Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Routine

I suppose everyone has a morning routine.  Mine is a bit flexable but usually contains things like turning on computer, having breakfast, watching the morning news, checking my e mail and writing the blog.
After those things are done, I may stay in the quilt room or do some much needed housework.  This afternoon we are taking advantage of the warm weather and planting blackberries, blueberries and asparagras.  It is a bit early but they are blooming already so we need to get them in the ground. Roger has built plastic shelters for them so that should keep them safe until the night time temperatures warm up.
This photo is my quilt as you go strip quilt.  It is done entirely on the machine including sashing and border.  This pattern will be for sale but you, my wonderful followers can get it for free.  You just have to let me know that you are interested.  However, you must be signed up as a follower.  I will leave the offer open until the 9th of April in case anyone is away for the Easter weekend.
I am going to be buying some longer rods for my Flynn Frame today.  I would like to see if I can use it to top stitch larger quilts.  I will let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


A reader asked me to share a photo of my gnome family and this picture, taken last year, shows a few of the less shy.
You can just see Norbut and his wife, Jolene in the background.  There is a hole between the rocks right there so they can duck out of sight if need be.
Willy is busy gathering mushrooms to provide shade for the babies and there are a few other workers hiding amongst the weeds.
They all should be coming out of hibernation soon so I will see if I can't get another picture.  They have gotten used to my husband and I but aren't too sure of our Heidi who has a tendancy to want to play with anything that moves.  This can be rather disconcerting when you are only a few inches high. By the way, the rock you can see in the foreground, is coral.  It was taken from a farmer's field in Alberta, miles from any ocean or large body of water.  There was quite a large section of coral in the area which is another indication of how our world has changed over the years.

I read something yesterday that caused me to smile.  A quilt book author was sharing the fact that quilting is constantly on her mind especially when she is trying to go to sleep-familiar situation.  She said that if she has trouble sleeping she will visualize her sewing machine needle going through the fabric.  Why count sheep, she said, when you can count stitches.  Definately a quilt addict.
I am just finishing a quilt as you go blanket and will share the instructions with you later in the week.  This is truly a quilt as you go-no handstitching at all except for the binding.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Gnome Forest

When Roger and I bought our property, I began thinking of a suitable name.  I considered all the obvious-Maple Bush, something Ridge or Hill,  a location related name such as Backwoods Acres but nothing seemed to be right or one that we both liked.  We finally decided on 'The Gnome Forest'.
We started collecting garden gnomes in Edmonton and then bought a large one, Norbut, to accompany Roger as we moved to Ontario.  We have since added to the collection thanks to friends and the little creatures are distrubuted through the gardens, tucked under rocks, and behind trees.  We even have a  female gnome.  They are much shyer than their male counterparts and harder to find.
It is one of my spring duties to take all the gnomes from their winter hibernation and place them, once again, around the property. Those with rakes or wheelbarrows are placed in the flower garden.  The older ones find themselves next to a handy mushroom or hole in a stump.  We have a birdhouse that looks like an outhouse so that is located in a convenient spot on the ground for emergency use.
It is a lot of fun setting this all up and I usually try to keep track of where they all are so visiting children can have a gnome hunt.
I must give credit to the idea for this to a place Roger and I visited on our honeymoon.  It is called the Enchanted Forest.  It is in B.C. and consists of a wooded area with trails that wander past a number of hand crafted, folk art  sculptures.  We thought the place was wonderful and, in a small way, have created a similiar one of our own.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


It seems that nearly every Thursday sees us in Huntsville shopping.  Today, we returned the printer, bought a new office chair and a quilt frame plus, of course, fabric.  I always take advantage of the 50% off sales to stock up on the basics as well as whatever is needed for a project.  This time I bought black thread, batting and a few meters of fabric.
Now that we are home, we have assembled the chair and, once the blog is done, I have to wash the fabric.  I am so thankful I have an understanding husband.  He not only had to cart my supplies and assemble the chair but did so without complaint.
Our sun is still shining although the weather is cooler.  It is supposed to get even cooler and rainy but will get warm again next week.  We have already had grass and other fires to the south of us so some rain will be welcome.  I do hope we don't get another rainy summer though.  The past two years have been wet and cool.  I don't mind but it is hard on those who depend on tourists.  Still, we get what we get.
I am really going to have to get myself together and post another free pattern.  Next week?  I will really try.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Howling Dogs

We, like most of Canada, have had an early spring.  Because of that, the bears and other animals have already come out of hibernation.  We have had sow and cub sightings a week ago.  Unfortunately for the animals, their buffets haven't arrived yet.  Grasses, fruit, seeds and saplings won't appear for a bit so human sources of food are more attractive.  I like to refill my bird feeders as the spring flocks arrive but I know they could be a target for a hungry or lazy bear.  We are always careful with our garbage as is anyone who lives in the area but the dump is a big attraction.
When you live in a rural area you have to be aware of the habits of the first inhabitants.  It is rare that anyone is bothered unless they have been doing something they shouldn't.  However, when your dog howls late at night, you know that you might be receiving a noctornal visitor.
Our Heidi tends to be a yappy dog, warning us of falling leaves, passing squirrels or neighbours that are driving past.  She doesn't usually bark at night however,(she gets a stern repremand) but she did yesterday.  Between 10 and midnight, she gave a couple of quick barks but then she started to howl.  It looks cute when she does that, rather like a child dressed up in Mom's clothes, but it is an eerie sound, nontheless.  My husband checked but didn't see anything.  He said the neighbouring dogs were also sounding so something was wandering around.
I will take her into the village for her walk today. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And Down it Fell

My husband takes his forestry duties very seriously.  If there is a dead tree, it comes down.  Some are left for the birds but the rest are dropped to allow for new growth and to supply our firewood.  Roger is very safety concious and doesn't do any chainsaw work unless I am here.
On Saturday afternoon, he was working on a large tree that had been dropping dead branches and possing a safety hazard.  I was in the house trying to get my printer installed  and listening for anything that might indicate a problem.
All of a sudden, I heard a tremendous crash and then silence.  Out I dashed and yelled to see if he was alright.  Yes, he replied but the clothesline wasn't.  The tree was taller than he thought and it took out the lline, the pole supporting it and my stand that was attached to the pole.  Clothespins, of course, were scattered across the yard. 
It was a good thing the tree fell the way it did or it could have hit the house.  The other good thing was that I needed the stand moved anyway as it was in a slightly awkward place.
Just one exciting day after another.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Printer Problems

Yesterday, we bought a new Kodak printer and today, I am still trying to get it installed.  I spent two hours last night and 5 today and am no further ahead.  After talking to two techs on line and one via phone, it seems that the installation disc is faulty.  Well, lovely.  So now I wait 'three to five business days' for the new one to get here.  Life can be frustrating at times.  I can still use my old printer but it is almost out of ink and I am not going to buy new.
I also bought a book on marking your quilt top.  I think a problem that most quilter's have is determining the best top quilting design.  this book-Mastering Quilt Marking by Pepper Cory gives a good, easy to understand guide.  Now that I have finished wasting time with the printer, I am going to practice as couple of her designs as I think they will be perfect for a scrap quilt I am doing.
She also recommends that, no matter what the batting product says, the quilt should be stitched no further than 3 inches apart.  She includes information on what a judge would be looking for if a quilt is entered in a show.  The book cost just over $20.00 so it was a good buy.
Our weather is supposed to be cooler next week so I have a good excuse (not that I need one) to stay in my studio and quilt.
By the way, have you been watching the Paralympics.  A number of people have been complaining about the lack of TV coverage.  I agree and am complaining to CBC and CTV.  I would like to encourage you to do the same.  These contestants have many challenges to overcome and deserve our support every bit as much as those who were competing in the Olympics.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Off to the City

Today,  we are going to Huntsville to get some shopping done. We seem to have to make that trip at least once a week but, when we do go, we always have a list  of things to be done.  When we lived in Edmonton, we would shop most days.  I think we now not only save money but also fuel.  It is 30 kms to Huntsville but but it is nearly all highway which is fuel efficient.  In Edmonton, while things were generally closer, the urban stop and go was hard on the vehicle and the wallet.
A couple of days ago, I was talking about pets being creatures of habit.  Our recent snow melt has created a bit of a problem for Heidi.  All winter, she has been going to the toilet on the snow.  Now with it nearly all gone, we can see her looking around and wondering what to do.  When I take her for a walk, she heads for the first bit of white stuff.  A lady in the quilt group who has two little pugs says that they do the same.  We went through the same thing last year so I am sure that Heidi will adjust again.  Of course, when the snow falls we will go through the same thing in reverse.  We are supposed to get a few snow showers next week so I am sure that will make her happy.  Aren't pets fun!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Maple Syrup and Woodpeckers

This is our maple syrup operation.  Pretty crude but you should have seen last year's.  This is near the back of our property close to the pond.  Most of the area you can see belongs to our neighbour.  The sap has been running really well and Roger has been busy gathering and boiling.  My job is to provide mugs of tea and food.
This morning another spring sound echoed through the bush.  A woodpecker was pounding at a tree and I could hear it over the radio and computer.  They certainly do have a specialized head to not only be able to break through the bark of a tree but to keep their brain protected from the thudding.  You would think it would get concusion or, at least, a headache.
Roger heard a flock of geese yesterday.  We do get some on our pond but it is still froze over so they would have had to seek a landing spot elsewhere.  Once the pond thaws, our loon should arrive.
Today is, of course, St. Patrick's Day.  My father's family a few generations back, came from Ireland which is probably were I got my love of the bagpipes. Enjoy your day whatever your heritage.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sounds of Spring

For many people, the sound of spring is the song of returning birds.  One morning you go outside and realize you hear a sound that had been absent throughout the cold snowy months. 
When my husband sees the sap drip, he knows that winter is over.  The roar of motorcycles on area highways is also another indication.
I, however, create my own sound of spring.  It is the squeak of my clothesline as I hang out my laundry.  Today is my first day of spring.  I am just hanging out the sheets today but it shouldn't be long before I can fill the line.  I am almost tempted to rewash all the bed covers and hang them out just so I can hurry  the wonderful smell of freshness into the house. 
I have already started cleaning the inside of my windows and will do the outside when the ground is dryer.  I notice that I have some shoots a good few inches above ground in the various flower beds.
Snow is predicted for this weekend but, regardless of weather, spring is here.  My clothesline has proclaimed it!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday and Daylight Saving time

This is the weekend where we adjust our clocks for daylight saving time.  When we get up on Sunday, it will be darker but stay lighter for later in the evening.  DST is always another sign of spring and it is nice to be able to go out in the evening without having to drive home in the dark.  However, it takes our dog a few days to adjust to the change.  She is used to getting up around seven and going to bed at nine.  After the time change, she will still be ready for play as we start our bedtime rituals.
It reminds me of our late and still dearly missed cat, Tascha.  When she heard the tv click off, she would go to the basement door ready to go down to her place.  We didn't want her in the bedroom at night because of Roger's allergies and so, when we got her, we put her bed and litter box downstairs.  After a while, we realized that she knew the rules, so decided to let her have the run of the house.  I will never forget the look on her face when she headed for the basement door as usual and we didn't close it behind her.  When we explained why she didn't have to stay there, she came back and got on the couch.  She truly was a very intelligent cat and often seemed to know just what we were saying.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I have done all my running around for a bit.  Today, our little dog got her spring grooming while I visited a friend who has been ill.  I also went to a small craft store in that community and got the wool I needed for my husband's vest and some fabric for my paperpieced birds.
I still have to get my hair done and buy some bits and pieces but that can wait a few days.
Our weather is still unseasonable warm.  So much so that the sap has quite running.  However, we have already gathered a lot so that isn't a problem.  My husband and I went out after supper last night and emptied the bottles into the large container.  Just a small thing but it is nice to do something like that together.  I got to do the trees near the lane while he tromped through the snow to the ones further back.  It is a good workout pulling your feet from a two foot sink into the snow  every time you take a step.  Maybe we can advertise our backwoods as a fat burning retreat next year. Next week, the boiling process begins.
It is mild enough that we have let our wood stove go out.  We will start it in the late afternoon and keep it going for the night.  I am sure we will have another cool spell but this is nice while it lasts.
The downside is all the mud.  We are going to get a couple loads of gravel in as I hate trying to get to the car without sinking ankle deep into muck.   Spring is definately not my favourite season although I am looking forward to being able to hang the clothes on the line again. Just one endless stream of excitement here in the backwoods!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On the Road Again

Sorry about all the typos yesterday.  I usually do a better job of catching them before posting the blog.  This is allergy season for me and my fingers and brain aren't working in conjunction with each other. Or at least not as well as they do usually.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to Huntsville to do some banking and grocery shopping.  Today, I am giving a friend a ride to a doctor's appointment so am hitting the fabric store.  Tomorrow, I have planned a trip northward to get the dog groomed and visit a friend.  Can we say 'tax return time' boys and girls.
It is always nice to have those few extra dollars to catch up on our purchases.
I am waiting for a couple of parcels to arrive.  One contains the extension table for my sewing machine and the other has my foundation piecing paper.  As soon as everything is here, I can finish the two quilt orders I have started and then get at the last one.  I like to get all my quilt stuff caught up before summer as I am outside more and quilting less.
Hope you are enjoying the early spring.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everything Old is New

I've said this before but will repeat it anyway: one of the things I really enjoy aobut quilting is that there is always something new to learn.  I recently discovered that there are often old things you can re-learn.
I have had the Quilt Pro program for a long time.  I used it to design my first quilt pattern.  However, I found it to be quite limiting so when I got Electric Quilt, I didn't use QP anymore.  Fast forward about 18 months and, here I am using the old program again.
One of the ladies in an on line group has recently been sharing her experiences as she works her way through the QP handbook.  She, also, had had the program for some time and then quite using it.  As a result of someone else saying that she was going to learn QP, Kay decided she would do the same.  And now, I am following their steps.
I have already learnt how to name files and will now go on to importing fabrics.  As you can see, I don't actually follow the steps but jump around to what I am interested in.  This is probably why I never, completely, learn a program.
I cannot say enough in support on on line groups.  They are a 24 hour support system.  Many group members do not get the full benefit of belonging as their participation is limited.  As with everything else, you get what you give.  I don't participate in all the challenges or exchanges but try to give feedback and post something at least once a day.
I would not have been inspired to go back to my old program if I hadn't read what others were doing.  Likewise, I would not have got into paperpiecing were it not for group members sharing photos and experiences.
If you don't belong to an on line group, consider joining one.  There are groups for every interest.  If you do belong to one, challenge yourself to increase your input.  You will benefit and so will everyone else.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Happy International Women's Day

Our quilt group doesn't start until after lunch today so I have time to write a few words this morning.
Today, as the title says, is International Women's Day.  It may not mean a great deal to many women but, I strongly believe that we should acknowledge it.  This day has been set aside to recognize women's accomplishments as well as their continued struggles. Far too many women  still do not have basic rights and freedoms.
As a reminder of the impact women have had on the world, here is a brief list of products invented by our gender.  Along with the expected 'feminine' inventions such as alphabet blocks, chocolate-chip cookies, disposable diapers, rolling pin, diswasher (surely a candidate for sainthood) and baby carrier are many others.  Did you know that a women invented the circulaw saw, elevated railway, electric water heater, engine muffler, life raft, kevlar (used in safety vests, radial tires, helmets), rotary engine and street-cleaning machine. This list is just a highlight.  There isn't room to itemize each invention but you can find them on the web.
Considering that women were not allowed to register pattens in their own name until the late 1800's, one has to wonder how many other other inventions were really the creation of a female.  There is a lot of truth in the statement that every time you see Annonymous on something, you can be pretty sure a woman's name should be there.
One last thought: promoting women doesn't/shouldn't mean disparaging men.  The suffragettes and other women who fought for our rights were joined and supported by men.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Snow Diamonds

When I got up this morning, the sun had turned the snow into a sheet of diamonds.  It seemed that every snowflake had been polished into a glimmering brightness.  On a day like this, it is easy to see why diamonds are often refered to as 'ice'.
Our little dog, Heidi, semed mesmerized by it all and just sat on a snowbank and stared.  Usually, she chases imaginary prey and investigates any new smells that have appeared through the night.
I have always enjoyed winter and days like this confirm my belief that this is the loveliest season. I will go outside later and take the dog for a walk but, for now, I will have to just enjoy the scenery.  I have to work on a quilt that has been sold as well as some other inside duties.  It is supposed to be just slightly below freezing today so the ice crystals will wait for me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I was thinking this morning about how much fun words are.  I enjoy crosswords, anagrams and other word games as well as reading the dictionary.  (I know, hard to believe that I have such an exciting life.) A few years ago, I bought a dictionary of strange words which, along with my various books of quotes, can keep me entertained for hours.
I also collect collectives, that is, the name for groups of things.  You know, of course, that a group of cows are a herd, numerous sheep are a flock but did you know that a gathering of squirrels is a dray or alligators come in congregations.  More than one jellyfish is a smack and leopards are a leap which is one of the few that makes sense.
When I am bored, I like to make up collectives.  A group of puppies is a wiggle or cuddle, cats are a curiosity, a gathering of elderly men is a complaint or college depending on their personality. Okay,okay,-equal rights- a gathering of elderly women is a gossip or, again, a college. A group of quilters have been given many names; a bee, piecemakers etc. but I think they should be called comforters.

Speaking of quilts, the wall hanging above is one of the patterns that was in the book I was writing.  I think I am now going to sell them seperately.   This hanging is approximately 30" X 40" but can easily made bigger or smaller.  It is a great gift for a coffee drinker and can be made in just a few hours.
If interested, you can contact me at:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Happy Dance

 Today, I am doing the happy dance.  It is a mental one but a dance nevertheless.  I have had a good nights sleep, the sun is shining and the house work is caught up. The day is ready for me to do as I will and, of course, I will be quilting.  Taking the dog for a walk, getting in some wood and going for the mail should take care of the physical stuff. I love this retirement stuff.
For those of you who have full time jobs, plus home responsibilities, I think it is important that you also find a few moments where you can enjoy just being yourself.  Fat, short, tall, thin, physically fit or dealing with illness, whatever our situations, we are wonderful creations.  Celebrate being you.  Do a happy dance.  Go ahead,  no-one is watching.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Post Olympics

It seems that Canada came to a standstill while the games were on.  They were the topic of conversation both at quilt group yesterday and a volunteer appreciation dinner last night.  I wonder how much the countries productivity dropped.
I am now trying to get my housework caught up as well as finishing the last bits of getting my computer back to pre-crash days. I better get at it as the weather here is showing definate signs of spring which means maple syrup making and getting the garden ready for planting. 
I have a number of quilting projects to finish before then and really must decide what I am going to do about the quilt book I was writing that has largely disappeared into cyberspace.  I just hate the idea of starting over but perhaps I will get inspired once again.
We have a new member join this blog.  Welcome and I hope you find it helps your day along.
I am hoping to have another free quilt pattern soon as well as something else that has been stewing around in my brain.
On May 28th,  we will have been in our backwoods home for two years.  We have accomplished a lot in that time: turned a bush into a home and a city person to a lover of the country. To quote a comedian I used to watch" who da thunk it"