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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

As we welcome in the New Year tonight, I just want to wish all my friends, followers and occasional readers a very Happy New Year! As we look back on events of the past year, let's hope that 2013 will be a better year - fewer tragedies, natural disasters and events that test our limits. I wish you all good Health, Happiness and most of all Peace for the coming year. I often think about World Peace.. will we ever see it?  Let's hope so.... Let's make it happen first at home. Be kinder to your neighbour... do a random act of kindness for a stranger.... pay it forward. Find the time to be thoughtful of others.. Lighten up and laugh more often... Take better care of yourself.

Welcome 2013... let.'s make it an awesome year to remember!

Peace and Love,

The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.

A Must Read....

The last day of 2012! Wow. Time is flying by toooo quickly for my liking. Since I still have no sewing/quilting to show, how about another book review? The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom is definitely one of my Top 5 favs for the year. I read it in less than 24 hours - truly one of those "I REALLY don't want to put this book down" types. Who cares that it's supper time and the troops are hungry?  Bedtime? Nooo, I don't wanna go to bed.. I just wanna keep reading!! If you liked The Help, you will LOVE this book!
Canadian author Grissom has written a powerful tale of life on a southern plantation, and although a fictional story, she has obviously carefully researched the historical facts. The characters are well drawn and one feels present as the story unfolds. The descriptions are rich and enveloping and you find yourself wanting the story to continue and never end. Grissom created two protagonists, Lavinia and Belle, and the story is told from their perspectives. Lavinia is a young child as the story opens (1791), an Irish immigrant who is orphaned on the voyage and is taken by Captain Pyke, the ship owner, to his Virginia tobacco plantation as an indentured slave. She is sent to work in the "kitchen house" with Belle and the other "nigras". Lavinia develops a deep bond with the slaves and comes to think of them as her family. I don't want to give away any more of the story, but suffice it to say, as Lavinia grows up at Tall Oaks, her life takes many twists and turns and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough... I highly recommend this novel. It is one I will definitely read again, and I cannot wait for Grissom's next book.


"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." ~ Dr. Seuss

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Let It Snow....

"Oh the weather outside is frightful
  But the fire is so delightful
 And since we've no place to go,
 Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!"

Well part of that is true anyway.. the weather outside has been frightful. We've just had our second storm in several days; the first one gave us over a foot of snow and now we've received close to another foot.  We don't have a fire to snuggle up in front of, but we are thankful we have not lost power in either storm, so we are snug and warm. We are lucky to not have to travel over the Christmas holidays if we don't choose to, so that is truly something to be thankful for. Close
friends  have children trying to get home to Calgary today. They were up before 4a.m. to get to the airport for a very early flight, which didn't get out till almost 10a.m. She is travelling with a one month old.. now she's stuck in Toronto for the night, can't get to Calgary till tomorrow. Her hubby and 3.5 year old are still here, their afternoon flight was cancelled and they are now being told it will be several DAYS before they can get out.. Oh the joys of flying in the winter... You just never know, with our weather, what will happen...

I am so glad all my family are local and the furthest we have to go is the grocery store! lol   I made a big pot of turkey soup today (that's the END of Mr. Turkey!) so that's what will be on the table for supper along with some fresh biscuits, and fruit salad for dessert topped off with some Christmas cookies. Mmmmmm.... I do love turkey soup...
My brothers have been plowing all day, and hubby is now out shovelling and cleaning up with the snowblower, now that the snow has stopped falling... Our bench will be buried, after the next storm....  We didn't see the sun today at all. It fact it's been a pretty "grey" day. These photos could almost pass for black and white, couldn't they? Although I plugged in our candles in the windows and turned our tree lights on before going out to take these photos around 3pm, they don't even show up! Maybe I'll have to try another shot or two after dark...
It's always interesting to see how the snow "sticks" to the trees after a storm. Sometimes the patterns are quite interesting... not so today, but still beautiful, I think... There IS beauty in simple things....


"Few things are as democratic as a snowstorm." ~ Bern Williams

Friday, December 28, 2012

Another finish...

Another book finish!  "That Forgetful Shore" is a novel by Canadian author Trudy J. Morgan-Cole.  A compelling read, it is a story of love and loss in early twentieth century Newfoundland.
From the book jacket:  "Triffie and Kit are closer than sisters. But for two girls growing up in a tiny Newfoundland outport at the dawn of the twentieth century, having the same dreams and ambitions doesn't mean life will hand you the same opportunities. A teacher's certificate offers Kit the chance to explore the wider world, while Triffie is left behind, living the life she never wanted with the man she swore she'd never marry. The letters she and Kit exchange are her lifeline -- until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy their friendship. That Forgetful Shore is a story of friendship, love, faith and betrayal."
This was a perfect book for after Christmas. I could easily lose myself  in the story as the turkey digested and the snowstorm raged outside... The characters are well developed and one could easily identify with their problems and challenges as they grow up and move on with their very different adult lives. Times are hard during and after the war, and although they were the closest of childhood friends, circumstances change and so does their relationship....
This fictional story by Newfoundland author Morgan-Cole was inspired by actual postcards found in a 150 year old house in Coley's Point (Conception Bay area) built by the author's great-great- grandfather. You can visit for more about the background of this story.
That Forgetful Shore won a gold medal in the 2012 IPPY Awards - the Independent Publisher Book Awards- in the category of Regional Fiction (Canada- East). It also was nominated for Best Atlantic Published Book in the 2012 Atlantic Book Awards.
Two thumbs up! You will want to read this book!


A good book should leave you.... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

On My Bookshelf...

It's time for a book review or two. I am a little behind on telling you what I've been reading lately. Three recent finishes are The Paris Wife by Paula McLain,  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom and That Forgetful Shore by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole.
First, The Paris Wife.
I knew little of Ernest Hemingway, other than that he had several marriages, was known as a "womanizer", had a problem with alcohol and that he eventually committed suicide.  The Paris Wife is the story of his first marriage, to Hadley Richardson. McLain extensively researched Hemingway's novels, biographies and letters to write this fictional account of their rollercoaster five year relationship. It is told from Hadley's perspective and offers an "inside view" of the life they led in Paris during prohibition, as Hemingway struggled to become a writer of note. Seven years his senior, Hadley was reclusive when she was courted by the young Hem, just home from the Great War and suffering from trauma and its aftereffects. She was a devoted wife and sacrificed her own ambitions to support the needy and egocentric Ernest, assuring him he would be a successful writer. Their life in the Latin Quarter with the "in crowd" of writers and artists (Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and others), the partying and heavy drinking, travels to Spain and Austria while living hand to mouth, the bull fights and horse races are embraced by Hadley, but the glamourous life eventually starts to fade. One cannot help but feel her heartbreak as Hem's possessiveness, moodiness and a mistress all contribute to the disintegration of their marriage, despite her best efforts to save it. I won't give away any more details, but if you like Hemingway, I'm sure you'd enjoy this account of his early years as a writer and his first (of four) marriages.
Next - That Forgetful Shore. 


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day...

It's all over but the leftovers! Ollie is demonstrating how we all are feeling... Ooooff! Stuffed with turkey. What a good feeling! I hope you all had a good Christmas, filled with family and loved ones, laughter and joy. Our Christmas Day was just the way I like it, quiet and relaxing. Ollie's antics kept us in laughter - he got three (yes three!!) new catnip toys plus a red laser toy to chase so he was pretty tired out last night by bedtime!!
I hope Santa was good to you, as he was to us. We are indeed blessed to have what we do, and live where we do. I didn't get a post done in time to wish you all the merriest Christmas so I'm doing it now. Enjoy the "downtime" and special time with loved ones....

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Christmas Story

My friend Barb F sent me this Youtube link for a delightful presentation of the Christmas Story done by children from St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand. It is PRECIOUS!! Well worth the watch. Take a minute and enjoy! I particularly like the sheep and the littlest wiseman...


"And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." ~ Luke 2:10-12

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Just so you know I'm still alive, thought I should give another brief update. I'm muddling along, getting things done- just not as quickly as usual. Both chicks are home to the nest now, so that's nice. The driveway was full tonight as Mark's buddies gathered...
12-12-12 has passed.. We won't see that occurrence again until January 1st of 2101: 01-01-01. I won't be here to see it, and neither will my children... Some are concerned about tomorrow - the last day of the Mayan calendar, supposedly.. I'm not too worried, but just in case - Thank you all for following along on Stitch Lines. It's been a blast! (But I am quite sure we'll all still be here on Saturday...)
Yesterday would have been my Mum's 96th birthday. I still miss her every day. I can't believe she's been gone 10 years now, and my Dad almost 20.
So - things are getting ticked off the ole list. Shopping almost done. Just little last minute things left.
Wrapping started - still a ways to go on that one..  Christmas Pudding is made, and 1 batch of shortbreads done ("Cinnamon Sticks" - shortbread "fingers" rolled in cinnamon sugar. Recipe here.) Tomorrow I'll do regular shortbreads, chocolate squares and we'll see what else. Our Ladies Choir Concert was held last Sunday - again a great success, and $5,000.00 of the proceeds will be split between the Food Bank and The Next 26, a charity for the homeless. Our Choir dinner on Tuesday evening was lovely; best of all we raised a good amount of $$ by donation for the Community Kitchen. It feels good to help out these worthy charities at this time of year when the need is so great.
Decorating is almost finished, except for putting our tree up - that's the next big thing to cross off... All cards, letters and emails have been sent. So - we're getting there...
I have 4 Physio sessions under my belt now, arm/shoulder is feeling somewhat better. The exercises I've been doing are to increase range of motion. By next week I should be able to start strengthening exercises. I had an X-ray this week, no results yet. So- that's where I'm at. Thank you to all who have inquired as to how I'm  doing. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I'm hangin' in...
We had a significant snowfall on Tuesday and Wednesday. We lost our power on Tuesday night for about 7 hours.. we were lucky- some people don't have it back yet! So it's lookin' like a white Christmas for us...


"Then let your heart be filled with joy
While Christmas bells are ringing,
And keep the birthday of the Lord
With merriments and singing."
~ Mary Jane Carr

Friday, December 14, 2012

Being Naughty...

What were you taught as a child about being naughty? Santa won't come? He checks his list twice to see who's naughty or nice? He sees you when you're sleeping... he knows when you're awake... he knows if you've been bad or good...  There's more than one Christmas song that dissuades children from being naughty at this time of year... I can remember oh so clearly my mother telling me that Santa's elves were always watching. In the house I grew up in, there was a small window high on the kitchen wall ( or it seemed high to me as a small child) and I was sure that that's where the elves were peeking in to keep an eye on me. I would turn my head quickly to look at that window but I could never get a glimpse of those elves.. What childhood memories do you have of that incredibly loooong period before Christmas when it was oh SO hard to wait for the big day? The days seemed to stretch out FOR-EVERRRRR. I was the youngest with two older brothers... who loved to tease (and still It seemed to me that Christmas would never arrive.... the wait was unbearable....
So when I saw the pattern for this little cross-stitch, I couldn't resist. Just thought it was so cute. So I thought I'd be naughty (for once ... wink) and stitch it up. Since I can't sew much yet, I can at least feel like I'm accomplishing something by doing some stitchin'. This design is a Lizzie Kate "Quick-it" design, Be Naughty Q-07. You can view it and other great Lizzie Kate designs here.


Dear Santa, I can explain.....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frozen Peas... my new BFF

Yep I've been doin' a lot of  cuddlin' with a bag of frozen peas for the last two weeks. They work just great as an "icebag" on my shoulder... I'm so glad I stocked up on a few bags when they were on sale a few weeks ago! lol My shoulder is slowly improving.. not fast enough for my liking, but I'm grateful it is showing some improvement. I started Physio yesterday, another appointment tomorrow and two scheduled for next week. I have exercises to do to improve range of motion and to strengthen the muscles. Thank you to those who have emailed to see how I'm doing. I did manage to get to the mall today to cross a few more things off my list. I am making progress, even if it's slow... I've accepted the fact that Christmas will come and go whether I'm all ready or not. Whatever...
Although I cannot sew, I have been able to do some stitching.. Tomorrow I'll show a pic of a recent "finish" when I can get a good photo with natural light. It's a quick Lizzie Kate design that I've had for a while. And I have another one almost done, although  it won't get framed until after Christmas.
I was going to do a book review tonight for you as well, but I'm fading.. It will have to wait for another day. I find I just don't have much energy these days. I guess my body is putting it's efforts into healing, which is good. But I cannot accomplish what I'd like to in the run of a day. I can only do a few things then I have to rest. So by this time of night, there's not much left. It's time to lay down again with my new BFF.. my bag  of frozen peas.... Who knew?


"Patience is the greatest of all virtues". ~ Cato the Elder

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Going On?

I'm sure you've been wondering just that.. what's going on? Where is she? Why isn't she blogging? Well, I was away for two days last week, and since then, I've had a little problem. I had a fall last Friday night, and it seems I have a tear in the rotator cuff of my right shoulder. Hence some pain, poor sleep at nights and loss of mobility/range of motion in my right arm. It has certainly put a cramp in my "December productivity". Color me frustrated!!! This is not a good time of year to be "somewhat disabled"!! I have too long a list of things to be done to put up with this foolishness! But put up I must. It can take weeks or even months to heal so I'm trying to be good (okay, better than just "good"). I don't want this to drag on any longer than absolutely necessary...
We went downtown to the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Legislative Buildings. It was cold and I had worn shoes (instead of boots- mistake #1). My feet were very cold - bordering on numb. When we left, I "missed" a small curb, turned my ankle and down I went, full force on my right arm and shoulder, crashing to the pavement. How embarassing.  My upper arm has been going through the loveliest
shades of black, purple and now that beautiful "bruise green"... lol  I had thought of taking a photo of my arm, but I wouldn't want to scare you! It looks like someone beat me with a crowbar! So instead I found a few photos from our visit to Jolly Farmer two  weeks ago - enjoy the Christmas blooms - they are much more attractive! By far!
Yes I am frustrated. My red quilt is waiting. All 20 blocks are done, it's up on the design wall and lookin' good. But I can't go any further until I cut some more sashing strips. And I can't do any rotary cutting, it hurts too much. I can't sew on something else as I can't lift my right
arm. I can't do any baking. I can't even "do" my hair!! Arrrggghhhhhhh!!!!! I still have shopping to do..
I have done some cross-stitching, as that IS manageable, sitting on the couch and keeping my right arm against my body. I finished a small piece today and took it to my framer (hat covering head.. lol)  I promise a pic when I get it back.
So no doubt there will be some things this Christmas that just don't get done. No worries, everyone will understand, I hope. Dear daughter will be home in a few more days, so she'll be put to work helping out. I do have a good part of the decorating done... Cards and letters are next. The keyboard is easier now than it was a few days ago.... I pray each night for patience.... I AM very grateful it was not worse- I could have broken bones...
Stay tuned, and be patient with me... Gotta go "ice" my shoulder before bed...


"The truth is you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed." Eminem

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

She's soaring...

Darling daughter is in her final year at University studying Journalism. Before she can graduate she must do a one month unpaid Internship. I suggested she "get on it" first thing this fall and try to get things set up asap. Because she has a whole lot  on her plate this year, the sooner things are "settled" the better.. Well she did it! She got the "plum" position - with the Toronto Globe and Mail. Largest newspaper in the country! Woohooo! She is thrilled and so are we. (Proud Mama here)
This week she sold a story to the Halifax Chronicle Herald, another feather in her cap. Today she went up flying, to take some photos for her story. She got to sit in the Co-pilot's seat and even took the controls for a bit. Yep,  my girl's gonna soar... She's always up for an adventure...

Here she is with Pilot Dave. These two pics are courtesy of our friend Sandy W.

Below are several photos Laura took over Halifax and below that, world famous Peggy's Cove. You can pick out the lighthouse if you look carefully.

Downtown Halifax, with Citadel Hill and new skating oval
Waterfront area of Halifax
Rugged coastline of Peggy's Cove area
Peggy's Cove NS
Well, what can I say? I'm envious of Laura's adventure today... I'm so glad they had a good day, especially weatherwise...


Wake up every morning with the thought that something wonderful is about to happen....

A Stitching Finish

Whew! It's been a busy few days! November 25th has passed - that seems to be the date when I switch into high gear for holiday preparations, realizing Christmas is one short month away.... In the last few days I've started decorating, made a dent in the Christmas Shopping list, finished a Christmas cross-stitch and got it in the mail, and finished reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. On Friday evening we went to see the FHS musical production Chess, on Saturday evening the movie Lincoln (excellent!! highly recommend it!!), and on Sunday evening I attended the Annual IODE Christmas Home Tour. Sunday afternoon we took a drive upriver to attend an Open House at Jolly Farmer, then dropped in on hubby's parents on our way back. Aaand- I am finishing my LAST block for my red quilt! Yep- number 20 is almost done. I have been playing with the blocks on the design wall and think I am pleased with their current arrangement. I hope to be sewing them together tomorrow, although I do have to make some more sashing strips first. I'm off on a quick little trip out of town Wednesday and Thursday so I'd love to have it together before I go.. we'll see... So, as you can see things are busy busy here. Hope you don't think I'm slacking, just because I'm not blogging.. au contraire!! I am keeping quite busy.
The cross-stitch shown above was sent off to darling daughter. I had done one (well, two actually) last fall by the same designer, and promised her the Christmas one next. But the pattern was back-ordered and didn't arrive until well after Christmas, so she gets it this year. It's the perfect size for a narrow wall area in her apartment. It's a Heart in Hand Needleart pattern, designed by Cecilia Turner, called Christmas Medley. I like her simple designs and the addition of the fimo buttons for a touch of whimsy.
I'll save the book review on The Paris Wife for another day as it's getting late and I need some shut-eye.  I do highly recommend the movie Lincoln- do see it if you can. If Daniel Day Lewis isn't nominated for an Oscar, there is something wrong. (Another excellent movie to see if it is still playing in your area is Argo with Ben Affleck. LOVED it!!)
That's all for tonight. Good night folks!


My new motto: Creative clutter is better than idle neatness!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Subtle November Beauty

You've heard me say before that I don't care for November. It's grey.. brown.. dull.. dreary.. getting cold and colder... ugh. But sometimes one can see beauty in simple things. This morning as my hubby walked across the backyard near the deck he noticed a spider web covered in frost which the sun hadn't reached yet. So - you know me - I headed out with camera in hand. Those shots were not anything special- just couldn't get a good angle, so not worth showing. But as I walked around 

the yard, I could see frost on an evergreen which I thought looked pretty- not perhaps as pretty as a fresh soft snow would look- but that will come all in good time.. (don't hurry, Mother Nature!) The little frost-covered "ropes" of webbing reminded me of garland on a Christmas tree... maybe Ma Nature is starting her own decorating for the season...

Just thought I'd share the beauty with you. And wishing all my American friends a wonderful Thanksgiving this weekend. Enjoy your family get-togethers and if you are travelling, be safe.


"The frost performs its secret ministry, Unhelped by any wind."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm a Winner!

No, I'm not being conceited and patting myself on the back, I am a winner in a recent draw. You are probably aware of the recent Blog Tour held by Quiltmaker on their Quilty Pleasures blog  to introduce the new 100 Blocks Volume 6 magazine. It hit the stands just a few days ago. But leading up to its appearance at your favourite newsstand, we were able to tour and visit a number of the block designer's blogs /websites. There were lots of giveaways - patterns, fabrics and of course copies of the newest 100 Blocks issue. And I won!!!

I was thrilled to see an email appear in my inbox from Shayla Wolf, Editorial Assistant at Quiltmaker informing me I had won on Day 3 of the 5 day tour. My winnings were shipped that very day from Golden Colorado and arrived very quickly - 6 business days- that must be a record. Imagine my excitement when I saw the return label on this box at my door- woohoo- my  goodies are here!! I didn't know what would be in the box other than the 100 Blocks magazine - just look at all the quilty goodness! A bundle of Fat Quarters, a charm pack of Ty Pennington Impressions fabrics, and three patterns - two from Perkins Dry Goods and one from Clothesline Quilts. A big THANK YOU to Quiltmaker and all the designers, and of course all the donors of fabric and pattern prizes. Now excuse me while I go devour my new 100 Blocks issue....


"Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for. " ~ Joseph Addison

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nutty as a Fruitcake!

It seems there are fewer and fewer people who like fruitcake these days. I know, I know, it's high calorie and we don't need it. But I DO like it...  I haven't made it for at least five years. My friend Gail M makes it each year and I have been telling her for the past few years that she should try my whole fruit Fruitcake recipe, so we decided to do it together this year. Last Friday was the day. I had purchased all the fruit, and we actually got together on Thursday evening for a while, to do some prep work (necessary with this recipe if you don't want to spend pretty much the entire day doing the cakes).
This recipe is a bit different in that you leave a lot of the fruit whole and it is layered with the batter. Raisins, walnuts and mixed peel are stirred into the batter, and that is layered with dates stuffed with almonds, candied pineapple, whole brazil nuts and whole cherries (I use both red and green). It looks lovely when cut as you see the layers. The recipe makes three good-sized loaves, so Gail and I split the cost, shared the work (and fun!) and the cakes. It certainly went much faster with four hands instead of two. I must credit my friend and former colleague Cari Grierson with this recipe, I got it from her years ago when we taught together. Here is her original recipe and then I'll tell you what I do differently.

Whole Fruit Layered Fruitcake

Fruit to leave whole:
1 lb. dates, stuffed with blanched almonds
1 lb. glazed pineapple, cut in thin slices
1 lb. whole brazil nuts
1 lb. glazed whole cherries (red, green, or 1/2 lb. of each)

Fruit for batter:
Folding in the egg whites
1 1/2 lbs. sultana raisins
1 lb. walnut pieces
1/2 lb. mixed peel

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
7 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
7 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Line 3 large loaf pans with 3 layers of brown paper and then 3 layers of waxed paper. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, add egg yolks and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla to milk. Sift dry ingds. together. Add  milk and dry ingds. alternately, beginning and ending with dry ingds. Fold in raisins, walnuts and peel. Lastly fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Preheat oven to 250° F.
In your prepared pans, layer batter, stuffed dates, batter, pineapple, batter, brazil nuts, batter, cherries, and batter. Bake at 250°F for 2.5-3 hours. (I place two pans of hot water on the lower oven racks to add some moisture). Let cakes sit one hour before removing from pans. Let cool completely before wrapping in saran wrap and foil. Freeze or place in a cool spot for several weeks before cutting. (Of course you may also wrap in a brandy or rum-soaked cloth before the foil, if you wish.)
Fruit prepared and "divided"

When I made this the first time, years ago, I "ran out" of fruit for the third cake. I guess I had packed the fruit too closely together in the first two. So now I buy a bit more than one pound of each of the "whole" fruit - probably 1 1/4 pounds of each. Then I divide each fruit into three equal "piles", so I have the same amount for each pan (no more running short for the final pan). I do this the previous evening. As well it saves some time to prepare your pans ahead, as it takes a while to do all the layers of paper. Gail did a great job on the papers, while I mixed the batter on Friday.
The only change I make in the batter is that I use more vanilla - I  use 2 teaspoons instead of 1.
When layering the batter and fruit- be careful not to use too much batter - just enough to cover the fruit. You will need a total of 5 layers of batter times 3 pans - 15 layers, so don't be too generous... Better to have a little left for a more generous top layer, than to run out...

Starting the layers...not too much batter!
Layering the whole fruit
Ready for the oven!
Three hours later...  Mmmm, smells sooo good!
 I told Gail the hardest part of making this, is to wait the few weeks before cutting it and sampling.... I figured since I had to wait to taste it, I'd make you wait as well, to see the final photo of it cut and looking so pretty.. but Gail cut hers before wrapping and storing, so here is the "reveal" photo. Of course every slice is not going to be in the perfect spot to cut each fruit exactly in half, but I think it looks pretty yummy- what do you think? Let me know if you try my recipe - I'd love to hear how you like it...

Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall;
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas.

~William Robert Spencer

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Totebag Finished!

  It seems I often underestimate how long a project will take. Do you do that too, or am I the only one? I was overly optimistic on my last post that I  might have photos to show you of the new totebag that night. Ha! For one thing, I forgot about the quilting... that takes time. Actually I did make good progress on Thursday and by that evening I had the "top" all together and quilted. I had the lining and pockets all made too, but when I went to put them together, I had goofed on a measurement somewhere along the way and my lining was just a bit too small/tight. So, take out a seam, add in another piece (it's on the inside so who's going to see it?  And you won't tell, right?). After several more little incidents (running out of thread, etc...) and several days of working on it off and on - it's now done. I am pleased with it, it's a good size and will be useful. I think I will cover a stiff rectangular piece of cardboard with the lining fabric and insert in the bottom to give the bottom a little more "shape".
 As I told you on my last post, I used 16 squares from one of my Bali Watercolor Batik collections for the Twister section. Two of the other fabrics are batiks and the one on the bottom and side is a Fossil Fern. The very narrow 3/16" flat piping is a bright yellow/green batik for contrast. The "batting" is fusible fleece. I quilted the Twister section with monofilament in the ditch and the flat piping with an opalescent metallic, also in the ditch. I echo-quilted the curves with 3 different shades of teal Sulky rayon thread. The top-stitching along the  top band and the handles is navy cotton thread.
  I always learn something with every project... even if it's just that I don't want to do that again!! The lesson learned with this project was with the strapping I purchased for the handles. I bought  polypropylene strapping at Fabricville and covered it with one of the batik fabrics. I cut my fabric strips almost three times the width of the strapping and after wrapping it around the strapping, thought I would give each one a quick press with the (steam) iron to give the fabric a good crease before I stitched it. Big mistake! As soon as I ran the iron up the first 12", even though the strapping was covered with the fabric and the iron did NOT touch it directly, the strapping immediately shrank and went ripple-y and wonky. I thought I might be able to flatten and straighten it once it was cool, but no such luck. So that was another delay- another trip back to Fabricville the next morning for another length  of the strapping. So now you know- don't iron polypropylene strapping...
 The buttons were the final step, once the straps were finished. I stopped in to the
Christmas Crab Quiltery in Woodstock on Saturday morning, on my way to Houlton and Smyrna Maine. Although these buttons are a tiny bit larger than
I wanted  I decided they were the right choice. Last night when I got back, I added them and the bead "dangles" for a bit of bling! I just used a variety of beads, crystals, pearls, lentil and dagger beads. They seemed to add the finishing touch - because of the size and bright color of the buttons, the dangles seem to "deflect" away from them somewhat...
So there you have it. Done. It took longer than I wanted it to, but I would rather put time and effort into doing something as well as I possibly can, so that I am pleased with the outcome.  Linda has a new totebag.. and it's blue. Color me happy.
Okay, back to work with the reds...


"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going." ~ Beverly Sills

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Red Break

Yes I'm taking a short break from red... You know me, I'm a BLUE gal! So I just had to have a little "blue fix". ... Are you like me - do you buy things to add to your quilting "stash"... and then later wonder "what am I going to do with that?" Well, in my (sizeable) stash of blues, I had not one but two of these Hoffman Bali Watercolor collections - forty 7" squares of gorgeous blue batiks. I had purchased one, and a friend had given me the other, exactly the same color group. They've been on my shelf (ahem) "a while"...
So I decided it was time to come up with a project to use at least one of them. I need want a new totebag.. so that's what I'm up to today. My buddy Sue came up with  a design a while back using Twister blocks and a "curvy" ruler she had purchased. I was not able to take the workshop when she taught it for our Guild, because I was off somewhere teaching that day... So today's the day. If I get it finished, or close to finished today, I'll be back with a photo.. Just thought you'd like to know I'm (happily) playing the blues today...   big smile...


Did you know that blue is the overwhelming "favourite colour", having equal appeal to both men and women? Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable and committed....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Still At It....

A little more progress to show today... Once I got the 12 blocks done and up on my design wall, I suspected that I would want to do more blocks. But first I pieced all the sashing strips and  added them to the mix. Yep, I decided it's "just not enough". It just wants to "be more"... Don't you agree?
Blocks and sashings are just roughly placed; they will be re-arranged before being joined...

So rather than twelve blocks (four rows of three) I'm going to go for twenty blocks, five rows of four. So I've been sewing my little heart out the last few days. I string-pieced 32 more triangles, and made the eight more nine patches. Yesterday I joined them all.... They still have to be trimmed/squared...

So now I just have to make 64 more flying geese units and cut the remaining light squares and rectangles to assemble the last sections of each block. Whew! I wish I could hire a "personal cutter".. you know how some people have their own personal shopper?? lol   Does anyone want to apply for the job?


"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great".  ~ John D. Rockefeller

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lest We Forget...

You have heard me say more than once how proud I am to be a Canadian. Today is a day to reflect on how lucky we are to live in a peaceful free country. When one sees the news of all the unrest, hatred and suffering in the world today, one can only wonder where we are headed...
Thank a veteran today for the freedom we are so lucky to enjoy. Wear your poppy proudly. Say a prayer for peace.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~ John McCrae, May 1915 

Have you ever wondered about the story behind this poem, written by a Canadian military doctor? You can read about it here. 


"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."
~ Ronald Reagan

Monday, November 5, 2012

Progress Report...

Just a quick post today to let you know I have not been slacking.. Slow but steady wins the race, right? Here are my 12 blocks all together. Next I'll be piecing the sashing to join these. Then I'll decide whether I want to make more blocks or not. My original plan was just for it to be a not-too-large lap quilt. But I have enjoyed making these blocks so much... I might want to do more... we'll see.. (The only thing holding me back is the amount of cutting to be done.. there are roughly 80 pieces in each block!)  For now, this is how it looks, pinned up on my design wall... To quote a friend who dropped by on Saturday- "the photos do NOT do this justice"...
I also have just about finished a Christmas cross-stitch.. and of course I'm into a new book - The Paris Wife (the story of Ernest Hemingway's first wife). Busy, busy, busy.... What are you working on these days?

You can see that Oliver is "being supportive" by keeping me company, in his usual spot sprawled out on the ironing board...napping... (I'm sure he's dreaming of quilts... wink)


Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November? Seriously?

November! How can that be? I can't believe we have turned the calendar yet again - where has the fall gone? The leaves are pretty much gone, Hallowe'en is done and the first Christmas Craft Market is on this weekend. My outdoor work of cutting down and covering the perennial beds for winter is complete... yep, I can feel myself going into hibernation mode... Placed a few books on hold at the Library this morning, sewing projects are lined up... I'm ready for November hibernation. (I dislike November, it's so grey and dreary so I just bury myself in reading and sewing projects to "cope"... Oh! And of course I make sure there is good chocolate on hand.. lol)
I'm just a little behind on sharing some more fall photos with you. Although we've had a lot of rain this fall we have had some beautiful days to enjoy Mother Nature's splendour.
Do you have favourite trees in the autumn? I definitely do. The maples (especially those that turn red) and the sumacs are the ones I love best. I'm a proud Canadian all the time, but I sure do love our sugar maples in the fall.. (equally as much as in the spring in maple syrup season!) So here are a few of my favourite "maple shots" taken this fall.. enjoy!


"In all natural things, there is something of the marvelous.". ~Aristotle

Monday, October 29, 2012

It's National Cat Day!

I had another post planned for today, but when we found out that today is National Cat Day, well, you just know that Ollie kicked up a fuss. He demanded that I share some of his favourite portraits with you. So of course I gave in.. yes he has me tightly wrapped around his little finger paws. But he is such a handsome fellow, don't you think? Like most cats, he loves warmth and follows the sun around the house, stretching out in whatever sunshine "puddle" he can find... and of course you have seen pics of him soaking up any residual warmth on my ironing board when I'm sewing and pressing fabric/blocks...

When there is no direct sun, he is usually found on the back of the couch keeping an eye on what's happening in the backyard and at the feeders. This is where he's been most of today.. watching for signs of Hurricane Sandy. We have had some wind today, but I'm sure there is worse to come... However we will likely get off lucky compared to what New York and surrounding areas will be dealing with in the next few days. Please join Oliver and I in praying for the safety of all...
And, in honour of National Cat Day,  why not make a contribution to your local animal shelter? Since Ollie came to us via a shelter, he thinks that would be a purrrfect thing to do..


“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats...”  ~ Albert Schweitzer

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