Thursday, 22 July 2021

Free Patterns, Christmas Stitching in July, Playful Pups and Empty Nests

Summer is in full bloom here in Ontario. The fireflies are out nightly and we've had strange moons, weather, and thankfully, this week a break from the humidity that further drags me down. We also had one noteworthy storm that was kind of frightening. Suddenly it turned dark as night, the wind came up and then we had torrential downpours of rain with thunder crashing all the while. It was how suddenly it turned dark like night that I couldn't get over. However, after 20 minutes or so it all cleared off, leaving in its wake many of my taller plants and bushes beaten down. And worse, severe damage to farm crops in the area.

Strange moon rising...

Down to earth all the day lilies are in bloom. Many shades are represented here and they provide beautiful colour amidst all the green.  

And the bees and insects are busily foraging which I always like to see in the garden.

The Eastern Phoebes on the back of the house have all fledged. I got to see one who left the nest and flew to the metal roof where it proceeded to gently slide down. The parent alerted me with its frantic calls but when the little guy ran out of roof, it discovered its wings and flew to a tree a couple of feet away. The parent immediately followed it. I watched and got to see them both fly off into the big wood together. I miss them very much, as even in the tv room in the evenings, I could watch the parents alighting on the trees that frame that window. However, I hear their calls on our walks so they are about still. 

There is a great Halloween stitch along starting up August 2 from the Fat Quarter Shop. It's called Bats and Boos and will offer free quilt patterns and also free cross stitch patterns to match. Here is the link.

My own hand stitching this week is a little Christmas in July stitching. I love to think of Christmas and am really hoping this one will be like old times. Moda with designer, Susan Ache, offered a free Holiday Stitch-a-Long featuring Baltimore inspired patterns to be set in a quilt with Courthouse step blocks.  I downloaded the patterns.  Here is the link to all the downloads and info about the beautiful quilt.
I also downloaded free patterns for tiny stitcheries, 5 inch blocks, in winter/Christmas themes. These, of course, work up very fast.  Here is a link to 10 sites that offer free Christmas embroidery patterns including vintage.

I was asked about the sites I follow about the Royal Family. I used to have several on my Blogs I Follow list, then when that grew, I moved them to my Reading List. I've put three of them back into the current list on the side so you can click those links to find information and news about the royals. I'm such a nerd; I also like architecture so love the virtual tours and photos of the various homes and palaces.  

Sweet distraction during trying times are the puppies. Here Ned has a good play with his litter mate-brother, Petey. Daughter brings him along when they drop over for a swim much to Neddy's delight.

I hope you, dear reader, is as happy as a pair of pups running amok on a summer's day. 

Happy as always to link up with Not Afraid of ColorBrian's Home BlogLife in the ScrapatchViewing Nature With EileenKathy's QuiltsLetting Go of the Bay Leaf and Paying Ready Attention

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Nature Sings, Courthouse Steps and Tumbling Blocks, Have You Heard of This?

Since reading The Overstory, I've been more aware of trees. I still count as one of my duties here to name all the trees; I'm sure many are represented just outside my front door. Though I do not think our woods are enchanted, the sounds I hear there are kind of enchanting to me.  For instance, early one morning, I heard two barred owls hoot to each other from different parts of the woods. Then a couple of cardinals chimed in, also distances apart, to sing their tuit tuit calls. Meanwhile, chickadees were chirping continuously and a couple of red squirrels were chittering. It was all a kind of symphony to my ears, one that made me feel emotional in that moment. It reminded me of a hymn we used to sing growing up..."All nature sings and round me rings, it is my Father's world." Is that familiar to you too? 

I think I found one of the chipping sparrow nests way up in the eave of the side wall tucked away; what a great spot! I had to use my distance camera and would not have seen it but heard this one out of the nest and chirping loudly and then noticed a bird fly somewhere up there to feed it. The adult wasn't much bigger than the one being fed. Do sparrows make messy nests?
A day later this brave little one took a dip in the bird bath then stood around calling to its parent. I waited but never saw one show up.
I continue to follow our Majesty and enjoy reading about her habits, clothes, jewelry, duties, etc. 
Below here she is at the G7 Summit in her summery flowery dress with a sunny smile to match. 95 and still working. Apparently her mind is just as sharp as it always was-still reads her daily political briefings and considering her knowledge of dogs, horses and medals is extensive, that's impressive.  She still rides, albeit a much smaller horse and with a companion, but also remarkable I think. One can only hope to be so well in mind and body at such an age.
Foundation Piecing is going well!
I'm feeling successful with the foundation piecing of the Courthouse Steps scrappy blocks. This many completed. If I'm going to be on the machine, I may as well sew something I like as much as these. And I must admit this is probably the most precision that has ever happened in my sewing room!
The Tumbling blocks are gradually being joined, I have five sections like this now sewn together. So many hand stitched seams and I'm very happy my enthusiasm for it hasn't waned. Hopefully, my current motivation will see me through to getting this large undertaking finished. Fingers crossed!
Ned continues to provide so much pleasure. Such a good little fellow almost like he knows we are old so he must be well behaved. 

Have you heard of the Hepburn Voice? I read about it on a blog and looked it up. Sounds like an interesting device- designed to look like a retro radio but has all the latest technology to control all your other devices. Especially interesting is the choice in covers. Cath Kidston designs available for covers. 

My photo uptake gave me issues this morning...this photo of a bluejay feeding another was supposed to be up top there in the bird section. 
My ipod Shuffle finally died; I think it is about12 years old. The young man in the store I went to to get a new one told me they haven't made them for quite a while. Now folks put their music lists on their phones. But what about wanting to have music while swimming, I asked him. Look up headsets, he said. He was sure they've made something just for that purpose. So I'm hunting and if you have a suggestion, I'd appreciate it.
  Speaking of which, I enjoy reading all your emails and comments so much! A Sincere thank you for your kind words, suggestions, advice and sharing a little of your life as well. 

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Critters Big and Small, Imperfect Stitching, Exercise and My Brain

4 Ticks!

Yes, I've picked 4 ticks off myself this season so far. That's three more than average. And I've had to extract one each from Hubby and Ned (though Ned is on a medication to repel parasites-too bad I couldn't have such). A lot of critters have been flourishing this year including these tiny as mites things.

 And the garden continues to grow like crazy...I guess it's the heat. View from my kitchen window this morning showing the lawn on the left where I play ball with Ned.

I was working on my photos this week, an ongoing goal, and came across photos of the Fans quilt I made last fall/winter. I realized I hadn't shown the piece with all the blocks sewn together. Still not quilted and definitely imperfect (perhaps why I hadn't shared it). And I do have regrets about using those two lighter blues though in real life they are the prettiest blue fabric here.
I must share with you this my last post I wrote about feeling distracted.  Noticed yesterday that my May doesn't have an A. Definitely imperfect! Oh well, a little frogging and it will be remedied. 
Note the specs in that picture.  A couple of blogging friends mentioned these particular readers.  I checked them out and bought a set, 5 pairs for $19 US. And I could get magnification of 4 which I didn't even know was possible. These are well made and I can stitch any thread count with them when I want to take a break from my real magnifiers. Here is the link to Eyekeepers and the women's readers collections.

Garden visitors We continue to be blessed with all form of creatures, great and small, visiting our summer gardens. And that includes the ticks!

These chipping sparrows have flourished the last two summers here though I've yet to find a nest. Many of them in the trees and under the feeders. 

Lots of chipmunks too. Hard to count as they seem to be loners.
There is something about turkeys that fascinate me...their size, the strange featherless heads, the beauty of their large feathers; I don't know. 
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful and encouraging comments on my last post. The heat broke and it is cooler now- to me more pleasant outside.  A swim every day, an early morning little jog to the newspaper box with Ned and playing ball on the lawn with him is making me feel fitter. When I feel fitter, I do feel better mentally which I know is how my brain works.
  Plus I was able to have both grandsons here for a swim (and a float) last Sunday which was wonderful. Things are slowly starting to feel more normal.
Hope everything is even finer than normal where ever you are!


Thursday, 1 July 2021

Which Me Am I Now?

 I've been a bundle of thoughts since I last wrote a post. So much bad news in the news and sadness abounding it seems. And this heat...which I say feels like you're stepping out into warm, thick pea soup, has also served to dampen my spirits and sapped my little energy along with it. How hot has it been?  So hot Hubby is wearing a short sleeved t-shirt without a long sleeved shirt over it. I've never seen him wear such before. 

Ned is learning to enjoy the walks especially in the shade on a hot day.

So we are bumbling along. My hair, which has a little natural curl, has been frizzy just like any time I was in Florida. It makes no difference to pull a comb through it. This, of course, is the least of my concerns just now. 

 It's more my mood that worries me. Up and down and all over the place. Reminds me of that saying, which me am I now? The normal me is, if graphed, a straight level line but not lately.  And oddly I've had a hankering for hearty food during this heat. I made a large pan of colcannon which is basically mashed potatoes, cabbage and bacon. And a large tuna/macaroni casserole that lasted two suppers for us.  Not suffering a lack of carbs!

And of course, my concerns pale in comparison to what people are going through in the western provinces where folks have died of the heat and now are coping with massive forest fires. On the heels of the residential schools continuing horrific news- all the loss and suffering! I find it all distressing to hear about.

Meanwhile everything in the garden is growing wildly for Neddy's first summer.

A bit overgrown as I've neglected the weeding this week.

Nice to see purply sedum and lavender, my additions, doing well in the garden.

I did get to try out the foundation papers to stitch two new Courthouse Steps blocks. It worked quite well and definitely improved the accuracy of the straight lines. Now that I have the hang of it, I'm doing three at a time. I'm pleased with myself for trying something new. I still like the heritage red fabric and love the using up of scraps too. This pattern has the center block smaller and the same size as the two nearby red blocks (unlike the vintage block I had sewn before).

I'm reading this book and enjoying it, After the Fire by Henning Mankel.  I like books where the protagonist is old; how they are coping with life is interesting to me. Perhaps I can pick up some pointers.

 I hope this Thursday finds you well and coping with whatever life is throwing at you!

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Downsize??, Critter Heaven, Slow Stitching Sunflowers and Tumbling Blocks

From a distance I can hear a familiar summertime drone; a neighbour is mowing his lawn. This is the good neighbour to us as he often mows our section of the front lawn on the street to save Hubby having to go all the way out there with our mower. We are so sorry they are leaving. They sold their house quickly having discussed for ages and finally made the decision to downsize. The fact that they are much younger than us is not lost on us.  And some days we do question us living here and trying hard to maintain everything. 

I follow Patti on Youtube, RXSTRmom, and she is in her mid 70's.  They had downsized to a condo in Florida- a beautiful spot in a gated community. But they discovered condo living wasn't for them and have just purchased a house again. She grappled with the idea of house ownership at their ages but decided to go with it.  Everyone must suit themselves when it comes to these decisions I guess. 

The poppies are in bloom and they add flash to the front flower beds. Every summer I have to relearn that glaring sunlight is not the best for photographs.

 However it was the symmetry of their centers up close that caught my eye. What pretty colours too.
Frequent Visitors to the feeders are the male and female American Goldfinches.

It wasn't just a good year for mosquitoes. We've seen more bunnies this summer than all the other years put together.  
And down by the pond, more turtles too. Here the larger turtle is sleeping (?) on land which is rare to see.

 I've sewn a few more of my Tumbling Blocks together, still in their cardstock here.  Trying not to make the stitching too tight as I tend to do.  I always worry with hand stitching that it will fall apart and then over compensate by sewing too tightly. That's Neddy's Teddy there...a toy passed down from Hubby's mom's days.Gladi ( Gladi Porsche Quilts ) mentioned she uses foundation piecing when making log cabin blocks so I thought I would give that a try for the Courthouse Steps. I quickly bought and downloaded a pdf file for a Courthouse Steps block and have it set up in the sewing room for when I can get some time uninterrupted. This should be interesting.  I'll keep you posted; meanwhile enjoying slow stitching pretty sunflower petals. 
We gave ourselves a little treat after getting our second shots done.  The Crispy Spud is not far from where we live and we usually get cheeseburgers and fries there a couple times a season. I like how it's real fries and real hamburger, if you know what I mean. It's cash only, $25 for the two platters and drinks and there is always enough for a third person.  Do you have a favourite little stop like this near you that serves surprisingly good food?
Sadly the local strawberry farm, Beckwith Strawberries, that has a popular u-pick, lost over 70% of its crop due to cold and frost overnights lately. Strange weather...since last posting, we've had high humidity, heat, then cool enough to need a jacket on our woods walks again with single digit temps overnight. But today is sunny and I'm sure will warm up nicely. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Hope and Feathered Things, Courthouse Steps Question, Fraktur Flowers

 Birds chirping early morning. Still lots fluttering about and to spy on. The second phoebe nest on the back wall of the house is active with both hard working parents bringing food. The young stay very quiet so I haven't a clue how many are there or were in the neighbouring nest either. They tolerate us now using the patio doors I notice. Phoebes are relatively easy to photograph because they take little rests between their frequent flights to capture flying insects. I read they eat over 700 such insects a day... if they are mosquitoes, all good.

Opening the pool and getting it heated with the wood stove has consumed a lot of my time since last week. I have to fill the stove every hour; it is a marvelous thing that generates a ferocious heat.
  Last summer I ran it for four days and did not need to fire it up again for the whole summer. As long as the temperatures remain hot, the pool is fine. And we all don't mind the water being slightly coolish either. Still warmer than any lake in summer is the way I look at it. 

Playing with, walking, training Ned is taking up a lot of my time as well. He has learned the name of his favourite toy, Duckie. And of course, he knows out, come and Tony.

I really enjoyed making a Courthouse Steps block for a little table topper a while back. I've finally received the heritage style red fabric I had in mind ages ago for a project featuring that block. An hour in the sewing room one morning gave me the opportunity to sew up two blocks as a trial. Like Log Cabin blocks, keeping the sides straight and even is a bit of a challenge. Probably more so for me with my crooked eye.  I copied the pattern from a book of vintage patterns I own and I'm wondering if the very central block should be smaller. I really appreciate your help/comments! Thank You!
When I get a chance I'm going to try a couple more blocks before I decide if this is a project I want to continue. Perhaps sewing it by hand would be better for me.  I can always hope I could get more accurate with a little more practice. We'll see. I do love how the contrasting light strips use up scraps quite nicely. 
I've also added a few stitches to Fraktur Flowers which is my cross stitch project to  advance this month.  The colours are soothing and the green, interesting. It has a teal cast to it. I'm enjoying them.  I will leave the bird, my favourite bit, till last. 
The province is out of lockdown- again,  People have not been going too foolish with the gatherings which they are apt to do. Still no in-library browsing allowed which I was hoping for. But no doubt that will come soon. Hopeful this will be our finale with this virus.
 Our sad, very old crabapple tree still sends out a few blossoms each spring.

Here's to hoping you are having an enjoyable week!

Linking with Not Afraid of ColorLife in the Scrapatch, Viewing Nature With EileenApplique Patchwork QuiltingKathy's QuiltsQuilting is More Fun Than HouseworkSmall Quilts and Doll Quilts and Paying Ready Attention

Thursday, 10 June 2021

Thoughts and More On a June Thursday

Don't know how you folks in warmer climates do it!  I guess it's because I'm originally an east coast Canadian that the humidity really really gets to me. I find it isn't at all pleasant to walk, jog or garden in. I can't shake the idea that even breathing air like that is not good for you. 

But I'm all set up with overhead fans whirring and this in front of me.

I'm listening to Anne Tyler's Red Haired Girl By the Side of the Road.  I think I read it before as parts of it seem familiar.  I like the orange Bubly the best and please take a look at those petals under the word Bring.

I haven't been keeping up with showing you Daughter's cakes to us.  This one was another lemon with frosting...delicious, a requested remake. 

 I pictured this book in the last post, The Book of Flowers, Four Centuries of Flower Illustration by Alice M. Coates. And thank you all, by the way, for the comments on the tablecloth. I joined a SAL at Melva Loves Scraps and got caught up in this flower garden block. I wound up making a large tablecloth with them.  Melva is hosting another such SAL called Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail. Melva's link there will take you to the latest free block, Snow, which is very interesting.

 The book belonged to Hubby's mother who was a flower lover.  The illustrations are marvelous- here are the sunflowers. 1777 by J. Miller.

 My next block of the Hawk Run Hollow piece is of sunflowers for May and I'm not crazy about the colour of one of the very large sunflowers. It is a dark cinnamon colour that looks brownish. Not a sunflower colour  I'm familiar with.  I'm trying out the brighter reddish cinnamon that was used in the ladies dress in the first block - though I'm a little reluctant as I do respect the designers' thoughts. You can see my substitution in the first photo back at the start of the post.  What do you think?

We had the Bell guy here to fix phone issues and he was terrified of dogs. So much so that every time he re-entered the house he wouldn't come in till reassured Ned was corralled. We thought by saying he was a puppy it would be okay, but not.  Must be awful to have a fear like that.

I realized I should sew some of the Tumbling Blocks together to make sure this pattern will work. It was a challenge to sew those 6 points meeting in one spot but manageable.  Someone mentioned the darkest colour should traditionally be on the top.  I didn't know that.

The chickadees have gone quiet but lots of other birds are around. The bluejays in larger numbers than usual have really enjoyed the suet.

And the ravens are usually present early in the morning and late in the day.  I love to watch them strut about but it is hard to get a good photo of them together. I see they like to spread out and seemingly cover a lot of ground. Not a good photo but amazing how a month makes such a difference to the grass and the greening of things.

We both have been able to move up our second vaccines. Will be a relief to get them over with.  I am so tired of all of that. But meanwhile, enjoying life and all our pastimes while still corralled here at the wooden house. 

Happily linking with Not Afraid of ColorPaying Ready AttentionConfessions of a Fabric AddictAlycia QuiltsViewing Nature With EileenApplique Patchwork QuiltingQuilting is More Fun Than Housework and Life in the Scrapatch