Saturday 28 December 2019

Deep In December Finishes, Surprising Top Five Blog Posts,

Facing down another year with 2020 a few days away.  It does give one pause doesn't it.
But before looking back at the whole year I have to give December its due.  It was a wonderful month with lots of good things, family time and celebrating certain events as well in it. 
I was also pleased with my stitching this month. Though I did poke a few holes in two of my right hand fingertips, it was worth it.  I did not finish 10 more of the Dresden blocks as was the monthly plan, but I did prep 5 more to hand stitch.
In its place, I finished a project that consumed almost all my time and became a special Christmas gift.  I followed a pattern found in this issue of Quiltmania Simply Vintage, Winter 2017,
called Frosty Night by Emmanuelle Specque-Lafouasse.
Here is my version which also sits as my Blogger Header photo these days.  I wanted it large enough to use as a throw.
 The little recipient loves nature and the various animals I included especially the turtle and the fox.  It was his wild turtle that went in our pond and helped the turtle population so I added a little sleeping turtle too.
I hand stitched blanket stitch around almost every item plus filled the sky with quilting stars but used the machine on the binding and did a double row just to hopefully hold it all tight.
Such a fun applique piece to work on and my reward was an enthusiastic reaction as the animals and owl got checked out.

This month I finished this pillow with an old cross stitched piece, Just Believe with a Santa Snowman.
I also stitched and gifted these two items, a table topper and Kantha style stitched redwork runner, which were well received and I was happy about that.
Now is a good time to look back at Canadian Needle Nana and which posts garnered the most attention this year. While none of these posts received my highest pageviews ever, they were the highest in 2019.  This is the only time I pay attention to pageviews; I'm much more interested in comments and the possibility of connecting with you that they bring.
Beginning with the most pageviews....
#1 Links, Woolworths Famous Cheesecake, Flowers at Last.  This post included the no bake recipe and my photos of my version.  This brought back a lot of memories for many of you and I received many wonderful comments.
                               Image result for woolworths famous cheesecake
#2 was Two Trends I've Noticed and I talked about how last January saw many stitchers anxious about finishing up old projects and also scrap busting. I was in the finish up camp which is right where I am this year! And I'm also, in my somewhat frugal heart, a happy scrappy quilter too.
#3 was titled Free Patterns, Stitching and Feeding the Birds
In this post I mentioned a link to free patterns by the wonderful designer Karen Kluba, my Cornwall Cottage piece and feeding the birds in a snowy February.
#4 Spinner Rings, Finishes, Domestic Minutiae
I was quite taken with a spinner ring Daughter gave me. I'm still on the library hold list waiting to read that book! It is immensely popular!
#5 Sensational September, Stitching, SAL, Squirrels
I included a photo of my Kathy Schmitz redworked squirrel. There are a lot of redwork fans out there!
Roseanne at Home Sewn By Us mentioned this link, Ranked Blogs, so I went to the site to give her a thumbs up vote and it was a total surprise to see Canadian Needle Nana was on the list. I don't know what the numbers represent but having said that, perhaps I should learn more about it just because learning is good for the brain. But numbers don't really interest me so I probably won't. :)

 But what really interests me is hearing from you, learning about you, being inspired by your skills and creativity.  Connecting in this big, wide world of ours.
Also happy for these link up parties- Meadow Mist DesignsThe Madd QuilterGone Stitchin',  Kathy's QuiltsSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsLove Laugh QuiltConfessions of a Fabric AddictDevoted Quilter and Elm Street Quilts.

Thursday 26 December 2019

Chateau Getaway, Christmas Feast, Scandinavian Applique

I have an abundance of things to be thankful for this Thursday. The special birthday was celebrated and Santa came, not down a chimney but through the basement patio door a certain little someone thought. This year everyone chipped in for the big dinner which was a feast and I brought the turkey. So my house had a wonderful smell all Christmas Day.

My inside voice has been rather quiet lately.  I'm the one who must turn everything over and over in my mind and often feels compelled to verbalize whatever idiotic/phenomenal(to me)/strange idea it is that I've thought up.  Perhaps it is being a little emotionally drained and then refilling with all the Christmas hoopla that's made me a little less thinky.   Whatever, it's good to just think everything is fine (at this moment) and to feel more or less neutral about life's issues. Not worked up about anything.  I bet you know what I mean.

Daughter and I enjoyed a little break from life with a three night vacation downtown Ottawa at the Chateau Laurier, a favourite spot of mine.
Image result for chateau laurier
We spent most of one day at the National Gallery of Canada which is a short walk away.   I don't get to visit there as often as I would like.  We revisited the Canadian art galleries. There were interpreters in two of them and we spent time with both chatting about what an "expert" could see in a painting that we were missing.
Always a treat to see an Inuit Pangnirtung print from the era when I was teaching on Baffin Island decades ago.
We enjoyed room service. Wonderful breakfast oatmeal which made me wonder how did they cook it so it was just right. SIL figures they use sous-vide cooking -Wikipedia link to read all about it, which he enjoys fact, used it on Christmas Day to make us almost melt in your mouth steak.
Pretty but what exactly is it?
 And the views. Here are the Canadian Parliamentary Buildings, which houses our federal government.
And in the other direction at night, sorry it's blurry but the lights-all blue, were so pretty.
Daytime photo of the same.
What a treat for us! I wish we could do this more often.  It was rejuvenating especially for me as I don't get to travel much these days.
My cross stitching went with me and I did manage to lay a few stitches with the help of the excellent reading light over the bed.

I've finished several more of the Quiltmania Advent blocks which are reminiscent of Scandianavian styles.

 After several day's of family get togethers, I'm relaxing today, looking at my presents, and using some of them, just like a kid. Also thinking what a wonderful December I've had despite tears shed for you know who.  And isn't that just life!
Linking this post to Not Afraid of Color as always. Also joining Alycia QuiltsFrom Bolt to Beauty,  Floral Friday FotoCreations...Quilts, Art...Whatever and Powered by Quilting.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Santas, Appliqued Snowmen, Snowy Owl Treetop

Love Santas and our little collection, some very old, is enjoyed year after year.
Little grandson had his photo taken with a store Santa recently. At 6, he knows this is not the real Santa.
Image may contain: 1 person, hat, glasses and child
 I've been working on a Christmas applique project (no Santa) which has turned into a lot more hand stitching than I had planned. An intended Christmas gift, I'm cutting it a little too close for my liking.  So I've already warned Hubby, today will be a stitching day. He'll have to amuse himself, LOL.
Thank you all for the well wishes. Some have asked how is Murphy.  We think she is more relaxed and sleeping better. Though demanding, she was the more sensitive of the two and would pace if anxious. She would get up in the night when we got up with Rex and would pace about. She probably sensed things we didn't and she didn't like it. Now she seems more at rest herself and calmer. We are also doing fine.
I have Rex's leash and collar on my bureau where I can touch it.
At the old farm, 2013
I told you my tree is mostly a bird tree, even to what sits on the top.
Merry Christmas from me and the pretty Snowy Owls.
Hope the second last Sunday of 2019 is a wonderful one for you.
Linking this post to the wonderful parties at Kathy's QuiltsSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsLove Laugh Quilt and Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Christmas Is Close, No Fail Recipes, A Goodbye Too

Out my kitchen window, 7 am this morning, -21 C/ -6 F, no wind, thank goodness!
 Brimming with emotions and feelings here at the wooden house.
Christmas is so close! I've been shopping and tomorrow is Wrap Day.  I play Christmas music and enjoy sorting the gifts and making sure I have what I want for everyone.

Do you have no fail recipes? Ones you've had for ages and always work out just the way they always did.  I never could keep to that sort of regime in any of the many kitchens I've inhabited down through the decades.  I wanted to try new ingredients and enjoyed searching out new recipes all the time, with varying degrees of success and the detrimental side effect of that is I have no no- fail recipes. Well, I do have one. My gravy, but it was my mother's no fail recipe that she shared with me and since she no longer cooks big dinners anymore, technically it is mine. Oh as I'm thinking about this, I realize I have another. My pastry- which is the Crisco can recipe that I've used all my married days. So I guess I do sort of have no- fail recipes after all. Any you are trotting out for the Christmas dinner?

Speaking of recipes, I tried to make a mostly green smoothie and added plant protein powder to the mixture. I think it is an acquired taste.  I had to eat something to get the taste out of my mouth... I've read when you need to do that, you shouldn't have eaten whatever it was in the first place. No kidding! Luckily for me, Daughter had given me some Christmas marshmallow chocolate.  It was just the ticket but I no doubt undid whatever good was in the smoothie. :)
My Christmas tree is really a bird tree.  Here are some of the ornaments I stitched in years past...starting to show their wear. Lost an egg somehow here.

Thankful and So Sad
As many of you know, our German Shepherd, Rex, has been failing gradually in health for months now. Our concerns deepened last weekend when he refused to eat. He slipped away peacefully on Monday, December 16. I was so happy that we had taken him for a little walk around the trails that morning, something he loved.
It was Hubby who originally rescued Rex but from the time I first met him ten years ago, he became my dog. He was with me where ever I was and I will miss his large, loyal and protective presence very much. As I write this through tears, I am also feeling so thankful we were able to give him a good life, full of love and comforts, after his unfortunate start.

Linking as always with Not Afraid of ColorWendy's Quilts and More and My Bijou Life.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Quiltmania Advent Blocks, Just Believe and Relax, Free Patterns

I find it a little harder to concentrate this close to Christmas. I'm not sure why.  I have it so easy compared to all the preparations, dinners, parcels to mail, etc., plus finishing up the school term as a teacher that would constitute my Decembers in past times. Now it's easy peasy.  Buy presents, wrap them, decorate the house with little guy's help, cook and bake a few treats for us. Oh and the very taxing- listen to Christmas music, remember to turn on the tree lights. Certainly nothing too consuming there. And I really do love it all.
 Maybe it is just the season and the millions of memories that bubble up that are diverting my attention a little. Or that on certain days I have the vague but nagging feeling that there is something that needs doing and I've forgotten what it is...a lingering post retirement feeling that I've almost shaken.  Hubby, the sage, says relax.

Accomplishing a few things in the sewing room and the therapy of it all is not lost on me.
Snowman Santa cross stitch is now a cushion- Just Believe...yes!
Hand applique is one of my favourite pastimes.
 Several more of the Quiltmania Advent blocks. More embellishments in the form of embroidery, beads and buttons to come for several of these. That bell needs a clapper. A free and truly fun project.
I've had this little free pattern from Jenny at Home Stitchness in my files for a long time.  It works up into a sweet little ornament.
                                                   Free Kiwi Joy Pohutukawa Flower Cross Stitch Christmas Decoration Design New Zealand
I'm on the look out for this jigsaw puzzle. The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, winter edition. It keeps getting sold out so if you come across it, please let me know.
                                                 See the source image
I do have this one that needs to be set up. To Kill a Mockingbird, :)
Winter is a great time to do jigsaws with a little music playing; something I like to do while I'm waiting for the potatoes to boil or Hubby to get ready...for those kinds of moments. (No I really can't just sit and do nothing.)

It is our monthly SAL link up hosted by Avis at  Sewing Beside the Sea. A more kind and encouraging group of international stitchers you could not find.
AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathy, MargaretCindyLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborahMary MargaretReneeJennyCarmelaJocelynSharonDaisyAnneConnie
I'm pleased with my progress on Swirling Flowers. Though not a section as such finished, lots of fleshing out has occurred.  Can you spy my initial? I didn't realize there was to be an initial in this one till I came upon it in the pattern. (Seeing the forest but not the trees??)
Being a little more adventurous in the kitchen today, a desire prompted by the horrid weather, pouring down rain from the heavens! Mixed with bouts of freezing rain.  Have a small beef bourguignon simmering in the slow cooker.
Sunday morning update...view from my stitching chair in the living area.
Winter returns!
Murphy says What the heck!
Next time I'll share three skin/beauty products that I'm enjoying and what we find on our big Costco run which we must do this week.
Hope you are enjoying this pre-Christmas time of year and you are not forgetting something important that needs doing!
Happily linking this post with Kathy's QuiltsConfessions of a Fabric AddictThe Jesh StudioViewing Nature With EileenThe Madd QuilterSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsWhat A Hoot Quilts and Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Pre Christmas Preparations, Projects of Christmas Past

Lots of dillydallying going on here this morning...and coming right on the heels of the lollygagging mentioned in the last post. We had snow again but rain has wiped it out...again. Such strange weather so far this winter.  Meanwhile  I'm lingering here at the computer just writing away which is not an awful thing as sometimes my blog/writing ideas come to me in spurts and I can get a number of ideas recorded to be fleshed out later.

The whole place needs a good scrub...two old people, two big dogs. Fridge needs some deep diving cleaning attention too.  I'm still so happy we bought a new stand up freezer when we moved here. I could literally hug it...oh how I hated trying to clean out the old majorly deep box that was a freezer at the farm.

 Grandson loved the way the lights puddled more at the bottom of the tree. When I see that now, I think of him.
We had a grand day together and he really is a help and ever so careful unwrapping the ornaments. He also was instrumental in putting together this little tree for the tv room.  He figured out how the stand should go when it was totally stumping Nana because he looked in the box and saw it on the
"structions". :)
 Here he is taking a break in his hidey nook behind my stitching chair and eating his fairy bread.  At least it is whole grain, :)
I've stitched two strip borders on the Santa Snowman piece and hand quilted it this way.
 Thought I would mimic the cross stitches with a little motif.  I have the backing material picked out so it will be a cushion top very soon.
When I opened my little Christmas fabric box, I found the fabric I had bought in a bundle from the thrift store. There was more of this particular line than I thought, unfortunately cut into shapes.  While metallic designs are not what I would buy, it is beautiful fabric. The best I've seen. Tried to find a name and it seems to be a Moda line, Robert Kaufman, Holiday Flourish perhaps.
  So too pretty to give back to a thrift store, I set about using some of it.  With some tricky strip stitching and cutting, I came up with this piece that I'm making into a little table topper.
This was fun to work on and I wondered for the umpteenth time why small projects don't appeal to me.

Meanwhile time for the hangings of Christmas past to come out.  Here is Scandinavian Christmas I finished last year. Funny, I see it now and I think it's okay...I'm not as focused on the little problems I might have had during the stitching.
While I was flirting with being in the woods after dark one day, I was rewarded with a glimpse of this fellow.  The resident Barred Owl and so happy to know they are still around. I hadn't seen one since July when he had flown across my path on route to the pond.
Sadly I don't have the equipment required to get a good photo in such light conditions.  But it gave me a thrill to watch him just the same. I soon skedaddled though because there is something about the woods in the dark...Hubby lived at the old farm for over 40 years and had never once set foot on the trails after dark.  I did venture a little distance a couple of times trying to capture stars with tree tops.  At the very least, there were lots of skunks there and that's something you really don't want to surprise.
I hope your pre Christmas preparations are moving along.  I'm reading about some great cookie baking happening and secret gifts being sewn. Such a wonderful and fun time of the year.
So fun to link with Not Afraid of ColorQuilt FabricationIt's a Small Town LifeFor the Love of GeeseThe Inquiring QuilterMy Quilt Infatuation and Paying Ready Attention.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Three Stitching Possible Christmas Gift Projects, There's Power in Kindness

As I ate my late breakfast, oatmeal, walnuts and blueberries, this morning...
I thought of this.
Hubby lies down every day for a nap and it is not a factor of his age; he has been able to achieve this feat as long as memory serves him. He can be reminding me of our car appointment or what to say if so and so calls and the next moment be breathing deeply like somebody already past the dreaming stage. I marvel at this. As you know sleep is like a foreign country to me and I definitely can't lie down during the day and expect to nod off just like that.   Is it some remnant of old belief where it was only babies that went down to sleep during the daylight hours. Adults had too much work to do to afford such a luxury. But when I think about it, most outport kitchens at home had something called a daybed in them. So someone would have been napping.  I know my grandfather would sleep on theirs extra cold nights and keep the wood stove in the kitchen going all night.
Anyway, I'm a bit envious and wonder what it would be like to go through life thoroughly rested all the time.

I have a million things to do but seem to be lollygagging this morning.  Google is playing me some violin music that is making me feel melancholic.  But I love it anyway.
I just went through the online Ottawa Library catalogue and put a hold on this book by Kathy at The Cottage at Cardiff Farms.  Pretty nature inspired applique.
                                                        A Cottage Garden
I have that turkey carcass from Sunday's meal that I need to turn into soup. Later today.
I have block 1 of my little Quiltmania Advent free patterns finished. I followed the instructions to double the perle cotton to make the twigs but it looks a little fat to me. What do you think?  Just started the bell for number 2.
I have the border and backing stitched on this Scandinavian embroidery table runner below.  Thinking now about what quilting lines to lay down...since this was embroidered onto a quilt batting back, maybe a few free motion type swirls around the edge will suffice. I'd thought of working more small motifs around these big ones; hope it doesn't look sparse. What do you think?  Meanwhile in need of a good press. A gift for a family friend.
I loved the red fabric for the border but the trouble was I had only a small amount so had to rig it for just the edging and plain white for the backing.
I'm turning this Santa Snowman into a cushion top.  Do you remember about 10 years ago when Just Believe seemed to be on everything.  That was when I found this little Cross stitch  kit at a thrift store and finished it.
 Though the phrase is passe, it's time now for it to be something and this fabric is red not orange as it's showing.

I enjoyed reading this Tuesday's post at Not Afraid of Color.  LeeAnna shared some stories about meeting people and striking up a conversation- how the exchange can make you feel good. I was telling her how I often speak to checkout clerks as I think their job must be so hard. Sometimes I mention their earrings, or hair or the weather. I've always been rewarded with genuine responses.  Face to face positive connections, even tiny wee ones like this, are important.

I'm enjoying all the birds at the feeders. The chickadees, my most frequent diner, are keeping me busy with the refilling which is good.  Having chores is a good thing but first today a good walk.  We have a family member here cutting brush to clear more walking trails for us so I must go see how he's making out.
Hope you are brimming with energy (unlike me!) today as the countdown to Christmas is now serious.
Also enjoying linking up with Paying Ready AttentionMy Quilt InfatuationQuilting and Learning,
My Bijou LifeIt's A Small Town LifeQuilt Fabrication and I'd Rather B Birdin.