Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Witch on Twisted Oak by Susan C. Muller

Ruben Marquez may be a tough Houston cop, but when he gets called in on a murder his first thought is for his mother's safety since she lives next door.  During his investigation, he meets the supposed niece of the victim, Theresa Reyna, but he immediately senses she's not telling the whole story.

Right from the first pages, I knew I was going to enjoy this novel.  I enjoyed the mis-direction of Molly.  A unique character that I didn't expect to play such an important role.  By the time I was 30 pages into the book, I felt as though I'd know Ruben for ages and that I could easily be trading recipes with his mother later at coffee.

I wasn't disappointed in my expectations.  Mamacita, Ruben's mother, grew on me and I wanted to help with her problem.  While she was dealing with that, Ruben was dealing with the revelation that witches and their powers/intuitions were real.  A very interesting twist for a police detective to encounter.

I was kept in suspense the entire way and wasn't able to figure out what was going to happen next or why.  I would have stayed up all night reading if it weren't for obligations early the next day.  The only thing that I was left wanting, was the recipes for the dishes that Mamacita made in the opening chapters.  They had my mouth watering, but then she stopped cooking, a sure sign that she had much bigger problems to worry about.

Ruben's good looking partner, Adam Campbell, has his own story that's told in an earlier book The Secrets on Forest Bend.  Also in the works is the story of Detective Remy Steinberg.

To learn more about author Susan C. Muller, visit her website.

Thanks to Soul Mate Publishing for my review copy and for use of the cover image.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Quilting for Comfort

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

Last week I told you that I was going to start on a comfort quilt for one of my sister's co-workers.  He has been out of his house for two months due to the extreme flooding in High River, Alberta.  I wanted to help, but not living near that, I did what I do best, made a quilt.  Oh hand were these great fabrics for sashing, and a selection of 20 co-ordinated blocks that members of my local guild made at my request quite some time ago.

 The blocks were a huge variety of sizes ranging from not quite 12 inches to the standard 12 1/2 inches.  Makes it difficult to put them all together.

This is the layout I decided upon.  I pinned notes with number placement on each one and also drew a sketch showing the same numbers and which colour fabric stripe would sash each block.

 Fabric for framing each block were all cut to 3 inches and then sewn together into a long strip.

Sew a strip to both the left and right sides of the blocks.  Trim any ends that extend past the edge.  This is the smallest block, and needed the most trimming.  When I looked at the back of the block, I saw why it was so small, all the seams were much larger than 1/4 inch.

Sew a strip to both the top and bottom of the block and again trim off the extending bits.
This block trimmed to 16 3/4 inches.  Next step was to trim all the other framed blocks to that size.

To make it easier, I used some bright pink tape, (Glow-Line Tape from Omnigrid) to mark the places to align the ruler.  Much easier than measuring each time.  It is not the best idea to cut repeatedly at the exact same spot on your cutting matt.  I did clean the matt twice during the process so that threads were not forced into the cuts  of the self healing cutting matt.

Then it was time to sew the squares together.  I sewed four blocks together in each row, then sewed the rows together.  Only when all the top was completed did I remove the notes with the block numbers.
Yesterday I bought some 80/20 quilt batt and am using some fabric I had on hand for the backing.  I do hope to get this quilted in the next few days.  Am going to use an all over design from the beginner page at Leah Day's website.

 More photos for you next week.  At that time I'll also have an update on my progress in the 350 Block Challenge.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Gorgeous Sunset over Conestogo, Ontario

I stood outside for about ten minutes last evening and watched and clicked as the light changed.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Fabric shopping with Mom

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.
Wow, last week sure was busy.  Eight solid days of volunteering take a toll.  Not only was I at at the race during the day, but in the afternoon and the evening I was shopping for the next days supplies and then cooking up a storm.  One day I prepared eight dishes.  That was a personal best. Somehow I did manage to sneak in a tiny bit of sewing.  I was able to finish 5 small churn dash blocks (photos next week). 
I spent Monday and Tuesday with my son and mother.  After dropping son off, we headed to the fabric store.  I am looking for two metres of a yellow and blue print for a baby quilt.  No luck so far.  WE visited two shops and I did find some other fabrics that jumped out at me.  Later at my mom's, I went through her stash and found a bit to help with my churn dash project.  I found 3 dozen fabrics that will work well.

I'm also getting ready to start a new project.  A co-worker of my sister was flooded out of his house during the floods in High River, Alberta.  It's been almost two months and he's still not back in his house.  I want to do something, but being so far away, it's hard to help.  I do have a set of quilt blocks that were made for charity.  They have been sitting here for ages waiting to be made into a quilt.  Perfect.  I am going to use these four fabrics as frames around each block and then put them together.  should be enough for a large lap quilt. 

 These are the twenty blocks that I am going to work with.  It will be nice and bright and hopefully welcoming.

The hot weather is back again, a good end to summer.  My daughter has two weeks till school, so a bit of summer weather is appreciated.  Are you stitching this week or are you back-to-school shopping?

Tami at Just One More Thing has been stitching little aprons.  very cute.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Week 12 of free SYNC Audio Books

Aug 15 – Aug 21, 2013

Sold by Patricia McCormick, read by Justine Eyre (Tantor Audio)

Let Me Stand Alone by Rachel Corrie, read by Tavia Gilbert (Blackstone Audio)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Needlework Tuesday: Block after block after block

Needlework Tuesday is a regular weekly post where I share the progress of my various needlework projects over the past week. I enjoy the encouragement that I receive from my readers and in return visit their blogs and cheer them on with theirs. You are welcome to grab the cute little mouse and create your own Needlework Tuesday post. Leave a comment with a link and I'll be sure to visit with you.

I wasn't sure I was going to get a post written today.  It was a busy day at the race and much time was spent preparing food.  Once again, I made this tasty vegan cake, Tropical Coffee Cake.  It wasn't supposed to be vegan, but I accidentally hard boiled all my eggs for devilled eggs, so substituted an extra banana for the two eggs.  I used the left over orange juice with icing sugar for the glaze.  The recipe can be found in my Endurrun post from 2010.
Last week was a banner one for working on quilt blocks.  I can't believe I got so much accomplished.  Part of it was that I finally signed up for the 350 Block Challenge being hosted by Prairie Moon Quilts.  The goal is to sew blocks that will help you finish some of your UFO's.  I certainly have a few of them.  Since I am starting late, most of the participants started back in January.  I guessed that I easily sewed 51 blocks in the recent months, so set that as my starting number.  So far this month I have finished 23, with a goal of at least 31.  The block at left is for my $15. quilt class at my local shop.  It is a pattern by Sharyn Craig.  This block is called "Crown Molding".  I changed the plain centre block to a snow ball block, it definitely adds more interest.

This month we did two blocks since they are so similar.  This one is called "Chair Rail".  This time I wanted to maximise the use of that lovely orange fabric. Both these blocks are 9 inches.  I also finished a bunch of small blocks to fit into this quilt. 

This block is "Movie Star" and was designed by Judy Martin.  They measure 4 1/2 inches. 

"Spring Picnic" also designed by Judy Martin

"Branson Beauty" again by Judy Martin, 
These two blocks are made with the darker background fabric.
Have you been following along and sewing with The Quilting Gallery in their Aiming for Accuracy Quilt Along?  I have now completed week 6.  Finally a block that is the correct size.
A couple of years ago I started sewing these mini churn dash blocks.  They measure 5 inches and I think I have about 38 sewn.  I need 130 ish of them.  They are for a wedding quilt for my niece, fortunately she is not planning to marry in the next while.   I have several more of them sitting on my cutting board ready for sewing. I'll need to cut a lot more fabric. I don't want to repeat a fabric, so I need to be careful when cutting.  The fabric in the bottom left is from a dress my sister made for herself.  Fortunately it only takes a six inch square to cut the dark pieces from.  the light takes a wee bit more, one extra 1 1/2 inch square.    I'm planning narrow sashing with 1 1/2 inch square corner stones in the dark colours.
Not sure that I'll accomplish much this week as I'll be volunteering all week, but a few minutes here and there do add up.  I might surprise myself.

Monday, 12 August 2013

It's Race Week: My week of volunteering and making hummus

It's the week where I volunteer at the Endurrun a series of running races.  The runners cover 160 km over 8 days with 7 races.

 I help feed these runners, and they sure do get hungry.  I'm trying a bunch of new recipes this year from at least three cook books that I have barely used.  As usual, I have been making hummus each day, and even managed to find some new flavours to add to the mix.  The raw zucchini version went over quite well.  I'll have some photos and details for you in  future post.   Until then, check out this post from last year with a summary of the eleven types of hummus I made last year.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Week 11 of free SYNC Audio Books

Aug 8 – Aug 14, 2013

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, read by Katherine Kellgren (Brilliance Audio)

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, read by Miriam Margolyes (Bolinda Audio)

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Once Upon a Tartan by Grace Burrowes

This book definitely fits within my 'men in kilts' category even though hunk Tiberius Flynn doesn't don a kilt, though I can easily imagine him strutting around in one.

English Lord Tiberius Flynn has travelled to Scotland to retrieve his young niece, Fiona,  from her maternal family after the death of his elder brother.  He doesn't count on her family putting up a fight for her, nor is he prepared to deal with her guardian/aunt, Hester Daniels, and the effect she has on his heart.

Both Tye and Hester are trying to do the right things for their respective families, but can't find a way to do it without hurting the other.  As their feelings for each other grow, so does their anguish.  Both are strong characters and put family and propriety ahead of their own desires.  Definitely a product of the times.  I particularly liked the character of Fiona's great aunt Lady Ariadne MacGregor and would like to read a book of her back story.  She seems to know so much about everyone that I suspect she must have many secrets hidden away.  (Should author Grace Burrowes read this review, I hope she takes this suggestion).

Once Upon a Tartan is the second book in a series, the first being The Bridegroom wore Plaid.  You can read this as a stand alone, but you'll want to read the first book to fill in some story lines, so you might as well start thee.

Publisher Sourcebooks is sponsoring a Once Upon a Tartan reader extravaganza this month with ereaders and books up for grabs.  Visit my earlier post for details.

My review of The Bridegroom Wore Plaid

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy and for use of the cover image

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Needlework Tuesday - Crochet at the Cottage

This past weekend was spent with family and friends at a cottage in the Kawartha Lakes Region of Ontario.  Needless to say, my focus was not on needlework.   I did take my crochet along and completed about half of a strip for my sister's afghan. I only had one mistake to correct, not bad at all.

I did answer some questions about crochet from other vacationers.  They were curious , not about why I was crocheting at a cottage, but rather about the process involved and how I remembered  the pattern, which looked complex to them.  I could only explain that it makes sense to me.  I can visualise the pattern in my mind and then make it happen.  I suppose, that is why I can look at another person's knitting and then figure out what they did wrong and then correct it for them without having to rip it all back.  I don't think I turned anyone to the 'needlework side' but perhaps, cleared up a misconception or two and increased their appreciation of "those blankets that grandma makes".

Tami at Just One my Thing, is helping a co-worker with a most ambitious project.  Now that she's started drawing Zentangles, She appears totally hooked.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Accidental Vampire by Karen Ranney

A sober look at life/death from the point of view of a newly turned vampire.  This unique story is a twist on the usual plot line.  I found it very well written and left me pondering the dilemma long after I was finished.

I don't normally review short stories, but this needed one as it  has left me wanting to read more of Karen's writing.

Thanks to Karen Ranney for my review copy and use of the cover image.

note: this was not really sent as a review copy, rather as a thank-you to the readers of her newsletter.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Free ebook and a month of giveaways

I am sharing this message from Sourcebooks, one of my favourite publishing houses to work with:

I have some very fun news to share with you! All month long, Sourcebooks and Grace Burrowes are going a little crazy with giveaways in honor of her latest Scottish Victorian Romance: ONCE UPON A TARTAN. It officially hits stores next Tuesday, but we’re getting things started TOMORROW, August 1, which will start a full month of all things tartan and chances to win some great prizes.
Additionally—this week, The Bridegroom Wore Plaid is FREE in the iBookstore, as Apple’s Book of the Week. This price is also being matched at other online retailers (this is for the eBook only), and will only last until August 5. The Bridegroom Wore Plaid was a PW Best Book of 2012 in the romance category, and is the first book in Grace’s MacGregor Series.
My review of Once Upon a Tartan will post on August 7, 2013. though I am not part of the giveaways.
For the first two weeks of August, Grace Burrowes is giving away one brand new eReader per day! That’s 10 eReaders, 10 Blogs, a different giveaway each day during the work week, August 5-9 and 12-16! Grace is giving away:
·         Four Kindle Paperwhite 3Gs
·         Four Nook HDs
·         One Nook Color
·         One iPad
Check the full schedule below to find out where you can enter to win your very own eReader (Open to US and Canada only)!
Digital Reading not your thing? For the entire MONTH of August, each day (during the work week) a different blog will host a giveaway of print copies of The Bridegroom Wore Plaid and Once Upon a Tartan! This is a great opportunity for a chance to start the series from the beginning, and win two books (open to US and Canada only). The full schedule is below!
We are so looking forward to celebrating the release of this New York Times and USA Today bestselling author’s new book—we hope to see you along the way!
The Once Upon a Tartan eReader Extravaganza Schedule
8/5 Kindle Paperwhite
8/6 All About Romance: Nook HD
8/7 Delighted Reader: Kindle Paperwhite
8/8 Night Owl Reviews: Nook HD
8/9 Book Lovers Inc.: Kindle Paperwhite
8/12 Discover a New Love: Nook Color
8/13 Book Savvy Babe: Nook HD
8/14 Jaunty Quills: Kindle Paperwhite
8/15 Fresh Fiction: Nook HD
8/16 Her Grace Notes: iPad
The MacGregor Series Print Book Giveaway Schedule
8/2 RomFan Reviews     
Honor or happiness—he can’t have both.
Tiberius Flynn may be every inch an English lord, but smart, headstrong beauty Hester Daniels has no use for his high-handed ways--no matter how handsome, charming, or beguiling he is. They only see eye to eye in caring about the feisty little girl who is under their protection.
Tiberius's haughty insistence that his wealthy estate in England is a better place for the child than her beloved, rundown Scotland home sparks Hester's fierce protectiveness, and the battle lines are drawn.
Praise for Once Upon a Tartan:
“Burrowes creates a powerful story replete with heartfelt emotion and rich characterization... An instant keeper.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick of the Month
“Expert prose, likeable characters, realistic relationships, and believable complications create a pleasant and satisfying keeper.” —Publishers Weekly
“Warmth, sensuality, and humor infuse Burrowes’ writing, and fans of Suzanne Enoch and Sarah MacLean should enjoy this series.” —Booklist
“Grace Burrowes weaves her magic with words... a memorable love story—excellent and exquisite.” — A Long and Short Reviews Best Book
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes is the author of the acclaimed Windham Family Series, The MacGregor Trilogy and The Lonely Lords Series. Her debut novel, The Heir (2010), as well as The Bridegroom Wore Plaid (2012) were both included as Publishers Weekly Best Books of their respective years, in the romance category. A practicing attorney specializing in family law, Grace lives in rural Maryland, where she is working on the final book in the Windham series, Lady Jenny’s Christmas Portrait (October 2013) and third MacGregor story, The MacGregor’s Lady (February 2014), and many more books. Visit her website at for more information about all of her books, exclusive extras and her lively blog.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Week 10 of free SYNC Audio Books

Aug 1 – Aug 7, 2013

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, read by Dan Weyman (Macmillan Audio)

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Ralph Cosham (Blackstone Audio)