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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Waiting On My Bookshelf

One of the most anticipated, and very best, parts of Christmas for me, is the anticipation of new reading material. For as long as I can remember (and that's a very long time) books have been high on my Wish List. As you know I love to read. I always have a considerably long list of books I'm looking forward to. Many have been recommended by friends, some recommended by my good friend Amazon, some are the result of reviews I've read, etc. But there is ALWAYS a list. I don't think I'll live long enough to ever reach the end of said list...
Several friends and I exchange books as gifts, and my children know if they are ever stuck for a gift idea a gift card for a bookstore is always a good choice. Although hubby does not read as much as I, he does enjoy a book or two for winter reading so I often choose one for him that I'd like to read too. (Sneaky, yes I know!)
This year, I even picked up a few secondhand books at Value Village just to be sure I have lots of choices on hand. (wink) Because a full donation card afforded me a 30% discount plus I had a "Free Book" card as well, I figured what better time to check out their fiction section and I did find a few to bring home... The Red Tent, The Deep End of the Ocean and  The Hatbox Letters. (Anyone read any of these? Your thoughts?)  New York was my freebie; I've read it before, but want to enjoy it again. (Love love love Rutherford's writing!) The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is a loaner from a friend, Truth and Honour is hubby's new read, and Victoria was a gift. So, I'd say I'm good for a while... aaaand I have a few Indigo gift cards when I finish these... Now, which shall I start first?
Did you get any new books for Christmas?


"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and in all the nooks" ~ Dr. Seuss

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my readers a joyous Christmas! I do appreciate your visits and comments here, and hope you will continue to stop by Stitch Lines. I hope each and every one of you enjoy the warmth of family and friends making beautiful moments and memories, happiness in your home and joy in your heart throughout the coming year!
May the Christmas magic never end!

Peace and Love,

Christmas is not so much about opening presents, as opening our hearts!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Today's chuckle...


Don't get your tinsel in a tangle....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reindeer Snacks

There's nothing like a quick and easy "special" snack that children can help prepare. They feel they have contributed by helping, and it's more fun to eat when you've helped make it yourself! This one fills the bill! The ingredients are simple and you won't have a big shopping list as you probably will have most of the items on hand.

What you need:
Graham crackers  (saltines or any square cracker would also work)
Smooth peanut butter
Chocolate chips
Red and/or brown M and M's (Smarties would work too)
Small twisted pretzels

Directions: Spread peanut butter smoothly on the cracker. Make a face with chocolate chip eyes and an M and M nose. Add two pretzels for the antlers and he's done and ready to eat!
We like to do lots of red noses, but I suppose you could do Dasher and Dancer and all the other reindeer with brown noses and just have one Rudolph red nose too... or you could do a whole herd of Christmas reindeer with red and green noses! Have fun!

And speaking of reindeer, have you ever made magic reindeer food to put out on Christmas eve? Mix up 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 1/2 cup of white sugar. Add 1/4 cup red and green sugar crystals (used for cake decorating) or 1/4 cup red and green sprinkles. (You may find similar recipes online that suggest adding craft glitter but glitter could be harmful to birds and wildlife if ingested, so the sprinkles or sugar crystals are a safer bet.) Package up in small ziploc bags and add a label with this poem:

Magic Reindeer Food

Sprinkle on the lawn at night
The moon will make it sparkle bright!
As Santa's reindeer fly and roam
This will guide them to your home! 

This is popular with the little ones... a quick and easy gift and a fun activity for excited little ones on Christmas Eve when they are anticipating Santa's arrival.


The light in a child's eyes is all it takes to make Christmas a magical time of the year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas progress...

It's another cold day here in frosty N.B. so a good day to get some things done in the kitchen. The Christmas Pudding is steaming, and I think I'll do the shortbreads and cinnamon stick shortbreads this afternoon. Although there is still wrapping to do, and our tree is not up yet (!!) I am making good progress. The tree will likely go up tonight, and the wrapping doesn't take me long. As of last night, sewing projects are finished with the exception of a small one for Noah which I have a few days after Christmas to finish. My shopping is done, except for a few gift cards. Woohoo!
Here's another small gift idea I can show, I'm pretty sure the recipient, 3 year old Claire, does not check my blog... Since she likes to help Daddy in the kitchen, (that's her helping stir up banana bread, above)  I made her an apron. Actually I made her two, one for Daddy's house and one for Mummy's house too. Quick and easy with double fold bias binding to finish edges and form the ties and neck band, it's something you could whip up in an hour if you need a little something for a little person... For size reference, this one is roughly 15" wide by 20" long.  It's not always easy to find appropriate fabric in your local area, but I thought this print was fine for a little girl. Are you doing any last minute sewing projects?
If you come back tomorrow I'll show you the quick and easy (not to mention sooo cute!) snack idea for children that Claire and I will be making when she visits next week.


"Be merry all, be merry all,
With holly dress the festive hall,
Prepare the song, the feast, the ball,
To welcome merry Christmas."
~ William Spencer

Friday, December 16, 2016

All Dressed for Christmas

Now that they have been received and opened, I can show you one small sewing project/Christmas gift.
Laura wanted some bandana bibs (for drool bibs) for Noah. So I made a few Christmas ones so he would be "dressed for the season." There may or may not be more under the tree for him on Christmas day... not sayin'.  These were a hit with his Mommy, at least. One has Santas, the other has penguins all dressed in Christmas finery. Noah is modelling the red Santa one here.

Here is Noah with his "girlfriend," Charley Rose. Aren't they just two little sweetie pies? Charley is just a few days older than Noah.

Since her parents love "country", and I just happened to have fabric with cowboy boots on it, I figured Charley should have a bandana bib made from the boots fabric. (Her Daddy always wears cowboy boots, even had them on in the delivery room, so I'm told...) Here's Charley modelling her new bib... She looks like she's all ready for the hoe-down!

Here's a closer look at the bibs...they fasten with snaps in the back. Thanks to my friend Kathryn of Made by this Momma for adding the snaps for me.


"Christmas,my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas."
~ Dale Evans

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Where's my List?

Are you a list maker? I am, always have been. At this time of year, I'm lost without a list. With so many extra things to accomplish, I make a daily To Do list, sometimes several.... At the end of the day, I'm jotting down things for tomorrow's list.. errands to run, shopping to be done, grocery items needed  and so on. Before I go out I actually plan my route and list my "stops" in the most efficient order so I'm not backtracking. Am I a little anal? Maybe. But it works for me. It gives me great satisfaction to cross items off that list too...
One of this week's important lists was the Christmas card list. I'm so happy to say all my cards and letters to be mailed are done. I still have some to send by email. It always feels like a huge accomplishment when this job is done, do you feel the same?
We've received fewer cards the last few years, I guess the high postage is discouraging many from this tradition. I love hearing from friends at this time of year, especially if we are not in touch throughout the year. But I have to admit, I've cut some people from my list... If I haven't heard from them for three or four years, then they're gone. Are you doing the same? Are you receiving fewer cards this year?
It's such a treat to open the mailbox and find a card or two...


"What a wonderful thing is the mail, capable of conveying across continents a warm human hand-clasp." ~Unknown

Sunday, December 11, 2016

An Afternoon of Music

Today was our Ladies Choir Christmas concert. This choir was formed in 2008, so this was our ninth Christmas concert. (We're older than I thought, I would have said our eighth!) Our numbers are down a bit this year for various reasons, we  are currently about 75 members. I can't tell you what a thrill it is to sing with this group of talented dedicated ladies. I'm sure all choir members would agree that we enjoy the concert just as much as the audience does, maybe even more! Our director Peter Steeves and accompaniest Julie Maston go above and beyond to make us the best we can be. We owe them such huge thanks!!
Here are a few photos from today. Thanks and photo credits to Larry Dickinson and  Steve Rogers of My New Brunswick who stopped in to take some random shots while we were warming up. (You can see a few more photos on their site.) If you are a local reader, you may see a face or two here that you recognize...
Yep! That's us!

Peter with the Sopranos

Second Sopranos

Altos with Julie who sadly got cut in half! Sorry Julie!

Do we sound better from the side?
I cherish my time with this group of ladies each week, they are not only good friends, they are family. Music is good for the soul and the mind.. and the heart! Thanks ladies!  🎶


"The true beauty of music is that it connects people. It carries a message, and we, the musicians, are the messengers." ~ Roy Ayers

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Busy and Busier

This time of year always seems to be exceptionally busy. After all the outdoor fall work and a few weeks hiatus in November, things seem to swing into "full speed ahead" with Christmas looming. As you can guess from my rather spotty presence here lately, I've been busy just simply "getting stuff done." Find a new Doctor. Check. Annual checkup. Check. Mammogram and bloodwork booked. Check. Vet appointments and vaccinations for the kitties. Check. Register "change of ownership" for both kitties with the companies they are chipped to. Check. Start Christmas shopping. Check. Pack and send Christmas box for Laura and family. Check. Sort, box and deliver unused Christmas decor to Value Village. Check. Decorating done except for family room tree. Check.... On and on it goes. I have done some sewing, but as it is all for Christmas, I cannot show you yet. (You will see it eventually, I promise.) Next big job is the Christmas letter and cards - that's #1 on my to do list for the next few days.

Meanwhile, I've been doing some stitching in the evenings. The current project is also a gift so you won't see it until after the 25th, but here is a small one I finished a few days ago. I started it last year (or was it the year before?) got it about 95% finished, then set it aside. So it didn't take more than an hour or so to finish up, attach the tiny buttons, and deliver it to the framer. I took it in on Sunday afternoon and had it back on Monday! How's that for great service! It's a Lizzie Kate design, #Q07 in the Quick-it series. I enjoy working her designs, they are always well charted and easy to follow. (I have done this one before so you may remember it, gave it to a friend.) Here's another LK Christmas one I did a few years back - so cute!

Through late October and into November I was working on a Hallowe'en piece; seems silly to be showing it to you now, with Hallowe'en long past, but here's my progress so far, roughly half done. It was a Mystery Sampler a few years ago, done in three parts, also by Lizzie Kate. It'll be put aside now, as I have a few small winter pieces I want to do, but hopefully you'll see it next fall all finished and framed.

What's keeping you busy these days? Are you doing any Christmas stitching?


'Tis the season to be jolly....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

On My Bookshelf

It's been a while since I've done a book review, and I'm more than a few behind. I finished this book recently, in between two Louise Penny books. Cane River by Lalita Tademy is an Oprah's Book Club pick. I often find many of Oprah's choices quite "dark" but not so with this one. It is a well written family saga of four generations of women, all born as slaves, somewhat reminiscent of Arthur Haley's Roots. Although a work of fiction, the characters are real. Tademy left the corporate world as a vice president with Sun Microsystems to research her genealogy and write this novel based on her ancestors on a Creole plantation on the banks of the Cane River in Louisiana. Here, Elisabeth, Suzette, Philomene and Emily (Tademy's great grandmother) endured a difficult and often brutal existence at the hands of their white masters. Tademy combines meticulous historical "reconstruction" with wonderful storytelling to bring their lives to life on the page, stories which were not always pleasant. These four women of great strength and perseverance were each determined to see the next generation do better, always with the hope and dream of freedom. The addition of actual photos of her ancestors and legal documents enhance the story. 4.5 stars out of 5 from this bookworm.


"The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it." ~ James Bryce

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Many Faces of Noah

It's time for another update on little Noah. Well actually, he's not so little. At four months now, he weighs over 18 pounds! Looks like he's going to be a big boy!

He loves sticking out his tongue!!

(Although I have watermarked these two photos, photo credit goes to Mommy, Laura Cooper.)

It was wonderful to have Noah (and his parents too of course) here in October for a visit. I did take "a few" photos during that two weeks. We enjoyed lots of walks in the fresh air. He loves being in his wrap or carrier.

Walks in the stroller were fun too! If it was cool, we bundled up and he often went to sleep quickly... (Wish I could fall sleep that quickly and easily!)

Of course, part of the fun of having a baby around is trying to capture all their different facial expressions...

Yep, I DO think my new grandson is a cutie....

Photo credit: Laura Cooper

Okay, it looks like we're done....

"NO more photos Mom!"    Photo credit: Laura Cooper
I am linking to Mosaic Monday. Please drop by there to see other awesome mosaics by the participants.


Having a baby is a life-changer. It gives you a whole other perspective on why you wake up every day.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

On My Bookshelf

My love for Louise Penny and her mystery novels continues to grow and grow. I last wrote about her series here when I was finishing the fifth book in her series... I am now on the tenth. This fall I have read  A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery and How the Light Gets In, and am now well into The Long Way Home. I have read a few other books in between (yes, sadly, I am way behind on reviews here) but I just cannot stay away from this series. And as I have said before, each one gets better. (With each one I keep thinking she can't possibly get any better, and she keeps proving me wrong!) My favourite of these last three is definitely How the Light Gets In. I could not read the last hundred pages fast enough, all the while not wanting to reach the end because then it would be over.  :(
Again, I won't go into detailed plot summaries here, but the same cast of characters appear in each book, Chief Inspector Gamache and other officers of the Sûreté du Québec, and the colourful villagers of  Three Pines. Penny has a wonderful ability to "grow" each distinct character and with each novel we gain more insight into their personalities, their hopes and fears, their weaknesses and insecurities.
Three Pines artist Clara Morrow is a central character in A Trick of the Light, as she is finally having her solo art show at a Montreal gallery. She is on a "high" after such a successful opening, until an old friend is found murdered in her garden the next morning...
The Beautiful Mystery is one of only several in the series so far, that is not set in Three Pines. Rather, Gamache and Beauvoir are investigating a murder in an isolated monastery, deep in Quebec's wilderness. Two dozen Gilbertine monks live there in seclusion and silence, and one of their own has been murdered... by one of their own, it seems. Despite the secluded peaceful setting, there is a great deal of conflict in this novel, conflict among the Gilbertine Order, conflict between Gamache and his superior Francoeur, and conflict within Beauvoir as he unravels with a drug dependency...
How the Light Gets In returns to Three Pines just before Christmas when villager Myrna Landers reports that an expected guest has failed to arrive for the holidays. Gamache is intrigued when Myrna seems reluctant to reveal who her guest is, and agrees to stop by her Montreal home, where he finds her body. Although her murder and true identity are the main plot line, even more riveting is what is happening to Gamache. His elite team has been decimated, his right hand man Beauvoir has turned against him, and it seems evil in the department is going to bring Gamache down. Although Penny writes each of her novels as a "stand alone" you really owe it to yourself to read them in order, as the relationships between the Sûreté officers and the conflict in their department has been steadily building and it comes to a head in this novel. You'll get a lot more out of this book if you understand how they got to this point...
Maintaining momentum in a lengthy series is not easy but Penny has no trouble keeping her readers coming back for more. I for one am hooked, and bedtime is coming earlier each night as I head upstairs with book in hand...

"There's a crack in everything.. that's how the light gets in." ~ from Anthem by Leonard Cohen.
RIP Leonard

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Christmas is Coming

For my local readers, a reminder that tickets are now available for the Fredericton Ladies Choir Christmas concert on Sunday December 11. The concert will be held at St. Dunstan's Church on the corner of Brunswick and Regent Streets and begins at 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:15. Tickets are $15. and make a thoughtful gift for someone who is hard to buy for.

We have worked hard to prepare a wonderful mix of sacred and secular Christmas music for your enjoyment. I guarantee we will put you in the Christmas spirit. I have tickets, or they can be purchased at Westminster Books on King, and there will be a limited number of tickets available at the door.


"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." ~ W.T. Ellis

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shooting for the Moon

Like many, I was out last night trying to get photos of the "super moon." I quickly realized that a 300mm telephoto doesn't do much when we're talking about something that's thousands of miles away. However I had fun trying. This is the best shot I got, and with a little cropping it's not too bad for an amateur effort. I'd love to have a 1000mm telephoto, but I doubt that'll ever happen. I hope you saw the moon last night with your own eyes, that's always better than photos anyway!

I also got this silhouette of part of the downtown area while waiting for the moon to appear. This was taken from the walking bridge that crosses the river. These efforts do make me want to try more night photography, but that likely won't happen until our temps warm up again.

It is fun to try new things with the camera, that's how you learn...


"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." ~ Brian Littrell

Monday, November 14, 2016

FABulous Fall

It has been a fabulous fall weather-wise and the colour was spectacular. I am very behind on blogging, so far behind I may meet myself coming back! But even though most trees have now dropped their leaves and what colour is left is not as vibrant, I want to share with you some of my favourite images from Autumn 2016. I will no doubt do a few more posts with autumn photos once I do some more sorting and editing. For now... a few favourites. I am joining Mosaic Monday, hosted by Maggie at Normandy Life. This is my first time back at MM since Maggie started hosting. It feels good to be back. I hope to make it a regular occurence.

The maples were spectacular this year, almost beyond belief. After such a dry summer I did not expect the colours to be so rich and vibrant. It seemed that everywhere you looked there was another tree, more beautiful than the last.

There is so much variety of colour in the different species of maples. Some turn a brilliant yellow, others are yellow with orange tipped leaves. Some trees will be green, yellow and orange all at the same time, others will be yellow and red at the same time.

But without a doubt the most beautiful maple in my eyes is the maple that turns red, and many were truly scarlet this year. This old red maple is at the foot of my street. It is much older than I, and I marvel at its colour every year.
This photo really does not do it justice at all...

Look at the variety of colour... these are all maples.

The berries are plentiful, perhaps the sign of  a hard winter ahead?

A few other random favourites to finish off....

This is the burning bush (Euonymus alatus) on our front lawn, before it turns totally red. I actually prefer it like this.

 Apples fallen on the back deck.

Pumpkins and frost-bitten zinnia, definitely signs of autumn...

I hope you'll stop by Normandy Life to visit  the other Mosaic Monday participants.


"A tangerine and russet cascade of kaleidoscopic leaves, creates a tapestry of autumn magic upon the emerald carpet of fading summer." ~ Judith A. Lindberg

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lest We Forget

Once again Remembrance Day is upon us. We thank and honour our fallen war heroes, those still with us and those who presently serve our country. We owe them so much. It's also a day to think of peace.... world peace and peace within our nations.


Long ago and far away
across the ocean
wild and wide,
the young men stormed
an alien shore
where many of them died.
Here and now
old men remember
the valor and the gore,
and the boyish faces
of their youth
that are young for ever more

~ William Bedford 


Freedom is never free.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Can't even begin to think of a title for today...

Like many of you, I'm sure, I am in shock today over the American election results. I don't even know what to say. How are you dealing with today's news? We all handle stress differently; I chose to spend time in the kitchen making a big pot of turkey soup. Soothing, calming comfort food. It won't help the situation much, but at least we'll feel better for a short while at suppertime.  :)
I'm also studying music for our upcoming Ladies Choir Christmas concert, and that got me to thinking about a piece we have performed in past concerts- Make Me A Channel of Your Peace, based on the prayer of St. Francis. I do my best to keep my blog free of political and religious views, but I think these lyrics might be appropriate for today when so many are feeling sad, angry, worried, despondent. Let us hope that as we go forward, the deep divisions among the American people will heal...

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord
And where there is doubt true faith in You

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness only light
And where there's sadness ever joy

O Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are  pardoned
It is in giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we are born to eternal life

Praying for Peace,

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." ~ John F. Kennedy

And lastly, Jack Layton's wise words: "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

God Bless America.         God Save America.           God bless us all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Winding Down...

Fall is winding down. We have had a beautiful autumn with glorious colour, sunny warmer-than-usual days and lots of sunshine. I do love the fall colour but hate to think of what is to come next... I guess one should just appreciate each day and try not to look too far ahead to that nasty "W" word.
Since all our October company left, we have both been working hard to get all the outdoor chores done in preparation for "the next season".. I can't bear to say that "W" word yet...
So, I have planted all my new tulips and other spring bulbs, pulled out chopped and composted all the annuals, cut down all my perennial beds and covered them with leaves for their long winter sleep, emptied

all planters and a few other small jobs which I'm too tired to remember right now. The vegetable garden has been tilled. The end result.. I'm pretty much DONE. I can feel myself slipping into hibernation mode. (I think I'd make a good bear!) My studio beckons; I am anxious to get into a more creative mode and get working on some long overdue projects, both new and already in progress.

I am always sad to see gardening season end as I derive so much pleasure from my garden. Even as plants wither and die there is still a simple beauty to be appreciated, if one takes the time to look. Dark blue berries appear on the Virginia Creeper vines. Early frosts fade colour as flower petals wither, ferns curl and turn brown, hosta leaves yellow and wilt. The end of a season, end of a cycle. All is now prepared for the long winter sleep.


"Walked for half an hour in the garden. A fine rain was falling, and the landscape was that of autumn.
The sky was hung with various shades of gray, and mists hovered about the distant mountains - a melancholy nature. The leaves are falling on all sides like the last illusions of youth under the tear of irremediable grief. A brood of chattering birds were chasing each other through the shrubberies, and playing games among the branches, like a knot of hiding schoolboys. Every landscape is, as it were. a state of the soul, and whoever penetrates into both is astonished to find how much likeness there is in each detail." ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

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