Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Year End Review

This is my 182nd blog post in 2014. Yikes. That's pretty good, considering we retired, downsized from two houses to one small one, moved, and have been working hard on our "forever" home. We have a new range, a new tree, a new garage roof, and cellular shades for all the bedrooms. I got a cool retro hutch for my vintage fabric, and a 1958 Saga bedroom set. For Christmas I received a craft table that folds down and has an pad that will make it into a big ironing board.

It has been exciting to see the President Quilts as Sue Reich receives them. She has already had one venue interested in the traveling quilt show. I am so honored to be a part of this project. And so pleased I chose John Quincy Adams. Plus they will be in Sue's forthcoming book on Political and Patriotic Quilts!

This year I reviewed about 50 books, including classics, new fiction, non-fiction, quilt related, children's, and new adult books. I read several more that were not reviewed.

The books I read and blogged about that impacted me the most include:
  • Rereading The Great Gatsby: So We Read On by Maureen Corrigan. I did reread The Great Gatsby again.
  • War Wounds: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • John Quincy Adams: The Last Crusade and Portrait of the President as a Young Man
  • Nora Webster by Colm Toibin: A Novel About Grief...
  • Quilts and Quiltmaking in The Invention of Wings by Susan Monk Kidd
  • Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist
  • White Noise Thirty Year Later: Remembering 1984
  • Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper. Etta is 83 and decides to walk from Saskatchewan to the Atlantic Ocean. She carried a paper with her name written on it. 
I have also read books with reviews that will not appear until close to their publication in 2015:
  • Land of Enchantment by Liza Wieland, a novel about artists and 9-11. Loved this one.
  • West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan, a fictionalized account F. Scott Fitzgerald's final days in Hollywood. Poor Scott.
  • Amherst by William Nicholson, about a screen writer researching Austin Dickinson's fifteen year affair with a married woman. 
  • Madison's Gift by David O. Stewart, exploring James Madison's career in context of five political and personal relationships.
  • How To Be A Heroine by Samantha Ellis, how fictional females impacted her ideals and self-image.
  • Abe and Fido by Matthew Algeo, about Abraham Lincoln's relationship to pets and animals.
I am currently reading:
  • The Big Seven by Jim Harrison; not my usual fare; about a retired detective whose fishing cabin is surrounded by an unlawful clan. Should violence be the 8th deadly sin?
  • Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb, a historical romance about Camille Claudel, the sculptress who studied with Auguste Rodin
  • The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Godwin. Nuf said.
  • All Points Patchwork by Diane Gilleland showing how to do traditional paper piecing patchwork
On my NetGalley bookshelf to be read soon are:
  • The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg, a novel about George Sand
  • The Children's Crusade by award winner Ann Packer who wrote The Dive from Clausen's Pier
  • Behind Every Great Man by Marlene Wagman-Geller about the little known women behind some great men
  • The Given World by Marian Palaia about the Vietnam War's effects on a family
I am always surprised to suddenly see a post soar in the number of views. Obviously someone shared the link. The biggest surprise was seeing my most viewed blog post (around 1000 hits) was on the 1954 Sealtest Recipes! My Pride and Prejudice quilt post used to be number one...now it  is number two. I have been selling the patterns for the appliqué and Redwork patterns on Etsy.  "Quilts and Quiltmaking in The Invention of Wings" by Susan Monk Kidd has been on the top posts. "Modish Fifth Avenue Styles for Spring and Summer 1927" has suddenly appeared in the top posts. Anything about handkerchiefs and vintage fabric have also been popular.

My personal favorite blog posts were those that shared information that was new or at least not well known.
  • The Bible of John Riley, Indian Chief : A family bible legend reveals the incredible story of early Michigan history
  • Operation Hanky: The Uncommon Story Behind a Common Handkerchief: How an American Priest helped Korean women by establishing a cottage industry
  • Gruesome Recollection from a Hundred Years Ago: Hog Butchering: was written by my grandfather about his early life on a Pennsylvania farm
  • The Shipwreck Coast: "Girl," and a Lamp: more family history about my husband's grandmother's time along the Lake Superior shipwreck coast
  • 1928 Presidential Campaign Hanky: my 'circus' elephant hanky from eBay is a political artifact
  • Lucy Bloss' Sunbonnet Sue Pyrographic Box: genealogy research behind a flea market find
Quilts I worked on or finished this year included:

  • The Gridlock Political Quilt, inspired by Dustin's Giddyup quilt block and incorporating linen towels from 1952 and vintage handkerchiefs
  • My embroidered 'Green Heroes" quilt, ecologists, nature writers, park makers and more
  • Completed the Charles Dickens quilt top featuring embroidered images from his books
  • Creating and sending off my John Quincy Adams quilt to tour with Sue Reich's traveling President Quilts show
  • Working on Austen Family Album quilt blocks along with Barbara Brackman's blog
  • Working on Love Entwined, a 1796 Marriage Quilt along with Esther Aliu's Yahoo group
  • Several small quilts for the quilt guild auction and for family
Laura's Flower Garden: a block made by my mother-in-law turned into a small quilt
My works in progress include:
  • I have been researching and sketching for a new Literary Story Book Quilt based on The Great Gatsby. It will be great fun.
  • I need to set my original Wizard of Oz embroidered blocks into a quilt.
  • I have memory quilt blocks from my father-in-law's shirts to make into a quilt
  • I need to pick up Love Entwined again, and finish the last few Austen Family Album blocks
  • and deal with a dozen more UFOs lurking in drawers...
Best wishes for a wonderful New Year to you all!