Tips for machine quilters …. from Ikea

 

Tip #1 :  Ikea is a great place to buy quilt backing!!!

I went to Ikea the other day to buy some backing fabric for a couple of quilts.  I went knowing that I wanted to get this fabric, for sure, and wanted to check out a couple of others they had.

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So I bought all of this that they had (you know how quilters are).  When I saw this fabric online, I didn’t realize the scale was so big.  So when I saw it in person, I liked it even more, and immediately thought… that would be an awesome quilting pattern!  I didn’t really find anything else in the fabric dept. that was going to work …….. but, when I came to the bedding dept. I sure did.  The fabric in some of their duvet cover sets was perfect.  So, I checked out how the display duvets were constructed, and realized I could just buy one, take out the seams, and have the backing fabric for my quilt.  The only thing that kept me from filling my cart was the fact that a lot of them had a very low (105 and 120) thread count.  I decided to buy only one and see if the weave closed up any once I washed and dried it on hot (it did tighten up quite a bit, but it definitely isn’t like Kona quality or anything, lol).  You really do need to read the labels, because they went from ones with a really low thread count, to a fairly high thread count (which I didn’t want either).  The other thing you want to look at is the content, most were cotton, but some were cotton/poly blend.  I did buy one that has a large gray stipple pattern on it, that is a cotton/poly blend … but, I’m ok with that.  I know from experience that it will quilt fine, and will end up outlasting the fabrics on the front of the quilt (AND it works perfect for a quilt that I need a backing for, lol).  Oh, and even if you don’t like any of the prints, they also have them in quite a few solids as well.

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When I got home, I realized that they were both sewn differently, the stipple pattern one was only sewn on one side and the bottom, so after deconstructing (I just snipped a couple of threads, and then was able to just rip the seams open without damaging the fabric at all, it literally took like 2 minutes to do), I threw them in the washer/dryer, and then measured them to see how much yardage I ended up with.

The one with a side and bottom seam when opened up gave me an 88″ x 128″ piece, so I got 3.5 yds of 88″ wide backing fabric for 2.85 a yard (it was 9.99 for a twin set).

The other one was sewn only on the two sides, and when opened up gave me a 64″ x 168″ piece, so I got 4.6 yds of 64″ wide fabric for 3.26 a yard (this one was 14.99 for the twin set).

Plus, I got a couple of pillowcases as a bonus …… they will be great for keeping the quilts in when they are done.

Tip #2:  You can use these Ikea fabrics to quilt from the backside of your quilt! (this will work no matter what type of machine you use too, longarm or domestic)

I know this is nothing new, everyone has heard about quilting the designs on your backing fabric to create the allover quilting patterns on the front of your quilt.  But, I just can’t believe how cool these look!  And perfect for modern quilts!  I just had to share.

So what you want to do, if you have a longarm, is just load your quilt/fabric top where the backing would normally go, and load the backing/print fabric on the top so you can use it as a stitching pattern.  If you quilt on a domestic machine, you would just baste your quilt layers as you normally do, but then quilt it with the backing side up.

I started by trying the black and white yardage that I bought:  For both samples I used cotton batting, knowing that I wanted to wash it afterwards to get lots of crinkly texture.

I just simply stitched along the long curvy lines, then I tried doing all of the lines printed, as well as what would happen if you decided to add some designs in between the lines, etc.  I like just the long wavy lines best myself.

During quilting:

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Front after quilting:

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Front after washing/drying:

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Next I did the same fabric (which was a duvet cover), that is in tan, and printed in a much smaller scale:

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The front after quilting:

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After washing/drying:

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I really like the larger one, but I LOVE the smaller version.

I can’t wait to try this on a full size quilt!

 

 

 

New Quilt Tiki Dilemma

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I finished sewing the binding and label on a new quilt this morning …. ugh, I truly despise this part of the quilt making process … even more than binding.  And of course, it didn’t help that I waited until the absolute LAST minute to do it.

I designed this quilt, hmmm, probably close to 2 years ago.  I knew I wanted to call it something with “Tiki” in it, because it reminded me of that as soon as I finished making the top, and saw it as a whole (not sure why, but it did, lol).

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I figured I would come up with exactly what the name would be later. Not far into the process of making the quilt, I realized the quilt kind of named itself, lol … it truly was one dilemma after another as I made the quilt,  so … the quilt name became “Tiki Dilemma”.  I thought I would share exactly what a couple of those dilemmas were that I ran into as I worked.

It started right from the get go, when I was ready to start piecing the quilt.  From the picture below, you can see that the quilt was intended to be made with only piecing.  But, I was going to a quilt retreat, and my mission for the trip was to totally piece 4 projects (and I did), but, the problem came a few days before I left for the reteat, when I sat down to figure out the piecing so I could cut everything out before I went.  Well … math is NOT my thing, so trying to figure out the piecing just drives me crazy.  Anyway, after looking at the quilt design for awhile, and being totally baffled by how difficult it looked like it was going to be, I realized that it would be ALOT easier if I just appliqued the big orange shapes.

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So I very quickly made a huge applique template, and got to work cutting my washaway applique shapes.  I actually love it so much more, because the fact that those shapes are appliqued adds to the illusion that the shapes are the foremost shapes on the quilt (because now they are :).

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My next dilemma came when I ready (yes, almost two years later) to come up with a quilting plan, and quilt it.  It really wasn’t difficult to come up with a quilting plan,  I knew basically what I wanted to do.  In order to show depth, I wanted the tan background to have the tightest quilting, then the yellow “poles” would have a medium density quilting, and finally the orange appliques would have the least quilting on them.  So, I doodled a little on a printout of the quilt, and came up with my plan.  I did not want this quilt to be “quilted to death”, the scale of the elements in the quilt were SO large that it really needed to have similarly scaled quilting designs (not that I’m any kind of expert on design, but to my eye, that was what it needed).  My next step was to make a small sample piece with some of the elements to try out the designs I had in mind to see how they would behave on the quilt.  I found that some designs did work, and some just didn’t.  You can see from the pic of my samples below, that the quilting I had planned for the yellow strips (I wanted to do straight lines in different distances apart to give the illusion of the “poles” being rounded) just didn’t work, the lines on the outside edges of the yellow were too close together and distorted the piecing.  I also found that the design I originally planned to do in the maroon squares was too close together and also caused distortion.  I used the actual batting combination I planned to use, and boy am I glad I did, because my sample showed me that I needed to change my batting choice too …way to puffy, it was causing puckers in the background quilting.  So, I came up with the changes for the quilting problems, and I actually like them better now …. they are much cleaner, and minimal, and actually work better with the quilt.  The background quilting is simply a tiny copy of the applique shape.  I decided to do them smaller behind the orange applique, and then elongate them as they moved away from the orange so the eye was drawn into the shapes.  So, I marked each and every one those little shapes on the entire background, I used a frixion marking pen that irons off, but I washed the quilt to get rid of the markings.  I was impressed that I was able to mark the entire quilt with one marking pen, and only had to use a new one for the last few shapes I marked.  I used permacore thread (from Signature) for all of the quilting.  I really like to see the thread, yes, even in the background quilting, I like the added textural dimension.  I used two layers of batting, Legacy EcoBlend on the bottom, and Legacy poly on top (since my original batting choices just didn’t work).  I quilted it, with no problems, took it off, and that is when my next dilemma started …….

I kept looking at it, and looking at it, and was simply TORN!  I was absolutely thrilled with the quilt as a whole, it was exactly as I envisioned it.  BUT, that is when my over-thinking began.  I have entered a lot of quilts in shows, but, the majority of them are machine quilting based shows, which I know means they kind of need to be quilted to death, lol.  The quilting is where the emphasis of the judging is placed.  But, I really did not envision that kind of quilting for this quilt, and it really (to me) just does not GO with the design of this quilt.  I kept over thinking, and back on the machine my little sample went, to see what options I could come up with ………. as you can see from the sample pics, I played with filling between the shapes, adding circles, etc., and then filling.

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Well, some of the options looked good, but just not for this quilt, the scale of the piecing/applique just didn’t support that tight of a  quilting design.  So, I asked the expert, lol, my son Josh (the architect/designer) …. he is just so wise :)!  He couldn’t understand what the dilemma was ………… he told me “Mom, you have to stay true to your original design, don’t change it to fit what you think somebody else wants to see”.  And so, I did!  Thanks Josh!  I REALLY like this quilt ….. and I do plan to try entering it in some shows, so I can share it with other quilters, but I also want to get some feedback  from judges comment sheets.

Sorry if that was a little rambling, lol …………………….. I haven’t had a lot of time for computer stuff, and have been trying to finish this post for a really long time (obviously, I didn’t just finish binding it today, it has been bound for a while, and is now in Texas to be hung at Quiltcon).  So, if you are at Quiltcon, and have a chance to see it in person, I’d love to hear  (now knowing my “dilemma”) what you think …………………

Chopsticks – Quiltcon or Bust! … The story

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I posted a picture of this quilt on facebook yesterday, and wanted to give you the full story of this quilt, as “I” can’t take all the credit for it:).  So…. ever since the first Quiltcon show in 2013, myself and two of my best friends (and fellow longarm quilters) Nancy Gano and Eva Birch, decided that we had to make it to the 2015 Quiltcon show.  So, this past year, as information on the show became available, we discussed it, and went back and forth about how none of us could really justify paying for the trip “just to go”. So, back in July, we found ourselves at our annual quilt retreat, still trying to figure out how we could go to the show.  So, I made a suggestion … what if we worked together on a quilt, tried entering it in some shows, and maybe, just maybe we would win, and use the prize money to help pay for the trip ……….. I know, a long shot, but, really, what could it hurt to try right?!?!.  OK, so none of us has any spare time with quilting for others, etc., but, if each one of us only had to do “part” of the quilt, and we kept it fairly small, we thought we could make it happen.  So, we remembered that Nancy had this gorgeous quilt that she had designed and pieced (and had been trying to talk one of us into quilting for her for quite some time).  I LOVED this quilt top.  Years ago, I had been hand dying a lot of fabric, and of course, after washing and trimming, I had a big bag of cut offs from the edges that I had saved, I just couldn’t throw them away. When I cleaned up my quilting room one time, I realized that I was not ever going to do anything with these scraps, soooo, I asked if anyone wanted them …. and yes, Nancy took them.  She later came to a meeting and showed us this amazing quilt top she had designed and improvisationally paper pieced with those hand dyed scraps… and her choice of the deep plum color that she set them with was stunning!  She had named it “Chopsticks”.  So it was decided we would quilt Chopsticks, and this would be the quilt we work together on.  We all met shortly after the retreat to come up with a quilting plan, and timeline to get this thing done in time to enter it in the MQX Midwest show  (since we would be there to see it hanging).  Nancy had already done here part, she pieced it, and beautifully, I might add.  So Eva took the quilt first, and did all of the SID and linework, which she is VERY good at, and when she was done, the quilt was basically quilted, so it didn’t need to be basted or anything, she took it off the machine, and brought it to me.

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I added the background quilting.  Nancy wanted what she calls the “Circle Pops” for the fill, and so that’s what I did.  It was soooo cool to get to create something with these girls, we work great as a team, and it was the BEST, not having to do ALL of the work:)!  There was only one hiccup in the whole process, and that was that we initially had added some other elements in the background area, but, when I was done with the fill, and hung it up and looked at it, all I could see were those open areas we decided to leave in the background.  I really couldn’t see past them, to me, the piecing was so, clean and crisp, that it just needed one solid fill behind it, and nothing distracting from the piecing design, so yes, a little ripping on my end was involved, and more filler (it was nothing too terrible, lol).  So, we got it bound, sleeve, and label on just in time to ship of to the MQX Midwest show. We had already entered the quilt in the show, unquilted. Nancy and Eva were a little concerned about doing this, but, I assured them, that this is better, because now we CAN”T procrastinate, and we WILL get it done (I personally work best this way, lol).  The only bad thing about being in such a rush, is that we didn’t have the time to properly block the quilt, but, we know it needs done, and will take care of that before it gets sent to any other shows.  When we entered the quilt, we changed the quilt name to reflect the story of the quilt “Chopsticks – Quiltcon of Bust!”.  This was the first time Nancy had ever entered a quilt for show, so it was awesome that it received a Faculty Ribbon from Linda Poole!  And, we were able to get a pic of us with the quilt.

Nancy with her quilt:

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The three of us:

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Congratulations were also in order for Eva, for her 1st place win at MQX for a quilt she quilted for one of her customers

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And so….we very quickly realized that, we are probably not going to win a bunch of prize money to help pay for the trip, lol, but, it turned out to be very rewarding.  We have entered the quilt in a few other show, and in the mean time have booked our trip to Quiltcon …. so, if we happen to win a couple of bucks towards going, it will be great, but if not, we will still be going to the show, lol.  We are hoping it gets accepted to the Quiltcon show, so that we can see it hanging there in person:)!!!!

New Quilt Process, Part 2 (better late than never)

Oh boy, I really dropped the ball on this step by step process  …………  sorry!   I am going to continue to show how I made this quilt, but I have to admit, that  I really did not do a very good job at documenting the rest of the process. I took it along on a quilt retreat to finish it, and …. forgot my camera, ooops.  But, I had to  go ahead and finish it, as this was my only opportunity to have 4 days of uninterrupted time to work on my own quilts.

But, before I pick up where I left off, I wanted to share this:

This is my quilt “Keep It Simple”, it won the “Best Modern Quilt” award at the AQS Show in Phoenix.  OMG!  I was totally shocked when I received the phone call from the show to tell me I had won.  I was amazed to win this award, and of course, after being totally shocked, and then thrilled to have won, my mind instantly went to …. Maybe they called the wrong person, I better wait until I see it officially on the website.  Seriously, I don’t know WHY I do that!?  But, I do, every time, lol.

Thanks to Jessica for taking a pic of it with the ribbon, hanging at the show!

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And here is a close up from while I was quilting it.  The whole quilt design, including the quilting was inspired from the backing fabric, you can see it in this picture on the take up roller.

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OK, so, back to the quilt process!!!

So, my next step was to prepare my applique shapes, and apply them to the background.  I use Sharon Schamber’s machine applique method.I will share with you the few pictures I took, but, at this point, rather than me going through the whole process, I will suggest you click on over to Christy’s (Sharon’s Daughter) blog Sew Much like Mom and watch her amazing, step by step Video Tutorial on how to do this, the right way (as I have kind of gotten lazy in the way I do it, lol).  Also, you can find all the supplies you need at Christy’s Online Shop Purple Daisies, LLC .  Their applique interfacing/stabilizer is the best!

So, after tracing my applique design onto my background fabric using the light box, and trimming it up, I peeled my freezer paper off, and this time, put it under my applique stabilizer, and traced  each of the shapes, so I could cut them out of the stablizer  for my applique.  I have experimented with many different products for this, and have to say the one Sharon uses is my favorite by far, it is the “most firm” and it makes it easier to turn the fabric edges to the back of my applique shapes.  but, because this was kind of an “on a whim project”, and I wanted to do it NOW, this was all I could find locally at Joann’s:

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As you can see below, I then cut out my stabilizer shapes, and using my glue stick, ironed them onto my applique fabric.

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I then cut out all of the shapes using somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4″ around the outside of each shape.  For my long straight black pieces, I did not need to leave any fabric to turn to the back, as the ends will be tucked under another applique shape.

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The next step was to use my purple, Elmers washable glue stick to turn the fabric around the edges of the stabilizer

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You need to glue and turn only a small section at a time.  The glue tends to dry too quickly for me to put the glue on the whole shape and then turn it all at once.  The trick is to kind of do tiny little pinches as you go around, being sure to keep all of your edges nice and smooth.  I use a travel iron, as you can’t see what you are doing if you try to use a normal size iron.  I just glue a small area, fold over, and then quickly hit it with the tip of my travel iron to dry the glue, then move on to the next section.

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Once you have turned all of the edges, you end up with these awesomely perfect little shapes!

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You should definitely watch the video to see how this should be done, as this is where I get lazy.  You are supposed to use white school glue now to attach the shapes to the background, but …. I just hate cleaning out my glue tips, and usually forget, and then when I go to get hem again they are all clogged up with dry glue, and crusty, lol.  Soooo, I just again grab my glue stick to attach the shapes to my background.  Yes, it does make the whole thing a lot stiffer, but I always wash my quilt when it’s done, so that doesn’t really concern me too much.  Below you can see I now have all of my shapes glued down to the background.  After I attached all of my shapes, I realized that the center (which was initially going to be solid coral) really needed something.  So I ended up adding a turquoise circle in the center, and it really helped to tie it all together with the inspiration fabric that I will use around the outside.  Now, at this point,  I would normally stitch my shapes on by machine with monofilament thread (monopoly is my choice), using a tiny zig zag stitch.  But, when I started this, I thought it would be a nice project that I could stitch by hand in the evenings when watching TV.  So, I immediately needed to see how this was going to look, and I decided to hand stitch just one piece to have a look, and yes, it looked very nice, lol, so …………. yes, just one more piece, lol, and yes, you can guess, my nice little hand applique project for the evenings was done in the next few hours, and didn’t even make it to that evening ….. because I just couldn’t wait to see it done ….. seriously, there is something wrong with me, lol.

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After finishing the applique panel, I put it aside until my quilting retreat.  The following pics were taken after it was done, again, I apologize for not getting any pics in progress.

To frame the applique section, I simply cut some wide black strips, about 5″, and sewed them to all 4 sides.  I then just laid it on the cutting table, and trimmed each side into a wonky shape that was appealing to me.  Next, I did the same with white fabric, but this time, used a much larger strip, about 10″ and sewed them to all sides, but this time, I laid it on the cutting table, and used the wide white strips to trim it back to having straight edges.

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The last step was to frame the whole thing with my inspiration fabric  (that to me, is just too cool to cut into little bits, lol).  As you can see in the photo, I used thinner strips on the left and top, and wider strips on the  right and bottom edges.

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Now, it is sitting in my pile of tops that need quilted, and I’m hoping to get to this one pretty soon!

New Quilt ……. my process

I had mentioned in a previous post that I was working on a new project for myself (well it will actual go to my son).  I have people ask me all the time … how did you come up with that idea???  Well, I don’t know, seriously, I just think of it, there isn’t any big thought process for me.  I just get the idea, then sketch out a basic drawing (and I do mean basic, you’ll see in the photo, lol).  And then I just basically work it out as I go.  So I thought that this would be a good project to kind of share my step by step process of how I made it.  Especially since the inspiration for this quilt came straight from the fabric!

Sooo …. it all started with a piece of fabric that I absolutely fell in love with.  I knew as soon as I saw it online that I HAD to have it.  But, of course, it was constantly on backorder (apparently a lot of other people HAD to have it too, lol).  I eventually was able to get my hands on some, and I ordered a bunch, because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get any more later if I needed it.  It is from Michael Miller Fabrics, and it is called Atomic.

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I have had the fabric for probably about a year now, and just kept looking at it trying to figure out what I could make with it, without having to cut it up into little pieces.  Because to me, the large, bold print is just too cool to cut, and wouldn’t look the same.  Then one day I realized why not just take my inspiration from the designs on the fabric.  So I drew something up real quick (see what I mean, not some precise scaled drawing or anything, lol)

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So I decided I would do an applique panel, frame it, and then surround it with the print.  So my next step was to draw out an actual pattern for my applique panel.  I did this on freezer paper because it was the only paper I had big enough for the size of my applique.

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The next step was to decide on a background color for my applique panel.  I was initially going to just use light gray, but decided to go ahead and add tiny white strips to the gray to mimic the white lines on the actual fabric.  So I sliced and inserted random 1/2″ strips (they finished 1/4″) to the light gray.

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I then starched and ironed the daylights out of it from the backside (like 4 or 5 times), until it felt like paper

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My next step was to transfer the applique pattern to the background so I would be able to easily place my applique pieces.  And wow, how lucky, I realized that because I drew the pattern on freezer paper, I could just iron it to the back of my fabric.

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After I ironed the pattern to the back, I used the edges of my pattern to trim my background to the correct size.

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And the final step in preparing my background was to flip it over, put it on my light box, and trace the pattern lightly with pencil on the right side of fabric.

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And yep …. the second I held it up to look at it, I realized that because I ironed it onto the back of the fabric and then traced it, I had reversed the pattern!!! Seriously, I was not going to start again …. so, after looking at it for a few minutes, I decided it really didn’t make a difference to me that the design was leaning the other direction now … I can live with it, lol.

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So the next step will be preparing my applique pieces, and I will pick up there in my next post.

 

 

 

Update on “In The Background Book”

In my last post I told you about my second new book, “In The Background”.  The discounted copies that I had available with printing that was too dark are now gone.  And … I finally have good copies available that I can live with, lol.  You can click “HERE” if you are interested in more info about the book.

I have received a couple of emails asking about the quilt on the book cover.  The quilt was a challenge piece for the longarm group I belong to.  I just took a white square of fabric, and used a flower stencil to paint the flower with Stewart Gill fabric paints.  Then I did the quilting.

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After I finished quilting it, I went back with a pigma pen, and added doodles over the stenciled petals, and on some of the areas of the background fills.

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I really like this little quilt!

 

Two posts in one day!?

Just a quick note —- I gave my MIL a copy of my next book that is coming out called “In The Background” last week to check out.  Well, I saw today that she mentioned it in a post online, and then she called to tell me she didn’t see it anywhere for purchase on my blog —-well, that was because I wasn’t ready to sell it yet, LOL.  Sooo, I just added a page for the new book.  You can click HERE to check out the info on “In The Background” if you’d like (or you can use the tab under my blog header).  There is an explanation there as to why I hadn’t mentioned it yet.

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