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.

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