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

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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Do you smell smoke?

Do you smell smoke? Not to worry- it's just me, with the pedal to the metal... It's Nov. 21st!!! That means Christmas is less than 5 weeks away!! I'm starting to feel the usual November panic... anxiety... it what you wish, it's found me. As always I have so many things I want to get done in the next thirty days - sewing projects, stitching projects, plus all that "Christmas stuff".... So I've been hard at it. Our Guild had a workday on Saturday  - a good number of us were there, enjoying some fellowship while we sewed. I got a good start on two Christmas runners, hope to finish putting the second one together tonight. Ollie, as usual, is being a big
help. He thinks my ironing board is just for him- a convenient and comfy (and frequently warm) place  to lie and watch me sew. Here he is showing how helpful
 he can be- holding my half square triangles in place so they won't run away... We frequently "compete" for who gets the most space on the board- he manages to scootch his way over to get more room, especially if I've just used the iron and the board is still warm. But I put up with him... he gives me more smiles per day than you can imagine....
Stay tuned for a  "finish photo" in the next few days. Have you started your Christmas sewing yet?

"Animals are such agreeable friends, they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." ~ George Eliot

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pins, pins and more pins...

Another small "finish".. I have been wanting to make a small "quilt" on which to display my pins for some time now. Our  Guild is having a UFO Challenge this year, so that's always great motivation for me so I finished this and took it to our meeting on Tuesday night. I was surprised how many pins I actually have, when I got them all together. With pins from Guilds I have taught for, Conferences and various other pins quilting-related, I have more than I realized... At least they are all in one spot now, and I should be able to find my nametag for Meeting Nights!
The fabric I used, although it is hard to see, has thread spools all over it. I quilted crosshatching with a twin needle and bound it. Simple as that. But it serves the purpose. Another one done! Now I'm starting on some Christmas projects.  


Any day spent sewing is a good day!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Am I getting old? Or just "more mature"?

Salmon Bridge over Kennebecasis River
I must be getting old. I prefer to think of it as "more mature"... **wink. I find myself becoming more interested in things I never thought I would... like History. I hated History in school- guess I never had a really good History teacher who "turned me on" to the subject. At least I'll blame it on that for now.... But when I backpacked through Europe for 3.5 months after finishing University, and on many trips since, I have wished more than once that I could remember the history of the area, or significant site, or whatever... Laura's amazing trip and experience this past

Salmon Bridge over Kennebecasis River
summer in Germany and Poland has certainly made me want to learn more about WWII and the Holocaust. I have done a lot of reading since she was accepted for the MRH trip, and it has just fueled my desire to learn more. I guess that's a good thing. (By the way, for those of you who are interested and followed Laura's experience and her Blog, she has added to it recently; you may want to check it out here. AND - she is embarking on another great "venture" which I'm sure will turn into an adventure.. I'll be surprised if she doesn't write something more on her blog about it as it is related... More about that later....)
Okay, I'm getting off track here.... Back to recent developing interests... I find myself enjoying historical fiction- something my Mother loved reading. Never thought I would... And I'm more interested in things like older architecture. So, this past summer, I decided I would try to visit and photograph some things in my province which are aging and may not be around forever, like our Covered Bridges. I didn't accomplish as much as I had hoped, but at least I got a start. It will be an ongoing project.... I did acquire a "Backroads Atlas" for the Maritimes, which has all the back roads and covered bridges marked. It's a great help. Of course, you probably know that New Brunswick is famous for the longest covered bridge in the world: the Hartland Covered Bridge, built in 1901, is 1282 feet long, and in great condition. You can be sure I'll be visiting it for photos.... but we'll save that for another day.

Patrick Owens Bridge over Rusagonish River

 There were once more than 4,000 covered bridges in New Brunswick; currently there are about 60 remaining. Sadly they are falling victim to arsonists, vandals and natural disasters. In late August, our local paper reported that our current provincial government was considering rebuilding some of these historic structures. That thought has since fallen by the wayside... To quote John Leroux, a local architect and historian, "They (the bridges) give us a stronger sense of our past. They're like the grain elevators to Saskatchewan. When the last one is gone, that's when we'll realize how important they were."

  In the past the idea of constructing  new covered bridges has been dismissed because of modern building codes and the idea that modern materials like steel and concrete would ensure more permanency. However, one only has to look at what's going on with the Saint John Harbour bridge and our own Princess Margaret bridge  and how much money is being spent on repairing them and keeping them safe for the high traffic volumes they handle, to wonder if steel and concrete ARE better...?

You have to agree - covered bridges do have "something special". You get a feeling of the past... the human hand and the work that went into those hand hewn timbers. The tradition of tooting your car horn, and making a wish as you pass through - this just doesn't happen when you cross a "modern" bridge.

The first bridge I photographed for this little "project" (top photos above) was built in 1908. The Kennebecasis River #7.5 bridge or Salmon bridge as it is locally known, is 112 feet long, and is no longer in service. As you can see from the wild roses in bloom, it was a lovely June day, on our way back from Corn Hill Nursery - this bridge is not far from Sussex.

 Another June day saw Laura and I out photographing lupines, and we made our way out to Rusagonish to find the covered bridge there. It's probably less than 20 miles from my home, but I had never seen it. Built in 1909, the Patrick Owens bridge (otherwise known as Rusagonish River #2 bridge) is in daily use. At 115 feet, it features something not many other cb's have - a window running the entire length of the bridge on the west side. As you can see the window is also "covered" or protected by a roof. It allows one a great view of the beautiful Rusagonish River from the bridge. It was a perfect summer day when we were there - bees were buzzing, flowers were blooming and butterflies were fluttering around. Several young people were fishing under the bridge, and no I did not take a pic of the eel he caught... sorry!
 I'll continue with this photo project and share more covered bridge photos and info with you in the future.. hope you have enjoyed this little look at a piece of our past.


"History is who we are and why we are the way we are." ~ David McCullough

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A New Favourite

I think most people appreciate a "tested and recommended" new recipe. So here is my recommendation for today. This is a simple quick salad dressing, for which you likely have all or most of the ingredients on hand. This comes from my friend Donna H, who is a wonderful cook, and a fellow Home Economist. Donna lives in Quebec but spends time here in the summer at her cottage, so we get some time together- usually over a delicious meal. Thanks Donna, for this yummy dressing. (I think this could put Mr. Kraft right out of business!) I love it over a salad of fresh baby greens, red pepper, sliced mushrooms, red onion rings, toasted slivered almonds or pecans, dried cranberries and topped with chevre cheese. It's delicious on a Chef Salad too, with chicken, ham, hard cooked egg and cheddar on top.....  Oh heck, it's delicious on any salad....

Red Onion Salad Dressing

1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup vinegar (I used half white and half cider)
2 Tblsp. water 
1/3-1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and whir for 10 - 15 seconds. Simple as that!
I added some poppyseeds after blending this time... yummmy.....


Friendship isn't a big thing... it's a million little things.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shoo Fly Mini

Here is my latest finish! Another Miniature, measuring 15.75" square. Before I teach my Miniatures class again, I'd like to have several new samples done, which are not quite so tiny! I find students look at my minis and want to try the tiniest one as their first effort (with half inch units). Sometimes it's hard to make people understand that it's more difficult to start really small, especially if their accuracy is not as good as it could be. So I'm attempting to get some simple ones made (good for beginners) which are a little larger. This one uses 3/4" units, yielding a 2.25" block. Again I used Thangles for the HST's.
This is machine quilted, just in the ditch. Very much quilting will easily distort a mini, so simple is best. I used a white Aurifil thread for the first time and really liked it. Between the two borders, I used
an opalescent Sulky Sliver thread to give just a little shimmer.
My inspiration for the colour choices in this piece was a piece of Moda Kidstuff striped fabric called Oodles of Poodles, designed by Cheri Strole. I was planning to use it as the border, but it just didn't work - too busy looking and overpowering for the simple blocks, I thought. Funny how something you think will be absolutely perfect just doesn't work. Oh well, I'm happy with the piece, that's what matters I guess. Laura's childhood friend Phoebe likes it too- she wanted to pose with it so here she is, below...
Come back tomorrow for an easy yummy recipe....


The work of the hands brings forth the spirit of the heart.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Little Boy Blue...

Another one crossed off the list. I can just picture some tiny blue eyed baby boy snuggling under this little quilt. It measures 18" x 24" and is backed with soft flannel, and is bound for our local hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I'll turn it in on Tuesday night at our Guild meeting along with Pink Peppermint Twist which you saw here. The design is the very simple Disappearing Nine Patch which you can read about here. Now I'm busy quilting my little Shoo Fly Miniature, hoping to have it ready for Tuesday night's Show and Tell as well. I'm on a roll...  yeah - I know -  it's about time!


Snips and snails and puppy dog tails, that's what little boys are made of...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

Today is a special day- a day of remembrance and a day to honour our veterans and those who still serve our country.  We must never forget those who give so selflessly to keep us free and safe in this wonderful country of ours. Wear your poppy proudly.


(Adam Ashton)

Free to be happy
Free to be me
Free to become whatever I choose to be
Free to learn
Free to believe
Free to dream extraordinarily
Free to have hope
Free to have vision
Free to have power to change my condition
My life can become whatever I choose it to be
Because others have died so I can be free.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pink Peppermint Twist

I've been rather absent from blogland for more than a week... no excuses- just busy!! So it's good to be back. I have accomplished a few things.. all my outdoor work is now DONE- hurray - all my perennial beds are "put to bed" for the winter- cut down, covered with leaf mulch and chicken wire to hold it in place through the winter. Feels good to have that all taken care of. My sixth and last teaching trip for this fall is done.. no more classes now until February.
So I am "getting re-acquainted" with my Bernina. Our Guild is making children the focus for our community projects this year. This fall we are doing small quilts (18" x 24") for the Neonatal Intensive Care unit at the hospital. I have one finished and the second one ready to layer and quilt - you'll see it in another day or two. Shown here is number one- I used the L'il Twister templates, by CS Designs. This is such an easy quick way to make pinwheels - just sew your squares together, then use the templates to cut out your blocks, re-sew, and you're done! I decided to do one in pink and the other quilt in blue. I am just using up fabrics I have on hand - I know it's not a prizewinner by any stretch, but it's backed with flannel and will keep some precious little babe warm and cozy... that's what matters.


It's the little things in life that matter...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One Word Wednesday



"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." ~ Charles Dickens
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