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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympics 2012.. Go Canada!!

The Olympics are underway! Go Canada! Actually I have to admit, I am much more of a fan of the winter Olympic Games... But I am watching... here and there... I did enjoy the Opening Ceremonies, especially the Queen's little escapade with James Bond.. wasn't that a hoot??!!

So - how about you? Are you an Olympics fan? Do you have an Olympics project underway? While doing some blog-surfing, I see some have Olympic projects, and others are doing Christmas in July sewing projects... Well it seems my sewing muse went on summer vacation as I have not had the desire, energy, interest, giddy-up-go to get moving on a project, but I have been assembling some fabrics, washing and  ironing, and now I'm ready to start cutting... Of course I'm cheering for Canada in the games - Go Red and White! So - no surprise- my project uses reds and whites lights! It's going to be lap sized and scrappy. I've been going through my red fabrics. Funny, even though I am much more a "blue person" I do have a
sizable collection of reds... But many are quite similar- mostly tone on tone reds, so I'm on the hunt for reds with a little more interest. The tone on tones all look too much the same from a distance... So I'm looking for plaids, stripes, paisleys, geometrics, large prints, anything with some "visual interest"... every shade and tone of red- bright, dull, dark, light, orange red, pinky red, blue red, brick red, blood red, right down to maroon red... As long as it is predominantly red: a few other colors present is not a problem... If you live nearby and have some reds you'd like cleaned out of your scrap basket (100% cottons only), let me know!!  Anything larger than 1" square is useful as I will be doing some string piecing of triangles, so even the smallest of pieces are useful for the corners.... And if it's large enough for me to cut a 2.5" square, I can make use of it... I have already hit up a few Guild friends - thanks MW, GM and JKS!! (Reds do not photograph well.. I DO have a better tonal range than what shows here)
I have lots of lights- I'm using everything from whites, creams and ivories to tans, light golds (hoping that Canada will see a little gold this Games) and taupes. I have
managed to find quite a few lights with red in them so those will work in nicely...
So, while you're watching the Olympics- you know what I'm doing.. cutting, cutting, cutting... Stay tuned as I work on this project, hoping it will spur on my sewing muse to return... I think she's gone off to someplace cool... wish she had taken me too...


“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”  ~Pierre de Coubertin (primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Simple Beauty...

Has anyone noticed that the clematis seem to be having an exceptional year? I don't know if this is the case where you live, but here where I am on Canada's east coast, they are sure putting on a great show! I only have one clematis and it blooms early, so it is long since finished, but I have noticed many others in the neighbourhood and they are spectacular. I went on a "Backyards and Gardens Tour" a few weeks ago and we saw a number of clematis that seemed to be "the stars of the show".  So I thought I would share them with you, along with a few others from my neighbourhood. I am not familiar with the names of the varieties, so you'll have to excuse, and just enjoy the photos for what they are - simple beauty!!

Did you know that the clematis is part of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family? Clematis have been popular with gardeners for about 150 years and are mainly Chinese and Japanese in origin.
Clematis (properly pronounced CLEMatis, not cleMATis) prefer a sunny location and fertile well-drained soil. They also prefer to have their "feet" cool - my Mum used to say they like their heads in the sun, and their feet in the shade, meaning a sunny location but shade for their roots provided by nearby perennials or leafy shrubs.

Isn't this a sweet little backyard playhouse? Lucky little girl who gets to "play house" here!!

I'm joining Mary at Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.


"Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the soul." ~ Luther Burbank

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beautiful St. Martins...

 Summer. That season when you feel free to just take off on a day trip if the weather is good, and you feel like a change of scenery. That's what we did a  few days ago.. we took a jaunt down to St. Martins. It is a small fishing community on the Bay of Fundy, east of Saint John.  Known as one of New Brunswick's most beautiful seaside vacation resort communities, it is also famous for its sea caves, and as the gateway to The Fundy Trail. Situated halfway between Hopewell Rocks and St. Andrews along the Fundy coast, it is a short drive from Saint John N.B. You can watch a short video about the St. Martins area and Fundy Trail Parkway here.

 We enjoyed a seafood lunch before a quick exploration of the beach and the sea caves at low tide. At least we "timed" it right for the tide this time; when I was there last July it was closer to high tide so people were kayaking in and out of the caves!! We learned that the rocks of St. Martins are of the Triassic age, about 250 million years old. Very few fossils are found in these rocks. Across the Bay, Nova Scotia's fossil history includes the oldest dinosaurs in North America found in Triassic age rocks, but these rocks are too old to have dinosaurs!!!

 We didn't really go well prepared, footwear-wise, for a long beach walk to the further caves, so we headed "back to town". Remember last fall I started a little "project" of visiting the province's covered bridges? (You can read that post here.) Well here at St. Martins is the only spot in N.B. where you can get two covered bridges AND  a lighthouse in one photograph!! These two bridges both span the Irish River, but are known as Vaughan Creek bridge (or Irish River #1 - built in 1935, length of 71'6") and the more distant one is known as the Hardscrabble bridge (or Irish River #2 - built in 1946, length 72'). Both bridges have a covered "walkway" with
"windows", not something many bridges have. In case you are not familiar with covered bridge "lore" it is customary to make a wish as you pass through a covered bridge, as well as tooting your car horn. Some people also hold their breath while passing through; supposedly this ensures that your wish will come true... just so ya know!! (I hope to have more covered bridge photos to show you soon...)
Our last stop was to visit the Studio/Gallery of  Gwen and John of Desideratum Art Jewelry. Gwen and I have been blogging friends for a while now so it was great to finally meet her! I laughed when she told me she thought I'd be taller!! Haha- nope - just little ole me at 5'5"!! Isn't it funny how you "picture" someone you haven't met and have this idea what they will be like..then it turns out your image was not quite accurate! Their Gallery is not to be missed if/when you go to St. Martins. Not only does it feature their wonderful whimsical jewelry, but also Gwen's exquisite art cards (photographs and drawings) and John's incredible oil paintings. Click here to see some wonderful photos of their Gallery, and their incredible photos of St. Martins and surrounding area.
Last year I visited the Quaco Light as well so have included two of those photos in my final collage...
My Maritimes and the Bay of Fundy.... gotta love it!


"The tide rises, the tide falls, the twilight darkens, the curlew calls." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A little treat for you...

No wildflowers today, but here is a little "treat" for you...Give this a listen.... what a talented bunch of guys...


"...And the night shall be filled with music." ~ Longfellow

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mmm Mmm Good!

Here is another "keeper" recipe - quick, easy, no fancy ingredients. Muffins are a favourite in our house - they never last long... and I love a muffin recipe that yields more than a dozen. This one always gives 17 or 18 muffins! Bonus!

The BEST Banana Muffins Ever!

3 large ripe bananas
1.5 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup oil
chocolate chips (optional for some, but not at our house!)

Mash bananas well, set aside. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt, set aside.
In mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas with sugar, egg and oil. Mix well.  Add dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Stir in chocolate chips if desired. Fill greased muffin cups about 3/4 full. Bake at 350°C until lightly browned, about 16 minutes. Enjoy while warm with a glass of cold milk.. yummmmmm...
(Note: the muffins look very orange-y in this photo - that's just because the photo was taken at night, with kitchen lighting...)


"Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is you-er than You!" ~ Dr. Seuss

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Okay, I'm a bookworm...

Yup, I guess you'd call me a bookworm.. I just have to have a book or two on the go. I have finished two more and am almost through the third... First was My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira, loaned to me by my friend Monica. (Thanks Mo!!) It is probably not a book I would have picked up off the shelf, but Monica was right- it was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed this story set during the American Civil War. Mary Sutter is a gifted young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in  medicine, she leaves her home in New York state to travel to Washington D.C. to attend the war wounded. She pursues her medical career against all odds with unwavering determination and dedication. Rich with historical detail, this book really makes one appreciate how far medicine and surgical techniques have come. Frustrated as one can be these days with our health care system, this story makes me very grateful I live in the present day of antibiotics and sanitary practices....  For sure.
A light summer read is sometimes just what one needs and A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley fills the bill. The book flap sums up this one nicely: "Award-winning author Alan Bradley returns with another beguiling novel starring the insidiously clever and unflappable eleven year old sleuth Flavia de Luce. In the hamlet of Bishop's Lacey, Flavia had asked a Gypsy woman to tell her fortune - never expecting to later stumble across the poor soul, bludgeoned in the wee hours in her own caravan. Was this an act of retribution by those convinced that the soothsayer abducted a local child years ago? Certainly Flavia understands the bliss of settling scores; revenge is a delightful pastime when one has two odious older sisters. But how could this crime be connected to the missing baby? As the red herrings pile up, Flavia must sort through clues fishy and foul to untangle dark deeds and dangerous secrets."   Bradley is a Canadian author, born in Toronto and raised in Cobourg Ontario, and I have enjoyed his first two tales of Flavia's sleuthing in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (winner of multiple awards) and The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag.
I am nearly finished Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini, which I won in a blog giveaway. I'll save that review for another day....
What are you reading these days??


"If anybody would make me the greatest king that ever lived, with palaces, and gardens and fine dinners, and wine, and coaches, and beautiful clothes, and hundreds of servants, on condition that I would not read books, I would not be a king." ~ Thomas B. Macaulay

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday

This week's "feature flower" is the common Bindweed, a member of the Morning Glory family (Convolvulacea). I did not have to look too far for this one- it inhabits my raspberry patch, in fact it is doing its best to take over! Beautiful as its bloom is, it is a nasty little pest, twining around the sturdy canes for support and engulfing the entire patch. It grows up the canes, then continues to spread across the top of the patch,  forming a veritable "carpet" of  vines, leaves and blooms. Although we do our best to rip out
the vines we can reach as often as possible, it grows quickly and soon takes over again. You can see below how badly it twines around...  It makes berry picking a challenge... Bad enough you have to battle mosquitoes, the occasional wasp and the prickles on the canes, but battling an aggressive weed as well... grrrrr.... If anyone has a helpful suggestion for how to rid our berry patch of this pest, without  killing our raspberry canes, please get in touch!!


"But make no mistake: the weeds will win; nature bats last." ~ Robert M. Pyle

Monday, July 16, 2012

Quick and Easy Salad!

Here is a quick and easy recipe for a salad you can make ahead and keep in the fridge. Perfect for these hot summer days.. goes well with cold cuts, barbequed chicken, pork or beef... heck it goes well with anything... It's yummy just by itself too! It's similar to Tabouli but is made with couscous rather than bulgur...

Couscous Salad

1 cup couscous
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup sliced green onion
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chick peas

2 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tblsp. fresh mint, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried mint
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

In a saucepan bring 1.5 cups water and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil. Add 1 cup couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with fork, let cool. In a large bowl toss couscous with remaining ingds.
In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients then pour over salad and mix. Refrigerate. Tastes better the second day! (Note: I found I liked more dressing so I used the juice and zest of 1 whole lemon and doubled the oil, garlic and mint. Use salt and pepper to your own taste.) If you like lentils, they can be added as well. Easy-peasy!


"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Saturday, July 14, 2012

TAST Week 26 - Up and Down Buttonhole

Well folks, as you have no doubt noticed, I am waaaay behind on the Take A Stitch Tuesday challenge. I knew it would happen once gardening season hit.. but I am not abandoning ship! No sirree! I'm slowly plugging away..I do have this week's stitch done and one previous... Week 20- Butterfly Chain and this week's is Up and Down Buttonhole. I will do my best to do several a week until I am caught up again. They may be out of order, but they'll get done. (For fellow TAST participants - my "numbering" is "off" from Sharon's as I am numbering the stitches, I am not counting the Catch-Up weeks. Just FYI...)

So here we go - Week 26  is Up and Down Buttonhole- a fun variation of Buttonhole stitch. Once again I am doing a "sampler" format, not being as creative as some of the talented participants!
From the top, I have done "straight" Up and Down Buttonhole, then varied the length of the arms, angled the arms with even and uneven lengths, added a detached chain between the arms, stacked two rows unevenly and evenly with beads added, and finally at the very bottom an alternating row. I enjoy doing this stitch and have used it many times, often with a detached chain or straight stitches added in the center.
Have a look at the following post to see Week 20 - Butterfly Chain Stitch....


"Man must search for what is right, and let happiness come on its own." ~  Johann Pestalozzi

TAST Week 20 - Butterfly Chain Stitch

Here is Week 20's stitch, Butterfly Chain. Not a whole lot to say about this one. It was quite easy, and although I probably would not count it in my favourites, I can see it might have some applications.. might make great seaweed.... or perhaps Bee Balm (can you guess I was just in the garden?)
So here it is - I just played around a bit with several different weights of thread and the positioning of the straight stitches before "tying" them...
I hope to get at least 2 if not 3 stitches done this week... If it stays this hot, I'll be stitching indoors where it is cool... God Bless the creator of the heat pump...
Click here to see some of the "highlights" from this week's stitching.


"Everything looks impossible for the people who never try anything." ~ Jean-Louis Etienne

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wildfower Wednesday

Once again it's time to feature a wildflower and this week's is a rare treat. The Canada Lily. I know of only one area where this lily grows each year and there seem to be fewer of them each year. Please do not pick or dig this plant if you find it. It is on the endangered species list of COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). Bulbs or seeds can be purchased from Lily breeders...

The Canada Lily (Lilium canadense), also called the Meadow Lily or Wild Yellow Lily is native to eastern North America and grows in moist fields and meadows. You can see it is happy here among daisies, purple vetch, and yellow whorled loosestrife. It grows from 2-6 feet tall, with a number of nodding trumpet-shaped flowers at the top of the stalk. The flowers are yellow-orange with dark spots. There are 3 petals and 3 petal-like sepals which arch outward but not backward, and 6 stamens with brown anthers. In this area it usually blooms in mid to late July, but like everything this year, it seems to be a few weeks early.
In the past, flower buds and roots were gathered by natives to treat stomach ailments. White-tailed deer also like munching on this plant, not to mention those darn lily beetles...
Have you found an interesting wildflower this week?


"Touch the earth, love the earth, honor the earth; her plains, her valleys, her hills and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places." ~ Henry Beston

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Ahhh Halifax! What a great city... I never tire of it. I love the beautiful old homes, the shopping, strolling the waterfront.. what can I say? I love Hali! As a child, it held great fascination for me as I listened to stories of the Halifax Explosion (Dec.6, 1917) since my grandfather was there at the time and my Mother had many photos in old albums. As a young adult, attending university in the Valley, Halifax was a popular weekend destination for a movie, shopping and the odd "evening of partying".  (I had to chuckle when Mark was explaining to me about the good times he has had at The Split Crow, a popular downtown pub, and I replied that I too, as a student, had downed a few at The Split Crow - he looked at me with incredulous wonder... I guess he found it hard to believe that an old woman like myself was ever a student who drank draught in a pub!!)

So it was nice to have a few days in the city "to ourselves" - no errands to be done for the kids, no agenda. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the waterfront one afternoon. One never knows what you will see- from Theodore Tugboat to the Harbour Hopper to schooners on which you can take a harbour cruise. As I've mentioned before, a sail on the Bluenose II is on my
bucket list, but her restoration is not yet complete. (Her hull has been totally rebuilt and she is getting new mechanical and electrical systems. She is currently on the slipway on the Lunenburg waterfront.) So she is not yet back in Halifax....maybe I'll get my wish next summer...

There are currently several tall ships such as the one seen here, doing harbour cruises. Or you can take the Harbour Hopper, (green with yellow roof, at left) an "amphibious vehicle"  called the Lark V, it was originally a military vehicle built for the U.S. during the Vietnam  War era.

They were used to move troops and cargo from supply ships onto the beaches and jungles of Viet Nam. Basically it's a boat capable of being driven on land. It takes you on an hour-long tour first through the city streets to see sights like Citadel Hill, the Public Gardens and Government House, then you splash into the harbour to view the naval fleet and the waterfront. What fun!! Wouldn't that be a great way to pass an hour on a hot day?! There certainly is no shortage of things to see and do in downtown Hali, it seems I just always gravitate to the waterfront area...

The highlight of our visit this time was the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. If you have never
experienced the N.S. Tattoo, you have really missed something!! Make plans now to attend next year. It is a 2.5 hour family show that is jam-packed and fast-paced. Featuring military, police and civilian performers, the show includes pipes and drums, military and civilian bands, historical re-enactments, dancers, acrobats, choirs, military displays and competitions, drama, comedy and more. This year there were acts from Canada, Estonia,

France, Germany, Switzerland, the
UK and the US. All the entertainment is top notch, but I must say I was a little biased towards one act, Kathleen Gorey-McSorley and Carolyn Holyoke, two very talented musicians from Fredericton. Carolyn and I have been friends since high school and it was truly a thrill to see her accompany Kathleeen, an up and coming Celtic fiddler, in this wonderful production. You can read more about Kathleen and Carolyn
by clicking here. The music in the Tattoo is exceptional and when you combine it with the uniforms, the skirl of the bagpipes. the precision of the marching bands...well, one cannot help but be be moved and proud of our military and police who serve our country. The massed bands in the finale are joined by the choirs and all other performers... it truly is a sight to see. Special themes/tributes this year included the RMS Titanic, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the War of 1812. Although the Tattoo is now over for this year, you can get an idea of the show by watching the video here. 
Come back tomorrow for Wildflower Wednesday...


"Farewell to Nova Scotia, the seabound coast.... "

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I'm back... did you miss me? Hubby and I were gone on a little trip for a week, to visit lots of old friends/neighbours and to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. We weren't too far away - no exotic locales for us - we were just "next door" in beautiful Nova Scotia. First on our agenda was to attend a surprise 50th Wedding Anniversary party for long-time friends and former neighbours Jack and Sheila. It was great to see them and have a visit. The party was held in a community hall on one of those stinkin' hot and humid afternoons.... it wasn't long before we were "wilting"... so upon leaving, we headed for the coast and enjoyed a little time in picture perfect Hall's Harbour- the temp dropped from 33C to 17C in just a few miles. Nothin'
like that good ole sea air to cool things off!! Sure felt good.
Hall's Harbour is a little fishing village right on the Bay of Fundy, famous for it's spectacular scenery, tides and fresh lobster. Supposedly it was named after Samuel Hall, an American privateer in the American Revolution who used the cove as a base to raid settlements in the Annapolis Valley. Settled in 1826, Hall's Harbour became a shipbuilding port, producing many schooners and square-rigged vessels. Today the main year-round industry is fishing - commercial lobster and scallop boats operate from the wharves, and the lobster pound is always a busy spot. Hall's Harbour is one of the last authentic fishing villages on Nova Scotia's Fundy coast,
and the HH Lobster Pound is one of Canada's largest lobster-holding facilities with a capacity of 65,00 pounds!! From this facility, live lobster are packed and shipped worldwide 365 days a year.
We were there at low tide so of course the boats were lying on the harbour bottom - the "ocean floor". It's too bad we could not have stayed so I could have photographed high tide as well - but you can picture these boats floating at wharf level then- the tide rises at a speed of one inch per minute. Billions of tons of seawater rush in and out of the Bay twice daily to create as much as a 42 foot height variance at HH!! If you've never witnessed the Bay of Fundy tides, put it on your Bucket List! It's an amazing experience...
From Hall's Harbour we drove along North Mountain to Cape Blomidon and another well known spot - the Lookoff. From here one can look out over the Minas Basin (which forms the eastern part of the Bay of Fundy) and miles of fertile farmland and orchards. The reddish cliffs of Blomidon are a familiar landmark to anyone who lives in the Annapolis Valley and I must admit, I still feel like I'm "coming home" when I get that first glimpse of Blomidon from Highway 101 just outside Avonport. Being an Acadia Alumnus, I will always consider the Valley "home".
The red cliffs of Blomidon, primarily sandstone, reach heights of  up to 600 feet. The beaches around the Minas Basin vary from red sand to mud rich in microscopic shrimp and worms, a "feast" for shorebirds. This provides many unique opportunities for interesting beach walks, where as well as the usual beach "finds" you might be lucky enough to find semiprecious stones and fossils.  Later in the
summer, the Bay of Fundy area is a stopover for millions of shorebirds, as they gorge on the rich offerings of the Bay mud, to triple or quadruple their weight before their long migratory flights back to South America. I hope to make more visits to the Bay this summer, and with luck, I'll visit Mary's Point in August when millions of semipalmated sandpipers and plovers stop over for their annual "feasting"...  But I'm getting sidetracked....back to Blomidon - The native Mi'kmaq people believed Blomidon was the home of their God Glooscap. When Blomidon is shrouded in fog, locals refer to it as "Glooscap's blanket"... But there was no fog when we were there- the view from Lookoff, where you can see five N.S. counties at once, was beautiful, a little hazy in the distance, but beautiful nonetheless. It
reminded me a bit of Ireland's "forty shades of green" as you gaze down on the orchards, farmer's fields and in the distance Canning, Port Williams and Wolfville..... It's a view I'll never tire of... Sigh.... If you'd like to see more of the Blomidon area, you might want to watch this video  or check out these photos  and click "Start Slideshow".
These photos from the Lookoff look in a southerly direction over the eastern end of the Annapolis Valley. The valley is about 125 km. long, stretching from Digby and the Annapolis Basin at the western end to Wolfville and the Minas Basin at the eastern end.  The steep North Mountain shelters the valley from the adjacent Bay of Fundy and South Mountain protects it from the climate of the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The shelter provided by these two mountainous ridges creates a "micro climate" of milder temps and that coupled with the fertile soil is why the valley is famous for its crops, particularly apples and vegetables. Farmer's markets abound and we took advantage of a great price on fresh picked strawberries... mmmmm..
Next I'll show you a bit of our stay in Halifax and the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.


"The earth belongs to anyone who stops for a moment, gazes, and goes on his way." ~Colette

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada's 145th Birthday!! Happy Birthday Canada!! I figure the best "birthday cake " at this time of year is Strawberry Shortcake!  Fresh local berries! Yummmmmmmm...
Enjoy your Canada Day!! Hope you're doing something special to celebrate!


"Patriotism is not so much protecting the land of our fathers, as preserving the land of our children."
~José Ortega Y Gasset
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