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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On My Bookshelf

The Piano Maker written by Kurt Palka is the suspenseful story of  Hélène Giroux, a widow with a mysterious past. Hélène arrives in a small town on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia, well dressed and driving an elegant car, with all of her belongings in the backseat. It is clear from the outset that she is also carrying a secret... It is the winter of 1933 and after exploring St. Homais and finding an old Molnar piano in the local church, Hélène decides to make the small town her home. Her family manufactured Molnar pianos in France for three generations before the war, and she is thrilled to once again have a Molnar to play. As she tries to make new friends and fit into the local community by taking the job of pianist for the local parish, rumours and questions begin to surface. Where has she come from? What is in her past?
Palka has written a compelling story, keeping the reader engaged until the final page. He gradually reveals Hélène's difficult history, from her involvement in the family piano-making business and the loss of her soldier husband, to a relationship with a suitor/business partner which leads her on a journey with a fateful ending.When she is confronted by the local police, past and present collide and she must face her secret once again...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I thought it well written with attention to detail and imagery. It flows easily from present to past and I felt I knew Hélène, a character of great strength and courage. I'll be checking out another novel by Palka - has anyone read Clara?


"I'm the kind of girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight." ~Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Saying Goodbye

Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere... but this is the final week for a favourite meme of mine and many of my blogging friends - Mosaic Monday. Judith at Lavender Cottage has hosted this weekly gathering for several years now and has decided it's time to pass the torch. Although I haven't been a regular participant lately, I certainly have enjoyed taking part and have made some wonderful blogging friends through the regular visits to each other's spaces.
Since the meme is still open for a few more hours I decided I should jump in too for the final hurrah! Someone has to be the last one to the party!! It seems I haven't been doing a lot of photography lately, so I thought I'd just look back through the archives and choose a few of my favourite mosaics from past posts. Hope you enjoy seeing them again... It's not difficult to see what my favourite topic is...

And last, but not least, my most favourite collage... photos from Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews NB, taken in July of last year.....

Thanks Judith (and Mary previously.)  It's been great fun!


All you need in life to lift your spirit is to take a moment and  gaze at nature's beauty.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A New Favourite Dish

Who doesn't like a new recipe, especially when it's super quick and easy? You're in luck tonight as I have a "keeper" for you! This is a new favourite for us, first served to me by Mark and Maggie in Toronto a few weeks ago. It is originally a Buzzfeed recipe, so you may have already seen it. If not, here you go:

Garlic Chicken Pesto Pasta

1 Tblsp. canola oil
2 chicken breasts, sliced into 1/2" strips
2 Tblsp. garlic, chopped (I use a bit less)
generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper, freshly ground if you have it
3/4 cup cream (I use coffee cream, you could also use half milk and half cream)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup basil pesto
3 cups penne pasta, cooked and drained
*veggies of your choice - see below
optional garnish- parmesan and chopped fresh basil

*original recipe suggested 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved. I have used broccoli and mushrooms, at least a cup of each, but whatever veggies you like would work- asparagus, carrots, whatever floats your boat! I partially cook the veggies before adding them.

Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Combine the chicken, garlic, salt and pepper, cooking until the chicken is browned. Stir often.
Add the cream, parmesan and pesto, stirring until well combined. Let bubble a few minutes until the sauce is reduced a bit.
Stir in veggies and penne, stirring until evenly coated. Remove from heat and serve, topped with parmesan and/or fresh basil as a garnish.
Yummy with warm crusty French bread and a salad.  Enjoy!
Serves 3-4.


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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Catching Up

I'm back! No excuses for the break... just busy! The weather these last two weeks has been rain, rain and yes even more rain. I can almost feel my Vit. D. level waning... Just kidding, but we are more than ready for some serious sunshine. Today was supposed to be sunny but it was minimal. I'm hoping the forecast for the next four days is accurate - lots of sun and warming temps. Bring. It. On.
Despite all the wet weather I have managed to get my vegetable garden planted (well mostly planted- the tomatoes and cukes aren't in yet).
My annuals are all in - snapdragons, zinnias, jolt dianthus, osteospurmum, geraniums, cosmos and cleome. I've added a few new perennials - a pink baby's breath, a shasta daisy and catmint. My glad bulbs are all started in flats, and the large bed of geraniums around the company sign is planted. Seeds for nasturtiums, poppies, nigella and bachelor buttons are in. And lastly my hanging pots, large planters at the front of the house and a new mandevilla are all in place and growing nicely.  So I'm feeling good! Now all we need is some warm sunny weather to get things moving along! With all the rain our property is lush and green, and I am thoroughly enjoying my daily feathered visitors- lots of chickadees, sparrows, goldfinches, hummers and yesterday a male cardinal.

Northern Lights, 103" x 101" by Mrs. Lloyd Kuepfer, for this year's auction
I have a few more photos to share with you from my Ontario trip. After time in Toronto, I headed to the Kitchener-Waterloo area to take in a bit of the Waterloo County Quilt Festival. I have always wanted to attend it, but the timing has never been right, so I was happy to find myself in Ontario during the right week this time! The Festival has many events in various locations, so I had to make choices as my time was very limited. I drove to St. Jacobs and despite the entire main street being torn up for construction, and a sudden downpour just as I arrived, I took in several displays. After a lovely chat with guest artist Kathy White

In Good Company IV , 100" x 102" by Pix Martin, for this year's auction.
of Stratford who had a solo exhibition of her contemporary fibre art, I also quickly toured displays by the Grand Guild of Fibre Artists, the Guelph chapter of the Canadian Embroiderers' Association and the Group of Eight, a collaboration of eight fibre artists with diverse styles and mediums.
The big event during the festival is on the weekend - the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale and Quilt Auction. It is a huge event,  raising over $300,000.00 annually for the last 25 years. This year was the 50th year and although I could not stay for it, I did get to see a "preview." In the St. Jacob's Mennonite Church there was a display of some quilts destined for this year's auction as well as a number of quilts purchased at previous auctions. All the quilts shown in this post are from that exhibit. A few of the quilts from past auctions had interesting stories and I have included them for your reading pleasure...

Flowers for Lois, purchased in 2004 for $6,100.

Black and White and Teal All Over, purchased in 2013 for $2,000.
 Included in this display was the quilt which sold for the highest price in the history of NHMRS - $44,000. in 2003!! Kaleidoscope of Nations. the 2003 feature quilt, was appliqued and pieced by the Waterloo County Quilters' Guild and quilted by the ladies of the Listowel Mennonite Church.
Co-ordinated by Renske Helmuth, the quilt was designed to celebrate friendship and understanding. It was an incredible piece of work and my photos do not do it justice.

At the request of Renske Helmuth. the designer, fabrics from 40 countries were collected and used for the national costumes including bark cloth from Uganda, silk from Bangladesh, damask from Ireland, and caribou hide from Labrador.

You can view all of this year's auction quilts by clicking here.


"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." ~ Albert Camus

Monday, June 6, 2016

Finally, some finishes!

Now that the baby shower is past, I can show you what I'd been working on lately. You saw the baby quilt in the previous post, but here's another view. Not a great photo, just a "record shot" in dappled sunshine on the grass. It was a quick and easy scrappy quilt, made with fabrics already on hand. Nothing fancy, just a good sized "utility quilt" for her to use. I will be doing another quilt, more carefully planned. You'll see that later...

I first saw this quilt here on my friend Holly's blog. (Thanks for the inspiration Holly!!) Really liked it and sort of "filed it away" in the back of my mind... a few weeks later I found it in a magazine and really filed it for future use. (It's called "Paper Pinwheels" and found in Fons and Porter's Quilting Quickly, September/October 2015 issue.) When I found out the baby's room walls were soft grey and Laura was decorating with shades of blue, teal and turquoise, I knew this would fit right in! I needed something I could get finished quickly and this fit the bill with simple 6" blocks and no borders. It measures 36" x 48."

Here it is over the side of the crib, awaiting his arrival! Looks good, don'cha think?

Also on the list of items to be made before I went to Ontario were some receiving blankets (sorry, no photos, but I did four good sized ones) and some reversible burp pads. I had never made burp pads before, but again they were fun to do, not to mention quick and easy.

I had collected some fun fabrics, all cottons, for one side, the reverse sides were flannel.

A friend gave me two patterns, one slightly larger than the other, and I made four of each. I clipped the concave curves and notched the convex curves which helped to get good smooth curves that laid flat. (Dressmaking/tailoring skills are still with me!!) A good pressing and some top-stitching finished them off nicely.
Stay tuned, I'm quite sure there'll be more "baby projects"....


"A package of joy, a bundle of bliss,
This quilt for baby was sealed with a kiss."

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Update Time

I'm back! Oh wait, you didn't even know I was gone, did you? Well it's time for an update... family news, travels and such!
On May 23 I headed off to Ontario to visit my two kiddos. Yes, two! I haven't told you that Mark moved to Toronto at the end of March. With his girlfriend there and him here... well... they could only keep WestJet in business for so long....  I could see what was coming... He was very fortunate and got the first job he interviewed for!! He now works for the largest international company in the world that produces human
vaccines. They operate 24/7 and distribute more than a billion doses of vaccine per year, making it possible to vaccinate more than 500 million people across the globe. He is still training, and will be for a while yet, which means he currently has weekends off. Once he starts "working" it's shift work Thursday to Monday, and he'll be working on acellular pertussis vaccine. He is loving his job and big city life! It was great to see he and Maggie and their new place, a 25th floor condo at Yonge and Bloor. The big city is not for me, but it's wonderful to see them happy with their careers and lives.

I was proud of myself for doing the long drive alone (all 1368 km.) navigating busy highway 401 without incident and driving right to Mark's building without a wrong turn once! From Toronto I continued on to Kitchener Waterloo area to take in a bit of the Waterloo County Quilt Festival and visit some dear friends in New Hamburg. More about that in a later post.

On Friday, May 27 I headed to Hamilton to visit dear daughter. She didn't know I was coming. Another big piece of news: She is expecting, due mid July. Yes! We're going to have a grandson! One of the main reasons for the trip was her baby shower on Saturday the 28th. I just couldn't imagine not being there! So I showed up at her workplace at noon Friday and surprised her with an invitation to lunch! I do love a good surprise, don't you? I was there 4.5 days so got to know the city a bit, help Laura with a few things, etc. She is well organized and pretty much all set up for baby's arrival. The baby shower was lots of fun and it was so nice to meet the friends I have been hearing about.

The photos are of Laura at the shower opening the baby quilt I made - more on that in the next post.
I flew home Tuesday night and have been busy ever since trying to catch up, mostly on gardening. I must say, after the big city and the noise, people and traffic, I sure do love and appreciate my quiet green spacious backyard...  :)


"There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again."
~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
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