What I’m Reading: Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries

39149Hold on to your top hats this is one Victorian mystery series you don’t want to miss out on. The Sebastian St. Cyr series is one I’ve had on my “To Read” list for well over a year.  I wanted to read it because it’s one of my favorite historical periods but mysteries for me are sort of hit or miss. Sometimes they’re predictible and other times they’re downright boring.  I hold them to a pretty high standard mostly because I got my start in the world of mystery from Mary Higgins Clark (Loves Music, Loves to Dance, anyone?)

How can I sell you on this series? Well for starters the author whose real name is Candice Proctor, is a legit historian with the Ph.D. to back it up and has field experience as an archaeologist.  The lady knows her game and knows it well.

But, it might be a bit dry and too much on the details of olde tyme Victorian Britain, you say.  It’s not.  It is a perfect blend of mystery, well placed and paced historical events and mannerisms, not to mention a cast of interesting characters who chafe against societal norms.  It’s brilliant.  And there’s even romance, though it only plays a minor role it does serve to move the plot forward with each new book.  Did I mention there’s an overall mystery that arcs through the ENTIRE SERIES?  Each book gives you a bit more to ponder.

My favorite thing I love about this series is that at the end of each book (currently I’m on #8) she puts in an Author’s Note that delves into the real historical events, objects and people used to create her story and gives the whys and hows.  It’s fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing and makes each book feel entirely plausible.  She even goes so far as to suggest other well-written books on the specific subject of each mystery.   It’s the historical facts that are woven so well into each story that really do it for me.

I would suggest starting with #1 (pictured above) and go from there.  The first book is a bit slow, but not a bad read.  Each book gets successively better and more intriguing as Sebastian moves throughout London and beyond.  Definitely fun and definitely informative (one of the few fictional books I’ve read that portray this time period without all the frills).

Happy Reading!

The Olde Towne Quilt

Quilt: Olde Towne Quilt

Pattern by: Kathy Schmitz for Moda

Finished size: 49 x 59


Last month I was finally able to gift the Old Towne Quilt to my Grandma Brewer.  This was such a satisfying make to finish because it was my way of thanking her for teaching me how to sew.  A visible tribute to her and a way of showcasing my current skills which have come a very long way since my first quilt back in 2005.

This was originally supposed to be gifted in November of 2016 around her birthday but a series of unfortunate events led her to become very ill for several months. It was only about the middle of spring 2017 that she was finally able to return home. It wouldn’t be till August when she was finally strong enough to attend my daughter’s 5th birthday where I showed her the quilt before it was bound. She was speechless.

My Grandma never thought that teaching a very stubborn and easily frustrated child to sew would have lead to creating quilts, costumes, ornaments, and a bounty of so many other creative outlets. Yet, it somehow did and she is so very proud and amazed.

Old Towne Quilt 2017

My Grandma is 82 years old and I know this quilt won’t hang forever on her wall, but I know she’ll think of me every time she sees it. It’s hard to imagine a future not being able to show her all the new things I’m working on or talking about techniques and sewing woes. Learn from everyone you can while you can. We are all given such a short time to live an amazing life.

xoxo Love you Grandma xoxo


Summer’s End


Whew! Summer is such a whirlwind of work, sweat, harvesting and events. I am very much looking forward to the slow down that is fall and the cooler weather it will bring in.





I got to geek out a little when the Stanley Cup came through the Dublin Irish Festival this year. Go NJ Devils! Even though I don’t keep up with the NHL or even local hockey these days it was still extremely cool and a nice check off the bucket list. The wee beastie did not find it nearly as exciting…..



The Fi Beastie celebrated her 5th birthday and the traditional FANTASTIC birthday weather held for another outdoor party.


This year was especially wonderful because nearly my entire family was present. Including my youngest sister and her 3 kids who came in from Virginia and my aunt and uncle and 2 cousins who were also visiting from Colorado.
My 9 nieces and nephews and my 2 cousins (the oldest) in the very back.


It was like the stars aligned…which they mostly did because a week later we had the full solar eclipse!

I even finally finished and gifted a very special quilt to my dear Grandma Brewer which I’ll post about soon, but yes it was very well received and loved.

Such a jam packed summer.

To the Outdoors!

Things have been exceptionally hectic around here.  I’ve gone back to work at a local garden center for the season and the work/life balance is taking it’s toll.  Even though some things have suffered, ie. no running currently and little creative time, I have been finding other ways to get in my happy one way or another.

I set up a make shift seed starting area in my basement in January and have so far managed a healthy crop of pansies and violas (though the pansies have yet to actually bloom which is strange) and the tomatoes are coming along quite well.

Tiny viola!

I discovered I really hate planting anything in peat pots.  They mildew and grow moss or fungus like crazy even when they’re allowed to dry out between waterings.  I ended up switching to plastic planters and as much as I hate plastic they will definitely endure several years of hard use and reuse, and most importantly I won’t have to fight off so much fungus.

Once I made the switch and moved all of my surviving violas and pansies they took off like mad!

First year growing violas from seed.

Look at those roots, baby! I also tried my hand at impatients and found out they take a ridiculously long time to germinate….like upwards of 28 days before you’ll see ANY sign that they’re viable seeds. I managed to grow a dozen or so but that was out of 50 seeds.  Not a good success rate.  I haven’t bothered with a heating mat which I’m sure would move things along, but I’ll add it the list for next year and maybe find better seed stock.

This spring has been another odd one for us here in the Midwest.  After a wet and mild winter, spring has been unseasonably warm and wet.  I’m getting very tired of being soggy all the time and to make matters worse we’ve been bouncing between high winds and freeze warnings the last two weeks.  It’s been hard on our sinuses and the plants.

But things are looking up and I’m slowly collecting plants to put in my beds.  A few new perennials, like three lime green sedums and two red hot bee balm plants to add to the collection, and the usual annuals.

The onion sets are in and as soon as the weather dries out enough the carrots will be planted along with the first rows of beans.  Gardening never takes a holiday!

Juxtaposition: A Modern Dresden Tutorial

Juxtaposition Title

Juxtaposition: A Modern Dresden

Designed and Quilted by Rebekah Taylor of The Little Red Thread

Finished Size: 34 x 34

I had the honor of designing another fun project from Betz White’s newest fabric line Juxtaposey for Riley Blake. The color in this line is LUSCIOUSLY saturated.  They range from bold red and gold to fuschia and navy. There is something for everyone’s palatte in these eccletic world-inspired designs.  And guys, there are llamas.


Nevermind that one of my favorite movies is the Emperor’s New Groove or the fact that I have several llama figurines.  I mean who knew llamas were such a popular, lovable animal? So when Betz asked if I wanted in on designing another project for her latest line there was no hesitation.

llama face

This pattern was designed using the Double Wide Dresden ruler by Me & My Sister Designs.  All fabric requirements are based around the use of this ruler.  The Double Wide ruler allows you to use only 10 fan blades to complete a circle verses a traditional Dresden ruler where you have 20 blades.  Because you are doubling the width of the fan blade these dresdens are not only made faster but are finished at both ends eliminating the need for a center circle.


¾ yd Posey Stripe Navy (tulip stripes and small dresden blades flowers)
½ yd Posey Medallion Navy (large dresden blades)
¼ yd Green Posey Main (medium dresden blades)
¼ yd Posey Star Green (small dresden blades)
1 ¼ yds Solid White (background)
1 ¼ yds White (backing)
¼ yd Pink (binding)

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Double Wide Dresden Ruler by Me & My Sister Designs
Turning tool/chop stick
Spray starch
Basting supplies


All pieced seams are sewn with 1/4″ seam allowance
All seams are pressed opened to reduce bulk

Blade Cutting

Center Dresden:

1. Cut an 8” wide strip of the Posey Medallion Navy aka The Llama Medallion.  Line up the 8” line at the bottom of the ruler onto the edge of your fabric, centering a llama medallion as best you can.  Cut 5 large blades.

2. Cut a 5” wide strip of the Green Posey Main. Line up the 5” line at the bottom of the ruler onto the edge of your fabric. Cut 5 medium blades.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Corner Dresdens:

3. Cut a strip of the posey flowers off of the Posey Stripe Navy, then carefully fussy cut the pink and blue flowers using the 3” line on the Double Wide Dresden ruler as a guide. Take your time, this is the hardest part. You may find that you will need to cut another strip to find enough usable flowers. Cut 10 small blue flower and 10 small pink flower blades.

4. Cut a 3” strip of the Posey Star Green then using the 3” line on the ruler cut 20 small blades.

You will have a total of 40 small dresden blades.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Dresden Assembly

1. Take a fan blade and fold it in half lengthwise. I like to give mine a quick press with my iron to crease the fold line, finger pressing works well too.  Sew ¼” at the top and bottom of the blade. Clip the inside corners just enough to reduce the bulk being careful not to cut through your stitches.


Press open the seams on each end of the blade using your fingers then turn each end right side out. A turning tool or chopstick is especially helpful for poking out the points, be gentle so you don’t push through the ends!

2. Flip your blade so the back is face up and line up the seams you finger pressed open on the center fold line you creased in step 1.  This centers your points. Carefully press them flat with your iron and a bit of steam.


Continue steps 1-2 until all your blades are done.

3. When all your blades have been sewn and pressed, arrange 10 blades to form a dresden plate in the pattern you like best.  For example, for the corner dresdens I used the green print then a blue/pink flower and alternated between those for the corner dresdens.

4. Starting with one dresden plate, take two blades place them right sides together and sew  them together starting at the bottom end of your seam.  As the center of this dresden is exposed rather than hidden your eye looks to the center first. Sewing from the bottom up will also keep your center points aligned all the way around.


*Tip* On the Center Dresden one blade is larger than the other. To keep the exposed sides tucked under on the larger blade go ahead and continue to sew the whole side once you pass the end of the medium blade seam.  When you press your seam open the stitch lines will create a natural exact ¼” for you to press under.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

5. Sew and press your blades in groups of 5. For the Center Dresden you will have alternating sizes.

6. Once you have all your blades sewn in groups of 5, take 2 matching blade groups and place them right sides together. Sew from the bottom up, press open and you will have a finished dresden!

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Repeat steps 1-5 (3) more times for a total of 4 small corner dresdens and 1 large center dresden.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Attaching the Dresdens

1. Cut one large 19” x 19” square and (4) 9” x 9” squares from your white background fabric.

2. Fold your squares into fourths and press the center just enough to make light creases. When you open them up you’ll have your exact center for each block.  Use the center points and crease lines to line up the Center Dresden on the 19” x 19” block. Pin in place being careful not to shift it too much.  Do the same for the (4) Corner Dresdens.

3. Sew on the dresdens to the background using any stitch you’d like. I used a machine blanket stitch.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

4. Lightly press your completed dresden block and measure your block again.  It may have shrunk ever so slightly (especially if you used a blanket stitch).

Square down your Center Dresden to 18 ½” square and your (4) Corner Dresdens down to 8 ½” square.  Take your time doing this and always measure twice before cutting.

Set squared blocks aside.

Tulip Border Assembly

1. Using the Posey Stripe Navy fussy cut a 4 ½” wide strip of tulips the width of your fabric. Cut 2 long strips. Cut each strip into 18 ½” lengths for a total of (4) 4 ½” x 18 ½” long tulip strips.

2. Using your remaining white background fabric cut (4) 2 ½” x 18 ½” long strips.

3. Sew one white border strip to one tulip border strip, press seam open.  Then sew a second white border strip onto the opposite side of the tulip strip. Press seam open.

Make 4.

Quilt Top Assembly

Layout your top using the finished picture as reference.

Start by assembling the Corner Dresden blocks and Tulip borders into horizontal rows.

1. To create one horizontal row take one Corner Dresden keeping your center point pointing up and sew one Tulip Border to the bottom of the Corner Dresden block, press open.  Take a second Corner Dresden, with the center point pointing up and sew that to the bottom of the Tulip Border.

Each Corner Dresden block should have its center points oriented in the same direction.

Make 2 rows like this.

2. To create the middle row take one Tulip border and sew it to the top of the Center Dresden (make sure your Center Dresden’s center point is oriented up), press seam open.  Sew the remaining Tulip border to the bottom of the Center Dresden and press seam open.

3. Sew the Corner Dresden rows to the middle row, press seams open.


1. Make your quilt sandwich (quilt top, batting, backing) and baste together using your favorite method.

2. Quilt! Quilting doesn’t need to be super fancy to have a wow factor. Sometimes straight lines carry a big punch.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

3. Cut 4 strips 2 ¼” wide the width of fabric from your pink fabric for your binding. Attach binding.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

Hang your new wall hanging in a favorite spot and enjoy! If you like how the one in the picture is displayed you can purchase the curtain rod and hangers at Ikea.

Juxtaposition Wall Hanging

I hope you loved this new pattern! It was quite a challenge to design but I learned so much from making this and I have found a new love for all things Dresden. Thanks also to Riley Blake and Betz White for providing the amazing fabric used to create this project!

Remember this pattern is free for personal use only, please respect copyright laws.

Happy Sewing!


I’ve been busy sewing on multiple projects over the last month, one which is still a little hush-hush and others are simply things I’ve been determined to finish.

Betz White is getting ready to release a new fabric line called Juxtaposey and it is so colorful.  I mean it’s saturated and deep and vibrant and lush….and there are llama, guys.  LLAMAS.  Naturally, I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some and now I’m designing a snazzy “posey” version of a dresden plate using the new Double Wide dresden ruler from Me and My Sister Designs.

It’s coming along so nicely and I can’t wait to share it with you once it’s done in April! It’s just what spring ordered!


Also, llamas. All the llamas.

In between cutting out tiny little plate pieces I’ve been doing some embroidery because why not?  I seem to suffer from an inability to finish one project before starting another.  Project burn out is real so there’s no harm in switching focus while your brain mulls things over.


Keep persisting on all those works in progress.

What I’m Reading: 2016 in books

I am very happy to annouce that I managed to read 41 of a 40 book challenge in 2016.  As usual my list included quite alot of romance, but I can assure you it wasn’t from lack of trying to find other interesting books.  There were several that I attempted that just did not peak any interest.

Justin Cronin’s, The Passage, for instance, I decided I just could not bear to finish.  That’s saying something.  If I give an author over 500 pages to conclude a plot in the first book of a trilogy and they still can not figure out where they are going with it, well, I have to start questioning the editor and publisher that picked it for public consumption.  It was an intense book and then a little over half way through it just came to a dead stop and switched gears.  The change in plot and characters was so abrupt that it felt like starting a new book. The only joy I took from discovering it was reading some of the reviews on Goodreads.  I was not alone in my opinion. But yeah.  It wasn’t all fun in literary land last year.

Without further ado here is my book list from 2016 (red highlights indicate excellent reads):

18966806 1. Smoldering Hunger, Donna Grant – paranormal romance
2. Moonlight Masquerade, Jude Deveraux – contemporary romance
3. The Eye of the World (EotW #1), Robert Jordan – epic fantasy
4. Morning Star, Pierce Brown – YA SciFi
5. The Great Hunt (EotW #2), Robert Jordan – epic fantasy
6. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline – SciFi
7. Dark Alpha’s Embrace, Donna Grant – paranormal romance
8. The Dragon Reborn (EotW #3), Robert Jordan – epic fantasy
9. Falling Into Bed With a Duke, Lorraine Heath – historical romance
10. The Midwife’s Apprentice, Karen Cushman – juvenile fiction/classic
11. Smoke & Fire, Donna Grant – paranormal romance
12. And Invitation to Sin, Suzanne Enoch – historical romance
13. Something Sinful, Suzanne Enoch – historical romance
14. Sins of a Duke, Suzanne Enoch – historical romance
15. An Affair to Remember, Karen Hawkins – historical romance
16. The New Shade Garden, Ken Druse – non-fiction, gardening
17. Nightfall, Jake Halpern – YA horror/fantasy
18. Wolf Hollow, Lauren Wolk – YA fiction
19. Strawberry Girl, Lois Lenski – juvenile fiction/classic
20. The Passage, Justin Cronin – fantasy/dystopian – DID NOT FINISH
21. Outrun the Moon, Stacey Lee – YA fiction/historical
22. Confessions of a Scoundrel, Karen Hawkins – historical romance
23. All the Right Places, Jenna Sutton – contemporary romance
24. Little Black Dress (bookshots), James Patterson – fiction
25. Cross Kill (bookshots), James Patterson – fiction
26. Chase (bookshots), James Patterson – fiction
27. ZOO, James Patterson – fiction
28. ZOO 2 (bookshots), James Patterson – fiction
29. Perfect, Judith McNaught – contemporary romance
30. Hogwarts: A Complete and Unreliable Guide (Pottermore #3), J.K. Rowling – YA fantasty
31. Ten Dollar Dinners, Melissa d’Arabian – non-fiction/cookbook
32. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Pottermore #1), J.K. Rowling – YA fantasy
33. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Pottermore #2), J.K. Rowling – YA fantasy
34. The Secret of the Old Clock, Carolyn Keene – juvenile mystery
35. How to Treat a Lady, Karen Hawkins – historical romance
36. Lady in Red, Karen Hawkins – historical romance
37. Just One Damn Thing After Another, Jodi Taylor – YA fiction/fantasy
38. And the Bride Wore Plaid, Karen Hawkins – historical romance
39. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver – non-fiction – DID NOT FINISH
40. Blood Lance, Jeri Westerson – historical mystery
41. Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles #1), Jeffery Archer – fiction historical

While I didn’t make it through the entire Eye of the World series, I did manage to get to book #4 (where I’m currently stalled because epic fantasy can really become a grind sometimes).  I’ll continue my slog through it, but won’t try to hold myself to finishing the whole series in one calendar year.

Read what you love!