Friday, January 29, 2010

Coffee's On

Last night, I finished the last demo quilt for my book.  I named this one , Coffee's On, and it is similiar to one I made for a friend a few years ago.  Karla and I did an across Alberta shop hop one weekend ending up at her parent's home.  Like many good friends, although we had much in common, we also differed especially in our fabric choices.  I had a tendancy to buy  autumn shades-brown, gold, green,  etc.  I didn't like geometric patterns.  Karla, on the other hand, loved purples, black, pink-anything bright and (in my opinion) loud.  We decided that we would buy at least one fat quarter  that we didn't like in each quilt shop. When we returned home, we cut our fabric in half and swopped.  I made the wall hanging with my fabrics as a going away present when she moved to B.C.
Since that trip, I have expanded my fabric choices.  I now have  many purple toned fabric in my stash and they have become one of my favourite colours.  The same is true of black.  Still don't like geometrics.
It is always good to expand our horizons and try something new even if it is only a colour choice.  Next time you are in a fabric shop, buy a small amount of something you would ordinarily pass over.  Use it in a project.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the difference it makes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whew, Snow

Boy, did we get a snowfall.  As I write this, our road is being plowed if the guy can figure out where to put it all.  My husband had to mark where one of the wood piles was because you can't see it.
I went out yesterday evening to clear a path for the dog and bring in some wood.  I also cleared off the steps.  Two hours later, there was another 4 inches of snow on them.
Fortunately, it is the light fluffy kind so it isn't hard to move and it certainly is pretty.  I am sure everyone gets tired of me say how beautiful everything is and how peaceful but, it is.  A bit of a breeze has started to blow and the trees are shaking on some of their covering.  The sunlight is adding some shadows and giving a contrast to all the white.
I am taking my camera and the dog and going outside.  Will try and talk about something else tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


It is a very snowy day today.  The view from my studio window looks out on a white, fluffy world as the flakes coat trees, wood pile, sheds and everything else they touch.  A good day to make a stew, keep the fire stoked and stay inside.  It is also a good day to look at a little colour.  Even if you are having sunshine, it is always nice to look at something  that cheers the heart.  This amarylis was given to us by some friends before they went south.  The blooms have been putting on a wonderful show the past few days and there is another stem with a large bud that promises to carry on once these have finished.
Hope picture adds some joy to your day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weather Woes

I am sure you have all been following the news reports about the devestation in Haiti.  It is hard to comprehend what it would be like to be in that situation.  I imagine you can't do anything more  than to try and survive. I was thinking about the impact weather has on our lives Monday as I was getting ready to go to quilt group. Our weather didn't make for optimum driving conditions.  We have been experiencing a January thaw and then, Sunday,  it rained.  Our driveway was turned into a slippery mush and we have a steep downgrade when leaving combined with a smaller upgrade at road edge.  I let the car ease down in first gear and then had to speed up to get onto the road.  It took a couple of tries but I made it out and then back home again a few hours later.  However, I didn't go out in the evening as the temperature had fallen and I figured that the road would be icy.
We humans like to think we are in control of our lives but the weather reminds us again and again that we aren't. Whether it is a major event like a hurricane or tornado or something as minor as a snowfall, we can only adjust.  We can shake our fists and rage but the snow still falls, the earth still trembles and lives are still shattered. When nature flexes its muscles, we don't have any more control than  a primitive man huddling in a cave when thurnder echoed across the skies.
And, personally, although I gireve for those who lose so much, I think it is good that we humans are reminded that we aren't as powerful as we often think we are.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Pattern

Was thinking about my blog topic while cleaning the breakfast table this morning.  While wiping its surface, I had to move the coasters I made and eureka! a topic.  Bloggers (there is a word that wasn't around a few years ago) have a responsiblity to their readers to try to be as entertaining as possible.  It is probably a little easier if you focus on one area i.e. cats, profession etc.  Because I know that some people read mine simply because it is mine, others because of the quilts and others because they are interested in my rural life (there may be even more reasons that I can't think of), I try to vary my topics.
However, as you know, quilting is the main focus.  So, today I have another pattern for you.

This is another of those patterns that will use up scraps.  You need fabric strips 1 1/2" wide in at least 2 colours.  They can be as short as 5 inches or the width of your fabric.
Sew 4 strips together, alternating colours i.e. black, white, black, white.
Cut these strips into 1 1/2" sections.
Sew 4 sections together to form a checkerboard pattern
Press and trim to square.
Place batting on your table and center backing wrong side down, on top. Place bock right side down on backing (backing and block have right sides together).  Pin and sew all around, leaving an opening for turning. Carefully trim batting close to stitching line.
Turn and top stitch down the center and across the middle. Hand stitch opening.
Make as many more as you need.

You can use wider fabric strips to make hot pads or placemats.
Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


One of the things that concerned me when my husband and I retired and moved east was the amount of time we would be together.  So often when a couple are around each other continually, there can be a lot of friction.  Fortunatly and, I must admit, to my surprise, we haven't had that problem.  I think that is largely because we respect each others space and we both have time consuming hobbies-a number of them, in fact.  Some, like motorcycling and travelling, we share.  Others, like my quilting and his hunting, we do individually.  Roger also paints
and I think it also helps that we are both creative.
He started painting a couple of years before we married and has continued ever since.  Our house is covered with his paintings and my quilting and photography.
The photo on top is my favourite of all his paintings.  It hangs in the master bedroom where I can see it when I wake up.  I love the sly look on the wolf's face.  I will never let him sell this one.
The other photo is his most recent work.  Again, as with all his paintings, the animal has a slightly human expression.
Roger also does woodworking but hasn't been able to work at that since we moved as doesn't have a garage yet.  Not sure where we will put all those creations and I guess we won't have to worry about being under each others feet for a long time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birthdays and Surprises

Yesterday was my husband's 60th birthday.  I think milestone birthdays should be celebrated with appropriate recognition and, so far, that seems to be the case with this one.  We had a family gathering on Sunday, yesterday I gave him his gift and cooked his favourite supper.  This Sunday, we are having pot luck at church and I was planning on taking a carrot birthday cake complete with candles but I think I need to come up with another idea.  Last night, we were invited to our neighbour's for a game of cards and, although I really wanted to stay home and quilt, I agree because of the birthday.  Unknown to me, they had put together a little celebration for Roger with a gift and, you guessed it, carrot cake.  Hence the need for plan B as soon as I think of one.
Today, I went over to help one of the ladies in our quilt group with her long arm table.  She had bought a Little Gracie frame and was having a bit of a problem getting it operational.  I am usually fairly good at this sort of thing and have had some experience with another quilt table so I was glad to help.  They had done most of the work so it didn't take me long to adjust a few things.  After lunch, I showed her what I had done differently and how some of the options worked.  I mentioned that after she had tried it out for a while, I would be glad to come back if she needed further help. And that I figured was that.  Not so.  She insisted on me taking her Juki long arm sewing machine. 
I now have it at home and am looking at all the features.  I do have a good machine but this one has a much larger arm area and can be put on a long arm quilt frame.  I had been hoping to get something like this but, for financial reasons, it was pretty low on the purchase list.  It is going to be so much easier top stitching my full size quilts.  I have a king size that has been pinned and ready to go.  Now I can get it done.  I am, of course, thrilled.  And now, I am going to try it out.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Orgaznized Confusion

(Welcome new member, Bertie.)
I have always considered myself to be an organized person and yet, when I look around my quilt studio, I wonder if this really can be the case.  It is true that I love to get things organized and don't feel comfortable when everything is all over the place but I really don't seem to be able to keep things where they should be.
When I quilt, I drop unneeded fabric anywhere.  If I am working on a myriad of projects simulateously (which is usually the case), the mess is multiplied by that number .
Lately, as you will know if you are a regular reader, I have been, once again, trying to get things organized.  My scraps are gradually being cut into sizes suitable for use, fabric that I probably will never use is being given away and I have initiated a couple of new storage ideas.  All my pieces of fabric that are too big to be used as scraps but too small to be included with other fabric, is rolled and stored in containers roughly the size of a cracker box.  The boxes stack, I can see what is in them and I know they are approx. fat quarter size.  I am also going to put projects I am working on and those I plan on doing in large freezer bags.  If I include patterns and fabric, I will have everything handy  and won't have to worry about accidently using up fabric that I needed.
Do you have a favourite organizational tip?  You may not be a quilter but I am sure you have small storage containers, tupperware lids (my husband's pet peeve) and other things which don't seem to fit anywhere.  What do you do with them?  How do you keep them neat yet accessable?
Share with me and I will print your solutions.  Together we can make our world a tidier place.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Little Things Mean a Lot

Saw an interesting and unexpected sight as we were on our way-once again-to Orillia on Sunday.  Approximately three quarters of the way there, in Severn Bridge, is a pretty spot that we always look at as we drive past. There is a small, winding river fairly close to the road with various trees hugging the bank, alternately hiding and revealing the water.  Our glance revealed something more this time, however.  We saw a large white bird gliding along the water. Then we saw a few more, some swimming others bottoms up.  They were swans!
We told the family after we arrived and were informed that if the birds have open water they will stay year round and that was the case with the ones we saw.  A lovely sight on a winters day.
Some times we miss sights like this in our rush to get someplace.  Drivers are often oblivious to their surroundings as they weave in and out of traffic anxious to be at their destination a few minutes earlier.
No matter how many times my husband and I drive on a road, we still love looking at the scenery.  We have seen moose, bear, herons, still lakes that relect the clouds and many other wonderful sights.  In the winter, the ice formed from water dripping down rocks sparkle in the sunshine creating an ever changing sculpture. 
A person can get a lot of pleasure from these little things and they don't cost a penny.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Free Block

Today, as promised, I have a free block for you.  It is quite simple and can be varied in many ways-my favourite.  It is also another way to use up some of those strips left over from sashing and borders.
This is a 12 1/2" block so you will need a number of 2 1/2" strips. Strips should be no less than 8" in length.  Half should be medium colours and half dark.
Sew the medium strips together.  Trim to 7"
Repeat with the darker strips.
Cut both these blocks in half diagonally.
Cut  Two 7" blocks from  cream or beige fabric. Cut in half diagonally.
Sew cream triangles to strip triangles joining long edges.  Press.
Sew blocks together to make a pinwheel (see photo) or  before sewing triangles, put pieces on a design wall and move them around until you have made a pleasing design.
Enjoy your weekend. Please pray for those in Haiti who are in such desperate circumstances and those who are working so hard to help them.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Deer

We discovered why our dog, Heidi was creating such a fuss the other day.  A deer died a few properties away and nature was taking its course.  About a week ago, we noticed the buck who frequented the area had a bad leg.  We and our neighbours were feeding it in the hopes it would be able to recover but we could see it was getting worse.  A sad situation but not an unusual one.  When you have a front window to the wild, you are going to be privy to some of the unpleasantries.
I have been making jam for the last two days and now have to do a bit of baking for the weekend.  Consequently, not getting much quilting done.  I do, however, still plan on posting a free block pattern tomorrow.
I see we have added yet another follower to the blog.  Thank you for joining and please let me know what you think of my ramblings. 
There is a place for comments at the end of the blog if anyone has any thoughts they would like to share.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Huffelumps and Weasels?

Heidi on guard.

Our dog, Heidi, always likes to let us know if a leaf is falling in the bush, a bird has landed anywhere within a mile or two or if a vehicle is approaching. In short, she is yappy. I have been trying to curb her enthusiasm and she has got a lot better. Yesterday, however, she just kept barking. If she was outside, it was worse but even indoors she seemed to be on edge.
All this led us to believe that there was something she sensed that was unusual or dangerous. When you live in the woods, this could be anything from a skunk to a wolf. Whatever was causing her concern has gone away as today she is back to normal.
I have taken to carrying a cane with me when I go for a walk. It helps in the slippery areas but I also think it would come in handy if anything decided to see if Heidi (or me) would make a good lunch. Me shrieking and waving the cane and the dog barking should send anything scurrying back to the peace and safety of his woodland home.
I should add that I always stick to the road when it is just Heidi and I walking. I don't think I am brave (foolish?)enough to go through the bush on my own. I would probably get lost anyway.
Realistically, the country is safer than a city but, no matter where you live, you either deal with the situations or become a recluse. I prefer the former. I would hate to not be able to enjoy the wonder that surrounds me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My Book and Number Fifteen

This blog now has fifteen followers. It is both humbling and exciting to know that in addition to these 15 members there are also many others who take time to read this blog each day.
I would like to welcome quilting biker who is our latest member. You will be interested to know QB that a number of other members, myself included, also combine the love of motorcycling and quilting. I am not sure why, but a lot of women seem to do both.
In honour of reaching the number 15, I will be posting a free block either on or before Friday.
My book is doing well and I expect to have it finished before the end of January. It will contain at least a dozen quilt patterns that can be completed in a few hours. I will be selling the book on line and the price will be $18.00 but you, dear friends, can purchase it for $15.00. If interested, you can let me know at:
I have spent the morning pickling some beets. My husband bought a bag in the fall (after I thought I was finished) at a 'can't refuse' price. They have been sitting in the cupboard ever since. Everytime I opened the door, there they sat staring at me. It was a good sized bag so I think we now have enough pickles to last until next season. I also had the opportunity to give the counter a good washing as one of the jars slipped from my hand and I had beets and juice all over everything. Argh!
I still have jam to make. No excuse for that. Just hadn't got around to it. The frozen berries have been taking up space in the freezer ever since we picked them last summer. I do prefer to make jam etc in the winter rather than when it is so hot. I was planning on doing that this afternoon but it may not get done until tomorrow. Standing at my kitchen counter for a long period of time is hard on my back as I am tall and everything seems to be too low.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Quilt Group

The Burk's Falls quilt group has decided to meet every Monday now instead of twice a month.  I am pleased with this decision as going to group is like a mini retreat: no phones to answer, meals to get ( we brown bag it),or unfinished housework making its presence known. We have lots of room so each of us can have our own table, set up more for cutting and ironing and another for food treats that someone always brings plus patterns, fabric and books to be shared.
We are very fortunate to have such a room and, top it all off with lots of sharing and laughter and you couldn't ask for anything more.
Right now we are all finishing a quilt that was donated to us. Someone bought the pattern and fabric and then decided it was more than she wanted to do. Everything was given to our group and we are going to make the quilt and then give it to a charity. I don't blame this lady for deciding not to do it as the pattern is one of those awkward ones that are more irritating than challenging. We are gradually getting it sorted out and each of us have taken some of it home to work on.
Our take home sections are applique which will be a challenge for me so I hope that I am able to do a decent job.
Our weather is warming up a bit. Perhaps a January thaw is around the corner.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Yea, Friday

One of the odd things about being retired is that you really don't care that it is Friday, or Monday or any other day for that matter.  Other than Sunday, each day is much the same.  I am not sure if that is bad or good.  When you work outside the home, there is always a day to look forward to: Friday, vacation etc.  I guess, now, we can just be glad of each day.
I am, however, especially thankful today because everything is back to what passes for normal.  Our water is running and everything else is working. (Washing machine leaked all over the floor yesterday because I hadn't fastened the lint thing properly). I almost have the laundry caught up and then can go back to my plan of washing all my fabrics.
The book rewrite is going well, another thing for which to be thankful and I already have an idea for the next one.  I have come up with a number of patterns which I think will add to a person's quilting pleasure.
One more thing before I finish.  Yesterday, after I got home from the city, my husband told me he had done the bathrooms.  By 'done' I assumed he meant gave them both a good flushing.  When I went to see about cleaning them, I saw they were both hygenic and shiny!  What woman wouldn't be thankful for a husband like that?  Have a great weekend and may you be surrounded by things for which to be thankful.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hurray for Me

I feel quite pleased with myself.  I spent a good bit of the day yesterday working on my book.  I have changed some of the quilt patterns, deleted some, added others and I think I am on the road to getting this done. You will hear the victory shout, I am sure.
We also got our water line thawed out today.  It was froze for quite a distance so it is a good thing we called someone in.  Apparently, our line heater thingy isn't working properly. I am now busy doing dishes, laundry and flushing toilets.  Bliss.
Went to Huntsville this morning and did a bit of shopping.  Whatever did we do before the Dollar stores popped up in every community?  I bought some mechanical pencils which I use for tracing paper piecing patterns (say that three times real quick), some silk flowers for the church vases and a clock.  One of our wall clocks did a humpty dumpty and we needed another.  There are some things I wouldn't buy there and others can be got just as cheaply in department stores but, for the main, they are a great place to shop. 
I also had to buy our dog a new chew toy.  The previous 'squeaky' was down to a bit of rubber and it is her favourite play thing.  She and my husband are now playing catch and Heidi is as happy as any little dog could be.  Life is good.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I had planned, yesterday, to do some more work on my book.  I need to get it finished and ready for on line publication but, as it is one of those drudgery jobs, it keeps getting pushed to the bottom of my to-do list.
I really don't like having chores hanging around like a black cloud so was feeling quite upbeat yesterday about my decision to get this particular one finished.
Of course, life often gets in the way of best intentions and, once again, I didn't work on a single page.
Our water line has been froze since Monday so a lot of the day was spent fiddling around being ready to help my husband if he needed it or just trying to be encouraging.  When I am writing, I like to be able to sit down and concentrate on it.  The thought of being interupted, no matter how briefly, discourages me from even trying.
I have been working on getting my studio organized-again-and a chance question from someone on an on-line group caused me to grab  my scraps and start cutting them into strips and squares.  This, in turn, led to working on my scrappy quilt.  Eventually, the day was finished andnothing was done on the book.
Today doesn't look to be any better but, as soon as I finish this, I am going to go directly to that book and do something!  Honest.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I generally try to keep a positive attitude about difficulties.  I believe that no matter how difficult things are, there is always someone (usually many someone's) who have things worse.  It isn't a strategy that works everytime and today is one of those days.  I am not sure why I fell blah; probably a combination of things.  The room where my quilt group meets was really cold yesterday so I didn't accomplish anything.  I came home feeling frustrated.  We are still waiting for our water line to thaw out and, while I know it will eventually and it isn't a major problem, I am getting fussed about not being able to shower or get the dishes and laundry done.Still, and getting back to counting my blessings, none of this counts for much beside a quilt designer who's husband has terminal cancer. 
Maybe I have the mental fidgits.  I was hoping to start re organizing my stash which included washing everything.  I can't do anything until I have done that and I can't do that until.....
So I think I will just go down another road.  Are you interested in another mystery quilt?  I did the last one over 4 Fridays.  Did you like that idea or would you prefer the whole thing in one weekend?
If you let me know what you prefer, I will come up with another project.  In the meantime, I think I will take the dog for a walk and be glad I am able to do that, come back to a nice warm home with a wonderful husband and enjoy a cup of tea.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Down Side

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's.  Ours, as usual, was quiet.  Our neighbour had a bonfire with hot chocolate  and some nibblies.  We stayed there for a while, came home, watched a movie and went to bed an hour later than usual.  Party animals!
The next day we were back to Orillia and then Saturday to my nephews family.  We left for home a little earlier than we planned because the driving conditions were supposed  to deteriate but we didn't have any problems. As much as we enjoy seeing family, it is always nice to be back home in our own beds.
You have, frequently, (too frequently?) heard me say how much we enjoy living in the country and we really do but there sometimes is a downside.  When we arrived home, we discovered our water line had froze and we are still waiting for it to thaw.  Of course, those things do happen in an urban area but usually only in unusual circimstances-no power during severe cold etc.  In the country, pumps can freeze or one of the connections or the line itself. 
We always have an emergency supply of drinking water on hand and melted snow takes care of other necessities so we aren't suffering.  Everything should be back to normal today as it is warming up which will help the heater. I am also fortunate in that my husband is able to deal with most situations. This is my quilt group day so probably by the time I return home, all will be back to normal.
If you live in one of the areas that has been affected by the recent winter storms, I hope you came through without any problems.  Try to get outside sometime and breath in the fresh winter air.  It will make you feel invigorated and ready to tackle whatever your day brings.