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

Friday, September 26, 2014

A "5 Star Must Read"

Have you ever read a book and right from the first few chapters, thought to yourself, "This would make a great movie"? Such were my thoughts when reading One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. Although this novel is fiction, it is based on an actual event in American history. In 1854, at a peace conference, Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf asked the US army authorities/American government for the gift of 1000 white women in exchange for 1000 horses. The white women would be brides for his warriors; their presence with the Cheyenne and the children born from these unions would help with their assimilation into white society. This request was, in fact, turned down and the peace talks collapsed, but this novel proceeds as if the "Brides for Indians" program actually went forward.
The story is told in the form of journal entries written by May Dodd, a young woman from a wealthy Chicago family. She had fallen in love with a "common man beneath her station" and bore two children to him out of wedlock. For this her father had her committed to an insane asylum, so when the opportunity came along to "obtain her freedom" by volunteering to be part of the Brides for Indians program, May jumped at the chance. She journeys west with a number of other "colorful" women to live on the plains with the Cheyenne. What follows is an amazing story of love, romance, humour, violence, sex, racism, politics... you name it, this book has it! Above all, it is realistic- you have to keep reminding yourself it is fictional. The characters are so well written, so well "developed", you quickly find yourself totally engrossed in their "adventure". You will laugh, you will cry, you will find yourself enraged at the way the natives were tricked and cheated. Fergus has done a masterful job of researching and weaving a tale that you will not want to end. This is without a doubt one of the best books I've read this year. Don't start it until you have a good chunk of time to devote to it, because you will not want to stop reading....
5 stars from this booklover.


"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination and the journey. They are home." ~ Anna Quindlen, How Reading Changed My Life

Thursday, September 25, 2014

More Quilts!

Okay, let's continue with more photos from the KVQG Quilt Show...

"Poinsettia Sampler" by Juanita Allain, winner of Best Machine Quilting ribbon

"Mother Daughter Baskets" by Alice Chancey. Best Hand Appliqué winner. 
This quilt was absolutely exquisite and was certainly one of my most favourites.

                   Closeup of  "Mother Daughter Baskets" Such beautiful appliqué and quilting!

"Double Wedding Ring" by Juanita Allain. 1st place winner, Large Traditional category.

"How the Light Gets In" by Mary Hawkins. I'm not always drawn to modern quilts but I loved this one! Mary has very successfully arranged her blocks with value placement in mind to show just how the light gets in.

"Mountain Shadows" by V. Leigh Smith and quilted by Wendy Billing. I really liked this one- she has done an interesting variation of the French Braid by varying the width of the strips and the orientation, to represent the forested hills of New Brunswick - very effective!

Somehow I missed photographing the card for this wallhanging so I do not have its proper title, but I know it is of an iceberg (from Antarctica I believe?) by the very talented Juliet Nowlan. My friend Sandi who journeyed to Antarctica last winter, said Juliet has captured the colours perfectly.


Every quilter has a masterpiece within.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Busy Days and a Quilt Show

I've been absent from blogland for almost a week! Eeeeek!!! It's not that I haven't wanted to be blogging, I've just been "beyond busy". So much going on this time of year, with trying to get the garden harvested and put to rest, freezing tomatoes and squash, doing pickles, Guild and Choir start-up, preping for my upcoming classes, etc. etc. I finished my 12 day crock pickles last weekend, did my Lady Ashburnhams today, got a large batch of spaghetti sauce done today, and now I have an apple pie in the oven and apple jelly underway. We're watching our provincial election results tonight - it's a very very close race at this point. At least we're enjoying the wonderful aroma of baking apple pie as we watch the lead seesaw back and forth...
This past weekend was the annual quilt show and sale by the Kennebecasis Valley Quilters' Guild. This guild is to be commended for doing a show of such proportions every year! Mounting a show is a huge undertaking and this group does it annually! They put the rest of us to shame! Some years are better than others and this year was exceptional. There were many many exquisite examples of the talent that is found in this group. There is always lots to see- quilts, some judged and some for display only, workshop pieces, challenges, small items for sale, a Quilters' Walk fundraiser, and of course vendors, not to mention seeing quilting friends from around the province. It's always a fun day to visit the KV show.... Without further ado, here are some of the beautiful quilts we saw.... in random order...

"Expressions of Morris". Best of Show, winner of  Lorna Peacock Memorial Award
and CQA ribbons.
Made by Diana Reid, Quilted by Bloomfield Quilters, Owned by Patti Monkhouse

A closeup look at Diana's beautiful applique

Beautiful applique AND beautiful quilting!!

"Reminiscence" by Diana Reid and quilted by Bloomfield Quilters.
Winner of 2nd place, Group Hand Quilted category.

"Braided Magic" by Sandra Daigle.  Judge's Choice ribbon

"Coloured Whole  Cloth" by Alice Chancey  Winner of 2nd Place, Non Traditional category.  This was quilted as a whole cloth quilt on a longarm machine, then was coloured with coloured pencils, finally painted with fabric medium to set the colour.  An interesting process!

"The Owl and the Pussycat" by Judy LeClue. This quilt blew my mind! It is a Zentangle design, done in ink. I wonder how many hours were spent with pen in hand....?  Winner of Judge's Choice ribbon.
Edit: I just found out this piece also won Viewer's Choice for Small Quilts category!!

These two photos show you the fine detail in the Zentangle work. Judy always does amazing work, and once again, she does not disappoint!!

I'm more than frustrated with Blogger problems tonight. I am having trouble adding photos - they will not add in order, but all want to end up at the top of the post. Somewhat like the mess-up with election results tonight... Ahh technology! Gotta love it... NOT   So I'm calling it a night for now. I'll continue with more show photos in my next post.....


"The best laid plans....

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Finally Finished.

My little "Not Quite Civil Pineapple" is finished! It is 8.75" square, with 447 pieces. It's taken me a while to get back to it. The concensus on whether to border it or not was roughly 50/50 - thank you for your suggestions/comments! My problem was that I had no yardage of any of the fabrics, since it is totally made from 1" wide (or less) strips that were trimmings from squaring up larger quilt blocks. Besides being very narrow, none of the strips were much more than 6 or 7 inches long. My friend Sandi Mac gave me these trimmings, and all her yardage for these blocks is in her other studio... in Florida. A little too far to go for border fabric! I had nothing in my stash that worked either (hard to believe, I know, for those of you who know how extensive my fabric stash is...) So I decided to just go with the old traditional finish of a Pineapple quilt and simply bind it. I have added a narrow corded piping in a light tan, before the olive green solid binding (thanks Lee for the suggestion of using a solid.) Solids are another thing I don't have many of in my stash, but this was
in a bundle from a George Siciliano workshop a few years back, and I thought it was perfect.
I bound it twice!  More than twice actually. The first time, after binding was all sewn on and I started to hand stitch it to the back, I realized I just had not made the binding quite wide enough. The addition of the corded piping adds another two layers of fabric in that seam allowance, giving you a total of nine layers- my binding just wasn't wide enough to wrap to the back over all that thickness and completely cover my line of stitching without looking like it was pulled too tight. So I ripped it all off and cut a wider binding. Stitched it all on again and had the hand-stitching 90% finished. At the last corner I realized there was an issue with the mitred corner of the binding - so I once again "unstitched" one entire side (and two corners) and re-did the corners and the joining seam. So it DOES feel good to be done! I'm pleased with it. It's not my usual colour palette, but it's a good exercise to step outside one's usual "comfort zone" occasionally. It's done. And "done is good."


"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan." ~ Tom Landry

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's New at the Zoo?

A few days ago we took a little day trip to Moncton and visited the zoo at Magnetic Hill. We hadn't been there in years, so it was time.  They acquired a new pair of Amur tigers earlier this year and I was anxious to see them. It was the perfect day for a visit- not too hot, just pleasant temps for strolling around and we saw all the animals except the lions who apparently are either shy or were sleeping in. (Well, truth be told, I guess I didn't see ALL the animals, as I did not enter the reptile exhibit. Nope, not going to look at snakes if I have a choice...)
Many of my photos, of course, were taken through wire fencing. I would have liked a longer lens, and no fencing in my way, but then again, I do understand the whole safety issue. I wasn't about to risk becoming someone's meal for the sake of a better photo! lol  So I apologize for the light streaks across some of the photos (out of focus fencing.) Without further commentary, here are some of my favourites.

There were lots of birds. Clockwise from top left:
Black Swan, Marabou Stork, a female Mallard duck, and an East African Crowned Crane.

Of course, we enjoyed the primates too. They are always entertaining...... Clockwise from top left: Colobus monkey, Gibbon, Ring Tailed Lemur, Mandrill

If you have some patience and a little luck, you can sometimes catch interesting expressions or poses... here are a few....

A Ring Tailed Lemur yawwwnnnnnn
"Now what was I going to say.......?"

And a few more animals...  Clockwise from top left: Duck, Irresistably cute baby goat, Otter getting ready for a slide into the pool, and Sulcata tortoise or African spurred tortoise.

At the end of our "tour" we finally found the Amur tigers. A new tiger enclosure is under construction, so they are in a temporary space nearby. They both appeared  bored with the whole thing and were napping; no amount of pleading, whistling or other sounds would even get them to open their eyes let alone raise their big beautiful heads.... so this is the best shot I could get. Guess I'll just have to make another visit someday...

The Amur tiger is an endangered species, native to far eastern Russia. It is the largest of the cat family. These cats are solitary animals and are only found together during mating season or as young cubs with their mothers. They remain close to water sources and are adept swimmers. Their striped coats provide excellent camouflage in tall grasses.

All in all it was a good day at the zoo. I am linking to Mosaic Monday, now hosted by Judith at Lavender Cottage. Be sure to pop by and see what others have done for this weekly mosaic meme.


"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Anatole France

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yummy Greek Salad

Here is the recipe I promised a few days ago. The dressing is quick and easy and you likely have all the ingredients, except perhaps the feta. At this time of year when I have lots of cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden, this is the perfect recipe for a colorful salad to accompany supper. This dressing recipe came from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog a few months ago.

Greek Salad

equal amounts of chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and green pepper (I use red pepper too, when I have one on hand) I try to cut them all roughly the same size.
Kalamata olives, optional
feta cheese

3 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tblsp. crumbled feta

Place all ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving salad, to let the flavours meld.
Shake and pour over vegetables just before serving. Toss and top with crumbled feta, to taste. Serve.


"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly." ~ Anna Thomas

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Silver on PEI

It's been a busy few days. On Sunday I made a very quick trip to Prince Edward Island to watch my nephew's son Nathan play in the GOLD medal game at the Peewee AAA baseball Atlantic championship game!!! They won on Saturday to advance to the first place game!!!!! Way to go guys!!! We were so very proud of the team for doing so well.
To get to PEI from New Brunswick you drive over the awesome Confederation Bridge, a 12.9 kilometer (8 mile) bridge which spans the Northumberland Strait. It is the longest bridge in the world which spans ice-covered water. (Of course it's not ice covered at this time of year.) It took almost four years to construct, at a cost of a billion dollars, and employed crews of more than five thousand local workers. It opened in May of 1997. I still marvel at its design and construction every time I drive over it - it is truly one of Canada's top engineering feats of the 20th century.

Nathan's Mom and I stopped at The Lobster Barn in beautiful Victoria by the Sea for lunch- one MUST eat lobster while on PEI so we had lobster rolls for lunch. (We won't discuss dessert, ok?)  We both agreed this was a great spot to eat - we recommend it highly.
And the other thing one must consume while on "the Island" is an icecream cone at Cows. So of course, we did that too. So good....

Back to the team. They played a great game, leading for most of it, but sadly they lost by 5-4 in the final inning. So they settled for silver medals instead of gold, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Second in Atlantic!! Pretty darned good I'd say! Way to go Nathan!! This was his first year of playing competitive ball... I'm sure he was tired when he got home after four days of games. And this week he has hockey try-outs. At least he doesn't have  a chance to get bored....
Yesterday I made another batch of jam, and I have a large batch of crock pickles underway. I've been busy picking, stewing and freezing tomatoes too. The garden is winding down and I'm busy harvesting and preserving what I can. I spent today doing all those fun things like laundry, ironing, scrubbing bathrooms, etc. and then Choir started tonight. Tomorrow we're off on a little day trip. Thursday is supposed to be rainy and I plan on spending the entire day in my studio. Can't wait.... No rest for the weary! Tomorrow, I'll give you the Greek salad recipe.


"Nothing can subtract hard work from success, only add to it." ~Manjunath Harlapur

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Power of Suggestion and This 'n That

Ahhh, the power of suggestion.. it's an amazing thing! We have a friend who is traveling in Italy right now. She sends a brief "journal entry" by email each day so we can follow her travels and adventures and yesterday she was telling us of the amazing pizza she had in Rome. Well, that got my mouth watering for some homemade pizza... Are you the same? Can the mere mention or suggestion of a certain dish make you begin to crave it? I decided to "go with it" rather than "fight the feeling!" With lots of fresh garden veggies to go with it in a Greek salad, how could I go wrong? I make my pizza a bit different than you do, no doubt. I try to make it a healthy dish, so no pepperoni, salami or meats of that sort. I cook lean ground beef, add my tomato sauce and spices to make a thick meat sauce, spread that on my homemade dough, then top with lots of veggies- typically onions, peppers both red and green and lots of thickly sliced mushrooms. In the last few minutes of cooking, I top with cheese - tonight it was parmesan, mozzarella and old cheddar. "Just picked" tomatoes and cucumbers along with peppers, red onion and fresh basil were sooo good in the Greek salad. We devoured it all before I even thought of taking a photo. I promise next time I make the salad I'll take a pic and give you the salad dressing recipe. It's quick and easy with simple ingredients you'll have on hand. My tummy is so happy right now.. can you hear me purring??? Sigh.... Just as good as any meal in Rome, I'm sure...  :)

Great nephew Nathan is in Charlottetown this weekend for the Peewee AAA Atlantic baseball Championship. They won their first two games against Kentville and Halifax, but lost today to the PEI champs of Summerside. Hopefully they will rally for the place games tomorrow. Go Nate!!

I've had a very busy week with a lot of things that just had to be done. Sewing was not in the cards this week, but I'll be back at it tonight or tomorrow for sure. My LQS is holding an Open House tomorrow and I'm teaching a few new classes there this fall, so had to get that all organized, supply lists prepared, etc. I still have some shop samples to make... Never enough hours in my day...

I've fallen behind on book reviews as well. So I'll finish off tonight with a short review of The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla. This is the story of  a Jewish family who flee Vienna following Kristallnach in November 1938. Widowed Doctor Franz Adler escapes with his young daughter and sister-in-law (whose husband was murdered by the Nazis) to Shanghai, one of the few places offering sanctuary to Jews at that time. Adler struggles to settle and make a life for his family in Shanghai, a large city demarcated into military zones among the Japanese, British and American forces. Just as they begin to get used to life in a very different culture, Japan enters the war and aligns with Germany. The Adlers and thousands of other Jewish refugees must deal with the challenges and restrictions of life in China where Japan is now in charge! It becomes clear that Germany has not forgotten those who fled....
While this novel is historical fiction, there is also romance. Dr. Adler eventually finds work volunteering in a refugee hospital and meets Soon Yi "Sunny" Mah, a half Chinese, half American nurse. He recognizes her abilities and agrees to mentor her in surgery. They work together to try and better the lives of many starving Jewish refugees. I won't give away any more of the story, but suffice it to say this was another book that was VERY hard to put down.
This book is a must read for those interested in learning more about WWII and the Holocaust. I knew nothing of the nearly 20,000 European Jews that fled to Shanghai, nor the fact that the city had a large Jewish presence that went back many years. Kalla has written an outstanding story with a fast moving plot. Although most characters are fictional, they seem very real and the author has done an incredible job of weaving together a fictional story with real historical events. It's a story of love and loss, courage and resilience, hope and survival. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  
Daniel Kalla, a Vancouver ER physician, is well known for his medical thrillers (Pandemic, Resistance, Of Flesh and Blood to name a few), none of which I have read, but you can be sure more of his writing is now on my list.  The Far Side of the Sky's sequel, Rising Sun, Falling Shadow will be number one on my "Read more Kalla" list. In fact I just put it on hold at my local library.


"You can be too rich and too thin, but you can never be too well read or too curious about the world."  ~ Tim Gunn

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Green Bean Yumminess!

How is your vegetable garden this year? Mine is certainly not the best it has ever been, but not the worst either. Some things have done very well (not the tomatoes, sadly). I do have an overabundance of cucumbers (as always), and right now lots of green beans. Just in case you too have lots of beans, I thought you might like to try a new quick and easy recipe. This was available at the Dietician's booth at the local Superstore a few weeks ago. I sampled it and it was sooo good, I knew I'd try it at home. There are no amounts- just do it to suit your own taste.
Cook green beans just until tender crisp. While they are cooking, mix equal parts of fresh squeezed lemon juice with your choice of oil (I used olive oil, she use grapeseed oil). Actually I used slightly more lemon juice than oil. Add some freshly grated lemon zest and fresh chopped herbs - basil, dill and mint. Pour over hot beans, toss and top with some crumbled feta cheese. Yummmmmy!!


"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." ~ James Beard

Monday, September 1, 2014

Of Puppies and Peaches....

Well the Labour Day long weekend is just about over. September is here and with it a return to more of a routine, perhaps... It's been a busy weekend here. Darling daughter has been and gone, packing up some of her stuff that was still here, and has moved to Ontario.  :(   We just heard from her an hour ago, that they have arrived safely and are all "unloaded" at their new place.  :)   Mark has finished his summer job at the hospital and tomorrow returns to complete the remaining portion of his Clinical.
I made my Peach Jam today, 12 bottles of yumminess, and just finished cutting up a large batch of crock pickles... the cucumbers are threatening to escape the boundaries of the garden - I think the plants must be on steroids or perhaps fertility drugs!! I'm trying my best to keep ahead of them.. lol

I had a little visitor this afternoon - this is the "newest member" of our extended family. My brother and SIL got a new cocker spaniel puppy in late July. I can't believe how much he has grown in six weeks. Introducing Zora - isn't he cute? Their cockers have always been blonde, so he is a change for sure! He is definitely full of mischief and is keeping his "parents" on their toes!


"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies."
~ Gene Hill

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