Thursday, 30 July 2020

July Bits and Bobs- Bird, Bunny, Butterfly, Blooms, Blocks, Bel Canto

It's turning into one of the hottest summers on record here just outside Ottawa, Canada. Several days have broken a 100 year old record. Of course, it is the humidity that people complain the most about as there has been lots of that too.  I find it saps my energy when it hits a certain point and working outside becomes uncomfortable. That being said, it is cooler today with continuing sunshine so promising to be a beautiful late July day.

 No veranda stitching lately but lots inside under one or another of the ceiling fans. I finished Melva's latest block, Dragonfly, in her Pieces From the Past SAL. Not perfect by any means.  Said it would challenge me and it did. It went smoothly till I joined up the final quarter which I think I can easily amend. 
This colourful Solidarity block is now finished. 
And I was happy to achieve my July OMG at Elm Street Quilts. I have 13 of these 9 1/2 inch Flower Garden blocks made so far -this is a pattern also available from Melva's Pieces From the Past SAL. I will keep stitching them as I enjoy EPP very much. Great for evening t.v. viewing/listening. Later I'm going to retake this photo to try to show the pretty blues better. 
My audio book this week is Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, an Orange Prize for Fiction winner and available on YouTube.  I disappointed myself years ago when I couldn't get into it and I'm now finding it enjoyable to listen to her confident writing being read by a soothing voice. 
                                                         Image result for bel canto ann patchett review
My lunch is always better if I treat myself to smoked salmon and avocado with it. Since lunch is important for me as it breaks my fast, I try to choose wisely what to eat. That does not always happen!
Cone flowers are in bloom and attracting lots of attention from the butterflies, especially the Swallowtails.
Meanwhile the hydrangea seem to love the heat. The blooms are so heavy the branches are all but lying on the ground.
I loved this delightfully written post from Carol Michel at her May Dreams Garden site (which is called that because we dream all year about May and getting into our gardens). The Five Secrets to Achieving Happiness in Your Garden

And visiting my garden recently, this bird of prey.  It sat in the grass for a while idly eyeing the bird feeder area. It sat there so long I worried if it was okay. But after a seeming rest, it strutted around for a bit and then flew off.  My amateur guess is this is a sharp-shinned hawk. 
I'm sure my hawk-eyed 😉 birder friends will identify him.  

One day I turned a corner in the path to the pond and this guy was just sitting there. Hastily got a shot before he hopped away.  I told him he was very lucky it wasn't Mr. Fox that happened along.
I have another very unusual visitor to the garden to share with you on Sunday. I had to google him to find out what exactly he was!
Hope your days are filled with interesting bits and bobs too. 


 


 
 






Sunday, 26 July 2020

July Garden Green Joys, Facebook Group Blocks, Breakfast For Supper

Back in December I showed you this Madagascar Jasmine, a completely new to me plant we received in this pretty Christmas arrangement. 
                                 
 I managed to keep it alive all winter and moved it to the front veranda when the hot weather began...the one thing here that enjoys humidity.  Lately I've been pleased to see it's leaves grow much larger and was especially happy to see new leaves appear-finally-all the lighter green in this photo.  I'm still grappling with the issue of repotting but since it's obviously doing okay I'm going to leave it for just now. 
Sticking with greenery, my view out the sewing room window is of these hostas. We called this property Hosta Heaven when we first saw it because there must be over fifty hostas here. It's quite shaded in this little corner and they are doing well. I removed three or four the first summer here and replanted them along the laneway. The deer have found them there and keep them trimmed. 😞
 It would be nice to have some colour here. Anything you can think of that would be colourful and maintenance free...I have enough weeding to do.
 I should say that the shorter plants in between are mostly Hens and Chicks that also do well in this location.
We've had several wasp nests in inappropriate spots. One under the back deck where it had to be removed (thanks SIL!) because they were around the patio door. Another is under the front veranda and so far, we are tolerating it there because it is located in an impossible spot to get at. I got stung on my thumb joint which I found surprisingly painful at first (and I have a high pain threshold); my swollen, slightly aching thumb has made me much more wary of them.  I don't have any fear of such things normally. 

Most enjoyable slow stitching...
I worked on my Claudine's Quilt Quilt It & Dotty Facebook Group project yesterday.  Here is what I've achieved so far. What do you think about the blues for that row?  Still in its papers and unironed and for some reason I couldn't find that last block. It turned up afterwards.  I'm returning to the darks for the next row which I have to make the freezer paper templates for today.  
And here is another sweet block from the Quiltmania Solidarity SAL.  This is Australian designer, Veronique Diligent's pattern which I changed up a little. My first time working with hexies and I loved it. These are small- about 1 1/2 inches so didn't take long to stitch together. You can look at more of Veronique's work at her Wattlebird site. I wonder what is a wattlebird. 
Another hot day here in our corner of Ontario, Canada...37 C with a humidex of 40.  I think it will be a breakfast for supper day (do you ever do that?). Hubby's favourite sausages are in the fridge and I have a hankering for pancakes.  Won't need an oven which is good. 
Another July Joy is linking up with Kathy's Quilts and Small Quilts and Doll Quilts
 



Thursday, 23 July 2020

Awful Night, Farm Sampler Box, Birds and Blocks and Hubby Has a Birthday!

Recently I had the most awful of nights.
 Murphy woke me around 3 am with a very sharp bark and simultaneously it seems I heard too what she did.  A very loud but soft thud.  I got the flash light and looked all through the rooms to see if something had fallen off a shelf or toppled over. Just like the t.v. detectives do (have you ever noticed they never turn on overhead lights; just use their itty bitty flashlights to search). Not a thing out of place.  I've watched enough movies to know not to go down into the basement by myself and I was pretty sure Murphy would have kicked up a fuss if there was a reason to go down there. Of course, by then I was wide awake and stayed up.  Drank chamomile tea and read and watched dawn break.  The first bird sang at 5:10 am. I felt out of it all day and even the nap, something I can count on two fingers I've done in years, didn't snap me out of feeling kind of groggy.  If only there is something I could take for odd sleepless times like that or even if I drank, a little I mean! I know someone who drinks a large sherry at those times and is happily soothed back to sleep.  

 Sorry to start today's post on such a jolly note!
But I made up for it by having a wonderful sleep the next night. Be thankful if you are a good sleeper!

Thank you to fellow birder, David, at Travels With Birds who correctly identified the little guy taking a bath in the water tub (HERE).  I found other photos of what I think is the same bird in the front yard and turns out it is a gal.  This bird is a first for me- so exciting...one to note in my journal. A female Yellow Bellied Sapsucker photographed from my kitchen window.
The mallards are still around the pond. We've seen three females at a time there having a little swim.
Here is one I photographed on an early morning visit. So much easier to capture as they don't flit about!
I was so happy to get a food sampler box from another local farm, Welsh Hill Farm; daughter was trying them and ordered one for me too.  We loved it. Besides the array of vegetables, eggs, herbs, dill pickles and two meats, there was a freshly baked loaf of whole wheat bread with homemade chive and garlic butter. Things were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string just the way I remember the little shop in Maberly, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland used to do when I was a girl and visiting my grandparents.  
I'm going to get our name listed for regular supply as supporting local is a good way to go. 
Lots of happy stitching this week and thankfulness too for this hobby of mine. I can't imagine my life without it! Not tiring of stitching hearts and working with pinks and reds.
Anne Varley's Solidarity block from the Quiltmania SAL. A do over would be to pick a background fabric with a little print in it. These blocks are offering a great chance to dive into my pink and red scrap box!
And a couple more Quilt Bible blocks-and dare I say, enjoyable machine stitching. 
Here is Block 26, my version of Ribbon Star
and #89, Four Patch and Geese.
  I've downloaded Melva's latest block from her Pieces of the Past SAL- the 1936 Dragonfly, a block that I like but will definitely challenge me. Can't wait to try it. 
                                    
I'll close this post on a very happy note. It was Hubby's birthday last week. 81!!!🎈He doesn't have an ache or a pain and has absolutely no problem sleeping. 
 Daughter made his cake, chocolate, of course. Her recipe is now well tried and is delicious.
Tony having his favourite, a Guinness, by the pool with Miss Murphy.                                 
I say that he is not aging but Murphy and I sure are! Also wish he would smile more and show his lovely teeth!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my posts! I read them all when I need a little boost and I try to always return the favour by visiting your blog too or writing back to you. 





Sunday, 19 July 2020

Summer Sounds, One Deep Thought, Auction Wins, Applique Stitching

No matter how slow our hours are, it seems the days have sprouted wings. July is flying by.
I came across these words by Dryden and thought how true.
                            "Love and time with reverence use-
                                   For each year their price is more..."
Yes understood more deeply as we age I think, the value of our time that is. Maybe we have to have that fear of it running out before we get all the things done that we want to- built, stitched, sown, baked, read, etc. to really appreciate it all. That's my deep thought for today.

Yesterday we did something completely different.
 Hubby won a couple of lots in an online auction and we drove to a nearby town to pick them up. It was well managed, safety wise, and his things were in the garage waiting for us with the organizers masked and keeping their distance. He won a gardening bundle and a storage lot. I was quite interested in the gardening things and pleased with the slew of items we got ranging from seeds to rakes, shovels, tomato growing kits, etc. Some of them good quality and unused.  It seems folks have the desire to grow things but don't always get the chance or muster the energy, I suppose.

 Also yesterday, littler grandson and family and three little friends with their parents came for a swim.  I could hear the squealing and shouts all the way up here inside the house. Such happy summertime sounds made just a little bit poignant because of these strange times. 

I've been enjoying the patterns offered by designers from all over the world in the Quiltmania QAL.
Some of the blocks have been easy to make especially the ones with the larger applique pieces.
This is the Els Feteris block. Love how fun this was to stitch and how it used some scraps as well.
And the Cosabeth Parriaud block all ready to be stitched down. Hopefully, today I'll get it finished.
And here is a selection of my summer dreamy hearts on the overfill design wall in the den. Darkish in there so difficult to light properly.
Folks, I have tried needle turn applique any number of times; I just prefer the freezer paper and keep returning to that method for my applique.  

Another wild flower in bloom- Viper's Blugloss or Blueweed. I'm fascinated with how it features violet shades with the blue. And the blue is such a vibrant electric blue. 
Along the fenced in back yard, a few surprises. This is one of the dianthus, Arctic Fire, in a pretty white with deep pink that has spread well beyond the corner flower bed. Do you like dianthus? At home there was a wild version we called Pinks that cropped up annually.
They are coexisting with the equally runaway Moneywort (Creeping Jenny) trailing vines. They line the very back fence and the little yellow flowers make a surprisingly pretty display. Both these plants are hardy because they survived the three week drought we had with very little watering. 
So how are you surviving...making sure you are watering yourself, I hope, especially those of you down south in the states. But here in what on a world map is north-ish, we've had heat warnings all week and high humidity as well. Soul sapping that last is. A high of 34 C (around 94 F) for today though I think it will be higher as it is 30 degrees now at 9 am.
I'll leave you with a photo of what I think is a very young Pileated Woodpecker cooling off in the front water bucket. Snapped from my kitchen window so hard to identify.


Thursday, 16 July 2020

Crazy Critters, Summer Flowers, Stitching and Strawberries

A walk around the trails this morning, Murphy pulling hard on the lead. Something interesting had strolled in a zigzag fashion before us. We later looked at deer and unknown paw prints streaking the muddy area of the pond. Rather large...perhaps we don't want to know what made them. 
Mr. Toad, in the back yard, giving me a wide smile.
 I swear it has its own little ecosystem back there and different from the pond area.  There are frogs in the pond and no snakes that I've seen.  The back yard has toads and garter snakes. 
 
Skip this as I know many of you don't like insects but I have an interest in them. This one was found around the pool and it was huge...about 3 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. It was the largest insect I've seen outside a museum. I found out it is called the Giant Diving Beetle and totally harmless. I moved it to the pond. I then realized there are lots of these in the pond but much smaller. This must be Grandpa!
Everything is blooming, each in its turn.
The Sweet William which is finished now.
The purple Clematis climbing bush that I planted last year. Relieved that it grew back and is blooming.
The Masterwort or Astrantia with its delicate pinks.  There are several pretty clumps of this in the back yard.
Daughter brought us a treat- fresh strawberries. They had gone to one of the local farms and done some picking. Which I missed out on this year. We've been enjoying them as is for several desserts and I froze one container. 
Getting some cheery fabrics in the mail is always a treat. Though I love birds, I have very little fabric that features them. These are a spring fresh sampler.  Would any of these appeal to you?
Here is Victoria Findlay Wolfe's contribution to the Quiltmania Solidarity QAL; well it's her design and my slightly wonky stitching. This one was not as easy as it looks; I thought it was going to be a breeze.  But I had to rip out the last two blocks and resew to make them less wonky and save points. By the time I fussed with that I said this will stand as is- for now.
We are doing well, fingers crossed, or as Hubby so poetically puts it, Not dead yet. But these days are sweet and warm; shining in the sun on every green nature can conjure.  So we really have no excuse not to feel good. 
This is the way I feel...you know our winters are long. From Peace, Love, Smiles
Image may contain: flower, plant and nature
Hope you are not letting a moment get away either!




Monday, 13 July 2020

Garden Glories, Medallion Stitch Along, Quilt Bible Blocks

The Yucca is in bloom. So pretty but it has the briefest of blooming times; if you blink you would miss it. As soon as the top blooms open, the bottom are beginning to wilt.  It is also a difficult plant to prune as the leaves are very tenacious and tough. Just cleaning out the dead leaves from last year provided an arm workout but then I do have puny arms, strength-wise. 
Finally, rain in downpours recently and everything looking lush in this corner of the front garden this morning. Except the poor sun scorched lawn. The hydrangea are beginning to blossom which signals summer to me. 
Two of the yellow flower plants are also in bloom, the Moonbeam Tickseed and Brown Eyed Susans.
Here is a close up of a wild Brown Eyed Susan...they dot the trails and meadow near the pond.  I find them delightful.
❓I've been asked about these close up photos. Both my cameras are point and shoot models and the smaller one has a macro setting which enables close up shots. The other has a better zoom ability to capture the birds. With a point and shoot camera, anyone can take these photos especially of flowers as they are stationary subjects (except if it's windy). The birds are a whole lot trickier.
 I also do not have a photo editing program, just what my Acer with Windows 10 built in provides which is pretty basic. And Blogger is not known for reproducing photos well, sadly. But as an amateur, an avid one though!, it is all good to me. 

I have two more of the Quilt Bible blocks stitched.  I liked this colour combination.  I always start from a point of trepidation and begin to feel better as I go along.
 Block 59, Louisiana from the Pinwheel section.
Block 129, Grandmother's Choice  found in the 9-Patches section
I have two more cut and ready to sew which always makes me happy to get back to the machine. Will be sewing those this week. 

Frederique at Quilting Patchwork Applique has provided This Amazing Post chock a block with many of the SAL's for 2020. Interesting to see that there is something for everyone in this group, I think.  Enjoyable reading to go through the list. Thank you Frederique! And just a heads up, Frederique is hosting her own lovely summer QAL -more about that here.
                                                     

For EPP stitchers, I am interested in this particular SAL and think you might be too. Free patterns for a pretty Medallion quilt being run through this Facebook group...Claudine's Quilt Quilt it & Dotty (yes, quilt is repeated in this tag)
I've made a wee bit of a start. Never made a medallion before; I know they are popular with the European stitchers-wish me luck. Hopefully more veranda stitching this week will prove whether I can do this or not. 
We are doing quite well, all things considered, and keeping ourselves safe and busy right here on our patch. Hubby has been a true Mr. Fix-It during this quarantine.  And for me, the garden brings lots of chores as well as all the beauties of the season. We avail of curb side pick up whenever we can. This week I hope to do another pick up at the local nursery; I was very pleased with my order from them before. They still have geranium plants in different colours including an interesting one in variegated pinks.  I would love to add that to my little inventory in the outside pots with the plan to bring them indoors for the winter.
Hope everything is likewise busy and safe with you!


 







Thursday, 9 July 2020

Important Inspiration, Another Thankful Thursday List

I love being the first one up in the morning.
 Doing all the tiny chores to start the day. With those done, lately I've been heading out to the veranda with my cup of tea and just sitting drinking it all in (literally and figuratively).   It being the summer-ness of it all with the greens, flowers, bees, birds and blue sky. 
 Just now two ravens checked out the water tub, took turns taking rather dainty sips for the size of those beaks, and then flew silently, swiftly low to the ground up the laneway.  What will those two get up to, I thought.
Glorious sunshine every day lately but hot and dry.  Our little pond which is a really a vernal pool, begins to shrink at this time of year. When we see the beige clay around the rim we know it has begun. Because there are so many critters living in it, we help out with a hose hooked up to the well and add water some days. But a good downpour usually does the trick too if only that would happen regularly which it doesn't.

 Watering everything including bird baths is a twice daily chore for me as long as this no rain pattern continues.  But I'm not complaining at all. These chores keep me moving and it is bliss to be outside with the sun shining and birds twittering. 
One morning I surprised this fellow who had come to the pond for a drink.  I love how they pause to look back after running off to a safe distance. Just a little one with another in the background. Amazing how they blend in.
Six more blocks of the Dreamy Hearts have been made and a couple more ready to be appliqued this weekend.   I find it very soothing to do applique preparations for my three ongoing projects that require it.             
I've followed many of you stitching the wonderful and free Moda Blockheads patterns. Loads of inspiration in seeing your fabric choices, etc. for each unique block.  When I saw this one, I thought it was especially neat. A great one to use up smaller scraps, a quilting activity many of us enjoy doing.  It's the Corner Garden Block by Robin Pickens.  I think that's one of her pretty fabric lines as well.
                                  Corner Garden Quilt Blocks- Robin Pickens
I loved having both grandsons here for a swim last week. That's Jack, the fifteen year old, and Robbie, the six year old, on his dad's shoulders. They had a lot of fun playing water volleyball till the ball landed on the lawn and Murphy very proudly "caught" it with her teeth.   
I kept my distance and wondered for the umpteenth time, when is this all going to end. About that, I am so happy the mayor of Ottawa has mandated the wearing of masks for all indoor public places. Finally!
I hope you are all feeling not too hot or not too cold depending on which season you are experiencing but are wearing your masks, nonetheless. 
One last burst of inspiration...the multi- talented LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color saw my cardinal photo in this post and painted this. I love how LeeAnna is activily engaged in so many activities that encourage self-growth and shares her journey (including many links) with us. 
Isn't it lovely!  What a treat to receive this in my mail. Thank you!