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

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A little chuckle for you...

I have lots of friends who send me emails with jokes, stories or other things to make me laugh (God bless 'em.. keep them coming, folks!) Sometimes they are just too good to not pass on, so today, I'm doing just that....here's your daily chuckle, thanks to my friends Jack and Sheila...


In case you needed further proof that the human race is doomed through stupidity, here are some actual label instructions on consumer goods....

On the bottom of McCain's Tiramisu dessert:  Do not turn upside down.  (Well, duhhh.. a bit late, don'cha think?)

On Planter's Peanuts:  Warning - Contains nuts.   (talk about a news flash!)

On Shopper's Drug children's cough medicine:  Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medicine. (We could do a lot to reduce the number of construction accidents if we could just get those five year olds with head colds off those bulldozers...)

On President's Choice Bread Pudding: Product will be hot after heating.  (And you thought..??) 

On a Sears hairdryer: Do not use while sleeping.  (But that's the only time I have to work on my hair...)

On a bag of Fritos: You could be a Winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside. (Would this be the Shoplifter Special??)

On a package of Dial soap: Directions: Use like regular soap. (And that would be.....?)

On Swanson frozen dinners: Serving Suggestion: Defrost. (But it's just a suggestion, folks!)

On packaging for a Black and Decker iron: Do not iron clothes on body. (But wouldn't that save me a lot of time?)

On Nytol Sleep Aid: Warning: May cause drowsiness.  (And I'm taking this because...?)

On most packages of Christmas lights: For indoor or outdoor use only. (As opposed to what?)

On a Japanese food processor:  Not to be used for the other use. (Ummmm, can someone help me out here?)

On a Westjet package of nuts: Open packet, eat nuts. (Step 3 - Say what?)

On a child's Superman costume: Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly. (I don't blame the company, I blame the parents for this one.)

On a Canadian Tire chainsaw: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.  (OMG, was there a lot of this happening somewhere??)

That's it folks. Your chuckle for the day.  They walk among us..........

Peace and laughter....

Linda 

"A day without laughter is a day wasted."  ~ Charlie Chaplin

Friday, April 26, 2013

I think...just maybe.. spring has arrived!




We finally have a stretch of warmer sunny weather ahead of us- for the next 7 days, apparently! I hope the forecast IS true, sure would be nice... I spent some time this afternoon cleaning leaf mulch off  three beds - only one left to go. It's encouraging to see all my perennials poking up. My crocuses are starting to fade, the chionodoxa are still looking great, and the daffodils are just starting to bloom.













I get great pleasure from seeing the cheery colors of spring's blooms... It's so nice to see COLOR after the long winter...

Do you have "spring things" blossoming in your garden?

All of these photos were taken this afternoon.




I tried a new recipe for supper tonight. I get tired of making the same ole things week after week, do you? A good friend gave me The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook for Christmas so I tried another recipe from it- "Salmon and Garfunkel" aka Creamy Salmon and Corn Chowder with Dill. I thought it was yummy...(hubby was not quite as enthusiastic.) Here is the recipe if you'd like to try it.  Again, recipe credit goes to The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski.

"Salmon and Garfunkel"  (Creamy Salmon and Corn Chowder with Dill)

1 Tblsp. olive oil or butter
1 cup sliced leeks (white part only) or onions
3/4 cup each chopped celery and diced red pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. each dried thyme and dried tarragon
3 Tblsp. flour
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 can (14oz.) no salt added cream style corn
1/2 cup light cream
12 oz. boneless skinless salmon fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 Tblsp. minced fresh dill (I used dried dill - to taste)
1 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. each lemon zest and Dijon mustard

Add olive oil or butter to large pot, over medium heat. Add leeks or onions, celery, peppers, and  garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add thyme and tarragon, cook 30 seconds more.
Add flour and mix well until vegetables are coated. Add chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Soup will thicken slightly. Add creamed corn and cream. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in salmon, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 5-6 minutes, depending on size of pieces.
Remove soup from heat, stir in dill, lemon juice, zest, and mustard. Serve immediately.

I was a little short on red pepper so added some carrots, and I omitted the Dijon. Otherwise followed it exactly, and I thought it was a great quick and easy meal for Friday night, when I often don't feel like making a big meal... I served it with a big soft dinner roll.. had intentions of a salad as well but that didn't happen...

Peace,
Linda

Fish, to taste right, must swim three times -in water, in butter and in wine.  ~ Polish proverb

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring IS coming....

I think Spring is finally on its way! Yesterday I hauled off some of the leaf mulch on a few of my perennial beds. These darling little blue Chionodoxa were blooming despite the cover. I had to pull it off gently so as not to pull their heads off! I guess all spring bulbs are pretty hardy- they must be to survive the continuing below-freezing temps at night. Even though we're finally seeing some warm days, it's still pretty chilly overnight.... But it is encouraging to be seeing some spring color. I took these shots of the crocuses in the late afternoon - I love the backlit effect.







I have made a little more progress on my Challenge piece. The borders are all on, and the decision on the appliqué has been made - as much as I wanted to try some wool work, I decided I didn't want to invest the money it was going to take to get all the colors I wanted, and then have a bunch of wool left over... So hand appliqué (with cottons!) it is! I am going to machine quilt the piece first, and then add the appliqué. That will prevent a whole lot of stopping and starting with the quilting. In my head this is a good idea. If some of you wonderful hand-appliqué people out there know that this is NOT a good idea, please let me know (and why). Otherwise, it's full speed ahead this week!
I got out and got a good start on my canvassing for the Cancer Society this evening. That feels good- another thing partly crossed off the list.. Tomorrow a number of our Guild members are off to visit the Sussex Guild for the day - we have been paired with them as a "sister Guild". I can't wait to see what they have in store for us! I'm sure it will be a fun day! Our Choir Spring concert is coming up soon- I'll be studying my music in the car tomorrow... It's somehow not quite as easy to memorize now as it used to be.

Peace,
Linda

"It takes courage to be crocus-minded. God, I would rather wait till June, like wise roses, when the hazards of winter are safely behind, and I am expected and everything is ready for roses. But crocuses? Highly irregular. Knifing through hard frozen ground and snow, sticking their necks out. because they believe in Spring and have something personal and emphatic to say about it."  ~ Jo Sorley

Friday, April 19, 2013

Another Kearsley novel

It seems I'm not accomplishing a great lot these days, with "other" things going on, but I do love to relax before going to sleep with a good book. So - another one is done: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley. This is the same (Canadian) author who wrote The Winter Sea which I reviewed here and liked so much. For the first half of the book, I was thinking I didn't like The Rose Garden as well as The Winter Sea, but very shortly thereafter, things picked up and it became harder and harder to put it down and turn out the bedside light. Once again, Kearsley takes us "across the pond"to the UK- this one is set in Cornwall. Her writing is magical- she seamlessly weaves the past and present together as easily as the main character Eva slips back and forth between present day Cornwall and that of 1714. When Eva's sister Katrina dies, she leaves California and returns to Cornwall where they spent the summers of their childhood, to scatter Katrina's ashes, returning her to "where she really belonged." "But Eva must also confront the ghosts from her own past, as well as those from a time long before her own. For the house where she so often stayed as a child is home not only to her old friends the Halletts, but also to the people who lived there during the eighteenth century. When Eva finally accepts that she is able to slip between the centuries and see and talk to the inhabitants from hundreds of years ago, she soon finds herself falling for Daniel Butler, a man who lived- and died- long before she herself was born. Eva begins to question her place in the present, and in laying her sister to rest, comes to realize that she too must decide where she really belongs, choosing between the life she knows and the past she feels so drawn towards." ~ from the book jacket.
If I tell you much more about the story, I'd have to issue a "spoiler alert", so suffice it to say, if you like historical fiction, or romance, or "time travel", and if you enjoy reading Diana Gabaldon or Mary Stuart, I'm sure you'll become a Kearsley fan too, as I now am. She has such a way with words, the romance is subtle, never trashy, her characters come to life and you feel as if you are right there with them.... I can't wait for her new novel, The Firebird, sequel to The Winter Sea, due out very soon.

Peace,
Linda

Bookworms will rule the world.. as soon as we read one more chapter.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring - Where are You?

Well, things are slowly moving along.. My father-in-law went home today after a week in a respite bed at Windsor Court. I think he is somewhat stronger, and certainly benefited from the nutritious meals and the social interaction. There are still some issues to be dealt with, but he is making tiny steps forward... Getting old is definitely NOT for the faint of heart!
Our family room carpeting has finally been installed, and the new roller shade is up. Next on the agenda is to get the window valance done... I think the room looks larger... Yay!
Spring is slow to show herself.. We have had a few days of sun, but this afternoon is overcast and dreary again. I have daffodils up and budded, but I think we need some warmer days before they will bloom. The few crocuses I have left (the squirrels have been "re-designing" my spring bulb garden for a few years now, scattering them where they think they look best- I found a few blooming by the compost today...) are bravely blooming despite the cool weather, but I can see them shivering.. lol It seems, this year,  that spring is taking forever.. We have had snow this month, and rain, and temps that just feel too cold.. come on spring! Hurry up!! I'm getting reallllly anxious to be outside digging in the garden...
Laura is almost halfway through her internship at the Globe and Mail. Monday's events in Boston, terrible and scary as they were, made for an exciting day for DD, who was on the national newsdesk. It ended up being a 12+ hour day for her. Things were a little crazy for the rest of that day as the team of journalists stayed on top of what was happening, updating the website and preparing stories for the next day's paper. Laura worked on three of the articles, one of them front page! And it was a proud moment for me to see her name on two stories in A section of our Atlantic Globe and Mail the next morning. Tomorrow is her last day as a reporter, the final two weeks she will work as a Web Editor.  She is loving the whole experience... and I'm a proud Mamabird!
My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Boston and the family and friends of the late Rita MacNeil.

Peace,
Linda

"No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn." ~ Hal Borland

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Out of the Box Challenge

It's time to show you my progress so far on my Guild Challenge piece, lest you think I should put my machine up for sale. There hasn't been much time for sewing lately but I did get this together this week. The challenge is for us to do something that's out of our normal comfort zone, to challenge
ourselves with a new technique or whatever... to stretch ourselves skill-wise. So I chose two "personal challenges". First was to do something with orange. I hate strongly dislike orange. All my quilting buddies know that I do not "do" orange. If we are doing a swap or exchange, or blocks for each other, they all know - no orange for Linda. So I figured it would be good
for me to force myself to do something tasetful with a color I find very DIStasteful. (I don't even eat oranges, but that's another story..) So I have pieced this base with many orange and black 

half square triangles. Like red, I discovered orange does not photograph that well. This photo is not a true representation of what I have (some here look a little too red)... so you'll just have to trust me on this one . There is a good variety of oranges- bright and dull oranges, yellowy oranges, rusty oranges, red-oranges, gold-oranges, coppery oranges.. okay, you get the picture- for a person who doesn't sew with orange, I found a darned good selection in my stash without having to buy any. (I did solicit a few from my friend Susan D - thanks darlin'). This square presently measures 24"- it will be a bit larger as there are two borders still to go on.
My second challenge is to add some appliqué. My first intention was to do some wool appliqué, but now I'm having second thoughts. I might try some hand appliqué with cottons instead. (I have never hand appliquéd, so don't be expecting great things!!) Still not 100% sure.. so you'll have to stay tuned to find out... What are you working on?

Peace,
Linda

If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.

Friday, April 12, 2013

That SWEET taste of spring

It's Friday evening and another week has passed.. where do the days disappear to? I honestly don't know- they just seem to evaporate... Things are still a bit "upset" here. My father-in-law had his surgery, spent another week in hospital and now is in a facility for a week of respite care to convalesce before going home. We hope he will gain some strength back.. getting old is not for sissies, that's for sure!
Our family room re-do is still a work in progress. Our carpet installation is scheduled for next Tuesday - it will be so nice to have that done. Still waiting for the roller shade for the window.
I have made good progress on my Guild Challenge piece; the top is all together (it's a small piece). I'll show you a photo tomorrow. I had thought I would keep it under wraps, but what the heck? Why not? The easy part is done, what I'm adding to it next will be the challenge...
We DO love our maple trees!
I have not done much photography lately.. (I'm probably getting rusty...) I have signed up for a Digital Photography course to learn about all the "features" on my camera which I know nothing about.. I was not happy when I found out I was the first to register for the class. I am really HOPING enough people sign up for it to run.. I tried to take this class last summer, but there were not enough students. SO if you live in my area, and are interested in learning more about your DSLR, get in touch and I'll give you the info. It's only for 4 weeks, 2 hours per evening, once a week, at UNB.
I will share a few photos with you that I took 2 weekends ago when DD was home. We visited Dumfries Maples, a local maple syrup producer.  I was disappointed that their evaporator was not running as that was what I really wanted to photograph... but I guess they were so busy with their pancake breakfasts and making maple taffy on the snow, they didn't have the time (or staff?) to run the evaporator as well...
So my pics aren't too exciting, unless you have never been to a Sugar Bush. It was a sunny day (which we've had too few of lately) and it felt great to get out in the fresh air and see that sap a drippin'... Dumfries Maples collects sap by both the "old fashioned" method of cans hung under spiles on the trees and the more modern method of trees being "online" with plastic pipeline.

I chuckle when I hear folks complain about the price of maple syrup - they obviously have NO idea of how much work syrup-making is. It is labor intensive and time consuming, not to mention the fact that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make ONE gallon of syrup. Once the sap is collected, it must pass through the evaporator which boils it down: water evaporates off, leaving that concentrated sweet golden syrup. Yummmy... But there is  a fine art to GOOD syrup... My Dad was a syrup producer, so I am familiar with the process... At Dumfries Maples, the collected sap is brought to the sugarhouse where a Reverse Osmosis machine is used to remove over half the water and raise the sap sugar content to over 7%. This concentrated sap is then gravity fed into the wood-fired evaporator, where it is boiled to produce the syrup. With their system at full capacity, their evaporator will process over 800 liters of sap per hour, yielding 20 liters of syrup per hour. Here is a Youtube video (NOT from Dumfries Maples) which explains the process of evaporation - from sap to syrup!




If you have never visited a Sugar Shack, you don't know what you're missing... It's a "Spring Thing"!!

Peace,
Linda

Ahhh, the sweet taste of spring...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Another finish and a new start...

Another book read and crossed off my list. Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland is the story of Louise de la Vallière (known as "Petite") who becomes the mistress of the Sun King,  Louis XIV, in his younger years. This is the first of Gulland's books I have read, but it won't be the last; I have now added her well-known and internationally successful  Josephine B. trilogy (the story of Josephine Bonaparte) to my list.
If I had to determine the genre of this book, I suppose it is first historical fiction, but it is also a story of love and passion - the story of young Petite who falls hopelessly in love with Louis XIV. Petite rises from the lower ranks of French aristocracy, and becomes a lady-in-waiting in the French Court. Her passion for horses and two "chance happenings" bring she and Louis together. Before long they give in to their desires and become lovers. Petite soon realizes that, as Louis says, "all is not what it seems" in the French Court. Can their love endure the challenges of lies, deception, betrayal, evil and sorrow ? Petite is more in love with Louis the man, than Louis the King... Can she hold on to him as their love begins to unravel?
Gulland has developed her characters so skillfully; it is easy to feel the intense emotions that grip the characters. Many fascinating details of life in the time period, and in the French court, are evidence of the author's dedication to meticulous research. I love a story written with attention to detail.. this one fills the bill.
Mistress of the Sun  also gives a look at the beginnings of turning the country hunting château of Versaie into the grand Palace of Versailles, although not in much detail. To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker goes into much more detail on that, and it's on my "Read Soon" list. I visited Versailles many years ago, I'd love to go again... I'm quite sure I'd appreciate it a bit more now... and I'd certainly take a LOT more photos...

Last batch of Half Square Triangles, made with Thangles
I have started working on my Guild Challenge project, which must be finished for our May meeting. We are supposed to do something "Out of the Box", meaning out of our comfort zone, something we don't normally do. So I have chosen to work with a color I rarely use, and a technique which is quite popular these days, but I have never done it (well actually, I did try it once but never finished the piece.... so I'm giving it another try.) I don't really want to reveal what I'm doing, but I'll give you little updates and perhaps some sneak peeks... First step- 80 HST's made, all scrappy. Tomorrow, more cutting and some strip piecing, then I hope to make some headway on piecing the top together, or at least get it all laid out. I hope other members are doing this challenge - it's always fun to view them all and see what others have done to "push" themselves. I haven't heard many people talking about it - let's hope there is good participation  - maybe everyone is keeping their project under wraps like I am...?
While cutting fabric today, I came across something I had never seen before- on the selvage of a recently purchased VIP cotton were the words "License is required for any use beyond individual consumption." Have you ever seen that on fabric before? It was a first for me...

Peace,
Linda

"And though she be but little, she is fierce." ~ Shakespeare

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Busy Days...

I'm sure you've noticed that I haven't been blogging as frequently lately. All is well, nothing wrong, life has just been busy!! We have been doing a "makeover" on our  family room.. it's still in progress. The wallpaper is gone (yahooo!) and the painting is done. We are still waiting for the carpet to arrive; hubby removed the underlay and cut our current carpet so it would be easy to remove, as we fully expected the new carpet to be here in the two weeks allotted. Turns out it was "out of stock" so they are making more. "Fresh NEW carpet" is supposed to be here by mid April, all the way from Georgia. Let's hope it doesn't take any longer than that. We've finally agreed on a window treatment so I got that ordered today. We have a fairly large window that faces south, so the room is bright  - we need something to shield carpet and furniture from the sun... We're going with the new style of roller shade that you can slightly see through when it's down, with a fabric valance above, in fabric that ties the room colors together. I have a lap quilt kit that I hope to get made up soon, which will also tie things together, color-wise. It's my favourite quilt design- the old reliable Log Cabin. So, if you've done a room makeover, you understand the "upset" of having a room torn apart, and when it's the room that's used most in your home (TV and computer here), well, it just throws everything a bit "off kilter". Window is bare, walls are bare, etc. etc. Not too "pretty" yet... a work in progress...
My father-in-law has been in poor health, spent 8 days here in hospital and now is at home (an hour away) awaiting surgery. It is scheduled for tomorrow, so we are hoping it goes ahead without any further delay. Fingers crossed all goes well...
Laura is finished in Halifax (insert big whoop! here) and is home for a few days before heading off to Toronto. She arrived home Friday with her first load of "belongings". We'll have to make two more trips this month to empty her apartment of furniture and the remainder of her personal belongings. Dad's truck sure comes in handy! So it's a busy week for her, getting all things done, errands run, wardrobe ready, family and friends seen before she flies off on Friday to complete her one month Internship. Yesterday we made a very quick trip to Moncton to do a little wardrobe shopping, and so she could learn her way from the highway into the city to her "summer home" and from there to work. She flies home from Toronto on a Sunday night and has to be at work in Moncton on Monday morning... Should be interesting...
So - throw all the above into the usual mix, and you will understand why there hasn't been any sewing going on... other than a few clothing repairs... I did just find out I got into a Bonnie Hunter class, to take place in Bangor in early May. Yippeee!! So I'll have to get busy soon and get some cutting done for it..Bonnie is the designer of the red Turkey Tracks quilt I finished recently. All her quilts have LOTS of pieces, so I'll be doing LOTS of cutting... As well as the above mentioned quilt for the "new" family room, I have to get moving on a Guild Challenge piece as well..
That's all for now folks. Next up - another book review...
Sorry, no photos today...

Peace,
Linda

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.
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