Tuesday 29 November 2016

Living With the English

The heart and soul of the English is to enjoy simple joys.  Collecting stamps, studying butterflies, having a cuppa, maintaining a shelf of books, putting a few wildflowers in a jar...these are the sorts of things that give pleasure.  Living with an English hubby has taught me this and a lot more.

There is a certain protocol to the day; no dressing gowns at meals including breakfast.  There must be tea served on a tray several times a day and by the way, I am the server. This ritual includes a sweet biscuit or cookie, possibly two but never more.  There is usually economy about all his food...he can make a meal on boiled eggs and a can of sardines, what would be considered snack food the way I grew up. Despite the blandness of so much of the diet he was used to, he has an inexplicable love of curries, Thai food, and tacos. Oh yes, and hubby loves his boxed chocolates, the fancier and darker, the better. 

The love of cardigans (a word familiar to those over seventy or us knitters), good mystery shows, well-made furniture, and reading newspapers cover to cover; this is my hubby. 
I've read that the English had a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals a hundred years before they had such a society to protect children.  This is perhaps one of hubby's most English characteristics...his love of animals is truly amazing, especially dogs.

Hubby extends his sense of economy to his wardrobe; old coats are never given up on, there just might still be wear in them or as he said to me one day, perhaps I could find a good use for the lining of one such poor example.  Yet, good shoes are a necessity for ones feet, no matter what the cost. Money is happily spent on proper tools, anything made of good leather, pursuing hobbies, cars, and travelling.  And meanwhile, in his office, he is using both sides of every piece of paper and saves all pennies in old coffee cans. 

Perhaps this is not describing just the English as I set out to do, but many of us at this stage of life.  I'm thinking of the part about enjoying simple joys, in particular.

 The older we get, the more we all learn to appreciate the small, little, lovely bits and pieces that fill our days.    


Monday 28 November 2016

Scrappy at Heart

In my heart of hearts, I must be a scrappy quilter.

 When I begin a project, I say to myself pick out 6 fabrics and stick with just those for this one.  That way your quilt will be coordinated perfectly and you won't have to do all the second guessing of your choices part way through.  So sensible and I don't know why my brain wants to derail this idea...but at some point, I always remember a great pattern fabric that would look even better than what I originally chose, then out comes the pile and I'm awash with choices again.  The next thing I have 10 or 12 or more fabrics I'm trying to juggle.

  And at about that point, I speak in my stern teacher voice to myself, stay with just these now, what ever else you do, don't add anymore.   That last is silly I know and I don't possess a stern voice; my voice is the weakest part of me, I actually can't physically shout.  When Hubby says to me stop whispering it is not only because he is half deaf, I really do have a soft voice.

Ok, where was I?  Oh yes, scrappy at heart.  I think I like to go off the grid when it comes to quilting.  I am never happier than when making those Quilty 360 circles where I get to use whatever I can find in my remnants basket.  More about that little project later.

How about you?  Are you scrappy at heart too?

We had two days of milder temperatures but rather dreary weekend weather overall.  I couldn't take photos indoors and I wanted to show you my quilting on "Shiny and Brite".  Sunny breaks were promised for today and we have them.  So I've just taken my photos and now here I am sitting in my pet chair with a large coffee and talking to you.

I mentioned the "Shiny and Brite" piece is now a sandwich.  Used my kitchen island again for lay out and a ridiculous number of pins.  But they work.

 I have spent about 5 hours so far hand quilting the inside portion around the wreath.

 I expect to use the machine to stitch the outside, stitch in the ditch or something similar.  I am pleased with the thread I am using.  First I used plain white and suddenly remembered I had this wonderful variegated spool in pale pinks, blues and greens. It struck me that it was the perfect thread to be using for this colourful wreath.

 I was glad I'd worked a few circles with the plain white though as it gave me a chance to practice my quilting stitch and get a bit of a rhythm going.

 You do have to break the 10 foot rule though, to see the variance in the subtle thread colours.  It's taking a while, slow stitching and, of course, being me, I'm wondering now why I chose to stitch such tiny circles, why not bigger ones.  But I am liking how the small ones are looking overall.

I should mention the batting which was recommended to me at the Mad About Patchwork shop.
Hobbs Tuscany Collection which is 90% silk and is a dream to stitch through.  Apparently it makes me a "discriminating" quilter to use it, LOL. But I must say it is wonderful stuff.

It is also enjoyable for a change to have stitching that does not involve counting.

So did you take part in the Black Friday sales?  Any bargains?  I did a little online shopping I'll talk about soon.
Hope your Monday is not feeling at all like a Monday!

Friday 25 November 2016

Winter Came Last Saturday

Gardener's Alphabet "W" block

Outside last Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday...winter arrived full force.

Schools were closed and except for the wind howling, it was pretty quiet here at the wooden chalet.  The dogs sensibly showed no interest in going outside.
 Duh, it didn't occur to either of us to put the cars in the garage.

Inside we were busy feeding the downstairs wood stove, reading, stitching (me not Hubby) feeding ourselves and watching our Netflix and Acorn. Not a bad life really.
"Strawberry Fields" benefited from the extra attention.


"Shiny and Brite" is now a sandwich.

And I made Lumberjack Cake. I thought it was a fitting treat, sort of stuck as we were in our little woods with the snow swirling all around us like some northern lumber camp.
The recipe came from a kind Margaret in response to my writing that I wanted something good to eat and couldn't think of anything.  She patiently wrote out the recipe in a comment to the post and you can find that recipe for yourself by going HERE.
The cake is delicious and real comfort style food.

It required a surprising amount of fruit including dates.  Delicious.

The perfect cake with a cup of tea, perfect on a snowy late November day.

Thursday 24 November 2016

In Which I Feature A Gobbling Star

I took  this little video two weeks ago when the wild turkey flock crossed Daughter's backyard.


                              The Star of the Thanksgiving Show

Hope all my blogging friends and readers who celebrate the American Thanksgiving are having the most wonderful of days!

Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Doctor Said and Cross in the Moon

I tried to get a photo of this year's Super Moon.  There were so many beautiful photographs taken.  Here is what I was able to capture with my little Sureshot.
It's kind of interesting.

Every picture showed a cross through the moon.

Some sort of aura I guess caused by the flash. Unseen with the naked eye because just looking at it didn't show it.  The night sky was very clear and with our best binoculars, I could make out the shaded portions on the moon's surface which I found entrancing. No cross of any sort. It just showed up in the camera's photos.  Anyway, I think my cross in the moon photos are intriguing.  Perhaps it was a foretelling of the weather we just had for the last two days...high winds and blowing snow totaling 25 cm.

Last Wednesday, we had our checkups with our GP and I got to relate my vertigo incident I told you all about back in October.  He was very reassuring that it was not serious and pegged it as part of a gastro virus of some kind that went through my system.  He said if it were something serious I would have been having other ongoing symptoms such as headaches, blurred vision, perceptual difficulties, etc. He totally understood how upsetting vertigo is; said he had seen people with it have to crawl into ER; they couldn't stand up.  The rest of our visits was equally reassuring which is especially happy for Hubby who is a mutliple cancer survivor.
So I'm going to put that behind me for now.

Up to Saturday it was the depth of bleak November.  Everywhere the ground was browns, grays or blacks.  Some would find these views depressing but I kind of like how the earth shows its' bones, so to speak this time of year like none other. Nothing is hidden; branches bent and broken, nests and remnants of nests, all the woodpecker holes; everything visible for viewing.  Now all that is resting under a snowy white blanket.

I had to smile when someone mentioned this to me...colouring since I had said I enjoyed colouring as a girl and mentioned it again with "Shiny and Brite".  This colouring book was recommended by that reader.  I am familiar with Thomas Kinkade and how he is called the painter of light.  I know as well he has come under fire for going so commercial with his artistry.  But that very thing has made him a household name and made his work well known to so many people.  His cottages lit up for evening time are so lovely and familiar.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Old Place, Goodbye

We finally made the decision to try to sell the old property.  We'd been tossing around so many options and with winter maintenance facing us, decided to give selling it a try. After all, if it took all winter, so what, we had nothing to lose we figured.
Here is a short little video the real estate agent made.  I want you to note those woods behind the house; that's where I got lost for 90 minutes that time, remember?  You get some idea of how dense it is back there.

Anyway, it worked because the property sold in less than 2 weeks and it seemed we had lots of options for buyers.  The buyers are a young couple with children which couldn't have pleased us more.  Children have never lived there which I always thought a shame as it's such a wonderful place for them to explore, keep animals, climb trees and grow things. They will inject new life into the place and have the necessary energy to maintain and enjoy all the property has to offer.

I still walk through the rooms sometimes in my mind.  I spent so many enjoyable hours sitting stitching in the living room with an  eye to the bird feeder just outside the window. I always had  my breakfast coffee in front of the kitchen woodstove, the coziest spot on a winter morning.  I loved all the outdoor time spent on the woods trails and spying all the little creatures.
I am so happy to have started this blog while living there...it meant I took lots of photos and recorded things I might never have done.  I'll always have that.

Friday 18 November 2016

Auditioning Fabric and Cross Stitching Daydreams

This is my "Shiny and Brite" project (with apologies for its unironed state) where I left it fall of 2014 (yikes). I thought I did this just last year so how in the world did I lose a year of my life!

Yet another way writing this blog is helping me keep track of the projects, and life.
 I also just realized this was the fourth project I'd done from the wonderful Crabapple Hill Studios.  I've worked their Redwork Birds project called "Flight of Fancy", "Autumn's Call", "Gardener's Alphabet" and now "Shiny and Brite".  I've loved them all.

I thoroughly enjoyed the embroidering and I also got to colour.  What a great project when you get to do things you love to do.  No stress. I decided to Feature the post where I showed how I used my light box to trace the pattern.  It's there on the right if you are interested in reading about it.

When I showed you my little array of Christmas fabrics, I realized they were all missing a main colour that is prominent in the piece itself-pink. What a familiar story that is!  I tried the reds and greens, traditional Christmas colours and they really didn't work.
 So out fabric shopping I went.  Now not that that was a burden, mind you.

The little shop I went to, Mad About Patchwork, is a great little place.  It has grown steadily over the years and is now a going concern offering classes and a full range of many fabric lines.  I was able to purchase a couple of patterns that I had bookmarked since last year and never thought I'd find locally.

Well, what do you know.  There in the Christmas fabric section was the exact fabric that coordinated perfectly with the little scrap I'd brought from home and it included pink.  And me and dots; I just love them.

So far, so good.  For once I am not second guessing the fabrics; I'm liking how the colours are looking together.  Pinwheel pattern is a nice easy patchwork block to work out quickly.

  I used this Youtube video by Angela Bowman that shows how to cut 8 half square triangles at once which helped move the process along.

I need to figure out the corner blocks; I'd like to do something more interesting there.  But I'd also like to get this into the sandwich stage as I intend to do some hand quilting with it.
What fun.

Meanwhile, the "Strawberry Fields" cross stitch is advancing nicely, photo next time.  I'm working on the house now and already thinking ahead to the next cross stitch project.  I think I have a Christmas redwork one in my stash that would be perfect for this time of year.

Project wise, I feel I am in control.  I do have two more ready for finishing piecing but I have more confidence that I will do that.

I am so grateful my blogging friends in New Zealand are fine after the unusually strong earthquake they suffered earlier this week.

Hope you are well and feeling in control this weekend too with... whatever.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Middle of the Night Thoughts

Woke up at 3:15 this morning...mind a whirl with thoughts.  Just couldn't seem to shut if off. Here's how the thoughts went...

wonder if I can fix the tension on my good sewing machine
Donald Trump doesn't believe in climate change
hope daughter's furnace will be okay
hope the new fabric I bought will work
should we buy bunk beds for the spare room
Rex is barking too much-is he getting dementia
forgot to tell Hubby the tire pressure light came on in the car yesterday
why is my mastercard company changing over to visa
can't use visa in Walmart
wonder when my wool will come
wonder if the rumours about Prince Philip and other women are true
 is there going to be another season of River
should I set up a second bird feeder
I should check where else I can't use Visa
time to cut down the hydrangeas
 so sorry Kaaren at Painted Quilt is ending her blog
must check in with Spinster Stitcher to see how Stewey is doing
we just don't know what's around the next corner
what will the doctor say about that vertigo episode
Michael J. Fox is doing well
don't forget to eat those fresh beets in the fridge

Oh my gosh, around and around, so many words, so many thoughts.    Haven't a clue why every now and then my brain decides this is the night for middle-of-the-night blathering on and on.
 Today 'said brain's' in a bit of a fog and I'm sitting around way too long. I'm thinking about going for a walk.

Hope you know absolutely nothing about this kind of thing.

Monday 14 November 2016

Tulips Wall Hanging and Other Points

I've been grabbing a couple hours each day to work strictly on quilting the pieces I've begun.  And  the move uncovered a couple of UFO's I'd forgotten about.  Yikes.
Truthfully I am glad they were left unquilted as my skills  have improved so I will be doing a much better job of them now. So I tell myself.

  But here is one very much on my mind begun just prior to packing, my appliqued Tulips hanging. This is the latest I have worked steadily to have finished and on the bedroom wall.

Here it is on my lap; stitching in all the little ends and removing stray threads.

On the kitchen island, getting its' three layers evened out.

And lastly, on the bedroom wall.

My applique skills are improving mostly because I'm making myself slow down and take the time for small, even stitches.  In the work world I wanted everything done yesterday, and it is hard to shrug off that feeling even well into retirement.  But so many of you bloggers with your wonderful stitching are modelling for me the correct way to do things.  And tiny stitches are ones easily hidden which is what you must achieve for good applique stitching.

I  am reading this book, My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner.  It is the story of a girl named Resolute who is captured and taken to America to become an indentured servant to a Pilgrim family. I have enjoyed the first 100 pages; just 500 more to go.
 I am struck again and again by how hard so many women have had it and for so many generations, completely at the mercy of the men in their lives.  It's a puzzle to me how this came about because of my belief pure and simple in the magnificence of women.

I wanted to show you I am still wearing my Sketchers.  Probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. Comfortable, supportive and cushiony; very quiet on wooden floors.  I am so pleased with them.
And I am sitting in my Pet Chair, Murphy lying by the fireplace, Rex guarding the patio door.  Sunny periods all day lending bright light, so cross stitching it is.

Being the passionate homebody I am, I couldn't agree more with this sentiment.  How do you feel?

Image result for spurgeon quotes on home is the grandest of all institutions


Friday 11 November 2016

Poppies On Parade

This is Remembrance Day here in Canada.  On the eleventh month, the eleventh day and at the eleventh hour, we observe a minute of silence to remember all those who fought in the wars.  Respecting their effort and sacrifice is important to us and I hope that never changes.  We also wear red poppies this time of year as a symbol of that respect.

This year the Legion presented a virtual Poppy Drop on the Peace Tower and Center Block of our  Parliament Building.  117000 poppies are in the display each representing one of Canada's fallen.

I love poppies.  They are a colourful hardy perennial in any garden.  A couple years ago I bought a poppy scarf and the poppy drop earrings at the War Museum gift shop.  Here's a photo of them.

Image result for poppy earrings at canadian war museum
Image result for poppy scarf at canadian war museum

I've enjoyed wearing both lately.

And here is what I think are poppies, the way only William Morris would render them anyway, among floating leaves and tendrils.    

Morris Seaweed Fabric From the Morris & Co collection ‘Morris Seaweed’ design in ebony and poppy shows a free flowing and sinuous pattern which captures the underwater movement of plants.:

And a bit of truth in layers in poetry.  This is so true especially of some of the delicate wild flowers. I have tried to include them in a bouquet but they will droop almost immediately upon picking.  

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed.

Hope your weekend is full of pleasing things.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

My Pet Chair, Yarn and Fabric Snobs, Rave, Knitty Site Free Patterns

Funny how so many of us stitchers have a favourite chair.
  I read a lot of blogs where people talk about their happy chair, stitching chair, happy place, etc.  It seems I've found my place in this house too.  In the corner, near the window, my vantage point-the whole room, to my left out the window a view of evergreens, on my right is the fireplace for toasty warmth in winter.  Yes it is darn near perfect and since I'm the only one who sits there, I guess it is my pet chair.
This chair has a bit of history.  It was part of the cottage furniture from many decades ago, is very comfortable, hasn't a mark on it, and says Made in Denmark.  I think they make good stuff and we are lucky to have a dozen or so of these to scatter about.  With their combination of wood and leather, they fit in well here.
Thank goodness you can't really see my hair; you can see I have hair which is good but not the strange cut I gave myself.

And like any pet chair I've had, things seem to grow around it...a pile of books, a couple of projects, a reading glasses collection, a box of tissues, a mug, a glass, my special lamps.

 Someone else likes this chair too.  I'm not the only occupant I've discovered.

Yes, Miss Murphy who loves her comforts and, being the diva that she is, tries to demand them too.

This is where I finished off with the crocheted hexagons back in May.  No, actually, I did a little more with them; I'd crocheted a row of single crochet in white around each before it got stashed for the move or when I'd run out of yarn.

This time of year with the slightly frosty mornings makes me think of yarn. And on that wooly front I have placed my order with Biggan Design, Australia for more of their wool to finish up my hexagon afghan- to- be, shown above.  I'd used up my first order and subsequently visited a number of local shops to see if I could match the wool, which was 100% soft merino, to finish this project.
  No luck and so I figured if I was going to spend the time on this, I may as well do it right and order the proper wool that would match perfectly.  I'm nearing the finish line with it; now hopefully I can remember how to crochet that hexagon!

On that wool question...I've been reading a little about how some people are snobbish about the wool they use. I guess Yarn Snobs are not only snobs but judgemental too about the yarns other people use for their projects.  I read an excellent article called On Being A Yarn Snob on the Knitlove site if you want to hear a little more on that subject.  Of course, the snob aspect crops up in lots of things, food ingredients, fabrics we use, wine we drink, etc., etc.

 I have special issues with the snobbery around which fabric to use for cross stitching. It seems so many take issue with folks using Aida cloth for their projects. I'm a little sensitive about this having lived in places where that would have been the only cloth  available and affordable; also with getting older and eyesight being an issue...the Aida cloth is so much easier on the eyes to stitch. How odd to not be able to celebrate all stitching in all its forms as true stitching lovers.  

Thank goodness I have no such notions; and why on earth would I, being such a novice in the wool /quilt world as it were.  Though novice or not, I don't agree with being judgemental of others' choices, period!

 In fact, I've been eyeing a wool called Caron Simply Soft for my next project (of course, I have one!); it's gotten rave reviews.  This wool is readily available and actually a little more costly than the UK Stylecraft Special Dk which I tend to favour.

But back to Biggan Design- look at all the yummy colours. Doesn't it just make you want to get out those needles or hook.  Kind of like looking at a brand new box of Crayola crayons when I was a girl, and Mom always knew to get me the largest box each Christmas.  Gosh, what simple times!

In other yarny news, I came across this lovely little site called Knitty that is loaded with free patterns for both knitting and crochet.  I was struck by this little easy to crochet shawl or scarf.  Basically it is the granny square stitch stretched into lengths- you crochet into the chains which I'm sure makes this work up very quickly.  Already bookmarked.

                                beauty shot

I'm incorrigible.

Monday 7 November 2016

Strawberry Fields Cross Stitch, Quilty Braille "I Love You", Outings

At the supermarket on Thursday made me wonder how people with big families can afford to eat.  I didn't have that much, three bags, but it was just under $200.  Not one piece of meat in the lot, mostly fresh vegetables and fruits.  Which is kind of sad; we are told over and over to eat vegetables and fruits and yet, they are so expensive.
When I told Hubby what I'd spent, he said, what have you got in there, gold?
  I asked at the butcher dept. for turkey necks.  I had the yearning to make homemade soup and turkey necks always add so much flavour to any soup mixture.  The young lad kept saying you mean legs, turkey legs.  I guess no one else has ever asked for necks before.  Anyway, carrots were on for a wonderful price, a five pound bag for $3.99 so carrot soup it would be.

A quick catch you up with my Strawberry Fields piece.  Advancing nicely thanks to several quiet hours stitching on the weekend.  It is much easier to stitch than the last, Floral Bouquet, despite the difference in thread count.  There are far fewer colour changes and this makes stitching very straight forward.

Our clocks went back on Saturday night. It will mean brighter mornings but darkness will fall much earlier in the afternoon which people seem to universally dislike. Everyone wonders why we still have this Daylight Saving Time.  

I have several of these quilting magazines from the library, the Fons and Porter Quilty. I like how they have the full patterns for 10 or so quilting projects in each issue.

This one project caught my eye.  The triangles spell out "I love you" in braille.  Isn't that neat and the use of a dotted material so appropriate.

I enjoyed a day out with younger daughter on Saturday.  We took in a local church fall sale and tea, served by the international students at the local high school earning volunteering points.
  There we had a great chat with a lady who not only hooks rugs, but dyes the material she uses.  It sounds like it could be a very economical craft because all kinds of materials can be pressed into service from old tee shirts and sheets to bits of yarn.  I was very interested as both my grandmothers hooked rugs in their day and this is still a popular past time at home.  Here is a little kit you can buy to hook your own rug, or in this case, wall hanging.  It's available from Tides Point, a company specializing in Newfoundland traditional crafts.
                         Rug Kit - House with Clothes Line
  Then we went to see the movie, Dr. Strange starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  He was wonderful, of course. Are you a fan?  The movie special effects were spectacular; breath-taking really.  This is where the big screen is at its best.  The basic premise of mind over matter is a fascinating concept to me.  I also got a kick out of hearing the wise Ancient One played by the equally wonderful Tilda Swinton, sound like Eckhart Tolle when talking about how everything in life changes when you take your own ego out of the situation.  I wonder what would psychiatrists say about all those ego subtraction ideas.

All good fun.

Friday 4 November 2016

Something to Look Forward To...Always

We stitchers have so much to live for.  Besides the obvious-family, loved ones, friends, we have that lovely stash of fabrics, yarn, patterns, kits, etc. that no way are we giving up on.  I'm thinking stitchers are the most contented people on the planet.  We always have something to look forward to...the next quilt pattern, knit or crochet project, the next design from a favourite designer, the next fabric/yarn/cross stitch shop to check out. And the internet, whew! how that has enhanced our searching pleasure and enjoyment.  Our favourite blogs to check out; Pinterest to troll.
 That 'having something to look forward to' in this life is a very important gift we share.
  Our stitching world is like our secret weapon against the hurdles life puts in our path, I think.

And in my stitching world this week, my little autumn hanging is finished and hanging in the hallway.

It's hard to get a shot around here without a dog's front or back in the frame.  Rex is still my constant companion.  If I move, he moves with me.

Here I was working on the border piece.  It is all set up and doesn't it give the look of efficiency like this person knows what she is doing.

The best part about making this hanging was learning to use another part of the sewing machine-the walking foot.  It proved to be a wonderful little tool once I'd figured out how to attach it ( with Hubby's help).  I hope to use it often and soon.

I also used these little clips Daughter had given me.  They were extremely useful for holding the edges without the bother of pins.  I highly recommend them.

I have already pulled out my next UFO that I am determined to finish completely this year. It is a Christmas wreath I embroidered last fall in the days leading up to December 25, a design from Crabapple Hill Studio called Shiny and Brite.  I hope to complete the border for it with patchwork blocks in Christmas fabrics.  To that end, here is my choice of materials...I don't have much but this will do.  More about this project later.

Meanwhile my Strawberry Fields is steadily advancing.  I am so pleased that my 2.75 reading glasses and my OttLite are working in my favour.  All the advance whining was really for nothing it seems.

Below, the view from my kitchen window one day two weeks ago.  Of course the snow has completely disappeared.  It was 20 degrees C today and raining tonight.  But it's out there.

Hope all is calm and contented in your stitchy world this weekend.