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Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

Get Off Your But!

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019


Some time ago I read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink. It’s a good read about why right-brainers will rule the future.

The future, really today, is the “conceptual age.” Pink discusses the “six senses” that one uses to build a whole new mind to thrive in this conceptual age: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. While I do not necessarily subscribe to his premise in total – I believe we need to engage both parts of our brain – he offers lots of great exercises to get your right brain working. And even though many artists are right-brained, you will find the exercises fun and expanding.

Onto ifs, ands, & buts. In his discussion on meaning, one of Pink’s suggestions for creating more meaning in your life is to replace the word “but” with “and.”

He says that “buts” can create roadblocks for creating more meaning in your life and suggests creating a list of what you are trying to accomplish and what is in your way.

Read more…

Lessons from The Magnolia Story

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

I’m an unabashed fan of the HGTV show Fixer Upper and its hosts, Joanna and Chip Gaines. I’ve been know to watch marathon style more than once, and I’ve even got my husband to watch with me. What is it about Joanna and Chip? They are real, their values come through in all they do, they work well as a team, they have fun, and, oh, she does have a terrific sense of style. I asked my husband about the show. He likes it because Chip and Joanna are motivated by the end result, helping others achieve their vision, and that money is not their motivator.

In October their book, The Magnolia Story, was published, and I knew it would be fun to read. It also offers lots of business and life lessons. Here are some.

Be true to yourself.

This is what comes across strongly with both Joanna and Chip. You get a sense of what their values are and how they live them in their lives and business. Their family comes first. And what can you say about Chip? Joanna said he was her first fixer-upper, and while she might try to “fix” him, it doesn’t change what is true underneath. Kind of looking at a house and knowing it has “good bones.” I remember the show where he ate the cockroach — really! He is definitely a silly person at heart and doesn’t try to change that.

Read more…

Book Review: Unconventional and Unexpected

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015


 Unconventional & Unexpected


Unconventional and Unexpected
Roderick Kiracofe
Abrams, $50


I gave the new Twitter live-streaming app, Periscope, a try with a review of the book Unconventional and Unexpected by Roderick Kiracofe. My first scope was an experience. It threw me off that people were live and typing on the screen. The learning curve is not too bad and I know I will try again. By the way, I loved Unconventional and Unexpected and recommend it. Look for it at your local quilt shop and if you want to learn a bit more about the book, here’s a link to Amazon.




Book Review: When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters


When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters
Joan Ford
Taunton Press; $24.95


Do you have a UFO? Or maybe two? I have a few in various stages of completion. Why have I not finished them? Joan Ford’s theory is that something went wrong, and that is why the quilt is in the UFO pile. If that is your excuse, and even if it is not, you will find a wealth of tips to help you get past what is holding you back. Joan shares her knowledge as an experienced quilter, teacher and pattern designer. Additionally, she interviewed both experts in our industry as well as everyday quilters to share their frustrations and successes. The book starts with a look at the hardware, aka your tools; then moves onto your software, aka your fabric; then to making your blocks; sewing the quilt; quilting the quilt; and caring for it. You can read the book cover to cover and enjoy the tips, plus Joan’s wonderful sense of humor, or you can start with where you are stuck. Some of the tips I liked were Joan’s friend Beth and her idea of filling a pincushion with a pin to represent each UFO. She moved the pins to a second pincushion when each quilt was completed, and only when she had moved all the pins did she allow herself to purchase fabric for a new project.  Another fun tip is from Amy, who always writes her name in permanent ink on one of the seam allowances. This way the name of the maker of the quilt top survives.  You will also learn how to make the knots disappear and how to test your marking tools. And, if you look hard enough, you will find my “bad” experience that turned “good.” If you are looking for a good troubleshooting guide with a sense of humor, this book is your answer.


You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here is the link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.



Book Review: Necessary Endings

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Necessary Endings

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That all of us Have to Give up in Order to Move Forward.
Dr. Henry Cloud
HarperBusiness; $25.99


As I started thinking about changes I wanted to make in my business, I knew it would involve “endings,” and I was not sure how comfortable I was with that. I found the help I needed in Necessary Endings by Dr Henry Cloud. Dr Cloud talks about necessary endings being of three types and compares them to pruning rose bushes. The first type of pruning is because you have more buds than the plant can sustain, so you prune some of your buds so the bush can thrive. You prune the good to keep the best. The second type of pruning is with sick or diseased branches that you finally realize will not recover even with more help. The third type of pruning is with dead branches and buds that are just taking up space. What really hit me was when he defined the pruning moment as “that clarity of enlightenment when we become responsible for making the decision to own the vision or not. If we own it, we have to prune. If we don’t, we have decided to own the other vision, the one we called average. It is a moment of truth that we encounter almost every day in many, many decisions.” That said, it is still not easy to prune, even if we want more than average. It may bring up anxiety over making changes — or endings. It is not always easy deciding if something is worth fixing or not, and how long you hold out hope. You also have to deal with the grief of some kinds of endings. Early on in the book, the author noted the need to decide between good and best and that this is difficult for creative people, causing them to have a lack of focus. Creative people often think all ideas are equal, trying to keep them all alive and ending up with a “to-do pile” rather than a list. I found it valuable, and my copy is filled with lots of underlines and a page of extra notes.

You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here is the link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Reap as You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Reap What You Sew Quiltmaking


Reap as You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking
Chris Boersma Smith
West Bow Press; $27.95


I am not sure why we seem to see more books, articles or news reports on spirituality these days, I am just glad we do. For most of us quilt or art makers, we know that something often drives our work or speaks to us about our work that is outside of ourselves. That is what Chris Boersma Smith explores in her book Reap as You Sew. Chris’ book on the connection between creativity and spirituality offers a look at individual stories of a group of quiltmakers and how quiltmaking is a spiritual path for each. Each story is accompanied by what Chris calls “Steps along a spiritual quiltmaking path.” I think of them as tools in your toolbox, e.g, keeping a journal; starting with an image and imagining how it evolves; inviting your higher power to guide you as you freely create; taking small actions. If you want to explore the connection in your own work or understand more of the “why you quilt,” Reap as You Sew will help you on that path.

Book Review: Smash Your Precut Stash

Friday, May 29th, 2015


Smash Your Precut Stash


Who doesn’t wander into a quilt shop or go to a quilt show and not get tempted by the array of fat quarters or jelly rolls? I know they are hard to resist, as evidenced by my own stash. That was the impetus behind Smash Your Precut Stash by Kate Carlson Colleran and Elizabeth Veit Balderamma. Kate and Elizabeth knew many of us had a precut stash, just as they did. Offering a little bit of color theory and some nifty tips, Kate and Elizabeth have designed 11 patterns for you to smash that stash. Their designs could be called traditional with a twist, and I know you’ll find several you’ll want to make. I particularly liked “My Favorite Fat Quarter Runner” and “Plain Jane.” While the patterns are designed to use a specific type of precut, Kate and Elizabeth make suggestions on how to substitute other precuts. The book also includes a gallery with lots to inspire you to attack that stash!


You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here is the link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.



Book Review: Sweet and Simple Sewing

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Sweet and Simple Sewing

Sweet and SimpleSewing
Jessi Jung, Carrie Jung and Lauren Jung
Martingale; $24.99

Do you have spring fever? I certainly do and a look at this book by a mother-and-two- daughters team certainly has lots of inspiration to get thinking spring. The book includes 13 simple and cheery projects. I thought the luggage tag was charming, and the “Celebrations Quilt,” with its ice cream cones, balloons, candy apples and pinwheels is perfect for a child’s birthday party. You’ll find some unexpected projects, including the appliqué dragonfly mounted on canvas and the hand-bound journal.

Book Review: Peanuts Quilted Celebrations

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Peanuts Quilted Celebrations

Peanuts Quilted Celebrations
Kathleen Shea
American Quilter’s Society; $24.95

Who doesn’t have a smile on their face when they think about the Peanuts gang — Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Woodstock, et al.? For Kathleen Shea, it was really more than a smile. She had a stuffed Snoopy as a child, plus a collection of Peanuts items as she grew. When Charles Schulz became ill with cancer, Kathleen felt she needed to express her thanks and began to make a quilted pillow with Snoopy atop the doghouse at work on his typewriter. Unfortunately Schulz died before the pillow was completed. Kathleen went on to send the pillow to Shulz’s widow, Jean. Kathleen went forward, with Jean’s support to present Charles Schulz’s original drawings in a new medium — fabric and thread. You’ll find 10 projects in the book, pillows, wallhangings, table runners and quilts. Most are themed around a holiday. I liked the detail in the pieces, e.g., embroidery floss laces in Lucy’s shoes. The accompanying CD includes a bonus Project Linus child’s quilt to make and donate.

Look for this book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Make It, Take It

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

 Make It Take It

Make It, Take It
Krista Hennebury
That Patchwork Place; $26.99


Who does not love a retreat filled with sewing, food and friends? Krista Hennebury has been offering day and four-day retreats for 10 years. She knows a thing or two about good projects. In Make It, Take It, she has gathered her sewing-blogger friends, several of whom also run retreats, to create a virtual retreat. In this book you will find nine projects to take your sewing on the road and then seven projects to sew once you get to the retreat. I thought the tote patterns were cute and the selvage sewing mat useful. In the quilt project section, I loved the Pine Tree blocks done in orange and aqua. So, grab a few friends and head off to a retreat.


Look for this book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


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