Saturday 30 December 2023

Two Great Recipes, ChookShed Stitchers Challenge

Hello again...I'm back from an unintentional little break from my blogging which happened for a good reasons. I got caught up with Christmas/family events. I'm toying with the idea of changing things up this new year. In looking back, my bigger picture circumstances have changed just about every ten years or so. It's always invigorating for me to have new beginnings. We'll see.  

Meanwhile since speaking to you last, I cooked two recipes that I want to share with you. Have you heard of Funeral Potatoes? A dish that has an interesting church beginning and the recipe is so simple. It's basically a bag of thawed hashbrowns, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a container of sour cream well mixed then crushed corn flakes and loads of grated cheese layered on top and popped in the oven. It was a hit! Recipe here at Tastes Better From Scratch.

 The other new recipe I made recently is another casserole called Macaroni Lasagna. I substituted rotini for the macaroni cause it seems a little fancier and I used the chicken broth that includes red wine. It was tasty and I hope I can remember to make that again sometime as well. Recipe found at The Salty Marshmallow.

Two of my Christmas presents this year were for my feet.

I've wanted snow shoes for a long time. Certain trails become impassable when we have a big snowfall. However, it would be impossible to use them just now as repeated rainfall has completely wiped out all the snow. It looks like April out there though a sad, drenched one.  

The weather has been foggy and cloudy day after day. Tony calls it gloomy. I don't mind it actually. Here is a shot from the weather channel showing how much cloud cover we have had in December.

 This was for Toronto area but we seem to have worse weather than they do- something to do with our Ottawa valley and the Great Lakes.

There was one nice sunny day but the rest have been overcast. This is the 29th and Ned and I just came in from another drizzly wet walk so it looks like 2023 will end with record breaking gloom. 

In brighter news...2024 promises to be a great year for sewists. Flosstube stitchers are taking on a challenge called  24 in 24 meaning 24 projects in 2024. First I was thinking wowzers, then realized there are 352 days in a year so who knows, maybe 24 could be manageable especially if some patterns are quite small. I'm not sure it means actual finishes either so to start that many would not be a problem. As we all know, starting is never the issue!

 It worked well for me to choose a WIP a month to finish last year and I'm going to continue that plan this new year. Since I'm so good at following orders, I've also decided to follow along with the ChookShed Stitchers 2024 Challenge. You can read all about it here at Daughters of Dorinda where Deana describes the plan. 

I enjoyed choosing a variety of stitching projects to work on for this challenge. Included in my list is cross stitching, embroidery for quilting projects, working with wool- that Bonnie Sullivan kit I've had for a few years, as well as machine and hand quilting. Yes, I'm a jack of all trades, master of exactly none! 

1. My Crabapple Hill Designs Snow Days  2. Blue Courthouse Steps Quilt  3. Madame La Fee Jour de Neige  4.Patchwork Diamond Quilt  5. Quiltmania Xmas Applique project  6. EPP Lone Star Medallion  7. Scrappy Trees Quilt  8. Tumbling Blocks Quilt  9. Panama Pyramids Quilt  10. Cardinal Rule

I've a soup on the go in the slow cooker...pea using up leftover holiday ham. Perfect for a rainy but turning colder day. Hope your week is going well and you too are dreaming of all the lovely stitching hours stretching ahead in the new year! 

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Three Free Star Ornament Patterns, Applique and Quilting Progress

On my second cup of coffee this morning and a big one at that. Yes, I use a straw to help keep my front teeth white. Weird I know.  Anyone else do that?

We had a busy day recently with financial meetings in a nearby town, getting a chest x ray for Tony, library books returned, etc. etc.  I needed bird seed which I usually buy in the largest bag I can find...this one at Walmart was on special. 

 Tony went to bed for a nap when we finally made it home and I tried to calm myself with Floss tube and stitching. No, too wound up to concentrate. So I took Ned out for a long walk even out onto the cul de sac and up the road which we never do. (I also don't go into our woods in the dark). He loved all the new smells and in the calm and quiet of early dusk, the Christmas lights were shimmering so prettily, I could feel myself breathing deeper and relaxing. 

My head was kind of spinning because I know there is a bunch of things I need to do for Christmas and I was also kicking myself for forgetting my list at home. In certain circumstances I still put pressure on myself; don't know why, maybe because it's in my stars- I'm Virgo...:D  My days of full on Christmas decorating/entertaining are behind me so I've far less to do which is ironic because now I have the time to actually do that. Just don't have the will anymore.

Enough of blabbing on...

I stitched two more of the Quiltmania blocks...truthfully, I'd cut these shapes out sometime in the past so they just needed sewing down and embellishing. 

And I've now sewn the four corner blocks for the Diamond Patchwork Quilt.  I get to play with more whites from now on. 
Here are three free Christmas Star ornament patterns that are fairly quick to make and I thought too good to miss...
The first are the directions to make a Moravian Star which is special as well as pretty. It made me think of the Moravian missionaries who in 1771 were the first Europeans to settle on the Labrador Coast and proceeded to have a huge impact on the Labrador Inuit. 
The Moravian Star is multisided and has been associated with the faith for centuries. 
Here is the link to Hatun Conak's free pattern at My PatchWorld site. Really neat.

The Second one is from one of my favourite sites, Wild Olive, where Mollie shares so many sweet patterns. This little ornament is so pretty. Sometimes simple is better and with this one you can embroider a name or year on the back to make it meaningful, which is a touch I love. 

The Third star ornament is from Crafty Staci where she shares the free pdf template for her Pentagon Star ornament. Also sweet and a great way to fussy cut special Christmas fabrics. 

Btw, all three of these sites have wonderful banks of free patterns and instructions. Happy Exploring!

 I must also share news of a fellow blogger and dog lover, Pat, a retired teacher, whose blog is The Weaver of Grass and she lives in the Yorkshire Dales, England. I've been reading her wonderful and newsy blog for ten years and always felt a strong sense of connectiveness with her. I've followed her from being married to the farmer, his passing, her move from the farm into the local village, her breaking a hip (something, like me, she so dreaded doing), needing a carer and now being diagnosed with cancer. She is in her 90's and is opting for palliative care at home. Her mind is clear as a bell and she is in charge of these decisions. I'm awed by her words, her wonderful attitude and want to remember and learn from her experiences. 

The big day is getting closer! Hope you are happy with how you are coping and getting things ticked off your lists. 

Sharing this post with Quilt Fabrication.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Patchwork Quilting, Autumn Quakers, Simple Pleasures Continued

Pretty colours against the snow. From my kitchen window, I enjoy spying Blue Jays in amongst the snowy branches.
LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's promt this week is real or fake Christmas trees? I am not putting up a tree this year, real or fake, even though we are hosting the Christmas Day dinner. I've never liked the tree and would like to get a new one. Meanwhile I have my little ceramic tree in the living area. I was happy to see these trees become popular again.
I went out shopping and to lunch on Wednesday. It was a perfect weather day with sun which has been scarce this month. It felt good to get a few presents crossed off my list and I enjoyed the fish and chip lunch at the popular restaurant, the Scottish Glen. It is especially popular with seniors and they were there in droves that sunny day.  

I've machine stitched two of the large corner blocks for the Christmas Patchwork Diamond quilt. The third is on the machine and I have the fourth laid out ready to go. The fabric is Andover's Laundry Basket Noel and is very beautiful to work with. 
I'm eager to start including the snow white colours of these fat quarters I bought ages ago for another project and were never used. Back then, I thought white would be used in every quilt. These have faint designs on them. 
 I found these whites too white for whatever that old project was but will maybe now provide the perfect contrast for this Christmas-y stitching. Who knew there were "shades" of white!

And in slow stitching, I mentioned continuing to work on my Rosewood Manor's cross stitched Autumn Quakers piece. I've decided to keep the momentum going on this project till Christmas. Almost at the bottom now on the left side. The beauty of stitching Quaker samplers is that each motif finishes fairly quickly and you get a feeling of satisfaction about that. 

Stitching on 28 ct Vintage Country Mocha Cashel Linen

I was going to include this in the last post about simple things to look forward to. I have switched our summer duvet for our real Auckland Wool duvet that I use for winter. It is so cosy and warm and importantly not too heavy. I've also made the switch to toasty flannel sheets.  On cold, snowy and blowy winter nights, is there anything more wonderful than a warm, comfortable bed to sleep in. Something everyone deserves for sure.  

And on that sleepy note, I promised to tell you if the medication I got from the doc is helping me sleep. So far, I've been cutting each pill into quarters. Most nights I take a quarter and it definitely makes me drowsy no matter how "alive" my brain feels. I sleep soundly till about 4:30 or 5 then I'm awake. but it gets me past the dreaded 3 am.  This is still a tad too early so I read for some time, and occasionally fall back to sleep but more often I stay in bed till 6 ish and get up and start my day. 

All is rosy in our December garden here at the Wooden House! Hope your Thursday is also going well!

Feeling thankful too for these great linky parties...Quilting Patchwork AppliqueQuilting is More Fun Than HouseworkSmall Quilts and Doll QuiltsSongbird Designs and Kathy's Quilts.

Monday 11 December 2023

Simple Pleasures, Applique, Pattern Testing

I've begun my winter goal of spending an hour each day outside in the fresh air no matter the weather. It is easily done as two long walks with Ned will take up the time. And then there is collecting sticks for the fire and shoveling the front steps too which I've done twice so far.  It is slow going in the woods with the snow we've had already. And I take time to look about, take a photo, try to find birds, etc. Ned upset me one morning by eating a lone rabbit's paw we came across. He gobbled it up before I knew what he was doing. I reminded him that we are feeding him organic food for his itchy skin and then he goes and eats something wild like that. He was completely indifferent, if anything a little proud of himself. Here he looks so much older to me...going to be 3 in March.

 I wasted, no I shouldn't say wasted, I spent an entire evening playing with a new pattern. My latest Quiltmania magazine featured a beautiful vintage quilt with the pattern to make it.

No, not the cover quilt; that one is incredible wool applique. This one below...The Scrappy Stars quilt made by Poulien Wolfswinkel (what a neat surname!). 

And we are all in love with stars. It would work well as another scrappy project to use up some of those sorted scraps I've been up to my knees in lately. So I set about copying the pattern, tracing and cutting the card stock pieces-made loads of the triangles and corner pieces to stitch them EPP. Then tried out a few of the fans with my blue scraps which are plentiful. 
Overnight I had the thought that the pattern at this size-2 1/2 inches, was far too small and fiddly for my fingers, plus it would take a million of them to make a lap quilt even.  I need the pattern enlarged. So today I'm going to resize the pattern to make it bigger, maybe to a finished 6 inch square size at least. 

Since last writing, I also finished another Quiltmania Xmas square, the little potted hearts. These are small as well but not too small. I'm including a little blue fabric here and there from now on. 

So what are you looking forward to this week? It's important to have something to look forward to- even a very small thing like for me right now I'm looking forward to putting the kettle on for tea and know I will have a muffin with it. Our wood guy came with a load of wood for us and we were pleased to find out it had been stored inside so dry...that will catch easier and burn cleaner. I look forward to making a cheery fire with it each winter morning. We've also been enjoying the little thing of opening up our advent calendars from Beth each day. Mine is really neat, a 50 piece puzzle of puppies, each day. Tony's is all chocolates and Ned, the rabbit eater, also gets an edible treat. 
So what are your tiny but enjoyable somethings to look forward to this week? 
Also enjoyable to link up with great parties around the net such as Life in Pieces It's a Small Town LifeMelva Loves ScrapsSo Scrappy and Quilt Fabrications.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Canadian December, Christmas Patchwork Diamond Quilt Begun

It's looking a lot like Christmas here and the kids got a snow day last Monday. We've broken a former record for how many hours straight it had been snowing -59. And it does feel like it has been snowing for days, just lightly but no sun. Our world is a post card like black and white winter one. Ned loves sniffing all the obvious tracks that now we can name as the usual visitors...squirrel, turkey, bird, fox, etc. 
The trees in the front area of the house are huge. See 6ft 4in Tony with Ned?

I went to two grocery stores and could not find Puff pastry. I don't know if I was looking in the wrong frozen food sections or what. Anyway. in the kitchen, I decided to make us muffins which will always get eaten. I use a blend of white and brown flours.
This time I made Apple Pecan Oat Muffins and they were good. This is definitely a rare kind of  guilt free baked good for me as I know exactly what has gone in them. I used  Lara's recipe as a guide.
  I was deep into short story compilations there for a couple of weeks. I realized these are great while sitting waiting for Jack or Tony at appointments. I read these books before but forget the bits enough to enjoy a reread. That seems to be happening to me lately. 

Wherever I set up, it seems I have a ton of stuff around me. It gathers and grows. But it's not my fault as I like to have at hand whatever project crosses my mind to work on while I'm watching tv. Once settled in, I hate getting up and going all the way to the sewing room down the hall, etc. Sounds lazy I know. Does this sound like you too-not the lazy bit but the accumulation of project paraphernalia? 
Tony is very good natured about all my "stuff" though I think he is mystified as to why there is so much of it all.

Here are a couple more of the appliqued and embroidered Quiltmania Xmas Blocks below. I don't like writing Christmas as Xmas, never did. It's very fitting there is a squirrel in the mix, don't you think.
After waffling about far too long, I finally settled on what I'm going to sew with the Noel jelly roll.   A Bright Corner 's free 2018 Christmas Patchwork Diamond tutorial link has been in my notebook for a few years. I'm pretty sure I've shared it here at some point. I like how Andy has presented the pattern in easy to follow sections.  I've cut the squares and laid out how the first block will look. So far, so good. Hopefully I'll get in the sewing room itself this weekend to get this block stitched. Have a look around Andy's site as she has lots of wonderful free quilting patterns and great tutorials.

In very slow stitching, I'm still cross stitching motifs on my Autumn Quakers. The goal was set to finish two more before changing to Christmas/winter cross stitching and I'm sticking to that. 

A while ago, someone asked about a game I mentioned called Lexulous. It is a free online scrabble game where you have the choice to play against the computer or solitary mode. I always choose solitary and work out one game every day. I use a dictionary in an effort to expand my Scabble vocab. Trying to keep the old brain working. :D
 I do hope you are keeping warm or cool depending on where you live in this wide wonderful world!

Sunday 3 December 2023

Christmas Quiltmania, Crocheting, Coziest Time of Year

 The weather outside is just a little bit frightful...

I'm feeling thankful I don't have to go out in such weather anymore. And all good inside. It is very cosy in the tv room with YouTube entertainment, a large mug of coffee and crocheting like crazy. Doesn't get much better for a retiree. 

I've pulled out my Applique and Embroidery Xmas at Quiltmania, 2018 project. I have no idea where I ended this before. But here are a few blocks up close. The idea was to use a very limited and muted palette- just white, red and grey in the mix.
I checked and the free patterns are still there at that link if you'd like to take a look. 
And these some point I decided to add this darker blue into the mix. The bell could use more embellishments. 
I think I've stitched a couple more since so will do another search in the WIP's drawer. Because surely I would have picked this up again the following Christmas. But anyway, this will be my main hand stitching for December with the plan to get 20 or so of these blocks finished. 
Last year I was given a jelly roll of  Laundry Basket Quilts lovely Andover Noel fabric, the only new fabric in my stash. I've been doing a little search for a machine stitching project. Isn't it pretty. Any suggestions...I've never used a jelly roll in a real project before. 

I've gotten the over 65 Flu Vaccine and waffling on whether to get the Covid one too. It made me think of how differently vaccinations were viewed when I was a kid. 
I think all of my vaccinations were given to me at school growing up. "Getting a needle" day would be almost terrifying with someone crying- sometimes even a boy would cry! and once someone fainted. You can imagine how exciting that was! I doubt very much if my parents gave permission or even knew ahead of time this was happening. And all we felt was gratitude, thankful that we were being protected against some dreadful disease. No more thought than that. My parents would have agreed anyway especially since my mother had a brother who'd become slightly physically disabled as the result of childhood polio. I don't think anyone questioned the value. There was certainly less grey area and more black and white in that post '50's world I grew up in. The door has been firmly shut on that world (and there are certainly things that do need to stay behind that door!).  Would this have been your experience with vaccinations too?

I hope you are having a great first weekend of December and your fingers are flying. 

Happily linking with Songbird Designs, The Inquiring QuilterAlycia QuiltsConfessions of a Fabric Addict and Small Quilts and Doll Quilts.

Friday 1 December 2023

Finishes Yes Two of Them, Free Christmas Patterns

On one of our very chilly but bright trail walks this week, I was struck by the blues and strange soft look of the November sky- it had a different look- and it reminded me of a line. I can't remember if it is from a poem or essay where the writer says " November's porcelain blue sky". Taken with my phone camera and no editing.

I visited older daughter, Amelia, this week and she is ahead of the game...her tree is up and decorated. I was interested in the three decorations I embroidered a couple of decades ago. I looked closely at my stitching.
Not good. The stitches were much, much smaller and neater than what I'm doing these days. C'est la vie.
 November OMG News

First up is a last look at my little applique leafy table topper. Definitely an autumn item.

And the hand quilting and binding got finished on the Christmas Coins. It measures 42 in. x 48 in. and was a joy to stitch from start to finish.
It is a good feeling to get these WIP's all finished.  I was digging in my WIP drawer and have pulled out the 2018 Quiltmania applique project that I really want to finish this winter great if I could finish it in December because the motifs are sort of  Christmasy. Next post I'll share that. 

There are wonderful and free Christmas patterns popping up in my newsfeed. I just have to share a few with you.  

Live Art Gallery Fabrics This one is called "All is Bright" and has a definite modern flair. 

The tutorial for this easy but adorable pattern below is found at Quilt Story I've noted it several times throughout the years. 

Also in an old notebook...I still like this Vintage Throw Pattern from Jeris Quilt Patch.  If you have pretty fabric that features a Christmas motif or even  panel blocks, it would work for the rectangular blocks. 

LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color's prompt this week has to do with exchanging Christmas cards and letters.  I used to send out tons of cards but these days I only put in the mail cards with gifts to the children of Tony's former in laws. The three of them always phone me to thank me which is sweet.  What about you? Have you kept that tradition alive?