Saturday, December 26, 2009

Stockings - part 3

Here is the last stocking I made - on Christmas Eve and completed on Christmas morning.

The toe part is stuffed to retain the shape. Both the toe and the cuff are upholstery samples. Once again, the main fabric is that gorgeous purple non wale corduroy. Too bad the colour just does not come through too good.

The recipient this time is my eldest son Mark. The making of these stockings all came about because I wanted to make him a grown-up stocking. He is 30 and for years he would not allow me to make him a new stocking. His original one was made by him in red felt and glued together with his name in glued-on glitter. He had a Santa face on it and he had made it all himself. It did not have a loop to hang it up with but a hole in the middle and this year, the felt ripped away, leaving shredded felt. These stockings will all be embelleshed eventually - with bells and probably more gold accents.

Stockings - part 2

This is the second stocking I made using upholstery samples. The shoe part and cuff are made from a gorgeous piece of non wale purple corduroy. Unfortunately, the colour does not show up in the photo. The stocking is trimmed with gold ribbon in various widths.

This time the recipient was my daughter-in-las Kate. I have wanted to make this stocking for a long time and I am glad I finally got around to it.


Just before Christmas I made some new stockings. Santa needed to see something a bit more grown up - something fitting adults.

Here's the first one. Done crazy quilting style with upholstery samples.

And a photo of Casey, the recipient.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mail came

Only one piece came in today's regular mail and guess what? It was for me. A Christmas card all the way from Satu in Finland. It seems she has been busy making a few hand made Christmas cards and I was one of the lucky (actually, special) recipients.

A truly beautiful work of art and it will become one after the holidays. My daughter Maili told me that I should frame it and I told her I had already thought of it. Satu wrote that she imagined the trees in Canada when she sewed the card. There are pockets of Finns in various parts of Canada and especially here in Ontario, they are up north where there is mining and logging. When I was growing up I had heard that the Finns settled up north because the landscape reminded them so much of their homeland (trees and lakes). Lyn Cook wrote a children's book called "Bells on Finland Street" which takes place in Sudbury. A wonderful book. Thunder Bay is another northern city that has a lot of Finns. There is a famous restaurant called "Hoito" (which means care or caring.) The building is a heritage site and here's a little background info:

"Located at 314 Bay Street in Thunder Bay, Ontario, it is home to the world famous "Hoito Restaurant" as well as a dance hall, the offices of a national Finnish language newspaper, and The Finnish Museum on the upper floors. The building has been designated a Heritage Building due to its architectural and historic significance."

I have had the pleasure of eating there about three times so far. The portions are substantial and the price very reasonable.

This is my icicle doll from another swap that I was involved in. She came in the afternoon and delivered by a Canada Post truck. She is special. I love the colours of her. Black and grey/silver. She has pigtails in burgundy. Thank you Therese, she is now on my special tree - in the kitchen. I love her face and hope to get into making clay faces in the near future.

And here's Maili modelling one of her creations. It's a Christmas present. She made four aprons - two waist length and two full aprons. This one is a total Maili design. They are all for her boyfriend's family and I shipped them off to California today. I do hope they get them in time for Christmas. She spent a lot of time on the aprons. I was just the go-to person when there were questions. All the fabrics came from my stash so she helped me lower the volume.

That's it for today. I did no sewing at all today. The time went by with trying to mail packages to England and California (one place is no longer a post office I found out), dentist appointment (just a thorough cleaning), then mailing the packages at a real post office outlet (they are now privatized), and then going to the Christmas party at my mom's nursing home. After that, I wrapped gifts to pack in yet another package so that it could get shipped to BC tomorrow where my eldest daughter and her husband live.

I'm off to bed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Updates, Christmas tree and Momiji swap

Well, first of all, I just got off the phone with the little girl in London. All is well and she will be spending Christmas with a friend of her sister's in Scotland. Two trains and a ferry ride on Christmas Eve.

Once upon a time, I wanted my very own Christmas tree in my kitchen. Just a small one that could sit on a small table would be fine. One day a few years ago we were at one of those big box hardware stores that have a nursery department and I found this twig tree. It was love at first sight and of course, once again I heard the familiar "What do you want it for, we don't need it, where are you going to put it?" You know, the words you don't really care to hear. The twig tree was totally collapsible and did not cost very much at all. It came home and usually sits in a corner of the kitchen but this year someone put it in the basement and I could not find it. Well, it was finally located and here it is. Doesn't look like much but it doesn't take up mush space either.

This is the tree as I saw it in the store.

Here it is decorated. This is not the usual spot for it but it fits fine. There is even a small angel as a tree topper.

Of course, the lights don't do it justice in the middle of the day but I guess you get the picture. I have small red Christmas ball ornaments and tiny Santas on it too.

A while ago I was involved in a Momiji doll swap with a Yahoo group I belong to - Decidedly Different Dolls. My partner and I were the last two to join in (having had fun doing the Hallowe'en doll swap.) Anyway, we were each other's partner and sent off our dolls at the same time. She lives in Washington state and she received my doll within two weeks of me sending it off. This was last month and I had no word of hers. I kept checking the mail every day and today, finally, there it was. It seems that the postal code was not clearly written and I suppose it went to some office so they could mark it in big fat magic marker. Well, here she is. Gotta love that face, eh? Her feet are wire too, just like her hands.

Well, that's the post for today. I've got to get back to some sewing...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reading, writing and photos

Here's the next installment in my journey of making icicle dolls. She is hanging from a twig tree that I use in my kitchen. It is expandable and collapsible. I have not yet decorated it since I haven't found the little lights and balls for it.
This morning I was reading the local newspaper online. It's my homepage and I keep up-to-date with what's going on. It's quick and I can just skim the headlines. I decided to check the latest additions to a section they have called "Acts of Kindness." It's truly uplifting and I always enjoy reading what little things my fellow Torontonians and Canadians are doing to bring a little joy into the life of a stranger. Well, today, as I was reading, there was a letter (a note really because they are all small entries) from a soldier stationed in Afghanistan. It seems he wanted to publicly thank a lady who wrote to him. Through doing a little research (I am a librarian after all), I found out that anyone can write a letter to a soldier. I found a discussion group and there was an address where you send your letter and the letters are then distributed randomly to the troops. The letter can go anywhere a Canadian soldier is stationed. Since my son Eric is now teaching as a long term occasional (the regular teacher is on maternity leave), I thought it would be a wonderful thing for his grade 8 students to do. It is probably too late for a Christmas card but a letter would be nice to receive at anytime. Apparently, you can even send them a Tim Hortons gift card since there is a Timmy's in Kandahar. (don't know how that would work if the letter went elsewhere.) The postage is free until at least January 2010!
Here's the address: "Any Canadian Forces Member"
                               Op Athena
                               P.O. Box 5058 Stn Forces
                               Belleville, Ontario K8N 5W6

This is a wonderful thing to do and takes so little time. I will be getting down to some writing later today. While reading some of the other entries, I found that there were some really wonderful Acts of Kindness stories - especially done by the youth.

And now another photo. Since it is my daughter-in-law's 30th birthday today, there was a party to celebrate on Saturday to which my husband and I got invited to - along with all the young folk. She is the last of the group who was born in the 70s to turn the BIG 30 and so she had to wear a banner that said OLD. What a great sport!
This had been worn for one whole day by the person whose 30th birthday it was. It has now been retired (as you can see, it has been around the block) and there will be something else for the people born in the 80s to wear when they turn the BIG 30.
This is the cake that she picked out. Multi-coloured meringue - delicious. Happy Birthday Kate!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Update on London and Emma's Tree

So now that I have sent my goodies to London and the little girl has received them, I can show you what I have been working on. Some friends of Ayla's went to London to visit relatives and they were kind enough to offer to bring her whatever we wanted. I hurried up to finish these so that she could do a bit of decorating for Christmas - a little bit of home. She is doing well BTW, and both she and Allie have found jobs. February is the month that she and her oldest sister plan on coming home so we will be having a family get-together then.

Here is the completed Emma's Tree. I found some fabric snowflakes and sewed them on with a bead in the middle of each. It is just lightly quilted to hold the batting and backing in place. Ayla called it a piece of art.

Since Ayla will not be home this year for Christmas, and since her stocking is at home, I made her this Santa Mitt to take the place of a stocking. I bought the kit way back in October when Judy and I went to the creative Sewing and Needlework Festival. This kit was put together by my favourite Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan quilt store, The Quilt Patch. I wasn't too keen on the fabrics but was persuaded to sew it with all the fabrics in the kit. I hoped Ayla would like it.

It does have a thin batting and I machine quilted it just to hold it together. The lining is a thin fleece-type material. I am happy to report that Ayla opened these yesterday morning and she loved them. Now, I have to make a few more grown-up stockings for a few of the other family members. The ones that we have used for years and years are a bit childish but this is the first year I was given permission to make new ones. A new tradition I suppose.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas goodies

Isn't  this little guy just the cutest? I picked him up at Pet Smart a couple of months ago when we were there getting Baxter his senior dog food. This little guy was just $5.00 and I ask you, how could I not get him (should have picked up a couple more really.) He has squeeky noise-makers in both paws and both feet. My husband said I did not need another stuffed toy and wondered what I was going to do with him. He was quite persisitent and adamant that this little guy was not coming home with us. Then I said that this little, adorable, soft, stuffed doggy was going to to be given to Toy Mountain at Christmas. I have yet to make it to a mall that has Toy Mountain but I know that if there is another place (like Salvation Army) where I could drop him off, I will. He is sitting on a really bright quilt. More on that below.

Here's a full shot of this quilt. I did not make it. I bought it.
About three weeks ago, my husband and I went to some Christmas craft fairs. Two were in churches and one was in a nursing home. That's where I picked this up. I browsed the crafts that they had and nothing really got my attention. I did buy some baked goods (got to keep up your strength when shopping.) Anyway, there was table with used items manned by a woman sitting in a chair. I spied this quilt because of the bright colours but I did not pick it up to look at it. I went over to check out the silent auction stuff and then I noticed that the lady had picked up the quilt and started re-folding it. I asked my husband to go find out how much she wanted for it (I didn't want to seem too eager - you know how it is.) He said--------are you ready, here it comes---------"What are you going to do with it? We don't need it." I said just go find out. Well, he came back and said she wanted $5.00. Yes, you read right ---------$5.00!!!!!! I said to go and buy it. He did and it wasn't until I got home that I really took a good look at it. It is brand new, big for a baby quilt, made from scraps and leftover blocks sewn together to make a bigger block and machine quilted with a flannel backing. There was even a tag on the back from the maker stating that it was a baby quilt and was to go for the Christmas Holiday Bazaar. Even my husband said that there was more than $5.00 worth of fabric that went into the making of it (he knows the cost of fabric since I have so much.) I will save it for a special little one.

Here's what I received a couple of weeks ago from Carrie. I would have blogged about it earlier but I was without a camera and then, when I got my new camera, I had to figure out how to work it and how to download. Anyway, this is from the Quick Christmas Swap that Vicki and  Jenny hosted. No sewing or making necessary. You were to send two fat quarters, one yard (or metre) of ribbon and two Christmas themed buttons or something that you could sew on. She even tied it up in mini rick rack. Thank you Carrie. If you go to her blog, you will see what I sent her.

Now, I am off to go and sew some more Christmas things. I will post more of what I have already made but it is on its way to the little girl in London and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. More on her later too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bargello with a story

This bargello quilt was made for two reasons. The first reason was that the York Heritage Quilters' Guild was having a quilt show. This was in 2006. I had no new quilts on the go and needed inspiration. That was the year that my daughter Maili's boyfriend, Casey, decided that he would enter the AIDS Lifecycle 5 which is a 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The bike tour includes up to 2,500 bicyclist and more than 500 support crew participants who cycle or crew to raise funds for services and awareness of HIV/AIDS. I have no idea how I came up with the idea of a bargello quilt but here it is. The colours, of course, represent the water (blue), sand (gold), road (white and grey), and of course the trees (brown and green).

I actually made the quilt sideways. After sewing all the pieces together, I turned the whole quilt on it's side so that it was in the position you see here. I stencilled the bike riders on it. It was finished and quilted in time for the show. There was no set plan for the quilting and so I just went with the flow and put in what I thought it needed in each of the colours.
Casey received the quilt just after Christmas that year when Maili brought it to him after her visit home for the holidays. I do believe the label reads "From San Fran to LA."

Note: the AIDS Lifecycle bike tour is an annual event that takes place in late May or early June and earlier this year Casey did it again. This time Maili took part as one of the roadies.
For more info:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Emma's tree and giveaway win

One of the online yahoo groups I belong to is called Learning Fibre Arts or learningfa. One of the women who belongs to the group, Miriam, from Ireland, lost her daughter to cancer a couple of years ago. In order to cope while her daughter battled this disease, Miriam spent hours in her sewing room just cutting fabric. She made this tree in her daughter's honour after she lost her battle with breast cancer. Emma left behind two small daughters of her own.

It is not finished as you can see. It needs a tree trunk and then it needs batting and the backing. I think I may embellish it before I put it together.

I won a giveaway at Carol's blog. She is a Scot in Tennessee. She had several giveaways at the end of October. I love the book and have tried to decide which one I want to do first. None of them are very big and so they are quite doable. Aren't those fabrics great - sewing related - and that little square ruler will be coming in very handy. Thank you Carol.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stitcher's Angel

Well, I knew it was coming since Sandra, my Stitcher's Angel emailed me to let me know that she had posted it. Today, I got the parcel (from Italy) and couldn't wait to open it. I did hesitate for a few hours because I debated with myself as to whether or not to wait until I got my own camera back. I had loaned it to my eldest son Mark so he could take pictures at his Hallowe'en party. I knew my daughter had a camera but it was with her at work. This is her picture. She kindly took several shots for me - and yes, I did open it instead of waiting longer.
As you can see, there are a couple of pieces of fabric, one light and one dark (both with roses on them), a heart-shaped box with a beautifully cross-stitched lid (with a rose on it), a wonderful pincushion that I can hang up that is in the shape of a dress with a beaded necklace and an apron (quite imaginative - I love it because I have been sewing my own clothes since I was a teen) and then, in the box, I found this bracelet. I have collected bracelets since I was very young and Sandra makes jewellery besides stitching. The little charms are Russian dolls. Click on the photo to get a close-up or better still, go visit Sandra's blog and see a better pic

Thank you so very much Sandra. You are an angel.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Worth repeating

The little girl is well (not really because she has a cold) and still looking for work in London. She called yesterday and asked if I had checked my blog lately. I check it just about every day and noticed that there was one comment that needed moderating but I thought nothing of it at the time nor did I read the comment right away because I was short of time. Well, it turns out that she had read my blog and commented on a post I had written about her on Saturday September 12th, called "Update." Many of you wrote comments on that post and she wanted to respond.

Here is her comment.

"I had to write to say thanks to everyone's well wishes from my mom's posting.

things are fantastic in london and even went to the "shire" in the cotswolds last weekend which is always beautiful and my ex-boyfriend's family take me in like one of their own.

I'm still job hunting in London (if anyone knows of anything :) hint hint!) hehe

really thank you all though!and love ya mom!great pics


So, I just want to say thank you too.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


What caring and beautiful friends you are! Thank you for that.

Ayla emailed to say that they did indeed land safely - she had no phone or laptop internet connection since her UK convertors did not work there. There was only one public use computer at the hotel that they were staying. The keyboard took some getting used to (as her brother had warned) and their free breakfast consisted of such a variety of food that they were able to make lunch for themselves too.
The flight to England is to be at 4:30 in the early morning hours of Sunday and jet lag had hit even though the time change was only 4 hours (her words). They were spending the last day checking out more of Reykjavik's sights such as the national gallery and perhaps meeting up with a couple from New York who were staying at the same hotel.
Once in England, they are going to be met by her friend and she will email and/or phone again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wins and food

See, I CAN learn a new way of getting the photos on my blog. It took a while - because it did get frustrating but perseverence paid off.
See this gorgeous tie-dye fabric? I won it from Judi at Judi is a self-taught paper and textile artist located in Houston, TX and she is having a lot of fun dyeing her own fabric. I had forgotten the 'extras' she included and so it was quite a surprise when I opened the envelope and found not only the fabric (much prettier in person than the photo) but also the book she used it do the dyeing from and another envelope filled with her odds and ends of scraps. Way too much to take in all at once. I will be having fun with these. Go have a visit at Judi's blog and take a look at her studio and the other fabric she has dyed.
And Kim was getting rid of some of her books and patterns and was having a multi-giveaway. You could choose what group you wanted if your name was drawn and I chose the chickens. My eldest daughter now has a new home that came with chickens so I thought I could make something for her and her husband for Christmas.
OK, so what do you think? Soft taco shells? Wraps? My son thought so but then he looked again.It's those circles I cut from behind the bull's eye blocks. 20 of them. I have a plan but I'm not ready to share yet.
And here's a gratuitous shot of some food. We now have a bread machine and my daughter and her boyfriend have been using it to make not just bread but pizza dough. Both of these are totally vegetarian pizzas.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Blocks swaps and surprises

Here's a couple of things I completed in between those wonderful repair jobs.
First up is the BOM (block of the month) buck-a-block with thangles. The red one had already been done but I hadn't taken a picture of it. I have no idea what I will do with them when I have all of them but I do have co-ordinating fabrics set aside. They are 7 inches square.
I decide a little while ago to enter a bull's eye swap being held by a yahoo group I belong to called Learning Fibre Arts (Learning FA.) I had been wanting to do the bull's eye quilt since I got the instructions from a friend of mine a couple of years ago. Now seemed as good a time as any. You had to cut 20 - 9 inch blocks. Sew an 8 inch circle on top, trim the back and then sew a 6 inch circle on top of that and then trim it too. My friend's instructions were to make 48 blocks and add a 4 inch circle on top. I may just cut my cut-offs to 4 inches and add them to the 20 blocks I will be receiving back. Oh, and you just have to sew these 1/4 inch from the edge so there is no turning under. How easy is that? The swap was to help you get rid of your stash. Huh! not even so much as a dent!
I worked backwards and sewed the 6 inch to the 8 inch circle, trimmed the back and then sewed all those onto the 9 inch background block, trimming again.
The background fabric had to be in beige using solids, tone-on-tone or small prints and could be any shade from light beige to tan in colour. Once you get your 20 blocks back, you then have to cut them up into quarters and arrange them any way you want. Here's a tutorial
And now, look what arrived in the mail. A while ago Barb had a Christmas in July giveaway on July 26th. I didn't win the big one but she was so nice, she had a second and third prize. I won third and here's what I received.
Barb was so generous and thoughtful. The wonderful Christmas cornucopia was wrapped in a beautiful green fat quarter with a lovely red ribbon and inside was red and green ric rac and embroidery floss. Just in time too because I had been thinking of making some Christmas items - early for once! Thanks again Barb.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I'm back

The computer is fixed. It turns out that it was a software problem and fixable. Whew!
I would like to publicly thank my daughter whose lap top I got to use when she wasn't using it. That's how I managed to stay on top of my emails and blog surfing. It also was an enormous help so I didn't have to use the library computers. There, you usually have to wait for one and with my library, it is a 15 minute time limit.
Today is a real scorcher outside and it may break a temperature record. It is 31 (87.8 F) out there but feels like 39 (102.2 F) with the humidity. The record for today is 31.6.

I am still working on my list of projects and have photos BUT, with the fixing of the computer, I have to find my camera software to re-install it. So, for now here are some wee bit older photos (like from last month.)
The theme of the party was horses. The young lady who threw the party was moving to Whitehorse (that's the capital of the Yukon Territory) to teach. My daughter, Maili, made these horse cupcakes to take to the party. Dad and I did the shopping for the chocolate wafer biscuits, the icing and the marshmallow peanuts (the horses' heads are soft marshmallow candies)
And, of course, they were brought to the party in their own corral. Very clever.
And then there was the birthday party. Again, Maili's friend threw the party for herself and invited friends. This time it was owl cupcakes. Sorry for the poor quality photos. This time chocolate cookies were used with the white icing in the middle of the cookie being put to use for the eyes - and then smarties were added. I see that the beak was, once again, the peanut marshmallow cut into a triangle. I think I would have had the same colour eyes on each but that's just me. Probably more fun this way.
Here's the paliament (that's the collective noun for owls, honest, I'm not making it up - go see for yourself but you have to scroll down There were more but I guess they were shy and didn't want to be photographed.
And lastly, mini burgers. Before Eric went out west to BC (he comes home today,) there was a birthday party for him and two others - but at our place. Two of them turned 25 and Eric turned 27. Big sis made mini burgers this time out. So, so cute. These were all made by the creative Maili with the help of the internet. Loads of ideas out there.
Many thanks to all my blogging buddies out there. It seems computer problems have been epidemic as I heard many other stories.
P.S. While I was without my computer, and while I was using my daughter's, I did manage to enter a couple of giveaways. I won a couple and will update you all later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to make the perfect soft-boiled egg

I don't know about you but for years I have eaten nothing but hard boiled eggs. Why? Not because I preferred them but because I could never make a really good soft-boiled egg. Finally, a couple of months ago I decided I would see what my cookbook said about boiled eggs. The Better Homes and Garden cookbook stated that a soft-boiled egg was a three-minute egg. I figured I had nothing to lose except an egg or two so I followed the instructions. Beware, that in order to be successful, you should stay in the kitchen for most, if not all of the time it takes to do this. (BTW, here's my disclaimer: I never claimed that this blog would only be about sewing or quilting.)
In a pot of cold water, place your eggs and turn on the burner. Not all of these are going to be soft-boiled since they don't go well in salads. I usually cook more than I am prepared to eat right away.
Take note of the time when the water starts to boil.
Let the water boil for 3 minutes - or four if you are uncertain and don't feel you want a really runny egg. Sometimes this takes a few tries. Do not leave the kitchen! Come on, 3 minutes without tv watching or yacking on the phone won't kill you.
Get a cup and fill it with cold water. Get a spoon too so you can scoop out your egg.

When your 3 minutes are up, scoop out the egg and place it into the cup with the water.
Don't over-fill the water or you may have to clean up the mess.
See? Egg in water.
Put it under more cold water. Eggs tend to hold the heat. My dad used to do this all the time - just let the water flow. After about a minute or less stop the water or if you are an environmental person who wants to leave something for their children, just keep changing the warm water with cold water (if you live in California use less water.)
Crack your egg open and eat. See? A perfect soft-boiled egg. I like salt on mine. I know I eat too much salt but I can't help it. Food is bland without salt. I guess I should have done the photo presentation better - like putting it into an egg cup. Oh well, I wanted to eat it right away and not use a spoon.
The other eggs stayed boiling for another 8 minutes or more - thus making them hard-boiled and good in salads or for egg salad sandwiches or just to eat as is.

I wonder if this counts as my first ever tutorial?