Sunday, March 29, 2009

I've scanned my stitching progress photo for this week
because there is no sunshine today so using the camera
would be a waste of time. I finished the Sparrows
yesterday and am quite pleased with this square. Lovely
layout, and the birdhouse is quite charming.

I made a small start on the next square which will be
Cardinals. It would have been a bigger start but an
entire flock (herd?? crowd?? pod??) of frogs descended
on me while I was innocently minding my own business
and they made me miscount in not one, not two, but in
three separate places. I'm nothing if not consistent.
Anyways, I had to rip out a section, gnashing my teeth
as I went, and so now I'm ready to proceed with more

As for the lack of sunshine today, well, it is almost
April so those infamous showers are bound to show
up sooner or later. It's bucketing down here right
now, and the grand poobahs at the weather network
were even mentioning thunderstorms yesterday,
although there are no signs of those as of yet.

Yesterday was the exact opposite of today. It was
clear skies and brilliant, wonderful, welcome
sunshine for most of the day. I went out for a
walk around 10:00 am and before I left the
house was dithering about which coat/jacket
to wear. Since it would be a brisk walk I
pulled out my spring jacket for the first time
this year and headed out. DH was already
outside raking the front yard (ground in the
backyard is still too soft to rake yet) and he
was wearing his spring jacket too. It turned
out that my jacket choice was spot on for the
day and the weather.

In the afternoon we took the old car out for a
run and were out for over an hour. It
was lovely sitting in the car with the warm
sunshine pouring in and gently toasting us.
DH was even kind enough to stop in Acton at
the Needle Gnome on our way home again
where I picked up some needles, another set
of Q-snaps and one of those small plastic project
boxes that I use to keep the threads for a single

Last night DH and I observed Earth Hour by gathering
lanterns and candles in the dining room and settling
in for a game of Cribbage to wile away the time. It was
quite pleasant. Don't know what the cats thought of it
all, but they either napped (Rupert) or sat in the front
window and kept an eye on the neighbourhood (Phoebe)
until the time was up.

I have written here before about the House of Night series
by P.C. and Kristin Cast. This week I read the fifth book in
the series, Hunted, which came out this month. As with the
four previous books this one continues the story of Zoey
Redbird who continues to fight the darkness and evil which
threatens her school, friends and humanity. Specially
chosen and blessed by the goddess Nix, Zoey must use her
intuition, her goddess given gift to control the five elements,
and her sense of right and wrong to fight against the threat
of a world wide war, vampires against humans.

These Young Adult novels are compulsive reading. I am
always eager to find out what's going to happen next as
Zoey must lead her small group of fledgling Vampires
against the power and allure of a god long imprisoned
in the earth now free and seeking to subjugate the
Vampires and humans of the world. Zoey is a great
heroine because she's not perfect. She is a teenager,
unsure of herself and apt to make mistakes. But she
has a loyal heart and a strong will to do what's right.

I find Zoey to be much more multifaceted then Bella
Swan and more interesting to get to know. So, if
you've read the Twilight series and enjoyed it perhaps
you should try the House of Night series and see
what I mean.

I also read the latest (I think... it came out last year)
novel by Cathy Reichs, called Devil Bones. Again it
features Temp Brennan in her roll as Forensic anthro-
pologist for Charlotte, North Carolina. This time
Temp is called to the location of a house under
renovation in the city where a secret room has been
discovered with all the appearances of witchcraft,
or devil worship or voodoo, complete with human
remains. A day later the headless body of a teenage
boy is found by a nearby lake and a zealous preacher
turned politician begins a rabid campaign against
the perceived threats of witches, and of the liberal laws
of the country that allow the practicing of such
beliefs, as well as the laws that seem to allow violent
criminals to walk free.

The forensics is fascinating, and Reichs is good
with her explanations, the characters are rich and
vividly drawn, and the dry, often humorous obser-
vations of Temperance Brennan are a delight.
Brennan's personal life, ex-husband, self absorbed
daughter, possibly ex-lover, and a never ending
battle against her addiction to alcohol, adds to
the story and makes Temperance live on the page.
She is quite the feisty, smart, big hearted
character who doesn't suffer fools gladly and who
wants to see justice for the victims of crime but
still has compassion for those she meets during
the course of the investigations she participates in.
I love her, and admire her, flaws and all.

DH is at church, the cats are snoozing around me here
and it's almost time for lunch. The laundry is waiting
as well. Oh joy! I hope to go for another walk when
the rain lets up a bit, and perhaps putting needle
(carefully) to thread will also be an option this after-
noon. We shall see.

Thanks for visiting and hope you have a wonderful
week with lots of time to stitch and hopefully some
nice Spring weather.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

At long last Spring!!! Spring arrived at 7:44 on Friday
morning and was greeted with joy and relief by those of
us who've had more then enough of Winter, thank you
very much.

Of course just because there's a time and a date on the
calendar that says Spring Arrives it doesn't mean that
the weather outside suddenly shifts from Winter blahs
to Spring brilliance all at once. It's still cold out, and
it's rainy and it's grey. But the crocuses are poking their
heads out of the ground and bravely facing the elements
and the daffodils are not far behind. The Robins are
hanging around the yard and singing their hearts out,
and the day time temperatures no longer have a minus
sign in front of them.

So we're heading in the right direction, with the under
standing that there will most probably be a few days
when we'll seem to slip back into Winter's Ways, but
at least we'll have the comfort of knowing that it's a
temporary set back that will soon pass, and become
nothing more than a memory.

In other words....I'm not packing the boots, shovels
and parkas away just yet.

I have been thoroughly enjoying my latest obsession
with Prairie Schooler's Prairie Birds. I finished the
Hummingbird on Thursday and immediately started
the next design that I decided to stitch for this project
which is the Sparrow. I know, Sparrows are not the
most colourful of birds, but the overall design appeals
to me and the bird house featured in this one is my
favourite of the lot. And lets face it, Sparrows are every
where, and they're such determined little survivors
and scavengers, whether it be in the country, or in
the heart of the city. So they deserve a little respect.

I have to say a great big Thank You to everyone who
left comments over the course of the past week about
my two finishes and my framing of them. I really
appreciate the encouragement and the support.

In celebration of the arrival of Spring (yeah, sure) I went
berserk .... nuts ..... crazy ..... I ordered some new books
from Indigo/Chapters online service. All but one are by
authors that I've read before and thoroughly enjoyed.
Deanna Raybourn's is a Victorian mystery series, P.C.
and Kristen Cast's is a Young Adult Vampire series,
Marilynne Robinson is a new to me author, Jodi Picoult
writes riveting, thought provoking fiction, Michelle
Moran writes historical fiction which centers on the
lives of the Pharaoh's of Egypt, and Anne Easter Smith
writes historical fiction centering on the era of the
Plantagenet's and the Tudor's in England. Can't wait
to dive into these.

This week I read Maeve Binchy's latest novel Heart and
Soul. I love Binchy's writing and have been collecting
and devouring her books for a few years now. When I
read a Maeve Binchy book it's so easy to slip into the story
and develope a relationship with the characters in it.
She has a way of writing that convays the essential
elements of each character clearly and with compassion
and humour.

Her last five or six books have all been linked by the
characters appearing in them. The focus may change
from book to book but you'll always run into people
you met in Quentin's or Scarlet Feather or Whitethorn
Woods. So reading her books is a bit like coming home.
But you don't have to know anything about her previous
books to be able to enjoy the latest one.

This book centers around the lives of the doctors, nurses
and other staff and patients who attend a heart clinic in
Dublin. The relationships and the friendships that
develope and the joys and the sorrows and the life's
lessons learnt that result. As always, when finished
reading a Binchy book, I find it hard to put down and
walk away and leave the characters within behind.
I become so attached to them while reading and they
become so real to me. It's hard to have to wait for
the next book from Maeve Binchy because of that.


I'm writing this post a bit early this week (Saturday
night instead of Sunday morning) because tomorrow
I'm going over to have lunch with Mom and a visit
for the afternoon. So I'll be doing a few chores
around the house in the morning, or at least that's
the plan.


Weekends go by too fast!! This morning DH and
I went to a few local shops to pick up some special
things for lunch. A friend of ours who was really
good about visiting my Mom when she was in hospital
and who loaned her a television to use when she
was in the rehab center came to visit us today for
lunch and to pick up the TV that we've had here since
Mom came home. I wanted to make a really nice lunch
for Jacquie after all that she'd done for my Mom
and I think it worked out well. We had a nice
visit and then she left here and went over to see my

I spent a couple of hours after Jacquie left
stitching and then I went across the street to my
neighbours for tea and a visit. It was nice to be
able to walk across the street without having to
pull on a pair of boots and a heavy coat first.
Not that it's warm enough to go without for any
length of time yet, but to just run across the
street was fine.


Was not the skiing accident and subsiquent
death of Natasha Richardson a terribly sad
thing last week?? She and Liam Neeson were
such a lovely and loving couple and he looks
so berefit and lost now. My heart aches for
him and for their two young sons.

Not an exciting post this week. But I'll end this post
with a picture of sweet Phoebe hiding under the bed
and waiting for the opportunity to nip at my toes as
I changed the sheets last Sunday. Cheeky baby.

Hope you all have a wonderful week, with lots of
quality stitching time and hopefully some nice,
welcome Spring weather. Take care.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

You all are going to have to forgive me, 'cause today I'm going
to be insufferably proud of myself. I can't help it. I'm gonna
spend a good portion of this blog bragging. I'm just letting you
know ahead of time.

I have not one but two finishes to tell you about. My first
finishes for this year! And not only did I finish these two
projects, but I also framed them myself as well!!! Really!!
I have proof! I have pictures!!

I've never tried my hand at framing anything by myself
before. I did frame three of my stitching pieces with the
help of a friend a year ago, but she did most of the work
and it was with matting and a special cutting machine for
that, and sticky matting board (which I'll never use ever,
ever again!) and things got really complicated. The results
were fine for a first attempt, but not spectacular.

Funnily enough, it was exactly one year ago this weekend
that we had that day of framing, and here I am one year
later doing my own thing, and mighty proud of it. I think
I've warned you about that already.

So here's my first finish: My Needle's Work by Little
House Needlework stitched with Crescent Colours
threads on 28 count fabric.

And finish number two: November Window by Prairie
Schooler, stitched with DMC threads on 28 count

DH took me to Michaels yesterday to pick up a few
things and at that time I had it in mind to pick up a
couple of frames, and some materials to try and
frame these two pieces. I picked out two frames that
struck my fancy, and a sheet of foam core and two
packages of artists canvas panels which were the
right sizes for these two finishes and the picture

Once home I set up the ironing board and gathered
my materials and set to work. Now I am not a
patient person. I can't fuss and fiddle with something
for long periods of time until it's absolutely perfect.
I want to whip the project together in no time, and
it better be perfect at once, or else! But it did take me
time to do what had to be done and in some ways I
was rather surprised at how well it went.

I used the lacing method for framing and expected
that part of the process to be the most fiddly and
frustrating. However I was pleasantly surprised
by how relatively easy it turned out to be, even for
me with my ten huge thumbs (on each hand).
I did refer to a bit of on line instruction before
tackling this project and used tutorials supplied
by several stitchers and/or stitching sites. I need
to do more research however so that next time I can
do an even better, more perfect job.

Being the genius that I am I decided to work on the
bigger piece first, instead of the smaller, easier to
handle one. It took a couple of tries before I got the
lacing done correctly but I like this method a lot better
then using that awful tacky mounting board. Easier to
adjust your fabric when needed and it doesn't pull and
fray your threads.

Things I need to work on: I am not mathematically
inclined and picking out picture frames that would fit
my stitching didn't quite turn out as well as I would
have liked for my smaller PS piece. The bottom boarder
does not show because the frame's opening is too small.
Fortunately the boarder is not fancy, just a plain straight
line, so that's not too big of a deal.

Picture frames may not be the best choice for framing
stitching because the fabric and the board are so thick
it makes putting the back of the frame on very difficult,
if not impossible. I had to resort to the handy woman's
secret weapon...duct tape, to secure the backs of the
picture frames onto the frames. You can't see it from
the front so I'm not too concerned about that. Live and

Patience Judy, patience. Take the time to get the
piece centered properly and the border even. If you
get too frustrated go and make yourself a cup of tea
and relax. Don't plow ahead and regret it later.

I could go on and on (and often do) but basically
the point of this whole exercise is that I made the
attempt, I did pretty good for the first time, and I
learned a lot. And I'm pumped! I want to do this
again. But first I need to collect some more picture
frames. And pick up one or two more things to
make the process easier. Any comments, suggestions
or favourite sites for tutorials on this process would
be gratefully accepted.

While at Michaels I found hoops to replace my old
and fondly remembered hoop that I mentioned in
my previous post. Thank you all so much for your
offers of hoops from your own stashes, and for
information on where to find these hoops, and
offers to pick them up for me. You guys are
awesome!!! I took my old hoop to work last
Monday and used it during my breaks. But when
I picked it up to pack it in my carrying case at
days end it shattered into multiple pieces and
that was the end of that. So I'm very happy to
have these two new hoops and look forward to
many long and happy years stitching with them.

I also got a bit of stash from Stitching Bits and Bobs
last week, including the lovely Threadworx threads
that are shown in the picture with the new hoops.
The two Kit and Bixby charts were in the clearance
sale and the Lizzie Kate charts are another set of
seasonal designs that I love to collect. Please note
my wonderful assistant Rupert, the Vanna White
of catdom, who is graciously offering his services
to present these charts to you.

And I have a new start to show you. Well, of course.
I have had Prairie Schooler's chart Prairie Birds on
my mind ever since I got it, and I decided to stitch
at least four of the birds on this piece of lovely, soft
variegated 28 count Jobelan fabric.

Here's the chart. I'm starting with the Hummingbird,
and will be doing the Cardinals, and the Juncos and
then I'm not too sure. I may have to stitch a companion
to these four because I really do love all of the birds
featured in this design. Oh, don't you love a new
start??? I don't want to put this down.

My reading for this week was a new to me author.
I was drawn to Kate Morton's book when I found
it mentioned on several book blogging sites and
decided to add it to my collection. I have a friend
named Kate Morton too, so that is another reason
(albeit a kooky one) I noticed and got this book.

The story takes place during the early years of the
twentieth century and begins with the reminisces of
98 year old Grace who resides in a nursing home and
is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. She
is haunted by the years that she spent serving as a
young house maid at the manor house called Riverton.
She was fourteen years old when she was hired for the
position, working in the same place where her mother
worked before her. The Hartford family are an old,
respected family and young Grace is drawn to and
fascinated by the Hartford children, David, Hannah
and Emmeline.

But Grace's memories of Riverton and the Hartford
family are tempered with secrets and a tragedy
which tore the family apart, and her feelings of
guilt relating to her own part in those events. When
a film maker visits her, eager to interview her and
hear her reminisces about life at Riverton and the
Hartford sisters, Graces begins to face her past and
the events that led to the suicide of a famous young
poet in the presence of the two sisters, and the
consequences of that night.

This story might start out a little slowly for some,
as the author spends time introducing her
characters, their histories and detailing life at
Riverton, both upstairs and downstairs. But as
the story progresses and hints are given as to
future events and the fates of the main characters
I found myself caught up in the narrative and
eager to find out the truth of what really happened
on a summer's night in 1924 at Riverton. This is
a great read and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I'll be
checking out the other two books that this author
has published as well.


The weather here has been absolutely spectacular
this weekend. Sunshine in abundance, and the
temperatures have been around 9 Celsius. Can
Spring be too far off now??? Only six days or so.
DH is planning on getting the old car out and
taking her for a little spin around the block this
afternoon, just to shake off the cobwebs of Winter
and I plan to join them. Laundry is well on it's
way to being done and we'll see if I can muster up
some enthusiasm for housework ... or not.


DH and I went to the pub (Copper Kettle) for
dinner and to celebrate St Patrick's Day last night.
He had a pint of Guiness and a bowl of lamb stew,
while I had liver and onions, and a lovely piece of
apple cake with hot custard for dessert. Yum!!!
There's a new second hand book store opened in
Glen Williams, across from the pub. The owner
and her husband were in the pub having dinner
when we got there and we talked books for a bit.
Guess I'll have to get over there and check the
place out soon.

And on that note I'd best be finishing this epic
(not another one!!!) post and getting on with the
rest of this day.

Hope you are all well and having wonderful
weekends of your own. Thanks so much for
dropping by and leaving comments. I enjoy
them so much and love visiting your blogs
for inspiration and for fun. Happy stitching!

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Finishes are so close you can taste 'em!! All I have left to
do on My Needle's Work is to finish the banner at the top
and she's done. But I'm only working on this as my travel
project so she'll have to take another day or two to reach
the end. I don't mind that. I've enjoyed working on her
and I'm mostly pleased with how she's turned out.

I'll be rummaging through my stash today I think to pick
out my next travel project, to have it ready to go when
needed. I have no idea what it'll be, which is part of the
fun of stash diving and project preparing.

DH took me to Michael's last weekend and I picked up a new
tool/gadget to help me with my away from home stitching.
I've been getting use to working with this magnifier and
light combo this week, adjusting the hanging cord to get
the best placement to see through and have the light hit the
stitching project just right. It helps me quite a bit in seeing
what I'm stitching clearly. I don't have a problem with
seeing the holes in the fabric to put my needle in, but I do
have trouble seeing the crosses clearly as they are stitched.
The little light isn't as good as an Ott-Lite's of course and it's
a yellowish light, which isn't as good as the white light of an
Ott-Lite, but it'll do.

Getting this thing balanced on my chest in just the right spot
was fun. Once in awhile it would slip down and rest itself in
a most .... um .... inappropriate location giving me an even
more impressive "shelf" then I usually have. Not a good
thing, sitting at your desk at work fumbling to adjust your
chest placement!

Another home stretch project is November Window. I
added more verse and a few more tree limbs on Friday
night and this afternoon I plan on working on this some
more. This one may well be a finish by next weekend as
well. Two finishes in one week from me! Can you stand


We all have our favourite X-stitching tools, whether it
be favourite needles, Q-snaps, or whatever. Mine is the
item pictured above. It's a hoop with a spring loaded
inner ring that slips easily in and out of any project that
I'm stitching on. Just pinch the blue handles of the
inner ring together and it allows the inner ring to slip
into the fabric and the outer ring with ease. I love this
hoop! I bought it many years ago during my first stitching
phase and I prefer it over all other types of hoops and
frames etc. At least for the smaller projects. The inner
circle of the hoop is 7" by 7", which is perfect for stitching
LHN smaller projects, such as the Cottage Garden series,
or the scripture series.

But my faithful friend is getting old and the blue plastic
frame is chipped and starting to crack. So it'll need
replacing soon. And that's a problem because I haven't
seen it or anything like it anywhere for sale since I
started stitching again five years ago. I don't know who
made it (there's no name on it anywhere) and I don't
even remember where I bought it.

So I'm posting a picture here in hopes that someone out
there might recognize it and know where I can get another.
I guess it's a long shot but I really want to try and find
another of these hoops if I can. Thanks for your help.

Just a bit of stash enhancement this week. Specifically my
monthly Cresent Colours additions from Stitching Bits and
Bobs. Gorgeous colours, even if the photo doesn't allow
them to shine as much as they do in real life.

There's been book stashing though. My wish list on
Chapters/Indigo book site has been growing by leaps
and bounds as some favourite authors have released
new books. Plus I've added books that I've seen
reviewed and recommended on other book blogger's
sites that sounded like excellent reads.

So the books by Caro Peacock and Kate Morton are
new-to-me authors that I look forward to reading
soon. Peacock's is a murder mystery and Morton's
is a mystery story as well I suppose, both of which take
place at the end of the nineteenth or beginning of
the twentieth centuries. The other four books are by
authors that I've read before. Good thing I've made
more room in the library, eh?


Friday was DH's birthday. Unfortunately he had to
spend it attending the funeral of a friend who'd passed
away from Cancer. They use to be in the same youth
choir (the Chancellors) during their teens/early
twenties, and that group of young people have
remained close ever since. They are now all in their
late forties or older, with families of their own around
the same ages that their parents were when traveling
and performing in the choir in churches and town halls
all over southern Ontario. They even recorded a few
records (do you all remember records??), performed
on the stage at the O'keefe centre in Toronto, and
went on an exchange trip to Holland. From the
stories that I've heard over the years they had a
wonderful time, making music and making friend-
ships that have lasted a life time. They may not see
as much of one another now as they did in the past,
but when something like this happens they are
sure to gather, to offer support and to pay tribute
and to reminisce and grieve. That's what friends
are for.


On Saturday we celebrated DH's birthday in a
more festive manner and tried to brighten the
mood a bit for him. I made him his favourite
meal, Shake n Bake chicken, orange rice and
green beans, while his sister made a birthday
cake. He got a few gifts, books from me, gardening
tools from his sister, and some fun cards.

And for the first time since last August my Mom
was here for a visit. She was so excited!! She
loves coming here to visit the cats, see what's
been going on around the house (check out the
library Mom!!!) look at stuff on the computer
(she loves I Can Has and
look through my stitching stuff. Did I mention
that she loves to see the cats???

And Rupert loves to see her. He was at the door as
she came in, and spent the rest of the visit following
her wherever she went. And when she sat down he
laid down at her feet, rested his cheek on her foot
and went to sleep. Content.

Is this the face of a happy cat???


Last Sunday I wasn't able to post to my blog as I normally
do because DH and I drove down to London, Ontario to
see our godson Ian perform in a play put on by his
graduation class at Fanshaw College. We'd seen him in
high school plays before that were written by the students
as well as performed by them, but this was the first time that
we'd seen him perform in a professionally written play, and
we were mezmerized.

It's so weird seeing someone you've known from babyhood
on, attended birthday parties for, made lego models with,
discussed the merits of the LOTR movies with, etc playing a
mentally unbalanced, acloholic undercover cop. And he
was so GOOD! All the kids were actually. We are so proud
of him and all the hard work he's done for the past few years
to get to this point. And he's having the time of his life,
learning and growing and getting ready to go out into the
real world and make his mark.


I'm planning on spending this afternoon doing laundry and
catching up on blogs and stitching. Sounds good, no??? I
owe many of you a visit and comment and hope to rectify
that soon.

We've had warmer temperatures, and lots of rain in the past
few days which we'd like to think means that Spring has
finally arrived. But the reality is that snow and cold are
still viable options weather wise until the end of April
and to get our hopes and expectations up at this point is
just going to lead to disappointment and frustration. But
we'll probably let ourselves hope and dream anyways. We
always do.

Have a great week everyone, and thanks for visiting.
Hope you get lots of time to stitch, read or enjoy all your
other favourite passtimes. Take care.