STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Update on Noah

For those of you who have been asking how my grandson is doing, here's a little update. Noah is doing just fine! He is gaining weight steadily, I think my daughter must be producing pure cream! He has gained close to 6 pounds in 8.5 weeks! He will be two months old tomorrow and is finally settling in to better feeding and sleeping patterns. And.  he.  is.  CUTE!!

He is learning to smile and laugh!!

Mr. Chubby Cheeks!!!

Official "two months old" photo!

Now, you have to admit.. he IS pretty cute, isn't he? Of course I could be somewhat biased...


When you're drawing up your first list of life's miracles, you might place near the top the first moment your baby smiles at you. Bob Greene

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Late Summer Busy-ness

The busy-ness of late summer and garden harvesting is finally slowing down. We have been enjoying the fruits of my garden labours for a while now... I always say we must be our healthiest in August and September because we eat so many fresh home grown veggies!   :)
A garden is a lot of work but sooo worth it. I love just going out and picking as much as I want of whatever is ready... peas, beans, lettuce, carrots, whatever. Despite a fairly dry summer, the garden did well. We had a bumper crop of green peas, my absolute favourite!  :)  Of course the lettuce, peas and beans are now done, as are the cucumbers. All that remains in my garden now are beets and carrots and a slooowwww ripening crop of tomatoes. I will do my pickled beets this week and get the carrots dug.
I have been stewing tomatoes for the freezer as they ripen. I use them all winter in spaghetti sauce, chili, etc. and love never having to buy canned tomatoes. And of course we've been eating tomatoes and cukes daily.... toasted tomato sandwiches... broiled cheese and tomato sandwiches...
I have made peach jam (recipe here), Lady Ashburnham pickles (story here, recipe here), 11 day crock pickles, and have a big batch of spiced apple jelly underway today (recipe here.) Still to do: pickled beets, red pepper jelly and salsa. And freeze more tomatoes. Then I'll be done... The garden will soon be tilled and put to bed for winter. (whew!)
Our raspberries did not produce much of a crop this year, but after last year's mega harvest (50+ qts.) I still have lots in the freezer. Anyone have any good recipes using frozen raspberries, other than for pie?
So now you know a bit of what I've been up to "in my absence here." Up next are updates on Noah (growing fast!) my two new kittycats (settled in nicely!) and some finished quilting projects (about time, I hear you saying.) Also pics from some local quilt shows.. so y'all come back!
OH! One last thing! A movie recommendation.. if you haven't yet seen the movie The Light Between Oceans, DO see it! It's playing locally, just for another two days... GREAT movie. Beautiful cinematography, good story, well acted!


"The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby - how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown." ~ Alice B. Toklas

Thursday, August 25, 2016


It's time for a family update! Grandson Noah has just had his 1 month birthday! Here he is with his Mommy, doesn't he look handsome? And doesn't Mommy look great?! He has already gained over 2.5 pounds, so I guess we know there's no major problems with the breastfeeding!   :)

He is growing and getting more alert all the time. Now he just has to figure out the "nurse longer and fill my tummy so I can sleep for a longer stretch" thing... He seems to be in more of a snack and nap mode... lol  He's moved up a size in diapers, and is wearing 3 month size clothing. No more "newborn" for him!

And today is granddaughter Claire's third birthday!!  Wow! Where have three years disappeared to? She too is growing fast.. wearing size 5 clothing at age 3... We don't see her that often so see big differences with each visit, especially in her vocabulary. Wowzers! She will be meeting baby Noah in October. Can't wait to see what she thinks of him!


"The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives."
~ R. Brault

Monday, August 22, 2016

On My Bookshelf

Back in January I read my first Louise Penny mystery, Bury Your Dead, the sixth in a lengthy series (you can read that post here.) I knew long before I finished the book that I would be reading more of her work, so I set about searching for the previous five in the series. I bought the first two, Still Life and Dead Cold (titled A Fatal Grace in the USA) and finished them both within a week. The next three, The Cruellest Month, The Murder Stone (title A Rule Against Murder in the USA) and The Brutal Telling were borrowed from the library last week and I am now well into the fifth one. Each one could certainly stand on its own and be enjoyed as an individual mystery, but I have so enjoyed them as a series, getting to know the characters a little better with each successive story. The series is set in Three Pines, a quiet (fictional) village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, south of Montreal and close to the Vermont border. The principal character is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of homicide with the Sûreté du Québec, an appealing and intelligent man with great listening skills and an uncanny ability to make people open up and  share their thoughts. His sidekick second in command Jean Guy Beauvoir and several other police detectives appear in each book, and form just part of the lovable cast of characters. The eccentric inhabitants of Three Pines are also "regulars" in each story... Peter and Clara Morrow the struggling artists, Olivier and Gabri, the gay couple who run the village B and B and bistro, Ruth the curmudgeonly poet who always speaks her mind (often with colourful language) and Myrna who left her career as a psychologist to run a used bookstore in Three Pines. I could never pick a favourite as they all have their own (lovable) quirky traits, but Gamache is certainly a character I'd love to meet. Penny admits the Chief Inspector is based on her husband Michael.
I'm not going to give plot summaries for each book, you can find those elsewhere if you want to. Suffice it to say murder mysteries are not my usual genre, but I am LOVING this series and each one gets better than the last. Penny makes the characters come to life, and writes so descriptively I am often salivating for the meals cooked at the bistro. I can clearly picture the town square of Three Pines, and the cozy cottage-like homes of brick and fieldstone and I'd love to book a relaxing weekend at the B and B. I cannot wait to continue reading more titles in this series.
What are you reading lately? Any recommendations?

 EDIT: Since I've had some questions in the comments, here's a little more info. Louise Penny's website can be found here. On her sidebar you'll see the 11 books of the series listed in order; her newest, #12, A Great Reckoning, comes out next week, August 30. It has already been named one of the top 10 books of  September by O Magazine. Penny was born in Toronto, and became a journalist and radio host with CBC, working in Toronto, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Quebec City and Montreal. She currently lives and writes in a small village in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, south of Montreal near the US border. This New York Times and Globe and Mail best-selling author has won five Agatha Awards, five Anthony Awards and numerous others. 
You can find recipes for some of the mouth-watering dishes described in her books here and answers to many frequently asked questions here.


That moment at 3a.m. when you whisper to yourself "I need to stop..." as you turn the page.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Family Additions...

After the addition of our grandson three weeks ago, our family has now grown by two more members!! I think we're having a growth spurt! lol The hubs and I have certainly been missing our beautiful Oliver since he passed away last November. There's not a day goes by that we don't think of him and miss his companionship. This week an opportunity arose that we couldn't pass up. A neighbour had passed away, leaving behind two beautiful long-haired cats, so we have adopted them. Well, I guess we're actually on a trial basis right now... we'll see how things go for a week or two. They are a bit traumatized and will take awhile to feel comfortable here. They are used to a much smaller space, so we
have limited them to the kitchen and family room, and basement at this point. In a few more days we'll open up the rest of the main floor, then add upstairs next week, hoping that will make it easier for them to adjust to their new home. One spent a full 18 hours hiding under our couch, but he has finally come out today a few times and seems to be feeling a bit more at home now. It'll just take some time for them to feel safe, I guess, with so many new things to sniff and explore, new sounds and voices, etc. Patience, patience...
The beautiful Miss Ginger above is about 7 years old, and Mr. Scamp, left, is around 4. These are not great photos at all but I'm sure I'll get better ones as soon as they become more comfortable in front of the camera; they are both still somewhat skittish at this point...


Cats are like music. It's foolish to try to explain their worth to those who don't appreciate them.

Monday, August 8, 2016

On My Bookshelf

I have just finished reading one of the best books ever. I plowed through its almost 800 pages quite quickly, because it was very difficult to put down. Yep, one of those. Don't start it until you can dedicate a block of time to it. A while back a friend asked me what I've been reading lately, and then she said "What's your favourite book of all time?" Now that's not an easy question to answer, and in fact at the time, I couldn't answer her. I replied "I'll ponder that and get back to you." I'm still not sure if I could pick just ONE most favourite (That's kinda like which one is your favourite child?  Impossible to answer...) but Margie, this one would certainly be in the running: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
It's not my usual genre, and maybe that's one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much... it was something different. I guess I would call it a cross of murder mystery with suspense thriller, with the accent on the suspense thriller.. lol.
I don't want to give away too much of the story, but the two main characters are an American (codename Pilgrim) who works for an unknown covert US government agency higher than the FBI or CIA and a young terrorist from Saudi Arabia. Hayes takes us on a whirlwind journey, from New York City where the story begins with a murder, to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Paris, Syria, Gaza, and Turkey as Pilgrim races to solve a perfect crime and foil his adversary's plot to bring down the USA.

From the book jacket: "A breakneck race against time.. and an implacable enemy.
An anonymous young woman murdered in a run-down hotel, all identifying characteristics dissolved by acid.
A father publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.
A notorious Syrian biotech expert found eyeless in a Damascus junkyard.
Smoldering human remains on a remote mountainside in Afghanistan.
A flawless plot to commit an appalling crime against humanity.
One path links them all, and only one man can make the journey. Pilgrim."

Of course, these seemingly unconnected events all eventually come together in a fast-paced, action-packed, well organized, well researched  and very cleverly written plot. The reader cannot fly through the text as there are many details to be noted. Just when you think you have something figured out, things take an unpredictable turn...  Foreshadowing is used effectively and the characters are so very well developed. Both Pilgrim and his "prey" are extremely intelligent and you keep wondering which one will outsmart the other. In short, an amazing read! Warning, there are some scenes of graphic violence.
Hayes has already had a successful career as a journalist and a movie and tv screenwriter. I Am Pilgrim is his debut novel. I can only say I hope he continues writing novels, I will be at the head of the line to purchase his next one. MGM has secured the movie rights to I Am Pilgrim. I'll be in that lineup too.


"Good books don't give up all their secrets at once." ~ Stephen King

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Baby Noah

Baby Noah has stolen my heart. I flew to Ontario last Friday and my time here has flown by. His biggest issue was figuring out the breastfeeding thing, but seems to finally have got the hang of it. He had a second appointment with an excellent Lactation Consultant this morning and has gained 10 ounces since last Thursday! Laura is relieved and happy! So all is well. Now if Mummy and Daddy could just catch up on their sleep, things would be just ducky!
I am no portrait photographer, but these are a few of my favourite photos from the last four days....

And then there were three......

Uncle Mark came to visit!

Mummy Snuggles


"Sometimes the smallest things take the most room in your heart." ~ Winnie the Pooh

Monday, August 1, 2016

Work in Slow Progress

Here's a look at a work in progress. It may look familiar... I have made this miniature quilt (Not Quite Civil) before,  but gave it to a dear friend, so now I'm making one for me!! You can read the story on it in previous posts here and here.  I told my friend Sandi I would give the first one to her if she provided me with more of her "trimmings" so I could make another for myself. So I've been slowly chipping away at #2 and now the blocks are done, yippee! It will likely be a while before I get back to this to put it all together, but at least the blocks are done!  They will measure 2.75" once they are sewn together. 49 pieces per block. Each block takes a few hours.... I wonder, would this count for the "slow stitching" movement...?


"Some quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress... IS progress." ~ Rolsey

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Another One Off the List!

Today, a small project finish! It has been patiently waiting for me to get back to it for (ahem) a while now.... This topper was made in the spring of 2015, quilted this past April and has been waiting since then for binding. I don't know why I put it off so long; once I got at it, it didn't take long at all to finish up. The design/pattern is called Crazy Eights Strip Teaser Table Topper by the "3/4 Crazies" of Lake Havasu AZ. You can read more about it in a previous post here. The original design (and hence the name "Crazy Eights") called for eight fabrics in

the strip set, but that made quite a large topper, so we used just six. It is the perfect size for my kitchen table, measuring  33.5" across from tip to tip. I wouldn't want it any larger (unless it was for the dining room table.)
It is quilted with Superior Thread's King Tut thread, in a spiral design. King Tut is a 40 wt. thread, made of extra long staple cotton, and I love it. This was color #923, called Fahl Green. I spaced the spiral lines just a little over an inch apart, and wish now they were a bit closer, perhaps 3/4"... but I'm not taking it all out to re-do. No sirree! It's done, and done is better than perfect. Another one off the list!  


"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future; concentrate the mind on the present moment."

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Man An Ook

Can you handle more photos from the beautiful island of Grand Manan? (The word "Manan" comes from man an ook meaning "island place" or "the island" from the Passamaquoddy Penobscot native peoples of southwest New Brunswick.)
Much as I love a clear, humidity-free, blue sky summer day, the fog of the Bay of Fundy just seems right. It adds atmosphere and a feeling of calm, for me. Maybe even a sense of mystery...
**Fishing vessels seen docked at wharves may include gill netters, fish draggers, herring seiners and carriers, weir seine boats, herring pumpers, lobster boats, scallop draggers and salmon aquaculture vessels, as well as weir pile drivers and lobster cars (wooden off-load and temporary storage rafts for lobsters.) A variety of fish including cod, haddock, pollock, flounder, halibut, cusk, hake, herring, mackerel, bluefin tuna and hagfish, and lobster, shark, scallops and sea urchin are (or have been in the past) trapped, netted, hooked, dragged or trawled, and baited from Grand Manan's waters. Periwinkles, seaweeds including dulse, Irish moss, kelp, nori and sea lettuce, and soft-shelled clams have been picked or dug from its shores. Each with its own season, the harvest of marine resources has been the mainstay on the island.** Today the farming of Atlantic salmon is also a large industry.
The following photos were taken at North Head wharf as I wandered... I don't know a seiner from a dragger, or a pumper from a carrier, but I enjoyed the calm foggy morning as the vessels seemed to be quietly resting up for their next adventure.

In the past lighthouses and fog alarm stations were essential to protect shipping in the Bay of Fundy
because of the strong tides, thick fog and dangerous shoals. Heavy fog, strong winds, tidal currents and strong storms known as "nor'easters" all threatened safe navigation. Today, radar, radio beacon and satellite systems, depth sounders, computer navigation, better weather forecasting and higher vessel construction standards all contribute to safer navigation. Because of the dangers of the bay, southwestern New Brunswick has one of the largest number of lighthouses in the world, but any still operational today are automated, as are the fog alarm stations.

I found it interesting to learn that lighthouses built prior to confederation were funded by a lighthouse levy that larger vessels using the Bay of Fundy were required to pay. After 1867, the Canadian government assumed the responsibilities of maintaining the lighthouses. Today, local communities maintain the buildings and the Canadian Coast Guard look after the navigational aids (lights and fog horns.)

Did you know it is illegal to tie anything to a marker buoy?  Back in the day, you could be jailed for a year if you were caught deliberately damaging a buoy or beacon, and six months in jail or a twenty pound fine if you tied your boat to a buoy... (The things you learn!!)

Goodbye Grand Manan. I hope to return soon.
 ** Some info in this post was obtained from Grand Manan Guide, Laurie Murison Editor, 6th Edition, 2013, and from displays at the Swallow Tail Light.**


"The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore." ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Back to Grand Manan

After my recent visit to the Grand Manan quilt show, I remembered that I never got back to showing you more GM photos after my visit last July. Why don't you skip back and read last year's post here which will acquaint you with Grand Manan and where it's located... go ahead, I'll wait right here....

Okay, ready to carry on? My visit last July was for a teaching gig, but I was lucky to have a half day on either end to explore and do some photography, and luckily I had both a sunny day and a foggy one. (It just wouldn't seem like the Bay of Fundy if there wasn't some fog...) So here are some of my favourite photos.... in no particular order....

You know you are almost there when you spot the famous landmark Swallow Tail Light from the ferry as it approaches the dock at North Head.

Here is another view, taken from Pettes Cove, which clearly shows the Swallow Tail peninsula. Can you spot the footbridge which spans the "Sawpit," a split caused by erosion? The house at the top left is where I stayed last year - a beautiful spot with a great view, but not so wonderful in the middle of the night when the fog horn starts blowing.... (I have yet to perfect the skill of sleeping through a foghorn.....)

When arriving on the ferry, we passed a boat hauling salmon cages to a new location. Aquaculture is one of the main industries on the island, along with fishing and tourism.

Grand Manan is a "quiet" island... there are no big shopping malls, no movie theatres, no heavy traffic... but it's a wonderful place to enjoy nature, hiking, birdwatching, painting, photography, etc. One of the popular hikes is to Hole In The Wall, a large natural rock arch at the edge of a cliff. It's a relatively easy hike through coastal forest. The weir you see in the background is known as the Jubilee weir.

Of course I am always looking for wildflowers in the summer wherever I go. I immediately fell in love with the vivid blue Common Viper's Bugloss (Echium vulgare) that seemed to be growing everywhere along the roadside. (It is a biennial and member of the borage family.) I joked with someone about digging some up and taking it home to my garden but was quickly avised not to, that it spreads and would not be a good thing in a garden. Too bad, I sure loved the beautiful true blue colour.

What's an island without beaches? I had to stop along the roadside and put on my telephoto to get some images of these children enjoying some beach time. Despite the distance, I could hear their squeals of delight as they played. That moment sure took me back to earlier times when my two were little, playing on the beach. Seems so very long ago....

Fishing and the use of marine resources has shaped many aspects of Grand Manan. The island used to produce some of the world's finest smoked herring, long the mainstay of GM's economy. Unfortunately with stiff regulations and the loss of traditional markets the industry collapsed and disappeared in 1997. The smokehouses of Seal Cove where the herring were cured and packed for market, now stand empty. The area around "the Crick" in Seal Cove has been designated as a National Historic Site and is one of the most photographed areas on the island.

Seal Cove at low tide

This post is getting far too long. Let's close with end-of-day images taken at sunset at Dark Harbour on the west side of the island. Dark Harbour is well known for its dulse, an edible seaweed. Anyone on the island will confirm that Dark Harbour dulse is the world's finest. A natural rock breakwater provides a protected "pond" from which the dulsers' dories can enter and leave at high tide. High cliffs surround the pond, blocking early morning sunlight, therefore the name "dark" harbour. Dulsers travel the west side of the island picking dulse at low tide during spring and summer. It is then spread out on net-covered flat gravel beds to sun-dry before being packaged for market. Dulse has many health benefits and is packed with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.

** Some info in this post was obtained from Grand Manan Guide, Laurie Murison, Editor, 6th Edition, 2013.

Next up- foggy fotos....


"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came." ~ John F. Kennedy
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