Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Canada Day 2011

Are you doing anything special to celebrate Canada Day?  We will be at my nephew's farewell to 39 party.  Many of you will also be holding family orientated activities at the cottage, beach or backyard. It is always special when you able able to be with brothers, sisters, parents etc.  I think those of us (and this include most of the countries of the world) whose family members are separated by a great distance especially appreciate the 'together times'.
Husband and I are going to make a weekend of it.  Wee Heidi is going to her caregivers tonight and we have a motel for Friday night.  Saturday we will be doing some shopping and then meeting my sister and her husband for lunch before heading back home.
I won't be doing a posting tomorrow as I will be away but will be back on Tuesday as usual.  At that time, I hope to be announcing a new contest for my web page as well as a new tutorial.
Have a safe and happy weekend.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Web Page

Just a short message today.  I have a new page on my web.  I am starting to do tutorials and the first one is now ready to read.  I am going to be doing the majority of them as PDF so they will be easy to download and print.  Is there a subject that you would like me to cover or something with which you are having a problem? Let me know and I will try to put together a tutorial on that subject.  I don't have the answers or information to every problem but I will try to cover as many as possible.
Spent a day with my sister, her husband and grandchildren along with my husband at the cottage where they were staying.   It was nice to have some time to just sit and visit without running around everywhere.  Our neighbour looked in on the dog so we were able to stay for a while without worrying about rushing back.
Tomorrow, back to housework and trying to get another pattern designed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baking and Shopping

I have been baking all morning and am really thankful tha we bought that little air conditioner this year.  It is doing a nice job of keeping the kitchen temperature tolerable.  It isn't overly warm today but even if it is freezing ouside, an over can warm up the house pretty quickly.
I have made a coffee cake, banana bread and some scones to take to the resort when we go to visit my sister and family tomorrow. Actually the scones will stay here as they are my husband's favourite.
After lunch, I will go into the village and get a haircut and pick up whatever mail may have come through now the strike is over.
In between all this, I have been working on a small quilt.  I was having trouble with the tension and the thread kept breaking.  I finally have it set where the machine is happy.  It seems as though you have to change everything every time you change the thread.  Can be a bit frustrating at times.  Perhaps I should stick to one thread company and make sure I have lots of colours.
I hear my husband coming in for lunch so I had better go and cut the scones but first, a quick look at the new batiks that Sisters Quilting Expo has in stock.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Excitement

I don't usually write on a Monday but, I have something I want to share.
I was sitting outside with my husband and wee dog this morning, when we saw a couple of birds land in a shrub nearby.  As they hopped a bit closer, I could see they were a pair of cedar waxwings.  They are my favourite bird and I rarely see them. 
I whispered an excited welcome and told them they would be safe on our property.  I do hope that they are the forerunners of many more.  They seemed to like our pit cherry (I think that is what it is called) and, if not and they let me know what they prefer, I would be glad to plant it.
Our hummingbird feeders are getting a lot of activity, American goldfinch are make regular use of the niger feeder, the blue heron is back on the pond and we have a number of varieties of butterflies, including monarch, as well as bees taking advantage of the clover
The other morning, we saw a rabbit.  That was a first for them as well.
We are really pleased our little habitat is home to so many creatures. We try to be as non intrusive as possible even if that means letting the wildflowers grow and leaving brush piles.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Blahs

I don't feel much like doing anything today.  Not that I haven't.  I went into the village this morning for my annual blood work, made two chicken casseroles and a baked dessert.  I also did the usual house stuff but I really don't feel energetic.  Could be the weather although the sun is shining at the moment.  However, it has been raining for the past few days and is supposed to for a couple more.
I think the problem is that I am waiting.  Waiting to hear from my son about some tests he has had and waiting for my sister to arrive from England-plane lands in a couple more minutes. I will see her on Wednessday and then again next weekend.  We will, I am sure, be talking quilting.
I probably should go take the dog for a walk before it rains again but I won't.  I guess there isn't anything that says I can't just putter.  So, that is what I am going to do. Putter, putter, until it is time to serve supper (hey, a rhyme) or until I get a spurt of inspiriation.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chicks, Fabric and Patterns

Fluffy Chicks
Our new family members are snug in their new home and are stuffing their little beaks with food. My husband stayed out in the camper last night but, as I was thinking, he decided that if any critter snuck in, he probably wouldn't hear it anyway.  Especially given the thunder storm we had last night.  So, tonight he will be back in his own bed.
Sisters Quilting Expo has got in some wonderful new fabrics and she has got me to design some patterns for her using them. I always enjoy that until I get to the math part.  I spent the day figuring out how much of each fabric was needed.  I usually use EQ but, for some reason, they didn't get the calculations right.
I also have someone read everything a few times and she caught a couple of mistakes (wrong fabric given for one area).  I admire people who design patterns for a living.  It is a lot of mental work with not much in the way for financial reward.  However, if someone enjoys making the quilt and the quilt itself, that helps make the work worthwhile.
I have been trying to get at the quilt I have in the frame and finally found some time yesterday.  Before starting I had to wind a bobbin.  Then I ran out of thread and I didn't have anymore.  Argh.
Oh well, it will get done eventually.  In the meantime, I have another pattern to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Arrivals

This morning, my husband got the call for which he was waiting; our new family members had arrived.  He drove to a neighbouring community to pick them up and bring them to the home he had been preparing for a number of weeks.
It is amazing how little space 50 fluffy chicks use.  It is also amazing how much it will cost to raise them.  With the price of the birds themselves, feed, heat and equipment, it would be cheaper to buy our meat in a store.  But, when you consider the supermarket fowl (as with all meat) includes a high percentage (20, I think) of water and we know that these birds will be raised without chemicals, it is worth it.
Tonight, Roger will be sleeping in the camper near the chicken house, as he will for the next few nights, to make sure all is well. The house should be well fortified against all marauders but he wants to make sure. Heidi is, of course, curious about the newcomers but she will be kept away from them.  As tiny as she is, they are smaller.
Ah, life in the backwoods.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Dwindles

I recently heard an older person being told that she had the dwindles and I thought that was the perfect description for what happens to us once we zip past sixty-five.
Our mind dwindles away as does our health, income and independence.
Our memory has dwindled to a mere shadow of its former self.
Retirement is great but our income has dwindled to a portion of our earnings
Our hearing has dwindled or else everyone really is muttering just to annoy us.
Our eyesight has dwindled just at the time that print has become smaller
The number of our friends dwindles the older we get but the remaining ones become more precious.
Our sense of balance has dwindled and grocery carts are used as much for support as for carrying groceries.
The colour of our hair has dwindled and with it (especially if you are male) has gone the hair itself
The dwindles are often accompanied by the sags.  As our skins elasticity lessens our jowls and other body parts start moving downward.

All, however, is not bad news.  Our veins become more colourful.  Our stooped back makes it easier to see money that is lying on the ground.  People think you are wonderful simply because you are still alive. You can nap whenever you want-except when driving.
Whatever stage of life you are at, there are challenges and rewards.  The biggest reward is that we are still here to enjoy it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stars and Human Nature

Star Illusions
This little quilt top was made from the fabric my sister gave to me for my birthday.  It was rather a difficult pattern and, as you can see, I have to unstitch the center to align the points.
I usually make my stars from half squares but these were done with diamond shapes.  No set in seams though so that was nice.
I am sure you have heard about the riots following the hockey game on Wednesday.  It is always disheartening to see people using any excuse to destroy other people's property.  One observer said they were having a tantrum and I think that is an excellent word to describe both the actions and the maturity of the participants.
As dreadful as the riot was, the reaction of the residents has certainly offset it.  Hundreds of volunteers coming together to clean the streets, leave encouraging and supportive messages for the police and merchants and generally showing the good side of human nature.  I don't suppose this aspect of the story will receive the same media attention as the negative but I am doing my bit to publish it.  I hope you will too.
Far to often, we only get to see and hear of the worst of human nature.  There is a lot of kindness, bravery and generosity that happens.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mistaken Identity

Yesterday, I wrote about a flower in my garden which I identified as a Sweet William.  A reader e mailed me and said she called them Johnny Jump Ups and one of my sister's in England said she called them Violas.  She also sent me a photo of a large display of flowers which she knew as Sweet Williams. 
As I lay no claim to the title of gardener, I have come to the conclusion that my flowers may be a number of things but they are not Williams-Sweet or otherwise.  I think I will call them Violas as that is a nice short name but I believe they are probably more deserving of the Johnny moniker.
They do tend to Jump Up in unlikely places.  I thought my neglect had killed some that I planted last year but, there they are, popping up in the driveway and other unlikely spots.  Not, however, in the garden where I had put them.  I guess the old saying of 'Grow whee you are planted' doesn't apply to flowers.
My sister, who loves gardening, has already bought a book on the flowers of Ontario in preparation for her move here.  I probably should get one also so I can be a bit more accurate in my identification.  It would hardly do for someone who has lived in Canada for most of their life to be out shone, flora-wise by someone who has lived in England since she was a child
(If that sounds confusing, here is the explanation.  I was born in England. Mom and I moved to Canada to join my Canadian soldier father.  My younger siblings were all born here.  Mom returned to England when I was a teenager and took my brothers and sisters.  I  chose to stay.  So the Canadians live in England and the Brit lives in Canada.  One brother moved back.  He is the only one living in his country of origin).

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Quilting

I got outside and did some weeding yesterday as my rock garden was more weeds than rocks.  I didn't get it finished but I now can see some of the stones as well as the plants. 
I took a photo of these flowers in one of the other gardens. Sweet Williams, although technically an annual does reseed itself and come up again. I have quite a few of them and love their little 'faces'.  They are like miniature pansy.
I have some little yellow ones that are appearing in the most unlikely places.  Probably with the assistance of birds and squirrels.
A lot of quilter's spend more time in their garden than their sewing room in the summer.  I used to until I moved here to the backwoods. Now as I have so much time, I can do the gardening and other stuff during the day and quilt in the evening. Before I retired, evenings and weekends were spent doing the usual housework as well as outdoor stuff. 
Sweet Williams
I do find that I do a lot more hand quilting in the summer as I can take that with me when sitting outside or visiting.
I mentioned yesterday my problems with my new PC and the programs it had for downloading photos. As you can see, I have that solved.  I found the program I wanted after a bit more poking around so now am a happy photographer. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Back

I have my new computer up and running, programs installed and everything, somewhat, back to normal.  I see that Windows 7 doesn't have the photo editing program that I had with XP and the new one isn't as good. 
Is it a sign of approaching geeserhood that I find what is new isn't necessarily better?
If I could remember the name of the program (another sign) I would download it but, of course, I can't. Until I get the new and unimproved photo thingys worked out, I guess I will have to forget posting pictures for a bit.
On Saturday, I got to meet a number of ladies who belong to an on line quilt group.    We got together in Orillia which was somewhat cenral, had lunch, chatted and then went to the local quilt store where we (what else) spent money.
The odd thing about on line groups is that you chat and share with a number of people for a number of years and feel that you know them but, of course, you don't.  You don't know what they look like, if they are married or have children, like animals, have phobias or foibles, eat ice cream, etc.
I discovered these ladies were as nice in person as they sounded on line.  They are gracious, encouraging and entirely human with the usual insecurities and problems.
I am looking forward to seeing them again and perhaps a few others who live in the area.
This Saturday, I am going to an area quilt show which will be my first for the year.  I seem to have been so busy the past few months but a quilter must get to a quilt show or they may run out of inspiration.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Computer Problems

I haven't been posting this week because my right arm is down.  My computer hasn't been working properly for a while and this week it decided to go on vacation. 
we bought another one yesterday so am now waiting to get everything uploaded or downloaded or whatever direction it needs to go to get my files and programs set up.
I am thankful we have the laptop but I find the keyboard takes a bit of getting used to.
So, while I wait, I am getting caught up on some dressmaking, visiting, baking, housecleaning.....I guess I do spend a lot of time in front of that little screen.
I should be picking up the new tower tomorrow on my return trip from Orillia.  Some of the quilters who live in this part of Ontario and belong to the same online group are getting together.  It will be great meeting these ladies and being able to put a face to the names I see so often.
Thank you for your patience.  All should be back to normal-for whatever that is worth-next week,

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turtles and Hummers

It is a lovely day here in the backwoods.  It is going to be quite warm and humid but it hasn't got to that point yet.  The majority of the bugs have gone to wherever they go so I was able to take the dog for a walk this morning without looking as though I was getting ready for desert combat.
I did some weeding in the veggie and flower gardens before coming in to tackle the house work. I can now feel quite justified in staying in the quilt room for the rest of the day or at least until it is time for the next meal.
We have hung a hummingbird  feeder just outside the studio window and it is lovely to watch the tiny creatures flitting back and forth as I sew.  We have two others set up and I wasn't sure that a third would be used.  I didn't have to worry.  We  have quite a flock of hummers and they seem to feed all day.
We saw an interesting sight on the weekend.  My husband was chatting with me while I was doing some work on the computer when he spotted a smallish turtle coming down the road from the back of the property.  She made her way to the side of the parking area and started digging.  It was then we noticed a second turtle that was already there.  After they got the ground sorted out, they both started laying eggs.  It took them about an hour and then, first one and then the other treked back toward the pond.
I am not sure how long it takes turtle eggs to hatch but we are going to keep an eye on the area.  It will be quite interesting to see the little ones start their own trek.
Have you entered the shoofly contest and, if so, is your entry on its way?  The contest closed last month and your submission has to be here soon.  Let me know if you did send a block so I can watch for it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Elegance and Corners

Have you ever noticed how one thing can change a lot of other things?  I received a lovely china mug for my birthday and I started using it for my morning coffee.  Then I decided to use a cup and saucer for my after supper tea.  Most of the time I toss a tea bag into a mug and add the hot water but there is something very special about sipping from a cup.  What was just a beverage becomes a moment of elegance.  The day takes on a different attitude.  I have half a dozen really nice cup and saucer sets (not counting Grandma's dishes) but only one mug.  I am now keeping my eyes open for another. 
This will definately not be a Walmart purchase-all their dishes are either plastic or, well, plastic.  I don't mind if it is second hand as long as it is good quality. 
If I keep this up, we may be eating our pizza and KD from Grandma's dishes.
If you have ever made a medallion quilt or any other kind that has a lot of white space, you may have wondered what you could put in the corners to give it some pizzazz.  I recently acquired Pat Campbell's book, Simple Shapes Table Toppers (a book I would highly recommend for its patterns and practicality) and she uses a couple of blocks that make a tremendous difference.   One is the Cactus Flower and the other is the Roman Stripe.  These are half triangle blocks so if you do the other half in a plain or tonal fabric it is very effective.
I will post a photo later so you can see what the blocks look like.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Weather Yo Yo

Well, it was supposed to be quite warm this week and, Tuesday's temperature sure seemed to point in that direction.  However, yesterday, it was cooler and windy and today it is cool enough to run the furnace.  As a person who dislikes the heat, this respite has been welcomed. 
I am taking advantage of the drop to bake bread and, if Saturday is also cooler, I will do another lot so I have extra for when things do warm up.
Yesterday, we were away all day.  I had to go to a specialist to check out a test result so we got a caregiver for our wee dog and did some shopping.  We were able to have a leisurely lunch, buy groceries, wander through a couple of other stores and stop in to visit a friend on the way home.
Heidi, in the meanwhile was trying her best to show off her cute side and was rewarded by having her photo taken a dozen times.  When we went to pick her up, Auntie Pat (Heidi respectfully calls all adults either aunt or uncle) showed us a picture taken at 9.24, another at 9.25 etc.  She (Heidi not Pat although auntie may have as well as our little dog can be exhausting sometimes) spent the evening sleeping with her head on my husband's leg. (Well, I guess Pat would have her head on a pillow but you know what I mean)  When she is at home, Heidi spends a good part of the day sleeping, but when she's out,  seems to feel it is her responsibility to entertain everyone.
I finally got my laser pointer set up and working.  It does help when you put the bolts in the correct way-thank you Roger.  I did a sample quilt with a butterfly panto and, if you squint, you can tell they might be butterflies.  I have now set up the quilt that I have been waiting to do.  I am just doing stars on it which is a simpler design so I should be alright.
Tomorrow I hope to have a photo of an idea I saw for quilt corners.  Simple and easy but very effective.