Category Archives: Books

Books

Too Comfortable In My Comfort Zone

Comfort is, from Webster’s Dictionary, a state of ease and quiet enjoyment. Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful place to be? Finding a place surrounded by nature with limited interruptions would be heavenly. What would you do with unlimited time and no responsibilities? And, for how long would you be content?

Over a year ago when the stay-home policy was put in place, Hubby and I looked at each other and he said, “That won’t be hard on us.” I agreed. In general, we live a routine life when we are alone, but we had lots of company before the pandemic changed that. Our friends would stop in for an afternoon of conversation or we would have overnight guests. Fortunately for us, we found our daily routine served us well when everyone had to stay home. The phone became our means of connecting with people.

My trips to town for essentials, like food, post office (I started sending ‘thinking of you’ cards), and sundries dropped from weekly to biweekly. I had planned fourteen days of menus which made grocery shopping easier and I spent less time in the store. Even with masks required, I didn’t want to linger. Our local small town grocery store didn’t offer online ordering or curbside pickup. I’m still doing the fourteen days’ worth of menus because I’m comfortable using the same grocery list and eating quality meals over and over.

With lockdown at the local library, my short breaks wandering between the shelves to find an intriguing book were no longer part of my routine. But I couldn’t think of not having books to read. People more technically advanced ordered their books online for curb-side pickup. Not knowing how to use this system, I relied on the library staff to find books for me. They did a wonderful job which added to my comfort zone.

Now that it’s summer and we’ve been unable to enter Canada, we have entered into the current interest of gardening. I am finding it relaxing to spend time checking the plants and weeding in the morning. There are always more weeds than vegetable or flower plants. (See July’s Blog for more on my game with weeds.) Our area of Wisconsin has seen an extended time of hot, humid days followed by heavy, hard rains. Both plants and weeds are having prime growing conditions. I’m finding joy in the quiet and solitude of the garden.

For a good laugh, read on. Remember those routines I talked about earlier? I/we (Hubby’s in this, too) have daily tasks because there are times when we can’t remember which day of the week it is. Most days our “tasks” are done in the morning, leaving afternoon and evenings for hobbies or phone visits. Here is how our week unfolds:

Sunday – wash bed linens, pay bills

Monday – wash towels, take dumpster out for garbage pickup

Tuesday – wash rugs, bring in dumpster

Wednesday – wash dog blankets, wind antique clocks

Thursday – wash shirts and tops, iron as needed

Friday – wash undies, clean toilets

Saturday – let washing machine rest (smile here), water indoor plants

Our lives have become simple routines that we are comfortable living within.

With many of the restrictions lifted, I feel it is time to break out of that comfort zone. I need to call a friend so we can meet for coffee, or walk the aisles in the grocery store to see if they’ve added new items, or take an afternoon to browse the library shelves.

But, sadly, I find myself changing my mind and staying home in my comfort zone. I know it’s time to connect with the world, find a new book, try a challenging hobby, and make coffee with a friend a priority.

The adage of knowing and doing are two very different things applies to me. I really need a new comfort zone.

Believing in tomorrow.

Gini

Fiction for Quilters

What entices you to buy a book? The author? The cover? The description? Reviews? Favorite themes or tropes? Some combination of all of these elements?

When I encounter a new author, the subject matter is often a compelling motivator to buy the book. Women’s fiction that includes small towns and independent women always gets a second look. If the book also involves quilting, it moves to the top of my list.

If you feel the same, check out these books that feature quilting as part of the story.

Forget Me Knot (A Quilting Mystery Book 1)

Welcome to San Fernando Valley, California, where Martha Rose and her coterie of quilters are enjoying life on the good side of retirement—until murder pulls a stitch out of their plans. . .

Martha and her besties Lucy and Birdie are set to expand their Quilty Tuesdays by inviting newcomer Claire Terry into their group. Though at forty Claire’s a tad younger than their average age, her crafty reputation could perk up their patchwork proceedings, especially as they prepare for the fancy quilt show coming to town. But when they arrive at Claire’s home and find her dead inside the front door, and her exquisite, prize-winning quilts soon missing, Martha is not one to leave a mystery unraveled. Especially if she wants to stop a killer from establishing a deadly pattern. . .

Quilters of the Door (The Door County Quilt Series)

Enjoy this new series from Ann Hazelwood, The Door County Quilt Series. This first novel introduces you to Claire Stewart and her life in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.

Claire Stewart, a new resident of the county, joins a prestigious small quilting club when her best friend moves away. Claire is a watercolor quilt artist, and the beauty of Door County captivates her right away.

Claire’s new friends and her quilt group provide fun, but it’s the man with the red scarf who intrigues her. As she grows more comfortable after escaping a bad relationship, new ideas and surprises abound as friendships, quilting, and her love life all change for the better.

The Sweet Tea Quilting Bee (Southern Grace Book 5)

A stranger’s murder in the dark alley behind May’s Flower Shop is causing the residents of Park Place, South Carolina to keep their children inside and their doors locked at night. Banty Hen Antique Shop owners, Sam and Valerie Owens, are caught right smack dab in the middle since they were the last ones to see the victim alive. Valerie’s new venture, the Sweet Tea Quilting Bee is comprised of an eclectic mix of women, calling themselves ‘newbies’ and ‘oldies’ in the art of quilting. Their weekly meetings help keep Valerie’s mind off the murder, but it’s hard to keep the secret from the ladies that the victim was killed over, of all things, a quilt! The murder suspect has been described as tall and thin, a pitifully vague description, but Police Chief Jess Hamilton and his new detective, a self-described Columbo, are on the case, questioning every tall and thin person in town. Even Sister Margaret, a nun who has just begun her mission at St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church, doesn’t go unnoticed. But it’s hard not to notice a nun who dances, and sings along with country music when she thinks no one’s watching.

Miranda Hathaway Boxed Set: Cutler Quilt Guild Adventures #1-3

This exciting box set includes the first three adventures of Miranda Hathaway and Cutler Quilt Guild Number One:

Book One – The Quilt Ripper: Miranda gets involved in the search for a burglar who simply tears apart vintage quilted pieces and seemingly steals nothing.

Book Two – The Missing Quilter: While helping daughter Zoey search for her missing friend, Olivia; Miranda goes missing.

Book Three – The Quilt Show Caper; To raise money for the school, the guild is holding its first ever quilt show with the oldest quilt in Pennsylvania on display when someone turns on the sprinklers—and steals the cash from the show.

Throughout these adventures, Miranda is assisted by Gabe Downing, a former FBI agent; and Harry, her cat, who always knows when something is wrong.

Birds in the Air

When Emma Byrd moves into the house of her dreams in the small mountain community of Sweet Anne’s Gap, she knows that making friends may prove to be her biggest challenge. Her husband loves his new job and her kids are finding their way at school. But Emma — no natural when it comes to talking to strangers — will have to try a little harder, especially after the sweet, white-haired neighbor she first visits slams the door in her face. Luckily, a few of the quilters of Sweet Anne’s Gap adopt Emma and she soon finds herself organizing the quilt show for the town’s centennial celebration. With Birds in the Air, Frances O’Roark Dowell (winner of the Edgar Award, the William Allen White Award and the Christopher Medal) creates a warm, funny novel about fitting in, falling out and mending frayed relationships one stitch at a time.

You can also enjoy my women’s fiction with quilting themes: The Quilt Company and Quilts Galore (The Shops on Wolf Creek Square, Book 1)

June – Celebrating Wisconsin Authors

There’s something special about reading a book set in a location you are familiar with, especially when that setting holds fond memories or is much loved.

When an author weaves in authentic details about a location, especially local traditions, culture, and history, the setting becomes another character in the story.

For me, Wisconsin is such a place. What makes The Badger State special for me is its expansive shoreline, quaint small towns proud of their history, creative and beautiful artisan crafts, and a strong sense of community no matter where you live in the state.

Here are five Wisconsin authors whose books showcase what I love about our state.

Kate Bowman – For the Love of Fiber Series, which includes The Spin I’m in and It Never Felt so Good

Virginia McCullough – Author of The Jacks of Her Heart, Greta’s Grace, The Chapels on the Hill, and other award-winning women’s fiction and romance.

Nancy Sweetland – The Door to Love: A Door County Romance

Valerie J. Clarizio – Love on the Door County Peninsula Series, which includes Talia & Ryan’s Story and Jess & Sam’s Story.

Mary Grace Murphy – Noshes Up North Culinary Mystery Series, which includes Death Nell, Death Knock, and Death Nosh.

You can also enjoy my women’s fiction romance, inspired by the joys of living in Wisconsin.

What is a place you love to read about?

Believing in Tomorrow,

Gini

April – Planning Ahead

With the uncertainty we are facing now and into the unknown future, we are forced to do more planning than we have had to do in the past. Our shopping mainstays – grocery and all-purpose stores – have limited items on their shelves, forcing us to adjust our meals and activities. Never before in recent years have we’ve seen empty spaces in our stores and wondered when they will be restocked.

As we focus on our homes, I’m reminded of a quilt block known as the Log Cabin design. Popular in the late 1800s, this block was traditionally made with a red square in the center of the block to represent the hearth of the home. Around that square, strips of light and dark fabrics were added in sequence. The light fabrics on one side represent the sunny side of the house while the dark fabrics are the shadow side.

It’s known that quilts with black center blocks were sometimes hung outside homes to indicate a safe haven for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad trying to make their way north to freedom. After the Civil War ended in 1865, there was a dramatic migration to settle the West. During that time, brides-to-be often used yellow center squares, thought to represent hope for their lives ahead.

New quilters often used this design to develop their skills for accurate cutting and sewing. They find the sewing requires attention to seam allowance, and it’s easy for a block to become slanted if the sewing is not precise.

My first attempt many years ago.

Recently I made a wall hanging using the Log Cabin pattern It was important to me that the cutting and sewing were accurate so the wall hanging would be square with the wall when it was done.

Recent finished project.

In my latest release, The Quilt Company, Deanna Westford uses the Log Cabin quilt design to describe the way she’s building her company, with each strip representing a different part of the business. She knows that each “log” of her business needs to be added accurately or her business will become out-of-line and collapse.

Our current lives require us to give accurate attention to the many aspects of our lives – the light and dark “logs” around our hearth – to make it through this difficult time.

I wish your family well keeping your Log Cabin safe.

Believing in Tomorrow,
Gini