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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Great dish for a cold day

As promised, here's the recipe for the dish I made for supper last night. It's a family favourite, especially for a cold winter day. I love it with homemade Brown Bread. It fills the house with such a lovely aroma, as you bake it for several hours in a slow oven. Thanks to my good friend Jane who gave me this recipe a few years back and we've been loving it ever since! I usually double it, and put some in the freezer for a quick easy supper when I'm lazy and don't feel like cooking... Yummmm....

Beans 'n' Stuff

1 lb. medium or lean ground beef
6-8 slices bacon
1 large can stewed tomatoes
1/3 cup vinegar
2 Tblsp. molasses
2 Tblsp. brown sugar
dash of worchestershire sauce
1 green pepper, chopped
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
1 med.-lg. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzos (chick peas), drained
1 lg. can beans with pork and molasses
salt and pepper to taste

Chop bacon slices into small pieces, brown with the ground beef. Drain off all fat. Set aside. In a large bowl, crush any large pieces of tomato with potato masher. Add remaining ingds. and cooked meat, removing chunk of pork from the beans. (Amounts of veggies and garlic can be adjusted to suit your taste.) Stir well. Ladle into one or several large casserole dishes. Bake, covered, in slow oven (300 F) for 2.5 - 3 hours. I usually stir once or twice, and add a bit of water as needed. Enjoy!


"The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living." ~ D. Lucas

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside!

You know I love getting mail... I've told you that before. Yesterdays' mailbox produced an awaited small parcel. My friend Sandi Mac who is wintering in Florida commented a few weeks ago that she found the perfect fabric to border my H'mong Pa'ndau. It arrived yesterday.... and I think she's right! What do you think? I love the vivid purple and turquoise!! Thanks Sandi!
Our mild spell seems to be over, with the return of bitter cold and wind chills.... too cold to go out.... good weather to stay inside and sew. I made Brown Bread this afternoon and a wonderful hearty casserole for supper, so the house is warm and filled with wonderful smells coming from the oven... - I'll share the recipe with you tomorrow...
"Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together." ~ Vista Kelly

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pandora here I come...

I've decided I'd like to live on Pandora... I think the gardening possibilities there would be fabulous... Yes hubby and I went to see Avatar tonight. It's not my usual type of movie, but upon the recommendation of a good friend, we decided to see it. I must say I enjoyed it, despite all the battles... I think it was the gardener in me, tired of winter and desperately wanting to see some green. The lush vegetation was certainly a treat for my eyes, I loved all the "fantasy" plants on this imaginary planet, and the bioluminescence was amazing. Very well done James Cameron!! After seeing this movie and visiting a garden center yesterday, I'm anxious for spring and the color green... I give Avatar 4 1/2 stars out of 5.


Reality is for people who lack imagination...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ups and Downs...

January has been a month of Ups and Downs for me, more downs than ups, it seems.... A good friend lost her sister (my age) to cancer a short time ago. This sister was the caregiver of their elderly father (91), so I've been trying to help/support her while she emptied the house and settled her Dad into a Senior's Complex nearby. The poor father, who has some dementia, does not want to be there and cannot understand why he couldn't stay in his home. Tough on everyone....
Another friend continues a long difficult battle with cancer. A third friend has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Yet another friend just visited us from Winnipeg to attend the funeral of her godson. This 23 year old was the son of a high school friend of mine; he was killed in a tragic "crash and burn" accident... very sad... tough funeral yesterday....
I also found out recently that I won't be teaching at Quilt Canada this year. Due to low registrations so far for the Conference they have cut some of the teachers/classes from the schedule.. I am disappointed, but don't regret the experience and have learned alot.... So, if any of you are still pondering/considering attendance at Quilt Canada, you would be wise to decide soon and get in touch with Jackie, the Registrar to let her know your intentions. If registration does not pick up soon, they may have to cut more classes...
On the "up" side, Laura is happier this term. Thanks to all of you who have enquired about her. She has moved into a single room in a different Res and she is so much happier! Now she can work or sleep when she wants, without interruption... She and three friends have just found an apartment for next year and signed the lease this past weekend. So that is something "exciting" for her to look forward to...
Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to happier days ahead....


"The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it". ~ C C Scott

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Quest for Pa'ndau

For those of you who enjoyed my post last Monday, showing you this Hmong applique piece I purchased at the Tammachat Fair Trade Gift Show and Sale, I think you would really enjoy reading a recent post on the Tammachat Travel Blog. You will not only learn much more about where these handmade works of art come from and the women who produce them, but also see some interesting photos. Check out the Blog here and read about Ellen and Alleson's quest for pa'ndau in the Golden Triangle (where Thailand meets Burma and Laos).
"Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate." ~ JRR Tolkein

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kid's, KIT Play

I'm one of those people whose favorite gift as a child was a new box of crayons. I didn't even always want to USE them... I just wanted to have all the colors. The bigger the box the better! And I haven't changed much - I still love to play with colors. I've just moved on from crayons to fabrics and threads....

Thats what I've been doing today. Playing. With color. I'm teaching my Victorian Noteables class next Saturday for my own Guild. This class is an Intro to Crazy Quilting - for people who'd like to try it out but don't want to invest a lot of time or money in collecting fancy fabrics, threads and embellishments. So I am making up kits for the class, including cards with matching envelopes, pattern, all fabrics, threads, beads, needles, etc.
Today I started "putting things together" - there are 4 different color choices -a soft aqua, pink, peach and soft green. Shown here is what I've assembled for the aqua card and the peach (which isn't real peachy- it's a very soft peach that borders on shrimpy pink... if you know what I mean...) What fun I'm having. I just hope I can get a few more cards completed myself this week. If so, I'll share them with you! You can see a few of the finished cards here.
When creative juices flow, catch them with a needle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Done is good...

Another small project done... This is the last cross-stitch I'll be doing for a while. I always get "on a roll" around Christmas time with little cross stitch projects. They are small and portable and sort of mindless to work on. I keep my "cross-stitch bag" right beside the couch so when I sit down in the evenings, I can do some stitching. I started this one right after Christmas, and although I kept telling myself I should put it away and get going on something else, I just couldn't stop myself until it was done.
This is "Greenland Santa" from the Arctic Circle Santas (2009) series by Mill Hill . There are two others in the series- Lapland Santa (with a reindeer) and Nunavut Santa (with a polar bear), but you'll have to wait till next Christmas to see them! Like the Charmed Santas I did in December, this is stitched on perforated paper, and measures 3.75" by 4.5".
Done is good....
Chocolate makes my clothes shrink...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Suggestions welcomed....

My friend Gail tells me I've been much too quiet on my blog lately, and she's right! I guess I've been enjoying some quiet "downtime" or "me time" after all the hubbub of Christmas. I'm always exhausted after the holidays. In my house it's "holidays" for everyone else, and I work harder than ever. Why is it that the women get to do 95% of the Christmas related "work"? Each year I vow it's going to be different , but it never is...
Anyways, I've been "resting".... But Gail is right- it's time I got back to blogging. So I thought I'd show you this little gem. Back in October a pair of women from Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia brought their business to Fredericton for the first time: Alleson Kase and Ellen Aggers presented a fair trade gift show and sale. These two women founded a business two years ago called Tammachat, which means "nature" in Thai . Today they have a fluorishing business which sells handwoven items such as silk scarves, shawls and wallhangings and cotton and/or bamboo hats and bags. Tammachat is a fair trade social enterprise; Alleson and Ellen travel to rural Laos and Thailand for several months each winter to purchase beautiful high quality hand woven goods from local women in weaving guilds. By purchasing from groups, they can be sure that the individual weavers will be paid fairly and receive benefits.
As well as the beautiful woven goods, there were other items for sale, such as placemats, runners and a few pieces of applique. Being a quilter, I immediately was drawn to these small appliques which were done by Hmong women. (The Hmong migrated from Southern China in the nineteenth century to the mountainous areas of Laos, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam.) The women do incredible handwork, mostly cross-stitch embroidery, surface embroidery, reverse applique and applique. Their designs are usually one of two types- geometric or pictorial. I chose this small purple geometric applique piece. The stitches are very fine and the back is as neat as the front. So now I'm wondering what to do with it? It measures 7 1/2" square. The purple applique lines are 1/8" wide! Should I just frame it? It's too small to make into a cushion... Originally I was thinking I would make some small quilt blocks to border it with, but the more I look at it (and admire the handwork in it) I think that would almost be sacreligious! My work would pale in comparison...
What would you do? I welcome your comments and suggestions.
You can read more about Tammachat here and you can follow their travel blog here
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." ~ Einstein

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Beginnings

January 2010 - a new month, a new year, a new decade! Fresh new beginnings. As Oprah said, "Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right". I don't make New Years Resolutions... I just try each year to be a better person - things like getting more exercise, being a better friend, being kinder to strangers, and trying to do my bit to make the world a better place. After the chaos of Christmas, I'm always tired and I look forward to lots of "me" time in January. And new beginnings - new projects, new ideas, new starts. A fresh start.
Now that the kids are back at University, the house is quiet. I took both of them back on Sunday. The plans for hubby to go on Saturday and back Sunday were ruined by the big snowstorm that swept through the Maritimes on Friday/Saturday, so I had to do the trip on Sunday-Monday. Mark is glad to be back in the apartment with his buds. Laura is looking forward to moving into a single room this week. She was dreading the return, with roommate issues and her exam still to be written (this Friday afternoon); we'll all just be so glad when this week is over. We're hoping that she will be much happier and remain healthier in a room of her own. At least she'll have more privacy and be able to shut her door to work or sleep whenever she wants, without interruption. Second term HAS to be better than the first!!
I'm making stitching and CQing my priority for the next few months. It can snow all it wants. I'm going to stay snug and cozy in my little house, sewing and stitching each day. Bring on the winter, I'm ready!
We're watching the gold medal game of the World Junior Hockey Championships tonight. The Canadian goalie, Jake Allen is our hometown boy. Right now it's tied at 3 - 3. GO Canada!!
"Be the change you want to see in the world" ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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