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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Good Advice...

Every once in a while, we need a little reminder of the important things in life... I received this in an email from a good friend and I thought I would share it with you...

A  92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed  each  morning  by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved  perfectly,  even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.   His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.  After  many  hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled  sweetly when told his room was ready.   As  he manoeuvred his walker to the elevator, I provided a  visual  description  of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his  window.  "I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old  having  just  been presented with a new puppy.   "Mr.  Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."   "That  doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.   "Happiness  is something you decide on ahead of time.   Whether  I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is  arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.     It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a  choice; I  can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with  the  parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful  for the ones that do.   Each  day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the  new  day  and  all the happy memories I've stored away.. Just for this time in my  life.   Old  age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've  put  in.  So,  my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in  the  bank  account of memories! Thank  you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing.  Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.    
3. Live simply.    
4. Give more.    
5. Expect less."

What great advice. I've used the quote below before, but I think it's worth repeating. Today's photos are of my daffodil bouquet, purchased from the Canadian Cancer Society. I hope you supported them last week, with this annual fundraiser, leading up to April which is Cancer month. Please give generously when a canvasser comes to your door.

 I hope these cheery yellow blooms brighten your day!


Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A MUST Read...

Well, no stitching or quilting to show today - yup, you guessed it -  I've had my nose in another good book! This one was another one of those "Just CAN'T put it down" types! I picked up Mudbound by Hillary Jordan from the library on Friday afternoon and started it Friday evening. I was busy all day  Saturday, and finished it Saturday night - or more accurately Sunday morning about 2 a.m.! (Don't you love snuggling in bed with a great book?)
Do you use your local Library "Place on Hold" feature? It is GREAT- I am using it more and more. You can search online to see if the Library has the book, place it on hold and then see how many people are ahead of you "in line". Yesterday I found about 6 that are on my "must read" list, went through them all to see which one I could get the fastest- i.e. it's either available now or only one person ahead of me... what a great system. Then you just walk in and pick it up from the "On Hold" shelf. Don't even have to walk up the stairs to the second level to find the book yourself. And even better- since our Library system is province-wide, if our local library doesn't have a certain book, it will be shipped (at no charge to you the borrower) from another library nearby that DOES have it. I love to read, as you know, and buying every book is a pricey proposition these days, so most of my books come from my local Library. I encourage you to make good use of your local library. I still like to hold  a book in my hand - I do not yet own an e-reader, nor am I convinced I want one... Maybe someday... I won't say "never".. but not yet...
Okay, back to Mudbound. What can I say? I LOVED it. In this debut novel, Hillary Jordan "had" me right from page 1. Her descriptions paint each scene so richly you feel you are right there on the farm. "The soil was so wet from all the rain, it was like digging into raw meat." "When I think of the farm, I think of mud. Lining my husband's fingernails and encrusting the children's knees and hair. Sucking at my feet like a greedy newborn on the breast. Marching in boot-shaped patches across the plank floors of the house. There was no defeating it. The mud coated everything. I dreamed in brown. When it rained, as it often did, the yard turned into a thick gumbo, with the house floating in it like a soggy cracker."
It's 1946 in the Jim Crow south, as this story of love, honour and betrayal unfolds. "It's 1946 when Henry McAllan moves his city-bred wife, Laura, from a comfortable home in Memphis to a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta, a place she finds both foreign and frightening. For Henry, it is a chance to live out his dreams of rural life, but for Laura, the farm means isolation and an endless struggle to raise their two young children in  a rundown shack, under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding in a sea of mud the family and the sharecroppers who work for them.
Into this difficult life come two celebrated WWII soldiers who return home to the farm. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother is not: charming, handsome and sensitive to Laura's plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers,  returns from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal- and dangerous- battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. The unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms and the passions that they arouse in others drive this powerful novel." ~ from book jacket.
The story opens with brothers Henry and Jamie hurrying to bury their father on the farm before another big rainstorm. From that opening scene we gradually learn how they came to be burying their father. Each main character helps to tell the story- Henry, Laura, Jamie, and Hap, Florence and Ronsel, the black tenant farmers. Jordan's writing captures the reader - you feel a part of it all as the historical facts of the Jim Crow south weave their way into this stunning story.
Jordan won the 2006 Bellworthy Prize for Fiction, awarded to literature of social change. The founder of this award is Barbara Kingsolver (author of The Poisonwood Bible). Kingsolver's praise for Mudbound (from back cover): "This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the  force of a Delta storm. Her characters walked straight out of 1940's Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still."  I could not have said it any better. You MUST read this book. Don't start it until you have the time to read the whole thing in one or two sittings, because you will not want to put it down. 6 stars out of 5. Definitely on this years' top 10 Favs for me... Definitely got Book Hangover from this one!  I cannot wait for her next book...


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

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Happy Day - Sunshine!!

It's time to tell you about another good book! Under The Hawthorn Tree by Ai Mi is a poignant love story. "Jingqui, an innocent young woman from a poor and politically questionable family in the city, is selected as one of a small group of students to be sent to the countryside to work on a  glorious new education project that will further the Cultural Revolution. Clever, curious and eager, she wants to fit in with her hosts and the rural way of life, and it isn't appropriate for her to fall in love. But she does, with the son of a mighty army general. This beautiful simple story of love against the odds will break your heart." ~ from the book jacket.
This book has seen huge success in China, where it has sold millions of copies and has been read by many more as the author has made it available free on her website! Media attention intensified with the release of the film version. What we have here in North America to read is a translation, by Anna Holmwood. I must say, as I was reading (and thoroughly enjoying) the book, there was the occasional phrase which was very "Americanized" and I doubt was used in the original script. But I did enjoy the story and gaining a bit more knowledge on what China was like under Mao. It is interesting to see how the national political struggles of the time affected Chinese society. I do enjoy novels about other cultures and this was an easy and relatively quick read. Not in my "Top 10 of all time", but enjoyable nonetheless. Next on my reading list is Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.
Today is my birthday! Yep, one more trip around the sun complete! I don't like the thoughts of getting older, but I'm not complaining. It's better than the alternative! Too many are denied that chance. So I am enjoying the sunshine today, the blue skies, the slightly above zero temps and all the wonderful cards and phone calls I've had from good friends - I think I was on the phone the entire morning!!  Thanks everyone for the good wishes! Hubby is taking me out to dinner at one of our fav spots, and then we're off to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Playhouse this evening. Should be a great show.


"You have exactly ONE LIFE in which to do everything you'll ever do. Act accordingly."
~ Colin Wright

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

First Day of Spring? HA!

Henry Van Dyke  said "The first day of spring is one thing and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month."  How true how true! Apparently spring arrived this morning at 8:02. However it came with over a foot of snow here at Casa Stitch Lines. I'm hoping it won't last long and will melt away quickly. Yesterday over half of our property was bare and with all the rain we had a few days back, the grass was actually starting to show a bit of green color... well it's all white now... Conditions this morning were terrible, I'm glad I didn't have to go anywhere. Hubby said the streets were in very poor condition, no wonder schools were closed... and we're still supposed to get more tonight!! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that  the next storm we
have coming this weekend (!!) does go south and east of us as predicted, so we don't get ANY MORE SNOW!!! I refused to even go outside and take photos today. I wouldn't give Mother Nature the satisfaction! I'm hoping if I just ignore it, it will go away. Instead I'm dreaming of summer and making plans for Prague.... So instead of nasty snowy photos, I'll leave you with a nice spring-y image. Let's hope we're seeing these soon...

 Tomorrow- another book review.


"I glanced out the window at the signs of spring. The sky was almost blue, the trees were almost budding, the sun was almost bright." ~ Millard Kaufman

The tulips were almost blooming...? Okay, that's a bit of a stretch...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sugarbush Weekend!

This is the first of two Sugarbush Weekends at Kings Landing Historical Settlement so if you are local and haven't been there this weekend, you still have another opportunity next weekend, March 23 and 24. I went up yesterday and enjoyed several hours in the fresh air and sunshine. There were lots of visitors, in fact there was a huge lineup to get in - that's a first for me... I've never before stood in line more than a few minutes. It was great to see so many young families with children in tow, enjoying the village and the sugarbush activities.


Of course the maple taffy, poured on the snow and rolled up on a stick was the most popular of all- who can resist that sticky sweet taste of spring?  One could see the syrup boiling in the iron pots over an open fire just behind the area where the taffy was being poured. Nearby, buckets hung on maple trees. It was a cold morning and when I first passed by the sap was not yet running, but several hours later, after the sun had "warmed" the trees a bit, the spiles were dripping...

 Many enjoyed a wagon ride to shorten their walk  from one side of the village to the other. Wagon rides are always popular with children and seniors. Even the horses seemed happy to be out in the fresh air, "back at work".....


 Most people stop on the bridge to admire the beloved mill. Water was pouring over the dam just to the left of the mill - it was so nice to hear that water running.. a sure sign of spring. It won't be long now until the ice is gone from the river and the inlets.

The animals are always a favourite  with the children. The Joslin Farm is a magnet for the children - for many it's their first time seeing a real cow or sheep, or patting a horse. (I was amazed at how many thought the sheep were goats!! Guess they were "city" kids.. lol) The littlest ones were not too anxious to get up real close.... No wonder- when you're only 2.5 feet tall, these animals must appear gigantic! You could tell the oxen and horses were happy to be out of the barn and soaking up the sunshine.

It was a great day at the Landing.. of course in my opinion  ANY day at the Landing is a great day.  So if you live in this "neck of the woods", get yourself up to Sugarbush Weekend at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. You can read more about it here (written by my DD...yes, I'm a proud Mama)
Of course you can also enjoy a wonderful breakfast in the Visitors Reception Centre, and support YSSR - the York Sunbury Search and Rescue unit. Pancakes and syrup, bacon, sausage, baked beans and more! Yummmmmm...

If you want to experience a real sugarbush operation, you can continue upriver a few more miles to Dumfries Maples and see a "modern" sugarbush operation. What a great learning activity for children- see the entire process from taps and taplines to the evaporator and bottling.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to all....have you seen a leprechaun yet?


St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Lovin' the Green!

Well shame on me! It's been a whole week since I posted. Sometimes life just gets busy... Lots going on here, just not much that's blog-worthy...

 I have finished a new small piece. Nothing too exciting but it is green for St. Paddy's Day! I taught a Miniatures class several weeks ago, and that always gets me revved up for doing a new miniature. I have done this pattern before (in blues) but just wanted to play with some greens. Not sure if it was the upcoming St. Patrick's Day or just the deep down desire to see spring green instead of winter white... Regardless, I had fun going through my green stash, and I used up some of the many little neutral triangles I have left from the red quilt.

 This design is called Spool and Bobbin and I made the blocks a bit larger than last time. The small square is 3/4" instead of 1/2", yielding a 3" block rather than the 2" I did previously. I much  prefer the smaller block, but when teaching the Miniatures class, I find it's better to have some "larger" miniatures for samples as I try to encourage students to start larger and work down in size. Of course most want to start with the smallest units possible but unless they are very precise and consistent in their piecing, it can be a frustrating experience for them. Being "off" by 1/8" is huge when you are working in miniature...The overall finished size of this piece is just under 15" square.

 So although I prefer the smaller blue one, here is my green Spool and Bobbin mini. I guess I should come up with a better name.. perhaps Forty Shades of Green, in honour of St. Paddy's Day... I try to keep the quilting very simple on a miniature as it can easily distort the small pieces. I often just quilt "in the ditch", but this time decided to just do some simple straight lines on the diagonal,with a beautiful green variegated thread by Superior Threads. It is King Tut color 923, Fahl green, which is a sage, bright green and blue-green combo. How do you like the funky stripe I used for the binding? I thought it would punch it up a notch or two.

And here's one benefit of having a "square tile" type flooring in your sewing space- it's real easy to tell whether your block or quilt is straight and square with one quick glance....  lol

Today is National Quilting Day! I hope you will find a little time today to sew or quilt, or do something quilting/sewing related.. buy some new fabric, or a quilting book or magazine, plan a new project, finish up a UFO.... whatever makes you happy!


May you always be blessed with walls for the wind,
A roof for the rain, a warm cup of tea by the fire,
Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
And all that your heart might desire.
~Irish Blessing

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Never Enough Time... and now we're losing an hour!

Ah yes, tonight we move our clocks ahead one hour. I never have enough hours in a day as it is!  And now we're giving an hour away!! Oh well, more daylight into the evening will be nice....
Things have been busy here, as always. Never a dull moment. On Thursday, as I was cooking a turkey, having invited my brother to dinner, our fridge let us know it was dying a swift death.. when I opened the freezer, things didn't seem very cold... when I felt the icecream container, it felt like we had French Vanilla "soup" rather than French Vanilla icecream... We pulled out the fridge to clean off the coils (something we had not done in... ahem "a while") and the compressor was burning hot- too hot to touch so we knew it was only a matter of time.. likely a very short time. So that afternoon we went refrigerator shopping... what fun... (not!) don't have much  time to dillydally when the turkey is in the oven and you have a dinner guest coming...  Luckily we did find
one that meets our needs and it is the same size- many are taller now and do not fit your cabinet opening (buyer beware - measure your space before you go looking...) So you know what I was doing yesterday - emptying one fridge and "moving into" another... great way to get your fridge cleaned though!! It's amazing what you find at the back of a fridge shelf that you'd forgotten about...

Yesterday was dear daughter's birthday. Last week was dear son's.. I'm feeling old these days!!  Here is Laura on her third birthday, nineteen years ago.. and below is Mark, also nineteen years ago, on his fifth birthday... what a cute pair, eh? The years are flying by much too quickly... Happy Birthday you two scallywags!! Love you both to pieces!
Speaking of Laura, things are rather exciting in her life these days... She only has a few weeks left at university and then will be off to the big city for her one month Internship. We have found a place for her to live, flights are booked, etc.etc. So that's done... Recently she got a Summer Internship with Brunswick News (who own pretty much all the newspapers in the province), but not here of course.. that would be too easy. Living at home and saving on paying rent would just make too much sense. She will be several hours away, and luckily a friend of a friend has agreed to rent her a room for the four months, so that's done - one more thing checked off the list.
The final item on Laura's list these days will require a little more work and certainly more planning.. she has been accepted to a one week Journalism course in Prague! How exciting! It will be a wonderful experience for her, not to mention a great opportunity for some networking with journalists from all over the world! Prague is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and I have not been there.. so I'm thinking I might go with her... If any of my readers out there have been to Prague (or Bratislava or Budapest - both possibilities for side trips) I'd love to hear any suggestions or helpful hints you might have...


"Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled." ~ Mohammed

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yet Another Great Read...

How many favourite authors can one have? Well, I don't care... I'm adding another new fav to my list! I've just discovered Canadian writer Susanna Kearsley, and if you aren't familiar with her, well you should be! If you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon or Mary Stewart, you'll love Susanna Kearsley! Her historical fiction is  well researched and so well written. She weaves together the two strands of her story - present day and historical past - so seamlessly that the movement from one to the other (which sometimes bothers me) was smooth as silk. Her characters become real  and you are soon drawn into the story... Yes there have been more than a few nights lately when I've still been reading at 2a.m. and not wanting to stop...
The Winter Sea is my first Kearsley read, but it won't be my last. (Next on my list is The Rose Garden, and then the "sequel" to The Winter Sea, The Firebird, due out this April.) The Winter Sea fits several genres- historical fiction and romance - in fact it was nominated for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2009. It's also a "time slip" story and the first time I had heard of something called "genetic memory", an interesting concept and very believable... Love, intrigue, rich historical detail, this book has it all, and I didn't want it to end. Now I'm suffering from "Book Hangover"...see below...

 When bestselling author Carrie McClelland visits the ruins of Slains Castle in Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire Scotland, she is swept away by the rugged and stark landscape. What a setting for a novel!! The area seems faintly familiar to her but she puts aside her feelings of unease and moves into the local area to write her next novel, using the castle as her setting and one of her own ancestors, Sophia, as the heroine. Then Carrie realizes her writing is taking on a life of its own. As Sophia's memories draw Carrie more deeply into the Jacobite intrigue and events of 1708, she discovers a captivating love story....


Book Hangover: Inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Life's Lessons... the hard way...

Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way... Tonight I learned two valuable lessons that I won't soon forget and being the kind and generous soul that I am (wink) I'm going to share them with you (at my expense) so you can benefit from my stupidity!!
First lesson: When you get an email from a friend telling you that Celtic Thunder will be on PBS tonight at 6 with a new two hour concert, BELIEVE her! DON'T believe what is shown in the TV guide! Silly me. I looked at the tv guide and there was no mention of the concert so I believed it. Knowing she has a satellite dish and we don't, I figured she was getting a different PBS station. Did I even turn the TV on at 6 to check? Nooooooo... Of course I was busy with Lesson #2....

Second Lesson: We have a dishwasher but I don't use it often. In fact I use it rarely. But tonight I had a fair number of dishes so I loaded it up. When I got the dishwasher detergent out, the box was almost empty. I put a very small amount in the "prewash" soap holder and the rest, which wasn't much, in the "regular wash" soap holder, closed the door and turned the dial to start. After a few minutes I realized I had not closed the cover on the soap holder so all the soap, what little there was, would have been dispensed in the prewash cycle. Stoopid! "Well, methinks, my dishes aren't going to get very clean..." So, once the regular wash cycle started, I opened the door and squirted in a good squirt of liquid Palmolive (for regular dish washing by hand). Luckily I was standing nearby, finishing up in the kitchen and after 30 seconds, not much more I'm sure, I thought "the dishwasher doesn't sound normal..." I opened the door and was met with the biggest growing cloud of suds that you ever did see. And that's when "the light went on"...DUHHH!!! I should not have put regular dish soap in the DW. Obviously DW soap is specially formulated to not make any suds. What to do? By now the cloud of suds is growing and spilling onto the floor... Forgive me - I did not stop to take photos.. I should have...sorry. I'm sure you can form a mental picture...(think I Love Lucy!!)  Looking back now, it WAS pretty comical but at the time it wasn't quite as easy to see the humour in it. So I took a bowl and scooped out as much of the suds as I could, closed the door and turned it back on. In another 30 seconds it sounded the same and when I cautiously opened the door again to check.. you're right - same result. A lovely mushrooming cloud of suds.... To make a long story a bit shorter, it took about 6 or 7 "scooping outs" before the wash cycle could finish, and my double sink had a towering pile of suds... and I do mean towering....
Now that I  have done a google search I know that if I had poured in some white vinegar, that would have helped considerably in breaking down the suds... So go ahead. Laugh! Just don't leave me any comments telling me how stooopid I am.. I already know... At least there was no harm done. And the dishes did come out clean. So is my floor....
PS I did catch the last 30 minutes of the Celtic Thunder concert on MPBN once I got out of the kitchen and thought to turn the tv on......
EDIT: Celtic Thunder is on MPBN again this Thursday March 7 at 11pm local time (Atlantic). You KNOW I'll be watching this time!!  :)


"To make mistakes is human, to stumble is commonplace, to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity."
 ~ William Arthur Ward
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