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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Finally Finished.

My little "Not Quite Civil Pineapple" is finished! It is 8.75" square, with 447 pieces. It's taken me a while to get back to it. The concensus on whether to border it or not was roughly 50/50 - thank you for your suggestions/comments! My problem was that I had no yardage of any of the fabrics, since it is totally made from 1" wide (or less) strips that were trimmings from squaring up larger quilt blocks. Besides being very narrow, none of the strips were much more than 6 or 7 inches long. My friend Sandi Mac gave me these trimmings, and all her yardage for these blocks is in her other studio... in Florida. A little too far to go for border fabric! I had nothing in my stash that worked either (hard to believe, I know, for those of you who know how extensive my fabric stash is...) So I decided to just go with the old traditional finish of a Pineapple quilt and simply bind it. I have added a narrow corded piping in a light tan, before the olive green solid binding (thanks Lee for the suggestion of using a solid.) Solids are another thing I don't have many of in my stash, but this was
in a bundle from a George Siciliano workshop a few years back, and I thought it was perfect.
I bound it twice!  More than twice actually. The first time, after binding was all sewn on and I started to hand stitch it to the back, I realized I just had not made the binding quite wide enough. The addition of the corded piping adds another two layers of fabric in that seam allowance, giving you a total of nine layers- my binding just wasn't wide enough to wrap to the back over all that thickness and completely cover my line of stitching without looking like it was pulled too tight. So I ripped it all off and cut a wider binding. Stitched it all on again and had the hand-stitching 90% finished. At the last corner I realized there was an issue with the mitred corner of the binding - so I once again "unstitched" one entire side (and two corners) and re-did the corners and the joining seam. So it DOES feel good to be done! I'm pleased with it. It's not my usual colour palette, but it's a good exercise to step outside one's usual "comfort zone" occasionally. It's done. And "done is good."

Piece!
Linda

"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan." ~ Tom Landry

Monday, September 15, 2014

What's New at the Zoo?

A few days ago we took a little day trip to Moncton and visited the zoo at Magnetic Hill. We hadn't been there in years, so it was time.  They acquired a new pair of Amur tigers earlier this year and I was anxious to see them. It was the perfect day for a visit- not too hot, just pleasant temps for strolling around and we saw all the animals except the lions who apparently are either shy or were sleeping in. (Well, truth be told, I guess I didn't see ALL the animals, as I did not enter the reptile exhibit. Nope, not going to look at snakes if I have a choice...)
Many of my photos, of course, were taken through wire fencing. I would have liked a longer lens, and no fencing in my way, but then again, I do understand the whole safety issue. I wasn't about to risk becoming someone's meal for the sake of a better photo! lol  So I apologize for the light streaks across some of the photos (out of focus fencing.) Without further commentary, here are some of my favourites.


There were lots of birds. Clockwise from top left:
Black Swan, Marabou Stork, a female Mallard duck, and an East African Crowned Crane.



Of course, we enjoyed the primates too. They are always entertaining...... Clockwise from top left: Colobus monkey, Gibbon, Ring Tailed Lemur, Mandrill

If you have some patience and a little luck, you can sometimes catch interesting expressions or poses... here are a few....

A Ring Tailed Lemur yawwwnnnnnn
"Now what was I going to say.......?"

And a few more animals...  Clockwise from top left: Duck, Irresistably cute baby goat, Otter getting ready for a slide into the pool, and Sulcata tortoise or African spurred tortoise.

At the end of our "tour" we finally found the Amur tigers. A new tiger enclosure is under construction, so they are in a temporary space nearby. They both appeared  bored with the whole thing and were napping; no amount of pleading, whistling or other sounds would even get them to open their eyes let alone raise their big beautiful heads.... so this is the best shot I could get. Guess I'll just have to make another visit someday...



The Amur tiger is an endangered species, native to far eastern Russia. It is the largest of the cat family. These cats are solitary animals and are only found together during mating season or as young cubs with their mothers. They remain close to water sources and are adept swimmers. Their striped coats provide excellent camouflage in tall grasses.

All in all it was a good day at the zoo. I am linking to Mosaic Monday, now hosted by Judith at Lavender Cottage. Be sure to pop by and see what others have done for this weekly mosaic meme.

Peace,
Linda

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Anatole France

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yummy Greek Salad

Here is the recipe I promised a few days ago. The dressing is quick and easy and you likely have all the ingredients, except perhaps the feta. At this time of year when I have lots of cucumbers and tomatoes in the garden, this is the perfect recipe for a colorful salad to accompany supper. This dressing recipe came from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog a few months ago.

Greek Salad

equal amounts of chopped cucumber, tomatoes, red onion and green pepper (I use red pepper too, when I have one on hand) I try to cut them all roughly the same size.
Kalamata olives, optional
feta cheese

Dressing:
3 Tblsp. olive oil
3 Tblsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tblsp. crumbled feta

Place all ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving salad, to let the flavours meld.
Shake and pour over vegetables just before serving. Toss and top with crumbled feta, to taste. Serve.

Peace,
Linda

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly." ~ Anna Thomas

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Silver on PEI

It's been a busy few days. On Sunday I made a very quick trip to Prince Edward Island to watch my nephew's son Nathan play in the GOLD medal game at the Peewee AAA baseball Atlantic championship game!!! They won on Saturday to advance to the first place game!!!!! Way to go guys!!! We were so very proud of the team for doing so well.
To get to PEI from New Brunswick you drive over the awesome Confederation Bridge, a 12.9 kilometer (8 mile) bridge which spans the Northumberland Strait. It is the longest bridge in the world which spans ice-covered water. (Of course it's not ice covered at this time of year.) It took almost four years to construct, at a cost of a billion dollars, and employed crews of more than five thousand local workers. It opened in May of 1997. I still marvel at its design and construction every time I drive over it - it is truly one of Canada's top engineering feats of the 20th century.

Nathan's Mom and I stopped at The Lobster Barn in beautiful Victoria by the Sea for lunch- one MUST eat lobster while on PEI so we had lobster rolls for lunch. (We won't discuss dessert, ok?)  We both agreed this was a great spot to eat - we recommend it highly.
And the other thing one must consume while on "the Island" is an icecream cone at Cows. So of course, we did that too. So good....


Back to the team. They played a great game, leading for most of it, but sadly they lost by 5-4 in the final inning. So they settled for silver medals instead of gold, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Second in Atlantic!! Pretty darned good I'd say! Way to go Nathan!! This was his first year of playing competitive ball... I'm sure he was tired when he got home after four days of games. And this week he has hockey try-outs. At least he doesn't have  a chance to get bored....
Yesterday I made another batch of jam, and I have a large batch of crock pickles underway. I've been busy picking, stewing and freezing tomatoes too. The garden is winding down and I'm busy harvesting and preserving what I can. I spent today doing all those fun things like laundry, ironing, scrubbing bathrooms, etc. and then Choir started tonight. Tomorrow we're off on a little day trip. Thursday is supposed to be rainy and I plan on spending the entire day in my studio. Can't wait.... No rest for the weary! Tomorrow, I'll give you the Greek salad recipe.

Peace,
Linda

"Nothing can subtract hard work from success, only add to it." ~Manjunath Harlapur

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Power of Suggestion and This 'n That

Ahhh, the power of suggestion.. it's an amazing thing! We have a friend who is traveling in Italy right now. She sends a brief "journal entry" by email each day so we can follow her travels and adventures and yesterday she was telling us of the amazing pizza she had in Rome. Well, that got my mouth watering for some homemade pizza... Are you the same? Can the mere mention or suggestion of a certain dish make you begin to crave it? I decided to "go with it" rather than "fight the feeling!" With lots of fresh garden veggies to go with it in a Greek salad, how could I go wrong? I make my pizza a bit different than you do, no doubt. I try to make it a healthy dish, so no pepperoni, salami or meats of that sort. I cook lean ground beef, add my tomato sauce and spices to make a thick meat sauce, spread that on my homemade dough, then top with lots of veggies- typically onions, peppers both red and green and lots of thickly sliced mushrooms. In the last few minutes of cooking, I top with cheese - tonight it was parmesan, mozzarella and old cheddar. "Just picked" tomatoes and cucumbers along with peppers, red onion and fresh basil were sooo good in the Greek salad. We devoured it all before I even thought of taking a photo. I promise next time I make the salad I'll take a pic and give you the salad dressing recipe. It's quick and easy with simple ingredients you'll have on hand. My tummy is so happy right now.. can you hear me purring??? Sigh.... Just as good as any meal in Rome, I'm sure...  :)

Great nephew Nathan is in Charlottetown this weekend for the Peewee AAA Atlantic baseball Championship. They won their first two games against Kentville and Halifax, but lost today to the PEI champs of Summerside. Hopefully they will rally for the place games tomorrow. Go Nate!!

I've had a very busy week with a lot of things that just had to be done. Sewing was not in the cards this week, but I'll be back at it tonight or tomorrow for sure. My LQS is holding an Open House tomorrow and I'm teaching a few new classes there this fall, so had to get that all organized, supply lists prepared, etc. I still have some shop samples to make... Never enough hours in my day...

I've fallen behind on book reviews as well. So I'll finish off tonight with a short review of The Far Side of the Sky by Daniel Kalla. This is the story of  a Jewish family who flee Vienna following Kristallnach in November 1938. Widowed Doctor Franz Adler escapes with his young daughter and sister-in-law (whose husband was murdered by the Nazis) to Shanghai, one of the few places offering sanctuary to Jews at that time. Adler struggles to settle and make a life for his family in Shanghai, a large city demarcated into military zones among the Japanese, British and American forces. Just as they begin to get used to life in a very different culture, Japan enters the war and aligns with Germany. The Adlers and thousands of other Jewish refugees must deal with the challenges and restrictions of life in China where Japan is now in charge! It becomes clear that Germany has not forgotten those who fled....
While this novel is historical fiction, there is also romance. Dr. Adler eventually finds work volunteering in a refugee hospital and meets Soon Yi "Sunny" Mah, a half Chinese, half American nurse. He recognizes her abilities and agrees to mentor her in surgery. They work together to try and better the lives of many starving Jewish refugees. I won't give away any more of the story, but suffice it to say this was another book that was VERY hard to put down.
This book is a must read for those interested in learning more about WWII and the Holocaust. I knew nothing of the nearly 20,000 European Jews that fled to Shanghai, nor the fact that the city had a large Jewish presence that went back many years. Kalla has written an outstanding story with a fast moving plot. Although most characters are fictional, they seem very real and the author has done an incredible job of weaving together a fictional story with real historical events. It's a story of love and loss, courage and resilience, hope and survival. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.  
Daniel Kalla, a Vancouver ER physician, is well known for his medical thrillers (Pandemic, Resistance, Of Flesh and Blood to name a few), none of which I have read, but you can be sure more of his writing is now on my list.  The Far Side of the Sky's sequel, Rising Sun, Falling Shadow will be number one on my "Read more Kalla" list. In fact I just put it on hold at my local library.

Peace,
Linda

"You can be too rich and too thin, but you can never be too well read or too curious about the world."  ~ Tim Gunn

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Green Bean Yumminess!

How is your vegetable garden this year? Mine is certainly not the best it has ever been, but not the worst either. Some things have done very well (not the tomatoes, sadly). I do have an overabundance of cucumbers (as always), and right now lots of green beans. Just in case you too have lots of beans, I thought you might like to try a new quick and easy recipe. This was available at the Dietician's booth at the local Superstore a few weeks ago. I sampled it and it was sooo good, I knew I'd try it at home. There are no amounts- just do it to suit your own taste.
Cook green beans just until tender crisp. While they are cooking, mix equal parts of fresh squeezed lemon juice with your choice of oil (I used olive oil, she use grapeseed oil). Actually I used slightly more lemon juice than oil. Add some freshly grated lemon zest and fresh chopped herbs - basil, dill and mint. Pour over hot beans, toss and top with some crumbled feta cheese. Yummmmmy!!

Peace,
Linda

"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." ~ James Beard

Monday, September 1, 2014

Of Puppies and Peaches....

Well the Labour Day long weekend is just about over. September is here and with it a return to more of a routine, perhaps... It's been a busy weekend here. Darling daughter has been and gone, packing up some of her stuff that was still here, and has moved to Ontario.  :(   We just heard from her an hour ago, that they have arrived safely and are all "unloaded" at their new place.  :)   Mark has finished his summer job at the hospital and tomorrow returns to complete the remaining portion of his Clinical.
I made my Peach Jam today, 12 bottles of yumminess, and just finished cutting up a large batch of crock pickles... the cucumbers are threatening to escape the boundaries of the garden - I think the plants must be on steroids or perhaps fertility drugs!! I'm trying my best to keep ahead of them.. lol

I had a little visitor this afternoon - this is the "newest member" of our extended family. My brother and SIL got a new cocker spaniel puppy in late July. I can't believe how much he has grown in six weeks. Introducing Zora - isn't he cute? Their cockers have always been blonde, so he is a change for sure! He is definitely full of mischief and is keeping his "parents" on their toes!














Peace,
Linda

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies."
~ Gene Hill





Friday, August 29, 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame


Provincial Champs! Photos by nephew Terry Kelly
What says "summer afternoon" more than a ballgame? Now I admit, I'm not a huge sports fan, unless, that is... unless I know someone who's playing. And if it's a family member, well.... I'm there! Whoopin' and hollerin'! A few weeks ago on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I had the pleasure of watching my great- nephew Nathan pitch a game with his team, the Fredericton Peewee AAA Royals. They've had a great season and this past weekend they won Provincials! Nathan pitched an awesome game! How wonderful to see their team photo in the paper this week, after winning that title. Next weekend they will travel to Charlottetown PEI for the Atlantic championship. I wish them all luck, but most of all Good Luck Nathan! Give it to 'em, Nate! Show 'em what you can do with that ball!
Baseball isn't even finished yet and Nathan is back to hockey. He's spent this last week of his summer vacation at a skills and drills hockey camp - way to go Nate! It won't be long before we'll be back at the hockey rink, cheering you on!

Peace,
Linda

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday's success, or put its failures behind and start over again. That's the way life is, with a new game every day, and that's the way baseball is."
~ Bob Feller

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Peach Cobbler...yummmm

Thanks to all who commented on my previous post - it seems there is close to a 50-50 split on whether to add borders or not. (several I've spoken to have said - no border, just bind as is.) So I'm still deliberating. I have laid out a number of strips from the collection I used along the quilt's edges as border options, and none of them please my eye. So we'll see.... I'll sleep on it one more night....wink

August is drawing to a close. I can hardly believe that summer is nearly over. We have been enjoying some of our favourite summer foods- fresh corn, veggies from the garden- all the beans, beets and cukes we can eat right now, peaches, blueberries, etc.... I have one batch of pickles done, may do another this weekend, along with my Peach Jam.
Last night I made a Peach Cobbler, it is soooo good. I knew you'd like the recipe so here it is. (This recipe came from my dear friend Joy in Kentville NS. Waving Hi Joy!!) I love the addition of lemon and almond- such a  great combination with the peaches.

Peach Cobbler
3-4 cups sliced fresh peaches (I don't measure, I just slice a good amount into the pan- about 6 or 7 peaches)
1 Tblsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. zest of lemon
1/4 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup white sugar (the original recipe called for 1 cup. I reduced it to 3/4 and it can even be reduced to 1/2 cup if peaches are nice and sweet)

Slice peaches into a greased 8x8 pan. Mix together lemon juice, zest, and almond extract, sprinkle over peaches. Top with white sugar. Preheat oven to 250°F, place dish in oven to warm peaches while you prepare topping.

Topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tblsp. white sugar
1/3 cup shortning
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
sugar to sprinkle on top

Sift first four ingredients together. Cut in shortning as for biscuits. Measure milk, add egg and beat with fork before adding to dry ingds. Mix just until moistened. Remove dish from warming oven, increase oven temperature to 350°F. Drop dough over top of peaches, sprinkle with a bit of sugar. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 35-40 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve warm; especially good with vanilla icecream. Makes about 8 servings.
Note: If peaches are especially juicy, I place an old pan under my dish as the juices sometimes run over...

Peach I mean Peace!
Linda

August is like the Sunday of summer...






Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Input Please...

Here it is - my "Not Quite Civil Pineapple" miniature. Right now, it measures 8.75" square. The blocks finish at 2.75". I can't decide whether to add borders or not - what would you do? Would you just leave it as is, or add a border or two? Decisions, decisions... The next thing, of course will be how to quilt it? All suggestions and input welcomed....

Piece!
Linda

"Indecision may or may not be my problem." ~ Jimmy Buffett

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Another Student's Quilt

It's sunny and HOT again today (insert happy dance here), and I have to get outside for a while and do some work in my veggie garden. We've had far too may wet or overcast days lately so I just have to get out and enjoy some rays and stock up on Vitamin D! But when I come back in, I'll be finishing up the assembly of my little Pineapple blocks. I finished nine blocks, and have them all together in rows so now just have to join the rows. I'm still debating on whether to add any borders or whether to just bind it borderless as is often done with Pineapple quilts. I promise a photo as soon as it is together and you can give me your opinion re. border or not...

In the meantime, here is another student's miniature quilt from the class I taught in N.S. in April. This is Anne's third Mini resulting from my class. She really liked my blue and green Spool and Bobbin quilts so I drew out the block for her and here is her version. Well done Anne!!! Her mini is 10.5" square and she has used two different pink batiks. I hope you'll leave a comment and tell Anne how great her miniature looks!

Okay, I'm off to the garden. The tomatoes are calling for attention...

Piece!
Linda

"Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment." ~ Thomas Carlyle

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It's a Winner...

Each time I read Susanna Kearsley's writing, I become a bigger fan. I have read four of her novels now, and you can be sure I'll be reading more. Mariana is my latest, and I loved it just as much as The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden and The Firebird. From the book jacket: "Julia Beckett believes in destiny. When she moves into Greywethers, a beautiful sixteenth-century farmhouse, she suspects that more than coincidence has brought her there. The locals are warm and welcoming, especially the eligible squire of Grafton Hall, yet beneath the ordinariness, Julia senses a haunting sadness about her new home. Then she learns of Mariana, a beautiful young woman who lived there three hundred years ago. It seems history has been waiting for Julia..."
Yes, once again Kearsley has written a story that draws you in right from the very first page, involving the reader in the community and character's lives. I wanted to live in Wiltshire. I wanted to know Julia and her brother Tom, Vivien the local pub owner and Iain the Scottish gardener. I could clearly picture the village and its inhabitants and just wanted to join them for a pint and a chat at the Red Lion pub! Kearsley has a way of bringing a story and setting to life that it seems 100% real. Her characters are so well developed, the plot well thought out and the twist at the end was both delightful and bittersweet at the same time. Julia's time travel back to the seventeenth century to explore the life of  Mariana Farr is seamlessly woven into her current daily life in the English countryside. It is very easy to see why Mariana won the Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize. This book has it all- romance, mystery, great characterization and good plot, wonderful description and an unexpected ending. Bravo!
How many times do you finish a book and say to yourself- "That's a keeper" or "I want to read it all over again"? I found myself immediately going back and re-reading some sections, and although this copy belongs to the library, I'll be keeping an eye out for a copy for my own shelves. Yes, I am a BIG Kearsley fan.

Peace,
Linda

"I have always been a reader. I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Books are for me, it must be said, the most important thing."
~ Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

Friday, August 22, 2014

Progress Report

Just a very short "progress report" on the current Miniature that's underway. My friend Sandi gave me a bag of strips last week,  left over from a project she's working on. Most were 1" wide, some a little less.  They were light neutrals and darks- a mixture of colors, but not my usual choices. They are not Civil War repro's, but close. Sandi calls them "not quite civil". Since the strips were quite narrow, I decided they'd be perfect for a Miniature, and after some consideration, I thought I'd try a Pineapple. So far I have 5 blocks done, hope to have a sixth done before beddy-bye tonight. There are 49 pieces per block, so they do take a little time... Here they are pinned up on my design wall. The blocks will finish at 2.75" sq. My original thought was 16 blocks, but now I'm thinkin' 9 might do... We'll see....
Sorry the photo is not the best.. taken indoors. The next one will be outside and better light/colour...
I think I'll call it my "Not Quite Civil Pineapple"....

Piece!
Linda

"He that can have patience can have what he will." ~ Benjamin Franklin


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