Thursday 30 April 2020

Maytime, My Design Wall, Hand Pieced Projects, Bee's First Food

My Design Wall
Three hand pieced projects on the go right now, the Book Club Hand Pieced QAL, the Grandmother's Flower Garden and Basket Case. I took this photo this morning with a weather statement in progress about heavy rainfall so rather dull.  Colours are much brighter than seen here.
I'd like to complete the Book Club Hand Pieced QAL blocks this month. I'll set that as my OMG  for May at Elm Street Quilts. At first, I wasn't sure about my colour choices as they are outside my comfort zone but I'm glad I did that for a change. It accomplished reconfirmed for me that while my likes are somewhat eclectic,  I need to work with fabrics that bring me happiness. Not ones chosen because they may be considered cool or artsy. We all should choose the fabrics and colours that, as so many of you put it, make our hearts sing.  I think we all know by just looking at them which ones accomplish that.

Melva has released another block for the Pieces of the Past SAL, a Kansas City Star, that is just wonderful. You can find the pattern and information in this post.

Hubby took apart my camera to see if he could fix it. He's been working on it off and on all winter and watching various videos to guide him.  But still no luck. I've been looking for another new one.  For bird photos especially, I really need a better camera than my sturdy little carry along which is great for close ups. Doing the research for a new camera has been fun and a learning experience.  I've done it before but need reminding of the details.

Here is my May redwork  block from A Patchwork Year called Bees 'n Blooms by Kathy Schmitz. Hand pieced as well and I can tell how much my piecing has improved when looking at the wobbles in this. But note the little bee!
And the little poem by E. Parker Kathy included with the pattern says
              Oh! In my garden every day,
              It should be always playtime,
             And every bird should have a nest
             And all the world be Maytime.

Yes to all the world being Maytime!
Grandson with his sunny smile feeding their chickens. Don't worry; the chickens have a much larger enclosure to roam in surrounding this little house. And return to live with the farmer for the winter.
We have  a solitary dandelion flower in bloom.  Everything else is just popping through the soil so this was quite a surprise to see in the middle of the side lawn. Such hardy little blooms and the first food for all the bees.
A bit more brightness on this rather gloomy day.
Hope it is anything but gloomy weather wherever you are in this big world of ours.
Linking this post with Not Afraid of ColorFloral Friday FotoWendy's Quilts and MoreQuilting is More Fun Than HouseworkMadd Quilter and Alycia Quilts.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Scrappy Almost Finishes, Free Patterns

I'm trying to stay positive but little thoughts niggle at me. When will it be safe again for folks my age to venture out is one of the things on my mind.  I am encouraged by how the vaccine is madly being worked on all over the globe but best case scenario is saying completion is a year away. Can we stay hidden in our wooden house bubble that long?!!

I don't make cookies often except for Hubby to have as a bikky with his cups of tea but I saw this recipe tour Facebook and thought I would give it a try. It's the DoubleTree Hotel Chocolate Chip Cookie.  I made a batch, ate one myself. That's a lie; I ate two. So good! Here is the link if you'd like to give them a try.
That's my William Morris mug...Strawberry Thief in Blue.  I've become more interested in herbal teas and this is one daughter gave me, a Maple Green Tea which is very nice. Also love the Maple Leaf tin.

On the stitching front...
I want to emphasize the projects I have nearing completion this week.
My OMG at Elm Street Quilts was to have all the blocks quilted in my Scrappy Blue Strings.  I have all but one that I can, finished.  However did not have batting to finish the rest. I had used the thinnest batting I could find at the time (since I was quilting on my little machine) and what I have on hand is miles thicker so I don't think it will match.  I'm a little disappointed because this is a project I wanted to get to the binding stage like yesterday.
I also have my baskets all quilted and joined. They feel wonderful to have in my lap, so soft and warm. However, I'm a little disappointed that this labour intensive project didn't turn out bigger than it is. It is 62 in x 62 in. I could add a couple more rows to one end to make it more rectangle.  I'm still not finished decision making with this one it seems.  However, I don't know if I have the will or energy to invest any more time on tempted to border it and call it a finish.
Note to self: when doing on point again I would border each block like square in a square pattern or some such which is just a sensible thing. Obviously not thinking ahead like I should. 😞 That's a disappointed in myself emoji.

On a more positive note, I am enjoying my cross stitching in early afternoon when light is at its best. January block beginning to take form.
More free patterns! What wonderful news when I heard that Australian designers were collaborating on a project to provide free patterns to their stitching audiences. The project offered through a Facebook group is called Love and Hugs from Australia. It features embroidery and sometimes, a little patchwork, a combination I love.  Love and Hugs From Australia Stitch-A-Long is a link. (If that link doesn't work, let me know.) Australia seems to have an abundance of wonderful stitching communities and I especially love how embroidery is so celebrated there.

I was surprised and happy to get a photo of these two Canada geese who visited the pond two days in a row. Getting this photo involved a long half crawl through underbrush and going over my boots in water and still not getting very close to them. This had to be heavily cropped.
I was curious why one was so much bigger than the other.

We both worked in the garden yesterday laying a new hose for the front flower beds. A job we postponed from last fall to now little thinking that we would have such an abundance of time on our hands. If we'd known, there were several other jobs we could have likewise put off till now.
Fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong and we can have it dry and warm enough to do more outside chores this week. The garden beckons.
 Just thinking about veranda stitching makes me happy.
Also very happy to link this post with Kathy's QuiltsLife in PiecesSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsMy Quilt InfatuationFor the Love of GeeseMeadow Mist DesignsThe Needle and Thread NetworkFrom Bolt to Beauty Sarah Goer Quilts and The Jesh Studio.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Irish Loaf, Scrap Busting, Book Club Block, Nana Mail

Here I am once again regaling you with my most exciting pastimes here at the wooden house.
 I can honestly picture my grandmothers doing much the same things back many decades ago like the jigsaws for instance. One of my grandmothers had a large puzzle glued and made into a picture hanging on the wall in her living room. It showed Balmoral Castle and she had pieced it during World War II. No doubt as a break from her knitting, darning, tending the chickens and all the other chores she had to do. And worrying about the war of course.

That same grandmother (the Irish one) made this bread but she would add raisins, slather it with butter, and wash it down with tea as everything was in her house. I made bannock when living in the far north and coast of Labrador and it would remind me of her soda bread which she called "loaf".  Hubby has been enjoying this loaf which is surprisingly bread like.
 Coarser texture of course. I didn't have buttermilk, but used soured milk instead which is easily done with vinegar. Great toasted. I used the Stay at Home Chef's recipe.
The Phoebes are back.  I meant to clean out the nest under the eave of the backyard shed but didn't think they would arrive so soon. Taken July, 2019. They like to use snug quarters which it quickly became as three chicks fledged from this little spot.
 I worry that there are not enough insects out for them but they seem to find enough.
I took this photo last week from the patio door...spring snow and little Phoebe.
I managed a little scrap organization when I had my big tote out. I cut the smaller pieces into triangles and felt satisfied with that evening's work. Good way to keep busy yet rest my eyes too from the close work.
As well I decided to use some scraps to make two slabs, in this case, about 12 1/2 inch blocks. This was such easy stitching with the back ache.
I have more reds so I used them because really what else will I be doing with them.
I sewed Jo from the Book Club Hand Pieced QAL.  Another fun one to make and I've stitched another version of her to take better care with the four outside triangles.  This is teal blue, definitely not purple.
And a couple more baskets because as Michelle says these are addictive.  This was in between working on my two old projects.
I don't usually talk a whole lot about cleaning here on the blog but I have been tackling one job a day that really is more organizational than cleaning I guess. (Around here, organizational most often occurs when we are searching for something.) Yesterday I chose to sort those two silly bottom corner kitchen cabinets with the swing out doors where the shelves can only be reached properly on your knees. Stuff gets put in the back of them and rarely sees the light of day. So both of those have had an good sort through with a couple of happy surprises.  An unopened bag of Costco quinoa and one of golden sugar (why did I buy that!).

I had Nana mail delivered this week along with more of those farm eggs.  A bookmark from 6 year old Robbie. I will use it in one of my bird books that are now out and in use. Despite snow, rain, hail and sleet and occasional sun this week, the birds are twittering and the frogs are croaking. Spring must go forward in spite of the weather I guess.
On that happy note, I'll close this post.
So happy to link it with Not Afraid of ColorPaying Ready Attention, My Corner of the WorldMy Quilt InfatuationViewing Nature With EileenI'd Rather B Birdin' , Quilting is More Fun Than HouseworkSum of Their Stories and It's a Small Town Life.

Sunday 19 April 2020

Isolation Still and Continuous Small Treats

I forwarded this photo to Daughter who had given me this fun puzzle. Another Cobble Hill 1000 piece and I'm enjoying the challenge of this one very much. She had also dropped off my groceries which included this lovely red apple. Always grateful!
I work on this when I'm waiting for something to cook in the kitchen and I usually listen to an audio book or a YouTube video at the time.  I'm a follower of Dr. John Campbell who predicted this pandemic and said all the right things about testing needs and quarantining right from the start back in January. He is not political at all and just presents the international facts, figures and science of this event. I was especially interested in his ongoing discussion about Vitamin D.
I've put up another spring type hanging. This is one I stitched a couple years ago along with the Kathleen Tracy group at Country Lane Quilts as a free mystery project.  I used it to practice my machine sewing which still needs work and I got to a point of unsewing with this one that I said okay not any where near perfect but done.  That ever happen to you?
 I have a fondness for tulip motifs in all their various forms.
My fabric for cross stitching finally arrived, a 28 count Cashel in flax colour.  The little company shipped it out in timely fashion but it took two weeks to arrive here; a whole week to land in my mail box after arrival in Ottawa. I'm not complaining just happy to finally receive it. But that explains my small progress on this chosen project which I can already tell I will enjoy stitching.
I've started at the January block so I'm either far behind or far ahead depending on how you look at it!

Here is another of the Flower Garden blocks I'm hand stitching using freezer paper templates. I'm loving this project and think I will keep making them....see where the journey takes me, LOL.
Thanks again to Melva at Melva Loves Scraps for hosting the SAL and providing these free patterns and tutorials, along with much interesting reading in her posts.
A little inspiration....
     This is the work of Valerie Greeley and you can check out more of her lovely watercolour artwork Here at her blog Acorn Moon and her website,  Valerie Greeley, Miniature Artist.
This one, O is For Owl, is just 3 inches square and features one of the endangered Barn Owls of Britain. It requires a magnifying glass to paint details so fine.  I'm in awe.                     
Time for our monthly SAL link up hosted by Avis at Sewing Beside the Sea.  Many hand stitched projects have been completed since we began this stitching journey together.  And more interesting pieces begun.
AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborah, MaryMargaretRenee, CarmelaJocelynSharonDaisyAnneConnieAJJennyLauraCathieLindaSherrie

So happy to link with Kathy's QuiltsQuilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Thursday 16 April 2020

Squirrels, Stitching, Shows, Stash and Sew Alongs

Our little pond is ice free (though brushed with snow again) and already the water level is lowering. We've disturbed ducks there most mornings. Wish they weren't so skittish.  I've yet to get a photo.
However, there is no problem catching these active little guys. Look out any window and there they are. I wonder what exactly they find to munch on...other than my sunflower seeds that is.

King Arthur Flour is running a baking series on Facebook called The Isolation Baking Show.  It's wonderful to see this return to baking happening all over.  I've been tempted to make sourdough bread starter which uses very simple ingredients.  Anyone tried it? I used to make it decades ago when I lived in the far north; a friend had brought the starter with her and shared it out. We enjoyed homemade sourdough bread for a couple of years from the starter I kept in a jar at the back of the fridge.

Pam at Heartspun Quilts is hosting a small sew along, about 4 blocks. It begins tomorrow, Friday, April 17.  She is calling it Safe Keeping and it will be scrappy with the purpose to make a little mini runner.

I've stitched two versions of Penelope, the block for this week in the Book Club Hand Pieced QAL.  Another easy one and I think I will change up the fabrics to make another one.  Information about this block and the QAL provided by Kristen is HERE.

I  hand stitched two little baskets from Michelle Ridgeway's Basket Case stitch along.  I tried out freezer paper templates and decided to use these grey fabrics for backings just for added interest.  I've been sticking with cream for so many of these projects; time for a change.
These stitch up really quickly.
I've been eyeing my wool and thinking it's time I got something on needles. I get a real hankering to be knitting or crocheting from time to time. We still have one of my afghans on the bed. Someone- sorry, can't remember who, chatted with me about toile and I mentioned my red toile curtains. Here they are.
Hubby has been pruning the trails and clearing brush in the afternoons.  Though it tires him, it's good to be in the fresh air, moving the body and keeping busy.
And hopefully burning off some of the calories from his Christmas chocolate stash!
As always and thankfully, it's not a problem to fill up our time here at the wooden house.
 Are you enjoying all the good news stories cropping up all over the globe?
Always good to link with Not Afraid of ColorViewing Nature With EileenSugar Lane DesignsLife in PiecesElm Street QuiltsSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsThe Jesh StudioSkywatch Friday and It's a Small Town Life.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Forever Saturday, Spring Stitcheries, Free Patterns

It is not unusual for us to not know what day of the week it is or to not have to be anywhere for three days in a row. But even for us this is going on so long we are in a suspension-like state I'm calling forever Saturday.

 So this happened...the virus is now in our little town, notably one of the senior's homes has been hard hit.  Since the virus is in Ottawa and the surrounding towns, it made sense it was here too. Just a matter of time.
 In the meantime, we are comforting ourselves as much as possible in our own little wooden house bubble. The only thing we can control is how we spend this time so we are doing our best to keep busy and sort of productive.  
A new puzzle and just look, no snow in the back yard as of today! 
 Pussy Willows have blossomed...this too, weeks earlier than last year.  I'm surprised because we haven't had that much warmth or sun. And the two days of flurries this week didn't dampen their opening. I hope to get out and about more with my camera in the coming days. Ducks are on the pond again and I would love to get some photos.
My time this week has been spent on two projects mostly.  It is nice to look again and up close at the pretty fabrics that went into the baskets. I chose this photo because I loved to see a ray of sunshine last week. I'm using Sulky variegated thread in pale pinks, blues and creams to hand quilt a line around each. I'm working on the fourth panel now.
Meanwhile I downloaded a new basket pattern. This one offered for free from the talented and generous Michelle at Michelle Ridgeway Designs. She is calling it Basket Case and I got the bright idea to use it as a way to use up scraps. I shrunk the pattern till it was 4 inches and got out my tote of scraps.  Didn't take me long to figure out I did not have enough scraps large enough to accommodate even this size. However I did find this little pile in an old biscuit tin so I could start with these but maybe not as I think I readied these squares for something else. That'll come to me later. Never mind, I've got lots of fabric and perhaps this week will be a beginning for this anyway. 
I finished another Flower Garden block  from Melva Loves Scraps free pattern. I'm using freezer paper and a ladder stitch to join the pieces.  I changed my mind about red centers and am testing out yellow.  These are scraps from a deconstructed shirt and are a very pretty shade of yellow. Or maybe different coloured centers for all of them.  Decisions.
 My second turned out better because I didn't pull the stitches quite as tightly.  When hand stitching, I'm conscious of keeping a certain tautness to make sure the cloth will hold together in the end. Mustn't overdo it though.
It is Easter Sunday; this whole weekend was very important to us when growing up. A lot of church going was involved and it kind of marked the official start to spring. Today I hung up my Spring project from the past, In the Garden of Contentment...patterns by Allie at Allie Oops Sweet Happy Life.  I plan to hang a couple more this week.
Happy Spring and how's it going in your Forever Saturday world??
Always a treat to link with all the slow stitchers at Kathy's QuiltsLife in PiecesHome Sewn By UsQuilt FabricationThe Needle and Thread NetworkPowered By Quilting and Small Quilts and Doll Quilts.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Comforts During Isolation, Number 1

Google is playing me lovely violin music this morning and a ray of sunshine is trying to break through the clouds. I lost some sleep in the middle of the night worrying about all the wrong things so I'm going to soothe myself a bit just for now with the right things. Basic but comforting.

It's comforting to have all the folks heading this battle working together; our prime minister and the provincial premiers are sharing and offering each other all the help they can.
I especially like that the prime minister has twice now addressed the children of our nation and funded extra services to help any in distress so they can have someone to talk to day or night. He has also increased funding to women's shelters knowing that it is not only the sick who need extra help in trying times like these.
I love that a Winnipeg dad made a Lego version of  Prime Minister Trudeau's speech to the children.
I liked that our Queen addressed us. Ninety-three now and still doing her bit to buoy spirits. She sported her 1897 turquoise and diamond broach, inherited from her grandmother, to signify survival through hard times.  I bet there was much discussion about that pretty aqua coloured dress she wore too.
We heard the peepers in our wetland area for the first time several days ago and spied the first frogs in the pond three days ago. Could they have hatched under the ice? This is almost a full month ahead of last spring. It seems especially wonderful to see the earth come alive again.  Spying three kinds of birds under the feeders was joyful to me. Can you name them?
Update: Florence at Buzz and Flutter tells me there are two kinds of birds here, male and female goldfinches and male and female purple finches. I thought the striped brown birds were one of the sparrows.
Birds inside coming together. I have my own complex method of organizing pieces.  LOL
I love seeing bits of green peeking through the mud even as there are banks of frozen snow here and there.
Spring will be a real season this year it seems, unlike last year when we skipped and moved right into summer. I'm enjoying rambling around the property with my camera. Mitts Free! Itching to rake but want to let it all dry out first and allow whatever critters have hibernated during the winter get away first.

I made another block in the Pieces From the Past stitch along hosted by Melva Loves Scraps. This block is often called the Sailboat or  Schooner Block; in this case it is the Mayflower Block.
And here is version 3 of Louisa, the Book Club Hand Pieced QAL Block. My version 1 was not bad, version 2 had a pucker where the six points meet that I couldn't quite get rid of, so version 3, also slow stitched, got made just to try it again.  I like this one.
I heard that the Lion in the Living Room video was giving problems opening internationally.  Here is the same video on YouTube.  Secret Life of Cats-Details You Didn't Think To Ask Did you know that when cats walk, their hind paws step into the same print made by their front paws?  I can't help it; these kind of facts amuse me. 😊

Hope you are staying equally amused and comforted and most importantly, virus free.  Crucial now that we stay inside.
As always linking this post with Not Afraid of Color, Needle and Thread NetworkFor the Love of GeeseThe Jesh Studio, Confessions of a Fabric AddictWhat a Hoot  QuiltsRandomosity , Gone Stitchin' and Paying Ready Attention.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Quarantine Days are Strange But Busy, EPP, Poetry Too

Sunshine warming our shoulders lately so April has been kind to us. March went out like a lamb; it had come in like a lion so, for once, the old saying stood up.  Look at all the leaves revealed now down that trail.
We had our grocery order delivered by SIL. Hubby watched the video on how to handle it so we got him to drop it at the bottom of the front walkway. We used rubber gloves and removed it all from the bags, put it in my own bags, then wiped it all with a bleach solution and rinsed well in water. I plan to make a cabbage and carrot soup tonight and I wondered if boiling would kill this virus. So many questions about it.

It's turned out to be a great time for stitching projects with loads of sew alongs and free patterns cropping up around the net.
I downloaded the pattern for this block at the Melva Loves Scraps Sew Along and made cardboard templates.
 It's called the Flower Garden Block.  I love the pattern and am working out how to handle those y seams while English paper piecing.  I'm using freezer paper.
 This particular video made by Linda Franz was a help. She is also a fan of freezer paper templates. I find I learn something from each of these wonderful sewists who offer these videos.

Hand quilting around the baskets is taking up a chunk of the evening stitching time.  One panel is completed and I'm halfway around another of the four.
I checked on my linen order and sure enough, the little company I'd ordered from is temporarily suspending business, as one of you had mentioned. But they had refunded PayPal so all good.  I've since repeated the order with a company that is now dealing in only online orders and following Corvid 19 practices.

Murphy got a new bed for the bedroom, one of those supersoft furry warm ones. We thought it would be nice for her old bones. She loves it and occasionally takes a day time nap there which she never ever did before.
I used to read a lot of biographies; maybe trying to figure out my own life, looking for answers.  Find behaviours I could adopt or patterns I could follow.  In particular, the women.  This week I've watched two interesting videos, one about Anne Lister (all Annes are always so smart!) and this one about one of my favourite poets, Edith Sitwell.  Both these women defied convention in times when it was socially daring to do so.
 But Edith's words were meaningful to me and I did finally arrive at my own great conclusion.

Answers Poem by Dame Edith Sitwell
Well, I hope you are filling your time with what interests you. Those of you working still, please be careful.
Happy to share this post with Not Afraid of ColorBrian's Home BlogMy Quilt InfatuationKathy's Quilts and It's a Small Town Life.