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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Backyard Box Office







Who needs HBO or Netflix when you have live entertainment right in your own backyard? The kitties and I have been watching Red Squirrel Theatre.




























Yep, the battle continues. "Little Red" has figured out how to jump down onto the suet balls... watching his antics has been most entertaining. I think I will nominate him for an Emmy Award... wonder if there's an Emmy for best stunt man squirrel? I must say, he makes the day more interesting for Scamp, and he keeps me laughing, now that I've just given up on trying to keep him away from the suet...

























On a happy note, I have had a flock of robins in the backyard. Yes, a FLOCK. Not just one or two, but at least 10. They have been feasting on the old apples still clinging to one tree. This is not a great photo, taken two days ago, but it's the best I could get from a distance. Today a number of robins were on the ground, pecking at some fallen apple bits. It is so wonderful to see robins here in February, it gives me hope for an early spring!! A nice thought after last week's storms.

Peace,
Linda

"No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn." ~ Hal Borland

Friday, February 17, 2017

On My Bookshelf



I recently finished reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It took me a while to "get into".... in the beginning I found Ove to be annoying - a cranky  curmudgeon and I was thinking to myself "Seriously? A good friend LOVED this book?" But I continued reading, and just as Ove gradually "softens" so did I. Ove has recently been widowed and he is angry and lonely, bitter and truly lost without his wife Sonya. Ove is grumpy and to say he is set in his ways would be an understatement! He has little interest in forming relationships with his neighbours, particularly the new ones who have just moved in next door. He just wants to be left alone. But like it or not, they come into his life...  I won't reveal any more of the story, but it will make you both laugh and cry and touch you in a very human way. It is simply written with a good deal of humour and although not a page turner, I kept wanting to read "just one more chapter" to see what Ove would get up to next. Read it, I think you'll like it.







 
Peace,
Linda

"Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die." ~ Anne Lamott

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Taggie Blankets

A simple little sewing project to show you today. Have you heard of a taggie blanket? I can remember my friend Gail making these a few years back for her grandchildren and also for gifts.. I didn't pay close enough attention at the time. But now that I have a little grandson... now I'm taking notice!
A taggie blanket is a tactile experience for baby. It's made with a super soft fabric like Minkie on one side, and something soft and slippery on the back like satin. Around the edges are "tags" for them to grab and feel. I used 4" lengths of various ribbons folded in half to make a "tag" loop of just under 2". I used satin, grosgrain, sheer and any other type of ribbon I could find - anything that little fingers would find interesting to feel/rub/caress.. The more textures the better. The blanket itself is about 10" x 12", it doesn't need to be any bigger than that.


Now that Noah has received this little Valentines gift, I can show you. (I know, I know, HE doesn't read my blog, but his Mommy does...) Noah loves tags right now.. any toy that has a tag on it - well, I'm told he plays more with the tag than the toy, so this gift was well timed. I followed someone's wise advice and made two. That way, if he does get real attached to it (as some children do to their blankie, or bedtime stuffy, or whatever) and it gets lost, then there is a "backup."
They are quick and easy to make. Do you have a small child in your life who would like a taggie blanket?







Peace,
Linda

"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it." ~ Frank A. Clark

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Stormageddon!

We survived the monster storm, the storm of the decade, aka snowpocalypse and stormageddon. Would you believe we got 79 cm. of snow- that's 31 inches!! Yep, it's lookin' quite white around here... This is what it looked like from above. This photo is a NASA image taken from the NB Storm and Weather Centre and shows Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, all "covered in storm."
And this shows the snowfall amounts in the Maritimes. We won! (Perhaps this was one contest we didn't need to win...). I have no idea how they accurately measure snowfall when the wind is blowing with gusts between 90-100km/h but 79 cm. is what we got apparently! I can believe it as our driveway was almost waist deep in places and we have drifts at the back of the house that are over 6 feet!

Here's the view from our livingroom window about mid afternoon....

At times we could hardly see the house across the street.

Can you tell you're looking down the third fairway of the golf course?

Yes, it was a nasty day. Virtually the entire city was shut down. Schools, universities, gov't offices, banks and businesses were all closed, city busses were not running, and later in the day sections of the Trans Canada Highway in the province were closed to all but emergency vehicles because the visibility was so poor, driving was very dangerous. And yes, even Tim's was closed. You KNOW it's bad when Tim's closes.
Today everyone was digging out. I will try to get some good photos around the city tomorrow, or in the  next few days.. as we have another storm on the way for Wednesday night/Thursday! Just what we need - more snow!! Pfffttttt!

Peace,
Linda

"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." ~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to all my readers and followers! I truly do appreciate your visits and comments. I wish I could send each of you a bouquet of flowers or a heart shaped box of chocolates... I would if  I could.... So the best I can do today is offer you a visual treat - I went back through my photo archives and made up this "bouquet" for you... I'm more of a pink girl than a red one, so here are some lovely pink blooms for you to enjoy on this cold Feb. 14th.



Our city is still digging out after yesterday's blizzard... more about that next...

Peace,
Linda

"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." ~ Franklin P. Jones

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ice and Snow, Snow and Ice...

Blizzard warning in effect! Whaaaat? The sun is shining brightly this morning and the sky is blue, the current temperature is -21°C (-5°F) with a wind chill of -27°C (-16°F) but a nasty nor'easter is on its way to us with high winds and heavy snow in the forecast - 25-55 cm. That's 10-22 inches! We just got a foot of snow on Thursday night/Friday. Schools were closed two days last week for storms, and I expect they'll be closed again tomorrow. It seems like Mother Nature is making up for a relatively easy January by dumping extra snow on us this month! And let's not talk about another storm that's coming on Thursday...
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the snow. "Snowbaby" I'm not, I don't ski or snowmobile, but I really don't mind the snow. It's the cold and the ice I dislike. Several friends have fallen and broken or cracked bones this winter already; the walking has been treacherous. I enjoy photographing shadows on the snow and the ice formations on the garage windows, the birds at the birdfeeder - you might say I'm enjoying winter "from the inside looking out."
So I'm cooking a roast today, in case we lose power tonight, and hubby has the snowblower and shovels all lined up, ready to roll! Bring it on, Mother Nature! We're ready!

This morning's visitors: L-R white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, downy woodpecker


Peace,
Linda

"A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder." ~  Susan Orlean

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Winter Garden

I have enjoyed (and yes, even envied) photos posted by blogging friends who are in the southern USA  or southern hemisphere where the the weather is much warmer and flowers are blooming. Here in snowy cold eastern Canada we are in the depths of winter and the only blooms are on houseplants. I am tiring of  the cold, the snow and the ice. I'm ready for spring and colour! (I think I need a visit to the local nursery to enjoy some warmth and colour!)
Short of delving into my photo archives, the only blooms I can share with you today are those of my orchids. I have three which sit on my kitchen windowsill, I think of them as my "winter garden." I knew nothing about growing orchids when I got  the first one more than three years ago, and to be honest, still know very little. The only thing I claim to know for sure is that they seem to like where they are, a south facing window. The first one has bloomed almost continually since I got it, there was only one period of just over a month when it had no

blooms. My second orchid  purchase was a "miniature" orchid; it too has bloomed continuously. The third I've only had for six months, but so far, continuous blooms. So I guess I must be doing something right! I water them once a week, and give them fertilizer occasionally.
These blooms you see here are of my miniature orchid. The blooms are about 2" across.
Have you ever had an orchid? Do you have an orchid-growing secrets to share?

Peace,
Linda

"I must have flowers, always and always."  ~ Claude Monet




Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Visitor

It hasn't been a good week. Too many good friends battling serious health  issues. Cancers, stroke, broken bones.... Ugh. As they say, "Gettin' old ain't for sissies!" So I don't have much to share with you today. Have done some sewing this week, but I've been unfocused and all over the place... Today I'm hand stitching the binding on a bed quilt. It's a charity quilt my guild will be donating to Portage Atlantic, a youth drug rehab centre. Once it's done I'll share it with you.







It's been a fairly quiet winter at the bird feeder. Just the usual species are visiting, nothing exciting...... until today when Mr. Red Squirrel showed up to tantalize Ginger and Scamp. I always know something's going on outside when the cats start going wild, running from the family room windows to the deck door, back and forth, tails swishing rapidly. Grey squirrels are an everyday sighting, but this sassy little red squirrel... Well! He got more attention! And he got MY attention when he jumped onto the suet balls and started chewing... Little varmint! The suet has now been moved to a longer hanger, further out from the tree trunk... So now we'll watch to see if he can get to it. Take that, Mr. Red!!











Peace,
Linda

"All you need in life to lift your spirit is to take a moment and gaze at nature's beauty."  ~ Unknown

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

On My Bookshelf

"January 2, 1761.  Lyddie Berry heard the clatter of the geese and knew something was coming - Cousin Betsey, Grandson Nate, another wolf, or, knowing those fool birds, a good gust of wind - but when she heard the door snap hard against the clapboards she discounted all four of them; she whirled with the wind already in her skirts to see the Indian, Sam Cowett, just ducking beneath the lintel. He had the height and width to crowd a room, and the black eyes - what was it about a pair of eyes you couldn't see through? She took a step back and was sorry she'd done it, but he'd not have noticed; already he'd looked past her, calling into the empty doorway behind, "Blackfish in the bay!" The words had been known to clear every man out of a town meeting, so Lyddie wasn't surprised to hear the instant echo of Edward's boots or see the great sweep of arm that took up his coat and cap along with his breakfast. The bread went to pocket and the beer to mouth; he set back the mug and smiled at her; never mind it was a smile full of whales, not wife - she answered it, or would have if he'd stayed to see it - he was gone before her skirts had settled." ~ Sally Gunning, The Widow's War.
I knew by the end of this paragraph that I was going to love this book!
I love reading books recommended by other bloggers. I read The Widow's War by Sally Gunning because my friend Kathy at Four Miles North of Nowhere said it was her favourite book of 2016. That's good enough for me! I did thoroughly enjoy it, and now I'm recommending it to you! Set in 1761 in a small whaling village on Cape Cod, it's the story of Lydia Berry whose husband drowns while out on a whaling expedition in the very first chapter. Her difficulties over the next year, as a young widow, are quite a history lesson! Let's just say I'm grateful I live in this era and not back then!
Women of the eighteenth century had no rights and this doesn't sit well with Lyddie. As a widow Lyddie has no rights to her home or possessions therein, and is expected to live under the thumb of her difficult son-in-law, her closest male relative. She is determined to challenge both the legal and social system, and risk the scorn of family, neighbours and church to make her own way.  The trials of her day to day life serve only to make her stronger and more determined to be independent and fight for her freedom.
Gunning, a history buff who specializes in the eighteenth century, writes beautifully and provides a fascinating look at pre-Revolutionary life in New England, not such a pretty picture for women. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will want to read this book. There aren't many books I read a second time, but this may be one. Five stars from this bookworm. Thanks Kath, for the recommendation.

Peace,
Linda

"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting." ~ Edmund Burke


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Miniature Finish

A small finish for you today! I finally have completed "Not Quite Civil II." It took me a few days longer than I expected, because last Monday I got a fairly deep cut on the thumb of my right hand (my own carelessness, cut it on the lid of a tin can - OUCH!!) My thumb was so sore I could not hold a needle to hand stitch until last night, so have just finally finished the binding today.
If this looks familiar, it's because it's a repeat of one I made in 2014 but no longer own; thus the "II" in the title. It is made totally from scraps, except for the binding. Even the backing (a neutral tan colour) was a leftover small piece from backing a large quilt. You can read the story on the first Not Quite Civil here and here - where the fabrics came from and how it got its name. The first Not Quite Civil now lives in Stuart Florida.

The block is the traditional Pineapple block and has 49 pieces per block. So this quilt, at just a hair over 8.5" square has 445 pieces in total. Each block is 2.75" and each "log" is less than 1/4" wide. At right, my rotary cutter gives you some idea of the scale. The blocks were foundation pieced and it is machine quilted.  Log Cabin has always been my favourite quilt block, and the Pineapple which is a Log Cabin variation, is a close second. I am teaching several Miniatures classes this spring so am hoping to get a few more new ones done before then.
Have you ever tried making a miniature quilt?

Piece!
Linda

"If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." ~ Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

On My Bookshelf

Just a short review today. Anyone who enjoys reading and especially those who appreciate small independent bookstores would enjoy  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. It is the story of a bookseller who owns a small bookstore on Alice Island, not far from Hyannis MA. He is a young grieving widower having lost his wife, the love of his life, in a tragic car accident. He's lonely, somewhat cranky and seems to have lost interest in life. Book sales are poor, and his most valuable book has been stolen. What else can possibly go wrong?
One evening when he goes out for a run, he leaves the store unlocked.... and the result changes his life. I won't give away any more than that. You'll have to read it to find out what happens.    :)
Two of my favourite quotes from the book:
"No Man is an Island; Every Book is a World" from the sign on A.J.'s store, Island Books.
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." So very true!
It is a charming, well written story. Heartwarming. A light read, and a joy to read. There is humour, love and unexpected relationships. It's a book for book lovers. What more can I say?


Peace,
Linda

Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Amaryllis Beauty


How lucky we were to enjoy the incredible blooms of this amaryllis in early January. It missed Christmas by two weeks but we didn't care.




This bulb was purchased in the fall of  2015, so this was its second blooming. It is called "Flamenco Queen" and this time there was just a single stalk with four blossoms (last year it had three stalks and twelve blooms!) but it reached a great height, 35.5" from top of bulb to tip of bloom! Watching the buds open is great fun.





 What a beauty, and how perfect for the Christmas season with its rich deep red speckled petals and bright green throat. I so enjoy my amaryllis "collection" especially in the dead of winter as my perennial gardens slumber through the cold winter months.
I have four other bulbs "resting".... I must check them today to see if there are any signs of new shoots sprouting. More fresh blooms in February would be nice, wouldn't it?










Have you ever had an amaryllis?

I am linking to Mosaic Monday at Normandy Life. Be sure to stop by to check out the other mosaics.




Peace,
Linda

"Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul."  ~ Luther Burbank

Sunday, January 22, 2017

On My Bookshelf

Are you getting tired of hearing me profess my love for Louise Penny and her writing? I finished the tenth and eleventh books in her series, The Long Way Home and The Nature of the Beast shortly before Christmas, so all that I have left now is her latest, The Great Reckoning. I am taking a break and reading some others on my long list before I get to this one.
The Long Way Home leaves Three Pines for Toronto, Paris, Scotland and finally a remote stretch of  the St. Lawrence River where the search is on for Clara's missing husband, artist Peter Morrow. I found the plotline in this one a little weak, it didn't hold my interest as strongly as some of the others did... regardless, still worth the read. Although Gamache has now retired from active duty and has moved to Three Pines to enjoy a quieter life, he obviously has not fully given up his "former life and love" and is willing to help out Beauvoir and the others solve the mysterious disappearance. Penny obviously has a great understanding of the art world, as she conveys how art is created and how various people react to it. (I am still contemplating the upside down photo on the cover..,am I missing something?)
The Nature of the Beast returns to Three Pines where there is a dark cloud of evil lurking. In fact this is likely the "darkest" story in the series, with not only the murder of a child but what seems to be a serial killer, not to mention draft dodgers and war criminals, arms dealers and government corruption. I was surprised to learn at the end that the character Gerald Bull (an engineer who developed long range artillery) and "the beast" were real. I don't want to give away too much of this superbly crafted storyline, suffice it to say this is likely some of Penny's best writing. This story will no doubt lead you to reading further on the My Lai massacre (South Vietnam, 1968) as it did me, for I was too young at the time to understand much of what was happening with the Vietnam war.
photo from book jacket
There's not much that I haven't already said (in previous posts here, here and here) about Ms. Penny and her wonderful writing, other than I wish I had discovered her earlier. Not that several friends hadn't recommended her, yes, more than once! The only advice I can give if you are "new" to this series (and you've heard me say this previously) is to start with the first book. Don't diminish your reading pleasure by jumping in anywhere, even though each is fine as a "stand alone" read. The characterizations of  Gamache and his Sûreté staff, and the residents of the idyllic village of Three Pines build from book one. Each novel adds to the detailed personalities and I'm sure I'm not the only Penny fan to feel that I know these characters as well as many of my own friends. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this series and look forward to returning to it in the future to read The Great Reckoning.

Peace,
Linda

The worst part about finishing a book is having to find another that is just as good or better than the last.
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