Monday Musings

Wow … Two months since my last post.

The last few months, my blog has devolved into mostly book reviews, and those are mostly of books I received advance copies of and committed to review. Which is great! I love receiving early releases, reading them, and sharing them with others. Especially when they’re from authors I’m going to snatch up and read anyway.

A couple of years ago, I did an overhaul of my blog. I received some good industry advice about what publishers and acquisitions people would look for when they considered my submitted fiction. They would visit my blog and evaluate if my posts were pertinent to my fiction and how many views I had, yada yada.

quote 130-3But let’s face it, no one–beyond my immediate family (any maybe not even they)–cares what I think about … anything. Not movies, not current events, not anything beyond book reviews.

I do have a few followers who like my thoughts about books. And I’m supremely grateful for every one of you!

But a curious thing happened when I changed the focus of my posts …

I lost interest.

So if I’m not interested, why would I expect anyone else to care??

Short answer: I wouldn’t.

So, I’m going back to my former format. But I’ll also retain elements of the new schedule.

Mondays: Monday Musings or Media Monday. Basically whatever I feel like talking about. I love movies and TV shows and podcasts and I like talking about them. Mondays were supposed to be about quilting, because I had a novel set in a quilt shop, but I complete only one or two quilts a year. It’s hard to blog weekly about that kind of production. ūüėČ

Tuesday will still be Book Talk Tuesdays. Around May of last year, I decided 2018 would be devoted to catching up with favorite series I had lagged behind in. I did pretty well in that endeavor, so I’ll bring you all up to date as well.

Wednesdays will continue to be Wednesday Wanderings with tales of our travels or Woe! It’s Wednesday, when I talk about something personal, something I’m struggling with, something I don’t understand.

I will likely take off Thursdays, or will post an Author Spotlight on Thursdays.

Fridays will be devoted to food. Yes, Food Talk Fridays will be back. Restaurant reviews, recipes, whatever I feel like talking about.

Realistically, I know it’s January and I’m full of good intentions, and I may run out of¬†champagne toast

steam and ideas by … ummm … May … but I’m hoping planning to be more consistent in 2019.

Here’s to good intentions! And even if I do less than perfectly with my posts, it’s okay. I’ll have improved, and that’s really all that matters.

 

Monday Musings: Boys, Quilts, and Wildlife

It’s been a while since we talked quilting, mostly because I haven’t had anything new to share or talk about.

But I bought a kit when my favorite local shop closed. It’s a small quilt, though bigger than a crib blanket. I made it for my two-year-old grandson. I’m mostly happy with it. I think he’ll love it.

IMG_0004I didn’t stretch the backing tight enough when I sandwiched the layers together and I ended up with too many little tucks and pleats on the back.

I laid it out on the living room floor, on a quilt board that was just a mite too small.

Lesson learned. Next time I’ll find a place with enough table space to lay it out, tape it down tautly, and then do the sandwich.

Life is a learning experience, isn’t it?

Just like quilting, which I learn by trial and error.

Life can’t be practiced for. It’s more like do, error, re-do. Sometimes, of course, we nail it. But mostly it’s me bumbling along, doing the best I can, failing horribly, sighing, getting up, and trying again.

I’ll quilt again. And I’ll pay special attention to the backing. And something else, something I didn’t expect will go wrong. Or at least not be perfect.

But I’ll persist and maybe one of these days, a quilt (and a life) might just turn out okay.

IMG_0005

Thanks for reading.

Do you have a favorite quilt or afghan or blankie? Even adults sometimes need a security blanket.

Monday Musings: Good-bye to an Era

My favorite local quilting store is closing. (Cue the violins.)

Quilters Paradise in Old Town Clovis is where I took my quilting classes. I bought lots of fabric there. Which reminds me, I have some reward cards I better redeem quickly!

QPIt’s rare to find a shop so focused on customer service, quality products, and value.

The owners are always helpful. The dog hanging around the back classroom was calm and never demanding, but always grateful for an ear rub or tummy scratch.

 

Employees are knowledgeable. My first quilt top that I made in the Quilting 101 class turned out great, but I knew I would need help with the backing choice. So I toted in the Quilt toptop, laid it out and pleaded for advice. I walked out a few minutes later with the perfect fabric. (Don’t ask me if I’ve actually finished that quilt yet. Please.) I love the blue and gold with the cream, but I wasn’t sure if the backing should be dark or light. We ended up going with one of the medium golds for the backing fabric. I think it will look stunning¬†when it is finished. Which I hope will be next year. I’m committed to not beginning a new project until I finish the three or four I have in progress.

There are a couple other quilt shops near me that I’ve never shopped at. And of course we have a Jo-Ann’s. So it looks like my quilting fabric loyalty is up for bids.

Do you have a local favorite shop? Or a favorite you make sure to visit on your travels?

 

Monday Musings

About a year ago, I decided to shift this blog in a slightly different direction. Mondays went from talking about media (movies, television, podcasts, etc.) to mostly about quilting. But I quickly found out that being a quilter with limited projects done, I ran out of things that I felt were interesting enough to talk about. I kept book reviews on Book Talk Tuesdays. Wednesday’s became about travel. And Food Talk Friday went bye-bye. Sigh.

Wooden bowl with spa stones and candles on wooden  table, on flowers backgroundAfter some thought and talk, I’ve decided to do a course correction with the blog. Again.

Mondays will be Monday Musings. This may be about quilting or about art or crafting or media. Basically whatever I’m currently fascinated with. Tuesdays will continue to be book reviews (and I’ve got a¬†great¬†book up for tomorrow). Wednesday will be Wonderings or Wanderings. My thoughts and feelings about an issue or a travelogue of sorts. And since I’m still enjoying memories and pictures of our Ireland/UK trip in September, I have some material to keep posting weekly for quite a while.

Thursdays will stay either a day off or I may use it to spotlight an author, do a cover reveal, or post a second review if it just can’t wait until the following Tuesday.

Food Talk Friday will be back. Restaurant reviews, recipes, or food memories.

Please come back tomorrow for a review of the amazing new book, MRS. OSWALD CHAMBERS by Michelle Ule. You’ll be glad you did!

Monday Musings: Quilting Quandaries

Next week I’ll be on my way to Ireland and the UK. Trip of a lifetime, anniversary/birthday celebrations, and vacation all rolled into one.

For a knitter and quilter, this poses a problem.

Accessories for patchwork top view on a white surface

How much yarn and fabric should I buy?

Reasons for buying lots and lots of yardage and skeins:

  • I don’t know when or if I’ll ever return and have the opportunity to buy, so I want to have no regrets.
  • Fabric and yarn are fairly lightweight, and won’t add much bulk to my suitcase.
  • There might be patterns or colors not available here.

Reasons to forbear buying anything new and shiny and pretty:

  • With the internet, anything I see can probably be purchased later, just for more money and added shipping costs.
  • I have two completed quilt tops waiting to be finished and one partially pieced top waiting. I should not buy more fabric until those projects are completed.

See my problem?

But oh, the pretty pretty colors and patterns …¬†Colorful balls of yarn on a wooden table

Monday Musings: So Many States …

I’m getting to check off two entries on my “States I Have Yet to Visit” list this week.

I’m in Fargo, North Dakota this week for a pesticide safety conference, for my part-time day job. Yes, I’ve seen the movie; no, I haven’t seen the television series.

img_8647I’ve never been to North Dakota, or Denver, where we had a layover yesterday. Denver was less mountainous than I’d expected, but still beautiful. Our less-than-an-hour-gonna-have-to-hustle-to-make-the-connecting-flight layover turned into five-plus hours, thanks to mechanical issues on a plane.

Since it’s important to me that any plane I fly on have no mechanical issues, I was just fine with the delay. The upside was my friend and boss has a daughter who lives in Denver,img_8641 and she readily agreed to come pick us up for dinner. And, of course, being introduced to Dion’s and their green chile pizza.

The downside was that I had finished my book and both magazines long before we finally landed in Fargo at 3 AM.

We were surprised and blessed to discover that the car rental agency had stayed open to accommodate our late flight, so we didn’t have to Uber or taxi or hitchhike to the hotel. I crawled into bed about 4:30 AM, Fargo time and managed to sleep a solid six hours.

We ventured to Fargo’s old town area, looking for lunch. The Smokehouse we found turned out to be closed on Sunday (not unusual, we soon discovered), so we went img_8643next door to¬†W√ľrst Bier Hall¬†where we promptly ordered pretzels, wurst, porketta b√°nh m√¨, and french fries. Fabulous!! Stud Muffin would love that place, so I obviously have to come back.

After lunch, we walked around the old town area (gotta get some steps in after that lunch!), found a great coffee shop with scones (and a definite Seattle vibe), fun shops, and historic buildings. Dinner turned out to be peach kuchen and a root beer float at Krolls, a recommendation from our lunch server.

Don’t judge.

It’s now 8:00 Sunday evening. It’s only 6 PM in California, but my eyes are heavy. I won’t have a problem getting to sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we work!

Monday Musings on Media: Beauty & the Beast

Yep, I saw Beauty and the Beast on its opening day. I had promised to take a granddaughter to see it on her birthday which just happened to be opening day, so it worked out well.

beauty-and-the-beast-2017I really enjoyed it. I think.

I want to see it again without a four-year-old and a six-year-old fidgeting on my lap and asking questions. I loved seeing it with them, but it was not the best viewing experience for being able to describe and review the story.

But I’ll give it a try.

The wolves are intense. Both of my girls were … not scared, but definitely uneasy about¬†the stalking, slobbering creatures.

The story is familiar but there is more backstory about Belle’s parents and the enchantress and the Beast’s childhood. I really enjoyed that. Although I had to take a girl to the restroom and I missed the part about Belle’s parents. Another reason to see it a second time.

The “gay” scene that is causing boycott talks is soooo subtle and short, it’s easy to miss. In fact, I sort of did.

In the tavern scene when Gaston and his sidekick La Fou are singing about what a catch Gaston is, “No one fights like Gaston, douses lights like Gaston,” and so on, I wondered if La Fou was flirting with Gaston. He seemed to have a coquettish look on his face in a few shots, and the lyrics could have innuendo. I guess that’s the big scene people are objecting to, but as I said, I almost missed the subtext there, it was so subtle.

Later in the movie, when the villagers are storming the castle, the Wardrobe, voiced by Audra McDonald, spits out spools of ribbons, fabric, laces, scarves and arrays¬†three lads in dresses. audraTwo of the guys dash away, humiliated, but one likes it. He winks at the camera and twirls away. When I saw that, I thought, “Oh, that’s the scene. I just imagined the flirting in the other scene.”

And in the ballroom finale, two men (La Fou and the dressed-but-not-humiliated man?) dance together, into and out of camera range in about half a second.

la fouMy young movie-goers absolutely missed all of that. They enjoyed a good story about a beautiful girl who loves books, an ugly beast with a good heart, and talking household items.

I thought Emma Watson was superb as Belle. Although one of my girls asked why Hermione was playing Belle, she soon forgot about Hermione as the story engaged her. Belle is plucky and smart and does nothing she doesn’t want to.

I had forgotten who played Beast, so was pleasantly surprised by the reveal at the end. The makeup is incredible, especially — and I don’t think this is my imagination — since the Beast got less ugly and more … maybe not attractive, but maybe cuddlier? as Belle got to know him and fell in love with him herself.

I recognized Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, but it was a Kevin Kline I had never seen before. He brought a tenderness to the role and left behind¬†the befuddled-absent-minded inventor of the animated story.

Josh Gad as La Fou was simply amazing. Not just for the did-I-see-that-or-didn’t-I flirtiness, but his character has his eyes opened to Gaston’s true character and La Fou¬†changes allegiances. He doesn’t consult anyone, he doesn’t agonize. He simply recognizes that what Gaston is doing is wrong and chooses the right path. I loved that!

The costumes are incredible. The songs, both the new and the familiar, are wonderful.

It seemed strangely full-circle that back in 1991, my sister-in-law and I took our four girls, all cousins, to see the animated version and in 2017, I took my granddaughter and grandniece, daughter of one of the cousins, to see the live action movie. I love both versions and I love all the girls. Like I said, strangely full circle.