Thursday, July 31, 2008


I've come to the conclusion I don't like change. Must be an age thing. We just got a new computer and everything is different - the keyboard, my favourites layout - it's going to take me ages to find my favourite blogs now - the sound - the mouse - you name it, it's different. We did get this computer with XP - we tried Vista last year and after 3 days of total frustration, Leo sent it back as none of 'my' programs would run on it, most specifically my embroidery software.

I'm sure after a while this one will become familiar, but right now, I'm yearning for my old one - with the speed of this new one, of course.

Leo has nicknamed this tower Darth Vader as it's black and shiny - not that you can see it once it's inside the desk cabinet. Never having watched Star Wars, this means nothing to me :-)

The big news of the day is Canada is finally going to get a "Do Not Call" registry. As of September 30th, we'll be able to register our number. Of course, there are exceptions including charities, political parties, pollsters and established business relationships. I can hardly wait as I've noticed we are getting more and more unsolicited calls - or maybe I just notice them more since I am home more often.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Phoney" Sheep

These pictures arrived in my in-box yesterday:

They are made completely from old telephones and telephone cords. What kind of imagination must you have to come up with something like this????? Obviously a whole lot more than I'll ever hope to have.

Things were very promising at the specialist's office yesterday - I think we're overdue for some good news.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Day at Port Dover

I took my Mum & Aunt to Port Dover on the shore of Lake Erie yesterday. We sat on the pier and watched the world go by.

I remember Dorothy telling me her sister lived in a house on the hill in Port Dover, but I wasn't sure which hill. It might be the one above - the house behind the Canadian flag? - or it might be on this hill. I waved to both, just in case.

We also met Charlie - he's only 12 weeks old - isn't he adorable!

Then we had lunch at the Erie Beach Hotel - fresh Lake Erie pickerel, salads and delicious celery bread.

Since the recipient received her gift yesterday, I can now show the front of Onalee's quilt.

I quilted this with King Tut, top and bobbin. A lot of people have trouble running King Tut, but Tillie handled it like a dream.



We've been waiting a long time for today to come - Leo sees the specialist in Toronto this afternoon. No one wishes more than I do that he has some positive news.

A Special Treat

I've told you about the beautiful needle felted bears that my friend Onalee makes. She has given me her permission to show you some of her amazing work that she's given me over the years. This little guy with his precious little passenger arrived last week for my birthday. He reminds me of the Coca Cola bears I love so much and as Onalee warned me, I'll need to keep this one away from Sandra or it might disappear - she's crazy about penguins!

This is another of my favourites - heck, they are all my favourites - who am I kidding!

Don't you just love the expression on his little face!

She crocheted this little dress - and knitted the scarf on the polar bear above. I don't know how she does it - she must knit on sewing pins as it is so tiny and delicate.

This little bunny (complete with glasses) is surrounded by buttons and thread.

Just to give you an idea of scale, here they are beside a can of Diet Coke (NOT Diet Pepsi). I am in awe of her imagination, her creativity and her talent.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Shoes & Quilts - In That Order

I love them! They are SO comfortable and they really do rock - your foot has a rocking motion when you walk in them. My biggest problem was trying to figure out what colour to buy but since these are for summer and they are so much fun - I went with - yup - the magenta patent!

Leo just shook his head at my excitement over a pair of shoes. His question is always the same - how many feet do you have and why do you need so many shoes? I've got a ways to go before I catch up with Sandra - she has over 100 pairs - even I'm not THAT bad - and we are both proud to say there is not a Croc in the bunch! I'm sure I've just offended a whole group of Croc lovers, but I'm sorry, I just think they are UGLY! I have tried them on and I don't find them comfortable - all those little prickly things bother my tender tootsies.

Back to the quilting front. Here is the finished blue and white top - version 1:

I spent the day putting Version 2 together and I'm going to take Nadine's suggestion and fiddle with the pieced border to "make" it fit the lap size. I'm ready to move on to something else.

Today a very dear friend is celebrating a very special birthday. Now, I wouldn't want to tell you how old she is (that wouldn't be polite) but it's not her 40th and it's not her 50th, so it must be her 39th - right? Happy birthday Onalee - I can't believe I know someone as OLD as you! Love and hugs across the miles.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Who Doesn't Like New Shoes!

I was sitting beside a lady at the hair salon yesterday and she had on the cutest shoes. I just had to ask her where she got them and since no self respecting gal doesn't like to talk about shoes, we had a great conversation. These are the shoes she had on and they are available in a multitude of colours (I think I'll get the pink ones). Not only are they cute, but they are comfortable and actually GOOD for your feet.

Foot problem? No problem!Removable footbed allows insertion of custom orthotics to reduce your problems.

Don't sweat it - naturally breathable leather insole with built-in arch support to bring even more happiness to your feet.

Footbed designed to form the natural shape of your feet for long lasting comfort.

Engineered to roll naturally reducing heel and central metatarsal pressure. Rocker outsole also encourages proper posture and normal gait. In English? You ROCK!

Extra depth makes a roomier fit and a roomier fit makes wiggling all five toes easy and fun.

Flat bottom maximizes contact with floor for increased stability. Ooh look, butterflies on the sole!

I did get my blue & white quilt top finished - I'll post pictures when I get back from the shoe store...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where UFOs Come From

Back to the blue and white quilt. There are two border options on the pattern and I had decided to try both on two lap sized quilts. Well, I got the pieced border partially assembled then realized it won't work on the lap size quilt - only the full size. I've almost finished putting 'regular' borders on one, but now I have another decision to make.

Do I totally scrap all the pieces for the pieced border, or do I make the second lap sized quilt bigger (full size) so the borders will work? I haven't decided yet, but I have a feeling the second one with all the pieces is going to go in a bag and simmer a while until I decide what I feel like doing. Just like that - another UFO.

I took a vacation day today and took some embroidery classes at my Husqvarna dealer. Most of what I know about embroidery (which isn't much) has been self taught or I've learned it online. The classes were definitely worth it - especially since they didn't cost me anything - they came with my machine. The inspiration alone in that store is worth the trip.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Dodged The Bullet

The nice repairman was able to fix our fridge - yayyyyy. It was something to do with the defrost mechanism and I had to completely empty the freezer side so he could 'do his thing'. He was here over two hours and the bill was only $260 which I thought was a bargain.

We ended up throwing 90% of what was in there out as I don't want to take any chances. All our meat and poultry is in the freezer downstairs anyway, so it wasn't as bad as it sounds, and I now have a nice clean fridge - that works!

I'm back working on the borders of my blue and white quilt but the mess in my sewing room is seriously distracting me. I don't think I've ever seen it as bad as it is right now but I don't have anywhere to put all the crap stuff.

The room downstairs which is devoted exclusively to my longarm has lots of storage space available, but I don't want to put my sewing machine down there. I really like that the two areas are separate and at least one of them is neat and tidy. Even if I were to store some fabric downstairs, I'd constantly be running up and down when I'm looking for something and quite frankly, these old arthritic knees just aren't up to it.

I've looked through Ikea's website at various storage solutions but what I'd really like is someone to come and see what I have and tell me what I need to organize it efficiently. I'm sure there is someone like that out there - I just need to find them.

Since I hate posting without a picture, I'll leave you with this very bad one that I took with my cell phone last week. Michael Miller has a fabric line here and this is what one of the quilt stores did with it:

It is much more stunning in person - and it would have been nice if I got the whole quilt in the picture. I was trying to take a picture without the owner seeing what I was doing. They did some improvising and added cloud fabric to the top of the 'window'. I'm not sure I like their colour choices for the panes, but I'd like to give one of these a try......someday. Yes, I bought the fabric.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fridges & Dishwashers & Stoves, Oh My

Monday morning and I'm sitting here patiently waiting for the appliance repairman to appear. Our fridge isn't working - great timing when it's been 90ยบ outside for days. Leo thinks it's the compressor and if so, a new fridge is probably in our future. Then comes the fun of trying to find one that fits in the old one's footprint.

Our dishwasher has been leaking for years - yes years, but we can't find a new one that would fit in the same spot as the old one. They now make them higher or lower - I can't remember which. It's not like the one we have is ancient - it's probably about 13 years old - same age as the fridge. So every time we run the dishwasher, we have to remember to put a towel in front in case it leaks - it doesn't always leak - it only leaks when you forget to put the towel down.

Our current appliances are all almond and our kitchen cabinets are bleached oak - they look good together, but, you guessed it - they don't make almond appliances anymore. So, if we have to buy a new fridge, we either have to go with white, black or stainless steel and then it won't match the stove - which still works perfectly.

Why do they have to make everything so difficult?

On the quilting front, I did finish a quilt this weekend but since it's a bit of a secret, I don't want to show the front right now. It did get Ben's full seal of approval though:


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Just What I Needed

On Thursday night I had dinner with some old friends. We get together every couple of months or so, but this was a very special get together. Through my highschool reunion website, my bridesmaid reconnected with me. She had moved away 33 years ago and as these things so easily happen, we lost touch. Well, she came back to have dinner with us on Thursday night and it was wonderful to see her again.

Pictured from left to right - Marg, me, Shirley (my bridesmaid), Trudy (my maid of honour) and Susan. The years just slipped away as we reminisced and caught up on 33 years - yikes!

Then yesterday I spent the day with my 'new' best friend, doing a mini shop hop. We had such a good time and I enjoy her company so much. We did manage to buy a yard or two (or twenty) of fabric but the shared company was the highlight of my day. She's probably at home right now working on her appliqued nutcrackers :-)

I'm glad that black cloud has disappeared.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Black Days in July

If you are looking for an uplifting post then skip this one today. Do you ever feel that you are surrounded by bad news and a black cloud is constantly over your head?

I remember feeling this way after 9/11 - Leo and I were stranded in Chicago and couldn't get home. It was overwhelmingly sad to watch the events unfold. Michigan Avenue was like a ghost town with armed guards lining both sides of the street. There wasn't a rental car to be had in the city, the trains were fully booked and as the days went by and there was still no air travel, I must admit I was terrified that they would close the borders and it would be months before we were reunited with our family. We did finally get home, but only when one of Leo's co-workers drove down to pick us up.

I'm feeling kind of like that now. You all know about the health problems Leo's been dealing with this year and yesterday I received the devastating news that a good friend had suddenly lost her husband - he suffered a massive heart attack - he was only 57. I'm afraid that news hit a little too close to home. Their daughter is to be married in just over two weeks. I can only imagine how she is feeling, but when I talked to her last night she told me she was so afraid. That, I can relate to - I've been living in fear for months.

Another very good friend has a sister in law that has decided she no longer wants to live. She's in her 80s and she just wants to go - she's had enough. While she's at peace with her decision, it is very hard for her loved ones to accept this.

Yet another friend recently told me her son's girlfriend's sister is in ICU with an illness the doctors are unable to diagnose - she has a 3 week old baby and she's only 28. She is in and out of consciousness and all she is able to say is - I need to feed my baby. Absolutely heartbreaking.

I think the black cloud has been hanging around here long enough and it's time for some optimism and blue skies.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Made In China - Eh?

Turns out the Canadian Olympic athletes uniforms and all the replicas for sale to the public were made in China. Apparently it would be "impractical" to insist on strictly Canadian-made uniforms. The supposed reality is that there is no longer the manufacturing capacity in Canada that can meet the volumes that are necessary to manufacture, particularly the replica clothing, that is sold to the public. Canada’s manufacturing industry has been decimated by cheap foreign imports — especially from China — and the rising Canadian dollar.

The replicas will be sold in Canada by what "used" to be the Hudson's Bay Company, but they were bought out today by an equity company that owns Lord & Taylor. Now, I like Lord & Taylor, but it's really sad to see all our retailers disappear. First it was Simpson's, then Eaton's, now The Bay - what's next - Canadian Tire - Tim Horton's?

If Tim Horton's disappears, at least I'll know where it went - to Teenytinytown, Vermont!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Open Mouth - Insert Foot

Remember the book I was talking about yesterday that I had no recollection of buying....well, I didn't buy it - it was GIVEN to me. My dear friend Onalee called me last night to chat and check on Leo, and casually mentioned that she had given me that book. I felt terrible - and what's even worse, after she told me, I still don't remember when she gave it to me.

Of course, this very talented lady has given me many beautiful gifts over the years - most of them handmade and all of them memorable.

This is just a very small sampling of some of the beautiful work she does. She MADE all of these - the small ones are needle felted and they are absolutely exquisite. I'd love to post pictures of more of her work, but I'd like to get her permission first. The expressions she puts on the tiny needle felted animals is unbelievable - they have such personality and the details on them is incredible.

The funny thing is I do remember Onalee giving me a Kaffe Fasset book - one I just love to look through.

but that Judy Martin book I'm just drawing a complete blank on. Maybe it was in Houston and you know what they say - what happens in Houston stays in Houston - well, that's what I'm saying anyway. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

If I Only Had A Brain

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about having a Shakespeare in the Park quilt on my to do list. Beth left me a comment telling me about Judy Martin's Virginia Stars sampler quilt and I hate to admit how long I spent trying to find a picture of that quilt and also which of Judy's books it was in. Well, I finally found it in Knockout Blocks and Sampler Quilts.

Then I searched Ebay, Amazon and just about everywhere else for the best price on that book. You already know I'm impulsive. I had an order all ready to place with Amazon but didn't quite have enough for the free shipping so for some unknown reason, I held off placing my order. Good thing too.

Today, as I was looking through my quilt books for some inspiration, guess what I found - yup - this book. I have absolutely no recollection of ever buying it.

Since I have bought the same book twice before, about a year ago I made an Excel spreadsheet with all my quilt books on it. It took me hours to input all the information but it isn't as good an idea as it may seem. You see, first of all you have to have a copy of the list with you when you are shopping, and second, you have to remember to update it when you buy a new book. I had looked on this list for Judy's book, but it wasn't there, so whenever I bought it, I didn't add it to my list.

I'm sure most of you have seen the "icanhascheezburger" and "ihasahotdog" websites. I just couldn't resist posting this one as it really made me chuckle.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Earth Shattering Decision

Yes, that's what I've made - an earth shattering decision. Here's the latest progress on my blue and white quilt:

The pattern for this has two different border options and I can't decide which one I like best. If I was so inclined, I could probably sketch them out in EQ5 but since it would probably take me longer to do that than to sew them on, I've made a decision. Instead of making one large bed quilt, I'm making two lap size quilts, then I can try a different border on each one. What you see above is the finished size of one, minus the borders.

I had in mind the perfect border for this - something like this - minus the quarter:

I used to have some of this - in fact, I used to have a lot of this, but now that I want it, I don't have any left - it's Northcott's Abbey Road. When I couldn't find anything similar, I did buy something that will work, but I keep second guessing myself. I could also see a nice blue and white toile border working....

It's pretty sad when the highlight of my day is trying to decide on a fabric. I keep wondering when, if ever, life is going to get back to normal around here, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fabric Friday

Leo is feeling much better today, so I'm feeling better too. Leo well = Irene happy - not too complicated an equation!

Sandra and I made a quick trip across the border. I have a very kind friend who lives in the Buffalo area that lets me ship things to her address, then I pick them up from her. The savings in shipping costs is unbelievable.

Remember those bolts of fabric I ordered? Well, here they are:

The one on top is going to be perfect as a backing for the blue quilt I'm working on and I'm sure I'll be able to put the others to good use too.....eventually.

Here are the other two:

I just couldn't resist these as backings for baby quilts - bubbles and balloons. I have lots of the circus fabric left and these will work perfectly as backings for them.

We also picked up the wedding invitations. Price to ship to U.S. $8.00 - Price to ship to Canada - $25.00 - Having a kind friend in Buffalo - Priceless!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Now I'm Getting Somewhere

This quilt top is finally starting to take shape and I'm pleased with the results. Remember these?

Well, I sewed all 80 of these little suckers together the wrong way thanks to 'my' interpretation of the pattern. Another reason why I don't like doing all the cutting and piecing before the blocks start to take shape.

I took a vacation day today as Leo isn't doing very well and I wanted to keep an eye on him. He's having another pancreatitis attack and if it gets any worse, we'll be headed to Emergency - again. He has an appointment to see a specialist in Toronto at the end of this month and he's on their cancellation list, but we don't hold out much hope that he'll get in any earlier. I could go on a huge rant about our medical system, but I'll save that for another day as I don't even have it in me to rant right now. I'm just not sure how much more either one of us can take.

The only positive outcome of all this stress is I've been sewing up a storm in an attempt to calm my nerves - it obviously isn't working when I sew 80 pieces together the wrong way! I've been sewing late into the night - something I very rarely do and probably shouldn't since I spent the best part of today 'unsewing' all those seams. Oh, well, at least I'm keeping the thread companies in business!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

What On Earth Was I Thinking?

First I made 12 of these:

Then I made 48 of these:

Then I made 80 of these:

and now I'm in the process of cutting 160 of each of these:

and I still have more cutting to do. This is the point where I ask myself - why didn't I make this a lap sized quilt and it would have been finished by now?

I have discovered something while doing this - I like instant gratification. I like to see the quilt take shape as I go along which this one isn't. All the cutting and piecing must be completed before I can start assembling the blocks and rows. I want to see what it looks like NOW.

I can't imagine being one of those people who work for years on a quilt - I guess I have a short attention span.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lazy Sunday

I quilted my Dr.'s receptionist's quilt this morning - didn't take very long as it wasn't very big. I used Keryn Emerson's Double Plume which is one of my favourite pantos. Sorry, I didn't get a picture.

I spent most of the rest of the day outside reading. It has been a glorious weekend here - mid 70s, no humidity and not a cloud in the sky. My kind of weather. I'm reading Joy Fielding's Charley's Web - I'd highly recommend it - and if you haven't read her very first book, See Jane Run - it's an excellent read.

I also worked on my blue and white blocks but I'm not getting anywhere fast with those as a certain little someone wanted to sit on my knee.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Morning At The Park

I spent the morning at the park with Johnathan and I'm not sure who had more fun - him or me. He is an adorable little boy and he was as good as gold. He showed me his new baby brother but his only comment on him was "he cries a lot". I did get to hold him for almost half an hour. It's been a long time since I've held a newborn baby and it sure was nice!

After seeing this last picture, I told his Mum we need to get him a cap with a smaller brim or me a camera with a faster lens!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July to My American Friends

I got two labels embroidered this morning - one for my Dr.'s receptionist and one for baby Alexander's quilt.

Since the quilt is a circus theme, I went with a lion on the label - lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

I had a Dr.'s appointment this afternoon, so I took the finished label with me. Fran (the receptionist) said she wanted to pick my brain about the quilting. She usually quilts everything by hand, but didn't have enough time to do this wedding quilt that way so she was going to try free motion quilting for the first time. She showed me the simple stipple pattern she had chosen and asked me if it would be difficult. She was really stressing that she would ruin the whole thing with her quilting. You know where this is going, don't you.

Instead of just offering the advice she asked for, I offered to quilt it for her. She didn't know I had a longarm and I assured her it wouldn't take long as the quilt isn't very big. She's dropping it off tomorrow morning.

I'm in for a real treat tomorrow. I'm going to see the new baby and play with his big brother Johnathan for a while to give his Mum and Grandma a break. I am really looking forward to it. Here is Alexander Michael just after his birth on Tuesday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I've Found The Answer!

Want a great stashbusting tip? Check this out! Maybe it's just me, but that room looks like something out of the 60s - it would give the poor baby nightmares.

What took me to that site in the first place is I was looking for this:

It's by Michael Miller and I can't decide if I like it or hate it. The inner panel is called Winter Chateau and I know I like that but I'm not sure if the fractured borders add or detract from it. It's certainly different and I'd like to see it in person.

I spent my lunch hour today calling our local quilt stores looking for Thangles. Not one of them had any. Why does that not surprise me. Speaking of Thangles, I love this quilt made with them:

They sell the kit made from hand dyes but at over $200 plus shipping, I'm just going to admire it from afar.....for now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Alexander!

Yesterday was Canada's birthday but a very special little boy was born today. Darren's sister gave birth this afternoon to Johnathan's baby brother - Alexander. Talk about fast - she posted a message on Facebook at noon saying she was in pain and today was the day. I got a call at 2:45 P.M. this afternoon telling me Alexander had been born. I'm sure I'll be getting a picture soon - after all, he is my adopted grandson! Now that I know his name and birthdate, I can get busy embroidering the label for his quilt.

Talking of quilt labels - I gave my Dr. a quilt last year and his receptionist called me today to ask where I got the label I put on it. I told her I made it myself so she asked if I would do one for a wedding quilt she just finished. There is nothing I wouldn't do for my Dr. and his staff, so of course I said yes.

I called the quilt store today and signed up for McKenna Ryan's Block of the Month. I have until October to change my mind. Maybe sanity will set in between now and then.

A nurse comes in twice a week to check on Leo and the one he has had for the last month is really thorough - and also really nice - she even brings dog biscuits for Ben. We call him the little nursing assistant as he watches very carefully when I give Leo his injections and change his dressings. Of course, for all that good nursing, he expects a goodie when we're finished - and you all know I couldn't deny him anything!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday Canada

Canada celebrates it's 141st birthday today - from sea to shining sea!

I didn't get much accomplished today (actually, I got nothing accomplished at all) as it was Stitch N Chat day and we went out for lunch after our get together. It was a really enjoyable day and what better way to celebrate Canada Day than with friends.

Nobody has managed to talk me out of buying McKenna's new series yet - in fact, many of you have actually encouraged me to go for it - imagine - quilters encouraging other quilters to spend money - absolutely unheard of! I alternate between "I don't really need them" and "they would be a real bitch to quilt" and "what the hell, you only live once". Right now, the devil is in the lead. I'm sure this Block of the Month will sell out quickly so I better make up my mind soon as I want the same Hoffman fabrics shown in the original - none of this 'making it my own' for me.