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Monday, July 4, 2016

I received this book from Amazon to read and review as part of the Amazon Vine program. The Murder That Never Was: A Forensic Instincts Novel by Andrea Kane, published by Bonnie Meadow Publishing, (c) 2016, ISBN 9781682320006, Hard cover with dust jacket, 382 pages. This is the review I wrote:


This was my first book by this author, Andrea Kane. Apparently the book is the fifth in the Forensic Instincts series. On the dust jacket, they give short terms to classify each member of the FI team. It reminded me of the TV show Scorpion and each of those geniuses’ particular skills. The book did give some background on the team and bit about they have done in the past, but not so much that you felt like half the book was taken up with retelling the first book. In some respects, I felt like I was having to juggle too many main characters in my head. Generally, in most detective type books, there is one or at most two people working their way through to a resolution of a crime. In this book, there were 6 people plus a dog on the main team and then add in several boyfriends, girlfriends, wives and brothers and team grows. Two of the women’s names started with the same letter so for about half the book I kept mixing up Casey and Clair in my head. Then add in the clients, three more people. The ‘bad’ guys numbered six named individuals. There were a lot of folks to remember. I think this is why, even though the story itself was interesting, I wasn’t devouring the book at my usual pace.
Much of the team’s actions revolved around one guy, Ryan, and his remarkable computer skills including hacking. Another team member, Claire who could see into the past by holding onto an object of another person and could feel and see them in their distress. There were several scenes of couples having sexual marathons and thank goodness the author didn’t feel the need to describe them in detail, but in my opinion they didn’t add a thing to the story.
Perhaps if I had read the first book in this series, I would have been able to identify with the characters better, but somehow I felt something was missing from the book that I can’t put my finger on. Not saying the book was bad, it did have an interesting story involving athletes working towards the prize of a place on the Olympic team and performance enhancing drugs (PED). Something else that I had to figure out for myself. Unless I missed it, from the beginning of the book they referred to PEDs but it was many chapters later that you understood what those letters stood for. In this case if you aren’t into sports or sports news, this would perhaps go right over your head. For those that have missed being able to ‘boo hiss’ at Russians (in novels) since the USSR dissolved there is even an evil Russian to hate in the story.

This is one of those books that you want to be enthusiastic about. It has a different slant on a topic that would be very newsworthy if the book were true. It lightly touches on what some children go through as part of the foster care programs. There is a competent team of detectives racing time to solve the mystery, yet it just didn't highly impress me and I gave it 4 out of five stars. If you read it, perhaps you could comment on your take on the story or any of the other books in this series.

All the books in this series are available on the Kindle. Don't have one? Today is a great day to buy one. I thought I wouldn't like one and would miss the feel of a book. Believe me, when reading on my Kindle I don't miss the feel of a books in my hands at all as I didn't realize how much of my hand pain was associated with holding  a book open, especially a paperback.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Country Living Chadwick Nightstand, Cherry

This review is for the Country Living Chadwick Nightstand, Cherry  that can be purchased on Amazon ASIN B0116M9Y16. You can get the entire bedroom set as well. This is a review that I did for
First off this nightstand is gorgeous! The wood is beautiful and the color of the wood gives this nightstand a rich warm look.

Secondly, the nightstand came fully assembled. My husband had already told me no more bits of things that need put together. I really read the product page but still wasn’t sure if it was going to come in a box of wood and screws, but I was crossing my fingers that it would be in one piece. Coming fully assembled, it meant it could be put right into place. I am not using it for a nightstand, but as a table to hold my Janome 300e (the latest model being the 400e) embroidery machine as well as the machine’s hoops. The drawer I had been keeping them in also had a large amount of quilting rulers and templates and so things were a bit of a jumble when I needed to pull out a hoop.
It will be so nice to embroider something without having to reach up and aggravate my shoulder arthritis. I’m trying to turn my whole sewing room into a place that is easier to use as this disease eats away at me. I have gotten many things that help, but this piece of furniture is the best looking thing by far. My husband loves it and felt it was well put together. As he works with wood in his business, he was also very impressed with the construction and the wood used in the nightstand.

Please note that that in the attached photos, the ones with the drawers open show the color of the nightstand best. It has one top drawer and one bottom drawer, although it looks like two drawers, the bottom drawer looks like it can hold a lot depending on what you are using it for. I would have no problem using this piece anywhere in the house. It does come with levelers if needed as well as care instructions. You do not need to use furniture polish and its use is discouraged.
My sewing room is slowly starting to get sorted out and I have a stack of projects waiting in the wings, especially some embroidery projects. Janome has been coming out with some spiffy new machines lately. I've downloaded the manuals to read, and they sound wonderful, but they are not in the budget of someone that lives mostly off a SS check! Also another one called the Janome Memory Craft 9400 is coming out in a few days, that is strictly a sewing machine with 9mm wide stitches, and about 100 more stitches than my 7700. This is dreamland for me.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Review of DII Zig Zag Weave Kitchen Dishtowels

I was given the opportunity to review these towels for Amazon. DII 100% Cotton, Basic Everyday, Machine Washable, Monogrammable, 16 x 28" Zig Zag Weave Kitchen Dishtowel, Set of 4- Neon Lime. Here is my review and what I did with one of them and what I plan for the rest.

There are three things that I check for when buying towels of any kind. How well made they are, including how thick or thin. Towels that are too thick can take a really long time (thus money) to dry in the dryer and if you line dry your laundry, they can take a lot longer than other things and end up scratchier and stiffer than your other towels. So on this item, these towels were exactly right. Not too thick or thin, and as they would generally be used for dish towels, they have enough 'oomph' to dry more than one or two dishes before getting saturated. In regards to washing and drying them, the tag states that they are 100% cotton, made in Pakistan, wash in cold water and tumble dry low, low iron. Does anyone really iron their dish towels? By their very nature and what use they are put to, I don't ever wash towels on cold water. I wash them in hot or at the minimum warm water as I want at least a bit of a chance of killing off any germs they may have picked up. They also get the hottest drying of anything else in our laundry. So I do need to report that if you wash towels like I do, you can expect them to shrink up lengthwise about an inch and half. I saw no measureable difference in widths between the washed towel and the unwashed one. See photo. The top towel was the one that went through the wash and the bottom towel was still brand new. A piece of white paper was inserted between the two to highlight the difference.

The second thing I look at, actually probably the first as that is what catches my eye, and that is color. Believe me, I would never ever pick lime green towels to come into my house but that doesn't mean I didn't find a use for them! So far I have turned one into a burp rag for a baby. The rest will follow made up as the first.

The third thing I am concerned about is whether or not I can hoop the towel and do machine embroidery on it. If a towel is too thick the hoop pops open in the midst of the embroidery which pretty much spoils the design. These towels were great for embroidery as the pictures show. I make Project Linus quilts and the ones that I am currently working on are blue and green frog based. So for the mostly blue based frog quilt (boy) I made a burp rag with a frog design on one end and a saying "Burp Baby Burp!" on the other. The frog design is from Embroidery Library #C7977, my most favorite site for getting machine embroidery designs. Don't forget that when embroidering on terry cloth, to use a wash away stabilizer on top of the towel to keep the terry loops from getting in the way. I'm not sure what happen to the close up photo of the words as I'm just getting used to the camera and downloading photos.

These towels I would give 5 stars and wish I could have gotten them in colors I would use in my house, but instead they will eventually be part of a charitable gift, so the color was actually the perfect one to receive.  I hope this gives you some ideas if you end up with some weird colored towels that you don't know what to do with, make them into fashionable Burp Towels for baby.


Friday, March 11, 2016

DII Home Essentials Foldable Fabric Storage Containers

I was delighted to use and review these DII Home Essentials Foldable Fabric Storage Containers being sold by
I was pleased to have a chance to try these collapsible boxes out. I’m always on the prowl for items that I can use in my sewing room to make me more efficient or to help me better organize items. When I received these, I was in the process of cutting up scraps pieces for scrap quilts. Since scrap quilts are my favorite, I have specific sizes of pieces that I cut and those can make many different types blocks. However, I was running out of storage places especially since I decided that when possible I would cut a 10” square out of the scraps in case I needed a larger or more sizes of pieces or for the Kaleidoscope quilt that I just found in a magazine. I’ve wanted to make one of those for a long time and this one called for 10” pieces to cut down.

It was very easy to set the boxes up and for those that wonder what the ‘loose’ square is for, it fits in the bottom to give strength and help the boxes stay open. It would be nice if they had a lid.

This is my first time using this camera and I don't know how to set the date yet.   This box shows four different sizes of quilts pieces; 2 ½” squares, 4 ½” squares, 2 ½” x 4 ½” rectangle and a 5” square that can be used as is or used in triangle production. All of these sizes fit easily in the second box.  They are going to be a great help in my quilting process.
I especially like the color of the boxes since red is my favorite color. However, there are many different colors as well as sizes to chose from when purchasing.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

DII 100% Cotton, Professional Stripe Bib Apron

Here is a review of a great apron I just got through the Amazon Vine program. I love it but there are a few things to think about. One things I didn't notice until I had finished my review and looked at some others, this is a rather long apron. Since I like wearing longer skirts, etc. I didn't notice, but if you are short and don't have the ability to hem the apron up you might want to reconsider buying this particular apron. Since it is a heavy cotton, I would recommend for hemming the use of a sewing machine instead of by hand.  For the current price of $10.99 it is a good value as well when you consider the time and cost of fabric to make it yourself .


I love wearing chef's or butcher type aprons. When I make aprons for myself, this is the style I choose, so I was very happy to get this one to try. Right out of the package it had a slight funny odor to it. While it is advertised as having two front pockets, mine only has on large one. If I feel the need for two, I can sew a seam down the middle of the pocket and end up with two pockets so this is not a problem for me. If I got that ambitious I would also make a loop to have a towel hang from which is also a preference of mine that I make when making an apron.
The apron is also advertised as having the ability to have the ties wrap around and tie in front. I think that ability is solely dependent on the height and weight of the wearer. This apron has something I have never seen before and I wouldn't mind trying to mimic it on the next apron I make. Instead of the separate neck loop and separate side ties, the ties come around the neck and through a casing on the upper edges of the apron and then come out to be tied in back. This is great for being able to adjust the apron to cover you where you most want it and to accommodate different heights of cooks. For me at 5'8" and overweight, I can only tie the apron in the back which is fine with me. Unless you are super skinny and a bit on the short side, I don't think you will be able to tie the apron in front. Or if you can manage to tie it in front, you will only get just a small bow or knot.
The apron is made of 100% heavy cotton fabric which will help prevent spills from soaking through. I like it very much and it is comfortable to wear. Once I wash it, I plan on machine embroidering a design on it but I want any potential shrinkage to happen first. The tag states that the apron is made in India for those concerned about where your products come from.
Even though it doesn’t coincide with what is stated on the product page, I am very happy with this apron and plan on using it often, thus the 5 stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Fiskars 18 Inch Billhook Saw - A disappointing Product

I received that Fiskars 18 inch Billhook Saw through the Amazon Vine program. I really looked forward to trying it out since I had high hopes for it, but was sadly disappointed. I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned, I never look at others reviews until my own is written. So once I posted my review (below) I looked at other reviews. Many also were disappointed in the dullness of the blade. One reviewer said it took him a good half hour to sharpen it. Others were very interestingly written. They gave high praise and 5 stars, but never actually admitted USING the saw. Others gave high praise claiming they had been able to accomplish much work with the saw right out of the package. Did they get a sharpened saw unlike most of us or are they making up stories? Enquiring minds want to know.


I really wanted to like this item. I have Fiskar scissors and punches in my sewing room so expected at least that quality. I received this saw right before an onslaught of snow so I had to wait to try it. It got warm and the snow melted (we are having the craziest winter!) and so with high anticipation a few minutes ago I went out to my weed/flower patch to get rid of the dead, dried out stuff. I first attempted to use the smooth saw side and it couldn't cut anything....Period! I tested the edge of that blade with fingers and thumb and it wasn't sharp at all. I don't think when you buy a brand new saw you should have to go find a way to sharpen it, if it is even possible. The packaging doesn't indicate that it is necessary. So I tried out the jagged edge of the saw. I did manage to cut down some 1/4" - 1/2" stems. But the cuts were very jagged and it wouldn't bite down and stay in one place. That could have been due to my poor muscle strength, but the harder and more pressure applied, the worse things got. A gardener probably doesn't care as much if trimming down weeds etc. you don't get smooth cuts, but if you used this to trim small branches off of trees and the like, it would leave a lot of jagged wood exposed which would be an invitation infestation and infection at the spot. Any tree and bush trimming needs to be done with smooth cuts to make it easier for the wound to heal. It did come with a nice sheath for storing the saw. Like I said, I really wanted this saw to work would have
accomplished more by using my usual gardening tools.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ready to Stitch: Borders & Motifs

Here is another book review of a great book that I purchased for myself.

Borders & Motifs by Michaela Learner ISBN 9781844489091 Published by Search Press 2014 UK, Printed in China. 96 pages of text with color photographs of completed work and diagrams for color use, plus 32 pages of 84 iron on embroidery transfers. Softcover Book. From the Ready to Stitch Series.

This book has many lovely designs that are classic in that they should be as lovely now as in 20+ years if someone wants to use them. One thing I really did like about this book is that many of the samples were stitched in two ways with different colored threads and different stitches so you can get ideas for how you might want to use the designs themselves. I don't recall ever seeing this in an embroidery book before and I do think I would like to see it more often. The only designs which I'm not sure I personally like, are the ones with fairies in them as they look like a cross between cherubs and fairies. Just a bit strange to me. Please note that in this book there are no fonts to embroider.

One of the designs in this book I have seen the UK magazine Stitch, October/November 2015 Issue 97 page 20 being used as a design on a tote bag. Before purchasing this book, I had already flagged this project as a possibility to do. I could flag just about every design in this book as possibilities to make as well. If only my hands could hold up for the job!

If you like to embroider, are looking for project ideas, or just like to read and look at needlework books, this is a very good embroidery book. Seeing the designs embroidered in two sets of colors and stitches makes it even more likely that you will come up with more ideas of how to use the designs.