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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Score!

We all know that friends are the best!  But having a friend who is also an avid reader, knows what you are reading, and keeps an eye out for you is the absolute best! Last Friday as I was getting ready to leave for the weekend, my friend Barb called and said she was working at her church rummage sale. Among the books were a number of the Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series, and would I like her to get them for me? "Well Yes, absolutely." So look at what I now have on my shelf - 1 through 12 except for 2 and 11. I know our local library has #2, and no doubt they have #11 as well. She picked up 7 books for me, for the whopping sum of $5.00! What a score! How lucky am I?! Thanks Barb! So if any of my local reading friends are interested in this series, you know Linda's Library is open!!   :)

Peace,
Linda

"A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair."
~ Katrina Mayer

Friday, April 22, 2016

Signs of Spring









Hi all. Just a very quick post today as I am leaving shortly for Moncton for the NB Gathering of the Guilds. This is a gathering of representatives from all our quilting guilds in the province, held every second year. We get together to share ideas, challenges and see if we can brainstorm to solve common problems and issues. It's always very inspirational and a good deal of fun as well. So, all my bags are packed, I'm ready to go.... ♫♫  (I'm just not leaving on a jet plane... ha!)













With the nice weather we've had this week, I've tried to get some work done outside, and am happy to say I have the leaf mulch all cleaned off four of my five big beds and things are sprouting up! The daffodils are up and budded, they'll be in bloom by next week I expect, the tulips are budded too, but smaller. Some of the perennials are poking through already, and some of the small bulbs are already blooming - chionodoxa, crocus and scilla.










So it looks like spring has finally arrived. (We won't discuss the foot+ of snow that Newfoundland got this week, okay? ... sure hoping that doesn't happen here...)


So hope you enjoy these few spring-y photos huriedly taken around the hacienda this morning....















Peace,
Linda


"The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Lean to the sun's kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze."
~ Julian Grenfell

Monday, April 18, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Have you read anything by Alexander McCall Smith? I had not, until my friend Barb introduced me to the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, and I'm so glad she did! McCall Smith has written over 100 books, but he is best known for this series which has risen to the top of bestseller lists around the world. It would be a bit of a stretch to assign them to the "mystery" genre, rather they are charming tales of a woman who is a "self-proclaimed" private detective. She is not just any woman... she is Precious Ramotswe. a Botswana woman "of traditional build".. a charming character if ever there was one. She is delightful, dealing with daily issues and challenges with intelligence and intuition - after all what more do you need, says Mma Ramotswe? She feels her mission is to help people with the problems in their lives, not to solve crimes.
Very soon after opening her agency in Gaborone, she is hired to find a missing husband, uncover a con man and track a wayward daughter, but her biggest challenge in this first novel is the case of a missing boy, only eleven years old, who she fears has been snatched by witch doctors. She quickly won me over, solving each case with her clever ways, common sense and keen observation.
I love Smith's writing style. Straightforward simple prose, sprinkled with beautiful descriptive passages such as this: "Then, just past the Mochudi turnoff, the sun came up, rising over the wide plains that stretched away towards the course of the Limpopo. Suddenly it was there, smiling on Africa, a slither of a golden red ball, inching up, floating effortlessly free of the horizon to dispel the last wisps of morning mist." and "She stopped the van an hour later, beside a dry riverbed. They were completely alone. with not even a fire from a remote cattle post to break the darkness of the night. Only the starlight fell on them, an attenuated silver light, falling on the sleeping figure of the boy, wrapped in a sack which she had in the back of the van, his head upon her arm, his breathing regular, his hand resting gently on hers, and Mma Ramotswe herself, whose eyes were open, looking up into the night sky until the sheer immensity of it tipped her gently into sleep." The story line is light and humourous, not complicated, and it moves along at a good pace so you don't lose interest. In fact, I found myself often thinking "I'll read just one more chapter.''
The second book Tears of the Giraffe carries on smoothly from the first novel. Although there are more cases to solve, more of this book is centered around Mma Ramotswe and her relationship with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, the local mechanic who keeps her old van running smoothly. They become engaged and it is amusing to watch their relationship develop. Among her cases to solve are a wandering wife, and the long lost son of an American woman.
If you enjoy an entertaining story with "real" characters, you should investigate this series. I find it a refreshing positive change from what we hear of Africa in the news. I can hardly wait to get into the third book in the series, Morality for Beautiful Girls.

Peace,
Linda

"I became a book lover at a very young age. Books taught me that there were different lives and beautiful things." ~ Rene Denfeld

Friday, April 15, 2016

Spring Concert

Our Fredericton Ladies Choir Spring Concert is not far off. If you would like tickets, please get in touch. We offer an entertaining evening with a variety of music, both sacred and secular, old favourites and new, something for everyone! I hope to see you in the audience!  May 10, 7:30p.m. at St. Dunstan's Church, corner of Regent and Brunswick Streets. Doors open at 6:45, admission is $15.00


♫ Peace and Harmony  ♫♫
    Linda

"The greatest musical instrument given to a human being is the VOICE." ~ Dayananda Saraswati

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

It's been a week since my last post! Acckkk! But I do have a good reason, if that helps. I was off on a teaching trip to Nova Scotia. I had hoped to get a few posts written and scheduled to publish while I was away, but it just didn't happen. But now I'm home and we'll carry on...
First of all I have to say a huge Thank You to all the gals at the Mariners Quilt Guild of Dartmouth for making me feel so welcome and for spoiling me all weekend! They could not have been more helpful, and my every need was taken care of. Special thanks to Jackie L. for all the arrangements for the workshop and securing such a wonderful bright classroom at St. Mary's University. I joked with them that as an Acadia grad, it was difficult for me to imagine myself teaching at SMU. ("Back in the day" Acadia and SMU were arch-enemies...) And special thanks too to my friend Karen Henry who so kindly hosted me for four nights.
We had two wonderful classes on the weekend, and believe me, I had every bit as much fun as they did!
All the students were keen to learn and try new techniques. They could not have been a nicer group. The only "challenge" was what we woke up to on Sunday morning - SNOW! Ugh. This is the view looking out my bedroom window at 7:30a.m. Sadly it prevented one gal from getting to class, but the rest were troopers and all showed up, even despite some power outages!
Of course I managed to squeeze in visits to a few quilt shops in the area, and do my bit to boost the local economy... lol. The trip was capped off with their monthly guild meeting on Monday evening, at which I gave a Trunk Show. You can view two slide shows from the weekend's activities on their guild's blog here. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Mariners Guild- thanks again gals!
Now I'm back home and busily looking after some other commitments, the first one being preparing for the Gathering of the Guilds next weekend. There is lots of work waiting to be done outside as well; my perennial beds all need to have their winter blanket of leaf mulch removed- the tulips, daffodils, scilla and other spring bulbs are pushing up their shoots, and a few perennials are already appearing too. I can't wait for some colour! The snow is gone, and I'm already tired of looking at drab brown grass... although there are tiny green patches here and there. Yay! Come. On. Green. I just had to put up a new "spring-y" header, I am so anxious for spring colour!! What about you? Has spring arrived where you are?

Peace,
Linda

Spring is here! I'm so excited, I wet my plants!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Bali Happy!

Another small project finished! I had pieced this miniature quilt a while back, then put it aside, and I guess I forgot about it... It has been languishing.. waiting.. I came across it this week hiding in a pile. Yes my studio is past due for a clean-up... So I got it quilted and bound and now it's done! Done is good!
I'm often asked where I get my ideas for miniatures. Often it's just a block or design I want to try, but I don't want to make the full sized quilt... Sometimes it's a colour combination I want to try out. Sometimes it's "just because." Hey, that's as good a reason as any, isn't it? This one actually came about because of the backing fabric! I know, crazy! Sounds like I'm doing things backwards!!
Well, you see, there's a story here... One of the things I most hate shopping for is bras. It seems you find one make and style you really like, it fits well and is comfortable, and then the next time you go for one, that style has been discontinued. Arrgghhhhh! This happens time and again. So while shopping in the US with my friend Sandi, I mentioned that I needed a new bra and dreaded the thought of the whole process of finding a new one I liked. She introduced me to Bali bras at Macy's. Being a quilter and a lover of Bali batiks, how could I not like a bra called Bali??!!
I think it was on that same trip that I found this fabric... Loved it!  I had no idea what I would do with it.. not exactly what you'd put into a quilt, perhaps, but I thought it would be useful for a backing if nothing else so I bought 1/2 yard. You have to admit, it's pretty cute. So that's how this mini came about. The bra fabric is on the back and I used the colours in it to choose the bali batiks and hand-dyeds for the front. I'm not totally enamoured with the whole "modern" quilting movement - simple shapes, lots of negative space, lots of white... but I'm trying. I don't know if this would even "qualify" as modern... but it's an effort, at least....
I quilted it with concentric circles, spaced 1/2" apart,  using a 60 weight white thread. I'm happy it's finished, and so I'm calling it Bali Happy. The half square triangles are 1" and it measures 11.25" square.
Any suggestions for what to do with the rest of my brassiere fabric??

Piece!
Linda

I quilt because the voices in my head tell me to....

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cravings...

Do you get food cravings? I'm sure I'm not the only one... Every once in a while, something food-related pops into my head and I can't get it out.. I just have to make it. Ingredients go on the shopping list and it becomes part of the next menu plan. This week it was Bean Salad. I hadn't made it since.. well, I'm not sure how long, but let's just say too long! By now I'm sure you've figured out I love salads, so I'm adding this one to the blog today, and maybe you will like it too. My version includes other veggies too besides just beans.... I don't measure.. just do them "to taste."

Three Bean Salad

1 can green beans (14 oz. or 19 oz.)
1 can yellow (wax) beans (14 oz. or 19 oz.)
1 14 oz. can kidney beans
sliced red onion
celery, sliced on the diagonal
chopped or sliced red and green pepper
chopped cauliflower

Dressing:
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup oil
1 Tblsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. celery salt
black pepper to taste
Place all ingds. in a bottle, cap and shake well until sugar and seasonings are dissolved. Pour over salad and refrigerate. Stir well several times over the next 12 hours. Best if kept 12 hours before serving, but can be served sooner (if  like me, you just can't wait...)

Peace,
Linda

"A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul  to the recipe." ~ Thomas Keller

Friday, April 1, 2016

Life Lessons...

Acckkk! The days are flying by and my posting is still sporadic! I have been very busy, but don't seem to have a lot to show. The weather has been rather blahhh, so no inspiration to get out with my camera either... Since I don't seem to have a lot that is "blog-worthy" these days, I'm going to share something I saw on Facebook a few days ago. The words are Robin Williams' - wise advice for sure.. sometimes it's good to have these little reminders... The photographs are mine... I think it's time for some bright spring-y flowers! RIP Robin Williams. You are gone far too soon.



 


Peace,
Linda

"Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else's 
fairytale." ~ Wale Ayeni

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Another Small Finish


Using up yet more leftovers/scraps! My fabric stash is in serious need of taming, so when I can I'm trying to use up small bits to pare things down somewhat. With an upcoming class on Machine Quilting with the Walking Foot, I'm trying to get a few new pieces done to show. I know students like to see finished projects as well as small teaching samples. So with that in mind, I've just finished a small baby quilt, made totally from scraps and leftovers. Ya gotta love a project that you don't have to purchase anything for... I even had enough pink thread on hand...   :)


The blocks on the front are all from leftover small pieces, the backing is a piece remaining from the quilts made for the twins last summer. It was just a few inches short, so I used up another leftover strip from the twins' quilts. The binding used up another small piece from the "pinks" basket, and the batting was on hand as well. It almost feels like a "free quilt!"
The quilting was simply and easily done, in what is referred to as "organic lines," i.e. not perfectly straight, not marked or done with a ruler, just "freeform" lines. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I'm okay with it. After all, it's just a "utility" baby quilt, it's not going into any competitions! So it will serve double duty - after being used as a sample for a class, I will give it to a friend who is expecting her first grandchild, a girl, this summer.
Happy Easter, everybunny!

Peace,
Linda

Quilters cut with hope, stitch with grace, quilt with dreams, bind with laughter, share with love.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Crow Lake, Canadian writer Mary Lawson's debut novel, is set in a small rural farming community in northern Ontario. The four Morrison children have been suddenly orphaned when a car accident claimed their parents. Narrated by Kate Morrison, seven at the time of the tragedy, the story shifts between present and past. Kate is now in her twenties and a professor of Zoology at a university in Toronto. As a child she idolized her elder brother Matt; he taught her to love nature, and likely planted the seed for her career choice, but now she feels estranged from all three siblings, and going back to Crow Lake will not be easy. She is haunted by memories of  her childhood and feelings of guilt over the sacrifices made by her two older brothers to keep the four children together.
A story written with depth and honesty, it's a study of family relationships, love and loss, regrets and resentment, hidden secrets and dreams sacrificed. Lawson, a distant relative of L.M. Montgomery, was born and raised in southwestern Ontario. She has written a beautiful story about family and about life, rich with description and characterization. I was drawn into the story quickly, and just had to keep reading. This is a story/family that will remain with you long after you've finished the last page. A #1 National Bestseller, Heather's Pick, a Globe and Mail Best Book, winner of the Ontario Library Association Evergreen Award and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. Definitely worth the read, and a great choice for bookclubs.
What are you reading this week?
Spring has arrived (supposedly) and my birthday has come and gone. For us spring brought snow, after several weeks of warmer temps, bare ground and dreams of an earlier spring... Easter is almost here, seems way too early... I'll be back soon with another small finish, just some quilting to complete, and the binding.

Peace,
Linda

"I love books. I love that moment when you open one and sink into it, you can escape from the world into a story that's way more interesting than yours will ever be." ~ Elizabeth Scott

Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Up Leftovers, Part 2

I love squash, but only in the fall when it is fresh, tasty and dry. I have tried storing it through the winter, but with less than satisfactory results. I've also tried freezing it, following my sister-in-law's instructions to the letter. She freezes squash each year and says it comes out tasting just like it is fresh in the fall. I figure she must have a secret she's not sharing with me... So I tried again last fall, but it is pretty much tasteless. I have several packages left and can't bear to throw it out so yesterday I decided a soup might be a good way to use it up.
I didn't follow a recipe, just my "instincts" haha. I had some chicken broth that needed to be used up and several apples that were getting past their best. While the squash thawed, I chopped a medium onion, peeled and chopped two apples, and sautéd them in butter until tender. In the last minute I added some fresh minced garlic and freshly grated ginger. Next I added about 2 tsp. curry paste and then stirred in about 2 cups of chicken broth. This all went into the blender along with the thawed squash (about 2 cups (?) cooked and mashed). Once it was puréed until smooth, it went into a saucepan with a good dash of salt and pepper and some coffee cream, and heated to serving temperature. It was quite yummy if I do say so myself! Even hubby gave it the thumbs up. The only thing that would have improved it is a good splash of maple syrup. I love maple syrup as a flavouring for squash, but our year's supply of syrup is gone. (I'll fix that on Saturday morning at the farmer's market!) I garnished the soup with a few crispy croutons, but a swirl of sour cream, or maple syrup, would be good options as well. I do love a big bowl of homemade soup!! What about you? Is homemade soup on your list of favourite things?

Peace,
Linda

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude."  ~Julia Child

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Using Up Leftovers...




Happy St. Patrick's Day! Some of you, wherever you may be, might be "seein' the green" today...not here.... we're seein' the white! Yep, the usual St. Paddy's Day storm, it's been snowing all day! Our world is white once again, but it won't last long, I don't think. Hope not anyway...







An Irish prayer for you today:

May God give you, For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends, A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.


I have a small "finish" to share. I had quite a number of small pieces of light neutrals left over from the quilt I am piecing, so I put them together in very simple blocks and assembled them into an 18" square for a table centre. It really doesn't show up well here but there were 17 different fabrics used. I machine quilted it with a serpentine stitch, and it will be another class sample for an upcoming class. Nothing fancy, but it will serve its intended purpose.
What do you do with small leftover pieces? Fold them up with the remaining fabric, put them in a scrap basket, or turn them into something?
Tomorrow I'll tell you about another leftovers creation... in the kitchen. Curried Squash Soup

Peace,
Linda

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go. ~ Irish Blessing

Saturday, March 12, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Sweetland by Michael Crummey is set on a small remote island off the coast of Newfoundland. Moses Sweetland has lived there all of his life, as have many generations of his family before him, in fact the island is named after the family. When the government decides to "re-settle" the community, he's having none of it. Moses is stubborn, set in his ways... you might even say "crusty." The offer is generous, but it must be unanimous, everyone must agree and sign before the offer will go through and Moses is the hold-out. Sweetland has been home for him for sixty-nine years, and despite its rugged lifestyle, he's not interested in leaving. With mounting pressure from family and friends, he does eventually sign the papers, but he won't leave. He manages to stay behind on the island he loves, alone, battling the elements, memories of the past and the desolation of a solitary life.
Crummey, also born and raised in Newfoundland, has written this story beautifully, perfectly capturing the island and its people. He has developed the character of Moses so thoroughly, I feel as if I have known him a long while. Newfoundlanders have their own way of speaking, and although some might find the expressions hard to understand, Crummey has "nailed" the vernacular. This is part of the charm of the story for me. His descriptions of the island make it easy to visualize, and the rugged land, the ocean and the weather become characters in the story as much as the people. A heartbreaking story of sadness, it is a realistic depiction of the decline of outport communities in Newfoundland, following the collapse of the commercial fishery. Time marches on and takes its toll. Sweetland is a story of past and present, of strength and determination, and of love for the land one calls "home."
Five stars from this reader.

Peace,
Linda

"We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel.... is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become." ~ Ursula K. LeGuin
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