Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 - A Year In Review

Another year is coming to an end. As I look back on 2008, I do so with ambivalence. I am not unhappy to see it go. It was a difficult year for me, in terms of health issues. In the first few months of the year I totally lost the ability to walk. I began having trouble taking care of my personal needs, such as dressing and bathing.

I was in constant pain. I could not get out of a regular chair and I could no longer get in and out of my bed. As a result, I spent my days and nights in an electrical reclining chair. It became impossible to get up and down the stairs. I could no longer leave my house.

The doctors were stymied. I saw a total of six neurologists. They could not agree on a diagnosis. There seemed to be no treatment, except painkillers, which I ate like candy. It was hinted that perhaps my symptoms were psychological. In May I entered Sunnybrook Hospital for a course of intravenous steroid treatments.

From there I was sent to West Park Healthcare Centre, a rehabilitation hospital. I still did not have a definite diagnosis. Things like MS, Lou Gehrig's and Guillain Barre Syndrome were thrown around as if they were just minor discomforts. It was frustrating! I spent many hours on the hospital's computer, looking for disorders that fit my symptoms. I no longer trusted the doctors, or their treatments.

I finally saw another neurologist at a large teaching hospital in downtown Toronto. This doctor finally diagnosed my condition as a rare auto-immune disorder. My body was identifying the nerve cells in my body as foreign invaders and killing them off!

I left West Park in much better spirits than I had been in for the first half of the year. I now had all sorts of gadgets to make my life easier - like a stairglide, a hospital bed and a scooter. Since then I have been exercising and trying to get my life back in order. I am getting stronger each day. The nerves in my back, legs and feet are growing back.

I am lucky to have a family that is understanding and helpful - a husband who looked after me and took over the housekeeping chores (cooking, cleaning, caring for our furry critters, the aquarium, my indoor plants and garden... the list is endless) during my illness - my friends who were there for me to talk to and of course, my fellow bloggers! You guys are the greatest! I get so much inspiration from reading everyone's blogs and from seeing your beautiful creations!

And when I have a problem, all I have to do is ask and someone is willing to help. Someone recently asked what I love most about blogging and I said it was the fact that the whole world fits into my computer and is only a keystroke away.

In a few more hours the new year will arrive. I am very postive about 2009. Things can only get better! I know I will regain my strength and ability to walk again. I have too much living left to do.

I wish everyone a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I Changed the Look of My Blog!

Well, I finally did it! I changed the look of my blog. I have been playing around on this computer for the better part of today. I wanted to put some things in my sidebar and was not able to get into the 'layout'. I thought I would never be able to figure this stuff out, but then I changed the template and everything just fell into place. I think I was still using a very old template from when I first started my blog. Speaking of that.... it is almost exactly three years ago (3 years and 2 days to be exact) that Mimi thought she wanted to tell the world about my creative endeavours! Thanks Mimi. This blogging is the greatest!


Friday, December 26, 2008

Sunshine on Cherry Blossoms

Now that Christmas is over, I can show you the little wall hanging I made for my DD. This was another project I had put aside for quite awhile. The pattern is called, "Cherry Blossoms" by Designs to Share with You. It is 19"x23" (48cm x 58cm) and is machine pieced and hand appliqued. The quilting was done with machine stitching in the ditch and hand work using the classic method of Sashiko. The cherry blossoms are small yo-yos gathered in four places to create little five-petalled flowers.

I took this photo a couple of days ago when we had sunshine. Yes, we actually had sunshine!!!! It doesn't help to give a better photo, but I just love sunshine in the winter months, when the sun is so low in the sky that the rays reach across the room and brighten up even the darkest corners.

Hope you all had a good Christmas. Mine was quiet, but nice and relaxing - time well spent with close family members.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Okay! Now Christmas can come. And it can snow all it wants to! I am finished my 'Let it Snow' wall hanging. At last! I must admit, it was a fun pattern. I started it at a Quilt Retreat in the fall of 2006. We spent a wonderful weekend there - just sewing and quilting - no cooking or cleaning or answering the telephone! We stayed at Scottman's Point. This is a view of the lake.
And a view of the beach and the last of the Kawartha autumn colours. It looks warm, but we had ice and snow on the drive up and frost overnight. But we were warm and happy in the main lodge, creating away at our machines!
That's me in the blue top. This was before my 'scooter' time. Don't I look happy? The woman standing was our president at that time, Sue. And the woman in the front left was my roommate, Julie. Oh, wow! Great memories!
And finally, a photo of my retreat pals with their creative endeavours. We were allowed to work on anything we wanted, but the Let it Snow pattern was provided by the organizer of our wonderful weekend, Linda.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Big Finish!

I finally got this thing done! Think I started it in my first year of quilting. I saw a similar tree shirt at a local quilt shop. It was being offered as a one-day class. The pattern was free. I would only have to pay for the class. The original one had rooftops and trees around the edge, with Santa and his reindeer in the centre. I fell instantly in love with that skirt and signed up for the class, even though it would be held on a Friday morning and I had to work. I decided to play hooky. About a week before the class, I went back to the shop to buy my supplies. To my great sadness I was told that the class had to be cancelled, because the person who was to teach it was not available. I was devastated. I was so looking forward to making that skirt. At the time (these were my early quilting years) I was very intriqued with Debbie Mumm fabrics and patterns. I bought a Debbie Mumm Christmas pattern. I seemed to me that I could make my own skirt, using Debbie's patterns. I had no idea how to go about it. I had never done machine applique or anything round, but I decided to try it anyway.
It was too much for me that first year! I drew all the applique pieces and cut them out of fabric. But that is as far as I got. It was already long past Christmas by then and I decided to finish it the following year. Over the past years I have brought it out occasionally and tried to decide what to do with it. I didn't have very interesting fabrics at that time and the ones I used just weren't talking to me. One year I cut the circle and ironed everything on. But the next year I found that most of the little pieces had come off. The task of sewing down each piece seemed like a daunting task. I sewed a few down and left the rest for another year. When I took it out this year I gave a lot of thought to what to do with this skirt. It would be easy to just leave it in the bottom of the UFO bin, but that was not my goal this year! I decided it needed to be finished. And it needed to be under a Christmas tree! So I fixed and re-applied and sewed and quilted. And now it is finished and I am satisfied. It really didn't turn out too bad after all! I am going to give it to my DD. She is going to have a real tree this year and I think she would love to have it.

I also worked on several other UFOs over the past couple of weeks. (They are presents, so I can't show them yet.) But even when I have to finish long overdue items, I just can't keep myself from starting something new. I think its a common quilter's affliction! I found a lovely free pattern on the Internet - the Nine-Patch Christmas Scrap quilt. It looked very easy and I already had lots of 2 1/2in. strips of Christmas fabrics cut out. It was just a matter of putting it all together. I am not finished it yet, but I am close. I don't want this to become another UFO for future years. Not this year! Not when I am trying so hard to clear out that bin! Felix likes the bright Christmas colours. He is my helper. He keeps me on task and sits with me while I sew.
Oscar seems to like the quilt too. In facts, he looks totally mesmerized by it. But then he always looks kind of dopey! Mimi hasn't come to find out what I am doing. She has a different agenda I guess - sleeping and eating and sleeping some more.

And just sitting regally in amongst the plants in the solarium. As is befitting royalty!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Few More Finishes!

I completed a few more UFOs! Yippeeeee!! It feels really good to get these things done. I don't feel very good about the place mats though. They were supposed to be done by the end of last month so that they could have been donated to the Meals-on-Wheels program. Our Guild was asked to make them, but I wasn't finished in time. (Sew what else is new?) When I was at our last meeting I found out that they already had enough Christmas themed place mats, so I didn't feel too bad. We were told that they needed some everyday place mats. These are going to be given out to new Meals-on-Wheels clients when they join the program. It sounds like a wonderful idea! So I decided to just finish these and keep them myself. They will brighten up our holiday season and later on - like maybe next year - I will make a few of the everyday ones to donate. I got the idea for putting the flying geese along the sides of the place mats from Sherri at A Quilting Life. I had made those flying geese blocks during my first year of quilting, so they have been around a long time. I love this block! It is one of my favourites!
The little block is an orphan from the Christmas Sparkler. I had originally auditioned a dark green, but then decided that the quilt needed a brighter green, so this little block was left over. I finished it so that it can be used as a hot pad for Christmas.

Then there is the little square miniature. It was also supposed to have been finished a long time ago too. I had wanted to enter it into our Guild's Quilt Show - as part of the silent auction. But needless to say, it didn't get done in time. (sigh) Oh, well, now I have to keep it! Hurray! This mini was paper pieced. It is only 14in x 14in (35cm x 35cm), but there are 336 pieces of fabric in it, not including the border. Each strip is only 1/4in finished. I only used scraps, but it didn't even make a dent in my stash and I doubt if I could have done this one if I hadn't paper pieced it.

Now on to other UFOs. I am working on something right now that is to be a present, so I can't show it until after Christmas.

Yesterday I told everyone to go to Freda's Hive for a give-away. Hope you left a comment. Today I am going to direct you to Ems Scrapbag for another give-away. Good luck!

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Postcard Arrived at its Destination!

I decided to send one of my postcard to see if it would arrive, safe and sound, at its destination. I am happy to say that it did! It was a birthday card for my sister, whose birthday is tomorrow. Happy Birthday Sis!!! She got the postcard today. I wish I had taken a photo of it, but I guess I was so excited about sending it, that I forgot. Instead you get a shot of a trumpet flower, blooming inside my solarium. Even with the snow outside, I still have some colour indoors!
Oh, and I also want to tell everyone to go over to Frida's Hive and leave a comment. She is having a really cool give-away this week to celebrate her one-year anniversary. Happy Anniversary Nanette!

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Frosty, Frivolous and Fun, Fickle-Feline Friday

It was the kind of morning when you just don't want to get out of bed. The temperature outside was -6C. With the wind factored in, that made it feel like -12C. My joints were stiff and sore. I pulled the covers back over my head. Did I really have to get up? Maybe I could pretend to be sick and someone would bring me breakfast in bed. But no, that wouldn't work! No one was home. It was just the cats and me. Oh, well.
After a hot shower and a steaming cup of coffee I decided to do some quilting. The sewing room was in a royal mess and I couldn't find anything! It was my intent to finish a couple of Christmas presents, but that was not to be. Novelty fabrics, scraps and postcard ideas were everywhere. They were sucking me into a void - a postcard void! As I felt myself swirling around and around, I started tracing and cutting and pasting and then sewing around little motifs of Christmas trees, Santas, leaves and penguins. It was impossible to stop making these little postcards. It was a fun, but frivolous feat for a frosty Friday. Why fight it?
I looked for Mimi. I wanted to show her my little postcard creations. I went into the solarium and found her, sound asleep, on the cat blanket I made last week. That fickle feline!
"Hey, Mimi! I thought you didn't like the cat blanket with the 'd' word on it!"
"I never said that!"
"You did so! You made a big case out of it!"
"Well, a girl can change her mind, can't she?"
"Oh, f....udge!" Oh, no, not another f-word! Enough is enough! I will save that one for my Friends in the Federal Government in Ottawa!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I have been experimenting with fabric postcards over the last few weeks. I found a lot of information on the Internet and also a book of ideas at Michael's, but I still have a few more questions. Have any of you, out there in blog land, ever made one of these? Can they actually be mailed? I am getting mixed messages. I would like to send some off for Christmas, but I don't know if I can just put a stamp on them - will it stay on? - or should I put them into an envelope?
Please leave me a comment if you have some experience with these things. Thanks.

Mine are about 4-41/2 to 6-61/2 inches. Do they have to be a certain size? I still have to quilt them and put some sort of edging on them - maybe just some zigzag or something. Please help! It is getting close to Christmas. But I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone of that!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My Little Version of the Christmas Sparkler

This is not a UFO. I started and finished it this month (or so). I saw the pattern on several people's blogs. It was free! You can see more of them and get the pattern at the patchalot's gallery. I decided to stop at nine blocks. That way I could get it finished! Finishing things is very important to me right now. Don't ask me why. Maybe it has to do with the limited space and too much 'stuff' that I have! I didn't want to add another UFO to my bin to carry over to next year! I really should not even have started it, but I loved the friendship star blocks. They are one of my favourite blocks! I used some Christmas and Christmas-type fabrics from my stash, so that was good.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

That's Because Santa is Finished! Finally.
I finished another UFO. Yippeeee! This little wall hanging came from a kit which I bought at The Quilting Patch, a local quilt shop, about three or four years ago. I don't know why it took so long for me to finish it. It was a very easy project. The whole thing is fused with Steam-a-Seam. I went around each piece by hand with a blanket stitch. It was almost totally completed when I put it away after the last time I worked on it. (perhaps two years ago) All I had left to do was to sandwich and quilt it. And sew some binding on. I am happy to report that I did all those things and now the completed quilt is hanging on my DD's wall.