STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blogging Mojo, where are you?

I'm still looking for my blogging mojo. I seem to have lost it. Every blogger knows that the longer you're away from blogging, the harder it is to get back to it... I am trying... thanks for your patience!

It hasn't been the best fall. Too much illness, too many deaths, too much unrest in the world... I've never liked November, as it ushers in the winter, my least favourite season... shorter days, less sunshine, colder temps, little colour other than brown and grey. Yuch. But it's here, whether I like it or not. Gotta move on...

My fall classes are finished, nothing now on my teaching schedule until the new year. So the only "busy-ness" I have to deal with now is self-imposed. Christmas is fast approaching, so I'm chipping away at it... I have so much from the past few months to share with you, I hardly know where to start. But since I'm trying to get myself into the Christmas spirit, how's about we start with something red?

My latest miniature is called Raspberry Pie (since I was finishing it up during our prolific raspberry harvest in August.) The finished overall size is 12.25" square, and the 2.25" blocks have 49 pieces each. 796 pieces in total, made almost entirely from small scraps. The design is an old traditional one known as Pineapple, a Log Cabin variation. It is machine quilted, very simply, as is always the best choice for a miniature as it is so easy to distort small pieces with over-quilting. I prefer it hung on point, although it can be hung straight as well.

Detail shot with my seam ripper for size reference. My seam ripper is   4" tip to tip...

Sadly reds don't seem to photograph well... there is lots of variance in the shades of red which doesn't show well here.

I entered it in the KV Guild's annual show in September and was thrilled to win a first place ribbon in the Small Traditional category. And look - the ribbon matches the quilt! How cool is that?! :)
We had our first snowfall yesterday, not as much as was forecast, which is fine with me. It is melting and I expect it will be gone by tomorrow, also fine with me. Not looking forward to winter, at all. What about you? Are you eagerly awaiting the winter season and the snow?


“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.”

~ Cynthis Rylant, In November

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

We Will Remember Them

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them."

From Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen, written in September 1914


"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."
~Thomas Campbell

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ollie, My Sweet Sweet Boy

It seems that life is kicking us while we're down lately. Yesterday we lost our beautiful Oliver. He has been suffering with cardiomyopathy, a common ailment of his breed as they age. Meds for his heart and blood pressure have been a daily occurrence for almost six months now, and we quickly learned that he was not fond of taking pills! The recent addition of a diuretic helped slightly with his breathing, but our prayers were not be answered. Oh what a huge void he has left in our home and our hearts.

I have had cats all my life, but never a cat like Oliver. To say he was special would be an understatement. He had such personality and very quickly had us all, both family and friends, tightly wound around his big tufted paws. Even my hubby who has always professed to hate cats was won over. Although we all loved him dearly, he was definitely my cat. He and I shared a very close bond. He was not happy when I was away,  and rarely left my side when I was home. A constant and loyal companion, he showed his unconditional love with many daily snuggles, nestling his head into my neck or under my chin with a deep resonating purr. He loved to spend time with me in the studio, his favourite spot being on the ironing board (especially if it was warm) so he could see what I was doing.
I am heartbroken to lose him, much too soon. Rest in peace, my sweet boy. I will love you always and forever, dear Ollie.

Pawprints Left by You

You no longer greet me,
As I walk through the door.
You're not there to make me smile,
To make me laugh anymore.
Life seems quiet without you,
You were far more than a pet.
You were a family member, a friend,
A loving soul I'll never forget.

It will take time to heal-
For the silence to go away.
I still listen for you
And miss you every day.
You were such a great companion,
Constant, loyal and true.
My heart will always wear
the Pawprints left by you.

Author Unknown


"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose;
All that we love deeply, becomes a part of us."
Helen Keller

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's About Time...

Yes, it's about time for me to be back !! I thank you for being patient with me.. I have had an incredibly busy few months and I was having trouble "keeping all the balls in the air", so to speak. So blogging was the ball I had to drop for a bit. Not only have I been very busy, we have had an unbelievable string of family and friends ill, and/or dying. I won't burden you with the details, I'm sure you know that sometimes life just is difficult. We lost four people in about a week, one being a favourite aunt - diagnosed with a brain tumour one week and gone six days later. I sure miss her! Life (and death) happens... and you have to move on, but sometimes, it's not easy...
I've been busy with classes too, have taught five in the last month, three of those out of town, and I have four more coming up in the next few weeks. At the urging of some students, I have added a brief outline of upcoming classes to the sidebar at right. I will keep this updated, as time passes. I do teach classes locally at The Christmas Crab Quiltery which is located at 572  New Maryland Highway, just outside Fredericton. If you are interested in a class there, get in touch with JoAnne to sign up, or to add your name to a wait list. You can reach her at (506) 459-6180 during shop hours, Tues.- Fri. 10-5 and Sat. 10-3. New classes are added/scheduled on a regular basis.
I will be blogging more regularly now, so I hope you'll check back often. I have lots to share with you!
And thanks again for your patience! It feels good to be back!  :)


"Not hard times. Just times. If life doesn't suck sometimes, it is hard to tell when life is being good to you." ~ Unknown

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Hello! I'm back! Yes I am okay, not sick, not off travelling the world.. (I wish...) I've just been incredibly busy. Thank you to those of you who have contacted me with concerns for my wellbeing. I feel a little guilty, like I have abandonded you for over a month.. which I have, I guess... But sometimes "life" just takes over and something has to "give".... It's been a summer of ups and downs, but that's life isn't it? People get cancer, people die (too many funerals this summer), marriages end. Life goes on, but things are never quite the same...
Anyway, I figured I had better post something here before you all give up on me!! The next two weeks will continue to be very busy for me, but I will try to get back to more regular blogging very soon... I do have lots to share with you... some finished quilts, twins(!!), some book reviews, etc. etc. so I hope you'll continue to pop over and visit me here.


"Time is a precious thing... and the years teach much which the days never knew."
~ Harvey Keitel as Weldon in Shadows of the Sun

Monday, August 24, 2015

Visiting Grand Manan

Near the ferry terminal, Blacks Harbour, NB

There are over 25 islands in the Bay of Fundy, known as the Fundy Isles, along the southwestern coast of New Brunswick, but only three that are inhabited year round: Grand Manan, Deer Island and Campobello Island. The others are quite small, and some have seasonal inhabitants.

Grand Manan is the largest of the Fundy Isles and I was fortunate to visit it last month. It had been a while since I boarded the ferry in Blacks Harbour to make the 90 minute crossing to Grand Manan. The island is 21 miles long and 11 miles across at its widest point. The majority of the population live on the eastern side of the island, as the western coast is undeveloped due to high cliffs and winds, and very limited access. The total island population is under 3,000.
As the ferry approaches the dock at North Head, one is greeted by Swallowtail Light, the iconic lighthouse which welcomes all visitors, sitting high above the harbour.

As soon as you disembark and begin to explore the island, you immediately feel your stress melting away. The smell of the salt air and the call of the gulls as they soar overhead quickly put a smile on my face. I love the ocean, and I don't get to it often enough. ( I am trying to remedy that, promising myself several more visits to spots along our coast this summer/fall.) The "islanders" enjoy a more relaxed pace of life. Fishing, aquaculture and tourism are the main industries here. Visitors to Grand Manan come to whale-watch, birdwatch, hike, kayak, paint, photograph, and just simply explore the rugged coastal beauty. I will follow this with several more in-depth posts, but today I just want to share a few of my favourite photos with you. And if you live nearby and want to enjoy a few days of peace and tranquility before you head back into the busy fall routine, why not plan a visit to Grand Manan? I promise you won't regret it.

Sunset at Dark Harbour

I am linking to Mosaic Monday with Judith at Lavender Cottage, and Through My Lens with Mersad at Mersad Donko Photography.


"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune:
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries."

~ William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Raspberry Trifle.... Mmmmmmm

I never thought I'd say this, but, our raspberry crop is FINALLY finished. Can you believe we got 51 quarts from our little patch! Yep. 51 QUARTS! Plus I'm sure there was the odd handful here and there, eaten in passing, as well. Some went to friends and I made two pies, a batch of jelly, froze numerous bags for pies, cooked some berries and strained and froze the juice for coulis, and finished off with a Trifle.
Have you ever made Trifle? It is so easy, and soooooo good! It has been a "few" years since I've made one, so I had to stop and think how to do it.    :)   I don't "follow a recipe" so I can't give you accurate measurements, but you don't really need them. Here's what I do: Instead of a pound cake I start with an angel food cake. I break up the entire cake into small chunks. Place half the broken cake into a pretty glass bowl, I use a medium sized straight sided bowl. Sprinkle the cake lightly (or heavily, if you prefer) with cooking sherry. Add several generous tablespoons of a good quality raspberry jam and smoosh  it around to coat the cake chunks. Add remaining chunks of cake and repeat with more sherry and jam. The cake should be well moistened. Smooth out into a nice even layer in the bottom of your bowl, and if necessary, wipe down the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. I do this in the evening, and let it sit overnight so the sherry and jam flavours can meld.
The next morning, add a layer of fresh raspberries on top of the cake. Then, following package directions, prepare one package of cooked vanilla pudding mix, the "6 servings" size. (135g.) I use Jello vanilla pudding. You must use the type that requires cooking, NOT the instant type. As the directions state, stir continually so it does not burn. Once it has cooked and thickened, remove from heat and add 1/2 tsp. almond extract. Stir well. Pour over cake layer and smooth. Allow to cool 10 minutes or so, then cover with plastic wrap to prevent the pudding from forming a skin.
Refrigerate for at least several hours until totally cold.
Whip 1 cup whipping cream (1/2 pint carton) until it will hold a soft peak. Add sugar to sweeten (about 1tblspn.?) and 1/4 tsp. each vanilla extract and almond extract. Stir in well. Spread sweetened cream on top of pudding layer. Garnish with fresh raspberries and/or toasted almonds. Refrigerate until serving time. Be prepared for lots of lip smacking!
Note: It's just as good made at other times of the year too, without the fresh berry layer.


Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dance of the Sandpipers, Part 2

My last post was getting long, so I will continue here with more photos. If you have not read the previous post, scroll down and read it first..
The village of Dorchester in the southeastern corner of New Brunswick is home to the world's largest sandpiper, a model of the semipalmated sandpiper which was the reason for our visit.  I was so happy to be accompanied by my sweet great-niece Mallory on this little adventure. We had hoped to have lunch at the historic Bell Inn, the oldest stone building in the province, dating from the early 1800's. Sadly they had a group reservation for lunch so were closed to others. So we found another spot for a quick lunch, then headed to Johnson's Mills a few miles further on.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada owns 499 acres there, promoting conservation, education and stewardship onsite. The Shorebird Reserve and Interpretive Centre is open daily in July and August and the interpretive staff are friendly and helpful, answering all questions easily. Displays inside the Centre were very interesting, providing lots of information on the sandpipers and other shorebirds as well. Viewing platforms provide ample views of the beach area. "The area was given international prominence when it was added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance and was designated as Canada's first Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve. In 2007, the New Brunswick side of the Upper Bay of Fundy was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Shepody Bay, where Johnson's Mills is located, is also designated as an Important Bird Area." ~ quoted from a display in the Interpretation Centre.

Birdwatching requires a good amount of patience. We enjoyed the hot sunny day and even moreso the cooling breeze off the water as we watched and waited... and waited... for high tide which would bring the birds closer. We eventually left the viewing platform and walked further down to the point where another interpreter was keeping a close eye on everyone and making sure no one went down onto the beach where the sandpipers were roosting. I was so glad I remembered two pairs of binoculars!

After several hours, the resident pair of peregrine falcons did a "fly by" and this alerted the sandpipers, finally treating us to the dance we had hoped to see. As I said in my previous post, the still photos do not do it justice, so if you didn't watch those videos, go back and do it now. It was amazing to watch, as they fly in unison, weave and turn, first light then dark, changing direction every few seconds yet remaining in tight formation like a precision drill team. We both felt very privileged to be there to witness one of nature's spectacles. Without any further chat, I'll let you enjoy it too.....


"The study of nature is a limitless field, the most fascinating adventure in the world."
~ Margaret Morse Nice

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dance of the Sandpipers

I live in New Brunswick, on the east coast of Canada. We are bordered by the American state of Maine, the province of Quebec, the Atlantic Ocean, and are connected in the southeast corner to Nova Scotia by the narrow Isthmus of Chignecto, and to Prince Edward Island by the 8 mile long Confederation Bridge. Our southern coast is bounded by the Bay of Fundy, famous for the highest tides in the world.


The Bay of Fundy is a 270 km. (170 mile) long ocean bay that stretches between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Each day 160 billion tonnes of seawater flows in and out of this bay during one tide cycle. (That's more than the combined flow of all the world's freshwater rivers!)  The bay area has many aspects worth exploring: its beaches, sea caves, cliffs and salt marshes, the Tidal Bore, the Fundy Trail, beautiful Fundy National Park, Joggins Fossil Cliffs, whale watching cruises, sea kayaking, and bird watching to name a few.
Red cliffs along  the Shepody Bay area of the upper Bay of Fundy
With each tide, waves and currents wreak changes on the mud and gravel flats in the upper bay. Seaweeds common to rocky shores can find no grip on muddy beaches so they appear lifeless, but this couldn't be further from the truth. The muddy flats are actually teeming with life - clams, tube worms, clam worms, whelks, and tiny snails and shrimp are just some of the creatures here.
Massive flocks of shorebirds, travelling from their nesting grounds in the Canadian Arctic to South America, stop at the Bay of Fundy to feed and fuel up before continuing their migration flight south.
Sandpipers are small, as you can see here, in comparison to the seagull.
There are well over 100 sandpipers in this photo.

Yesterday I visited Johnson's Mills, just outside Dorchester N.B. to view this spectacle. Thousands of semipalmated sandpipers are currently feeding on the mud flats in the bay area, in fact about 75% of the world's population of semipalmated sandpipers stops here each year. At peak season there can be flocks of up to 200,000!
At low tide they are out on the mud flats feeding on the tiny mud shrimp, corophium volutator, which is found only in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine. 

As the tide rises, the birds move closer to shore and at high tide, they roost/rest in large groups on the pebble beach, close enough for excellent viewing. Yesterday it was estimated we were looking at 80,000 birds. Of course they are too numerous to actually count accurately; the Interpretors "count" by looking at the shore area covered and estimating 100 birds per square metre. Yes, they are really "packed in."
The semi-palmated sandpiper is not a very big bird, it weighs around 20 grams -  the same as a strawberry! But within its two to three week stay here on the bay, it will eat enough to double its weight by consuming 10,000 to 20,000 mud shrimp at each low tide!! These fat stores will provide the necessary energy for the 4300 km. non-stop flight to South America which takes about 72 hours.

Among the semipalmated sandpipers (black legs) one can often see several other species as well- the least sandpiper (distinguished by its yellow-green legs), the black-bellied plover and the semipalmated plover. You can see several plovers in the photo above - they have a black band on their upper breast and are closest to the camera, just above my Stitch Lines watermark.

When resting on the pebble beach, from a distance (and even fairly close up) one would hardly know the birds are there. They blend in so well, they are virtually indistinguishable from the beach rocks. But as one looks carefully, one sees the beach is alive with masses of the tiny birds.

Only when they lift off in flight can you appreciate the vast numbers. 

Although we were hoping they would lift off numerous times so we could enjoy the dramatic aerial display as they twist and turn, showing ribbons of alternately light fronts and dark backs, it is best for them to remain at rest to conserve the energy they are storing up for their long migratory flight. Predatory peregrine falcons were nearby and a pair flew by occasionally, causing the sandpipers to lift off and shift their position up the beach.
I was wishing I had the massive lenses that others were using, or video capability, but had to be satisfied with my one telephoto. I hope you will enjoy these still images, but be sure you click the following links to watch several videos of the birds in flight - their aerial dance is so incredibly beautiful; click here and here. They will give you a good idea of what we actually witnessed, as my still photos just don't do it justice. Both were filmed at Dorchester/Johnson's Mills, and the second one is set to music. Almost as good as being there! Nature is so incredibly amazing!
Along with the other birdwatchers present, there was a film crew recording the sandpipers and their incredible aerial dance, for an upcoming CBC series to air in October 2017 on The Nature of Things. The series will be called The Wild Canadian Year - An Epic Journey Through the Seasons. I had a great chat with one of the photographers and cannot wait to see this series. You can follow them through production here at

I took well over 150 photos and am still editing. I'll probably add a few more tomorrow, so I hope you'll come back for another visit.
I am linking with Judith at Mosaic Monday and with Mersad at Through my Lens.


“I think the most important quality in a birdwatcher is a willingness to stand quietly and see what comes. Our everyday lives obscure a truth about existence - that at the heart of everything there lies a stillness and a light.”  ~ Lynn Thomson, Birding with Yeats: A Memoir

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Garden Visitors

I really feel like I've fallen behind this summer with blogging, and showing you what's going on in the garden. Maybe one day soon I'll just do a huge collage of recent blooms... In the meantime, I wanted to give you a closeup look at two recent visitors.

A few days ago as I was doing a little deadheading in one of my perennial beds, I caught sight of this fine fellow. He was perched in my baby's breath. I ran inside, grabbed my camera and macro lens and hurried back. He was patiently waiting for me, and posed for a minute or two before hopping away. Don't you think he's handsome? (well, okay, "handsome" as grasshoppers go....)

"Hello Mr. Grasshopper..."
(How's this for up close and personal?)

Another visitor last week was enjoying the echinacea (coneflower.) This is a Red Admiral butterfly which paid no attention as I took many photos. The red admiral belongs to a group including anglewings, painted ladies and related species, most of which have an orange and black pattern on the upperwings.

When they rest on trees with their wings closed, the bright upperwing pattern is largely concealed and the dull mottled underwing blends with the tree bark. Camouflage! Isn't nature amazing? He wasn't interested in showing me his pretty colours... his wings were closed much more than they were open. I guess he was watching me, and trying to camouflage himself..?

Speaking of "garden visitors", we DID finally catch Mr. Groundhog in a live trap... He's been carted away I mean relocated to a nice new neighbourhood  miles away (far enough, I hope!) where we hope he'll live happily ever after.... I'm sure this won't be the end of our groundhog troubles as there are more... a family no doubt, as we've seen little ones...  arrgghhh!


"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body but the soul." ~ Alfred Austin

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Bumper Crop!

I haven't been spending a lot of time in Blogland lately because I've been busy in the backyard... in the berry patch. We have a bumper crop of raspberries this year and I do mean a bumper crop. My dear hubby did a great job of cleaning out the patch this spring, pruning out old wood and cutting some paths so we could actually get into the middle of our thick patch. It seems to have done the trick as the yield has increased considerably. I've been picking for two weeks now, and to date "our little patch" has yielded 42 quarts! Yes you read that correctly - 42 quarts! 

I've made two pies and have put enough in the freezer for at least 10 more pies. Of course I've given many quarts away to friends for pies, jelly and jam as well. And today I made raspberry jelly for the first time ever. It looks so yummy, I can't wait to try it, and it's such a gorgeous red! I'll likely make one more batch as there are still more berries to ripen. Yes indeed, a bumper crop....

Speaking of bumper crops, we had two additions to the (extended) family today (while I was making jelly.) My niece who got married last August had twin girls this morning. Mama and babes are doing well. No names have been announced yet (sort of like the royals, haha.) I can't wait to meet them!

I am linking up with Kara at A Spirit of Simplicity for her new linky party "Tuesday Afternoon". 


"What will come from the briar but the berry?"  Irish Proverb

Sunday, August 9, 2015

More Challenges

After finishing the previous post showing some of the Hoffman 2014 Challenge pieces from Maine Quilts 2015, I thought "I should link back to my post which showed the Hoffman  Challenge pieces from the Florida World Quilt Show." When I looked back to my January posts, I realized I had never shown them, so guess what? I'm showing them today! So these are entries from a different travelling collection of the same 2014 Hoffman Indigo Challenge. I'm sure you will recognize the same featured fabric. Enjoy!

by Laura Ruiz
of Florida

This entry won Curator's Choice,
Mixed Technique category

Ray, Stevie and José
by Ann Turley
of California

Copper Butterfly
by Danielle Ketcham
of Montana

Flower Power
by Amber Lippold
of Michigan

Funky Flower Fantasy
by Zinia Lewis
of California

Pickle Dish Dance
by Diane Morrow
of California

As well as quilts, the annual Hoffman Challenge has categories for both wearable art (clothing) and dolls. Here are a few of the dolls. My photos of them are not that great but I'm sure you can at least appreciate the amount of work in each of these creations The Matador really caught our eye... I apologize for not having the names of each entry, nor their creator's names.   :(


"To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong." ~ Joseph C. Pearce

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