Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Days Then and Now... and the Secret Garden

One of my favorite childhood stories was a book called The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. My mother bought it for me on one of the first shopping trips we had together. When I saw this pattern in an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine, I knew that it was the perfect pattern for my sister in law Margaret, who is a university professor in the field of children's literature. I fussy cut all the flowers so that they were centred. It is a flowery garden that is quite soft looking and I was very happy the way the quilt turned out. The photos which were scanned into my computer are unfortunately a bit blurry (yes I have my own computer back Yeah !!!!) I made this quilt about 5 years ago to celebrate a special birthday. Margaret also owns the Trip around the World quilt that I posted about recently.

Since I wrote last time,the days have been mostly pleasant. We went to visit my parents over the weekend in Red Deer. It was lovely to spend time with my folks and see some of my other family members.

My aunt was there visiting, as well, so we got to reminiscing about memories of my grandmother's home. My mother and her siblings grew up on a farm in a small house that was built by the early settlers of the province(in the early 1900's). The house had been expanded from two rooms to 4 rooms. My early childhood memories are ones of a big farm kitchen with a pump and water basin to wash your hands. It had a old wood stove and there was an oil heater in the living room. There were many chilly trips to the outhouse and hurrying to get dressed, because the floors were cool early in the day even on a summer morning. The house had a few renovations before they built a second home on the property.
When they built the new house in the early 70's, my gran really thought she was on easy street with all the indoor amenities that we often take for granted- electric stove, washer and dryer and hot showers available at any time. Me, I was thrilled not have to go to the outhouse when we visited the farm.
My mother said that power was added to the old house in the early 50's around the time that the house went from two rooms to four rooms.( that was before my time :>)

One thing that I remember about summer days at the farm (I spent large parts of my summers at the farm with my grandparents)was the rhythm of it. I have vignettes of early breakfasts of hot cereal, soft boiled eggs and toast, followed by doing dishes and trips to the garden. My gran spent a lot her time tending things whether it was the farm animals, the garden, or us children. She worked hard putting up preserves, canning and freezing vegetables for the winter months. Her delicious meals consisted of meat, potatoes, garden vegetables and farm cream and berries picked from the wild patches that surrounded the farm.
One staple berry was saskatoons - somewhat like a blueberry but with a slightly different flavor.
It wasn't all work- we sang, we took meals to my grandfather,played card games(including Authors) and danced to the songs on the radio. One of our favorite things to do was to play in the treehouse with old Avon bottles that we got from my grandfather's dump. We mixed mixtures from old spice cans-(at one point, my grandfather had sold Watkins spices). They did make wonderful mud pies that had the most interesting aromas even though my brother wasn't interested in eating our concoctions.

We have a large sky photo of the farm that hangs in our living room. The buildings are surrounded by the lush green foothills. My grandparents lived on a piece of property that was adjacent to the original homestead settled in 1907. After my grandmother passed away in the fall of 2003, the property was sold. While I can no longer visit the farm, viewing the photo transports me back to the wonderful summers of my childhood.

While at my parents, my dad dropped me off at two of the local quilt stores that Pam and I visited last summer. Yes Pam, I did find some more sale items to add to my stash- a glorious big print sunflower piece was the " piece d'resistance". Better yet, I found a 60 degree ruler and a ruler gripper that I had been trying to find for awhile now. The notions were all 25 % off too so that made it even better. The other shop I found a nice piece of minkee that will make a beautiful baby wrap so I very happy with my shopping finds.

Bruce had gone to a astronomy gathering that was held out near Caroline not far from where my grandparent's farm was situated. He and the group were observing the night skies for meteor showers.Soon it will be the biggest meteor shower of the year- the Perseids with the peak falling on August 12, but this year the viewing could be hampered by the full moon.

When Bruce returned on Saturday evening, we took my parents out to one of their favorite Chinese restuarants for their anniversary dinner. The food was delicious - especially the soft vanilla ice cream.
Soft vanilla ice cream cones were also a favorite childhood treat- There was a Dairy Mart that was two doors from my second childhood home. They used to cost 10 cents for a regular cone.and 25 cents for a large one.(I was a child a long time ago, I guess VBG)
In Bruce's family they made ice cream in an old fashioned hand turning cedar maker- you start with a vanilla custard base, cream and lots of turning of the enclosed cylinder that was packed in the ice and salt. Yummy!

We have had a hot spell here in Alberta- in the low 30's for most of the past week. It has rained occasionally in the middle of the night but trying to get the house cooler has been a challenge. It also has slowed me down quilting- just too hot to sew comfortably.

However,I have all of my stars made for my quilt and my pieces cut for the quilt retreat on the weekend. After I post this I will go and start putting the stars together as I want to spray baste the star quilt this weekend too.

Bruce's sister is here from the West coast so we plan to have brunch on Sunday before she returns home. She has been taking an Orff Music course and has found it enjoyable and challenging. It is always fun to learn new techniques to hone one's skills.

On a sad note, I will go and attend a colleague's elderly mother's funeral on Thursday. She passed away suddenly on Saturday of a stroke. It is never easy to lose your loved ones- especially your parents. My heart goes out to my friend L. and her family at this difficult time.

A lovely giveaway prize arrived in my mailbox today from Rachaele of the Park Avenue Sweat Shop. She send me a lovely package of Moda charm squares, some pretty spools of thread and the cutest square buttons. Thanks so much for the wonderful giveaway gift- I am looking forward to coming up with a project to use those pretty squares. Do go and visit Rachaele's blog and see all the interesting things that she is making.

My blog friend Michele has a giveaway going on for the newest one of Freddy and Gwen's books. It is a wonderful book that will inspire you and bright your day with its rich color. There are other blogs hosting giveaways- Quilters are really generous people...

Copy paste this section
DIY Bag LoverDIY Bag lover
I saw this link on another blog this morning and just had to add it to this long blog.. What a great set of free patterns.

And so the summer marches on- I have a few things done- some books read, some quilting done and a bit of cleaning fit in here and there. Part of me says I should be doing more things so that I go back to work with a well cleaned house and lots of projects completed and part of me is content to go where ever the road takes me.... We will see what August brings..

Warmest regards,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wonky Stars and a Stormy Night...

Yesterday, we went off to see my friend L. and her family at her beautiful lake house. It was very pleasant to sit and watch the lake, look at her beautiful flowers and get in a good visit. We had a delicious potluck supper of spareribs with blackberry sauce, potato salad, corn and a spinach salad with feta, almonds, and black berries. There were chocolate chip muffins, apple or strawberry rhubarb pie and fruit for dessert.

The day was hot and sunny but the evening turned stormy and the sky put on its own pyrotechnic show with sheet lightning. It was the most serious storm of the summer and, when we returned to our home in the city, many trees had been damaged and some significant damage was created to buildings and roadways around the city.( We were lucky and had no damage to our property.) The power outage caused enough trouble that our local newspaper, The Edmonton Journal, was not able to print today.

Bonnie's Maverick Stars linked here is very similar to my current quilt project.(f you have not checked out Bonnie's website then I urge you to do so- especially if you are looking for a scrap quilt pattern. She generously offers a number of her patterns at no cost and has excellent instructions with each of those patterns.

The Quilt pattern that I am working from is called" Autumn Evening" from an Old Quilter's World magazine. My quilt is a variation of both of these patterns- I chose to make my stars all from different star fabrics(the original pattern's stars are all orange and yellow done on black background fabric) and my background is a dark blue with a black thread running through it.

Presently, I have stopped to do my weekly post and ponder whether I want to do the border on the star quilt, the way the pattern says, or whether to do something different. My dilemma is that I have run into fabric problems - if I do the border the size that they recommend, then I am going to have to play with the fabric to make sure that there is enough fabric left to make more stars.( I started with 7 and a half yards that I had bought for a backing for a queen sized quilt) There is barely enough fabric to make the required number of stars. My problem is that I like to audition my blocks and take out the ones that don't work. This is an unorthodox way of of quilting, I realize but it generally works for me-

Often my finished quilts come in pairs or even trios because I have cut and created so many extra blocks VBG.(Unfortunately, that really is not an option for me this time, because of the pattern requirements for background fabric.) I had just enough fabric to create the pattern as it was originally laid out- What to do? Making a varied background doesn't work for me this time either... Hmmmmmm

By the way, I have collected a number of orphan blocks that perhaps I will use them some day to create an Orphan quilt - I will have to name it my Little Orphan Anna quilt....LOL

We really enjoyed going to see The Lion King. It was a spectacular visual show - I loved the animals - the giraffes, elephant and the warthog were particularly noteworthy. It was great fun to go to Live theatre and see this show. My son, K. had a huge collection of lions when he was a young boy( over 25 were in his pride) and his favorite lion was one that we called DandyLion. Dandy Lion had a voice that was deep- akin to Louis Armstrong- One of his songs was " The Lion Sleeps Tonight... I thought of those days often listening to the music and seeing the jungle come alive on the stage....

This week I will hopefully get my own computer repaired and have some of my own photos to show you.
Recently, There have been a number of interesting blogs about The Sisters Outdoor show in Oregon last week. Check out Tonya's blog on July 16 th for some good links to photos and stories about this wonderful quilt show. I enjoyed reading the stories and am a big fan of Freddy Moran,Gwen Marston and The Gee Bend Quilters. I am awestruck thinking about 1300 quilts hanging outside being admired by many many people in one weekend.
Jean and her daughter Valori Wells have hosted this show for a number of years. You can check out Valori's blog here. Their store " The Stitching Post" must be a fascinating place.

This week, I will do more work on the star quilt and a little bit of rearranging,and perhaps a quick trip down to visit my parents at the end of the week -
One of last week's accomplishments was that I got my summer things put up around our living spaces so summer has truly arrived in our house - How about yours?

I love seeing all the various fruit and vegetables in the grocery store and spend my cooking time making salads and enjoying barbecues. For those of you in the southern hemisphere, perhaps you are enjoying time around the fireplace and foods that warm you- stews and such.
Where ever you are I hope that you are enjoying life with family and friends.
Warmest regards,

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Trip..and many Blogs to visit...

This "Trip Around the World" quilt has flown to is new home in Newfoundland. Newfoundland is a day's airplane travel(over 4000 miles) from where I call home. I live in Western Canada in a large city called Edmonton. Our metro area's population is approximately one million people.Edmonton is a beautiful city with a large green belt area that surrounds the river that flows through the heart of the city. I attended university here and have continued to live here since I completed my teaching degree. My husband grew up in Newfoundland, which is an island that is on the eastern seaboard of Canada. It is fondly known as "The Rock" and is a beautiful place with craggy rock cliffs and surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. Pictured here, is my sister in law M. She and her husband,T., have a lovely place on the eastern shores of Newfoundland that overlooks the Atlantic where this quilt will now reside. It is my most recently completed project.I hope that they find the quilt a pleasant way to wrap themselves up while having a nap.

First There are some great giveaways here in blogland with wonderful prizes that one can enter..Please go and check them out at:
Judi at Green Fairy Quilts is offering a very nice giveaway. She and her husband Clint have a charity to help people in Romania.
Ryan is having a very nice birthday giveaway- go and help Ryan celebrate his birthday and quilting.
My friendMicki at Irish Muse is celebrating her 10,000 hit by having a giveaway of some lovely Irish things. I have enjoyed reading Micki`s blog. She is a transplanted American and enjoys sharing her life with Joe and their very fine dogs. She often has wonderful photos of Ireland and makes many wonderful quilts and embroidery pieces.

When summertime comes, I have more time to explore some of my favorite blogs. I have found many wonderful bloggers from all over the globe that I have come to think of as friends. On the right side of my blog is a long blog list- all of them are well worth a visit. However sometimes one has limited time to explore such a lengthy list, so I thought I would share about two dozen with you. It was hard to choose but these are some of the blogs I read regularly.. Go and visit and you will see why they inspire me, make me laugh and enrich my life by reading their stories.

To begin,Kim makes me laugh regularly-she is a prolific quilter who creates her own designs and writes with real pizazz.. She is working on a very fun quilt right now that I am thinking about making with star fabrics.

Nicole was asked by another quilter her ideas about about the prewashing of fabrics and ways of storing fabric and quilts.It was a great topic and Nicole received about 60 comments on the topic. Nicole posts regularly so you will have to go back a few days to check it out.

If you are looking for a funny tale then Jace is your man. He is a wonderful woodworker too!

Gran "Shirley" has just started a new website and she is wonderful Knotty-Embroidery lady. Right now she has a giveaway.

had a most interesting antique object that she asked her readers to identify. Go and check it out and see if you can guess what it is...

Shirley is from the land down under and shares her life as a teacher in Queensland.

I am sure you will appreciate Meggie's tales of her life in Australia.She shares her stories about her GOM and family. There are always lovely photos and a musical piece to listen to..

If Color is your thing, you definitely need to check out Wanda's blog Exuberant Color. Her blog is rich with gorgeous fabrics and flowers from her garden.

Susan shares her life with Vann in the Yellow House in Alabama. She is wonderful quilter and an avid reader. I really enjoy checking out her current booklist.

Nancy is from Philadelphia - her current piece is about her reflections about blogging and well worth a look.

Mrs.Goodneedle often has a piece on Tuesdays that encourages readers to reflect about their thoughts and experiences with quilting. Life is indeed Good, Mrs.GoodNeedle...

Gene enjoys exploring with different mediums- he paints, creates with clay and makes colorful quilts and is a recent addition to my blog roll.

A fellow Western Canadian Joyce shares her explorations with clay and fabric. She is creating some lovely innovative pieces.

Until recently Tonya lived in Paris. She loves using words in her quilts and is an expert making free form lettering.

If you enjoy cooking as well as quilting, then you will want to visit Judy
at Patchwork Times. She is a master quilter who loves to cook. Judy also raises chickens.

I think scrap quilts are fabulous and Bonnie Hunter has created numerous free patterns on her website using scraps. She has recently written a book called "Scraps and Shirttales"that shows quilters how to make quilts using scraps and recycled fabrics.

There are terrific quilts being made all over this globe. There is a special lady named Tanya who shares her stories about quilting and life in Japan. I have especially enjoyed her pieces that share traditions and the cultural ways of Japan.

One of my favorite bloggers is Michele who hails from Oregon. She is generous with her time to help others create quilts. On her blog,she has provided links for free patterns.I have appreciated her many reflective pieces about life.
Pam hails from California and is a fairly new blogger who has a great sense of fun and a generous heart. She has a fine recipe for a pot of Cowboy beans too!

Sometimes life can be quite an adventure and Sharon at Red Geranium Cottage has certainly been on one lately. She and "Hunka" her husband, Dennis, have recently moved across country from California to the Midwest. She is back living close to her family and is loving it..

Eileen is a terrific lady who both hand and machine quilts. She lives in Western Maryland and reminds me my grandmother- thoughtful, devoted to her family and a great lover of the natural world. I enjoy each and every one of my visits with her- I know you will too.

Last but not least is my friend from Vancouver Pam who I had the good fortune to meet in person last summer. We visited some quilt stores and had a great time having lunch together. At that time, I was still a lurker-

Just over 50 posts later - I am still writing - who would have believed it....I was sure I would run out of things to say quite a long time ago but Here I am and, I am having lots of fun, getting know bloggers and quilters from many different places.

On the homefront, I have cleaned up my sewing area and rearranged my fabric boxes. I also checked out star patterns and finally found one that I will use to make a star quilt. I looked in the scrap box and the yardage and found a nice collection of star fabrics for the quilt.

My good fortune continued this week, where I won a giveaway from Rachaele at park avenue sweatshop. Thank you so much for choosing my name. I am one lucky lady.

I am looking forward to getting a new hairdo and going to see " The Lion King" this week.
How about you, what things are you looking forward to doing this week?

Warmest regards,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunflowers Everywhere

"Summertime and the living is easy, fish are jumping and the cotton is high"(lyrics from the song "Summertime" from Porky and Bess)".... and I am enjoying slowing down to a "dull roar" as my mother would have said to us, when we were children. The last days before summer vacation starts are always filled with the hectic preparations of trying to stop and start all at once.

At the end of the school year,one of the things that I like to do is find little things to say thank you to my colleagues for all their hard work and support. Using some glass beads, combined with stones,silver or crystal I completed six or so bracelets. Do you like to play with other medium to create things?

I enjoy playing in other things besides fabric sometimes- it is a nice break from the larger time commitment involved in quilting. I love wearing baubles and beads myself- a legacy from my beloved grandmother who always wore a strand of beads about her neck. Just call me Magpie- the girl who loves sparkly things!!!

Some very nice things happened to me at year's end. One of my students gave me this spectacular bouquet of roses- They were a most delicious yellow color with corally red tips. There were 2 dozen of them combined with babies breath. While they are beginning to look a bit droopy now 10 days later, they have filled our home with a lovely scent and a splendid splash of color.

A friend found me a new to me dress that was made by favorite summer dress company called Good Earth clothing. Unfortunately they are no long in business, but my friend chanced to find one in a second hand sale that is the right size for me. It is turquoise and has sunflowers all over it - it is indeed the perfect summer dress. I was thrilled with her find and thoughtful gesture.
It is not a party dress - more like a sun dress made of cotton and rayon- very flowing like a summer flower child . My husband found the small local store and bought me my first Good Earth dress about 10 years ago. I own a number of their dresses and live in them all summer long- no one is seeing my tree trunk legs!!!:-)

Do you like bags? Totes? My educational assistant K., is a wonderful seamstress. She designs purses and bags using recycled upholstery fabrics. As a year end gift, she created a bag for me, that has a wonderful double wedding ring motif on the flap. It also has a golden feather on it- at our school we award golden feathers to students who demonstrate four character assets- honesty, integrity, respect and humility. Thank you for this beautiful treasure, MS.K!
The lovely lady,D. who gave me the beautiful dress, also gave me a book by Patricia McKissack called "Stitching and Pullin". It is a wonderful set of vignettes in a picture book format about the women of Gee Bend and their quilting stories.

Do you love children's picture books? There are many picture books out there to explore and enjoy. Some titles you might want take a peek at include: "The Quiltmaker's Gift" and "The Quiltmaker's Journey" and "The Keeping Quilt" by Patricia Polacco." Another one is called "Oma's Quilt" by Paulette Bourgeois.

When you read ,do you choose fictional stories that have quilts in them? Some you may want to check out are the Earlene Fowler books that are the Benni Harper mysteries.Or How about Helen Kelley's collections of columns(She was a columnist from Quilters Newsletter magazine that passed away last fall. One of her books is entitled " The Joy of Quilting"?
Do you love to laugh- if so, you must read Lisa Boyer's books- one of my favorites is called "That Dorky Homemade Look"- Quilt Lessons from a Parallel Universe!!

What is a post without a photo of a quilt- though it was a near miss this time."Field of Sunflowers" is a disappearing Nine Patch quilt that I gave to a friend,E. who is having some health concerns just now. My hope is that she will find the bright colors warm her and brighten her days. Quilts are like big hugs, you know!

Last night I began to have serious problems with my own laptop computer( the black screen of death and no power- Aargh!!!!) so now I am using Bruce`s. It is a pain not to have access to my photos and addresses- I guess it is a sign that I am suppose to get other things done besides reading and writing blogs.VBG
We will see if they have to wipe my hard drive on my computer - if they do it will be a larger problem as it will be harder to find quilt photos to show you... We do still have photos on the camera chip but it will take time to reorganize them or scan ones that or not on the chip. It is a good reminder to me that I need to have a second copy on other storage devices.

I have completed the "Trip Around the World "quilt and will show you it next time.
My plan for this coming week is to begin a star quilt and have lunch with a couple of good friends.. and a visit to start cleaning in the basement...
Isn't summer time grand???

A belated Happy 4th of July to all my American friends- I hope it was spent enjoying good food and good times with family and friends..

Warmest regards,