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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Black and White World....

It's a black and white world today....uhhh, mostly white. We're getting hit with another doozy of a snowstorm. It's only been snowing for a few hours and it's already looking like we're in for another foot or so of the white stuff. I just keep telling myself, only 23 more days till spring.. I think tonight will be a good night to curl up with a good book or a movie.
Laura wanted to try a new recipe this afternoon, for making her own Chai Tea concentrate. I am not much of a tea drinker so I cannot get excited about it, but if she likes it, it will sure be a lot cheaper to do her own than frequenting Starbucks for their pricey brew...
Here is the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Chai Tea Concentrate

Bring 4.5 cups water to a boil in a saucepan.
Turn down to low heat and add:
8-10 teabags
2 sticks cinnamon
1 piece fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
7 whole cardamon pods
2 whole star anise pods
10 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1-2 tsp. orange zest
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tblsp. Honey
1 Tblsp. vanilla
Stir. Let steep for 20 minutes. Cool and strain. Store in fridge. To serve, mix with hot milk.

(Edit: Laura thinks it's yummy... Not quite as sweet as Starbucks...)


"February is merely as long as is needed to pass the time until March." ~ J.R. Stockton

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spring Break week...never dull...

It's Spring Break week here at the casa... and life is never dull when the kiddos are home. Ollie loves all the extra attention he gets... lol As usual, there's lots going on... appointments, visiting with friends, etc. I've been busy trying to get some goodies done up to send back with them for their freezers- easy meals they can pull out after a busy day of classes. Because they both have birthdays shortly after returning to school, we did "birthday supper" tonight, with a yummy chocolate b-day cake (is there ANY other kind?)
Laura just got the news she has been anxiously awaiting : she has been accepted to do an overseas trip in May, through the Canadian Centre for Diversity. It is called the March of Remembrance and Hope, and is a nine day indepth study of the Holocaust, focusing on the overall themes of hatred and genocide. They (a group of sixty University students from across Canada) will tour concentration and death camps in Germany and Poland, accompanied by several Holocaust survivors and guides. It is bound to be an emotional adventure which will be life-changing. She will have a great deal of preparation to do - assigned readings, webinars, etc. plus they travel to Toronto for an orientation day before the flight to Berlin. I have mixed feelings about this whole thing- I am very proud of her for her interest in history and wanting to do her bit to make the world a better place (each participant must agree to devote themselves to future activities for raising awareness of the Holocaust, discrimination and hatred). However, as a Mother, I will worry about her from the moment I leave her at the departure gate at the airport till I see her face again nine days later. I know this will change her life - hopefully for the better, but I'm sure many of the stories she hears will be horrific, as she learns of the atrocities of war and the camps. She is a very mature and capable young lady; I just hope she is strong enough to deal with this whole experience... my baby is growing up... :( She has already set up a new Blog so that she can (hopefully) keep us updated daily while she is away. I will add the link later when it is closer to her departure date, in case you are interested in following her progress.


My Daughter...
All the dreams I prayed you'd be
are all the things you are.
You were once my little girl
and now my shining star.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Blue Monday

Today I have another small "finish" to share with you, and, no surprise - it's blue! I was so happy with the small table center I did at Christmas from a Charm Pack, that I decided to cut up some stash to do an "every day" one for my kitchen table. And here it is. Another quick and easy Disappearing Nine Patch. It's quilted with a King Tut blue/purple variegated from Superior Threads - I love this thread!
Another busy week coming up, with my two kiddos home for their Spring Break... likely won't get a lot of sewing done this week.
What are you working on these days, to pass the cold winter? I can hardly believe February will be over in another week. With March just days away, surely we have a little warmer weather coming our way. That's what I'm choosin' to believe anyway... Are you with me?


No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Leaf Bowls for Quilt Ontario 2011

Each year the Canadian Quilters Association holds a national conference in the spring with the location moving back and forth across the country. This year it will be held in London Ontario, May 24-28 at the University of Western Ontario. London is known as the "Forest City" and so the planning committee has chosen to tie this into their conference theme. They have asked Quilting Guilds across Canada to make and donate "leaf bowls" for the Gala Banquet in hopes of receiving enough to give one to each Banquet attendee. A local London quilt artist, Jill Buckley created the pattern, reflective of the Banquet theme "Branching Out".
Two fabrics are layered with a fusible web and Timtex or Flexi-firm between, before the leaf shape is cut out. The "bowl" is shaped by stitching up the four V shaped "darts"with a zigzag stitch. Addition of a stem is optional. Then the outer edges are satin-stitched. Simple as that! Here are several tips - I find it easiest to close the "darts" and stitch all around edges with a simple zigzag stitch first,then go around a second time with a closer zigzag/satin stitch. I find you get better coverage that way. And if you have trouble with the narrow tips, try using your awl to help hold the narrow bits. If there is still a tiny bit of white (Timtex) showing at the leaf tips, simply dot with a matching color permanent marker to color the white.
If your Guild has not considered making some of these bowls, please encourage them to do so. They are not at all difficult, and the Quilt Ontario Local Organizing Committee will appreciate your contribution to the success of Q.O. 2011. The pattern is available by contacting Christine Rachar at . Leaf bowls must be sent by end of March, so you still have time! I have stitched two bowls, and hope to do a few more before the deadline, to "up" our Guild's donation - we currently have 19 ready to go.
Edit: Thanks to Dolores for reminding me that the pattern and instructions for the Leaf Bowl are also available in the recent Spring 2011 issue of the Canadian Quilter, pages 14-16.

Come back tomorrow for Blue Monday and another blue finish...


Any day spent sewing is a good day!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do You Like Purple?

Yes I AM still here... just very busy! I do have a "finish" to share with you though - finally have Gemini all done - even the temporary hanging sleeve on the back, so it's all ready for our April Show! As I mentioned in an earlier post, this design is by Janine Burke of Blue Underground Studios Inc. It was a quick and easy quilt to do, (especially with a Bali Pop - precut strips all ready to sew) and to speed up the process, I had it long arm quilted by Gwenda and Eugene Mattinson. Gwenda is really a speedy Gonzales! She is a very fast hand quilter - we learned that when we had the quilt in the frame a few weeks ago - and she 's pretty fast with her quilting business as well. I took it out to them on Monday afternoon last week, and had it back on Tuesday morning- all quilted. You couldn't ask for better than that! This was my first experience working with a Bali Pop and I really enjoyed it. The cutting is all done for you, and the fabrics are color co-ordinated: perfect for a quick project. I did find a slight variance in the width of the strips; because they are hand cut in Bali, I guess you have to expect that. After my strips were all sewn, I did find this great hint online from Brenda Henning of Bear Paw Productions to aid in dealing with this variance.

February is flying by. We've taken in a few great movies in the last few weeks (always nice to have seen a few of the new hits when Academy Awards Night rolls around). The King's Speech is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, in particular Colin Firth's performance. If he doesn't get the Best Actor award, something is wrong! Helena Bonham Carter as Elizabeth and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue the Speech Therapist also give stellar performances. Trust me, you do not want to miss this movie.
127 Hours is the other movie we saw recently. It is based on the true story of Aron Ralston, a young climber who must resort to extreme measures to free himself after becoming trapped in a canyon in Utah. I was quite interested to see this story as my cousin Ron actually knows Aron, having worked with him for three years at Intel in Chandler AZ. It is an incredible story of courage, inner strength and perseverance - what an amazing young man he is.
I've also finished a few books recently - The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The first two were light easy reading; the latter is a story of the Biafran War. I enjoyed them all but cannot say I'd put any of them in my Top 10 All Time Favourites.
Come back tomorrow to see what other sewing projects I've been working on...


"One's purpose is not to see what lies dimly in the distance but to do what lies clearly at hand."
~ Carlyle

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines' Day

Happy Valentine's Day! Today is the day that chubby little cupid guy goes around shooting his arrows of love into unsuspecting hearts! Has he caught you yet? It's snowing here yet again today, so I bet his bare little buns are rather chilly... All joking aside, I hope this is a day of love and happiness for you and yours. Cherish your family, cherish your friends and cherish your dreams.
I hope you will enjoy the hearts I'm sending you - from my home to yours..... No doubt you'll be able to tell which two were not photographed today....

Peace and Love,


Love can be a simple smile,
love can be the extra mile.
Love can be the chance to say
love made me think of you today!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Blogiversary

Today is my second "Blogiversary" and tomorrow is Valentines Day! Two reasons for celebration! Valentines Day is celebrated around the world, but it is not always about romantic love. In some countries such as Finland it is more about honoring and remembering friends, which is what I'm doing today! I cannot believe I've been blogging for two years- and still finding things to say! I so appreciate you, dear readers and loyal followers, for sticking with me and giving me your love, support and encouragement through your kind comments. A special thanks to my friend Gail who got me into this in the first place, and to fellow bloggers for helping me when I had a problem or question- Marie, Gwen, Karen, and no doubt several others.... And so today I'm sending you all lots of hearts and kisses. Thank you for following along and I hope you'll hang in there with me for another year...

Peace and Love

It doesn't matter where you go in life, what you do, or how much you have... it's who you have beside you.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentines Day is Coming....

It's been a busy week and now all of a sudden it's Friday and the weekend is upon us. I swear the days just evaporate! It's going to be a quick post today, but I do have something yummy to share with you! Valentines Day is just around the corner and in my house that means break out the chocolate (not that it's ever far away...). So here's a quick and delicious muffin recipe for you ~

Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins

1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 Tblsp. white sugar

1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
3 Tblsp. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 egg
optional - almond extract and chocolate chips

Prepare muffin pan by lining with muffin papers or spray with Pam cooking spray.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 Tblsp. sugar until light and fluffy. Set aside. ( **I like to add 1/2 tsp. almond extract to the cream cheese but that's up to you!)

In mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa, bp and salt. Make a well in center of dry ingds. Combine milk, oil and egg. Add all at once to dry ingds., stirring just until moistened. (At this point I like to throw in a good sized handful of chocolate chips - but again - it's up to you! )
Spoon about 2 Tblsp. of batter into each muffin cup. Top with a dob of cream cheese mixture and then cover with remaining chocolate batter. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes. Let cool and dust with icing sugar (powdered sugar) if desired. Makes one dozen.


"All you need is love - but a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." ~ Charles Schulz

Monday, February 7, 2011

Blue Monday

Here it is Blue Monday once again. I am sharing some more garden photos with you today, for if you are like me, you are getting just a teensy bit tired of winter. When I look out at my gardens, they are under feet of snow and the only blooms I can see, blue or otherwise, are in my mind. Instead I am looking at blue shadows on the snow. Let's just hope that little groundhog forecaster was right and spring is soon on it's way... I can't wait to once again be enjoying these Chionodoxa (Glory-of-the-snow). They are one of my favourite spring bloomers - they just seem so cheerful! So I hope you will enjoy these blue blossoms below, and I hope they warm you up! They are, in descending order, Myosotis (Forget-me-not), Iris, Campanula (Harebell) with dragonfly visitor, Clematis, Echinops (Globe Thistle), Veronica (Speedwell) and Platycodon (Balloon flower).


"Blue thou art, intensely blue; Flower, whence came thy dazzling hue?" ~ James Montgomery

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow, Snow and More Snow

Whoever has been praying for snow - you can stop now! We have enough. More than enough, thanks!
We had another storm overnight, leaving us with a fresh foot or so. The plowed banks are getting rather high- I soon won't be able to see my neighbours... I do enjoy the seasons and the changes they bring but I think I'm nearly ready for some signs of spring. This is what it looks like around my home today... Sandi and all my other friends who are "snowbirding " in Florida or Arizona - Just look what you are missing! Okay, you can stop laughing now!


The snow fell softly all the night; it made a blanket soft and white.
It covered houses, flowers and ground, but it didn't make a single sound.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bird's Eye View...

You just never know who might drop in for a surprise visit around here... Look who was sitting enjoying the sun high in a tree next door a few minutes ago...Wow! I am still speechless. He was so majestic. I could not believe the neighbourhood crows - they obviously don't have half a brain between them all - they were harassing him, and one even dive-bombed him twice!! Guess they didn't stop to think (duh!) that he could easily have had any of them for a nice little snack... I quickly snapped some photos from our driveway, in my slippers and shirtsleeves, but I was behind him. I came in because it was so cold, never figuring he'd stay long enough for me to get dressed properly and head back out. But when hubby came in 10 minutes later and said he was still there I got coat, hat and boots on and headed back out, walking next door for a closer view. I'm so glad I did. He was a good 35 feet over my head - I LOVE my telephoto lens... He stayed long enough for me to get a few good shots before he flew off, heading back to the river.
What an amazing few moments with nature. An experience like this changes your whole day....


"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright." ~ Henry David Thoreau

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quite a Week...

Well it's been quite a week! Lots of "happenings"... First of all, my hubby has retired. Monday was his "last official day of work". After devoting 36.5 years of his life to the Bank, he is now free. As he put it, "I'm no longer responsible for other people's stupid mistakes". I think he feels somewhat like someone who has just been sprung from jail.... So... my life and routines are no doubt going to change a little. There will be an adjustment phase, for sure. I'm so glad Santa brought a small tv for my studio... now I just have to get a lock put on the door... lol

Laura has found a new apartment for next year- a nice cozy little place which she will have all to herself. Hurray!! NO more roommate issues. We've had enough of that. She signed the lease this morning. What a relief, for her and for us...

I finished my lap quilt top. It was made with a Mulberry Bali Pop, plus a few strips from my stash. The pattern, by Janine Burke of Blue Underground Studios, Inc. is called Gemini. Very quick and easy. Sometimes you just need something "mindless" to work on - this fit the bill. It is a bit different for me, as most of what I do is fairly traditional. I'm not adding borders, it will just be quilted and bound. Done. Done is good. I know I promised a photo of this yesterday, but yesterday was quite a day... keep reading....

Speaking of "done", our quilt that we've been hand-quilting is finished! It came off the frame yesterday around 4pm. Wow- we even surprised ourselves in getting it done this quickly- just three weeks and roughly 135 hours of quilting by 17 different people. It will be bound, labeled and ready to show at our February Guild meeting. Today I will be erasing the marked lines...

To add to all of the above "excitement", we had another big snowstorm - lots of snow, very poor driving conditions, etc. etc. At the height of the storm late Wednesday afternoon, we were told our sewer line was either frozen or collapsed. (To simplify a long convoluted story, we are not hooked into the City sewer lines. Ours runs into the "family business" lines, so this problem was up to my brothers to rectify.) So... frozen line. This means we cannot flush toilets, shower, or run water in the sinks. Hmmm... interesting. Okay, we can live with this for a short while, but the fact that I had a number of ladies coming to quilt on Thursday had me worried. How do you tell ladies who are volunteering to come and work, for 2, 3, 4 hours or longer, that they will not have a bathroom to use? I worried half the night about a back-up... To heighten my stress, the phone rang on Thursday morning before I was even out of bed - it was brother Wayne telling me the huge machine they had coming to cut through pavement and dig up the line would vibrate my house considerably and I should remove anything that might fall from walls, shelves, etc. So you can just imagine what kind of a "state" I was in, by the time quilters started arriving at 9:30. Luckily most of them touched base with me before coming so I could forewarn them to "go" before leaving home. In the end, the line was not frozen, the humungous machine did not have to tear up the line, and there was no vibration at all. I'm still putting things back in place... What fun....


Just when a mother thinks her work is complete, her husband retires...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We are really moving along with our hand-quilting of this queen-size quilt. Yesterday we had 9 people in total throughout the day, and we did four rolls of the frame! I'm thinking another good turnout like that for a day and we'll be done!! Woohooo! Its now only 36" wide so we don't have far to go. I'm likin' this hand quilting thing! You can see more photos of this quilt here, here and here.
My latest quilt top is all together, but I have yet to press the row seams. I'll have a photo to show you by tomorrow...
Happy Groundhog Day!

Piece, or should I say Quilt!

"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment; full effort is full victory." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
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