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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Corn Hill Beauty

Have you noticed there seem to be longer gaps between my posts? I seem to be "otherwise occupied" with the summer weather we are finally receiving. Trying to get everything done outside as I will be away for a few days. My vegetable garden is coming along nicely, all except for the carrots. I guess the ground was just too cool and wet when I planted and they seem to be taking forever to germinate. I bought another pack of seed today to stick in.. surely we'll get some carrots... eventually... it may be October!!
I visited Corn Hill Nursery last week - what a beautiful spot. (CHN is part way between Sussex and Petitcodiac.) The irises, roses and peonies were not quite at their peak as they were last year for our visit, but beautiful none the less. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy, I'll share more later on. I'll be absent from here for a few days.. see you later!

Peace,
Linda

"Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint and the soil and sky as canvas." ~ Elizabeth Murray


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Linda Loves Lupins...

Yup- Lupin Love. That's what it is... June brings droves of lupins to the highways and fields of the Maritimes. Purples, blues, pinks, mauves and whites are the most common colors, but you might also find yellows, peaches, and red-burgundies. They can be solid or bi-color. You will find lupins in fields, ditches, along highways and backroads and in gardens. Are you familiar with the children's story "Miss Rumphius" by Barbara Cooney? Alice Rumphius believed with all her heart that everyone should do something to make the world more beautiful, and her way of accomplishing that goal was to sow lupin seeds all over the countryside. I think she must have passed through the Maritimes as they certainly are abundant in this area. Lucky us!!
If you'd like to add some lupins to your garden, here are a few tips from Lois Hole's Perennial Favorites. Lupin seed needs to be scarified (scratched or scraped) because it has a hard coat that inhibits germination; the seeds will not sprout until moisture can penetrate the seed coat. If you are going to start the seed indoors, gently scrape the seeds between a folded sheet of medium-grade sandpaper. Sow in February or March, expect germination in 4-5 days. Outdoors, sow as late as possible in fall, even early to mid-November. The action of the frost will break down the hard seed coat. Lupins prefer full sun to partial shade. Lupins dislike acidic soil, so have your soil tested; dolomitic lime is great for sweetening acidic soil. (They do well in poor or alkaline soil.) They also dislike water-logged soil so do not plant them where puddles form from rainfal or spring snowmelt.
Deadheading will extend flowering. Lupins self-seed readily, but the seedlings often revert to purple or white. They are a short-lived perennial, usually losing their vigour after 3-4 years. For a continuous show of flowers in your garden, addd a few new plants every second year. Do not divide- they have a long taproot and don't take well to being moved. They perform well as a cut flower for bouquets, usually lasting 7-10 days after cutting. Deer will not eat lupin so they are a good choice if you have a problem with deer munching on your plants...
I have been out several times in the last week looking for patches of lupins. Laura accompanied me one day as we travelled through New Maryland on the way to Rusagonish (on another "photo mission" - more about that later). Some of these photos are from there, others are from Corn Hill N.B. I hope you will enjoy my photographic efforts...
And to my friend Gail, my "Blogger Support" buddy, whose birthday is today - bouquets of lupins to you, my dear! Happy Birthday!



Peace,
Linda

"The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life."
~ Giraudoux

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Poppy Love....

Each June I have shown you my beautiful Princess Victoria Louise poppy when it blooms. No doubt you are tired of seeing it, but guess what - here it is one more time. I've taken a little different approach this time - I'm playing around with learning how to do a photo collage.. this is my first attempt - hope you like it!
I bought a new poppy last week; it likely will not bloom this year, but hopefully I'll have some gorgeous new poppy blooms to show you next June... It's a double fringed poppy called "Fancy Feathers". Can't wait...

Peace
Linda

Gardening is a way of showing you believe in tomorrow.

Helpful advice...

I don't often pass on things from emails, but this one came from my friend Cindi in Moncton, and I am so glad for the helpful info - you may want to follow the advice from this story too...

As I was conditioning my hair in the shower this morning, I took time to read my shampoo bottle. I am in shock! The shampoo I use in the shower that runs down my entire body says "for extra volume and body"!! Seriously, why have I not noticed this before? Now I understand why I am so "full figured"...
Tomorrow I am going to start using Dawn dish soap. It says right on the label "dissolves fat that is otherwise difficult to remove"... It pays to read the labels!!

Peace,
Linda

If you're too busy to laugh, you're too busy...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Smile...click!

Several months ago, daughter Laura won a free photo session for Mother and Daughter with a fellow photographer friend. Photographer Andy works with his fiancee Kayla, operating Knot in the Tree Photography. We went this past Friday, to Odell Park to "challenge their skills"... wink** It was a quick "shoot" and pretty casual, nothin' fancy... He sent us the best few shots within the next hour! You can't beat that for quick service! So here are my two favourites - au naturel.. no touch-ups. Just us. Bein' who we are. A Mom and her darlin' daughter... Aren't we cute?? And Puleeeze- no comments on the cleavage...Gawd!!! Perhaps a touchup IS needed there... Do you suppose Photoshop could turn us into nice little 34 B's???
When we finished our session, Andy and Kayla, who live nearby, went home to pick up their pet and bring him back to the park for a little fresh air and exercise. So Laura and I hung around to meet him - Mr. Piney. Short for "Pinecone". Can you see why he got this name? He's a hedgehog, and I have to say- the cutest little Hedgehog I ever did see... Okay, he's the only hedgehog I have seen. But you have to admit- he is pretty darn cute...
Of course, now Laura thinks we should have a hedgehog... a playmate for Ollie.. Uh, no, I don't think so. But I do wonder what he would do with one.. it would be fun to watch....

Peace,
Linda

As is the mother, so is the daughter. ~ Ezek. 16:44

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A yummy dessert for Dad...

Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers out there!! Here's what we're ending our Father's Day dinner with tonight. It's a great recipe to keep in mind when you want a quick and easy dessert in your freezer - on hand for when you need it... Great to make ahead when things get busy... This is a family favourite for us at any time of year!! My Dad loved strawberries.. I'd give anything to be able to serve him dinner tonight... Cherish your fathers, they are too long gone...

Strawberry Freeze

Crumb Base:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup melted margarine
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts or pecans)

Combine flour and brown sugar, stir until well mixed and no lumps. Add melted margarine and then nuts, stir to combine. Pat into bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven. Crumble in pan with a fork and remove 2/3 cup of crumbs, reserving for topping. Pat remaining crumbs down to form base. Let cool.

Filling:
2 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
15 oz. pkg. frozen sliced strawberries, thawed**
1 envelope Dream Whip (prepare as directed)
OR I cup whipping cream

In your largest mixing bowl, beat egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and strawberries on high speed, until slightly thickened and volume has greatly increased, 8-10 minutes. Prepare Dream Whip or beat whipping cream. Fold into strawberry mixture. Pour into pan over base, sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Cover with foil, sealing well, and freeze. (Make the day before you need it - I once tried making it first thing in the morning, to serve at suppertime, and it was not frozen enough.) Remove from freezer about a half hour before you plan to serve it. I like making this when strawberries are in season, and garnishing with fresh whole or sliced berries.

** Rather than buying frozen berries, I freeze my own in June/July when they are plentiful and local. I mash or puree them (specifically for this dessert)and freeze in icecream or yogurt tubs- roughly 3 cups of puree). That's probably considerably more than the recipe calls for, but it sure tastes yummy. Lots of Vitamin C too!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who's in the Neighbourhood?

I've been spending some time in my gardens in the last week. I finally got fed up with the cool wet weather and the very cool nights, and decided if I didn't get things in the ground, it would just be too late. So, my vegetable garden is now planted, a few new perennials are planted and most of my annuals are in place. My pots and planters are done and as of last night I've stopped babying them by bringing them into the garage at night. It's time for some warmer nights - this unseasonably cool weather has gone on long enough!!
I love being outside and hearing the birds. We have a lot of trees on our property so there are always a variety of bird "chirpings" going on - some which I can identify and many I cannot. And it's amazing how much you really "see" outdoors when you pay close attention. Here are a few photos of the "visitors" in my neighbourhood in the last few days. This swallowtail butterfly was really enjoying itself sipping the sweet nectar of the lilacs. It flitted from blossom to blossom, not the least bit shy about me taking it's photo....











The lupins are just coming into bloom; I think they have to be one of my most favourite wildflowers. It is so great to see them all along the highways and backroads and in fields at this time of year. And when you get up close - you can see who else is enjoying them too... When you look at lupins very closely you will notice that many of them have attracted aphids. I suspect this little fellow is having himself a nice aphid lunch....
















My rhododendron is now in full bloom, and it's popular with the bees, (in photo at right, can you see the little Bee bum? Click on the photo to enlarge it...) and today, who was visiting but the swallowtail butterfly.... not sure if it was the same one... but it sure was enjoying today's sunshine. After flitting around the rhodo, he flew up into the nearby maple tree, spread his wings and sunbathed for a while on a large green maple leaf. I guess he was enjoying today's sun and warmth as much as I was...
















Not all the visitors are welcome ones... you are witnessing the last few moments of this lily beetle's life. I happily helped him have a swift passage to "Lily Beetle Heaven" about 2 seconds after this shot was taken... if you find any of his friends or relatives in your garden, please destroy them as they quickly will decimate your lilies and other plants as well. And then they'll travel to my garden...

Who's in your neighborhood these days?

Peace
Linda

"A butterfly lights beside us and for a brief moment it's glory and beauty belong to our world, but then it flies on again and although we wish it could have stayed, we are so thankful to have seen it at all." ~ Unknown

Monday, June 13, 2011

Jack, Where Are You?

Each spring I wait in anticipation to see if all my plants have survived the winter. I do a little happy dance when each one pokes through the soil, and when one doesn't appear... well, like a Mom, I worry. Often, my worry is for nothing as "the missing" appears a few days later... But this year, there was no Jack.
When we added my studio to our house, it was built on the northwest end, and the following spring, I convinced hubby that I had to extend the front hosta bed around the corner and across two sides of the studio foundation. I added seven more hostas, some ferns and several other plants which would tolerate the total shade, as this corner of the "hacienda" never sees the sun. A friend offered me a Jack in the Pulpit from her garden and I quickly accepted, having always been fascinated with these plants as a child. But this spring- no sign of Jack. I checked every day, sure I was looking in the correct spot (half way between this hosta and that fern...)
So I suggested to Laura that we go up to our local elementary school and do the nature trail which winds down by Garden Creek. This trail was developed several years ago and takes the hiker through four distinct habitats - forest, grassland, wetland and creek. From many visits over the years to this area, I knew there are Jack in the Pulpits growing in the forestland on the hillside sloping down to the creek. I wanted to see if they were up and "blooming" yet... And sure enough, there they were - lots of them. So I figured mine was a goner for sure. These ones were in "full bloom" sporting good sized Jacks- and there was no sign of mine even breaking through the earth.
(Jack in the Pulpit is sometimes confused with Poison Ivy or Trillium because of it's three leaves. It is a most interesting plant and is famous for it's sex change performances, meaning the plant can be male, female or both, depending on it's environment the previous year. "Jack" has many nicknames, including brown dragon, Indian Jack, wood pulpit, little pulpit, starchwort, cuckoo flower, devil's ear, dragon root, Indian turnip, pepper turnip, marsh pepper, swamp turnip, bog onion, priest's-pintle, lords and ladies, and Indian almond! The plant is poisonous as it contains calcium oxalate crystals. It was used as a native medicinal, treating sore eyes, rheumatism, snakebite and bronchitis.)
We enjoyed our little hike- we spent about an hour, and did the entire trail, visiting all four areas. We saw a pair of mallards and a very chatty red squirrel, and lots of deer and raccoon tracks in the mud beside the creek. It turned out to be a very pleasant hour spent with dear daughter, and our cameras. After doing the "official trail", I took Laura on another little walk (down my memory's lane, so to speak) where I used to go as a child on hot summer days when we used to wade in the creek... It looked a little different, 45 years later... it's grown up just a bit...
There's a happy ending to this little story.. several days later, when once again checking for "my" Jack, there he was!! I guess with the cool wet spring we have had, and such a sheltered corner, he was just late "getting up"... He is growing, but I think it will be a few weeks yet before Jack is in his pulpit. We won't tell him how late he is for church!! **wink**
And speaking of Laura, since some of you have been asking how she's doing... she's doing just fine! She's back to work at her beloved Kings Landing, in the Morehouse house (1820) this season, again as a costumed interpreter. Always looking for an opportunity to practice her Journalism skills and add to her resume, she is working on several other small projects as well- more about that later... She is still adding to her MRH Blog, and this past Friday there was an article in our local newspaper about her trip; you can read it here. She has had over 4,500 hits on her Blog- she is thrilled.. and amazed! Thanks to all of you who have taken the time and had the interest to read her thoughts.. we all appreciate your support.

Peace
Linda

"Jack in the pulpit
Preaches to-day,
Under the green trees
Just over the way.
Squirrel and song sparrow,
High on their perch,
Hear the sweet lily-bells
Ringing to church.
Come hear what his reverance
Rises to say,
In his low-painted pulpit
This calm Sabbath-day.
Fair is the canopy
Over him seen,
Penciled by nature's hand,
Black, brown and green.
Green is his surplice,
Green are his bands,
In his queer little pulpit
The little priest stands......."

~Clara Smith


Friday, June 10, 2011

Lilac Love

Who doesn't love Lilacs? We don't have any on our property, but there are some very close by. I love their scent and who can resist photographing their beautiful blossoms? I thought you might enjoy a closeup look at this popular June favourite....


Lilacs

Little petalled blossoms hang
In soft clusters of
Lavender lace
Adorning spring's greenery,
C
atching honeybees with
S
weet perfume.

~ Elaine Magliaro







Peace,
Linda

"Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil." ~ Heber

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Nest, Part 3

Construction of the nest for this challenge quilt was the most fun part! Again, some thought went into it beforehand: not only how I was going to shape it and construct it, but also "how on earth was I going to attach it to the quilt?" was my biggest "worry". Not knowing how heavy it would be, I didn't want it to "pull" on the quilt. I eventually came up with a plan which I thought would work.
I "copied" an idea from the Leaf Bowls we made for Quilt Ontario, using Timtex and darts for shaping. I fused a layer of "nest brown" fabric (suppose that's really a color?) on each side of my fusible stiffener - I used Flexi-Firm rather than Timtex, and used a cereal bowl (really high tech eh?) to cut out a half circle. I added two "flaps" of blue background fabric, backed with a fusible, to "anchor" the nest, once constructed, to the quilt (you can see one of these flaps sticking out on the left). I cut three v-shaped darts out of the semi-circle and stitched them up, giving the nest it's bowl-type shape.
Next I laid very narrow strips of matching brown fabric lengthwise over the nest, both on the inside and outside and stitched them at the edges to secure them, then wove a second set of strips loosely through this "base" at right angles. Then I collected a variety of threads and perle cottons in browns, greys, beige-golds, greens, etc., as well as some wool roving, some dryer lint and some textured yarns in similar colors. As I wove these through the "base" I imagined what Mama Robin would go through to gather her nest-building materials; my job was so much easier... I darkened the white Flexi-Firm which showed on the very edge of the nest with a brown marker, then covered it too with yarns and threads. I built up enough "nest" to entirely cover my fabric base but stopped before it was too thick or heavy.
I placed the nest where I wanted it on the branch, then using a Clover Mini-iron (you know the type that looks similar to a small spade on the end of a curling iron) I fused the two flaps to the background. This seemed to be enough to support the weight of the nest, but I then put a few stitches through the quilt and into the nest edge at both ends and in the middle at the bottom, just to be sure. After all, we wouldn't want the nest to fall out of the tree, now would we? I added a small bunch of Spanish moss (to "hide" the flaps) and nestled in my three little blue eggs.
Almost done... All that was left now was to add my backing, square it up and bind it. Ah yes.. how to square it up? Because of all the three dimensional additions, I couldn't lay my ruler on the quilt, so I used the markings on my cutting mat and did the best I could, shaving off a few narrow bits to bring the sides to equal dimensions. It measures 17"wide x 13.75" high. The binding was easy and it was finished a whole three and a half hours before it was "due" at our April Guild meeting!! Whewww!

Piece,
Linda

What Robin Told

How do robins build their nests?
Robin Redbreast told me-
First a wisp of yellow hay
In a pretty round they lay;
Then some shreds of downy floss,
Feathers too, and bits of moss,
Woven with a sweet sweet song,
This way, that way, and across,
That's what Robin told me.

Where do robins hide their nests?
Robin Redbreast told me-
Up among the leaves so deep,
Where the sunbeams rarely creep,
Long before the winds are cold,
Long before the leaves are gold,
Bright-eyed stars will peep and see
Baby robins - one, two, three;
That's what Robin told me.

~ George Cooper

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summer Must be Near...

Summer must be nearby. How do I know that, you ask? Because my calendar is looking rather bare. Now don't get me wrong.. I have LOTS to keep me busy. I am NOT bored... But my "usual activities" have wound down.. Guild meetings are over until September. The Quilt Show is done. Choir is done. Our Spring Concert is over. My teaching is done. Yes it must be June.... I can hear the Junebugs buzzing at the window...
I thought you might like to see a few pics of the Ladies Choir I sing in (sent to me by friends). Our Spring Concert on May 29 was, by all reports, a great success. We are a smaller group for the winter/spring session as a number of our members travel in the winter, "snowbirding" and such.. I think we numbered about 96 for this concert (compared to 135+ at Christmas).
If you're wondering what we sound like, you can hear several of the selections we sang at this concert on Youtube here, here, here, here and here.I enjoy singing with this wonderful group so much, I really miss it through the summer months. We sang at a Retirement "Do" last week, for one of our Directors, who is retiring at the end of June. He and I have been friends since we were 11 or 12 years old... What a pleasure to be a small part of this special event in his life... Sure glad he's not retiring from Choir though... Best Wishes, Peter!!


Peace,
Linda

"Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to be silent." ~ Victor Hugo

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Nest, Part 2

The next steps (leaves and blossoms) for The Nest also received a good deal of thought - i.e. "just HOW am I going to do this"??? After a plea on my Blog for help/suggestions from readers for a fusible product which would allow me to shape and curl petals, my good friend Sandi Mac told me to try Heat and Bond Heavy. So, try it I did. And it worked!
I chose a mottled green which I thought was close to the proper color of apple tree leaves and fused two layers wrong sides together. I cut out leaves freehand and heating each one individually with a hot iron, curled the edges or shaped them so that they were not just flat. Once they cooled they held the shape! Yeah! That was easy. I freemotion stitched them on with dark green thread, just making a few lines to resemble veins in the leaves. Now on to the blossoms....
I knew that apple blossoms have five petals. I also knew that doing a five petal flower, and curling each petal one at a time, would not be easy. So I cut out two templates- one with three petals and one with two, which I would layer one on top of the other, to yield what I hoped would resemble an apple blossom. I cut out a prototype, curled the petals and it looked acceptable.
The next decision was fabric. Apple blossoms are white tinged with pink, and I didn't have anything in my sizeable stash which seemed to look right (hard to believe, I know! **wink) I finally decided on a tone-on-tone white which would work with the addition of some pink pencil crayon. I fused together two pieces of the white fabric, and drew around the template to squeeze as many blossoms onto the one piece as I could fit. After cutting out the first batch of 25 or so petal components and taking time to trim off all the dark pencil marks, I had an "aha!! moment" realizing it would be smarter to draw out the petals with the pink pencil crayon.. yes indeed, the lightbulb finally came on... I tinged each petal section with a bit of pink, some more than others and then working on one single petal at a time, heated it with the hot iron, curled the petal over a pencil and held it until it cooled. Yes, it took a while...
Then it was simply a matter of layering the two sections to create each blossom, and I sewed them on with small pale yellow seed beads to simulate the stamens. Not perfect... but acceptable. I have to tell you, pushing a (slim) beading needle through all those layers, particularly the stiff flower layers, was not easy.. my fingers grew sore. Guess that's why I gave up after 35+ blossoms.. my original plan was for around 50.
Next.. the nest!

Piece,
Linda

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." ~ Lao Tzu

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Nest, Part 1

From where I sit here at the keyboard, I can look out on my backyard full of apple trees in bloom. It's a glorious sight- too bad the blossoms only last a few days. They are already beginning to fall, littering the grass with white petals, a flurry of "snow" with each flutter of the breeze. It was these trees that were my inspiration for The Nest.
Our Guild does not do a Challenge each year, but with a Show this spring, the Committee decided a Challenge to our members was in order. Rather than dictate the fabrics to be used, as is often done, we wanted to encourage participation so just threw out the Challenge for their interpretation of our Show's theme "Thoughts of Spring". All work had to be done by the entrant, it had to be quilted and could not be over 96" in perimeter. Other than that, it was "anything goes".
Since I was on the Committee, I knew I had to participate. Now I have to tell you, this chickie is not usually a Challenge participant. I guess the idea of someone else dictating colors and fabrics just does not excite me, no - not even a little bit. But with the freedom to do whatever I wanted with my own fabric choices, I knew I did not have any excuse not to participate. I mulled around several ideas before I finally got the brainwave for The Nest - combining two of my favourite spring things - apple blossoms and a robin's nest.
I probably spent as much time planning and thinking it all out as I did actually doing it. Knowing that the branches would be roughly textured and the leaves, blossoms and nest would all be three dimensional, my first concern was how I would quilt it... It didn't take me long to decide I would have to quilt it first- before adding anything else to it- I know, just the complete opposite of what one usually does. I have to admit- this entire piece was somewhat of an experiment- as I had no idea if my "vision" would actually work... But I was quite sure that quilting the "base" first was my only option. So I layered the top and batting only, (I would add a "false back" later) and with my walking foot, put some gently curving lines across it, in hopes it would look like a spring breeze blowing. Of course I forgot to take a photo of this first step... so you'll just have to imagine it (pretend you're Anne Shirley with a great imagination...)
Next came the branches. Apple tree bark is quite rough and on my trees at least, there is quite a variety of color from browns and greys, depending on the light, to even rusty red in some areas, not to mention some velvety green moss. I planned to add texture with thread-painting and the addition of some textured yarns but I knew I would have a problem with trying to keep it all flat - I knew it would "pull in", even though the branches were narrow. So I sketched my branches on the Steam a Seam (a fusible product), fused it to my reddish brown fabric, then fused the branches not to my quilted background but to another piece of the same soft blue fabric. I pulled out every brown, beige, grey, gold and rusty red thread I owned, along with a variety of textured yarns and even some wool roving that I thought might work. First I did some stitching with just the threads, then began adding some yarns and stitched over them. One slubby yarn gave some nice effects. Once I was satisfied with the look of the "bark", I cut out the branches, being careful to cut as closely as I could to the edges, trying to leave little or none of the blue background fabric showing. Then I placed the branches where I wanted them on my already quilted background and stitched them in place with a darker brown thread. Voila - my textured branches were nice and flat - no puckering from the heavy stitching.
Next - the leaves, blossoms and the nest. Stay tuned!

Piece,
Linda

"There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our heart must be very quiet to hear it." ~ Minnie Aumonier
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