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S. L. Smith "SansSerif" RSS Feed (Cloud Hidden, United States)

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Little Gems: 15 Paper-Pieced Miniature Quilts
Little Gems: 15 Paper-Pieced Miniature Quilts
by Connie Kauffman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.94
42 used & new from $14.36

5.0 out of 5 stars Please Bury Me With This Book, February 27, 2015
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Little Gems is a must-buy and must-make collection of diminutive beauties that all measure 12"x12". As an added bonus, they are paper-pieced, primed for embellishing, and perfectly sized for ready-made hangers and display stands. Author Connie Kauffman shows off her handiwork on delightful display stands from a company she identifies in the book.

The book is very instructive with nicely sufficient text and drawn diagrams. Kauffman reminds us why even experienced quilters need to keep reading the "techniques and basics" sections of all these quilt books. If we're lucky (or diligent) we'll discover a nugget such as this one: use 50- or 60-weight thread to reduce bulk. You'll improve your accuracy in piecing and matching points with a thinner thread.

The question that *always* must be answered for miniature quilts is: what is the seam allowance? Traditional miniatures have an 1/8-inch SA, while more recent designs have the user-friendly ¼-inch SA. This info tends to be buried in the text. Fortunately, because we're talking about paper-piecing here, the SA is clearly marked on each paper pattern. The seam allowance is our familiar ¼ inch.

A few noteworthy observations: COLOR; lots of triangles; tons of opportunities for yo-yos, charms, and buttons; COLOR unusual borders; crafty edgings; COLOR. I want to make each of these cuties in exactly the same colorways that Ms. Kauffman used for the book. And if I can ever break away from doing that, each of these projects is ideal for playing with value/tone/shading, different prints, and alternate fabric genres. Most of these 15 projects will take on another look - but be just as striking, possibly more so - done up in 30's retro prints or jewel-tone sateens.

Little Gems moves to the top 3 of my favorite miniature quilting books.

Rated: must buy.

Modern Rainbow: 14 Imaginative Quilts That Play with Color
Modern Rainbow: 14 Imaginative Quilts That Play with Color
by Rebecca Bryan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.60
60 used & new from $14.95

5.0 out of 5 stars This Challenging Collection Will Be "Must-Do" For Some and "Must-Learn" For Beginners, February 27, 2015
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Modern Rainbow has many bewitching projects that will be "must-do" for experienced quilters, but "must-learn" for beginners. Rebecca Bryan demonstrates far more than just color theory here. She also includes quilting techniques that go from slightly advanced to rather tricky: paper-piecing (just once), unusual angles (like 15 degrees), pieced parallelograms (even hexagons pieced into diamonds), joining odd-angled pieces (remember matching dots, anyone?), and pieced-curves.

There's even a lecture on deliberate wonkiness! Bryan includes a special wonk-o-meter for "Rainbow Remix", which is composed of choppy bars and sports an optional non-linear quilt-top edge. There will also be stretchy bias edges and bulky centers to handle. For example, "Lucy In The Sky" has Ohio stars with paper-pieced centers where 10 seams come together. And to keep us all humble, there is much unusual trimming of pieced blocks. (Hint: remember not to cut off your seam allowances.)

Regarding tools, you'll need a ruler that has both 1/8-inch grid lines AND markings for angles in these degrees: 15, 30, 45, and 60. The author uses a 6"x12" and a 6"x24" ruler.

All of the quilts can be easily adapted to different sizes. As show, the smallest is "Huckleberry" at 40.5" square. It's a real stunner with lots of negative space for quilting. It's also got one of the wiliest constructions in the book. The largest is "Monstar" at 80"x92". It features a single lone star made up of log-cabin parallelograms.

Extraordinary quilting is showcased on many of the quilts - some even done by the gulp-worthy Angela Walters.

Despite Bryan's excellent instructions with diagrams and her devilishly alluring quilts, beginners might find many of the projects in Modern Rainbow daunting. But if you love the look of a project, then go for it and use this highly recommended book to learn along the way.

Just one final note: permission has been granted to amass miles of solid and reads-as-solid fabrics. Start now.

Calvin Klein REVEAL Eau de Parfum, 1.7 fl. oz.
Calvin Klein REVEAL Eau de Parfum, 1.7 fl. oz.
Price: $70.00

4.0 out of 5 stars This Spicy - but Short-lived - Scent Crosses Gender Lines, February 15, 2015
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Calvin Klein Reveal has a scent much like CK One Eau de toilette: spicy overtones with no herb elements and no florals. As such, it's rather unisex and quite attractive.

But it is not long-lasting, thus 4/5 stars.

Bailey Street 6043694 Hayden Etagere
Bailey Street 6043694 Hayden Etagere
Offered by 1STOPlighting
Price: $398.00
10 used & new from $398.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Shoddy Materials & "Finish", Lighter Than Pine, Will Need Refinishing, February 9, 2015
Please note: I received this Hayden 47-inch étagère TWICE from a different source. The first one (#1) was so ungodly awful I requested a return/refund, but that was ignored and a replacement (#2) came instead. This review is in not about that supplier or the supplier currently listing this item.
I needed an accent piece of specific dimensions, and a little different: open shelves, nothing "heavy", and some international flair. The Hayden étagère (by Bailey Street) fit the bill and looked elegant.

I was shocked when #1 arrived. I could tell immediately I would have to refinish it. Every surface was so rough it felt completely unfinished. It was furry in many places and the whole thing would need to be sanded. The "vintage wash" is essentially white stuff (Paint? Filler?) slopped into the corners and the fluting. It looks horrible and I am guessing it would be nearly impossible to remove. I would not call it "whitewashed". It is too thin and uneven for even that most basic finish application.

Then I unpacked more pieces. (The Hayden étagère requires assembly.) One of the shelves was unusably warped and bowed; a crack ran the entire length of it. The shelves felt like composite material so light and thin I could have cracked even the "good" one over my knee without a single wince. Elsewhere, there were long gouges in the wood. Some areas had indentations that looked like they had been filled; other areas would need to be.

This all did not seem like intentional distressing. In fact, NOTHING about the description mentioned distressing, so I was expecting a finished smooth product. Also, a 2-inch corner of the top shelf's molding clearly had been broken off and reglued.

So a return was requested, but #2 appeared instead. The shelves and moldings were intact, but the finish was identically lousy. The 2 middle shelves were of different thicknesses, enough to be quite noticeable. One was finger-jointed, but none of the others were. (Nor were they on #1.)

So I have come to peace with the fact that I will be sanding and refinishing the Hayden étagère. At least I will have control over the color.

But I still wonder what this "plantation grown hardwood" is. It is lighter than pine; it feels more like driftwood.

Had I seen this "étagère" in an unfinished furniture shop for just $25 I would have walked right past it. It is not worth it at ANY price. I was stunned to discover it on Amazon for nearly twice what I paid for it. Having seen 2 of them now, I do not think my experience was a fluke.

Someone to Watch Over Me: A Thriller (Thora Gudmundsdottir)
Someone to Watch Over Me: A Thriller (Thora Gudmundsdottir)
by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.70
71 used & new from $7.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Yrsa Sigurdardóttir; Hits All The Goldilocks Points of an Excellent Mystery, February 8, 2015
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Short Version:

Someone To Watch Over Me is the best of Yrsa Sigurdardóttir's "Thóra" series.
Read it.

Long Version:

A very good mystery is like a chain of standing dominoes: each domino corresponds to a person, place, thing, or event (or, for example, suspect, scene of crime, evidence, or crime) in that specific book. The author precisely aligns and spaces each element with an invisible cunning. But there's always - always - that glorious tipping point when the reader makes just the first connection among all the disparate data points. It only takes that one, and what follows is a joyous cascade as everything falls into place. Some of us live and read for that first "aha" association, while others admire the immersive set-up. The winding ripple is just extra gravy. And often too brief. Everything gets connected and explained.

An excellent mystery, on the other hand, is like several chains of dominos connected at multiple points to create more than one toppling spiral. It's all a bit dizzying, but controlled. Some of us highly review and recommend those books. Every aspect is entertaining. The unwinding threads are long and tangled, earning enough of our attention to move the story into our memory. It lasts. Some elements stand unconnected and keep us wondering.

Someone To Watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir is a most excellent mystery.

Creepy messages keep showing up in 3 different scenarios in Iceland. First, there's Thóra, our decidedly non-oxymoronic lawyer heroine. She's been receiving text messages with alarmingly specific questions and details about an arson case she is considering taking on. Elsewhere, a radio call-in show host gets late night calls that threaten to push more than just his buttons. And then there are those ghostly visitations at the home of a deeply splintered family. Or, more importantly, what they leave behind: a chilling code drawn in the frost of an open window. What are these messages trying to tell, and to whom? And how do they involve a fatal fire at a residential facility?

This is Sigurdardóttir's most enthralling and immersive book yet in her Thóra series. She builds an entire world for the reader without reminding us too frequently that there is an author behind That Curtain. We see the art before the artist. She juggles quite a few balls - or places quite a few dominoes - with a Goldilocks touch. The number of characters is just large enough to force us to pay attention, but not so large as to cause us to dither. (But, yes, keeping a list was handy.) She frightens us just enough with the supernatural. The babysitter ghost is delightfully scary, but not so much as to push the book into Stephen King territory. The evolution of Thóra's personal life gets revealed, yet not so much as to distract us with tales of soccer moms and romance. (Although both ARE in fact present. Thóra's daughter Soley is such a delightful hoot.)

Basically, Someone To Watch Over Me is just long enough, just complicated enough, and just believable enough. Sigurdardóttir rewards the vigilant reader with just enough guessable elements, balanced out with surprises and lingering details that are not clearly resolved. The first 2 connections appear rather early - half-way through the book - so there is a long satisfying drop to the dénouement. The author demonstrates that the best mystery is not single-minded in its pursuit of the who-did-it-and-why. Excellent writers put us in a pleasantly unsolvable situation: we are not able to read fast enough, and yet we never want it to end.

Double Wedding Ring Quilts - Traditions Made Modern: Full-Circle Sketches from Life
Double Wedding Ring Quilts - Traditions Made Modern: Full-Circle Sketches from Life
by Victoria Findlay Wolfe
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.84
66 used & new from $14.84

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Pardon me, but has anyone seen my jaw around here?", February 7, 2015
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Seriously, I've completely misplaced my jaw. I think I dropped it somewhere near page 70 of Double Wedding Ring Quilts (Traditions Made Modern).

Victoria Findlay Wolfe has mastered the art of improvising while remaining loyal to the general form and tradition of Wedding Ring quilts. Unlike another book series that makes new patterns from old blocks, this book allows the wedding ring to be proudly recognizable and not abstracted into utter deconstruction.

The Wedding Ring block gets rejigged in many ways, at times right down to the fabric itself. Wolfe shows how to create new fabric by slashing what we have or crazy-piecing small bits into larger "fabrics". The result is a colorful array of projects that are more modernized than "mod". Her award-winning quilt "Double-edged Love" illustrates how slashes of solid color create impact. The bold effect might make one think of Korean lettering superimposed over the surface. Other projects play with the form's elements and structure. For instance, "Leona" is a strippy columnar quilts using only the ring's melons.

Wolfe's playfulness is apparent when she melds other quilt block shapes into the Wedding Ring framework. "A Summer's Day" takes modest liberties with the Lone Star block, while "Farm Girl" does the same with the Lemoyne Star. Both are striking quilts, contemporary but quite honorably so.

It's worth noting that most of the photographs show exquisite quilting lines. The Wedding Ring ala VFW is surprisingly amenable to a variety of quilting designs. The author did the quilting on a couple. But for the most part she relied on her lucky network of friends, including Karen McTavish.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe sure has an awful lot to say in Traditions Made Modern. It's got to be the wordiest quilting pattern book I've ever bought. I think it shows that she is more than an artist and a quilter - there's also a teacher here who wants to be heard.

So, let's listen.

- Includes 2 photocopy-able design/planning sheets and a pull-out section of actual-size patterns.

Unbecoming: A Novel
Unbecoming: A Novel
by Rebecca Scherm
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.93
91 used & new from $12.14

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Teen Love, Twenty-Something Trifles, and a Trial To Read, February 3, 2015
This review is from: Unbecoming: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I have read every Patricia Highsmith novel and biography. So when a book's jacket invokes this icon's appellation, I take notice and I take on the challenge.

There is only one way in which Grace, the main character in Unbecoming, is like Patricia Highsmith's Ripley. Her deception brings many consequences, but never any real accountability.

Unlike Ripley, Grace is so very juvenile. She wallows in puppy love for much of the book. Her protracted adolescence would make better fodder for Young Adult fiction if only it were more beguiling. But it is not, and we must wade through a mucky, murky timeline for a very trivial story that amounts to teen-angst-turned- twenty-something-trifles. The art theft/forgery angle is incongruous, seemingly inserted to feign sophistication and adult-like behavior.

It took great effort to finish reading Unbecoming. Not recommended and not worth the time.

As Good as Dead
As Good as Dead
by Elizabeth Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insipid, Needlessly Frantic, and Overbilled by Its Title, February 1, 2015
This review is from: As Good as Dead (Hardcover)
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A barely veiled disdain emanates from each of the main characters in Elizabeth Evans' novel As Good As Dead. Charlotte Price, the narrator, is fully steeped in her academic lifestyle. She can't be bothered to simply "like" or "enjoy" something; instead she must "always prefer" things. Similarly, she is so removed from her own opinions that she has to "find" them for herself. (She does not "think" someone is pretentious, but "always finds" them so.) She practically congratulates herself on her brilliant husband, Will Ludlow, who is also an academic. He specializes in Italian Futurism and is above average in many ways; his 6'5" height is repeated numerous times.

Charlotte and Will have settled in Tucson where they both have "won" (not "earned" or "landed", as most mortals do) tenure-track positions. One day, Charlotte's former roommate/friend Esme appears on her doorstep, announcing "c'est moi" with an expectant air about her. As the novel bounces and pivots in time, we learn that Esme had been a rather cruddy friend to Charlotte back when they first met in school. We can see that Esme considered Charlotte the lesser person in their friendship, but Charlotte was too distracted by herself to realize this. Now, Esme - who also lives in Tucson - demands that Charlotte must redress a past perceived wrong, which turns out to be hardly worth the emotional blackmail Esme is threatening. It involves Esme's drunkard poet husband Jeremy, who basically holds the entire universe in general disregard.

If this multi-sourced disdain were the only negative against As Good As Dead, I might have been able to rate it a 3 out of 5 stars. But there is just no real story here. There IS much hysteria over feelings and Charlotte's use of exclamation points. The actual events - once they can be teased out of the neurotic mess of a timeline - are laughably dull and commonplace. The writing is arduous, and strains too hard to be coy. But it never engages. Charlotte comes across as precious; even as an adult she remains too immature to be accountable for her own decisions. There are two places in the book where Charlotte and Will are meant to seem almost heroic, but they just appear histrionic instead.

So, if there is no engaging story and no relatable characters, what exactly is left for a reader to hang their interest on? Well, there is the overt symbolism of the poisonous oleander, which serves as a valiant bellwether for the nuclear winter of Charlotte and Will's relationship. Ironic, then, or perhaps that much more fitting, that oleander was among the first plants to bloom in Hiroshima after the city's bombing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2015 5:53 AM PST

The Perfect Stranger
The Perfect Stranger
by Wendy Corsi Staub
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
132 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Chatty "Lite" Mystery With A Heavy Message, January 30, 2015
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Blogs, tags, emails, websites, online databases ... "It's basically all there".

So thinks a character in The Perfect Stranger by Wendy Straub. That character also thinks it's open season on people who are open books on the internet. In this case, it's a group of bloggers who reveal far too much - or just enough - about themselves. As they gather for the funeral of one blogger who was murdered in her own home, they realize they all share more than just a cancer diagnosis. The investigation takes a turn when detectives discover one of the bloggers is not who she says she is.

The Perfect Stranger moves along mostly via chatty dialog and a manageable headcount. It is a quick "lite" read, ranking much closer to cozy than thriller. It's okay and readable enough, but it gets wearing having to read so many different ways of saying the same thing: be careful what you reveal on the Internet.

Uncharted Ultra-Lite Packing Cube 2 Piece Set, Grey, One Size
Uncharted Ultra-Lite Packing Cube 2 Piece Set, Grey, One Size
Price: $20.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Formless And Only Moderately Functional, January 29, 2015
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These Packing Cubes are exceptionally strong and will add a modicum of organization with no added weight. The construction is outstanding, with evenly stitched seams, 2 zipper pulls, and a mesh window. But if I had seen these sleeves in person before selecting them, I would have passed. Contrary to what the picture might imply, they are very floppy and have no built-in structure of their own. They rely on the (very carefully folded) contents to provide any defined form. Also, they offer no protection against spills.

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