Thursday 29 June 2023

Hand Quilting, Free Patterns, Fair and Bird Sounds

 I step out on the veranda quite often during the day. Sometimes to smell the air with the hope that it is clear enough (free of smoke) to take a walk. But I always stop awhile and listen. Summer's song is still strong...birds tweeting and singing. Occasional squirrel chitter or blue jay squawk. I tell myself to remember this in winter. My Dad became a little hard of hearing in older age and Mom always said how sorry she felt for him because he could no longer hear the songbirds singing. 

Speaking of which, the Song Sparrows are home building. This one had taken a bath in the bird bath then very industriously went about collecting dried grass bits. I watched it make many trips doing the same thing over and over; it must have liked the particular grass it was finding there between the stones. A heartening fact is that these tiny birds can live over ten years in the wild.

In the sewing room I am pleased with how I've used my time. I've been able to move a few projects forward and as we all agree, every stitch counts. The Rainbow Neighbourhood has been layered up and basted, ready for the quilting lines. I used the thinnest batting I had. Surprising though you can see through the layers in the light.
I really don't understand why the sashing fabric is just showing as white only. Here are the first hand quilting lines where you can see it clearly has enough black flecks to be noticeable.

I'm going to set getting the hand quilting on this done as my July OMG at Elm Street Quilts.

Here again is a photo of the three hand sewn blocks that didn't make it into the quilt. I'm wondering what to do with them.  I spied those leaves on the ground yesterday and they looked so much like the colour of the beautiful girl's dress in the Leighton painting seen here. They were wet at the time and just shone against the greens of the forest floor. I wonder did he take his inspiration from nature.
Commenter AnnetteJ told me this colour is called Saffron. Thanks Annette!

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt this week is about county/state fairs. Fall fairs are very common in this area of Ontario. In addition to the special rides and food venues, they include farming attractions such as tractor hauls, horse and wagon rides, and various farm animal shows. 
The longest running fall fair in Ontario (with Covid interruptions) is in the little town of Richmond not far from here. I attended it for awhile and older grandson went every year with his dad while growing up. One time when the fair had just started, I was driving him-5or 6 years old at the time, and he asked me to pull over, stop and lower the windows. He said he just wanted to hear the fair. So we sat there while he took in the sounds of the rides, music, folks talking and laughing, animals neighing, etc. Fair sounds are happy sounds that's for sure.
Any special memories about fairs you would like to share?  How about the food? You know I love reading about food. :D

My scraps are mounting and I'm looking about for scrappy projects and that in turn leads me to patterns to share with you.

At Prairie Moon Quilts you will find a bank of  great free patterns. I've marked the Happy Tree block. Shelley is also the writer behind The Life of Hazel Ilene blog that I read and loved. At that post you can find the link to her free download of another vintage style Apple Tree quilt block. Another that uses small scraps and I love it too.
And an aside to this is I embroidered the blocks for Hazel's Summer Wildflowers, a free stitchalong quite a while back; mine eventually made it to a quilt flimsy stage.
 Here is one of the blocks...I loved stitching this- the fancy version as Shelley called it. Here is the link to Block 1. The free downloads are still available!
Hope your week has been a good one and your weekend will be even better!!

Happy to link up with The Inquiring QuilterKathy's QuiltsQuilting is More Fun Than HouseworkAlycia QuiltsThe Quiltery and So Scrappy.

Monday 26 June 2023

Flaming June, Tidy Up, Quilt Backing

 Something in the news made me think of this painting below. 

This is Leighton's Flaming June. I used to have a magazine picture of this in an old journal back in my early days. Do you like the colour of the dress, the way the folds are painted, the shiny sun/sea (?) behind her head? I know artists would practice a lot to paint fabric folds correctly. I used to think her knee and upturned arm were not quite right length wise. Now with Wikipedia I can read that the artist struggled to get the positioning correct. I love the fabrics and how they are rendered here. Do you think the three brown, dusky burgundy and that flaming orange (just what would you call that colour?) of the dress would be a good choice for a quilt?

From the sublime to the ridiculous... :)
And folding fabric was what I was doing a lot on the weekend. Truthfully the sewing room had been turned into a real mess with fabrics all over the place. I had pulled out a lot to find backing material for the Rainbow Houses, blues for the Courthouse Steps and brights for the butterflies. But before cutting and stitching anything, I made myself clean up, which as you well know, feels great when done. I listened to this documentary on secrets of bumblebees.
And I subscribe to 60 Minutes Australia which features a wide range of topics so endless amusement.
Anyway, for the Rainbow Houses backing, I've sewn together long strips of the colours shown here. The colours are orange, yellow, light blue, red and that daisy printed blue that I've had on hand for ages. Feels good to find a use for it and getting started on the quilting itself is a goal for this week.
I also wanted to gather darker blues for the Courthouse Steps and organize them a little better than the far flung method I had been using. I don't have that many choices in my stash.

But the beauty of Courthouse Steps is I can go through my scraps and use up any of the blues there that would suit size wise.
Upshot of that organizing bit is- instead of little piles spilling over all around, I need to check out storage containers and get one for each project on hand. 

Missed chance to capture the white tailed deer down by the pond. I thought I was being very quiet but they alert so easily.
I had hoped to be stitching on the veranda today after a week of uncomfortable heat and humidity stopped me. But today we have the smokey air back again. Very unpleasant and so worrisome for the devastation these uncontrolled fires are causing. On the news I saw a firefighter from France who is in Quebec to help out say he had never witnessed such forest fires in his life.  Flaming June indeed!  

Friday 23 June 2023

Rainbow Neighbourhood Quilt Flimsy, Family

My week has gone well and included a visit with older daughter who lives about 30 minutes away. I love her little house so much; while it is ideal for a single person as herself it would also make the perfect retirement home. The back of the house has two huge bay windows and the side windows are extra large so a very bright house inside. 

When I moved here to Ottawa, I had intended to live with her in this house. We had a two bedroom apartment built in the basement for me and that has never been lived in. I met Hubby and the plan completely changed for me. 

In completely different other news, my Rainbow Neighbourhood quilt is a flimsy!

First up, here are blocks I sewed that didn't make it into the final houses for one reason or another.

And I used this fabric below for my cornerstones. I first had the plan to make each cornerstone a different colour since the sashings are all the same neutral and then I came across this. Here is what was left of the sashing fabric too...cut it a little bit close. 
I think the design looks like tall buildings and is called Homeward from Free Spirit. It was a special way to use up a small piece of fabric. 
I took it outside to see if the colours would show better in natural light. Somewhat successful but it's disappointing that the sashings black flecks don't appear at all. I'll get a photo later which hopefully will show the sashings are not completely white!

 And of course a breeze had to appear just as I was trying to take photos. I am happy with the accuracy of 7 of the houses. Right now this is 62 in. x 58 in. so a good lap size for sure. I especially enjoyed sewing the different blocks for the house side. 

 Imperfections abound. I am a scissors cutter and it could have been worse, LOL Lost a point here and I could go back and tease it out I suppose.

Didn't quite match up here. And there are others, sigh.
And for the backing, I'm looking at Diann's Little Penguin Quilts's post HERE where she shows excellent backing suggestions. I would like to use those orphan blocks I made if I can. That's a weekend job for me.

As I stated in another post, Sandra's Rainbow House pattern instructions are in depth and wonderful. Besides variations of houses, they include instructions for many star blocks, trees, and hearts to flesh out your neighbourhood.  I'm very pleased to have taken part in her QAL and would definitely sign up for another! Check out her mmmquilts link to see the wonderful (and precisely sewn!) neighbourhoods folks are posting. 

Below is younger daughter Beth, the cake maker, and younger grandson, Robbie. They live not that far from Lake Mississippi-less than a 5 minute drive and have a boat. They can go fishing after work during these long evenings which they did recently. I really liked this photo of the happy fisherfolk, which I guess is what they are called these days.
They had a fish fry the next night which they shared and we enjoyed the fish very much. So much better tasting than what I buy in the grocery store and am paying an insane price for these days. 
We have more ground hogs again. Three little ones appeared one day scrambling about the front yard. A quick look around and this new hole was found where I dump the weeds and clippings, not near a walkway thankfully.

I'm not that worried about the population increase as ground hogs are solitary and these will be encouraged to move on and find their own territory before too long. Just like the three from last year did.

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt this week was about the fun of ice cream trucks driving around neighbourhoods. This did not happen during my time in my province that I know of but it is iconic in American movies and such a wonderful summertime thing. You can pop over there to read folks' wonderful ice cream truck memories. I do have fond memories of when Dixie Cups appeared with their dainty wooden spoon/spatulas and also when delicious Drumsticks came available. Do you have any such delicious ice cream memories? 

Summer Solstice was this week. Time is precious that's for sure. 

Monday 19 June 2023

Free Patterns, Blue Courthouse Steps, Rosy Garden

 The rose bushes are all in bloom. This year the first blooms opening up were tinged by pink because of the cooler temperatures we had had when they were buds...low single digits overnight and staying cooler during the day. 

These hardy bushes will bloom all summer and into October as I noted last fall. The bees love them too. I must look where I could purchase more of them. 

Sitting waiting for grandson one day, I watched the chinstrap Canada Geese stand about in parking lot puddles. It was very hot that day and they just stood there looking a little sad. By the end of the day, all the puddles had dried up and the geese were gone too. More of them are not trekking further north like they normally would do. 

That day was such a busy and sweltering one we opted to visit the neighbourhood drive in, the Crispy Spud, to pick up supper. Family run and so friendly. They make great hamburgers with fresh meat not frozen and poutine as well. 
The measuring, cutting and stitching sashings for the house project is once again top priority this week. 
Below are a few more blue courthouse steps blocks which is like fun stitching in comparison to the houses.
. No overly exact measuring required and just have to follow the straight lines on the foundation papers. I like the look of them together; much brighter than I had thought they would be. Seeing them together like this is helpful as perhaps I need more darks now in the next blocks. I didn't want this quilt to be too dark. 

I keep coming across great free patterns that I must share with you.

First up is  Avlea Embroidery where Krista shares sweet little cross stitch and embroidery designs and some that are free as well. She offers many of her designs as kits and they are beautiful. I have my eye on the beginners embroidered Peloponnesian Pomegranate kit that comes with its own beechwood hoop. Here is a sample of her work which would make a sweet edging. 

Krista also provides several lovely How To Videos

And I couldn't resist sharing this one...Fruity Grapes from Fave Quilts. Some of us have been trying our hand at paper pieced hexagons. This placemat is a fun idea for using them. 

That reminded me of strawberries which will be ripening soon in July here in Ontario. There are numerous strawberry patterns to be found online. Here is just one from My Patchwork World where  Hatun Comak leads us through how to sew this strawberry mini quilt. 

There are loads of interesting patterns from many designers to be found at that link.

My week is off to a good start and keeping very busy both inside and outside will be part of it. Thursday we have appointments and will be dropping several bags of clothes and goods at the thrift store along the way. It will feel good just to have that stuff gone. I'm including in that lot a number of quilting and cross stitch books that I bought at thrift stores over the years. I'm finally realizing I can't make all the the things! 
          Hope everything is rosy in your garden!
Sharing with these happy creative folks...Songbird DesignsWendy's Quilts and More,  So Scrappy and Alycia Quilts.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Rainbow Neighbourhood, Flowers, Dads

 Hello all, I've been very busy with family stuff and not having many spare moments to visit you, my blogging friends. And I'm beat in the evenings but everything is going along well overall and I seem to have entered a phase where my stress and worry have lessened. I'm very grateful for the positives of life and being able to stick to my mantra of one day at a time.

Supposedly squirrel proof but definitely not chipmunk proof. Note his cheeks are full. 

 The garden is making me so happy this year. All the extra weeding/cleaning has been paying off. Thanks go to older grandson who has been lending a hand too.
LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt was about memories of our fathers.

 My Dad dropped out of university to sign up with the army much to his parent's chagrin. Being from a tiny Newfoundland outport he wanted to see the world and that was exactly what was on the army recruiting sign. And that's how he became a Korean War vet. His role was like Radar's in Mash...operating the radio messaging. Just shy of 6 ft. he worked hard all his life trying to get back into the shape he'd been in while in the army. His regret in life was leaving the army but he did that for a girl he'd met back home, my mother. Dad rarely told his war stories but he told us two things the war taught him were an enormous respect for the people who are Korean and a renewed love of all the wonderful benefits of living in Canada which we should never take for granted he would point out.

 In his 88 years with us, I learned some other things from him...take care of your body-keep fit, read books, be a life long learner...he took French lessons in his 50's, never brag, be an animal lover, respect all peoples-absolutely never use offensive words-the dictionary is full of words he'd say, find ones that won't hurt, and be on time which he meant was actually 15 minutes early.  I became pathologically punctual thanks to that last bit. A smart, loving, somewhat complicated and interesting fellow was my dad. I guess words that could describe most of the human race, LOL.
Stitchy talk
I'm trying not to stress about these houses getting their sashings. Here spread out on my bed. And I wanted to show you the pillowcases from the Flower Power sixties. These were at the farm when I arrived on the scene and are still good to use. Amazing quality. 

 But so far it all has gone well and everything is fitting together well enough. I'm quick to say the imperfections have nothing to do with Sandra's instructions which are wonderful, just my own crooked eye issue. For the sashings, I settled on this fabric that is white with the black flecks throughout it. It seems to be brightening up the overall look as some of my houses are on the darkish edge of the rainbow. Wee Gallery by Dear Stella
I'm also sorting fabric for my butterflies which is fun to do. Trying to convince myself I don't need to order any. I think I'm going to go with brights like my houses here but up a notch as I do think of butterflies as being very colourful. Maybe I'll have a butterfly to show next time.
Hope all is peaceful and relaxed in your world!

Sharing this post with Quilting Patchwork Applique and Quilting is More Fun Than Housework.

Tuesday 13 June 2023

Rainbow House, Garden Blooms, Cardinal Couple

I showed you Mr. and Mrs. American Goldfinch- here are Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. Not a great photo but it isn't often they are this close together. They are around a lot so I think nesting nearby. 

My arms are a little tired typing. We trimmed low hanging branches up and down the laneway and it was my job to gather them from the ground and take to various big piles around the property. I used the wheelbarrow and my arms got a bit of a workout which is good for them. Much more of this to be done. I couldn't resist taking a few photos of the garden growth.
Gardening is very rewarding.

I especially enjoy seeing the flowering bushes I've planted come to life each summer.
 It's also fun to have another house finished for the Rainbow Neighbourhood QAL
This one looks summery to me and I used Kona Carnation fabric for a few of the sections. 
Up close I loved the shade which is hard to capture in a photo. It's between pink and peach to my eye. Joann's has it on sale right now I noticed (not affiliated).  I wonder where else I can use it, perhaps the Monarch project. Speaking of which, I've started drawing and cutting the freezer paper templates for that project. Can't wait to get it started as I love applique. But first I have to decide about borders/sashings for the Rainbow houses. That's up next.  I have a few ideas.

I very much enjoyed a family birthday get together on the weekend. It was good to get out the nicer things, enjoy Chinese food which we hadn't had for a long time and especially to have a few laughs together. 
I hope your week is going great. 

Friday 9 June 2023

Rainbow Neighbourhood QAL, Feelings, Monarch Applique

Mr. and Mrs. American Goldfinch...I hope they are discussing housing options here at the wooden house. I love to watch them.

Here is a red house for the Rainbow Neighbourhood QAL with my paper pieced star block.
They are being stitched faster but I'm not sure any better. I am planning a lighter colour for the next one perhaps in peaches or summery kinds of shades. 

With my Rainbow Neighbourhood project nearing an end, I'm thinking about an applique project next. Maybe this one, Monarch, from Laundry Basket Quilts. I've had this pattern for years and I just may have enough different fabrics to do these butterflies justice. That was my hold back till now. A wonderful theme for summer.
It would make great veranda stitching too.
Speaking of which, we've been under a cloud of smoke from the forest fires to the north and east of us. Alarmingly bad air quality. Haze is very hard to photograph but this was afternoon of a supposedly sunny day. It actually darkened for a couple of hours which looked and felt terrible.
And the sun was oddly red which my camera could not capture. This is what I got.
It has been a relief to hear the fires are under control.

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt this week was about a memory from childhood of eating ice cream. Mine is a common one for North America I think. Much enjoyed summer Sunday afternoon drives with my family growing up in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, often involved stopping for an ice cream cone at a drive-in called Wellon's. That would have been hard ice cream in vanilla, strawberry or chocolate flavours, nothing fancy. 
 Here is Jennifer Mitchell's winter time video showing a small portion of the drive we took so often through the Humber Valley over the years. I didn't appreciate how spectacular the scenery was till much later in life.
I have to mention all the emails and comments I received from the remarks I made about feeling stressed in my last post. I had tears in my eyes as I read them as so many of you took the time to tell me what works for you or to offer a solution or link or kind words too. All so appreciated by me. 
Here's what I've been doing. I'm a doer and like to research, find solutions, make a plan-all that right away. I realized I have to stop doing that; I cannot solve other people's problems as dearly as I would like to. I have to stop overthinking the big picture, trying to solve big problems right now. I also need to stop/slow down the anticipating of issues which my overactive imagination makes me do all the time. Worst case scenarios are my specialty especially in the middle of the night. One day at a time is going to be my challenge and what a challenge that will be for the next while. And as someone said to me if it has to be one hour at a time, go with that too. And that's enough whining from me too!  xxoo to you all. 
Linking this post with Kathy's Quilts.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Red House Block, Plus Quilt Borders and Help Needed

 We seem to be down to just one ground hog-this fellow. After the dogs gave him a little chase in the back yard one day, I now see him more regularly out front and on the side lawn. There's about 9 more acres he could explore so I'm not sorry he's not in the fenced back yard. 

The crocuses opened and faded quickly in the intense heat we had -that was a little bit sad. But a traditional sign of rebirth in the garden however brief. 
The dogwood trees are in bloom also. Many of them here and all the greens are intense.
Inside the house has been cleared out a little. I put away all the knitted throws and quilted blankets and the inside flowers/plants are all moved to outside pots. That last bit took all Saturday morning. I also moved a lot of firewood closer to the house with older grandson's help. It's all been stacked neatly by the back door in close reach for next winter's fires.That night I was tired and my finger ached so I made the decision to have a very quick and easy supper. Cheesy wiener hot dogs with a side of potato chips. No one complained.
I've enjoyed hand stitching this easy star block for my red Rainbow Neighbourhood house. Hopefully the whole house will be finished by Thursday.
I'm also digging out fabric for the borders on my Plus Quilt. That is something I want done this week as well. 
I came across this wonderful post from The Repro Quilter called Ten Tips for Making Scrappy Quilts. It's not like I haven't heard many of the ideas before, but it's helpful to have reminders. And it seems each stitcher adds an idea or two that works well for them which is always interesting.

And something I've been eyeing...Nicola at Cake Stand Quilts has this beautiful summery sampler pattern for sale called Primrose Hill. Her site is lovely with such pretty projects. Talented Nicola is a designer for Moda Bakeshop.

From now on, weeding and general garden work will be on my TO DO list each week. Also I want to get my hummingbird feeder hung and make a decision about which flowering bush I'll add to the garden this summer.


I've been busy with the various yard chores, taking care of us and tending to family duties. I've felt a little exhausted at times. Handling my own stress levels continues to be a goal of mine and I am loath to resort to a drug therapy (but if I have to, I will, sigh). If you have any ideas of things/exercises/ health items, natural remedies, etc. that work for you in this regard, please let me know. Your kind and encouraging comments always mean the world to me.  Thanking you in advance... 

Friday 2 June 2023

Courthouse Steps in Blues, Mail, Hand Injury

 Days flying by... June already which is crazy. We broke a weather record for heat yesterday. The former high was 29C and we had it 39C (102F) here in the Ottawa Valley. That is extreme, but no humidity thankfully. We pulled the drapes and halted the outside chores.  

Look at how quickly all the leaves have opened!

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt this week is what is our favourite ice cream flavour. Mine is Haagen-Dazs' Salted Caramel. I can't have it in the house. I do not have a sweet tooth but this is delicious to me...maybe it's the salt against the sweet. So what would be your favourite?  Do you like your ice cream slightly melted like I do? I think the all time favourite is still vanilla.  Quick question...I've heard Rocky Road flavour originated in Australia. True?

Mail Call

A lot of ads for this product below kept showing up on my Facebook feed. I took the online test to determine which shade would be best for me. I normally just need the lightest/palest of anything.  I wondered about the texture and whether it would feel greasy on my face. It doesn't at all. The first day I wore it, when daughter came over she said you look nice and I wondered if this new face balm was the reason. :) Bobbi Brown's Jones Road tinted moisture balm. Here is a link. Not affiliated. 

And my copy of Quiltmania, Issue 155, arrived.  A pretty summer edition. Folks who have access to Dutch prints are so lucky as they are the prettiest of florals it seems. 
I'm working on a house in reds for the Rainbow Neighbourhood QAL. And I've made a start on a lap quilt for SIL.  I'm using blues and a traditional red in the middle for heart of the home. I'm also including light yellows and deep orange bits for sunrise, sunset. He is busy from sunrise to sunset...never stops so a little nod to all that he does and hopes/wants to do. These blocks are foundation paper pieced Courthouse Steps and machine stitched of course. Lighter blues show off the darker nicely. Going to link up with  So Scrappy.
I'm enjoying including some of the thrift store men's shirts material in these. Can you spy them? I'm making this a goal for have all the blocks sewn. Linking with Elm Street Quilts.

I had a small injury on Monday. I was carrying an armload of pool stuff down concrete steps in the back when the dogs swept by me a little too close. I moved my body to avoid them and that took me down to my knees on the step. Somehow I hurt my left ankle and saved myself from falling all the way down with my right hand. The ankle was only momentarily aching but my right hand didn't fare as lightly. I have two fat fingers...middle and ring. That has affected my grasp which hurts as well when I bend them. But they are fine just a little sore. I've been more worried about the hand stitching which turns out to be okay, just a little slower than usual. It could have been so much worse so I am feeling very thankful this week. Thankful as well that I have a high threshold of pain which has stood me well over the years.  Update Friday...hand feels fine and the ring finger knuckle is still a little swollen, can't wear a ring. Wow, when I look at those steps... I was so lucky...
Please all of you, stay upright and have a great weekend!