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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Of Birds and Books...

Today's "bird count" at the feeders and suet treats included chickadees, pine siskins (I think?), a
nuthatch, a hairy woodpecker, a downy woodpecker and a flock of waxwings which were feasting on apples that are still on one tree. See the apples in my header photo? That's what they were devouring today... Ollie is keeping a very close eye on the feeders - he is just as interested as I am in what is fluttering about. I occasionally catch him licking his lips... oh how I wish I could read his mind!

So are you ready for another book suggestion? The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck is a quick and easy read, but it is by no means a "light" story. Set in central Florida in the fictional town of Mayville in the mid seventies, the story has three main characters: recently widowed Ora Lee Beckworth, her maid Blanche, and a homeless elderly black man she hires to do mowing and yardwork. When he is arrested for murder, only Ora knows the truth. She and Blanche soon find themselves caught in a web of lies, and lies can be self-perpetuating... Years later, Ora tries to set the record straight. This book has been described as a cross between The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird, an apt description, I think. At less than 150 pages, it's a fast and entertaining read, with a very interesting (unforeseen) twist at the end...


"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking." ~ Haruki Murakami

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let It Snow, Let It Snow..... Make It Stop!

I didn't get any visitors at my new suet balls yesterday as it snowed all day long - would you believe we got another FOOT of snow?! I didn't see one bird all day.... Hubby was away for a few days so I had to man the shovel... I hadn't realized how much snow had come down, so when I went out to clear in front of the garage door before Mark got home from work, I quickly realized he wouldn't even get in the driveway. Neither driveway had been plowed yet and there was a good FOOT of snow down! Ugh, I don't even want to talk about it...
Today was a little milder, around -10C. This morning I saw a woodpecker and several chickadees trying the new suet. Hopefully they will "spread the word" so more feathered friends will come and nibble....
Hubby using snowblower this afternoon

So here are a few pics to give you an idea what it looks like around here. Just "record shots", nothing beautiful or artistic. We haven't had many sunny blue sky days... but this at least shows just how much snow we have. It's crazy! Driving is hazardous because the banks are so high it's difficult to see at intersections. You have to pull out so far into the intersection just to see if anything is coming, you risk being hit...

View from the  street. You can just barely see the top of the hydrant which we keep dug out.
The lamppost is nearly buried....
Looking up the sidewalk

Yep, we're not going to be mowing the lawn any time soon.....


My favourite thing about winter? When it's over!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Colddd Little Chickies...

Backyard, view from bedroom window
It seems I've been blogging in fits and starts lately. I've been too busy trying to just keep warm! Man, I'm getting mighty tired of this cold weather. I know spring is only 24 days away, but it seems like it's a long way off when you look at our backyard and the bitterly cold temps. Last night and this morning were brutal - with wind chill it felt like between -35C and -40C here in the Maritimes. For those of you who are only familiar with Fahrenheit, that's between -31F and -40F. Yep, minus forty is where they are equal. Now that's COLD!!! I could not believe it when my doorbell rang about 7:30 last night, and when I opened the front door, there stood two young female Mormon missionaries, in dresses and tights!!! Yes, they were wearing winter coats, boots, scarves and mitts, but their dresses looked like summer dresses- very thin, certainly not February clothing!! Needless to say I invited them in and we chatted long enough for them to warm up. Two little frozen chickies....
Speaking of frozen chickies, I've been thinking of the birds and wondering how they are managing to stay alive in these sub zero temperatures, wearing only feathers. They must be anxious for spring too. I know they fluff up their feathers, and burrow down in their nests, but still, I cannot imagine being out in this cold 24/7. I have a feeder and a suet cake out for them, but today I decided to make up some "birdie treats". Following a recipe given by Linda at Crafty Gardener, I had all ingredients on hand so it didn't take long. Linda calls it "All Season Suet" because you can use it year round - it will not melt. apparently. I don't think I'd bother with it in the summer, but figured it might be appreciated by my local birdies on these cold days. Hopefully it'll make them happy and give them some much needed energy for warmth.

Here's the easy recipe:
1 cup lard (no substitutions - do not use shortning or margarine)
1 cup crunchy peanut butter  (Since I had some on hand, I also added a few extra peanuts, unsalted of course, and finely chopped.)
2 cups quick cooking oats (oatmeal)
2 cups corn meal
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup white sugar

 Stir the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Over low heat, or in microwave, melt together the lard and peanut butter, stir to mix well. Pour into dry ingredients and mix well.

It almost looks like cookie dough, doesn't it? It did smell good (like peanut butter cookies) and I almost wanted to take a little taste... but I resisted....

 Form into balls or if you have a square plastic container from a purchased suet cake, you could use it as a mold.

 I formed mine into balls and hung out the first two in the plastic mesh from a bag of onions. I put the others in the freezer, wrapped in saran and then in a freezer bag. It was late afternoon when I finally hung them out, I don't think they've been "discovered" yet. I'll be watching tomorrow morning to see if the woodpeckers, chickadees, etc. give them a try. Maybe I'll get some "action shots".....

Do you give your birds any special treats to help them through the winter?


"God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest." ~ J.G. Holland

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A New Totebag

Well, it's snowing again. The year I lived on the north end of Vancouver Island, it got to the point where I didn't bother looking out the windows in the morning, because I knew it would be raining. It rains all winter there (that's why I only stayed one year.) It's almost to that point here.. no point opening the blinds and gazing expectantly out to the new day - you just know you're going to see a whole lot of WHITE. The snow seems to be never-ending. And although today's forecast is only for 10-15 cm., we have another doozey of a storm coming on Sunday. Argghhhh!!
Lest you think I've just been hibernating from the nastiness of winter and eating bonbons, here is a small project I've just completed. Admittedly I have not been spending enough time at my machine, but I am getting back at it...
This totebag is a design by Pink Sand Beach Designs and is #124, the Fiji Tote. The pattern included very clear instructions, step by numbered step, with color photos  to illustrate. Now why can't all patterns do that? This is especially good for those who are "visual learners" but I think we ALL do better with accompanying photos - sure makes it easy to compare what yours looks like, with what it's supposed to look like... It is an easy pattern, nothing too difficult. It has a panel on each side of the interior, which is divided into three pockets, so six pockets in all. Of course you could divide them differently for more (smaller) or fewer (larger) pockets. The pocket panels have a contrasting band across the top, and I did the pockets in the gold fabric which contrasts well with the lining, for easy visibility.
One thing I liked about this pattern is that it suggests a layer of fusible Peltex™ in the bottom which really gives it a nice sturdy square bottom, and a fusible interfacing as well as the fusible fleece so the bag retains its shape well- no sagging! I also liked the way the bottom corners were done, a technique I had not seen before. The finished size is 16.5" wide by 12.5 " tall.
I know, I know, you're thinking "It doesn't look like her, it's not blue." Well fear not, I do have a FQ bundle of fabrics that I bought along with the pattern to make a second one... in blues/greens. But I loved these brown and black fabrics, and they're a nice change. And change can be good. Or at least refreshing. (Are you listening, Mother Nature?)


"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies." ~ Unknown

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review Time...

The Gravity of Birds by Tracy Guzeman is a story of two sisters. "Alice Kessler and her older sister, Natalie, first met the brilliant young painter Thomas Bayber in August 1963 while vacationing with their parents in upstate New York. Both sisters were drawn to Bayber, and their encounters with him changed their lives and their relationship with each other forever.
Forty-four years later, Bayber is a renowned yet dissolute artist nearing  the end of his life. He summons Dennis Finch, who is an art history professor and expert on Bayber's work, and Stephen Jameson, a young art authenticator, to show them a previously unknown painting, Kessler Sisters, a disturbing work that depicts the young Bayber, Alice, and Natalie. Bayber's desire to have the painting sold requires that Finch and Jameson find Alice and Natalie. But the sisters have disappeared without a trace.
This emotionally gripping story weaves together the past and present, revealing the sisters' histories with Bayber as Finch and Jameson come closer to locating them, and learning the truth." ~Synopsis quoted from the book

I found this story compelling - another "hard to put down" type... The plot is multi-layered and comes with its share of twists and unexpected turns that one doesn't "see" coming. Guzeman is a gifted writer and more than once I found myself re-reading passages to enjoy her style of writing. I got the feeling the words of each and every sentence were carefully crafted. It is almost hard to believe this is the author's first novel, it is that well written.
Mystery, jealousy, love, heartache, loss, choices, forgiveness, they're all there, woven together in a captivating tale through flashbacks and present-day scenarios. The characters are well written, complex and very human in their flaws.
This would be a good Book Club selection. Another debut novel well worth reading...


"Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you so fully into another life that you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read it, and might even sit up in bed till early dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack, simply to find out what happens to some people who, you know perfectly well, are made up." ~ Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winner! Winner! Winner!

The Grow Your Blog party giveaway ended last night, so first thing this morning the giveaway winner was drawn. Drumroll please....  The winner is Dasha from NSW, Australia. Dasha is a follower of my blog, and I have notified her by email. Her comment: "Hello Linda. I have followed you for a while now and am always blown away by your photography. Today's post is no exception. I am a lousy photographer - just a point and press camera for me. LOL"  Well, she may think she's not a great photographer, but she sure is a wonderful quilter. Dasha does many quilts for charity. Why not pop by her blog and have a look? Thanks for your kind comment Dasha. I'm waiting to hear from you.
Edit: I should clarify: the party continues - the list of participants will remain on Vicki's blog all year long, so we can all continue to visit and discover new blogs (it's mighty hard to visit them all in a 2.5 week period!) What IS done is the giveaways....
In my humble opinion, the GYB party has been a great success so far! I have gained a number of new Followers (Welcome to you all!!) but even more important, I found a number of new interesting blogs to follow! Win/Win!! Looking forward to new friendships! 
We are in the midst of another blizzard - it's very cold, snowing hard and the winds are blowing. A lovely day to stay inside and sew! And maybe a Book Review post later today.... Homemade turkey soup for supper... yay "comfort food"...


"A wise man never loses anything, if he has himself." ~ Michel de Montaigne

Friday, February 13, 2015

Sending Some Bloggy Valentine Love...

If you are visiting on the GYB party, you will find my post and giveaway here.

As I sat in my studio yesterday, I turned and saw these two, snuggling on the quilt rack where they sit each day, quietly emanating love. Sometimes I can almost hear Andy whispering sweet nothings in Ann's ear. But most of the time, they just sit and stare into each other's eyes... You can almost see the little hearts flying through the air...  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy have long been symbols of love, to me. After all they each have their little stitched hearts that profess "I Love You"... I cannot tell you how many of these I have made over the years. During university and for a number of years after, as my friends got married and started their families, each new baby got an Ann or Andy. I wish I had kept track; I'm quite sure I've made at least 20 or 25. They were fun to do, but the hair, each loop pulled through and then secured by hand, took longer than making the entire doll and the clothing, or so it seemed. These two were for my own children, (made up with a set of each clothing just to be safe) and packed in my suitcase, ready to go to the hospital when I went into labour. Each one sat in the bassinette with the newborn babe. (I think I could have taken orders in the hospital from all the other new Moms and a lot of the nurses...) But these are the last two I made... the end of the line!
So - Ann and Andy and I are sending you some love today. To you, my loyal readers, followers, friends and occasional visitors - thank you for all your visits and kind words. A special thanks to those of you who leave comments. :)  I appreciate each and every one. I'd especially like to give a warm welcome and send some bloggy love to my new followers from the Grow Your Blog Party, which ends tomorrow. Only one more day to get your name in for the giveaway here!
Now I'm off to give myself a little love - I'm off to have a mammogram. Not an experience I enjoy (that machine was designed by a man, for sure!) but I sure enjoy the peace of mind after, knowing all is well. Get those mammies grammed, girls!! This is your reminder!


"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved." - Victor Hugo

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Student's Work - Tiny Treasures class

If you are visiting on the Grow Your Blog party, please click here for my GYB post and Giveaway.
It's time to show you some student's work from a Miniatures class I taught recently. It's always rewarding for a teacher to see what her students have produced, after a class. Often times, the teacher does not see the results, so I am always thrilled to hear from students and see what they have completed. This photo was taken at the end of the day, and they're all still smiling! A good sign!

Pat P. was the first to send me a photo.  She did nine little Shoofly blocks, aren't they cute? Great job Pat. I'm not positive, but it looks like Pat has hand quilted this too! Woohoo!
I neglected to get the overall size from her, but I can assure you it is small! She's already planning her next Miniature, a Bear's Paw.

Next up is Jane T. with Tiny Logs. It measures 15" square, with each block finishing at 2 1/4". Look at her beautiful quilting in that border too! I love the rich colors she has used... of course you know I'm a pushover for blues of any shade... Can you see the narrow little red border she has added? That's one of the techniques taught in the class, a sewn-in border that finishes at 1/8" wide.
You did an awesome job Jane!

Eyvonne S. came all prepared for class- she had purchased a pattern from George Siciliano, and was working on it during the class. It may look familiar to some of you - it is one I have done. George calls it Interstellar Suite. (Pattern can be ordered here.) Eyvonne has done a great job with it. And look - she has added two narrow borders! At this point it is just the top, it has yet to be quilted but I know it will be awesome when Eyvonne finishes it. Hope she'll send another photo...(are you reading this Eyvonne? hint, hint)

Last but not least is a Feathered Star by Jeanne W. It is 15" square. This was a pattern purchased before class as well- I tell you, these girls had done their homework!! haha (I believe this is a Little Bits pattern by Cindi Edgerton.) Jeanne "made it her own" though, by not placing the star on point as the pattern suggested, and she re-designed the border. Notice she also has added the tiny 1/8" border. Jeanne started this in the class, and brought it to the guild meeting two days later, totally finished!!!
Way. To. Go. Jeanne!! It is gorgeous!! I love it!! Feathered Star is on my "To Do" list... someday!

What a fun class this was - I had every bit as much fun as they did, too! I am so proud of these girls, and so grateful they sent me photos of their miniatures. (I think I may have created a few new addicts, though... I warned them at the beginning of class that making miniatures IS addictive, and I would NOT be held responsible.... haha! Gotta "cover" myself!!)
Thanks everyone!! Big hugs to you all at MCQG! Keep those photos coming!!


"A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning."
 ~ Brad Henry

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Longing for some Green...

If you are visiting on the Grow Your Blog Party, click here for my GYB post and Giveaway. Only one more week to enter!!
Brrr, I'm cold. I've just come in from wading through thigh-deep snowdrifts, almost waist deep in places, to take some photos... hopefully you'll see them in a new header this coming week. We have a LOT of snow. I've lost track of how many storms we've had in a two week period.. six,  I think? Doesn't matter... but please, let me know if you'd like some snow... I'd be happy to send you some. We have lots to spare.
It's only February and I'm already tired of winter; tired of its endless white cover, its icy sidewalks and driveways, its treacherous driving, its bitter cold days and even colder nights. I long for the greens of summer and my gardens of colourful blooms. (I think my inner gardener is screaming to get out! ha!)
I need some Vitamin G!! (If you don't remember my post explaining Vitamin G, read it here.)
So, for all of you who feel the same (Who am I kidding, I'm really doing this for my own pleasure) here is some green, and some colourful blossoms to go with it. My recent visit to Florida was balm for my gardener's soul; I tried to "stock up" on both Vitamins D and G! Sadly, I feel my "reserves" are now waning...

Hibiscus, bougainvillea, jasmine,
plumbago, bird of paradise, passionflower, and many others I cannot name.. what's not to love when you can enjoy such beauty in mid-winter?

One day we were out for a drive and saw this magnificent tree, all in bloom. I asked Sandi what it was but she didn't know. At the time, I said "the blooms look like orchids." I have since seen photos on someone's blog (can't remember who/where) showing this same tree, and it was referred to as an "orchid tree." So that's what I'm calling it. I don't know if that's a nickname or a proper name. Maybe one of my southern readers can tell me...

Bougainvillea is a common plant in the tropics. If you have ever traveled in South America, the Caribbean or the Mediterranean you have no doubt seen it. It blooms in a variety of colors. Did you know that the colored petals are actually leaves? The bloom is the tiny white flower in the center of the colored bracts. In the collage below, the bougainvillea is on the top right and bottom left. On the top left is Plumbago, I cannot identify the plant on the bottom right- we called it "Q-tip flower." lol

Passionflower is another plant common in the tropics.I first saw it in Venezuela years ago, then had luck growing it in my garden one year (one season only.) It has a very exotic looking blossom. Below is one bud, and one red bloom. The white flower is spiral jasmine.

You can't get a much more exotic looking blossom than Bird of Paradise, can you? Isn't it beautiful? The peach coloured bloom on bottom left is a double hibiscus, and I've no idea what the other one is.

I hope you've enjoyed this dash of green, this "dose of Vitamin G."  For all my friends and followers "down south"- Florida, Arizona, California, "down under" in Oz and NZ and anywhere else where you ARE warm... I'll have some COLD snowy pics for you soon!

I am joining Judith of Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday. Be sure to stop by her blog and see what lovely mosaics others have done this week. Judith is currently down south, and I see she is enjoying some of the same beauty in the gardens that I saw... Sigh.....


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

Saturday, February 7, 2015

World Quilt Show Top Winner

If you are visiting on the Grow Your Blog party, welcome! Please click here for my GYB post and Giveaway.

Are you getting tired of looking at quilts? I hope not.. at least you want to hang in there for today's post and the winner of the prestigious title "Best in the World" - can you imagine having a ribbon that said that?! Wow!!

So - let's have a drumroll.... here it is: Chinese Journey in Three Parts, 66" x 64" by Stephanie Crawford of the UK.

"This quilt was inspired by an extraordinary trip to China to visit my son who was living in an ancient temple precinct in a remote part of Hubei Province studying Doacsin. I have three outstanding memories of our journey together from Beijing to Wudang and the triptych represents them. The quilt is wholecloth. It was painted and appliquéd and then densely free-motion quilted.

Machine Appliquéd, Machine Quilted, Original Design

Thanks to Sandi Mac for the above photo. I had only taken one full shot, and just as I snapped it,
someone stepped in front of me... I did however take lots of closeup shots so you could enjoy the details and the fabulous quilting....

Panel 1

Panel 2

Thanks to Sandi for this photo as well

Panel 3

 Just in case you're getting tired of viewing quilts, we'll switch it up a bit for the next few days...


"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it. Autograph your work with excellence."
~ Author unknown

Friday, February 6, 2015

World Quilt Show Winners

If you are visiting on the Grow Your Blog Party, welcome and please click here for my GYB post and Giveaway.

It's been a busy week and I've been absent from here for a few days; I know some of you are patiently waiting to see more quilts so I'll reward you today with some Winners! As I said previously I'm making very few personal comments as there just aren't enough superlatives to describe these works of art - every. one. is. EXCEPTIONAL... I explained the ribbons/awards given in this show here, in case you missed it. If there were more than ten entries from a country, then a "Best of Country" award was given. I have already shown the Best of Country winners from Australia and New Zealand here. Now let's look at the others (in random order)...

Skyline, 69" x 69" by Claudia Scheja of Germany.  Best of Country - Germany.

"Skyline depicts a view of the city of Germany's capital Berlin. Since the bear is the heraldic animal on Berlin's city coat of arms, I constructed the center of my quilt using the Bear Paws block. The gradating shades of green in these blocks as well as the sky mimic the fading day light. The silhouettes of houses and of Berlin sights and landmarks - created using fusible appliqué - stand out in black against the yellow/orange/red border, representing the setting sun.

Machine Appliquéd, Machine Pieced, Machine Quilted, Original Design

Even if you have never visited Berlin, you likely recognize at least one of these landmarks- the Brandenburg Gate, centre top.

Nature's Treasures, 72" x 72" by Diane M. Abram of United Kingdom. Best of Country - United Kingdom

"Three books of William Morris inspired designs were used for this original quilt. The center is from Rosemary Markham's "Floral Abundance." The other designs are taken from Michele Hill's books on William Morris appliqué. I didn't use all traditional Morris fabrics preferring instead to try to see if I could give the design a different feel with a more modern choice. Metallic thread has been used to edge the appliqué and to give it sparkle."

Machine Appliquéd, Machine Pieced, Machine Quilted, Original Design

My Brothers I Seek, 63" x 46" by Shani Leser of Israel. Best of Country - Israel

"Watching these three brothers, listening to their music and their laughter, I was captivated by the energy that flowed between them, uniting them in an invisible bond of love despite their differences. It brought to mind the Biblical story of Joseph searching for this brothers and for brotherhood, " brothers I seek." The technique that I used is machine raw edge appliqué with zigzag stitch and machine quilting. I used pastel crayons to enhance the faces and hands."

Machine Appliquéd, Machine Quilted, Original Design.

Let's Do the Dresden Twist, 75" x 75"  by Teri Cherne of Henniker, NH, USA. Best of Country - USA

"So much fun! All the wide open space made for great play time!"

Hand Appliquéd, Machine Pieced, Machine Quilted, Original Design

And finally, the Viewer's Choice Winner - Perseus Saving Andromeda, 79" x 66", by Marilyn Belford of Chenango Forks, NY, USA

"When Cassiopeia's hubris leads her to boast that her daughter Andromeda is more beautiful then the Nereids, Poseidon chains Andromeda to a rock and sends a sea monster after her, but she is saved by Perseus, her future husband. Original design made with commercial fabric, fusible web and thread sketching. Long arm quilted. No inks or paints applied."

Machine Appliquéd, Machine Quilted, Original Design.

In my next post, I will share the rest of the "big" winners, and the "Best of World" winner....


“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.”
~William A. Foster

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