Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Business Card Wallets

I think these make a great gift to tuck inside a card, or to add to a gift.
Notice that one matches the previous post with the "cute gift". This is to complete the set.

Thanks to Roisin @ bespoke uprising for her scraps.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The R word, the new year

It is coming close to resolution time. Most years I have a personal goal to resolve and a motto to look to over the year. There are 16 days left and I have no clue as to what specific goal I want to address for 2010.
I do like making the resolution, or a few if that is what I come up with. I think they should be attainable and identifiable. This helps to mark the beginning of the new calendar year, the recognition that a year has passed and is done and the hope that I can improve myself by taking little steps.

Much like January 1, I also think that birthdays are good target dates for resolutions. Each birthday is the marker to a new year. So in January I get to make at least 2 resolutions. There is a pretty good chance I will keep at least one for the year... and then comes Lent (another opportunity for critical self-evaluation and commitment  to do better).

Along with the resolution, comes list making. Long-time readers will know about me and lists. I am pretty excited that I made it for 6 months without an official list. I missed it though, lots.

I missed the security blanket that having a list provides for me. I also miss the satisfaction of crossing things off the list. Most of all, I miss the accomplishments that I actually managed to achieve while I was keeping the list. This list vacation was a good thing though. I have realized that I do like my lists very, very much.

I heard a speaker at a conference recently that told us to make our lists, then knock the bottom 20% off the list because these things will never get done anyway. This is supposed to "free you". hmm.

I have also  heard people talk about making lists of things "not to do". That is also an interesting concept.

Monday, 14 December 2009

A cute gift: tea mug, bag holder and mug mat

I wanted a special farewell and good luck gift for a co-worker. I thought that it should be cheery, useful and uniquely from me.
I found this lovely travel mug, unique because it has a stainless steel interior and a china outside.

It is pretty and made me smile.
So I figured that if I gave her a mug mat along with a box filled with an assortment of tea bags that she would enjoy it for a while.
The tea shop carried individual bags so the assortment was easy. I wanted a little box-- then I remembered the lovely thread catchers that my dear friends Sharen and Maureen made.
Sharen shared this link to the original blog tutorial: The Stitching Room

And here is the final set, pretty cute, eh?

p.s. The mug was purchased at "Everything Tea" in London, Ontario. It is on Talbot Street but there is no website. It is a lovely shop filled with beautiful tea pots, cups and a wide selection of teas. They have so many wonderful tea cups, strainers and spoons.

My favourite place to shop for actual Tea is The Tea Haus. It is a tiny shop at the Covent Garden Market, filled to the ceiling with lovely glass tea canisters. There are so many varieties, the selection is endless. I especially love the flowering balls - like the jasmine balls, or dragon pearls or the chrysanthemum or the Three-Flower... Absolutely beautiful in a glass pot. One ball usually will serve 2 or 3 pots worth of tea.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

quilting and postcards....

This has been a very cold day. We headed in to town early this morning so that I could pick up a swap box from the post office. I host a Winter Solstice gift swap on one of my Yahoo groups. We used to have a Christmas swap, then there were rumblings about Hanukah and Kwanza and whatever else is celebrated in December.
I figure that pretty well every culture over the last 3,000 years has found a reason to celebrate in December. It is a time to be hopeful, as promise comes to the world again. The days begin to lengthen. It is cold and dark. One can't help but think of the wishes dearest to our heart, and this is the "wishing" part of the holidays.
So, religion and spirituality aside; every one on earth experiences the December Solstice. That is why I have chosen that date for the fun gift swap among friends.
I digress. I was quite lucky and very happy to be able to spend the day in the studio. Have a look at my sunset view....

I managed to machine quilt a small quilt, put the binding on it and make 3 postcards for a swap. The theme is "Frosty" and I made him melt. Sorry.

Friday, 11 December 2009

I'll be back soon

My final paper is done - now there is just work and holiday chores between me and sewing time!
p.s.this is today's snowy view from the studio

Monday, 23 November 2009

... absolutely exquisite Cornish Pasty, among other treats

The amazingly, wonderfully welcoming website The Handicraft Hash House is really beautiful. I feel like I am sitting in someone's busy oven-warmed, aromatic kitchen when I am browsing. The pages look like they are the obviously well loved pages of my own cookbooks. You know when you have found the right recipe because you can barely read it through the food stains, if you manage to open the pages that were glued stuck by a sauce dripping.

Tuesday is Bag Ladies Night. If you know me, you know this has been a regular crafty, quilty, chatty night for a group of friends for at least the last 16 years. The greater number of our evenings have been in my basement sewing room but we started out travelling from kitchen to kitchen. We would show up at one or another of our kitchens with our bags of stuff so that we could craft. [hence "bag ladies"]. We did podgy, tole painting, ribbon making, scrap booking, glass painting, glitter shaking, Ginger Bread House decorating, sewing, gluing, cutting, bow tieing, flower arranging, animal stuffing, Easter Bunnies, Sock Monkeys, Teddy Bears, photo albums, decorative boxes, plaster casting, papier mache, paper making,  generally anything that could be put together once we found the bits and pieces and of course, quilting! Okay, sometimes we just use the time to bitch a bit and that is okay too.
And those who know me also know that I moved out of town this past year so it is a bit more of a challenge to get together with my friends. We meet at another friend's house still in town. There is just a bit of time after work and before everyone shows up. This is why I bring my own dinner out on Tuesday Nights.  This is a good thing. See those delicacies in the photo below... mmmmmmm.
The ripple-edged Cornish Pasty is sooo delicious. Tender flaky pastry filled with lovely bitefuls of steak, a bit of veg and apples. I reheat this in my dear friend's toaster oven and it is heavenly. I think I fell in love with Ted's cooking when I had my first forkful of his Shepherd's Pie.
So it is Tuesday and I am hoping there is another Pasty left in the freezer......

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Saturday sew-in

We are working away at the Poppy Quilt.

    2 cappucinnos with Kahlua
+ letting dogs in and out of the house
+ Minestrone soup, spinach and fresh fruit salad, crusty bun and water
+ lots of conversation and laughs
+ Tea and Portuguese custard tarts
÷ 7 hours
= 2 Poppy Buds

It takes a long time to sort through the 5000 zip lock baggies containing the 1886 cut pieces of fabric. Reading the directions can be a bit confusing too.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

a nifty idea and give-away for clothing sewers

Here is a neat idea, fabric for sewing clothing "yardage guestimate" credit card sized reference cards that are designed to be carried around in your hand bag. Gwyn Hug has created these. There is a giveaway here (until Nov. 11). You can find the cards here if you want to order some.

You will have to click the link to see these as I was unable to link to the product image itself, but if you know a clothing sewer they will appreciate this tool!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

weekends can be wonderful

There were hundreds of geese resting on the shore, as we approached they took flight into the sky.

I love this amazing texture. I love texture as much as I love colour. I need to let myself play with them as much as I dream about them. I want both to meet traditional challenges so I can master the skills that the exacting work demands as much as I want to enjoy the inspirations that excite me when I look at colour and texture.

Isn't she a cutie! She joined the wild women for another wonderfully rejuvenating weekend that ended far to quickly.

This is the sunset over Lake Huron last Saturday night. My friends have been following my toes having fun on Face Book.

...and here are the aforementioned place mats in action!

Friday, 6 November 2009

the placemats are done...

I realized that I only need 7 gifts. What'cha think? The hardest thing was to cut into yardage to make the backings. I dug through my strip scraps, my calico scraps to build out the blocks. These ended up to be 13" x 20 1/2" rectangles. Lots of room for a plate, our wine, great bread and dessert!

I am so looking forward to this weekend. Our group of "sisters" has been getting together for fun a few times a year since 1984. The wonderful sunset over Lake Huron, the wood stove, the damp, the warmth, the laughs, the stories, the quiet, the tears, the shopping, the food, the wine, the hugs and the absolutely overflowing treasure chest of memories we have been creating together. The weather outside never matters, we did not even know the road washed out one year, once I followed a snow plow down an empty road most of the way there - when I arrived I found out that the roads had been closed. We have shared May, November, February - whenever we can make our schedules match. We are so very lucky that our friend shares her cottage home so generously.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Orphan Blocks into Placmats

Once upon a time there was a swap. 12 inch, green themed blocks. We would each make 12, or was it 16 blocks and they would be swapped at a central location.
Sometimes swap participation stretches to the extent of my gambling comfort zone, I will end up with something though, no matter what (unless the postal system fails me). In any case, about 6 years ago, or more I received a bundle (7) of green and white blocks, and I had another bundle (9) of my own twisted log cabin blocks - we ended up with only 8 swappers. The only problem was that the blocks were so dissimilar I could not imagine them ever being together in a single quilt - and I love anything green.
I have pillaged this stack for various smaller projects over the years, this week I may well decimate it. I want to make a set of 8 place mats to take as my "party favours" for my weekend away. These will end up as a set of 8, but rather each will go home with a friend.
I have pulled out some complimentary fabrics and we shall see how it goes. This is the "before" photo:

Gratuitous rainbow image. About 5 minutes and 4 miles down the road I could see the far end of it. Today I had time to pull over and take pictures with my BB (I actually stopped 5 times) of the brilliant sun and dark clouds facing off.

(as always here, these images are clickable so you can see them full screen)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Land of the Red Rock

I love colour. I have said that here before, more than once. Arizona has amazing colour. Today in South Western Ontario it was an amazing colour day. On my drive into work the early morning sun made the trees glow. Each tree looked to be lit from within. I wanted to take a picture because the gold, orange, red were stunning.

Today however is the first active day of the law banning hand-held cellphone use in Ontario. Since I do not usually drive around with my camera I rely on my Black Berry. If I stopped and parked I would have arrived in to work later than I should be. So I drove through and took the Kodak shot in my mind. Leaving work at the end of the day the same brilliant still shone brightly into the autumn leaves. I could not decide exactly how to name the golden orange colour that glowed around me. As I stopped to buy some pumpkins and perhaps take that brilliantly coloured scene shot the sun dropped too low and the glimmer faded. I missed the shot.

There was a special rainbow in the sky just before the sun dropped. It was not part of a visible band but more like one wide swath of colour in between the massing clouds.

I started the post promising red rock from our Arizona trip so here are some images:

(if you look closely you can see the Inukshuk I built on the rocks near West Sedona)

Besides colour, Arizona has cheerful and generous quilters:

I decided that the colour of the leaves today here in South Western Ontario really is "candle -lit pumpkin".

(plot summary: on vacation I carry the camera everywhere so I can take lots of pictures, going to work I simply take my purse, my BB and my travel thermos of tea so I don't usually take pictures. I have to fix this because the colours in SW Ontario today were truly just as majestic as the red rock photos)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Landscape Technique Workshop with Miriam

I have been away having so much fun. A highlight from this week was a mini international retreat right here at home. The village of Ailsa Craig sponsored a quilt show from Ireland and a group of lovely women came to teach and visit. Miriam is a fellow member of an online Postcard Swapping Group. We have been sharing work for at least a year or perhaps 2 now. Plans were made with a friend from Eastern Ontario, upstate New York and a few local ladies to take the class together.

The Postcard Cottage girls and friends
(who should be new members soon anyway!) Miriam is so lovely to meet.

It was very thrilling to see that our Miriam was going to be one of the featured teachers this year. Cotton-by-Post had presented the earlier exhibitions on quilts from Russia and quilts from East Africa. The workshop day was so much fun

Our day unfolded a bit like this....

Miriam tried very hard to remind us all day that we were to forget about straight lines. The only straight lines she wanted to see were the horizon line and the water horizon if we added a water feature to our picture. We played with sheers, organza, lace, tulle, silk, yarns, and other fancy decorative trims to come up with our own versions:

Miriam has a blog on the Irish Patchwork Society site so please visit her there to see more photos.

The next day was a play day for us so. We loaded up 2 cars and 9 quilters for some local sigh seeing and shop-hopping. We love The Marsh Store and Shirley. She is definately an enabler. They have all those wonderful, special, beautiful fabrics that you dream about.

We made a stop at the Lucan Historical Museum since they were featuring a quilt show as well.

Our touring group were pretty happy though that we were not riding the stage coach.

And to bring the day to a close we enjoyed our "farewell" coffee at Timmie's.

Smiling Irish Eyes enjoying Maple Cream Donuts....

Thursday, 15 October 2009

....in my little world, Blog Action Day

I was anticipating that I could write an insightful and intelligent piece. I considered climate change from countless angles.
What I kept returning to is my personal perspective. I thought then that I should choose a particular month or season and review how I have experienced it over the 50+ passings.
I have moved across the continent, from east to west and up and down a bit so it would not be a fair consideration.
What if I considered the climate change in terms of colour - who knows where I thought I could go with that but this too ended up nowhere.
Gardening? Diet? Outside activity? Sports? Laundry? None of these are directly impacted by climate change in a way that variations from year to year have made any significant change in my world.
Some years have been truly hot and dry, others hot and wet, some cold and some quite unremarkable in their blandness. I suppose then that in my tiny world climate change has not been more than another variation in the recurring cycles.

But it has affected my dreams in a real way. I have always dreamt of massive glacial expanses, of visiting the far northern territories to see the tundra. I imagine the absolute beauty of the frozen blue/white world that has existed in that extreme.
I think about the very short summer season and the range of temperature. The icebergs. The ice breakers. Protecting the northern waterways as Canadian lands.

And here the reality is that the Yukon had warmer temperatures for most of the summer than I experienced in South western Ontario.
I have read travelogues of people who visited glaciers 30 years ago, returning to find the spots they viewed them from no where near the glaciers. The glaciers are retreating thousands of feet back - perhaps like a time eons ago when they used to cover the northern expanses for thousands of miles but not now. The far north experienced an open waterway year long - and cruise companies are looking to expand into selling northern cruises. That definitely is a change. A change for the lives of those whose annual cycles depended upon the waters to freeze and the world to be blue/white.
This is big- even if my own little life has not changed much. Nature, culture, dreams. These all have really changed. Our small perspective may not be able to identify specific effects. In the greater scheme of hundreds of thousands of years this may be the natural pattern - after all the earth was once covered all by water and then dinosaurs walked the continents and that too changed. In our lifetimes and generations we can mark these changes. That is too fast. We should not have noticed any changes - but we do. Perhaps not in our small lives but the changes do exist, just beyond our personal perimeters. And for some, their whole lives are changing and that really does effect me. I am woven into to this planet and equally a part of its fabric just like you are too.

Blog Action Day.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

waving hello to the smiling eyes in blogland

I wanted to stop and catch up here a bit. September was an amazing month. I was so excited, pleased and proud to see DD#1 run and complete her first full marathon. I would have been toasted, exhausted, near dead and in severe agony by the 4.2 km mark, had I attempted to walk it. DD#1 had trained rigorously, paced well, and looked amazingly beautiful at the end of the 42+km run. Wow.

The studio has been the home of cutting and sewing, nothing special to show yet but wait and watch.

Our Canadian Quiltswappers group had an Anniversary Swap to prepare blocks representing each province and territory of Canada. I managed to get them off into the mail for swapping and I am eagerly waiting to see the results. I do still have to complete my personal set of 4 blocks representing Quebec. I ran short of the most fun fabric so my last block is not yet designed.

I want to use the scraps of the fabric that I had been using, even if the block is not the same.
Actually, of the set of 12 I sent out, 2 sets have more frugal uses of the fun fabric so these blocks are not quite like the others either. This is the era of economizing so I was committed to making it work with all the fabric I had at hand. Scrap-busting!!!

The new routine is settling in: the commute, the beautiful sunset through the western windows at dinner time, class work, work work, quality time with Sweetie, studio time, fun time and household responsibility time.

There is still no list! I am holding out as long as I can. Christmas is coming, I can feel it. Resistance is futile....there must be a list. But not today, not quite yet!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Nadine's give away

If you have been missing her podcast you should be visiting her blog. If you missed her postcast completely, I am sorry. It was a wonderful series. Nadine's DreamWeavers site is very inspiring. She is also having a giveway while she searches out new great tips. Visit her before October 1!

She has a very helpful CD on machine quilting. Take a look through her shop...

9 hours cutting, over 1880 pieces in baggies

Saturday was a long awaited quilty day with friends. L & P arrived around 10 AM. The morning started with a couple of cappuccinos each, laced with French Vanilla Kahlua and topped with Whipped Cream and Club House Pumpkin Pie Spice (an addiction owed to Starbucks).

Notice how nice and sunny (and early in the day) the first working photo is.

Lunch was a slow cooker deal: pulled chicken on a bun, salad and butterscotch tarts for dessert.

More cutting. Nine Hours of cutting pieces of fabric so that we can put them all together again into this.

Okay, finally done cutting... see how My poor friends dragged their weary bodies home after 11 PM. It will be Nov 14 before we can get together to sew these pieces. After all the cutting we are pretty certain that we will be keeping our finished quilts for ourselves...

Monday, 14 September 2009


This looks like a great giveaway at the Fabric Shopper " My Happy Organic Fabric"

Go and visit, I hope you win. (sorry, I really hope I win but I am being nice!)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Country bounty and a Zombie Chicken

Heather a quilting buddy who reads voraciously and loves to run has proffered this Zombie Chicken Award, which in the words of her friend, Sherri:
"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken-- excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."
And so, on to the blogs I always check when I sit down at the computer....
Ree, Confessions of A Pioneer Woman
Kay, Prairie Quilts and Kolaches
Jill, The Quilt Rat
Brin, My Messy Thrilling Life
Comicbooklady, Quilt as Desired

This weekend we have been taking advantage of the treasures to be found in country living. and supporting the local farmers. Yesterday we visited the Stratford Garlic Festival. I was intrigued by a spot on the CBC Friday morning radio mentioning "Chocolate Covered Garlic". Those that know me, and know me well, know that I cannot resist anything in chocolate; that and I am eager to enjoy local bounty. It was an excellent sunny day!

The Stratford Garlic Festival promised 2 main tents and lots of activity. We arrived in time for the nutrition and health talk on garlic. Yes you can freeze garlic, just use it before it gets soggy from thawing.

There are many varieties of garlic, some are best for eating raw, others are better for cooking or roasting. I purchased some garlic seed stock: Siberian, Leningrad and maybe some F-14 (not sure of the name of the last 2 bulbs). In October we will plant these as a start to next year's garden.

From the Garlic Festival on Saturday, we learned about the SPLAT Fest (Heritage Tomato Tasting) at McCully's Hill Farm for Sunday. McCully's grows fresh food in harmony with the local environment. There we enjoyed some wonderful tomatoes ranging from yellow peach to purple zebra, local goat cheese and some wine pairings. I bought myself a small peach crumble pie. It was still hot... I did save it for dessert.

Back to the chocolate covered garlic....Yes I tried it. The garlic was very fresh, a soft crunch and hot. The chocolate coating was sweet and dark. They tasted quite nice together. You don't need to buy me a box of these chocolates though. Trying it was enough.

This is the local bounty in the fridge ready for the next few days dinner. I also bought an eggplant that was as round as a large cantaloupe, come to think of it, I bought a cantaloupe too. We picked up corn, a basket of tomatoes and a 5 pound bag of garlic to hang in the cold storage as well.

These peppers are so amazing. Even when I cut into them a week later they are so crisp and fresh; their sweet freshness fills the air, you can smell them. AHHHHHHH.

I am working at catching up, 3 more Fabric Postcards. The theme is "Landscapes". I keep thinking of all these new landscapes here and am still amazed by how many rainbows I have seen, so close that I feel as if I could touch them...