Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy 2011

It is hard to believe we have already completed a decade into the new century.  Time does pass quickly and yet when I look back over the past 10 years, it doesn't seem possible that so much has hapened in such a short time.
We will have our usual quet evening at home and probably go to bed long before the new year rolls in.  I  have to put the phone on the beside table as there is always someone who phones at midnight to pass on their greetings.  Of course, those someone's have usually been indulging in some alcoholic refreshments.  I don't mind the calls.  It would be a sad day if no-one thought of me no matter what the reason.
I hope the coming year is one which presents enough challenges to keep you interested and growing, and days of tranquility when you are able to appreciate your blessings.  I hope also that you will always know that you are loved and you are making a difference.
Thank you for your faithfulness and your encouragement.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Photos

I took some photos of our little dog by the Christmas tree last night.  I have to laugh every time I look at them as she looks so sad. We often humiliate our pets, don't we and the poor souls try so hard to please us.  Dogs do anyway.  Cats, even my beloved and dearly missed, tascha, tend to be a bit more independant.
I also took some photos of a few of my nativity scenes.  I have been collecting them for a number of years and no longer have room to display them all.  Here are a few of the more unusual ones.

Poor Heidi

First nations


Stacking dolls

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New year Minus Five (and a Pattern)

I hope you all had a memorable Christmas Day.  We spent ours with family which is, if you are able, always the best.
Today, I am starting to put the house back to pre-Christmas condition.  I will leave the tree and house decorations up until the new year but am storing wrapping paper, gift bags, cards etc.  A number of years ago, I made a simple draw string bag to hold all these things.  I added a pouch on the front to hold labels, ribbon and the smaller items. (Instructions at the bottom of the page.)  This year, I will note on my calendar that this is where I have put everything because I tend to forget.  I especially forget that I bought cards the previous year when they were on sale.
Yesterday, we went to town and did a bit of Boxing Day shopping.  I bought more gift bags and paper as well as some other odds and ends.  We got one of those digital photo frames so had to get a memory card.  (Didn't know there were differences and so bought the wrong one).
My husband bought me snowshoes so we are going for a walk this afternoon  and I can try them out.  Looking forward to being able to go for walks through the bush again.
I am going to do a bit of rearranging in my quilt room office as I need a place to put my growing pin cushion collection.  But, before I get into that, I am going to enjoy a cup of tea and look through some of the quilt things I received.

Christmas Storage Bag
This bag is washable and reusable for years.

1 piece fabric 40"  x 30"  (Size can be adjusted to suite needs)
1 piece fabric 10" x  15"
Small bit of velcro
Cord for drawstring.


Fold one long edge down 1/2" and then fold again and top stitch.
Fold this edge in half lengthwise and mark the center. 
Sew a small piece of velcro onto the seam at the center.
Fold large piece of fabric in half lengthwise (to make 40 x 15 piece)
Lightly press fold and open fabric.
Center smaller piece of fabric onto one side of the large piece and sew around three sides.  Leave side with velcro open.
Attach the other part of the velcro to the larger fabric so the two pieces meet.
Sew side and bottom of large fabric, right sides together. turn right side out.
Turn top eged down twice to make a tunnel for the drawstring. DO NOT SEW.  Press and unfold.  Make two small button holes approx. 1/2" apart just under the lowest fold.
Refold and sew making sure the seam is below the buttonholes.  Using buttonhole openings, thread cord through tunnel. Tie a knot on each end of the cord to prevent it from slipping back into the tunnel.

Note:  you can use velcro or a zipper to close the top instead of the drawstring.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Unto Us a Child is Born

This will be my last post until Dec. 28th.  I am assuming you are busy wrapping gifts, perhaps travelling, visiting family and friends and don't have time to be sitting at your computer and wondering what I am up to.
I leave you with this photo and my wishes for a wonderful, peaceful and safe Christmas.
This picture is from a live nativity that the Edmonton church I attended puts on.  It consists of real animals, costumed characters, bonfires, a choir of angels and the manager scene.  The baby is real.  May it remind you of the reason behind the season.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Just three more sleeps until Christmas.  I am pretty much ready although I have a bit of last minute shopping to do and one gift to finish.
One of the on line quilting groups to which I belong has started a block swop.  Participants are making a 12 1/2" block with the maple leaf pattern.
This is the first time I have done a swop although this group (as do many others) have ongoing ones.
The pattern we are using is from The Quilter's Cache, Marcia Hohn's excellant site.
If you are a new quilter, this is a must have link:
Marcia has a myriad of free patterns, listed according to size, style and difficulty.
This photo is another one that I took yesterday.  This morning the sun is shining and it looks as though the good weather is going to continue through Christmas; good news for those who are travelling.  I have been watching the weather caused airport problems and thinking ahead to 2012 when we will be in England around this time for a nephew's wedding.  I hope there won't be any problems that year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Surrounded by Beauty

Did you watch the lunar eclipse last night?  I woke up around 1 ish to go to the toilet and took a look outside.  The moon was just a sliver a sliver of light.  Earlier in the evening, however, before we went to bed it was shining in full glory.  We turned out the interior lights and stood at the east facing window for quite a while marvelling at how visible everything was.
In the city, if there was a full moon, it hardly made a difference in visibility because of all the street and security lights.  Here in the backwoods where the only illumination comes from the sky, it is quite wonderous.
We were treated to yet another marvellous sight this morning.  The tops of the tallest trees had been painted with frost and, as the sun came up, it added a glint of gold.  I grabbed my camera and went outside without a coat and took a number of photos.  I just kept pointing and clicking.  The photos don't really do justice to the beauty but it was quite a sight.
We got the other side of rural living later in the day when my son came for a visit and got stuck in our laneway.  It is a bit of a nasty drive and you have to be prepared for the slight curve that becomes a hill.  He wasn't and although he is a professional driver, he got stuck.  He and my husband are outside right now trying to get his van moving again.  I suspect the neighbour will have to come over with his tractor and pull him out.  Getting stuck, as fustrating as it can be,  is, to me, a small price to pay for living in such a wonderland.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nothing Important Today

The title says it all; I can't think of anything interesting to share this morning so I guess I will just chatter.
And now that I have said that, I can't even think of anything to chatter about!
This reminds me of when I was a columnist for an Ontario newspaper.  I did a 500 word article each week and usually didn't have a problem coming up with a topic.  Once in a while, however, the creative cupboard came up empty.  When that happened, I would write about having nothing to write about.  It is amazing how you can go on about nothing for 500 words-great training for my political stint.
I have often noticed other columnists do this and it always makes me smile.  I am reminded of the quote (and at the moment I don't know who said it) 'he/she talked until they had something to say'.
Some writing instructors say that you should wait until inspiriation strikes before you sit at the keyboard.  Personally, I have found that knowing I had a deadline or a bill to pay did more for my creativity than waiting for a sudden thunderbolt.  Of course, most days I do have something that I hope will be interesting to share.  How can I not when I have a wonderfully cute dog, live surrounded by nature and have an interesting hobby.
I could have told you this morning how Heidi always skids to a stop when returning something I have thrown for her or how the snow is falling so gently that you are hardly aware of it.  I could also have mentioned the gifts I still have to make and the quilt that I am finishing but none of those topics seemed worthy of posting.  So, I hope you will forgive me today for just writing about nothing.  You can put it down to Christmas business although it is probably not the reason.
Have a great weekend.  Try not to wear yourself out getting the last of your shopping finished.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dec. BOM-Winter Storm

This block was designed in remembrance of the storm that stranded so many motiorists in southern Ontario.

You can use whatever colours you desire but my choice was predominately pale fabrics to represent the white out conditions that occured.  The deeper blue represents the passing of the storm and return to blue skies.

For the blue corners, cut a 6 7/8 square.  Cut the square in half diagonally
Cut 2 more squares the same size one from grey and the other from mauve.  Cut these in half diagonally.
Cut two 3 3/8 squares, one from grey and the other from the mauve and cut in half as before.
Sew a smaller grey triangle to a mauve.  Repeat with the remaining triangle.
Sew each of these pieces to the blue triangle
Sew a larger grey triangle to a mauve and repeat with the remaining triangles.
Using photo as a guide sew the four blocks together .


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

The title of today's blog isn't the start of a Beethoven symphony but a reaction to something I did yesterday.  I try to take our little Westiepoo, Heidi for a walk every day and, although it was cold, Monday was no exception.  I put a fleecy vest over my indoor clothes, donned my warmest coat, boots and gloves and dressed Heidi in her little coat.  After stopping to fill the bird feeder, we headed for the trail that goes through our bush and into my sister's.  My husband has cleared a path through the trees that takes me on a circuitous route that leads back into our yard. 
He hadn't had time to pack it down after our recent snowfall but I didn't think of that as Heidi and I made our way to the path.  I hadn't gone very far before realizing it was going to be rough going.  The ATV tracks weren't very wide so it was hard to walk in them.  However, I kept moving.  Eventually the trail ended where my husband turned around to come back.  By now the snow was nearly to my knees (and I am tall) and Heidi was having problems.  I am not sure why I didn't turn back but for some reason I thought I should keep going to the driveway (unplowed)  on my sister's property.  The snow kept getting deeper.  I could only go a few steps before having to stop to catch my breath.  Heidi was doing her best to follow behind but, when I turned to check on her, I could see she was not doing well.  She was hiccuping (probably from swallowing snow) and trembling.  I picked her up and continued.  I was glad I brought my walking stick as that helped me keep my balance.
On I went stopping for longer periods and wondering if I was going to have a heart attack and collapse in the snow. Eventually, we got to the end of the driveway and onto the road.  Our neighbour was clearing his drive so I made my way to his steps and sat. Heidi normally goes crazy when she sees people but she just cuddled on my lap while I held her close to keep her warm.  Her hair was one mass of snowballs.
Our neighbour, who must have thought I was crazy, kept suggesting I go in their house but I insisted that I would be okay in a few minutes.  After catching my breath, we walked down the road and up our long driveway to the house.  My husband met me at the door as he had been wondering why I had been gone so long.  He removed the dog's leash and coat, I kicked off my boots, dropped my coat and collapsed on the couch.
It took me a bit before I started to feel somewhat normal again and then I had to put poor Heidi's legs into some warm water to remove the snow.
I will go for a walk again today but I think I will stick to the road.
I do have this month's BOM designed but will post tomorrow before going to town to do my shopping.
Stay warm and safe,

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Indeed

If you have been watching the news report today,  you will notice that Ontario is having some winter problems.  Strangely enough, it is all happening in the south.  Here in the backwoods it has been a normal winter.  We did get a bit of a storm on the weekend which made me wonder if I would be able to get to our quilt group Christmas gathering on Monday.  However, when the day arrived, the snowplows had cleared the road and our neighbour (wonderful man) had done our driveway so off I went.
Today, it is minus 13 although the wind chill has taken it below 20 celcius.  I am going to take Heidi for a walk later so I will have to make sure she has on her fleecy coat.
We put up our bird Christmas tree on the weekend.  My husband had done some clearing so we could see the pond a bit better and brought a nice spruce up to the house.  We stuck it in a snow bank and have decorated it with a few garlands and some bird treats-suet balls etc.
Our wood stove has been doing a wonderful job of keeping the house warm and it is nice to see the flames when the snow is swirling around outside.  We also have the fireplace video on on television which is rather odd but we like to hear the Christmas music that is being played.
We have had more people join this blog as followers.  Welcome.  I hope you enjoy reading about my life in the backwoods of Ontario.  I have been  posting a BOM on the 15th of each month so you may want to check back posts.  There are also mystery quilts, other patterns and some tips.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Poor Heidi

I often comment on how energetic our wee dog Heidi is.  Today is not one of those times.  I took her to the vet yesterday for her check up and needles and she has been acting like an elderly lady all morning.  She will soon be back to normal but it is a bit strange to see her just laying around.
I finished all the baking today and am just waiting for the bread to rise before popping it into the oven.  You would think that we would be having a nice home cooked meal tonight, wouldn't you, considering all the time I've been spending in the kitchen.  Nope.  Tonight it is pizza and last night it was redressed left overs. Fortunately, I have a very understanding husband.
I have started making some seat belt strap covers for gifts.  Yesterday, I took a quilt out of the frame so I could turn it around and do the side borders.  I have everything set up for smaller quilts so save room during this busy season so I have to do my quilts in two steps.  After the new year, I will put the extension back on and get back at doing some of my bigger tops.
Are you in an area that has been getting all the snow?
We have received a few inches.  I am sure we will get a lot more as the winter goes on.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

S. S. Day

One of the on-line groups to which I belong has a Secret Santa event each year.  Participants get the name, address and a list of information about the person to whom they send a gift.  When everyone has received their parcel, we are given the go ahead to open.  Those who receive their parcel the earliest get a little antsy by the time the last one arrives.  Today, we were given the go ahead to open our gifts.
I had placed mine under my sewing table and did my best to not think about it.  There were a couple of times when I almost peeked but I managed to hold off.
This morning, I woke up and lay in bed for a while listening to my husband make his coffee.  Suddenly, I remembered, 'this is Thursday'.  I popped out of bed and got my parcel and opened it before I had breakfast.  My S.S. sent me some lovely gifts but I think the nicest of all is knowing that she was thinking of me and what I might like as she went about her shopping.  And that, my friends, is how Christmas should be celebrated-thinking of others.
Christmas, especially, is a time of doing for others-gifts, time, charitable donations. I sometimes feel discouraged when I look at my income in comparison to the things I would like to give or do but cost can never outdo thoughfulness.
As you go about your Christmas preperations, take a moment to give someone the gift of your smile.  It will make a difference to the other person (especially if it is a store clerk or a mother in a check out line with a number of small children) and your day will feel brighter.

To those who recently have become followers of this blog, welcome.  Be sure to check the back posts for mystery quilts and other patterns.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baking Frenzy and a Quilting Tip

My husband has just left for the city to buy more baking supplies-oh, and to pick up his chainsaw.  I have been cooking all morning and there are still some things I want to do and I have run out of butter, eggs and parchment paper.
I discovered the wonder of lining cookies sheets with parchment paper some time ago and it has greatly reduced the burnt underside.  My husband is a bit disappointed, however, as he always got to have those cookies.
I have, so far, made approx. 2 dozen cookies, 3 mini Christmas cakes, and a pan of buttertart squares.  I have lemon squares (my personal favourite.  It uses conensed milk and I make my own) and chelsea buns to do when husband returns.
I really like the mini cakes to give as gifts and am in the process of changing and doubling the recipe.  When I see how it turns out, I will post it for you.  These cakes are cooked in the mini loaf pans and I like to make enough to freeze for later or to give as last minute gift.  Another plus, is that they don't have to be made weeks ahead which is good for me as I am not that organized.

A Quilting Tip

When I use sashing in my quilts, I always used to have problems lining up the vertical strips when assembling.  Here is how I solved the problem.
When you sew on a horizontal strip and before you press, mark the vertical strips placements on it.  With the horizontal strip still laying over the block row, (to which you just added the strip) take a pencil and mark where each of the vertical pieces are.  I put a mark at either side of each strip to make sure I am perfectly lined up.  You are marking on the unsewn side of the horizontal strip and your marks should dark enough to be visible but not extend beyond a 1/4 inch. (They will be hidden when you add the next row.)
It is now a simple matter to line up the vertical strips of the new block row when you sew it to the previous horizontal strip.
Repeat until all rows are added.

And now back to the baking.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Parade

Saturday was a lovely day for the Burk's Falls Christmas parade.  I am not sure how many entries there were but I am  there seemed to be more than last year.  It is always fun watching the children both in the parade and on the sidelines.  One little lad that was standing near me seemed to get more and more excited as each entry passed.  I am not sure if it was the anticipation of all the candy that was being handed out or the approach of Santa but he was in continual motion.
Our float didn't win anything this year but we all had fun. 
After the parade, we saw our participants back to their vehicles, unloaded the float and went home.  I left all the costumes in a couple of bins to be sorted and washed later and my husband and I sat down for a nice hot cup of chocolate.
Our parade may not be as grand as those in larger communities but it is still great.  Many people put in a lot of time and effort on their entries, the organization of the event and the judging.  Because those people are our friends and neighbours, there is a special feeling of community that isn't often experienced.
I am already making plans for next years float.  I  have been offered a large yellow bird.  Perhaps I can turn it into a donkey!!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I have had a request for the Curry Pumpkin Soup recipe that I mentioned in a previous blog and  as there may be others who would like to try it, I thought I would post it today.
I have changed it slightly, doubling the ingredients.

Serves 4
3 tsps butter
4 1/2 tsp.  all purpose flour
3 tsps curry powder
2 c. vegtable broth
3 c. of pureed pumpkin
1/2 c plus 4 tbsp half and half cream (I used canned evaporated.
3 tsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. white sugar
Salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Stir in flour and curry until smooth.  Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble.  Gradually whisk in broth and cook until thickened.  Stir in pumpking and milk.  Season with soy, sugar, salt and pepper.  Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat.

A nourishing soup after  snowshoeing, shovelling the drive, cutting wood or for company.
I serve mine with home baked buns.
The original recipe came from and was submitted by Mary Ingram.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fairy Land

I woke up this morning about 7.30 and took a peek out side.  When I saw how lovely it looked, I got up.  It had snowed all night and, as it was large wet flakes, they stuck to everything. I grabbed my camera, let the dog out and took this picture.
A couple of hours later we were on our way to Huntsville and we both kept exclaiming over how lovely everything looked.
I think winter is the most beautiful time of year.  Each season has its beauty but nothing, in my opinion, surpasses winter.
We were hoping to get quite a bit of shopping done today as I wanted to start my baking.  However, we ran into a snag when we tried to use our debit card.  It came up NSF.  We knew there was more than enough money in the account to cover our shopping so were a little bewildered and somewhat concerned over what could have happened.  We got the majority of our purchases (by which time I was ready to go home.  I don't like shopping.) and headed up.  We stopped in the bank on the way and found that a check we deposited weeks ago still hadn't cleared.  The teller took care of that for us.  The problem could have been so much worse.

Quilting Hint:  One of the things I purchased today was a hand mirror-the kind with a handle.  I often need to check the back of my quilt when it is on the frame and that can be a bit of a problem.  Now I can put the mirror between the rollers and see if everything is working alright.

Of course, we always have to get something for the dog whenever we go to town and today we brought back a toy shaped like a boomerang that, naturally, has a squeaker in it.  She loves it.  I wanted to get a rubber chicken but my husband didn't think that was a good idea.  Think I will let Santa bring it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bah! Humbug!

All our lovely snow is gone.  It has rained for the past two days; quite heavily at times, and our yard is at spring time conditions.  It is wet and muddy.  I suppose it is a welcome reprieve for those who have not yet put up their Christmas lights or winterized their vehicles but I am disappointed.
Nevertheless, I soldier on.  I have a huge stew cooking on the wood stove and I am decorating the tree and house today.  When I look at all the totes my husband brought in and see that all of them are marked as containing Christmas decorations, it is a bit overwheleming.  Especially as I know that there are more of them waiting that containing the  nativity scenes I collect.
Decorating, as with life, starts with the first step so, as soon as I finish my tea and writing this, I shall remove lids and find the container that holds the balls, little sleighs, hand made things etc.  Once I get started it will be easy enough.  Our tree has the lights attached so that dreaded part no longer has to be done.
It will be wonderful to see all our treasures once again and I know the house will look lovely, if crowded.
I hope, no matter what the weather, you have started to feel the Christmas spirit.  There is only 24 days left!