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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

She's soaring...

Darling daughter is in her final year at University studying Journalism. Before she can graduate she must do a one month unpaid Internship. I suggested she "get on it" first thing this fall and try to get things set up asap. Because she has a whole lot  on her plate this year, the sooner things are "settled" the better.. Well she did it! She got the "plum" position - with the Toronto Globe and Mail. Largest newspaper in the country! Woohooo! She is thrilled and so are we. (Proud Mama here)
This week she sold a story to the Halifax Chronicle Herald, another feather in her cap. Today she went up flying, to take some photos for her story. She got to sit in the Co-pilot's seat and even took the controls for a bit. Yep,  my girl's gonna soar... She's always up for an adventure...





Here she is with Pilot Dave. These two pics are courtesy of our friend Sandy W.



Below are several photos Laura took over Halifax and below that, world famous Peggy's Cove. You can pick out the lighthouse if you look carefully.

Downtown Halifax, with Citadel Hill and new skating oval
Waterfront area of Halifax
Rugged coastline of Peggy's Cove area
Peggy's Cove NS
Well, what can I say? I'm envious of Laura's adventure today... I'm so glad they had a good day, especially weatherwise...

Peace,
Linda

Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen....

A Stitching Finish

Whew! It's been a busy few days! November 25th has passed - that seems to be the date when I switch into high gear for holiday preparations, realizing Christmas is one short month away.... In the last few days I've started decorating, made a dent in the Christmas Shopping list, finished a Christmas cross-stitch and got it in the mail, and finished reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. On Friday evening we went to see the FHS musical production Chess, on Saturday evening the movie Lincoln (excellent!! highly recommend it!!), and on Sunday evening I attended the Annual IODE Christmas Home Tour. Sunday afternoon we took a drive upriver to attend an Open House at Jolly Farmer, then dropped in on hubby's parents on our way back. Aaand- I am finishing my LAST block for my red quilt! Yep- number 20 is almost done. I have been playing with the blocks on the design wall and think I am pleased with their current arrangement. I hope to be sewing them together tomorrow, although I do have to make some more sashing strips first. I'm off on a quick little trip out of town Wednesday and Thursday so I'd love to have it together before I go.. we'll see... So, as you can see things are busy busy here. Hope you don't think I'm slacking, just because I'm not blogging.. au contraire!! I am keeping quite busy.
The cross-stitch shown above was sent off to darling daughter. I had done one (well, two actually) last fall by the same designer, and promised her the Christmas one next. But the pattern was back-ordered and didn't arrive until well after Christmas, so she gets it this year. It's the perfect size for a narrow wall area in her apartment. It's a Heart in Hand Needleart pattern, designed by Cecilia Turner, called Christmas Medley. I like her simple designs and the addition of the fimo buttons for a touch of whimsy.
I'll save the book review on The Paris Wife for another day as it's getting late and I need some shut-eye.  I do highly recommend the movie Lincoln- do see it if you can. If Daniel Day Lewis isn't nominated for an Oscar, there is something wrong. (Another excellent movie to see if it is still playing in your area is Argo with Ben Affleck. LOVED it!!)
That's all for tonight. Good night folks!

Peace,
Linda

My new motto: Creative clutter is better than idle neatness!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Subtle November Beauty


You've heard me say before that I don't care for November. It's grey.. brown.. dull.. dreary.. getting cold and colder... ugh. But sometimes one can see beauty in simple things. This morning as my hubby walked across the backyard near the deck he noticed a spider web covered in frost which the sun hadn't reached yet. So - you know me - I headed out with camera in hand. Those shots were not anything special- just couldn't get a good angle, so not worth showing. But as I walked around 





the yard, I could see frost on an evergreen which I thought looked pretty- not perhaps as pretty as a fresh soft snow would look- but that will come all in good time.. (don't hurry, Mother Nature!) The little frost-covered "ropes" of webbing reminded me of garland on a Christmas tree... maybe Ma Nature is starting her own decorating for the season...









Just thought I'd share the beauty with you. And wishing all my American friends a wonderful Thanksgiving this weekend. Enjoy your family get-togethers and if you are travelling, be safe.

Peace,
Linda


"The frost performs its secret ministry, Unhelped by any wind."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm a Winner!

No, I'm not being conceited and patting myself on the back, I am a winner in a recent draw. You are probably aware of the recent Blog Tour held by Quiltmaker on their Quilty Pleasures blog  to introduce the new 100 Blocks Volume 6 magazine. It hit the stands just a few days ago. But leading up to its appearance at your favourite newsstand, we were able to tour and visit a number of the block designer's blogs /websites. There were lots of giveaways - patterns, fabrics and of course copies of the newest 100 Blocks issue. And I won!!!

I was thrilled to see an email appear in my inbox from Shayla Wolf, Editorial Assistant at Quiltmaker informing me I had won on Day 3 of the 5 day tour. My winnings were shipped that very day from Golden Colorado and arrived very quickly - 6 business days- that must be a record. Imagine my excitement when I saw the return label on this box at my door- woohoo- my  goodies are here!! I didn't know what would be in the box other than the 100 Blocks magazine - just look at all the quilty goodness! A bundle of Fat Quarters, a charm pack of Ty Pennington Impressions fabrics, and three patterns - two from Perkins Dry Goods and one from Clothesline Quilts. A big THANK YOU to Quiltmaker and all the designers, and of course all the donors of fabric and pattern prizes. Now excuse me while I go devour my new 100 Blocks issue....

Piece,
Linda

"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for. " ~ Joseph Addison


Monday, November 19, 2012

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

It seems there are fewer and fewer people who like fruitcake these days. I know, I know, it's high calorie and we don't need it. But I DO like it...  I haven't made it for at least five years. My friend Gail M makes it each year and I have been telling her for the past few years that she should try my whole fruit Fruitcake recipe, so we decided to do it together this year. Last Friday was the day. I had purchased all the fruit, and we actually got together on Thursday evening for a while, to do some prep work (necessary with this recipe if you don't want to spend pretty much the entire day doing the cakes).
This recipe is a bit different in that you leave a lot of the fruit whole and it is layered with the batter. Raisins, walnuts and mixed peel are stirred into the batter, and that is layered with dates stuffed with almonds, candied pineapple, whole brazil nuts and whole cherries (I use both red and green). It looks lovely when cut as you see the layers. The recipe makes three good-sized loaves, so Gail and I split the cost, shared the work (and fun!) and the cakes. It certainly went much faster with four hands instead of two. I must credit my friend and former colleague Cari Grierson with this recipe, I got it from her years ago when we taught together. Here is her original recipe and then I'll tell you what I do differently.

Whole Fruit Layered Fruitcake

Fruit to leave whole:
1 lb. dates, stuffed with blanched almonds
1 lb. glazed pineapple, cut in thin slices
1 lb. whole brazil nuts
1 lb. glazed whole cherries (red, green, or 1/2 lb. of each)

Fruit for batter:
Folding in the egg whites
1 1/2 lbs. sultana raisins
1 lb. walnut pieces
1/2 lb. mixed peel

Batter:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
7 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
7 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Line 3 large loaf pans with 3 layers of brown paper and then 3 layers of waxed paper. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla to milk. Sift dry ingds. together. Add  milk and dry ingds. alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingds. Fold in raisins, walnuts and peel. Lastly fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Preheat oven to 250° F.
In your prepared pans, layer batter, stuffed dates, batter, pineapple, batter, brazil nuts, batter, cherries, and batter. Bake at 250°F for 2.5-3 hours. (I place two pans of hot water on the lower oven racks to add some moisture). Let cakes sit one hour before removing from pans. Let cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and foil. Freeze or place in a cool spot for several weeks before cutting. (Of course you may also wrap in a brandy or rum-soaked cloth before the foil, if you wish.)
Fruit prepared and "divided"

When I made this the first time, years ago, I "ran out" of fruit for the third cake. I guess I had packed the fruit too closely together in the first two. So now I buy a bit more than one pound of each of the "whole" fruit - probably 1 1/4 pounds of each. Then I divide each fruit into three equal "piles", so I have the same amount for each pan (no more running short for the final pan). I do this the previous evening. As well it saves some time to prepare your pans ahead, as it takes a while to do all the layers of paper. Gail did a great job on the papers, while I mixed the batter on Friday.
The only change I make in the batter is that I use more vanilla - I  use 2 teaspoons instead of 1.
When layering the batter and fruit- be careful not to use too much batter - just enough to cover the fruit. You will need a total of 5 layers of batter times 3 pans - 15 layers, so don't be too generous... Better to have a little left for a more generous top layer, than to run out...

Starting the layers...not too much batter!
Layering the whole fruit
Ready for the oven!
Three hours later...  Mmmm, smells sooo good!
 I told Gail the hardest part of making this, is to wait the few weeks before cutting it and sampling.... I figured since I had to wait to taste it, I'd make you wait as well, to see the final photo of it cut and looking so pretty.. but Gail cut hers before wrapping and storing, so here is the "reveal" photo. Of course every slice is not going to be in the perfect spot to cut each fruit exactly in half, but I think it looks pretty yummy- what do you think? Let me know if you try my recipe - I'd love to hear how you like it...
Peace,
Linda

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.


~William Robert Spencer


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Totebag Finished!

  It seems I often underestimate how long a project will take. Do you do that too, or am I the only one? I was overly optimistic on my last post that I  might have photos to show you of the new totebag that night. Ha! For one thing, I forgot about the quilting... that takes time. Actually I did make good progress on Thursday and by that evening I had the "top" all together and quilted. I had the lining and pockets all made too, but when I went to put them together, I had goofed on a measurement somewhere along the way and my lining was just a bit too small/tight. So, take out a seam, add in another piece (it's on the inside so who's going to see it?  And you won't tell, right?). After several more little incidents (running out of thread, etc...) and several days of working on it off and on - it's now done. I am pleased with it, it's a good size and will be useful. I think I will cover a stiff rectangular piece of cardboard with the lining fabric and insert in the bottom to give the bottom a little more "shape".
 As I told you on my last post, I used 16 squares from one of my Bali Watercolor Batik collections for the Twister section. Two of the other fabrics are batiks and the one on the bottom and side is a Fossil Fern. The very narrow 3/16" flat piping is a bright yellow/green batik for contrast. The "batting" is fusible fleece. I quilted the Twister section with monofilament in the ditch and the flat piping with an opalescent metallic, also in the ditch. I echo-quilted the curves with 3 different shades of teal Sulky rayon thread. The top-stitching along the  top band and the handles is navy cotton thread.
  I always learn something with every project... even if it's just that I don't want to do that again!! The lesson learned with this project was with the strapping I purchased for the handles. I bought  polypropylene strapping at Fabricville and covered it with one of the batik fabrics. I cut my fabric strips almost three times the width of the strapping and after wrapping it around the strapping, thought I would give each one a quick press with the (steam) iron to give the fabric a good crease before I stitched it. Big mistake! As soon as I ran the iron up the first 12", even though the strapping was covered with the fabric and the iron did NOT touch it directly, the strapping immediately shrank and went ripple-y and wonky. I thought I might be able to flatten and straighten it once it was cool, but no such luck. So that was another delay- another trip back to Fabricville the next morning for another length  of the strapping. So now you know- don't iron polypropylene strapping...
 The buttons were the final step, once the straps were finished. I stopped in to the
Christmas Crab Quiltery in Woodstock on Saturday morning, on my way to Houlton and Smyrna Maine. Although these buttons are a tiny bit larger than
I wanted  I decided they were the right choice. Last night when I got back, I added them and the bead "dangles" for a bit of bling! I just used a variety of beads, crystals, pearls, lentil and dagger beads. They seemed to add the finishing touch - because of the size and bright color of the buttons, the dangles seem to "deflect" away from them somewhat...
So there you have it. Done. It took longer than I wanted it to, but I would rather put time and effort into doing something as well as I possibly can, so that I am pleased with the outcome.  Linda has a new totebag.. and it's blue. Color me happy.
Okay, back to work with the reds...

Piece,
Linda

"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ~ Beverly Sills


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Red Break

Yes I'm taking a short break from red... You know me, I'm a BLUE gal! So I just had to have a little "blue fix". ... Are you like me - do you buy things to add to your quilting "stash"... and then later wonder "what am I going to do with that?" Well, in my (sizeable) stash of blues, I had not one but two of these Hoffman Bali Watercolor collections - forty 7" squares of gorgeous blue batiks. I had purchased one, and a friend had given me the other, exactly the same color group. They've been on my shelf (ahem) "a while"...
So I decided it was time to come up with a project to use at least one of them. I need want a new totebag.. so that's what I'm up to today. My buddy Sue came up with  a design a while back using Twister blocks and a "curvy" ruler she had purchased. I was not able to take the workshop when she taught it for our Guild, because I was off somewhere teaching that day... So today's the day. If I get it finished, or close to finished today, I'll be back with a photo.. Just thought you'd like to know I'm (happily) playing the blues today...   big smile...

Piece,
Linda

Did you know that blue is the overwhelming "favourite colour", having equal appeal to both men and women? Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still At It....






A little more progress to show today... Once I got the 12 blocks done and up on my design wall, I suspected that I would want to do more blocks. But first I pieced all the sashing strips and  added them to the mix. Yep, I decided it's "just not enough". It just wants to "be more"... Don't you agree?
Blocks and sashings are just roughly placed; they will be re-arranged before being joined...














So rather than twelve blocks (four rows of three) I'm going to go for twenty blocks, five rows of four. So I've been sewing my little heart out the last few days. I string-pieced 32 more triangles, and made the eight more nine patches. Yesterday I joined them all.... They still have to be trimmed/squared...















So now I just have to make 64 more flying geese units and cut the remaining light squares and rectangles to assemble the last sections of each block. Whew! I wish I could hire a "personal cutter".. you know how some people have their own personal shopper?? lol   Does anyone want to apply for the job?


Piece,
Linda

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great".  ~ John D. Rockefeller

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget...

You have heard me say more than once how proud I am to be a Canadian. Today is a day to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a peaceful free country. When one sees the news of all the unrest, hatred and suffering in the world today, one can only wonder where we are headed...
Thank a veteran today for the freedom we are so lucky to enjoy. Wear your poppy proudly. Say a prayer for peace.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~ John McCrae, May 1915 

Have you ever wondered about the story behind this poem, written by a Canadian military doctor? You can read about it here. 

Peace,
Linda

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
~ Ronald Reagan

Monday, November 5, 2012

Progress Report...

Just a quick post today to let you know I have not been slacking.. Slow but steady wins the race, right? Here are my 12 blocks all together. Next I'll be piecing the sashing to join these. Then I'll decide whether I want to make more blocks or not. My original plan was just for it to be a not-too-large lap quilt. But I have enjoyed making these blocks so much... I might want to do more... we'll see.. (The only thing holding me back is the amount of cutting to be done.. there are roughly 80 pieces in each block!)  For now, this is how it looks, pinned up on my design wall... To quote a friend who dropped by on Saturday- "the photos do NOT do this justice"...
I also have just about finished a Christmas cross-stitch.. and of course I'm into a new book - The Paris Wife (the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife). Busy, busy, busy.... What are you working on these days?


You can see that Oliver is "being supportive" by keeping me company, in his usual spot sprawled out on the ironing board...napping... (I'm sure he's dreaming of quilts... wink)


Piece,
Linda

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November? Seriously?

November! How can that be? I can't believe we have turned the calendar yet again - where has the fall gone? The leaves are pretty much gone, Hallowe'en is done and the first Christmas Craft Market is on this weekend. My outdoor work of cutting down and covering the perennial beds for winter is complete... yep, I can feel myself going into hibernation mode... Placed a few books on hold at the Library this morning, sewing projects are lined up... I'm ready for November hibernation. (I dislike November, it's so grey and dreary so I just bury myself in reading and sewing projects to "cope"... Oh! And of course I make sure there is good chocolate on hand.. lol)
I'm just a little behind on sharing some more fall photos with you. Although we've had a lot of rain this fall we have had some beautiful days to enjoy Mother Nature's splendour.
Do you have favourite trees in the autumn? I definitely do. The maples (especially those that turn red) and the sumacs are the ones I love best. I'm a proud Canadian all the time, but I sure do love our sugar maples in the fall.. (equally as much as in the spring in maple syrup season!) So here are a few of my favourite "maple shots" taken this fall.. enjoy!



Peace,
Linda

"In all natural things, there is something of the marvelous.". ~Aristotle
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