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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! If you're going out tonight - be safe!
I thought I'd share a few of my favourite New Years quotes with you...

"An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." ~ Bill Vaughan

"Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits. ~ Anonymous

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions!" ~ Joey Adams


Your Merry Christmas may depend on what others do for you. But your Happy New Year depends on what you do for others. ~ Anonymous

Friday, December 30, 2011

Winding Down....

It's all over! You plan and work forever it seems, and then Christmas is over in the blink of an eye. It was quiet and relaxing at our house. Actually Laura had the flu for 36 hours so that kept things pretty low key... We are lucky that we don't have to travel anywhere so we just enjoy Christmas at home....
I am usually so darn tired by the time Christmas Day rolls around that once the day is over, I just veg for about a week. And that's exactly what I've been doing. I needed it....  Ollie has been vegging too- lots of naps, especially in the sunshine if he can find a spot. He follows the sun around the house, napping in the pools of warmth. Some days I am tempted to curl up beside him...
 Actually I've had my nose in a book since Christmas night- it's my favourite thing to do after the Christmas dinner dishes are done- sit down with a new book. I'm now halfway through New York by Edward Rutherford. I've been wanting to get into it for a while, but knew I shouldn't start it until I had most of the "gift-sewing" done. It is excellent, another that I have a hard time putting down....
It's been a busy few weeks with all the Christmas prep, along with doctor and dentist appointments for Laura, passport photos and renewals for all of us, Laura has had two "parties", one a gathering of friends from elementary school and the other a surprise birthday lunch for a friend and 12 others from Kings Landing today at noon. After today, we can start getting  things back to "normal"... whatever that is... and I'm heading back to my studio. I'm ready to get back at some sewing...


At Christmas play and make good cheer, for it comes just once a year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Peace on Earth


Jesus is the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry (White) Christmas!!

The big day is just hours away now... I hope you are ready and enjoying some relaxing time with loved ones. I'm nearly ready- just last minute things to do now... frost the shortbreads, make the stuffing, set the table, and - oh yes- wrap the gifts!! It'll all get done... it always does....

It seems we will have a white Christmas after all. We've been blessed with about 6 inches of soft fluffy white stuff. It is such a beautiful magical world this morning. Cold but magical. I had to go out with my camera and try to capture it. It's a crisp clear day with a vivid blue sky - no filters or Photoshop used here - this is just the way it is. Beautiful.

Wishing all my readers the magic of Christmas. The quiet beauty of a peaceful holiday. The warmth of home, the love of family and the company of good friends. A season that sparkles and a new year full of blessings. Thank you, blogging friends, for enriching my life!

Peace and Love

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful." ~ Norman Vincent Peale

God bless us, every one....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

One Word Wednesday



Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle... a seed waiting to sprout.. a bulb opening to the light.. a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.
~ Barbara Winkler

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

White Christmas?

Yes, I am still here... I've just been very busy. I know that's not an excuse but it's the best I can do. (Are you listening JK?) The last week or so has been chock full of activities and things to get done. As well as all the usual routine, and Christmas preparations, I've had two Ladies luncheons, a birthday surprise party for a friend, our Ladies Choir concert and tonight our Choir dinner, a three day trip to Halifax to "retrieve" Laura, etc. etc. So you see, I haven't just been sitting here eating Bonbons and sugarplums! I've finished several beaded Santas, several projects which I can't tell you about until after the 25th, and a cross-stitch which I took to the framer at 10:30 a.m. today and had it back by 3:30 p.m. Now that's  exactly the kind of service one needs just a few days before Christmas!
It hasn't looked like we would have a white Christmas - I was thinking the only white we would see would be this white poinsettia.... But we did get a dusting of snow last night - not even enough to really cover the ground but at least it is a suggestion of white- perhaps there will be more before the big day...

So- I am almost ready for  Christmas. The decorating is pretty much done except for our tree. It is up and has the lights on. Hopefully the ornaments will go on tomorrow... You cannot imagine what a big helper Ollie is with the decorating. He is just as excited as any kid. He especially likes the garland which goes up on the stairway railing and over the kitchen cabinets. He gets so excited when that big orange bag appears- like any young child he loves playing IN the bag....
The cards and letters are done (that's a BIG woohoooo!). The baking and wrapping will get finished up over the next few days... So I am "getting there"... I'm feeling confident that all will be in place by Christmas Eve.
One of the highlights of the last week was a surprise birthday party for a good friend who was having a "significant" birthday. Her husband and I had fun "scheming" and planning for several months to pull off a get-together of about 20 close friends at their home. And we did it- she had no clue at all until she walked in the door after being taken out for brunch. What fun! You feel great when you truly pull off something like that! There were several surprise guests who had traveled from another province (one being her daughter) so that made the whole surprise even better.
I hope your Christmas preparations are going smoothly, and like me you will soon enjoy some well deserved "put up your feet" time.. I can't wait. My good book is waiting.. all I need now is some chocolate to go with it...


Santa's Wish List:
1, Wider chimneys
2. Better hours
3, Fat free cookies

Monday, December 12, 2011

TAST 2012 Challenge

I have signed up for Sharon Boggon's TAST 2012 Challenge- that's Take A Stitch Tuesday. I have taken two online courses with Sharon and feel very fortunate to have spent three glorious days last April in Connecticut, soaking up all that Sharon had to offer at the CQ Adventure 2011. She is a wonderful teacher and is so very knowledgeable about all things CQ. So I just could not pass up this opportunity to learn more stitches from Sharon. This is free, folks- why not join in? The more the merrier.... You can read all about it here, and sign up is easy. I know there will likely be some weeks when I will struggle to find the required time, but that's okay- I'll do my best. I will post my stitching here for you to see. If you are a stitcher, or a Crazy Quilter, why not take up the Challenge? Come on- you know you wanna..... If you are unfamiliar with Sharon and her work, have a look at her blog Pin Tangle  for some wonderful eye candy...


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge..... " ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ho Ho Ho...

As promised, here are a few of my favourite Jim Shore Santas. They really need to be seen close up to appreciate the work on them. My True Love Gave to Me is probably the most intricate of the Santas that I have. He features all the "characters" from the song The Twelve Days of Christmas under his robe. But his back is almost as impressive - I love the rosemaling design on the back of his cape and the designs around the hem of his cloak. I should have him displayed somewhere where he could be viewed 360 degrees so you could appreciate all of him...

Isn't he handsome?

Another favourite is Naughty or Nice? Santa who is "reversible". He has the same quilt design on both sides, but in slightly different colors. Notice on the naughty side he's carrying a bundle of sticks and a satchel of coal, and his list is titled "Not So Nice". On the Nice side, his bag is overflowing with toys and he has a puppy tucked under his arm. I guess if you had young children in the house, you could use him as an indicator of how they were doing, behavior-wise. My kids are beyond that now, sadly...

Of course Santa with the kitty in his arms is a favourite of both Oliver and I.  Ollie likes the kitty and I love the Log Cabin design around the bottom of his robe.... Log Cabin has always been, and probably always will be my favourite quilt design...

 And lastly, below are my favourites of the smaller Santas - for no particular reason. From left to right, Irish Santa, Topiary Santa and Birdman Santa...  Of course, I love  all of my Jim Shore figurines. They are such fun to get out each year... once Christmas is over, I pack away the Santas and angels and get out the snowmen...


"His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow."
~ Clement C.Moore

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here Comes Santa Claus...

I've been ignoring my blog the last few days so that I could get a grip on Christmas preparations... and I have made some good progress with shopping and decorating. Still more of both to be done, but I'm getting there. I'm down to making a list each day of what I have to accomplish before I can go to bed.. it works for me... And crossing things off that list gives me great satisfaction. Are you a "list maker"?
I thought I'd show you my Santa collection today. A few years ago I fell in love with a new man... no, not Santa....  Jim Shore. We've never met, and I don't expect to ever meet him - but I surely do love his work. I started looking for his Santas (and Angels) and before long I had collected quite a few. Here they are - I arrange them on top of my piano, since I don't have a mantle. I have one other, although he is blue and white and doesn't really "fit" with the other Santas - I call him Father Winter and I leave him out till March or April or until the snow is gone. You can see him here. 
The small Santa on the far right is the very first one in my collection- I found him at the Maine Quilt Show, probably 6 or 7 (?) years ago. That was the first time I'd heard of Jim Shore. The tall one on the left is actually a nutcracker Santa. The large (chubby?) one in the middle is one of my very favourites. He is called "My True Love Gave to Me" and has all the characters from the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" on his tummy - he is really quite spectacular. Come back tomorrow for a closer look at several of my favourite Santas....
Do you have special Christmas collections?


 "He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!" ~ Clement C. Moore

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Deadlines, deadlines...

December is such a busy time... too many things going on, and it's darn hard to be in two places at once... you do the best you can. Tonight was one of those nights when I had two places to be, and both were important... so I split my time between both. What else can you do? I went to Choir practice first and stayed for roughly half, before I skipped out to get to the Guild Christmas Social. Meetings are so busy, and members rarely have time to chat and just socialize, so this evening is our only chance all year to have some relaxed socializing time. I missed that part, but arrived in time for the entertainment and Show and Tell.
And yes I had my quilt there to show- not 100% together, but enough to give them the idea.. I worked most of the day on it, and got 5 rows together. The last three rows will have to wait a bit now, as I must start working on making Christmas happen for my family. So here are two photos taken this morning, of my design wall. Not  great photos - but enough to give you an idea of what it looks like. As you can see, it's done in "my" colours- blues, teals, greens and purples. The lights (a bit washed out here) are ivories and creams, and pale yellows, pinks, blues, greens and mauves. When it's all together, I'll take a photo outdoors with natural light- this one was taken with flash and my studio halogen lights, so not a perfect colour rendition... but you get the idea. The block is actually quite simple, made of four units, which you make two at a time. So the blocks are easy to do. Sewing them together is a little slow as there are so many seams to match up... but I was lucky and all matched every well. I'll chip away at it now, bit by bit when I have a few minutes, getting the rest of the blocks sewn into rows.. but Christmas is now number one on my "To Do" list... The fun begins...


Dear Santa,
This year please give me a big fat bank account and a slim body. And please, don't mix those two up like you did last year. Thanks
xoxo  Linda

Monday, December 5, 2011


Yes I am still here. I've been so busy sewing I haven't taken time to blog. Sorry, as I promised you updates. The quilt is progressing quite nicely... good thing, as I must have it ready in less than 24 hours now. Tomorrow night is our Guild Christmas Social, and I promised to have it there for the workshop committee. I will hopefully be teaching a class on  this quilt for my Guild, so it has to be shown for "sign-ups". So - I've been burning the midnight oil, as they say. Okay, those of you who know me well know I am always burning the midnight oil. I sew late into the evening, usually past midnight most nights... I must say, my back is a little tired these last few days...
So- the progress report: All 48 pairs of light units and 48 pairs of dark units are done, and I have over half assembled into  blocks. I hope to finish at least 6 more tonight before bed. I'll take a pic of my design wall tomorrow once all the blocks are up. Then of course, I have to sew them into rows, and put the rows together... Right now I'm thinkin' someone else might be makin' supper tomorrow night....
My garbage can is overflowing with trimmings and bits.. and I have emptied 8 spools of thread in the last week or so... mind you they weren't all new full spools...


"Victory belongs to  the most persevering." ~ Napoleon

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December?? REALLY??!

How can it already be December??!!! Eeeeeek!!!  Can you detect the mounting panic? I'm trying to stay calm.. but... So much to do, so little time... The unseasonably warm weather and the green grass does nothing to get me in the Christmas mood. I guess I need snow to feel Christmasy. Now don't get me wrong. I am NOT anxious for the cold weather, but a little dusting of the white stuff would help me along with the ole Christmas spirit! I usually have most of my decorating done by now... not so this year... guess I'd better get at it this weekend... I do have my wreath on the front door...

My studio is pretty much a disaster area right now with piles of fabric everywhere- I am working on a scrap quilt. Here's a tiny view of my cutting table this morning... By tonight I was starting to assemble pieces into units, which will eventually turn into blocks. It has to be done by Tuesday night- so stay tuned for updates...


When life hands you scraps, make quilts...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Does "Bonbon" mean Good Good??

I tried a new-to-me recipe today and trust me, it's a keeper! If you like shortbreads, you'll have to try these.  I have been using the same recipe for shortbreads for years but no more. It's just been replaced! This came to me from a quilter friend in Sussex. These little delights were served with the tea and cookies at their last Guild Quilt Show so I asked Vera Turner if she could track down the recipe for me, and she did! It comes from one of their members- I only know her first name is Sheila.... So THANK YOU Sheila!!
These little morsels truly melt in your mouth. I love Shortbreads and love comparing recipes- it's interesting how they vary with the ratio of flour to cornstarch to icing sugar. I think this one has hit on the perfect "formula", 'cause they sure are delicious. I love lemon too, so I really like the lemon icing. Of course you could just do a butter cream icing, or flavour it with almond or whatever your preference. They'd be good with no icing at all as well... These are called Lemon Bonbons. Since "bon" in French means "good" in English- would you translate these as Goodgoods? I think delicious would be a better choice...

Lemon Bonbons

1 cup softened butter
1/3 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/4  cups flour

Cream butter and icing sugar. Sift together cornstarch and flour, add  to butter mixture and mix well. (Refrigerate the dough at this point, if it makes it easier to handle.) Roll into 1" balls, flatten slightly and place on baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 15 minutes. (The recipe I was given, called for 15 min. at 350F. I reduced the temp. to 325 and reduced the time a minute or two as well.) Cool and frost.

**The original recipe also called for 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans spread on a piece of waxed paper.. Dip dough balls into the nuts, then flatten slightly and place on baking sheet nut side up. I did not use nuts this time as I was taking these to a meeting tonight and did not know if someone might have a nut allergy.

Lemon Icing
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 Tblsp. softened butter
enough lemon juice to make icing spreadable (I really like lemon so I added a bit of finely grated lemon zest as well)

Mix together and swirl or pipe on top of cookies.


Be naughty - Save Santa a trip!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Here they are- the latest twins. No, not babies - were you all excited? Sorry. No babies here...
I have finished the second runner. One for me, and one for a friend. Several people have asked about the pattern for this runner. Well, the good news is you really don't need a pattern. It is simply four rows of half square triangles, with a square of your background fabric in each corner. You could make the hst's any size you wish, depending on how large you would like your runner to be. Mine are 3" finished, giving a runner 12" x 36". You will need an equal number of hst's in red and green - I have used 22 of each - you could make it longer or
shorter by adding or decreasing zigzags with increments of 4 hst's. I'm sure you can do the layout just by looking at my photos. I used a variety of reds and greens, (it's a great way to use up "leftovers" )  mixing batiks and tone on tones mostly, with  a few prints. My background is a Moda polka dot print from the Countdown to Christmas line. I quilted in straight lines, simply echoing the zigzag shape, the same way Ann did hers - hey, if it works why re-invent the wheel? My thanks again to Ann V. for bringing this runner to our Guild November "funday" and sharing it with us. Ann found the block in a past issue of  Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, and turned it into a Christmas runner, so the "design credit " goes to Ann!


Come sit at my table and share with me - warm gingerbread
cookies and cinnamon tea....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday morning rituals...

Do you have a Saturday morning ritual? For me, Saturday morning means Farmer's Market... We are lucky to have a wonderful year round weekly market here in our city, and it is recognized as one of Canada's Top Ten community markets! It has been in its current location  since 1951 - so this year is a 60th Anniversary year! But before that, dating back to the mid 1800's, it was held in Phoenix Square on Queen Street. My father attended market every Saturday with his father, traveling by horse and sleigh in the winter when he was a boy in the '20's. And as a child, as soon as I could walk well, my father started taking me to market with him. And that's how Saturday rituals are born... I thought you might enjoy this historical photo of market day in 1907, from the souvenir view album Fredericton, The Celestial City and the River St. John (Toronto, W.G. MacFarlane, 1907) Credit: National Gallery of Canada.
Yes the Market has changed since those days, but it is still as popular. "The Market" as it is known by locals, is a Saturday morning institution. It is THE gathering spot - for fresh food, crafts and good conversation, with stall holders, your neighbour or a local politician. It is THE place for seasonal produce like fiddleheads in the spring, just picked berries in the summer and maple syrup all year 'round.... fresher than fresh garden veggies all summer and apples in the fall...  the best meats, seafoods and cheeses... fresh baked goods - breads, cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes, you name it.. jams, jellies and pickles,
fresh-squeezed juices and made on the spot fruit smoothies.. you can even find wine, chocolates and specialty coffees! Not to mention photography, jewellery, stained glass, candles and other crafts.. the market has it all! And you can eat breakfast or lunch- inside or out...
And.. at this time of year, they have the smell of Christmas: fresh cut trees, wreaths and bunches of greens for decorating. This morning as I walked around in the warm sunshine, the scent of the evergreens was so wonderful. Why is it that a smell can bring back a flood of memories? This morning, there was even "live entertainment" - my great-niece Mallory was there with other Theatre New Brunswick Young Company members singing carols.  They did a great job and received lots of applause. Way to go Mal!
Yes, no matter what season it is, Market is a special place. I always feel close to my Dad there, he is never far from my thoughts.. And now "the next generation" attends market... Mallory likes going with her Mom, and  Laura feels "the connection" too, she loves Market and has made it a part of her Saturday tradition, when she is home. Of course, her most fav thing is the Samosas, but that's another story...


"The merry family gatherings, the old, the very young; the strangely lovely way they harmonize in carols sung.
 For Christmas is tradition time- traditions that recall the precious memories down the years, the sameness of them all. ~ Marshall

Thursday, November 24, 2011

One down, One to go...

I'm getting into the Christmas Spirit... we have several inches of fresh white fluffy snow, and I'm working with  reds and greens. I have hung my Christmas wreath on the front door and dug out my Christmas CD's....
Here is tablerunner #1 - done. The second one is 80% quilted. I'll finish it tomorrow morning, then it'll just need binding. This is a simple and quick pattern, nothing complicated or elaborate, but I'm really happy with it. It measures roughly 12" x 36". This one is a gift for a good friend- I don't think she checks my  blog too often, so hopefully she won't see this before she receives it...The second one is for me.
Thanks Ann V. for providing us with this design at our Guild workday last Saturday! Several other members were doing them too- I can't wait to see theirs.
Although I'm not terribly excited about the arrival of winter and snow, there is something magical about that first snowfall and it does tend to put one in the Christmas mood.... My backyard was so pretty today, I just had to do these photos outdoors... Have you had snow yet where you live?


The First Snowfall

The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.

Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.

~ James Russell Lowell

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Novembrrr.. yes we're well into the Brrrr months... those ending in "ber" when we often hear "Brrrrr... " We'll likely hear it tomorrow - we've got a snowstorm coming... Wish I could say Yippeee, but I'm just not that excited for snow...
As I've said before, November is one of my least favourite months. The gardens are gone, the bright colors are gone, it's getting cold... and dark... But there is still beauty in the world - one just has to look for it. Although I don't get out as much with my camera when the weather turns cold, I do make myself  go looking for "photographic opportunities". They are there - you just have to see them. I can remember Freeman Patterson saying that November is his favourite month for photography - he loves the monotones of nature... Well, I don't,  BUT I can still see beauty all around. I hope you will appreciate the beauty in these images too....


"Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it." ~ Confucius
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