Watson has a very detail oriented and descriptive writing style that is enjoying to read.   You do feel like you get to know the characters and become attached to them. One thing that I didn't like as much was that most of the male characters in the book were either portrayed as absent, weak, gambling prone, or criminals. It would have been nice to have at least one additional strong husband/boyfriend in the mix.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or books with medical themes. Jan Watson is a talented writer and I would definitely be interested in reading more of her books in the future.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

September 7, 2013

"Mary had a Sleepy Sheep" book review

"Mary had a Sleepy Sheep" by Julia Dweck is a sweet ebook that any young child would enjoy.  The illustrations are adorable and the story is clever and creative.  The main character, "Mary", has an extremely sleepy sheep named "Sheppard".  (I find it endearing that "Sheppard" is also the name of the author's husband.) Mary goes to great lengths to get her sheep to stay awake but all he wants to do is slumber away the days.  The book is humorous and the illustrations do a great job of showing the reader just how frustrated Mary is with this sleepy little sheep.
There are some added little bonuses that come with the ebook as well. There's a cute toy mouse named "whiskers" hidden on every page of the book as well as a fun activity page at the end of the book.  With the author's charming writing style and beautiful illustrations, I think this book has the potential for a lot of "re-readability".  I've included a couple links for you below, in case you'd like more information about the author.
Julia's author page

Disclaimer: I received this ebook for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

September 2, 2013

Reviewing "The Winnowing Season"

"The Winnowing Season" by Cindy Woodsmall, is the second book in the "Amish Vines and Orchards Series" and I found it to be just as delightful as the first book.   I was already attached to the characters from book one and was glad to find that this book picked up right where the last one left off.  When I find myself rooting for the characters, or getting upset at the characters in a series and feeling nervous about what might happen next, I know I've been completely sucked in.  This is definitely the case for me with this series. :)
Here is a summary from the publisher:
"The tornado that devastated Kings’ Orchard pushed Rhoda, Samuel, and Jacob to make a new start in Maine. Are they strong enough to withstand the challenges of establishing an Amish community—and brave enough to face the secrets that move with them? 
On the eve of their departure to begin a new Old Order Amish community outside of Unity, Maine, Rhoda Byler is shocked to discover that choices made by her business partner and friend, Samuel King, have placed her and her unusual gifts directly into the path of her district’s bishop and preachers. She is furious with Samuel and is fearful that the Kings will be influenced by the way her leaders see her, and not what they know to be true—that Rhoda’s intuition is a gift from God.  
Jacob King won’t be swayed by community speculation. He loves Rhoda, believes in her, and wants to build a future with her in Maine. But when the ghosts of his past come calling and require him to fulfill a great debt, can he shake their hold before it destroys what he has with Rhoda? Samuel has a secret of his own—one he’ll go to great lengths to keep hidden, even if it means alienating those closest to him. Throwing himself into rehabilitating the once-abandoned orchard, Samuel turns to a surprising new ally."

Doesn't that summary make you want to pick this one up immediately? I found that this book was filled with suspense, intrigue, and romance.  And while oftentimes a rarity in a book series, I enjoyed this book even more than book one.  Woodsmall's writing style is a pleasure to read and in my opinion she is doing a great service for the Amish literature genre.  If you've never read a series like this one, this would be a great place to start. 

Click here for more information about Cindy Woodsmall: Cindy Woodsmall's website

Disclaimer: I received the book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.