I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Happy Birthday, Simone!

25 years ago today the attending R2 made it across the base on her bicycle in Goose Bay, Labrador in 4 minutes flat and one minute later, delivered my beautiful daughter, Simone! Probably the doctor’s saving grace for that midnight bike ride was that for that summer only, the province of Newfoundland was using double daylight savings, so it was quite light out. Still, we were very thankful she was fit and an avid biker!

That auspicious beginning was the start of the wild ride we have been on with our daughter every since! She hopped instead of crawled, ran instead of walked, climbed every chance she got, and constantly gave her older brother a run for his money. My Dad called her Perpetual Motion, we called her the Challenge Child and my Mom called her Birth Control!! 

Simone has always kept us on our toes, and entertained. She was born a Drama Diva and although her heart has her centre stage, she has chosen the worthy profession of Physiotherapy to make her mark on the world. These past years, and especially these past weeks have been busy and full for her, and she has accomplished much and achieved many milestones as she completes her MA and moves on into the world of employment.

My daughter never needs to prove herself to me, yet unwittingly she does just that time and time again. The past year has been difficult for us all, and no less so for Simone. Losing her beloved Gram has been tough for her, but she knows Grandma believed in her and had faith in her ability to succeed and she carries that strength in her heart wherever she goes. Simone has been a strong shoulder for me to lean on these past months and often the voice of common sense, just when I need it most.
I couldn’t be more proud of this daughter of mine. She is kind, caring and thoughtful, and just a little bit crazy. Her smile lights up a room and she lights up my heart. She is my favorite girl and I love her like no other. Happy Birthday, Simone! Big smooches and huge hugs from your mumsie xoxox

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another charity quilt

This is another charity quilt from the Monday Marvels. I don’t know the source of the top but it is another well pieced, attractive top and I hope my quilting does it justice. I love blacks backgrounds and this tone on tone black really enhanced the scrap piecing.
 I used a simple pantograph pattern and black 30 wt top and bobbin.
Am linking up with The Needle and Thread Network.

Charity quilt

This is one of the tops I recently quilted for our local quilt charity group, the Monday Marvels. I thought it would be a lovely fresh quilt perfect for a young girl, so when I unrolled the fabric meant for the backing, I hopped in the car and headed to the fabric store where I purchased another piece that I thought more suitable. The group works within their means, using donated materials so I knew they would be fine with me making a substitution.
The top was pieced by a local quilter and was a breeze to work with. I am not sure if the tops she donates are her class samples, but it is so nice to see well made tops of appealing fabrics used for charity quilts. Good on her, I say!

I used a cornflower blue 30 wt thread on the top and a natural bobbin thread to quilt a simple flower pantograph. I think it has turned out fairly well and will be a beautiful quilt once the binding (which was donated as well and is the same fabric as the outer border) is sewn on.

I have to confess, and you can probably tell, the colors of this quilt appear different in each photo. I have been chasing the sun and shadows around my house, trying to find the ideal time and location for taking photos. The top photo shows the true colors of this quilt. Eventually I find the most opportune spot and time.....

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Welcome Soak in the Reykjadalur River, Iceland

On our recent family trip to Iceland, we all agreed that our consummate favorite outing was one we made on one of our last days there. We had been feeling the wrath of the rainy, windy weather Iceland can be known for and were perhaps a bit chilled through to our bones. We had been hoping for a sunny day for this excursion and were finally rewarded with only a scant two days left in our holiday!

About 40 minutes outside Reykjavik along the south coast is Hveragerdi, a small town located in the middle of a highly active geothermal field, or in other words, an active volcanic zone. The town uses this heat for hundreds of greenhouses and there is a horticultural college there as well. Just outside Hveragerdi is a lovely geothermal valley with a bathable hot river. This was our destination!!

To get to the Reykjadalur (Valley of Steam) River, you park your car and hike a ways. We travelled through fields of small mudpots and hot springs with lots of burping, sizzling and steam all around us. The sun was shining, the sky was a pristine blue and the muddy pathway was starting to dry up. We were excited!

The hike to the river is not particularly long or strenuous, approxiamtely 1.5 hours each way, but it is mostly uphill and it helped get the blood flowing. The sun was shining, but the air temperature was still only ten degrees. Even so, we found we were shedding layers before we made it to the river.

Aa we hiked along the winding trail, we met some folk on Icelandic horses out for a riding tour, as well as a steady stream of people walking toward us who had already had their soak. There was also a constant stream of people ahead of and behind us, all heading to the river. As always, there was evidence of sheep everywhere; if you couldn’t see them right away, you could hear them bleating and with some concentrated looking, you would eventually see them hanging onto the side of a steep hill in the distance. Everywhere you go there are waterfalls. In Iceland you also notice the pureness of the air and today was no exception.

Soaking in a geothermal river is not for the shy. Modesty is good, we all agreed, but there aren’t any places to hide in the wide open spaces, so it is best to be prepared. Generally you use your towels and avert your gazes, as most people really don’t care who sees what. After sitting in crystal clear 38-40 degree water under blue skies with a ring of mountain peaks surrounding you, your tend to be fairly relaxed and comfortable in your own skin and it isn’t a big deal to get changed along a river bank with dozens of other people.

A wonderful day with some of my favorite people and fond memories of a great trip!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May-be it’s not summer yet...

Our May 2-4 weekend, as I grew up knowing it, was not the best weather wise though we certainly faired better than the Tornado Belt in the US. Historically Oklahoma sure has taken a beating and you wonder about the strength it takes to live in an area that repeatedly suffers so extensively. As well, some of our neighbours in Newfoundland had a record 58 cms of fresh, wet snow fall on them. Ouch! So, I can’t really complain about a bit of snowy rain and cooler temps, especially when we still managed to eat one meal on our deck and enjoyed another lunch of freshly caught trout from the brook nearby.

In-between walks and getting some odd jobs out of the way, I made some headway on a project I am working on with my son. As I work, I am trying to maintain the integrity of his artwork without completing copying it, though to the naked eye it would look as if I have simply copied it. Enlarging a drawing always means some adjustments might be made and interpreting it in fabric means there will certainly be adjustments made.

In this process I have enlarged Gabe's drawing using my opaque projector, redrawn and filled in the lines with black marker, traced the design on Steam-a-Seam Lite, pressed it on the back of my fabric, cut out the individual shapes, placed and pressed them on the background fabric. Now it is off to my sewing machine!

I have also been spending some time on the longarm and completed quilting a few more tops that are eventually destined for various local charities. The tops were pieced by a local group of quilters who meet specifically to work on this project. 

The really fun part of quilting these tops for me is that I can play with my freehand designs or practice using a pantograph pattern I might be interested in using again.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baking up some solutions

Today was an unexpected day at home. I don’t know about you, but I seem to have an incredible number of ideas bouncing around in my head before I am awake. This morning I decided to let them all go, go, go and just take the day as it came, without jumping into any one project. I think I needed to do that for myself.

I love baked goods. And I love them fresh and warm. But, I am fussy about my baked goods. If I am going to eat calories, I want them to be worth it. So, first up was whipping up a batch of my Mom’s banana muffins. I added some raisins and dried cranberries and then some chocolate chips to a few as well, to keep my hubby happy.

Muffins have long been a favorite in our family and we have made our fair share of them over the years. I calculated once that I made 40 dozen in one basketball season because I always showed up to the game with a snack for the kids. Eventually even the referees and coaches were digging in as well! When my daughter was born in Goose Bay, Labrador my Mom baked 14 dozen different kinds and made up a beautiful basket for the mid-wives who had assisted in my labor and delivery. That was hilarious because she went door to door borrowing muffin tins in order to bake them all in one day! The house smelled amazing!! Another time I made 3 different kinds for my husband when he was travelling to Newfoundland for a two week work trip. He forgot to tell the boys I made “healthy” muffins as they stuffed themselves, and I guess some of them weren’t used to all that bran. Opps.

I realize I could keep on telling muffin stories, but perhaps it is only me that is amused and entertained. Suffice now to say, this batch is delicious and was a happy way to start my day!

It was a rainy day in our part of New Brunswick but the sun shone just long enough for a walk and some photos. Our yard is bursting with the welcome greens of spring and I love taking photos of fresh growth.
My saucer magnolia is slowly filling with colour although most of the blooms are at the top of the tree where I can’t reach without a very high ladder. This one should be bursting with color soon.

For eight years this tree was covered with the healthiest green leaves, but absolutely no blooms! Finally two years ago there were 7! Last year it was full of beautiful soft pink flowers! Good thing, because we were thinking that maybe it wasn’t a magnolia tree at all!

I love how the maple leaves unfurl from within. When they first appear, they hang like bent hands wrapped around each other and gradually increase in strength and stand on their own.

Our side yard is full of fiddlehead ferns. They are so amazing to watch unfurl!

I could - actually I do - take a LOT of photos of these ferns every year.
In-between these activities, I did make some headway on other projects. I had come to a standstill on one and by letting it go for the day and focusing on anything but it, I suddenly realized how to complete the next step! Of course, the solution seems so obvious now, but for some reason I just wasn’t reaching back into my skills and resources to seek it out. Turns out an old sign writing technique was just what I needed for my most recent fabric project. And that is  just what I will work on tomorrow. After I eat a muffin, of course!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A family interlude

We had absolutely lovely weather the majority of this week and with my son home, we couldn’t have asked for better! With a temperature of 28 degrees on Wednesday, we made a trip to Parlee Beach in Shediac. Although it wasn’t quite as warm there as it was in town, we relaxed on the hot sand on the side of the dunes with our toes and spirits wiggling free.
It felt great to breathe in salt air and hear the soft rush of the waves along the shore. Being a beach babe through and through, when I am near the ocean my heart settles into a lovely slow rhythm and I melt into the moment. Lying under those incredible blue skies makes me feel such peace; I search out sky photo opportunities wherever I am.
There were quite a few people with the same idea as us, coming to the beach to experience their first feel of summer after a long harsh winter. Some were already splashing around trying out the water, some were in their bathing suits soaking up the sun, and others were like us, just there to see for ourselves that summer would come again.
The boys also got a little fishing trip in, there were some movies watched and some sports followed. We had some great meals, some interesting chats, lots of relaxation and quiet time and an incredibly funny Skype session with our daughter who had to stay at school multi tasking like no one’s business as she prepares for exams, meets deadlines, organizes interviews, plans her future!

Though her career choice is Physiotherapy, Simone is a Drama Diva through and through and like the best comedians, she pokes fun at herself and keeps us howling. Her facial expressions and stories had me crying! It felt good to laugh that hard!

Simone in the midst of explaining the hardships of being almost an 25 year old wearing braces who looks 14 at best.....

While Gabe was home, we made time for some creativity. He and I collaborated on some artwork for his office walls. I printed his drawings on Jacquard fabric sheets, ironed some fusible interfacing to the back and then added fabric borders. We had picked up some inexpensive stretched canvases beforehand and these were our base. We stretched the fabric over and around the canvases, using a staple gun to hold the fabric in place. We were both pretty pleased with the outcome!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cleaning makes me a little bit owlie

I had nothing but great intentions and a very long list when Friday arrived. I had the house to myself for the weekend and that usually means a very loose meal plan and lots of chick/artsy TV (total confession! I love LA Ink, NY Ink and Pimp My Ride!) as a background to whatever it is I am working on. That kind of schedule and environment gives me lots of time to get my “stuff" done!

After a busy day and armed with yummy beverages, I made a direct path to my longarm. I worked steadily and finished a quilt that had been on much longer than I anticipated. Tired and happy with my progress, I proceeded to fall asleep on the couch cuddling my bowl of popcorn aka supper.....

I still don’t know what happened Saturday. Early on I made my way to the kitchen for a hot cuppa and five hours later I was fully immersed in cleaning said kitchen. I never spring clean. Don’t get me wrong, I do clean. Just not on a regular basis, or following a schedule. My windows got cleaned when my Mom was here and gently suggested she and I should tackle them. Walls get washed when we paint them. Floors? You don’t want to know.

So. It’s clean now. I even sorted and re-organized my spices. This is big for me. I would clean for my Mom at the drop of a hat. For myself? Well, there is always something else that needs doing.

The thing with me is that once I start, the activity grows. I get an idea in my head and I can’t rest until it is done. Ideas I didn’t want to entertain were sneaking unbidden into my head. I started cleaning more of the house....sigh.

So, the weekend went by and granted, a lot of stuff round here sparkles now, but, I did finally manage to give my head a shake, move away from the scrub brushes and mops and back to my sewing machines. Finally I whipped up a couple of cushions for my son using his drawings. I have used my kids artwork in my quilting since they were able to hold pencils, so it feels really great to do this with current artwork! 

I printed the drawings on Jacquard fabric sheets, backed them with fusible interfacing and then added some borders. I found it fairly serendipitous that fabric I painted in the last few weeks was perfect as a border. 

Jacquard offers two methods for securing the color on their fabric sheets. You can rinse out the excess ink with cool water, or use Scotchgard spray to seal it. I tried both and the result is that the owl on the right is lighter in color. Next time I will just use the Scotchgard without rinsing.

Friday, May 3, 2013

An Icelandic Hot Pot

I keep this photo at my desk where I can see it every day. It reminds me of a great time in the midst of stress and the unknown. 

Gabe and Amanda had just joined us for the second leg of our holiday and after they had a few hours sleep in the tent while we tried to rent a larger vehicle, we hit the road for Akureyri. We are enjoying this Icelandic hot pot - after detouring off the main road and driving over a bumpy, pitted secondary trail for miles and miles - in ten degree air temperature. Directly in front of us is the ocean, so there are plenty of cool ocean breezes wafting over and around us. You can see our clothes piled behind us; after changing into our bathing suits in a small washroom, we raced across the yard to the pot to warm up! We met a wonderful family from Spain while soaking in 38 degree thermally heated water and exchanged tales of the road with them. 

My husband tried to make small talk with the “owner" of the hot pot and restaurant, but Icelanders, although very accommodating and helpful, are generally not known for their need to chat. Eventually he did manage to get the gentleman involved in a small conversation and that was how we learned that 50 women were on their way to use the pot! Too bad I hadn’t been in a situation to ask if I could take some photos (wet, cold and in a rush to get back on the road before we got lost) because when those women started arriving, it was the most wonderful fashion show of some of the most beautiful Icelandic wool sweaters ever! There were not two the same and all the women wore one, without exception. Such a lovely surprise seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Such is the delight of Iceland - surprises at every turn!