Thursday, December 31, 2009

SkyWatch Friday and a Happy New Year!

The sky over Pickering Ontario on the Winter Solstice of 2009.

I was at my daughter's house. Her house is on a hill and faces east. The sun was just beginning to set on this, the shortest set of daylight hours of the year. Unfortunately there are tall trees on the west side of her house and the setting sun could not be seen. But I did get a nice photo of the eastern sky from the patio deck off her kitchen.

For other SkyWatch photos please go here.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Friday Block Party Blocks

We have had a wonderful Christmas! Lots of hosting, visiting, cooking, baking and eating! And now it is back to 'sort-of' normal. I have finished the last three blocks in the Friday Block Party. I thought I'd better get them done seeing as how I am the one who is posting the blocks each week for the year 2010. If anyone is interested in joining our party, let me know. I have no idea how to add you to our blog, but I'll figure it out.

This first block is called Double Hourglass. It was for week 50. It is a 9inch block. I didn't follow the instructions very well. I made the hourglass units in groups of two, so I ended up with four of them. I only needed three, so in order not to waste a unit, I put a novelty print in the centre and put the hourglass units around it. This created a whole new block, but it is in keeping with the novelty 9in. blocks I have made in the past. I hope to make all of the 9in. blocks into a baby quilt soon.

The next block is called 'Four Square'. It was for week 51 and it is a 12in. block. This one has lots of HST and 2 1/2 inch units. I like it, but I doubt if I will ever make it again.

And this is the block for week 52. It is called Double Cross. It is a small 8in. block. It was easy and quick. So now I have finished all of the blocks for 2009! That means I have 52+ orphan blocks in my collection. I think it's time to put together some quilts. Don't you?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace. The gladness of Christmas give you hope. The warmth of Christmas grant you love."
- author unknown

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Celebrating Our 43rd Anniversary

Today we are celebrating our anniversary. We have been married 43 years. Does that seem like a lifetime to you? Gosh I feel old! I wish I could post a photo of our wedding day, but unfortunately, there are no photos. The ones we had taken by a family member did not turn out. The film broke (old days before digital) and all of our photos were gone! We did take a few more a few days later, but they are all slides. (I think that was the most economical way to take photos back then) Although we had several slides made into prints, we gave all those away. We always meant to make photos for ourselves, but it just didn't happen. So I am including a photo of the two of us on board a cruise we took to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I still have all of the wedding slides and after the holidays I will go through them and have some printed to make up a little wedding album for myself. I asked the guys at the photo place if they still make photos from slides. They told me it only takes one day to get the photos made. So how come it has taken me 43 years?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

If you came for SkyWatch Friday, please scroll down to the next post.

Today I want to share some of my Christmas decorations with you. My tree is completely decorated in homemade ornaments this year. I did include a few very special ornaments which were given to me over the years and hold a lot of sentiment for me. The rest have all been made by me over the years.
This first one is part of my Folk Art Bear collection. I cut the shapes out on my scrollsaw, then my DD and I painted them with acrylics. I have given many away, but luckily I still have some. Maybe one day when the time is right, I will make some more.

The next two are part of my Stained Glass collection. A few years back, I made these little angels in all shapes and sizes. I also made several other shapes, like trees and candles, but I have given them all away.
The little bear was bought in a craft shop, but his little sweater is made out of no.10 crochet cotton.

Here is another stained glass angel. I think she was the first one I ever made. Also in this shot is another folk art bear in his pajamas.

Sorry, the lighting was very bad today. I have all of my lights on because it is so dreary outside. This snowflake should be a very bright white, but I was experimenting with and without the flash. This one is without and it looks kind of pink. I made literally hundreds of these little snowflakes. They make a nice carry-along craft. They fit into a purse and can be worked on any time waiting is involved.

This is an Amigurumi Santa that I made when I was stuck in a chair and couldn't walk. I had lots of time that year. These Santas are very labour intensive! Beside Santa is a little stitchery that I made many years ago. It is also part of a collection of cross stitch ornaments. I really enjoyed making them.

Another snowflake, with better lighting, a tiny crocheted angel and a patchwork star. I drew up the pattern for this one, but I have misplaced it. I want to make a few more of these. I guess I will have to get my drafting board out again. If I did it once, I can certainly do it again.
The little pewter ornament is one of my sentimental ones.

And here is a little basket with cinnamon sticks and lace. The kit for this was offered at a local craft shop in the late 1990's. That shop has since closed, but I still have the little bear in the basket!

He who has not Christmas in his heart,
will not find it under a tree.
- Roy L. Smith

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SkyWatch Friday

I went out on my scooter today. I bundled myself up really well! It was cold, -7C, but the sun was shining, so it didn't seem as bad. I took this photo on my travels to the post office to mail my Christmas cards. This tree is a magnolia. I guess what struck me as interesting was the fact that it already has buds ready to burst forth with some beautiful blooms in about four months. A long cold winter is before us, but this tree gives me hope. Spring will follow. Nature knows it and now I find comfort in knowing it too.

If you want to see more SkyWatch photos go here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Colour in December

My Christmas Cactus is blooming! It must be Christmas.

I love this cactus. I bought it so long ago I can't even remember. It gets a bit fuller each year and blooms profusely starting in the beginning of December. I don't do anything special to it. It lives in my solarium for most of the year and gets lots of sun there. Perhaps that's the key to its success. Lots of sunlight. Then cooler temperatures as the year goes through the fall season. The solarium is heated, but in spring and fall it feels more like the temperatures outside than inside. I think that helps to set the buds.

Here is a closeup of the flowers. They are huge - measuring about four inches in length. I had this plant sitting on my basting table. I also had my batik nine-patch blocks laid out on the same table in order to move the blocks around more easily. When I got up this morning I noticed that the blocks were all mixed up. Many were on the floor and some had fallen behind the table. I know that had to be Mimi's work!

But how can I accuse her of messing up my design when she looks so innocent and cute? After all, it's Christmastime! And at least she didn't push my cactus onto the floor!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some Quilty Things

Welcome to my blog.
If you came to see SkyWatch Friday, just scroll down past this entry.
But of course you are welcome to stay and view my quilts!

You'd think I would have gotten lots of quilting done since my computer was out of commission last week. But I didn't. I was too depressed over my computer and the weather wasn't helping any either. Lots of snow, rain, cold and wind. But today is sunny and I feel much better!

This is my block 49 in the Friday Block Party. It's called 'Cross and Ring' and it is only 8inches square. I like the way it turned out. Just left-overs from other projects, but now they have a special place in this block.
I also finished the table runner with the block from week 48. This turned out nice, eh? That's because Mimi helped me!
And finally I want to show you the finished 'Flowering Sawtooth Star' lap quilt I made for a friend's mother. I finished sewing the binding on last night. Now I can get to work on some of my other Christmas projects. It's very bright and flowery and I hope it will provide warmth and cheer for the person it is intended for.

Notice my Christmas Cactus? This thing never lets me down. It is flowering profusely at the moment and has enough buds to carry it right through to the New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm Back! Just in Time for SkyWatch Friday Too!

At precisely this time last Thursday my computer crashed. OMG! I was devastated to say the least! I took my hard drive to Future Shop. On the advice of the salesperson who served me, I purchased an external hard drive. I had been meaning to get one for a long time. They promised to backup all my files and then reformat my computer. On Monday they phoned me to say my computer was ready to come home. But when I got it home, I discovered that they had given me a blank external drive and I could not find any of my photos and documents. I called and complained - several times and got nowhere. I had visions of all my crazy cat photos ending up on someone else's computer! Poor Mimi! Someone from the store finally called me yesterday and told me that they had found my external drive with all my back ups. Yippee! I did a little happy dance! Mimi is safe!

So I'm up and running now. At least I hope I am. Still trying to find everything and get my machine back the way I like it. But for now here is my entry for SkyWatch Friday. It's a photo I took when I was in Chicago a couple of years ago. I was on a bus trip to see a quilt show. A few of us decided to take the subway downtown. Don't get me wrong, I love nature and the outdoors, but a part of me also loves buildings and cityscapes! I have no idea which building this is, but it caught my fancy, so here it is.

If you want to see more SkyWatch Friday photos just click here. I'll be back in a couple of days to show you all the quilts I have been working on. See you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

With a Little Help from Mimi

If you came here to see 'Sky Watch Friday', it is in the post just below this one. Just scroll down.

For all you quilters out there, I just finished the Block Party block for week 48. Can you believe it's week 48 already? This one is called 'Indian Star'. The block was very easy. It only measures 8 inches square. I had some of my seasonal fabrics out, so I did this one in Christmas fabrics. I like how it turned out.

Mimi - "Meow! I want to see it! Hmmmmm. It's not bad, but it's kinda small."

Me - "I know Mimi. But it is supposed to be that size."

Mimi - "Oh, I think you should make some more blocks and make a blanket for me. Meow! I love this block! Meow, please, meow?"

Me - "Well, okay Mimi. There was a pattern for a small table runner with this block. Maybe I will try that."

Mimi - "Oh, boy! I love this. And it's for the table. I can sleep on it on the table. Purrrr!"

Me - "Well, we'll have to see about that."

I didn't use the pattern that was on Quilters Cache for the runner. I don't like templates when I am machine piecing, so I made it up as I went along. I still have to sandwich and quilt it, but I think I will use one of the free-motion machine patterns I learned last week. I have a lot of other things to sandwich today too. Better get going. I also want to take my scooter up to the yarn store and it looks as if it is going to rain soon. It's cold and dreary outside. Yeah, I guess it is week 48 of this year. Christmas is less than a month away!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sky Watch Friday

It's nearly the end of November! The trees are bare. It gets dark at 5:00pm now. We have had rain on most days. It's getting cold. I can't get out on my scooter anymore. So.... no photos, nothing wonderful anyways. Only this street light taken on a clear day last week.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers no leaves, no birds -

- Thomas Hood, "No!"

If you would like to see more better photos, go here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kinda Like a Mini Vacation!

I have not posted in several days. But nothing is wrong! In fact, everything is going great! I just haven't had time to get to my computer!

I had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Tuesday to learn how to machine quilt. The course was called 'Beyond Stippling' and was taught by Elaine Quehl, an Ottawa area fibre artist. She did a trunkshow of her work at our Guild Meeting on Monday evening. Amazing stuff! You can see some of it here! Then she stayed in Toronto overnight to teach us how to machine quilt the next day.

Since I have no way to get around at the moment, a quilting friend (quilting friends are so great, aren't they?) offered to drive me. So I spent Monday night at my DD's house. It was fun. Kind of like a sleep-over! Then yesterday morning my friend picked me up, wheelchair, sewing machine and all, and we went to the workshop. It was a lot of fun and the time went by so quickly I couldn't believe it! Here is some of the quilting I did. Before this I was only doing simple meandering stippling stuff, but now I feel as if I could handle much more difficult designs!

It is actually like drawing. We were told to practice everyday with pencil and paper to make machine quilting easier. That sounds good to me. I love to doodle! Everyone loved the class and Elaine! She had laryngitis, but kept on teaching anyway. What a trouper!

My friend drove me back to my DD's house after the workshop and I had dinner there. Homemade pizza! Yum! My DH came for dinner and then took me home last night. I know I was only away from home for one night, but it felt like a mini vacation. It has rejuvenated me. Now I'm off to my sewing room to see what I can do with what I was taught yesterday. I know I still have a lot to learn, but I feel much more confident of my skills.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Berry Picking

I took this photo one summer a few years ago when we were camping in Algonquin Park. This is in the abandoned airfield. It is off highway 60 on the road that leads to Mew Lake Campgrounds. Not too many people know that this used to be a working airfield. During WWII planes took off and landed here, but the area has not been used as an airfield since the 1960s. It's a huge, flat, open space with lots of blueberries ripe for the picking. We have also seen numerous deer in this area. Bears have also been spotted here. The weather can change quickly in Algonquin Park. One minute it can be sunny and the next there can be a deafening thunder storm! I loved the clouds on this day. With the flat, open space, the sky looked as if it could just swallow us up. Oh, and by the way, we picked lots of blueberries to put in our pancakes the next morning for breakfast.

If you want to see more Sky Watch photos just click on the icon below.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A "Quilts From the Heart" Finish - Sort of....

I finished another charity quilt. It's a Disappearing Nine Patch... again. The woman who looks after our 'Quilts from the Heart' program called me to see if I wanted to do a DNP. "Why not?" I said. So she brought me a kit at our last Guild meeting. There was enough fabric to make two identical Disappearing Nine Patch lap-size quilts. I took the kit home, but I warned her that I may not get them both finished until after Christmas. She said that was fine. And I normally don't like to make two of anything. I'm a one-of-kind person, I guess. But I pieced the blocks, cut them apart and put them back together. So now I have two identical quilts.

One has been quilted, but the other one is still a nice place for Felix to relax on. I hope to get it quilted in the next day or so. Then I can finish some things for myself. Oh, and making two quilts the same was not as difficult as I had imagined.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Love My Hippo

Remember that crochet pattern book my sister bought me, "Cute Little Animals"? I wanted to make a couple of cats and maybe a dog. The elephant is also cute. But Mimi wanted me to make her a Hippo! So I did. What can I say? Mimi gets what she wants.

"Meow! Nibble, nibble, YUM, YUM! Thanks Mom! I love my Hippo."

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Version of Carolyn's Star

This is the block for week 46 of the Friday Block Party. It is called Carolyn's Star and is very similar to week 14th block, Cathy's Star. The instructions in Quilter's Cache are for both a 12-inch block and a 9-inch block. I decided to go for the 9-inch block because I have already made a lot of 12-inch blocks this year. But after I had cut all the fabrics I was having second thoughts. Those triangles were very small! I wondered if I should change gears and make the 12-inch block, but because I didn't want to waste all that cutting and all that fabric, I carried on with the 9-inch one.

I think it turned out okay, but those little triangles made for a lot of work for such a small block.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Scroll down if you came to see Sky Watch Friday.

Last week LV of Thoughts From Meme's Corner awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award. At first I thought I would pass on it, but as I was looking through an old photo album, I realized that I have led a very interesting life. So I downloaded some pics and wrote a few comments and then I hit the publish button. To my horror, Blogspot was not working. I got an error message and my entire post was gone! My thoughts went back to just passing on the award.

But now I think I will post a few of the photos and maybe do a few more tomorrow and/or the next day. That way if I lose it all again it won't be so much to redo.
The rules are simple.

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and put it on your blog.
3. Link back to the nominating person's blog.
4. List seven things about yourself that people may not know.
5. Nominate other Kreativ Bloggers by posting it on your blog, linking to them and leaving them a message.

1. This was the building where I got my first job. It is the old CIBC building at 25 King St.W. in Toronto. I worked for a very large legal firm there. I was a clerk, messenger, receptionist and whatever else they wanted me to be. I didn't love the job, but I loved the old building I worked in. It is still standing even though many other old buildings have been demolished to make way for huge glass and marble office towers. This building had high ceilings, marble inlaid mosaics on the floor, elevator operators and it was the highest building in downtown Toronto at the time. (1966) I eventually left this job and became a keypunch operator. It payed more and I was able to get a job closer to home. But I eventually gave that up too, to become a stay-at-home Mom.
2. Here is a photo of my two munchkins. This was taken when they were about 3 and 1. I stayed home and totally dedicated myself to raising them. Those were the best years of my life!

3. As a family we have always loved the nature and the outdoors. Camping was one of our favourite summer activities. When the kids were young we had a small trailer, but as they grew up, our favourite summer activity was camping in Algonquin Park. Not just ordinary camping, but wilderness camping. We would go from lake to lake, setting up our campsite and taking it down the following day. We portaged our belongings over rugged terrains, sometimes for a couple of hundred meters to over a kilometer.
All our food had to be hung high off the ground so that raccoons and bears would not get it. We enjoyed lots of fantastic scenery, the odd moose, many deer, beavers and chipmunks. We could even hear the howling of a lone wolf on clear cool nights. The stars up there were fantastic. We experienced many meteor showers and also the magnificent colours of the Aurora Borealis. I hoped to pass the love and respect for nature onto my children and I can honestly say that I achieved this.

Stay tuned. I'll do some more tomorrow.
And if you are interested in seeing my entry for this week's Scenic Sunday, go to my other blog, here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Starting Something New!

If you have come to see my Sky Watch Friday post, please scroll down to yesterday's entry. This post is about quilting, but you are welcome to stay and look around.

I started a new wall hanging!
"Oh, no!" you say, "Not another new project! What happened to
finishing UFO's?"
Well.... I was waiting to get some more fabric to finish the flower quilt and just couldn't help myself. I found this cute little wall hanging on the front of the current Fons and Porter magazine and just fell in love with it. So I started experimenting with the centre star block and a few of the tree blocks. I love the way they turned out! But today I am going to finish the flower quilt - I promise! I hope to be able to show it to you tomorrow - the flimsy part at least.
I don't think I have anything to worry about. Mimi seems to approve of my 'beginning-new-projects' mania! She has inspected my blocks and thinks they are great!

"Thanks Mimi!"


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Bonaire Sunset

A sunset as seen from the island of Bonaire.

If you want to see more Skywatch Friday photos please click on the icon below.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Today is Remembrance Day here in Canada. A day to remember and give thanks to those who fought for our freedom. Lest we forget. We stop for two minutes to remember them at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe.
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

- Written by Lt. Col. John McCrae in 1915 after a friend died during the first world war.
It is Veteran's Day in the States.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Party Time

This week's Party block is called 'Cross in a Cross'. It's an 8-inch block. Although it had lots of bias pieces and seams, it was an easy block to construct. Mimi likes it!
"Don't you Mimi?"

"Meow! Ya sure? But, shhhhhh! Be quiet! Don't move! We are having a party of our own. A birdwatching party!"
The backyard was infiltrated with Slate-coloured Juncos. There were hundreds of them, eating the seeds of the 'Black-eyed Susans' and 'Echinacea'. So I joined in the party and watched the fun along with my fur babies.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Sunrise

After a glorious seven days of cruising around in the Caribbean, we docked in Fort Lauderdale and awoke to this beautiful sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. A nice ending to a wonderful trip!

If you want to see more Sky Watch photos, just click on the icon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

May the Force Be With You.......

First of all, a great big thank you to all those who offered me advice with the star quilt yesterday. I really appreciated it! I still have two more blocks to finish and then I am going to sew it together. When that is done I will probably take it to the quilt shop to see what I can put around for a border. I don't have much flowery fabric left, so I will probably have to buy some. I think I will go with a narrow first border in a dark blue - I have some of that.

On Sunday I went over to visit Nynke at The Life of a Dutch Purple Rabbit. She showed some Star Wars related things that she saw at a show in Essen, Germany on the weekend. I think I still have family who live there. I have even gone there when I was a child, so I found it interesting. And the Star Wars stuff - well, let me just say we have a love of Star Wars at our house. Not me so much, but my DS has his whole apartment decorated in Star Wars posters and figurines.

He was the one who dragged me to see a Sci-Fi show here in Toronto a few years ago. There were Darth Vaders and Storm Troopers everywhere! Here is a photo of me and a Storm Trooper. Can you tell which one is the Storm Trooper? Okay, good. This photo was taken just before the symptoms of my neurological disorder became apparent. You can already see how tired I looked. Anyway, that's my excuse for the wrinkles and age spots!

Monday, November 02, 2009

On My Design Floor........

I know! I know! Blogtoberfest is over and I don't have to post something every day. But I just want you to see what I have done with the star lap quilt so far. They are not laid out in any particular order. I just placed them on the floor as I made them. The blocks measure about 10inches square, so if I have 4 across and 5 down, that will be about 40" by 50". Maybe a small border to make the quilt 48" by 58". Does that sound like a lap quilt size? Are those flowery fabrics too much? What do you think? I want your opinion!