Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve Mystery quilt

I found out a few weeks ago that there was a mystery quilt scheduled for New Year's Eve (day).  You know I just had to join in.  It's with the yahoo group QuiltTalk.

I'm doing a lap/twin size using christmas fabrics.

Of course I'm doing mine scrappy, instead of just four colours... I'm using about four colours in each group, reds, greens (these are the mediums), golds are the background and blacks are the "pop".

So far so good.  Here's a picture of them all cut and ready to start sewing.  Hard to believe what looks like such a little amount will make a twin size quilt (once borders are added).  But in some of these packages, there are 140 squares/rectangles.  Lots of piecing ahead. :)

I'm only on the sewing for Clue #1 right now... had a late start this morning because I had to:
 - drive hubby to work
 - shower
 - go check on the cats for a friend who is out of town
 - go to Best Buy and Future Shop to pick up a couple games hubby wants for this evening (his step-son is coming for the evening)
 - go to the grocery store to pick up some last minute items
 - put the turkey in the oven (loaded inside and out with garlic butter)

I'll have to break again soon to pick hubby up from work, and then break again later to make the sausage stuffing.... but I have all day tomorrow to play/sew.

I'll keep posting pics of my progress.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I won!! I won!!

I'm in shock!  According to an email this morning from Jenna from I won a fat quarter bundle from the Sew Mama Sew Giveaway, the fabric was supplied by The Intrepid Thread.

If I remember correctly, this is the fat quarter bundle I'll be receiving.

Elements - Fat Quarter Bundle in Stormy Sea by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabric Cotton Quilt Fabric

Aren't these pretty??  Eight fat quarters.... 2 yards of fabric!  Whoohoo!!  Too bad I didn't have these sooner... they'd be perfect for my Orca Bay teals and black and whites that I'm using.

I had told Karen of Sew Karen-Ly Created a couple weeks ago that I never win anything... and I don't!  So maybe this is a start of a new trend for the new year??  hehehehe

A few days ago I mentioned to DH that there were so many blog shop hops going on that it was nuts!  I'd entered/commented on maybe 50 of them.  There was no way I had time to go to all of the over 250 blogs and comment, and given the number of people participating... the odds of me winning on any of them was slim.

What a nice surprise this morning!! 

It's coming from the UK, so the squishy probably won't be here until after the new year, but I don't have a problem with that.  :)  I'm just happy I won!

Thank you Jenna!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wow... the season is stressing people out

I think I've read about a half dozen rants (on blogs) today.  Yes we're a little over a week away from christmas, yes there are still things to be done, cooked, baked, purchased, cards and packages to send, knowing they won't get there before the "big day". 

It boggles the mind how much people put themselves through for this one day.

So why do circumstances warrant other people to be rude to so many others? 

Whether it's emails to blog posters telling them how they should live their lives, or someone saying they're sick of hearing about a certain subject?  Especially when that subject involved many people from all over the world, pulling together to do something nice for another person who is in a difficult situation right now.  (that one ticked me off - BIG TIME).  Fine and dandy if you don't want to be involved, but phrase it a nicer manner, rather than coming off as rude, uncaring and inconsiderate.

Where's the compassion?
Where is the "good will toward others?"
Why does the season have to be a competition as to who can buy the better present for the other (or bigger or more expensive)?
Why do people feel they have to compete with their potluck dishes?
What happened to the joy of giving?
What happened to handmade presents?  Remember years ago when people would make gifts for their recipients... and the recipient was overjoyed and so thankful that the gift was handmade, with love?  And appreciated receiving anything at all??

I think we should go back to putting lumps of coal in stockings!  LOL

Unfortunately, we now live in a society (for the most part), where everyone NEEDS everything.  Every electronic gadget, every expensive toy, over-priced shiny jewellery.  Heaven forbid if it's a piece of cosmetic jewellery!  A fake!

Many have forgotten what the difference is between a "need" and a "want".

People need to slow down, breathe, appreciate what they have, be thankful there's a roof over their heads and food in the cupboard, and not judge their happiness by the possessions they have (or expect to receive/acquire for christmas). 

Realistically, there are a lot of people who don't.  Or worse, they don't know where their next meal is coming from, or how they're going to give their children a christmas.

Quilters, and craftspeople alike, know what it is, know the feeling, of receiving something handmade.  Something you know that person spent time on, thinking it into reality, creating it with their own hands, and parting with it in order to make someone else happy.  And what did that cost?  A few materials and sometimes several labour hours of love.  I find that more precious than anything else.

I remember a few years ago, my brother gave me a rock... yes, *giggle* a rock.  If I remember correctly, I think he used it to weight a box so I wouldn't know what was in the box.  I don't even remember what was in the box now.  But I still have the rock.  The thing is the size of a large orange.  And it's not a special rock, like those ones you see in the stores for sale with the cute little pewter do-dads, although it does sparkle, maybe it's quartz or has some amethyst mineral to it, but it's pretty.

I do remember he asked me to save it for him... not to throw it away.  He had found it somewhere and kept it for some reason, so I know it meant something to him.  I still have that rock, and the box it came in.  I won't give it away or throw it away.  I might give it back to him if he asks for it, really really nicely!  :)

The point is, he and I were separated for 15 years (long story), and that present, with the rock, was one of the first things he gave me after we were reunited.  So even if it is only a paperweight on my desk, I see it and remember him, that 18 year old boy that I finally got to meet again after 15 long years. (He's 11 years younger than me... I used to change his diapers!... he hates it when I remind him of that) *evil grin* 

He and I are the best of friends to this day.  Even if he's a couple provinces away, he's as close as a text message or a phone call... which is more than I had from him between his years of 3 through 18.

I know he's alone this christmas, out there in Edmonton.  If either of us could afford it, we would fly him here to be with me.  Hopefully in the new year we'll be able to spend some time together, hopefully.  Maybe once he gets the job he's been trying to get, that allows him to travel from province to province, we'll have some time together.  Or maybe if funds come in from clients as I hope they do, I can take a few days and fly out to be with him.  We don't know, we're playing it by ear.

I miss him terribly, and I know he misses me.

In the meantime...
- I'm not stressing over the holidays
- people are getting handmade gifts from me
- I will be able to text/talk to my brother

... and I have a sparkly, pretty rock.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Orca Bay - Step 4

As Bonnie says in her blog post "there are many ways to skin a cat", and seriously, where did that saying come from?  It's creepy!!

Here's what I've been doing with my Orca Bay Step 4.

First, sew my teal/turquoise/green strings and strips onto 5.5" papers (I've done over 20 I think so far, here's 7 of the blocks).

Then, remove the papers

Now I starch them (with BestPress) and press them, hard.  I want to ensure they keep their shape, no shifting, no wobbling when I cut them, and no distorting later when we get to the point where they'll be sewn to something else.

Here they are, flat as flat can be.

Now to the cutting.
First, I'm cutting down the center across the strips.  No I'm not measuring anything at this point.  I know I have a lot of lee-way since my papers were 5.5" square and my strips extended past that point, and we only need them to be 5 1/8th".

This is where they get real pretty.
Using the Easy Angle Companion ruler as Bonnie suggested, I line up the 3 1/2" mark with the bottom of the triangle (or the center cut I'd made), and follow the ruler to make pretty little triangles.

On some of them, I shifted to either the right or the left as much as possible to have a sliver of trimming on one side, but a good chunk of sewn together fabrics on the other side - Crumb Starters!!

How well do they play with my purple strings from Step 2?

Let's see

I think they stand out well enough... and then think of black and whites surrounding them... this is going to be one pretty quilt!

Thank you Bonnie!!!

Beautiful Christmas Music

Ok, so maybe now I'm starting to get into the christmas spirit.  Kinda bummed me out a few weeks ago when I started hearing christmas tunes on the radio.  Like one of Bonnie Hunter's posts back then, I thought the same... "it's too soon!"

Especially when I look outside, it's sunny, minus 3 degrees celcius... and NO SNOW!  Makes me think we might have a brown christmas.. lol

Anyways, an email came in today.. one of Ricky Tim's updates, and I took the time to browse his site.  He's hilarous!  And has christmas videos of songs he's singing.

Loved this one:

It's called Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Very, very pretty.

Then I found this one:

Christmas In A Small Town

This too was really nice to listen to.  Both of these are available on his CD by the same name, "Christmas In A Small Town".

I'm not a promoter for him, I just really like the music... and he's one hell of a quilter!!

If you want a laugh... check out his version of Jingle Bells... WAY TOO MUCH CAFFINE!!  LOL


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pretty Little Penguins (Orca Bay style)

Since I'm going to be pulling a few out of these and mailing them off to swap with a couple Quiltville friends in the US, I figured I'd better post a picture, before they're depleted.

They went from this....

... to this...

They are adorable!  Over 350 half square triangles, unfinished size is 2".  They will finish in the quilt at 1.5".

I did them three different ways.

One stack was done with the EZ Angle Ruler...

One stack was done with the pdf page from Quilting and Whatnot's site...

...and the rest were done the InkLingo way!!

Seriously, once I did one stack with InkLingo I didn't want to do them any other way.

I don't know why I didn't think of doing them with Linda's InkLingo product in the first place.  I have so many of her other products.  Since she's offering a deal/discount to those of us doing Bonnie's Orca Bay Mystery, I figured, what the heck.

And... why buy a package for just HST's when I could buy a product that would also give me a really cool quilt pattern.... I grabbed the Storm at Sea 9" package.  I love the looks of this quilt, so it's now on my "future" to do list.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Linda Franz... and Monkey! 

Now... since one of the ladies on the Quilt-Talk yahoo chat group posted a recipe for "pasties", I'm going to make them for dinner. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Free Kindle Book

I have various tastes when it comes to books, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, mystery, etc.

Once in a while I browse Amazon for free kindle books - I get a lot of use out of my kindle... I swear I read more now because of it then I did previously.  Why?  Because it's handy, easy to tote around, easy to read in bed.

So my Amazon browsing today found this (among several others), but this one sounds intriquing and it has received some well written reviews.

In the Beginning (A unique Scifi Fantasy Story) (The Great Destruction Series) [Kindle Edition]

Mrs. Melanie M. Ray

Product Description

Genres: This is a Scifi Fantasy with some Tragic Comedy
Bonus now included: The Legend and Risk, my short stories are now included in the back.

In the world of Pagnia, there is trouble brewing. With the help of a special mineral dubbed inhibitor, the citizens remain peaceful. Only one problem causes them to go against being pacifists. Pheromones. Since the race is so peaceful, the only protection needed is provided for women by guards whose sole purpose is to protect them. They are Protectors, and are bred and trained to go against their calm nature. They are not allowed to have any romantic relationship with a female, but are revered on their planet.

Unfortunately, with the weak will to fight this sets them on bad ground with their only enemy: Themselves. Through greed and temptation with the inhibitor their race had split into two and would one day cease to exist with genetics pulling each individual closer to a soulless pink-eyed rat tail.

Yed is an A class Protector, the highest on the scale. He's given a simple mission, to talk to a woman about settling down. He is conned by the king and finds out the woman was his childhood friend, Ezra. Having no idea what the King had in store for her, he demands to be her Protector.

The King reluctantly agrees, but if Yed reveals the kingdoms involvement, he will receive a painful death. Life gets tougher as forbidden feelings increase between him and Ezra. With this deadly secret lurking between them, and an overshadow of war always hanging overhead, will he be able to pull through?
You will find yourself laughing and loving these characters, waiting to find out how it ends. This is not a book for children, no matter how wonderful this world may appear on the surface. With an ending that will shock you into waiting for that next book, In the Beginning will not disappoint.

"Ms. Ray has created a fascinating world, novel situations, and multifaceted characters that draw the reader in and keep them wanting more. I had to really force myself not to buy the second book the minute I'd finished this one but I wanted to finish another one I'd just bought first. I can't wait to see what happens to Yed , Muin and Ezra. "

-D. Chippett from

Go ahead, while it's free... you know you want to!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Save on monthly groceries - hell yes!!

I found this post on Denise's blog.. Count it All Joy
Seriously, who doesn't want to save money on groceries.

I'm very interested to read this book and find out how I can cut costs.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Needed a "fabric fix" today

I have no idea why... but I just had this insatiable urge to buy fabric today.  Seriously, I wake up in the night dreaming of quilts, blocks, colour combinations, ideas for new quilts.  I can't stop!  I have the bug and it's BAD!  LOL

Going to one of the quilt stores didn't interest me.  Honestly, there's not a lot of variety in what they have.  Sometimes you just have to leave town.  So off to Perth Fabrics I went.  They have a wonderful store!  Lots of fabrics, battings, thread and a whole host of other craft supplies for knitting, felting, painting, flower arranging, cross stitch, scrap-booking and probably more than I even know.   It's less than an hour away and it was a beautiful day for a drive.

I picked up a few teal-ish greens (not so green in the picture though) for the Orca Bay Mystery quilt, and that yellow with flowers.. just because I liked it and it was in the bargain bin for 50% off - there was only a meter left.

And do you see this asian fabric?  It's gorgeous!  I had the lady lay it out on the table, we measured the length of the repeat, and multiplied that by 6, and rounded it out to 4 meters even.  I finally found a fabric I want to use for one of those "One Block Wonder" quilts.  This will be amazing!

And then, as I thought I was done looking around, there's a shopping cart at the front of the store with MORE discounted bolts.  Lookie what I found to be the backing on my Mai Tai's in Paradise quilt (aka cruise quilt)!!

It's perfect!!  Across the width of the fabric it repeats this scene three times.  The store is trying to get rid of all these summer "hawaiian shirt prints", there were probably three other bolts there with similar patterns.  The line up at the cutting table was full.  The lady helping me asked how much I wanted and I told her probably about 4 meters... but let's see how much was left on the bolt. 

Now this is the fun part.  She didn't have a table to use, so she unfolded all the fabric from the bolt, and roughly measured it against a wooden yard stick she was trying to hold at the same time.  She figured it was about six meters, and wrote it up as such, and gave me 35% off instead of the posted discount of 30%.  Guess she was happy to get rid of it.  Anyways, when I got home into my office, I refolded all the material.  With this one, I measured.  There are 7 yards (yes yards).  Convert that to meters and you get 6.4 meters.  She did a pretty darn good measuring job!

I'm probably only going to need about 4 meters of it for the back of the quilt, so I told Jim I may have enough left to make him a shirt... and the ladies on the cruise know how much he loves his hawaiian shirts!  LOL  He'd wear them everyday to work if it wasn't for the drab, navy, black or tan company shirts they make them wear.  Apparently, it's even written in the company policy manual "no hawaiian or loud shirts". 

I don't know about you, but I think a predominately male workplace could use a bit of colour - and I'm not just talking the language!  hehehe

Needless to say, I got my "fix" today. 

*does happy dance*

Friday, December 2, 2011

My little workhorse

This is my little Singer featherweight.  I haven't posted about this yet, actually, I haven't used it much yet, up until a couple of weeks ago.

During the summer I was searching through the listings of the garage and yard sales around town and found one that said they had an old Singer sewing machine.  From the description in the ad, I had a pretty good idea it might be a featherweight, and recruited my girlfriend to head a little ways out of town to check it out on the Sunday.

I was betting that someone had already picked it up on the Saturday, so I wasn't very hopeful that it would still be there.  Having absolutely no clue how much these should sell for (at the time), I checked a few ads on kijiji and usedottawa.  There were two available then, one going for $299 and one for $275.  That at least gave me a range to shoot for.

When we arrived, I did the curteous thing and browsed through all the tables and stacks out on the lawn, all the while keeping an eye out for a little sewing machine.  In the garage, in the back corner table I spotted it.  Honestly, I didn't know much about featherweights then, but looked it over enough to see it wasn't very scratched up, didn't have any chunks missing from the bed, the decals on the front area are a bit worn, and it looked fairly clean.  Even the case it came in had oodles of feet, a few bobbins and the original owners manual and can of Singer oil.

I asked the lady how much it was selling for, she went and grabbed her husband.  He said $250.  He also said it worked.  I didn't have any opportunity to test that but took him at his word.  

To not look too interested, I continued browsing a few other tables in the garage.  They had at least two dozen oil lamps different sizes, ages, glass shapes, etc - and I love them!!  I have a few really nice ones at home.  They remind me of very happy days and nights as a kid when we lived out in the country and would be snowed in, no power, just the pot bellied wood stove and oil lamps to play cards by.

Of course, since there's a picture, you know I went back to the table and picked it up.  The gentleman happily took my cash and asked if I knew of anyone else interested in one.  Apparently he comes by them on occasion.  I didn't know of anyone who was looking. 

I got the feeling this wasn't so much of a garage/yard sale as it was a sale of estate items that he seems to gather to sell.  Maybe I'll have to check out his house again next summer.

All in all, the machine works like a charm.  I did my research on the internet to find out how to properly clean it, oil it, grease it, and what to look for in the way of damage, smells, oil build up, etc.  I made a short list of things that should be taken care of.  New oil drip pad for the bottom, new needles, a new belt, and a tube of grease.  For about $30 I was able to order all the things I needed. 

Before these things came, I tested it on scraps of fabric.  A beautiful straight stitch, runs quietly and is just soooo cute!

Two weeks ago, when we went to Jim's mom's place on the Sunday for her birthday celebration, I took my old Universal sewing machine with me, a sewing kit of supplies and a bag of scraps of fabric.  She wanted to learn how to sew.  My idea was to get her started on crumb blocks.  My featherweight came along with me.

I didn't take any pictures, but suffice it to say, between Jim's mom, his sister and I, we completed 10 little 6" crumb blocks.

Jim's sister has since told me they're running out of scraps... LOL

On another note, still in regards to my featherweight, Jake doesn't like it when I spend too much time in my dungeon (basement office/sewing room) and reminds me of it constantly by coming down and planting his head on my leg.

So a few nights ago I took the featherweight and my box of neutral strings and planted myself at the dining room table.

First I wanted to wind a couple of the bobbins up with new thread, but to do that I had to remove the old threads from the bobbins.  Do you see this?  The lady who owned this machine had a wide variety of threads on one bobbin!  Some were a couple yards long, but most were only three or four feet long.  And different colours!  I guess it didn't matter much to her if she sewed with all the same thread colour... talk about needing to be frugal.

So I now have 45 little string blocks (4 1/2") done for my Jamestown Landing quilt.  Only 123 more to do!  (another story on that coming soon)  :)

PS.  do you see my RRCB on the wall in the background in the first photo?  I didn't even notice it until I viewed my post.. LOL  (it's on my quazi-design wall - but it's not big enough to fit the whole quilt).

Monday, November 28, 2011

Need a laugh? Read this ad for a snowblower.

Need a snowblower?  Too bad, this one's sold... but you really need to read his ad.  It's creative, persuasive and down right funny!

11 HP / 29" Snowblower (Moncton, New Brunswick - Canada)
Do you like shoveling snow? Then stop reading this and go back to your pushups and granola because you are not someone that I want to talk to.

Let’s face it, we live in a place that attracts snow like Magnetic Hill attracts cars, only that ain’t an illusion out there. That’s 12 inches of snow piling up and, oh, what’s that sound? Why it’s the snow plow and it’s here to let you know that it hates you and all the time you spent to shovel your driveway. Did you want to get out of your house today? Were you expecting to get to work on time? Or even this week?

You gave it your best shot. You tried to shovel by yourself and I respect you for that. I did it, my parents did it, some of my best friends did it. But deep down inside, we all wanted to murder that neighbour with the snowblower who was finished and on his second beer while you were still trying to throw snow over a snowbank taller than you are.

So, here we are. You could murder your neighbour, which could ensure that you won’t need to shovel a driveway for 25 to life, but there are downsides to that too. What to do?

Here’s the deal. I have a snow blower and I want you to own it. I can tell you’re serious about this. It’s like I can almost see you: sitting there, your legs are probably crossed and your left hand is on your chin. Am I right? How’d I do that? The same way that I know that YOU ARE GOING TO BUY THIS SNOWBLOWER.

I want you to experience the rush that comes with smashing through a snowdrift and blowing that mother trucker out of the way. The elation of seeing the snow plow come back down your street and watching the look of despair as your OTHER neighbour gets his shovel out once more while you kick back with a hot cup of joe (you don’t have a drinking problem like that other guy).

Here’s what you do. You go to the bank. You collect $900. You get your buddy with a truck and you drive over here. You give me some cold hard cash and I give you a machine that will mess up a snowbank sumthin’ fierce. I’ve even got the manual for it, on account of I bought it brand new and I don’t throw that kind of thing away. Don't want to pay me $900? Convince me. Send me an offer and I'll either laugh at you and you'll never hear back from me or I'll counter.

You want a snow blower. You need a snow blower.

This isn’t some entry level snow blower that is just gonna move the snow two feet away. This is an 11 HP Briggs and Stratton machine of snow doom that will cut a 29 inch path of pure ecstasy. And it’s only 4 years old. I dare you to find a harder working 4 year old. My niece is five and she gets tired and cranky after just a few minutes of shoveling. This guy just goes and goes and goes.

You know what else? I greased it every year to help keep the water off it and the body in as good as shape as possible. It's greasier than me when I was 13, and that's saying something.

You know how many speeds it has? Six forward and two in reverse. It goes from “leisurely” slow up to “light speed”. Seriously, I’ve never gone further than five because it terrifies me. I kid you not, you could probably commute to work with it dragging you.

You know what else is crappy about clearing snow in the morning? That you have to do it in the dark. Well, not anymore! It has a halogen headlight that will light your way like some kind of moveable lighthouse (only better, because lighthouses won’t clear your driveway).

Oh, and since it’s the 21st century, this snow blower comes with an electric starter. Just plug that sucker in, push the button, and get ready to punch snow in the throat. If you want to experience what life was like in olden days, it comes with a back-up cord you could pull to start it, but forget that. The reason you’re getting this fearsome warrior was for the convenience, so why make it harder on yourself?

By this point, you’re probably wondering why I would sell my snowblower since the first snowpocalypse is upon us today. I’ll tell you why: because I heard it was time for you to man up and harness some mighty teeth and claws and chew your way to freedom, that’s why.

This is my snow blower. Make it your snow blower.

UPDATE - I assure you that the snowblower is real, and it is still available. Do not despair if you have made an offer on this glorious tribute to man's triumph over nature and I have not responded yet, your time has yet to come.

UPDATE 2 - It appears someone feels they have the courage to harness this snow siege weapon and blaze a divine path for all to follow this winter. Snowblower is sold, pending pick up, etc, etc.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Orca Bay Mystery - Step 2

I did these yesterday.  These are sooooo cute!  Seventy-two 3 1/2" string blocks for Bonnie's Orca Bay Mystery.

See my bright pressing board cover/sleeve underneath them?  I made that first thing yesterday morning before I started on the string blocks. 

I'd asked Jim to cut me a 24" by 24" board from the wood in the garage a few weeks ago.  I layered it with batting and then canvas.  It works well, a nice hard pressing surface... but it was starting to look pretty grungy.

As I looked at my stash, I saw this fabric.  It's one that I had to have when I visited Aunt Beth's Quilt World in Navan, Ontario (just outside Ottawa), several months ago during a Poker Dash Shop Hop.  I had already picked up a couple fabrics that I wanted, and just as I was heading to the cash, this one caught my eye.  It's so bright and cheery!  Didn't know what I was going to use it for until yesterday morning.  Now I have a pretty cover that I can just take off and wash as needed.

Now I need to sort through the trimmings from the string blocks... new additions to my crumb bin! Yay!  I have a story about crumbs... but will save that for another blog post.

While I was at it, I cut up the 168 papers for the 4 1/2" neutral string blocks I need for Jamestown Landing.  I have a ton of neutral strings.  Really don't think I'll even make a dent in that basket after 168 blocks.... but for now, those can wait.

... on to Step 1 for Orca Bay.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cruise Quilt is a FLIMSY!

This is the quilt we started on the August Caribbean cruise with Bonnie.  I'm so happy with how it's turned out.  I made it larger than Bonnie's pattern, it's about 6 feet by 7 feet with the borders.  Now I just have to sandwich it and quilt it.  Bonnie called this pattern, Mai Tai's in Paradise.

Now looking at it in a photo, versus close up on my design wall, I see other patterns.  The little 2 inch squares seem to have little trails at random points across the quilt.  I like it!!  Now I'll know when I do this pattern again, to make all those squares a dark colour to stand out for the secondary pattern.

I wished I'd had a better way to photograph/display this, but having Jim's friend and I hold it while Jim took the picture, outside, was our only option... and I'm too short!!  LOL

It's so colourful... and I swear there are at least 100 different fabrics in it.  Some from my stash, some from the charm squares Bonnie supplied in our kits, and others from the "stash table" we had set up in the sewing room.

There are cartoon puppies, cartoon cows, pictures of golden retriever pups playing in grass, pictures of skunks, golf balls and tees, flowers, black cat silouettes dancing along a musical staff, sun/moon/stars, cartoony doggie bowls with bones, antique bicycles, something burgundy with Texas A&M 12th Man fabric and even some red and blue stars on a white background to remind me this was made with many US friends we made on the cruise. 

I love looking at all the colours playing together, and it will continue to bring back fond memories for years to come.

Thank you Bonnie!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winter has arrived in Canada's Capital!!

Around 6:45 this morning Jake and I got up and he wanted outside... this is what we found!  Holy!  I know the weather forecasters had said that there would be some snow starting last night, but they only expected us to get some flurries and possibly some freezing rain and ice pellets.  This snow isn't expected to last though, forecast is for 11 degrees on Saturday.

Jake loves the snow!  He is a husky after all.  We had to wake him several times last year - he had gone outside and curled up in the snow for a nap!  Silly dog.  Winter is definitely his season.

The news is already saying there are numerous accidents this morning, one of the city buses is actually on it's side at one of the bus stations!

Why do people so easily forget how to drive in the snow?  We have it every year, it's not like it's a new thing (for any Canadian who's lived here most of their lives).

Luckily I have no where to go today, don't have to go to a clients' office, can stay home, do some work and then some sewing.

hmmmm... I see more snow dyeing in my future!
Happy snow day Ottawa!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quilted Turkey

This was too cute.  Joyce on the Quilters of America site posted this and I just had to share!

So, an early Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

OMG! Can you feel the electricity?

The quilting world is a-buzz! (well, at least any followers of Bonnie Hunter are).

She has posted the first step of her new mystery quilt today, Orca Bay.
Needless to say, I will be joining in, even though my Roll Roll Cotton Boll still isn't done. :)

I don't know what it is though, I can't seem to keep my mind on one project these days.  Every time I check/read blogs, I see new ideas, new crafts, new gifts to make.

A couple of days ago I made this, one of those funky leaf bowls. 

I remembered seeing them somewhere and did a search.  Quilt Canada had members make them for their big conference.  You can find the pattern here.  I had a hell of a time zig zag stitching the edges.  That probably took more time than any other part of it.

I had to modify the pattern a bit.  I didn't have the fusible stuff they suggested, something similar to TimTex, so I just used a couple pages of Heat and Bond on a scrap piece of fabric in the middle, between my inside and outside layers.  It works for me!

Then, Cathy and Denise decided to try something new.  Faux Applique.  The author even has a tutorial on her website to give an idea of how it's done.  Guess what?  PLAY TIME!!!

I couldn't find the textile medium that Helen suggested in her tutorial (of course not - some things are just next to impossible to locate in this country).  And when you really have the bug to make something, you don't want to order online and wait a week or two for the product to get to you.

Searching the craft and art stores locally, I found Michael's has a product by Martha Stewart, a tintable fabric medium.

According to the description, this should work.

"Mix with Martha Stewart Crafts Acrylic Paints for a softer, more flexible finish when painting on fabric. Mix 1 part medium to 2 parts paint. Heat set projects for permanence and washability. Waterbased."

I'm not mixing it with one of her paints, I'm using pencil crayons! 

In my Quilting Designs program (from EQ), there was a cute little flower picture.  Simple is better right?  Especially when you're just trying something out.

Here's what mine looks like right now.

I didn't want just solid coloured flowers so I tried to shade them a bit, overlapping the colours.

This piece is about 6 inches by 6 inches.  And no I didn't forget a flower and stem, it only had three. :)

Anyways, once this dries (in 24 hours) then I can heat set it and then I'll do some free motion quilting around it, maybe just outlining... not sure yet.

This could make a nice little cover piece for my kindle!

Alright, now I'm off to finish putting the borders on my cruise quilt.  I've made a promise to myself.  Even though I'm going to follow along with Bonnie's new mystery, I'm going to get the cruise quilt and RRCB to the flimsy stage before I even start cutting for Orca Bay. (yeah... right!)  LOL

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Snowmen and Mittens and Applique... Oh My!

Well, here we go.. my third foray into applique.

See these two little packages?  They were part of the shop hop I participated in a few weeks ago.  Quilty Pleasures in Orleans and The Quilting Quarters in Almonte combined their efforts to do a Roundabout Town and Country Shop Hop to raise funds for the Avon "Every Penny Counts" campaign.

Since it had a "round" theme, they each put together a placemat kit.  I haven't done any quilting kits yet, so this was a first for me.  You could use the kit from each shop to make four double-sided placements, or do them individually (use your own backing) and make eight placemats.  I'm making eight.

I decided to start with the snowmen one.  There are three snowmen on each placemat... off I go, tracing 12 snowmen, scarves and hats onto fusible interfacing.

And more tracing

Cutting out the insides of the larger pieces, to save for future smaller projects (if I ever decide to do more applique).  That will highly depend on how well this project goes.  Yes I know, practice makes perfect... lol

Placing the 12 snowmen on the white on white fabric (wrong side).  Now, this was pushing it.  There was JUST enough fabric to fit all 12 of them.  An extra inch of fabric on the length and width of the piece supplied would have made this step a lot less stressful.  I figured if I couldn't fit them all on, I'd just use a piece of white on white from my stash. 

No problem with the amount of fabric for the black hats.  I think there was about six inches extra, so no stressing on this part.

Just enough fabric for the scarves.  No problems here either.  Very little waste.

All the pieces cut out of the fabrics.  I assembled one to see how everything fits.  Isn't it cute?

Now, figuring out how to place them on the circular backing.  The pattern supplied had a little hand drawn picture.  It would have been nice to have an actual photo of one they had completed.  I had to determine it from my pieces and the drawing.  Make sure I have room between the hats and the edge, and hopefully have them centered well enough before I iron them down and start stitching.

Here is one of the four stitched down.  I have the snowmen stitched with a very pale blue thread (aurifil).  I didn't want to do white, I wanted their body shapes to show a little.  I've also stitched down the scarves, with thread that matches well enough.  I'm not being overly critical about them not being the exact colour, or not showing at all.  I kinda like seeing the blanket stitch.

Here's a close up of the stitching.  I think I'm doing pretty good!  I'm actually impressed!  lol   I still have to stitch around the hats, and put faces and buttons on their bellies.  I'll do that today.  I think my Horizon has some cute little star type stitches that would work for their eyes/mouth, buttons down the front.  Maybe I can even free motion a carrot nose with some orange thread.

Then sandwich it with batting and backing and decide on how to quilt it.  I was thinking I could use some invisible thread around the snowmen parts (where I've applique'd), and possibly free motion some swirls, loop-d-loops with stars around them.  Then another first... bias bind them.  That will be interesting.

I can't believe how much time this takes.  I could have made another 50 cheddar bow tie blocks in the time it's taken me to get this far on these placemats. 

But I guess that's to be expected.  It's a slow process tracing, cutting, ironing, cutting... and then stitching around them.  And I'm definitely sewing slowly to make sure I do a good job.  

I'll have to experiment with feet too.  The one I'm using is clear, but it has a piece across the front of it, which I assume is to be used to guide the user to stitch based on the markings.  But I'm thinking a more open toed foot so I have clear access to see the needle and where it's connecting to the edge of the fabric being stitched would be easier.

The other thing that makes me anxious is satin stitch.  I know I've done it on another project and I wasn't 100% happy with the results.  I also didn't know enough to use a stabilizer at the time.  I am using one with this project. 

Experiment, play, try again.  It's the process after all. 

International Block Swap

This is such a cool idea!

You make 12 blocks and send them to an address in the US by March 2012 with $15 US for return postage.

In April, they'll mail you back 12 blocks from all over the world.

I'm so doing this!

Go here for all the details.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Process Pledge

I've seen this on several blogs over the months.  I finally took the time to read what it was about and you know what?  It makes sense.  It's very appropriate for what we do as quilters/craftspeople.

Others sometimes don't realize how much effort, thinking, planning, doing, re-doing that goes into a project.

So I'm going to do my best to document/post the process I go through with each of the projects I'm working on.

I've posted the button on the left side, click to link to the description and put one on your blog if you're going to do the same. 

Enjoy the process!

I, Laurie Holcombe, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear. I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there.  

Things to think about while going through a project:
  • Do you have any new sketches to show?
  • Is this design inspired by a past quilt or someone else's quilt you saw (link, please)?
  • Does the color palette come from somewhere specific?
  • Are you trying to evoke a specific feeling?
  • Is this quilt intended for a specific person? How did that inform your choices?
  • Are you following a pattern, emulating a block you saw somewhere, using a liberated process, or totally winging it?
  • What are you hating about this quilt at this stage? What do you love?
  • Did you push yourself to try something new?
  • In working on the quilt, are you getting ideas about what you might want to try next? What? Did you sketch it?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I must be crazy!

Well, maybe not crazy in that sense, but definitely crazy in love with Bonnie's designs.  Ever since I received the Australian Homespun "Blue Issue" magazine (volume 12, issue 6) with Bonnie Hunter's pattern, Jamestown Landing, I've wanted to make it in reds.

My mom's favourite colour is red and I want to make it for her.  So on Sunday I dove into my reds and neutrals, ironed, starched, ironed, starched, cut 2 1/2 inch strips til I thought I was going to go insane. 

Then I took a break from all the ironing and cutting strips and started cutting half square triangles.  Ok, this is going to take f o r e v e r!  LOL 

Bonnie's pattern takes 840 half square triangle blocks, each made with one red triangle and one neutral triangle.  I stacked a red strip and then a neutral and then another red strip and another neutral so I'm cutting four triangles at a time.  Stack them in piles of 40, and voila!  I have 14 piles, 540 cut. 

I thought, whoohoo!!  Over half done.  Then I did the math again and realized that's only 20 blocks in each pile.... I actually need a total of 1,680 triangles, half of those red, half of those neutral.. eeeek!!  I'm only about 34% done. 

Oh well.... it's the process right?  And it will be gorgeous when it's done.

I'm doing all this while expecting to start Bonnie's new mystery quilt, Orca Bay.... and I still can't decide on my colours for it.

What was I thinking???

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Worth Watching!

You HAVE to go to Pat Sloan's blog today!

She posted a video, not sure what it's advertising, but it sure would make me exercise more too!  LOL

If you just want to watch the video...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Kindle Book - love a good mystery.

Here's another free one at Amazon.  Apparently it's the first of three in the series.  It's had very good reviews, so I'm downloading this one, while it's still free!

One Deadly Sister

Editorial Reviews

" excellent plot keeps readers glued to the pages until the very end...A great read!"

"...a clever plot enfolds, firmly supported by interesting characters. If you like mysteries, you'll enjoy this one. No loose ends."
--Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

"A very creative and enjoyable first novel...grabs hold of you early on and you can't get away from it...I will definitely be looking for another novel by Rod Hoisington!"
--Betty Gelean for

"...(Stayed up) 'til the wee hours of the morn', coz I was busy reading a quite interesting novel entitled One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington."
--DelGal's blog

"...I just opened the book and could not stop reading till I realized that I'd already spent 5 minutes of my working time getting engrossed!"
--Vikram Narayan,
Product Description

In this first book in the Sandy Reid Mystery Series, an almost-too-clever young law student in Philadelphia gets a life-or-death call from her estranged brother who just moved to Florida--she tells him to go to hell. She doesn't need this. She's holding an old grudge and resents having her life in Philadelphia interrupted. The brother doesn't come looking for trouble, he simply wants to get past his Philadelphia divorce and start a new life in Florida, but woman-trouble comes looking for him.

Unfortunately, he arrives in the small Florida ocean side town just as someone murders the local gubernatorial candidate. The brother doesn't have a clue about women and gets seduced and framed. He hasn't bothered with his estranged sister up north for years but now, as a stranger in a hostile town, she's his only hope. She reluctantly decides to at least check out her brother's predicament. This small step leads the sister into an ever-increasing entanglement of deceit, double-cross, and danger, as she can't leave well-enough alone and goes after the real killer in this fast-paced mystery.

The first book in the Sandy Reid mystery series. The Price of Candy is the second book in this fast-paced series with the sassy protagonist and amateur sleuth. The third book in the series is Such Wicked Friends.

Great reading, wonderful inspiration and travel dreams

I love travelling.  Most people do.  It brings to mind sunny beaches, exotic foods, enchanting people and new, wonderful experiences. 

After our cruise with Bonnie Hunter this summer, Jim and I both want to take another trip and/or cruise.  Bonnie is currently on a cruise in the Caribben with about 60 of her followers/fans.  They are going to have a fantastic time.

I happened to click on Jim West's site as he's the one who organized both these cruises, and is actively promoting Bonnie's Bali trip next year.  Jim West is an amazing individual, has incredible stories to tell, and is a pleasure to travel with.  Even without our name tags during the cruise, I'm positive he would have remembered all of our names. 

While that would be an absolutely awesome trip, I really can't justify the price to go.  The trip itself, plus my travel costs to and from the west coast of the United States to start and end the trip, as well as spending money, would probably equate to about $500 per day.  Definitely not in the budget.  I'll have to live vicariously through Bonnie's blog after their trip is complete.

As for the reason for my blog today, when I was on Jim's site, I noticed the tab for a magazine.  Curiousity got the better of me and I clicked on the button to see what it was all about.  Quiltposium is a very unique title for the magazine.

Expectedly, the magazine lists and describes in detail the trips and tours that they are organizing in the near future and even a couple years from now.

What I wasn't expecting, were all the inspiring quilting related articles, some by well known quilt artists and others by Jim himself.  In addition to those, there are recipes, links to quilt related sites and free quilt patterns that you can download.

Since I was reading the Summer 2011 issue, I wasn't prepared to see my face, and those of my quilting buddies on the cruise!  The article doesn't specifically talk about us, rather it speaks of the different dynamics of personalities of people who travel together, good and bad.

A very interesting read, and I'm happy to say, I believe our summer cruise group had a blast without any issues with personalities clashing.  They were such a wonderful, helpful, friendly group.  I chalk that up to the quality of people who follow Bonnie.  They speak volumes about the type of quilter she is, how she views life, and her generous nature.  People of the same caliber seem to gravitate to one another, and our bunch of cruisers was definitely no exception.

I'm sure I speak for a lot of people, when I say, "Thank you Bonnie for bringing us all together, for sharing your expertise, and being the beautiful person you are.  You have become a mentor, an inspiration and a dear friend."

Look at these happy quilters!!

PS.  Jim, if you read this... I love the story of "Joe the Barber" in the Spring 2011 issue.  *hugs*

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Free Pie Recipes - OH MY!

Circle of Friends Cookbook - 25 Savory Pie Recipes [Kindle Edition]

How could you go wrong with a recipe book full of pie recipes?

This is free on Amazon's site for your kindle, so get it while you can.

"From Flaky Chicken Pot Pie and Spaghetti Pie to Upside-Down Mexican Pot Pie and Slow-Cooker Sausage Pie, this new collection features 25 savory pies that are sure to get mouths watering and tastebuds tingling!"


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lessons from a Dog - I love this every time I read it

A Dog's Purpose? (from a 6-year-old).

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn't do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker 's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away.

The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker's Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ''I know why.''

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,''People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?'' The Six-year-old continued,

''Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long.''

Live simply.

Love generously.

Care deeply.

Speak kindly.

Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy.

Take naps.

Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pug Quilt for Charity

A few weeks ago I was asked by the charity, Under My Wing Pug Rescue (who I do the books for), if I could donate a quilt for their event coming up on October 30, 2011.  I had offered months ago that if they needed a quilt for an event, just let me know and I'd see what I could do.
Well, I had a disappearing 9-patch top put together that I didn't know what to do with.  I decided I could use it for this, add an applique of a pug (which I'm still very inexperienced at), and border it. 

I found the cutest little pug applique pattern from  The quilt is almost done.  The top is anyways, I just have to sandwich, quilt and then bind it.  It's a good size.  It'll finish at about 54" x 64".  Probably bigger than a lap quilt, and smaller than a twin, but it'll be nice to cuddle under on the couch.  I think it's too big to be a wall hanging, but I'll put a sleeve on it anyways.

My design wall is very small, I really need a bigger wall.  This little area can't even fit the whole quilt.

I hope the Board members like it.  Odds are it will be raffled off, so I hope it brings a good amount of money for the Rescue.

After this I know I need a lot more practice doing applique.

Now to finish the mending I started yesterday before we head to Smith's Fall's (Jim's mom's) for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Yes, for us Canadians, it's our Thanksgiving weekend.

Since we spend it at Jim's mom's house (tomorrow), I've made the stuffing, stuffed the bird, and put it in the oven. 

Later on today when it's out of the oven, I'll make the gravy and start on the pumpkin cheesecakes.  YUM!!  And for a low-carb, diabetic friendly version, they're DELICIOUS!  (I'll post the recipe on my recipe page later).

While the turkey's cooking, laundry's being done, you guessed it, I'm sewing!

First thing's first.  Fix my buckwheat husk pillow.  Jake decided to chew on it a while back and I hadn't had time to empty the husks and make a new case for it.  I used half of an old pillowcase for it, so that's done.

Next is to fix the comforter cover that he chewed a few holes in (aren't puppies wonderful?)  Put the cover through the washer and dryer.  I have one of the two pillow cases for the set (the one he chewed a hole in as well), and I'm going to use pieces of that to patch the cover.

But I swear I'm falling prey to that old joke where the elderly lady goes to do one thing, see's something else that needs to be done, goes to do that, finds something else out of place, goes to return that, realizes she has to put something else back in it's place, and you know the routine.  By the end of the day she wonders why she hasn't accomplished anything, especially the first items that she started.

Anyways, along that line, I had a pile of bow ties on my sewing machine table.  I'd cut up a ton of cheddar 2 1/2" squares and every other fabric I could lay my hands on into 2 1/2" and 1 1/2" squares to make some of Bonnie's bow ties.  I made 5 the other night just so I could see what they looked like.  I had already sewed the corners on all of them, and sewed one set of the pairs together.  I really didn't want to just gather them all up and put in a box until later.

Sew, sew, sew, iron, iron, iron, Voila!  Thirty five more bow tie blocks!!  hehehe

Now.. how many am I going to need for a quilt top?  These are 4 1/2" unfinished.  Oh geeze!  I've started another project that will have to be added to my UFO list... LOL

Jim saw them on my design wall and said he really liked them.

All in all, I can't say my day is unproductive.  I am getting things done, turkey cooking, pies later, sewing repairs, bow tie blocks.... just maybe not in the order I had originally planned.

Now where did I put my crumb blocks.... oh wait!  I still have to mend the cover... lol

I've put together a "sewing package" for Jim's mom.  She purchased a sewing machine from a yard sale or goodwill not long ago and wants to learn how to sew.  I figured I could grab some fabrics from my stash, strips, strings, crumbs, a rotary cutter, rulers, cutting mat, thread, machine needles, and my sewing machine repair kit. 

I'll take a look at her machine, give it a cleaning and oiling (where needed), and get her started on some crumb blocks.  Simple ones like 4 patches and maybe some triangles and adding strips until she gets the hang of it.  Who knows... maybe by christmas she'll have enough blocks to make a lap quilt.  Or she may decide she doesn't like piecing.  Who knows?  We won't know til we try.

If we don't fall asleep right after turkey dinner tomorrow, we'll be sewing!  I'm taking my featherweight so I can make some more crumb blocks for my project too.

Ok, back to mending.

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