Friday, January 28, 2011

A Confession

I am not, by nature, a sociable person.  I don't 'drop in' for a cup of tea and a visit. I don't  regularly get together with my friends and I don't invite everyone I meet to 'come over anytime'.  This wouldn't be a problem (or not to me anyway) if my husband wasn't the opposite.  He just left to help someone we know with a job and when the friend invited me to visit with his wife, my husband made an excuse for me.  Now as I sit in my studio writing and quilting, I feel guilty.  I should have gone but I really didn't want to.
When my husband said that I was working on a quilt, he was right.  Of course, when am I not.  It isn't anything that couldn't be left but, again, I didn't want to.
My siblings are all like me.  We prefer our own company and being in our own home.  My husband's family is, no surprise, always visiting.  If you meet them once, you are a member of the family.  I admire them for this trait but (am I starting to sound like a peevish child) I don't want to be the same way.
There is no reason or excuse for me being the way I am except  for not wanting to change.  
I have got marginally better since moving here to the backwoods. There is a neighbour that I occasionally drop in to see when returning from a trip to the village.  It only happens a few times a year but it is still a big step for me.   I chat with shop owners and even go to our neighbour's house parties.
Maybe by the time I am quite elderly, I will be inviting everyone over for a cuppa.  In the meantime, back to my lonely sewing machine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Dog is a Flasher

This week it seems that the days keep getting away from me.  I didn't remember to do my blog until after supper.  We went shopping this morning to get a few odds and ends and arrived back home early afternoon.  Even a quick shopping trip seems to take nearly four hours as you always have to factor in lunch and at least an hours driving time.
One of the things I bought today was a little light that attaches to the dogs collar.  When you push a button on it, a bright red light flashes.  It is really difficult to see Heidi when she is out in the snow so the light will help us keep track of her.  I think I will also activate it when we go for a walk.  If she takes off, she will be easier to track and if we are on the road, we will both be more visible. 
It looks quite strange to see this red light flashing in the dark.  Heidi doesn't seem to notice it.  I thought she would at least be curious or try to chase it but I guess she is more focussed on barking at the falling snow.
I am just finishing up another quilt top.  This one is made with large blocks using the easy half square triangle method that I mentioned a few weeks ago.  When finished, it will be a good size lap quilt.  I am getting a lot of tops done and then will set up the frame and start quilting.
Hope you are not in any of the areas that are, once again, getting hit by a snow storm.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Patterns and Facebook

As I mentioned before, I have been working on my scrap stash.  I made these placemats on Monday.  The base for the placemat is 2 1/2" squares and then I will applique the mugs on top before layering and quilting.  You can get some simple patterns like this from. a young child's colouring book.  I am also going to do some with cats and scottie dogs. Note that I also used some half square triangles as well.

I spent a frustrating few hours yesterday.  My husband wants to set up his phone so he can send his photos to facebook.  The proceedure is simple enough.  Dial a number send the letter f and Facebook sends you a code which you enter and you are registered.
Simple until you try to dial the f.  Simple until you don't get the code and then when you do, it doesn't work.  Simple until you phone tech help and are given 3 more phone numbers to call, one of which keeps disconnecting and none of which helped.  I was finally advised by a wonderful man that Facebook was having problems.   So, this morning, we try again.  Still nothing. 
I got him this phone specifically so he could take photos (and not use my good camera-I am rather possessive about my 'good' things).
We will keep trying.  I know that once it is done, it is done and we won't have to worry about it again but, in the meantime, I am sure I have gathered a few more grey hairs.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Beautiful Country

Our morning news station has been showing winter photos that viewers have sent.  They are both varied and beautiful and really showcase this wonderful country we call home.
I love winter photography and could be taking photos every day.  It doesn't seem to matter if the sun is creating a kaleidoscope of light and shadow or if everything is soft and muted by the falling snow.  Today is one of those latter times.  It has been snowing all day and, while the visibility is still good, it is limited by what appears to be a shifting blanket.
Earlier on, a deer wandered from our neighbour's property to ours; almost invisible as she weaved her way through the trees.  Our ever vigilant dog saw her, however, and warned us of her approach.
We are going snowshoeing again this afternoon so the fresh snow is welcome.  Yesterday, it was too cold to have the dog out for an extended period so we stayed in an enjoyed the sunshine from the comfort of our home.
Wherever you live, take a moment to really look at the scenery around you.  Large cities as well as the most desolate  areas all have a beauty of their own.  We just have to look for it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Valuable Scraps

Yesterday, I was just finishing a project and discovered I need a bit more of one kind of fabric.  This sent me on a hunt through my 'do something with these' box.  I discovered some fabric that I fogot I had (not a good sign) but none of what I needed.  It was just a cursory search so I am sure if I had looked thoroughly, I would have found some.  I decided it was easier to just subsitute a fabric.
This reminded me of why I value my scraps.
In my early days of quilting, I was making a log cabin variation and I was the tiniest bit of fabric short.  I think I needed something approx 1 1/2" square to lengthen a strip.  I hunted everywhere.  I looked in my thread catcher bag, the garbage, shelves all without any luck.  Then I got out the broom and swept the room.  There, against the wall under the cutting table was what I needed.  It was even larger than I needed. 
I finished the quilt-which turned out to be rather ugly, and put the left over bit in a jar.  Not long after, I found another bit of the same fabric which I also added to the jar.  I don't know I did this but that jar with the two tiny bits of fabric stayed in my quilt room until we moved.  (I may have brought it with me although if so, I am not sure where it is). 
I think that experience plus my natural hording instinct has contributed to by constantly growing scrap containers.
That is my story and I am sticking to it!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blogs and Groups

Yesterday was a busy, on line day.  After posting the link to my scrappy group, a number of you responded.  So nice to get to know a bit more about you and connect the names with your follower name.  As each person joined, it was like taking a mini trip across Canada including the most northerly area.
The owner and moderators of this group hope to make it one where you feel at home, challenged as well as comfortable sharing your own triumph's and learning experiences.

It is going to be hard to get any work done today.  The sunny is shing so brightly that I want to just spend my time gazing out the window.  I will get out for my snowshoe walk later and look forward to hearing the sound of the snow as it responds to the freezing temperatures.

I am working on some maple leaf blocks that are for an exchange.  This swap  is the first I have done and is being run by another on line group.  I almost have them all finished.  I just need to add the bottom rows which include the stem and is a bit trickier.

Today is my husband's birthday.  We aren't doing anything special other than me cooking some of his favourite foods for supper.  On Friday, we are going to another community to see a concert which includes bagpipes and Scottish dancing.

I will post the link to the scrappy group once more in case you missed it yesterday:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jan. BOM-Stash Buster

Today's block doesn't have a pattern or photo.  it is very easy to do and is open to your interpetation.

Assemble enough strips of varying width and fabrics to make a 16" block.
Sew strips together.  Press seams flat.  Don't worry about seams going in any direction at this point.
Cut block diagonally twice, corner to corner.  Cuts will make an X across the block.
Switch a cut section from one side with top section.  Sew pieces together.  Press
Cut new block into four sections making one cut vertical and the other horizontal.
Switch two more pieces.
You can repeat this process until you are satisfied with the look as long as your block doesn't get any smaller than 13 1/2".
Trim to 12 1/2" Press ensuring seems are flat.  It will not likely be possible to have all seams press to one direction.This block makes an excellant background for a simple applique such as an apple, whale, wooden truck etc.

I have just finished a quilt top that has over 2100 two and a half inch blocks.  I still have strips and blocks left over so am continuing to sew them together.  Not sure what they will become but I am getting them used up.

Scrappy quilts seem to have taken on a new popularity.  Perhaps it is a reflection of our continued focus on frugality.  The quilt that I finished is a good sized double and it didn't cost me anything as all the bits were left over from other projects.  Many were given to me from the ladies in our local group.

I moderate a yahoo group, Hearts to Hands and our focus is scrappy quilts.  If interested in checking it out, here is the link:


Friday, January 14, 2011

I'm Me Again-I hope

That really was a strange day yesterday.  I think I am back to normal-for whatever that is worth.
It is  beautiful, cool and sunny  today.  I went in to the village for mail and a couple of other things after dropping my husband off at the church to do the cleaning.  I expected to only be half hour or less but when I glanced at the clock on the drive back, I was surprised to see an hour had gone by. I guess I was just enjoying being out in the sunshine.
This is another one of those country things; because the pace is so much slower than in a large city, you tend to stop and chat with every clerk. 
I am not sure if I mentioned this previously, but I am not writing for our local paper.  I am doing the current events column.  I get paid a small amount which covers my weekly quilt group dues and money left over for fabric.
Tomorrow is the 15th so another block of the month is due.  Might get it in Saturday but, if not, I will post it on Tuesday.

Dithery Me

(I wrote this yesterday and posted it.  Signed in today, couldn't find article, then realized I had posted it in my other blog.  It really was a weird day.)

We went to Huntsville to do some shopping this morning. I had to return something, my husband needed a USB cable for his phone, groceries had to be bought and, of course, fabric.

Our first stop was the office supply place where I had to do the return as well as the USB purchase. I had carefully put the return item in my bag along with the receipt so when I got to the check out I would be all prepared. Of course, I couldn't find the receipt. We paid for the cord while I continued searching without success. The clerk was kind enough to say they could give me a customer card in the amount of the purchase. While she was doing that, I suddenly 'found' the receipt. As I was congratulating myself, I noticed the amount and realized it was the item we had just purchsed.

I am sure the clerk thought I was a real airhead but she just continued doing up the card. I thanked her for her patience and slunk out of the store.

Oh, and I found out later that I had misplaced another receipt. This one was to show I had purchsed something at the grocery store on a previous trip which wasn't in my bags when I got home. When I had called the store, they told me that the unpacked items had been handed in to their office and would be waiting for me when I came in. I remembered this while in the store but, alas, no receipt.

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And Even More Deer

These two photos will show you how successful we are at keeping the deer out of the bird feeder.  The dog was barking at the living room window  yesterday afternoon so  I went to see what was causing the problem.  It is usually something that isn't visible to the human eye or something we don't recognize as a danger; a falling leaf, a tree moving in the breeze.  She has, however, let us know of a tangible something often enough that we usually check.  This time it was a herd of deer.  We hadn't seen them that close to the house yet this winter.  I went to my quilt room and counted eight deer crowded around that one little bird feeder.  Some of the deer appeared quite young but all were healthy as you can see by the photos.
There were not at all bothered by the dog barking or us watching.  I had to rap on the window a couple of times before they decided to go somewhere else less bothersome for desert.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Deer, Deer and More Deer

I had to go to the village last night for a meeting.  The sun had just gone down  so I activated my high beam headlights before traversing our driveway.  It is somewhat narrow with a couple of slight curves in it and, if you aren't paying attention, it would be easy to slide off the road.  I made it to the street and was thinking about something or other when I noticed a movement in the bush.  I slowed down just as a deer popped onto the road.  Where there is one, usually two or more follow so I continued moving slowly and watching the area where the animal had crossed.  This one was a loner so I resumed speed.  I hadn't gone very far when the same thing happened and then, a bit later still another deer decided the other side of the road was a better place to be.
When you live in the country, you get used to sharing the road with various critters.  Deer are particularly prevellant in the winter especially at the houses where people feed them.  Every year, the local papers run articles about why the deer should be allowed to fend for themselves but no one seems to take notice.  We were part of the guilty group our first winter.  Having the lovely creatures in our backyard and wandering close to the house was not only a novelty but an awesome sight.  However, we soon realized that this could get to be an expensive proposition and, no matter how much we spread the feed around, the bigger deer wouldn't allow the smaller ones to get a morsel.
This year we have left the feeding to our neighbours and what they steal from our birdfeeders.  We have tried to discourage this latter behaviour but, to date, haven't been successful.  We have put chicken wire around the opening but they have manage to poke through that.  My next step is barbed wire.  Seems rather drastic but it may be the only way to save the seeds for the intended recipients.  An added benefit is that this may also discourage the squirrels that steal what is not rightfully theirs.
I still love to see the deer in the yard and they are welcome to nibble whatever tree pleases them but it is war when it comes to the bird's feed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What I've Learnt

I am just working on my article for Quilter's Connection magazine and that has started me thinking of the changes I have experienced since moving here to the backwoods.
There are many things I have learnt.  Among them are:
you don't need a calendar to tell you when the season's change.  If you watch the maple trees,  you will see vibrant colour in the fall;  sky reaching, bare limbed sentinals in the winter; new growth in the spring and lush green for summer.
not knowing a pedestrian isn't a reason to not smile.
expect someone to open a door for you.
neighbours are always willing to plow your lane, pull a visitor from the ditch and invite you to their house parties.
you can learn to live with black flies.
sharing your property with bears, beavers, all manner of birds, a flying squirrel, crane, loons etc is a privilage.
deer may look like Bambi but they can destroy bird feeders and gardens.
stars can be piercingly bright.
watching the snow fall is a peaceful activity.
life continues after the hydro goes out.
driving into the village to get the mail is a good thing.
and, finally, moving to our rural home is one of the smartest things we have done.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Time to Get Organized

The new year always seems to bring with it a desire to get organized.  As I look around my quilt room, I can see that there has been a need for this for some time.  Fabric is piled onto books which are on the ironing board.  The cutting table has pieces of fabric from at least two projects as well as a plastic bag with pattern and material for a quilt that is on the to do list.  The machine frame can barely be seen for partially completed quilts, more fabrics and an unfolded clothing pattern.
Every space seems to contain plastic boxes, tubs and other containers filled to the overflowing with material, and uncompleted projects.  Some of these are under the table that contains my sewing machines, notions, phone, camera, iron, spray bottle, various scissors and yet more material.  Under the table in addition to the boxes etc I already mentioned is a number of empty egg cartons.  These are for the fire starters I make.
Lest you think that this accumulation of stuff has piled up over years, I must confess that I do clean and organize fairly often.  But, as soon as I turn my back, everything starts to spill out of cupboards and off shelves.  What is a woman to do. 
I recently read an article that told how to, at least, tame the accumulation of unfinished projects.  The writer suggests putting everything in a pile and start sorting.  One pile contains things that will never be finished, another will be the completable (thinking optimistically) things.  The first pile is then divided into stuff that can be given to someone who can use it (a group that does charity quilts for example), and what can be donated to animal shelters or (horrors) just thrown out.
I don't think I could ever get anything into the first pile.  I am always sure that I will, someday, finish all the quilts I've started.  As I also do dressmaking, some of those unfinished items include such things are half made pants that no longer fit.
I really do need to make the effort to get rid of some of the stuff but not today.  If I wait a bit longer, I may be able to finds a use for it or my husband will build the bigger quilt room that he has promised.
Thankfully, I can still find the computer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Time Slowly Passes Quickly

I am sure todays title caused some puzzled looks.  It resulted from me searching for a particular posting last night.  I knew I wrote it in the winter but what year or month I wasn't sure.  After I found it, I realized that I have only been doing this blog for a short time whereas I was thinking that it covered a number of years.  I then reminded myself that I started it after moving here to the backwoods and that was three years ago this May.  We are so at peace here that it is hard to believe that it has been our home for a relatively short time.
One of the things I enjoy most is just looking at the trees.  Today they are snow covered.  On Sunday, morning all the branches were ice tipped and prior to that, they stood like dark towering sentinels against a gray sky.
I can't see the tops of the trees from any window in the house.  It is only when I go outside that I can tell how really tall they are.  After living in Alberta for nearly 20 years, I got used to trees; mainly evergreens, being much shorter.

I am once again trying to complete some of my UFO's.  My husband bought me an engagement (doesn't that sound like something it isn't) calendar for Christmas.  It has photos of quilts that I probably will never attempt but, more importantly, the large pages are divided into seven horizontal strips (each being a day, of course)  which give plently of room for making notes.  I think I am going to write quilt goals in it and note my progress.  Not sure how long I will keep to that but perhaps long enough to lessen the pile of unfinished projects.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time to Plant Potatoes!?

Are you back to normal-house undecorated, everything back to pre-Christmas condition-yet?  I have everything done but the nativity sets.  They are displayed in two rooms and, as many of the pieces are fragile, everything has to be carefully wrapped before storing.
The outside decorations have been disconnected but still have to be taken down.  Some of those will have to wait until nicer weather.
I have been having fun reading one of my Christmas gifts.  My husband and I each gave the other a copy of the Farmer's Almanac.  They have different publishers and both claim to be Canadian but mine has an odd idea of the weather in this country.  In the section for planting crops, it says that a lot of the root vegetables can be put in the ground this month.  I am not sure how long it would take me to dig through the snow and pry a hole in the frozen ground but I am sure that, if I were successful, the vegetables would be a long time sending up any growth.
I have also noticed that it give dates for having your hair cut if you want to encourage growth and other times for retarding it.  Cleaning house, adopting pets, and many other activities all have suggested times. 
All this leads me to believe that many people have trouble making their own decisions.  Can the phase of the moon really have that much effect on how well my oven will be cleaned-if I actually performed that chore.
The book I gave my husband seems to be a bit more accurate and practical.  However both are quite entertaining.  I am checking to see how well mine does on predicting the weather.  In the meantime, I need to wait a few days before making an appointment to get my hair cut.