“This quilt is taking forever” — a pathetic story, by Suzanne

This is the quilt I wanted to finish over the weekend, but ignored in favor of apples.  I feel like it’s taking forever, because it is. I think the original post about starting it is buried in the blog archives here, somewhere around 2010 (ish?). The machine quilting got started around the first of the year (2015).

I foolishly decided that this straight line quilting would look awesome in the border, and, while that is a true statement, it’s also the bane of my existence. It doesn’t really take that long, but I have this mental block telling me that it does. Brains are weird.

I really only have two more side border sections to do, plus a corner, but here I am, posting a stupid blog post about it, instead of turning the machine on and getting it done.

I’m all about looking for sympathy, I guess.

Just wait until I whine about doing the curved binding this thing is going to need after I cut the border into scallops.

Apple Sunday

I had one goal for today, and that was to finish the quilt that has been on the frame for months.

But then I stayed in bed until 10:00 and decided I wanted to try to make applesauce, so my day was instead spent making a gigantic mess in my kitchen.

No quilting happened, but I have nearly 6 quarts of applesauce, an apple crisp, and a cleaned up kitchen. I still vaguely sticky from all of the apples I processed, but it was worth it.

I thought maybe the boys would be interested in helping peel the apples, but one time through satisfied their curiosity. I lost count of how many I used — an entire 5 gallon buckets worth!IMG_3900

The apple peeler/corer/slicer came from my mother-in-law’s house. I was so glad I was able to find it! I would have given up if I’d had to peel by hand. After this first apple, I had to figure out how to adjust the depth of the peeler blade, to actual peel all of the peel, but once I had that going, there was no stopping me!

Having never made applesauce before, of course, I had to turn to the Internet for recipes. Many called for freshly squeezed lemons. I went with the lemon in a bottle, I was feeling adventurous enough making applesauce: squeezing lemons seemed a step too far for today. I’m not a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman, but I settled on following her instructions (except for the cinnamon).

My mom happened to stop over when I was getting ready to put the first batch through the blender — she made a comment about how she liked to leave hers chunky when she has made it in the past. NO CHUNKS for us, please. It needs to be SMOOTH. So in to the blender to be pureed! Mark has taste-tested and approved the texture. I think I probably used more sugar than his Mom used to, but I think I got the texture right!


And if that weren’t enough, I turned about 10 apples into a Caramel Apple Crisp. Oh heavenly day. Usually I’m a “it isn’t dessert if it isn’t chocolate” kind of  a girl, but wow. This was amazing. (Found here. I didn’t have pecans and I doubled it).

I still wish I had gotten some quilting in today, but I’m pretty thrilled with how my day turned out!

“Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith” by Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma Book Cover Charles and Emma
Deborah Heiligman
Juvenile Nonfiction
January 6, 2009

Michael L Printz Honor Book 2010


Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.

Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.

Charles and Emma is a 2009 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature.

I didn’t dislike this book, but I couldn’t quite figure out why it was considered worthy of honor by the Printz Committee — or of any of the honors it received.

It was…fine? I learned quite a bit, actually, about Darwin’s work and how he came up with his ideas, which was quite interesting, but the writing didn’t feel all that spectacular to me.

I guess I found myself comparing it to another non-fiction book that won a lot of awards recently — “Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin, and it did not hold up favorably. “Bomb” was a wonderful book — it was fast-paced, non-stop, and read like an adventure novel, but it was real!

“Charles and Emma” — it meandered and backtracked, and talked about a lot of minutiae. Maybe I just wasn’t crazy about the way in which the author wove in commentary from letters and journals — it all felt somewhat awkward and contrived.

I could tell that the author was very passionate about her subject, just as Darwin and his wife were passionate about their family, their love for each other, and the work that Darwin was doing. I guess it just wasn’t enough for me to really end up loving this book, too.

“Punkzilla” by Adam Rapp

Punkzilla Book Cover Punkzilla
Adam Rapp
Juvenile Fiction
Candlewick Press

Michael L Printz Honor Book 2010


An award-winning writer and playwright hits the open road for a searing novel-in-letters about a street kid on a highstakes trek across America.

For a runaway boy who goes by the name "Punkzilla," kicking a meth habit and a life of petty crime in Portland, Oregon, is a prelude to a mission: reconnecting with his older brother, a gay man dying of cancer in Memphis. Against a backdrop of seedy motels, dicey bus stations, and hitched rides, the desperate fourteen-year-old meets a colorful, sometimes dangerous cast of characters. And in letters to his sibling, he catalogs them all — from an abusive stranger and a ghostly girl to a kind transsexual and an old woman with an oozing eye. The language is raw and revealing, crackling with visceral details and dark humor, yet with each interstate exit Punkzilla’s journey grows more urgent: will he make it to Tennessee in time? This daring novel offers a narrative worthy of Kerouac and a keen insight into the power of chance encounters.

I am not the target audience for this book, and while that doesn’t usually matter for a lot of books (a good book is a good book regardless of genre or targeted age-range), this one did nothing for me.

I can appreciate the literary merit. I’m probably reacting as a mom of teenaged boys who would very much like to pretend that the kind of world the 14 year boy in this book lives in doesn’t exist.

Runaways, drugs, sex, homelessness, AIDS, death, prostitution, and on and on……the world is such an ugly place for some people. If nothing else, I guess this book is a good reminder for me of just how lucky my family and I are. And maybe a call to action to help make the world suck less for other people, if I can.

Wrapping up 2009

As I said in a recent post, I got bogged down and side-tracked by a book in the 2009 Printz honored list. It’s been a month or more since I read some of these, and I don’t feel like I’ve done them justice in the posts I’ve made.

It’s also been a ridiculously busy time of the year — we’re already 4.5 weeks into the new school year, and I’ve managed to spend some evenings doing nothing more than playing Candy Crush Saga and it’s evil twin Candy Crush Soda Saga.

I liked most of this month’s books, and I still feel guilty about not liking one of them. I’m not sure what that says about me.

I’m already on to the 2010 list of books, and hope to keep up the momentum now that I’m past 2009. I’ve been reading many of these books via Oyster Books, an ebook subscription service — they’ve just announced that they are shuttering their service in 2016, so I need to hurry and read the books that are on my reading list from them. I very purposely DIDN’T switch to the Kindle Unlimited program when it came out, and I don’t know that I will. I’ve been trying to check on some of the books I’d like to read that are in Oyster, and finding that they aren’t in KU.