Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning and Some Tips

This weekend has been both marvellous and sad.  The good part was being with my family to help my sister celebrate her 60th birthday.  I have siblings in England as well as Ontario so it is always a treat when we have members from both countries in one place.  We stayed overnight with my husband's sister and visited with them on Sunday.  On the way home we picked up our little dog who we had left in a doggie motel (an emotional time for me.)
Because Heidi was in the kennel, I had been frequently checking my voice mail and found a message on our home phone from our former pastor asking me to call as she had news.  I assumed it might be that her daughter was engaged and, as soon as we got home, I phoned.  Unfortunately, the news was bad.  A friend of ours had been killed in a traffic collision.  Our family had all attended the same church in Edmonton and then, almost all at the same time, we moved to Ontario.  Our pastor friends went to a new church and our other friends to the Ottawa area as he is in the Armed Forces.  On Friday, David was riding his motorcycle and was killed by a person who turned left into his path (a very common occurance when you ride a mc), hit him and left.  We are, of course, grieving for his young family.
And now for the hints.  The majority of traffic collisions happen at intersections and usually during a left turn.  If you are turning and there is a large vehicle approaching you, check to make sure it isn't hiding a smaller vehicle.  Because motorcycles are small, they appear to be further away than they are.  Check a landmark near them to give you and idea of the distance and the speed at which they are travelling.  If in doubt, don't move.  It is only 90 seconds until the next green light.  Before turning left, check left for pedestrians, especially those who might be running.  Keep looking left as you turn.  Pedestrians are often hit because motorists are looking right as they turn left.  Why?  They are looking for vehicles who are approaching from that direction.  If they weren't there when you checked before your turn, they won't be during it and, if they are, there isn't anything you can do anyway, you are already in the danger zone.
If you are beside a large vehicle when the light changes, stay beside it as you enter the intersection.  They will protect you from anyone running the light. Always, always, hesitate before moving on a green. Check left and right and left again before moving.  Why the focus on the left side.  That is where the cars are the closest to you.
And one final point.  When stopping, keep a good distance between you and the car ahead.  If the vehicle behind is skidding, you will have room to move up or even change lanes.  If the vehicle ahead stalls, you will, again, be able to go around it.
Please take your driving seriously.  More people have been killed in traffic collisions than all the world wars.

Friday, November 27, 2009

PB and Ice-Cream, Oh My

I admit it.  I am a peanut butter nut.  I love the stuff.  I love it mixed in with vanilla ice-cream, spread on bread, toast or a bagel.  I love it combined with jam or straight out of the jar.
When I went for my last physical and told the doctor how much trouble I was having getting my weight to budge, I happened to mention that I ate  a couple of large spoonfuls of pb every day (not counting what went on bread).  He suggested I might want to cut back.  Actually, he gave me a bit of a lecture on the perils of extra weight and told me to wise up. 
Well, I have tried.  First of all, it was easier to increase my walking distance and cut back on my other food portions.  I now limit (or try, anyway) my daily PB intake to one slice of bread or one small bit on a spoon.
I should just quit buying it which is the method I employ for most of the 'bad for you' foods.  But then, I remind myself that PB is a protien and protien is good for you.  And, I really don't know how I would react to complete withdrawal.  Would I start complusively cleaning the house?  Would I take up marathon running or kick boxing?  I think that in the interest of sanity (my husbands as well as mine), I better have my fix each day.  I think thinness is over-rated anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Written Word

Ever since I had my first newspaper column 30 years ago, I have been aware of the importance of the printed word.  Everything you read whether in a newspaper, on a clothing label, cereal box or a blog, has the ability to influence your life.  People generally believe that what they read is true.
I once wrote a column about dandelions and snagged nylons.  I said that as there didn't seem to be anything we could do about either then we should embrace them.  Instead of spending time and money eradicating those pretty little yellow weeds, we should call them flowers and let them flourish like cheerful lawn decorations.  I went on in much the same vein about runs in nylons being a fashion statement instead of a disaster.  This, of course, was all meant to be funny and I think the majority of readers took it that way.  However, I happened to overhear a couple of ladies commenting on the article and they thought that, because it was in a newspaper, it was a serious suggestion.
Journalists seem to have more influence than most writers possibly because they are reporting on the news and readers believe that what is written is only a factual account of an event.  Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.  Newspapers often have a political or other bias. 
Novels can also wield a lot of power.  I wonder how many children developed a sympathy for horses after reading Black Beauty or came to admire dogs from Jack London's Call of the Wild?  How many people are anti-hunting because of Bambi? Books on child rearing techniques, how mankind originated, and racial profiling can affect people for generations.
What ever you read, it is important to remember that, in most cases, the words are the opinion of one person.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

E-Mail Accounts

I was just helping a friend set up her e mail account.  She and her husband have been building their new home next to us and are gradually getting all the services in.  Everything, of course, takes longer to do in the country but the only thing they now need is the phone.
Another draw back of a rural area is the limited access to high speed internet. Our only choice here is satelite and, while it is not as fast as cable,  it is light years ahead of dial up. And, of course, there is only one person who does the installation so just getting everything in can take weeks. However,  she finally had everything done except the her e mail account.  Her  previous one was provided by her service provider and that will be cut off in a couple of weeks.   I have always been of the opinion that you should have two accounts, one of which is a free service like Yahoo or Gmail which you can take with you no matter who is providing your service. If you keep all your e mail contacts in both accounts, it saves a lot of work if you change service providers.  The same is true for your list of favourites, saved e mails, folders etc.  I do so much on line that it would have been torture if I had had to print everything before moving or save to disk or whatever.
Do you have any favourite techie tips?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Little Heidi

 I was wondering what to write about today when Heidi gave me the topic.  When she was little and starting her toilet training, we needed to find a way she could let us know she wanted to go out.  If Heidi just sat by the door, we wouldn't always see her in time.  We didn't want her to scratch the door or bark so we came up with another method.  I found a large, round, metal bell and attached it to the shoe stand near the door.  I wasn't sure she would get the idea but everytime she wanted out, I took her paw and rang the bell.  It only took a few days before she did it herself much to our amusement.  Of course, we made a big fuss which resulted in her ringing it a dozen times a day for a bit. 
Sometimes my husband forgets and leaves his workboots by the door and Heidi can't get to the bell.  The first time that happened, we heard her whine (which is unusual) and investigated.  There she was trying to paw at the bell which was behind the boot. 
I wish we could train her to stop barking at every imagined sound as easily.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Another week

A summer photo of the last half of our driveway leading to the road.  There are raspberry bushes on the right side and my sister in law is inspecting them.

My e mail in box was busy this weekend.  One of my groups had a virtual quilt retreat and there was a lot of on-line chatter.  Another group was commiserating with a member who had had a beloved furry family member die and I was back and forth with some family members.  The internet is a wonderful medium for keeping in touch.
Our weather is still fairly nice for this time of year.  The air feels damp but it isn't cold.  Took Heidi for a walk this morning wearing my light coat.  I have been trying to walk for at least 20 minutes a day.  It is good exercise for both of us.
This afternoon a couple of friends are coming over and we are doing the trail through our property and the one adjoining.   In the meantime, I have sewing to do.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bits and Pieces

This is my great neice and nephew on their great uncle's motorcycle. Doesn't Ellie look serious about being in control. I think she is a future biker chick.  Their father used to race bikes in England.

I spent most of yesterday making nativity costumes and starting my sister's birthday present.  As she may read this posting,  I will have to tell you what it is after she gets it.
I suppose you have heard the news reports about Oprah not renewing her TV show contract after 2011.  It seems to be all over the news this morning which has left me thinking about what we consider to be important.  Yes, she has a popular show and, yes, she certainly is an influential women but is end of her show an earth shattering event?  There were a set of conjoined infants who underwent a successful operation  and they only got a brif mention. I could start with one of my rants but I guess I will just leave it at that but I really do think we could take another look at our value system in this country.
Have you done a quilt as you go pattern?  I like them but hate all the hand sewing that has to be done.  I have recently designed a pattern where everything is done on the machine.  As soon as I have a test done, I am going to get it ready to sell. 
One of the hardest things about developing a home business is setting and meeting goals.  Because you are your own boss, there is a tendancy to not take your work seriously i.e. set aside time to do it.  Maybe that will be my resolution this year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Rainy Day

Yesterday sort of got away on me.  We went to Huntsville in the morning to shop and meet with my friend Carol.  It was almost time for lunch when Carol phoned to say she was at her appointment but feeling ill and could we come and get her.  I am so glad we were there for her as she lives an hour and a half from Huntsville and wasn't in any shape to drive.  We took her to a restaurant for a bowl of soup and she was able to reach her husband. Then, with me driving her car and my husband following in ours, we drove to where she would meet her husband. It was a lovely day and, if it wasn't for the reason, a nice drive.
We finished our shopping and went home.  I was, of course, concerned about Carol and really couldn't settle down to doing anything for the rest of the day.
Today, I woke to a lovely sunrise; one of the benefits of having a south easterly facing bedroom window but showers were predicted.  I was able to take the dog for a walk and get in the days firewood before it started to rain.  I need to spend the day making costumes for our parade float.  The number of little shepherds has changed from none to eight so I am glad I bought extra fabric yesterday. It will be a good day to stay in and sew.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Worthwhile Project

It is colder this morning with a light frost on the trees and ground.  The sun is still shining brightly though.  I am making bread and doing laundry.  As soon as I get the bread done and ready to rise, I will be going outside to help my husband with some of the firewood he cut yesterday.
Last night while watching the news, I got out my tote of scraps.  I took me over an hour but I got the strips, blocks and pieces all seperated.  All this has accumulated in a year as I got rid of all those little 'some day' bits before I moved.  I will now sort them further into colours and put them into baggies where they will be ready for when needed.  I don't kid myself that all future scraps will be kept organzied but at least this lot is.
One of the ladies in our quilt group told us of a project that you might find worthwhile.  A mother whose child had cancer started this and continues it in the name of her child who, sadly, succumb to this dreadful disease.
The project is to make colourful pillowcases which will be used to help brighten the day of children who are outpatients or staying in hospital undergoing cancer treatment.  The pillowcases must be cotton or flannel, have no raw edges and be of a uniform size.  Fabric is washed in plain water and dried without the use of fabric softeners or dryer sheets.  The completed cases are placed in individual ziplock bags.  As you can imagine everything possible has to be done to protect these children who have suppressed immunity.  The child is given a different case each day and, if they are outpatients, get to take one home.
If you are interested in this project, check to see if the hospital in your area that treats children with cancer is interested in receiving them.  The pillowcases have to be sterilized and this is extra work for the staff.  If they can't use them, perhaps the regular pediatric ward can as, no matter the reason, being in the hospital is especially hard for children.
If you would like to make the case, contact me and I will give you the instructions.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Every so often I need a reminder of how lucky I am.  This morning I was feeling grumpy because my husband woke up early and started rattling around starting the fire, watching television and generally creating a noise.  It woke me up but I was still drowsing. Then the dog barked and scared me half to death. And so, I was feeling a bit grumpy as I was making my breakfast and getting ready for the day.
My usual habit after breakfast and devotions is to check my e mail.  This morning there was a note from a group member in Australia telling us about her cats getting outside, the panic of rounding them up and getting a bad bite in the process.  Suddenly, my day seemed rather peaceful.
This morning I am off to my quilt group.  I am working on a scrappy heart quilt which started off as a scrappy bargello.  Decided I didn't like the look of that so took it apart and am using the squares to make this project.
Saturday was the village craft sale and I am pleased with how I did.  One lady scooped up all my baked potato bags (knew I should have made more of them) and I sold a quilted table runner and some other things.  I am also going to have a sale in my home in December  the week after the Santa parade. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Autumn in the Backwoods

I suppose it isn't nice to laugh at our poor dog but she is certainly a leaf magnet.  One of them almost covered her eye but she waited until I took the picture and then tried to shake it off.  Of course, when you have that much hair, someone has to help with the grooming.
Her hair is like velcro.  Whenever she has been outside, she is festooned with  twigs, burrs and other plantlife.  I probably should have her trimmed but I do like her long hair and she is good about getting brushed.
Our pets certainly provide us with a smile, don't they.  No wonder they are good for our blood pressure.  Except, of course, when they insist on getting into trouble.  I am not sure what is going to happen to our Christmas tree this year.  Last year, when she was only a few months old, we put the tree on a table.  This year, we have an artificial one and its height determines its place on the floor.  I have visions of chewn decorations.  Oh, well, there is nothing wrong with having no trim on the bottom half.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Mystery Quilt

It is a lovely, crisp day here in the woods.  The sun is shining and there is a bit of frost on the ground.  I had to put on my winter coat when I took Heidi for a walk although I didn't need a sweater under it.  Silly as it may sound, I love the look of the leafless trees against the sky.  I can see all their tiny, spiderlike branches that are normally hidden as well as the birds who stop to rest from their continuous search for food. 
Our wood pile is getting bigger although Roger is spending most of his time now in hunting.    We will soon have to think seriously about removing snow from our driveway but the forecast tells us that we don't have to worry about it right away.
I have been spending my free time getting ready for the craft sale this Saturday.  I have completed the mystery quilt and am doing some touch up work on other projects.  This is the first time I have entered this sale so am not sure what the customers will be looking for.  Sometimes the only sales you make at these events are from the other vendors who walk around the tables while waiting for the customers who have gone somewhere else.  This sale has been held for a number of years so that tells me it must be successful.
The photo that you see  is my version of the mystery quilt.  I decided not to do the kitties around the border because I couldn't find my white marker pen.  I think I may do this pattern again but make it larger.  I am looking forward to seeing your project.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mid Week

I am running out of title ideas.  Maybe I will just start using the date.
Yesterday was a special day.  Some women who I have known for many years came over for lunch and a visit.  There is something unique about being around people who you have known for a long time.  You, of course, share a lot of memories but it goes much deeper than that. Old friends are those who have seen you at your best and worst.  They have seen your failures and triumphs. They have cried with you and laughed with you, sometimes all at the same time. You can accept their help and their advice because you know it is extended with love.  Neither time nor distance weakeness a true friendship.
I have and am blessed to have so many wonderful women be a part of my life.  Without them, I am sure I would not be the person I now am.
I hope you all can say the same.

Monday, November 9, 2009


Do you keep a journal or diary?  I have been in the habit of doing that since I was a teenager and it is a good way of keeping track of when certain things happened.  It is unseasonable warm here today and I was wondering what the weather had been like last year and found that it had been much the same.  I remember that it was fairly cold on Rememberance Day but had forgotton that we still hadn't had any snow.  If I had looked back farther to 2007 when we were in Edmonton, I am sure I would have found that it had been much colder.
I also discovered that we picked our little dog up a year ago yesterday.  It is amazing to look at her today and remevber the tiny, white fluff ball she had been.  We had to drive quite a distance to get her and I made sure I brought a large towel for my lap, paper towels for mishaps and some water as well as a tiny harness and leash.  All very necessary items when you are transporting a puppy..
We hadn't picked out a name for her yet so on the trip back my husband and I kept thinking of names while I tried to stop the pup from crawling all over the front of the car.  She wanted on my shoulder, on my husband's shoulder, the back of the car seat-anywhere that was higher than where she was.  I was beginning to think we had got a kitten.  All that climbing did give us a name though.  I had read the story of Heidi, the little Swiss girl that lived with her grandfather when I was a child and it seemed appropriate to name a climbing dog after her.
Shortly after receiving her name, Heidi let us know why she had been trying to get to a different place.  I shouted at my husband to 'pull over' and I gingerly got out of the car with the dog.  Roger came over to take the leash while I cleaned up.  Thank goodness I had brought supplies.
Since then she has provided us with a lot of laughter, exercise and love.  Of course there is also expense, irritation and inconvenience but she is well worth it. And she still loves to climb.
If I hadn't kept a journal, I wouldn't have been reminded of Heidi's homecoming or the anniversary of another event that happened the day prior. 
By November  of 2008, we had moved into our new home and had all our services except the phone and internet.  I had been calling Bell regularly since August and was getting increasingly frustrated.  When my mother died, I had to use my cell (which kept cutting out) to talk to my family in England about arrangements.  Every time I called Bell, I got a different excuse and a different installment date.  Finally, On Nov. 7th, we got service.  The following week my internet was hooked up.  Happy day.
I don't write in my journal every day unless something momentous is happening but, when I do, I like to record the weather and anything that might be making the news.  I keep it in my bedside table and often pick it (or one of the two previous ones I have done since being married) up and read back over past events.  It does help keep things in perspective to see how my life has changed over the years.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Peekaboo Party-last installment

Good morning.  I am up and around earlier than I expected so thought I would get todays posting done so you can see the suggestions I have for finishing or changing your quilt.
If you haven't read Wednesday's post, you may still want to do that as I have a couple of quilting hints in it.

Top stitching: one of the problems that people have with quilting is deciding how to do the top stitching.  I am certainly not an expert.  My quilts tend to be either stitch in the ditch, shadow quilted or stippled with the majority being the last method.  For this quilt, however, I found that diagonal stitching works quite nice.  I started in the top upper left corner square and following an imaginary line across to the bottom right, I stitched diagonally from point to point across each square.   Because the quilt is a rectangle, you will end up on the right side, fifth square from the bottom.  I moved over four inches and repeated the process going in the opposite direction ensuring I was going from square corner point to square corner point.

I did not include the borders in this part although, of course, you can.  Because my quilt has kitties on it, I cut out a template of a cat and am going to trace that around the border and stitch.  You could do this for whatever theme you chose.

Another top stitching method you might like to try relates to the border stitching I just mentioned.  Sometimes you can find some very simple pictures in a child's colouring book that can be used as templates.  If I wanted to stay with the cat theme, I could have found a large picture of a cat, made a template and traced it onto the quilt top.  I then would have top stitched the quilt following the traced lines.

To difficult to mark the top of your quilt?  Use the back.  You can trace your pattern on the back of the quilt and then sew.  Remember, if necessary, to change your thread so that your top stitching colour is in the bobbin.

Changing the quilt size.  This is a very easy pattern to adapt.  You can add more rows vertically and/or horizontally.  You can increase or decrease the block size.

Did you use any variations in your quilt?  If so, tell me what they were or, better yet, send a photo.  I would like to show off your quilts so please send pictures.

Next month, I am going to have some ideas for quick or last minute gift making.  In January, I will be posting something completely different that I hope you all will enjoy. (May do it earlier if I can't wait!)  And, if you liked doing the mystery quilt, let me know.  I would be pleased to do another one in the New Year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This and That

Welcome to the newest members.  I think I will have to do some sort of milestone project later on.  Not sure just what the goal should be-six month mark, 25 members?  Will have to think on that.

Just some random thoughts today.  Yesterday, my husband was out hunting.  It was a miserable day.  We had rain and snow and a mix of both.  I, of course, was in my studio sewing away and looking out at the back of our property when I saw a movement.  You guessed it; a deer.  Roger never saw anything all day.

Handquilting Frames:  I don't watch very much television and, when I do, I like to keep my hands busy.  Lately, I have been trying to improve my hand applique (and finish a project I started over 30 years ago) so have been wrestling with various sized hoops to hold my work. I really wanted some kind of frame but it had to be foldable as we are a bit short on space.   The  frames in the quilt magazines are nice but too expensive.  Last night I tried out something that was posted in an one of the on-line groups I subscribe to (or it may have been a mag. hint).  It works great.  I put the quilt in the largest hoop I have, placed the 'top' of the hoop on  the back of a kitchen chair  and the 'bottom' rested in my lap.  It can be turned easily, is simple to move to a different area of a quilt without undoing a bunch of clamps or pins, and stores beside the couch.

Pining a Quilt:  Here is an idea of my own.  I have read of various methods of securing quilt backing before pining but the easiest method I have found is using butterfly clamps.  I am not sure that is what they are called but they can be found in stationary stores, are black and have 'wings' that fold back to be used as handles to open the clamp part.  Get the biggest ones you can find, spread your fabric on the table, place clamps on fabric and one side of the table.  Move to opposite side, pull fabric taut, clamp.  Repeat on other ends.  If your quilt is too big for the table, you can still use this method, pin the surface that is on the table, move quilt and then repeat. Much easier on the back than doing it all on the floor and your resident fur child won't be walking or sleeping on it while you work.

Are you working on the mystery quilt?  How are you doing?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fur Family

A number of the e mails I have been reading lately have been about  furred family members.  I have always loved dogs and cats.  There have been very few years of my life that have not been graced by the company of either furry friend and usually both.  My first dog was a black lab mix who, not very imaginatively, I named, Blackie.  I was about two when I chose him from a litter and he stayed with us until we moved when I was eight.  I never did know what happened to him.  Was he abandoned, taken to another home, put to sleep?  I never forgot him and never had an answer to my question.  By the time I asked my father, he couldn't remember.
We had various other dogs and cats while I was a home but the first that was my very own was Lady, a very intelligent mixed breed.  She was a pretty dog about the size of a spaniel and the markings of a collie.  She was the smartest dog I have ever owned. (Sorry, Heidi but it is the truth)  She lived to be almost 20 and I thought I would never get over having to put her to sleep.  A stray tortiose shell cat, Morris was already part of the household and she missed her companion as well.  A few years later, I got Missy, a Maltese.  They both lived to a good age and then joined Lady.  And I once again grieved.  My son brought me a lovely little orange kitty, Sandy, which helped. When I married and moved west, Rick took him back into his home and he grew into one huge cat. 
In Edmonton, we took in another stray who we named Pascha which gradually changed to Tascha.  Tascha was a real gentleman who never pushed but always was there to give a cuddle when it was needed.  He used to wait by the door when I came home, walked on a leash and would sit and come on command.  We were blessed by him for pver 18  years but when we decided to move east, we knew the trip would be to hard for him.  We had him cremated and his ashes and photo sit where I can see them when I wake up.  His photos are everywhere and I still find strands of his white hair on my fabric.  It has been over a year and I still miss his dear face.
And now we have Heidi, a very energetic and stubborn westiepoo.  Not, perhaps, the best choice of dog for  an aging couple but she seems happy and healthy.  I know the day will come when we will have to do what is best for her and send her on her way.  Until them, however, I will enjoy every minute that we have her although a little less when she chews up my shoes.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Pardon me while I rant.  I have been watching the news broadcasts of all the long lines as people wait to get their flu shots.  Most of them consist of family groups; parents with babies and small children.  They are waiting in these lines for hours.  Hours! with children that need to eat, go to the toilet, run off energy.  Waiting in line with people who, potentially, have the flu or other communicable illness. 
For weeks, we have been told of the necessity of getting the vaccination.  Doctor's have said that 'while most cases of H1N1 will be mild, people should get the needle to prevent the spread of the virus to the vulnerable and to reduce the effect on the economy'.  People listened and responded and the very people who told us to do this are not prepared.
All this leaves me wondering what would happen if we had a truly dangerous pandemic.  If we can't be prepared for something like the flu, then how are we to be ready for an outbreak like polio, a plague, or germ warfare.  The reality is that we won't be. Big brother does not have all the anwers.
So, what to do.  I think that as a nation, we do not accept that we will have to be uncomfortable or even to suffer at times.  We  need to take back responsbility for ourselves.  Governments have taught us to depend on them.  We are told that they will provide our care from the time we are born until we day we die and, not only is it impossible, it is also unrealistic.
My prescription:  exercise, eat healthy, laugh, pray, get lots of sleep, reduce anxiety and accept that your life will contain good days as well as bad.