Thursday, April 30, 2015

Catching Up

Well it's been quite some time since I've written a blog post! As I mentioned some time ago I wasn't sure how much time I could set aside for blogging as my situation has changed with my work. Obviously, there has been next to no time for blogging, and I quite miss the contact with all of you. But life is what it is and nothing is going to change for me anytime soon I'm afraid.

I finally got my income taxes filed away for my home business, which is always weighing on my mind come April! Now I can finally enjoy the beautiful weather that has taken its time in arriving here in southern Ontario. It's been a very long cold winter, and a very long, cold spring. Last week we had snow. SNOW!  It didn't last more than one day, but it was disappointing to see it covering everything when I got up that morning. Sheesh! There was some nasty hail last week too, and that pelted my husband's big wooden Muskoka chair a bit more. This chair have taken a beating from hail over the last few years. I store it in the garden shed over the winter, and only just brought it out two weeks ago, obviously just a bit too soon :[

Lots of little indents from damaging hail
But since Tuesday ... glorious weather at last!! The sun has been shining, the temperature has risen above 0C, and I even sat on the patio yesterday afternoon ... ahhhhhhh .... bliss! 

Out in the gardens, flowers and shrubs are putting forth a gallant effort to bloom despite the extended periods of cold this year. I went out this afternoon and snapped a few shots of what is showing at the moment.

My only hyacinth ... fairly sad looking I know.

The lenten rose tucked under my kitchen windows ... I didn't even realize it had bloomed until I was outside. I'm always happy to see it again as it was once a gift from me to my mother. She planted it along the edge of the wooded hill at her home. I brought it home with me after she passed away.

Another of Mom's plants is the Virginia bluebell. The squirrels moved it a couple of years ago, but I'm happy to see that it is still coming up regardless. I don't have any other flowers blooming, the rest of the garden part of this post is just green.

Bleeding hearts are one of the first flowers to come up from their long sleep. I get so many coming up that I have to rip out quite a few each year!

One of a couple of peonies. I haven't even been out to clear out the debris from winter yet. I like to leave a lot of stalks of flower heads out for the birds. This winter the little birds enjoyed the black-eyed Susan's right through the winter. The stalks don't look so pretty, but  most of them were covered in deep snow, and only the flower seed heads were visible above the white drifts.

My mossy stump (Amy!). Not looking so good after the winter, but I have hopes that it will recuperate with a bit of watering. The squirrels and birds seem to have dug in it while foraging for food through the winter.

The black currant bushes are looking good already!

My favourite lilac bush is budding up :)

And so are the lilacs from Mom's garden. I can't help but mention my mother when talking about my garden. She was such an avid gardener and loved her plants like little children. Picturing her in her gardens all through the spring, summer and fall is how I remember her best. Having her plants come back is a very sentimental thing for me. I'm glad most of them survived because I really don't have the skill and dedication to gardening that she did!

The iris have come back fairly well. I lost a few of these beauties last summer. I think ants ate the roots, but can't be sure. I want to move them out of this garden to the front where they are doing really well. This back garden becomes too shady for them later in the summer.

So that's most of what's happening out there in the gardens. Not too thrilling. I have to get out there and clean up the gardens soon! Hopefully the weather will hold till the weekend. A visit to my dad at the nursing home is overdue (missed last Saturday), so I'll be there on Saturday morning again. He could do with some outings in the spring air himself, but we have to scout out a good wheelchair for him (he had two ... both horrendous!). Always something to keep us busy :)

I've been working on some knitting in the evenings, and have got almost one side finished of another cable cushion cover. 

This one is in denim blue, with a fussy Celtic cable pattern in the centre. I have to keep track of every row I work on, and I can't knit on it if there is even the slightest distraction or I mess it up! But I really like that cable, and it's going to look great with my other knitted cable cushion I did a few months ago.

And that's me sort of caught up. My daughter is home from university for the summer, and my son is home from high school thanks to the teachers' union forcing teachers out on strike!! How I hate this strike. It's been going on for the second week now, and it doesn't sound like the teachers are going to listen to the governments offers at all. I'm only thankful that my son is not in his graduating year. I can only imagine the anguish the graduating students are going through. Sadly I think it's the union leaders who are pushing this, I doubt the teachers themselves are enjoying walking the pavement all day long for reduced pay. Such a frustrating situation.

I hope everyone is doing well, and that this gorgeous weather is being felt by my blogging friends scattered around Ontario! I have to run now, so I hope this post is error free and makes some sense as I don't have time to proofread it! Thanks so much for stopping by to have a read, and hopefully I'll be able to visit most of you soon :)


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Five On Friday

It's been pretty grim looking outside this week. Although not raining torrents, it has been raining. The wind and cold 0'C temperatures have not enticed me outdoors beyond an obligatory morning walk.

I'm going to show you some things my talented husband has made in woodworking. He's been making furniture and other decorating features since I met him almost 30 years ago. In fact some of our first dates were spent in his parents' garage working on a stereo cabinet. He began woodworking when he was in high school, and I'm really proud of the things he has made. Often the only two things holding him back are the expense of the lumber, and a place to put the finished pieces in our home. I've shown you the beautiful low bookshelf he made a while ago, and also a cabinet to hold our fish tank, so today I'll share a few more things he has made.


My husband and I love to go canoeing ... not in white water, but quiet paddles around the lakes and rivers we visit while camping. This spring my husband created this beautiful paddle rack for our modest collection of paddles.  He had seen this idea on a woodworking show. The wood pieces are vertical slices off a tree trunk with the bark "live" on the edges. His biggest challenge was finding someone who sold these slices which took some time. He finally found a guy a couple of hours north of us that supplies logs for log home builders, and he happily sold them to my husband for a mere $20 a piece. People here in southern Ontario were trying to sell them for close to $100! He was really pleased with the pieces he picked up, and left them to thoroughly dry in our basement over the winter. I think he did a magnificent job with the paddle rack, and it now hangs proudly in our front hallway for a really stunning impact when you come in the front door. 

The two paddles on the right are mine ...
both given to me by my husband :)


In the fall of 2013, my husband surprised me with this beautiful cherry bookcase for my birthday. It is patterned after a bookcase that was once in my parents home that I really liked. I have this one in my bedroom with all my novels. It was difficult to decorate it exactly how I wanted it with a few bits of artwork etc. because the books filled it all up very quickly!  It's quite narrow, which is perfect because of limited space in my bedroom.


We refinished our family room quite a few years ago, and my husband made these sturdy mission style end tables for the room out of cherry. They're a really nice set of tables that are a perfect size. We both love mission style furniture, and he has lately made more furnishings in this style with great success.


He has also made these handy oak shelves for our two kids. My son loves little bits of memorabilia, and has put his shelf to good use. He has everything from his great-grandfather's bowler hat to railway spikes found on a camping trip. The centre panel is corkboard, and the shelves are all adjustable.


I've shown this next piece before, but didn't tell you about it. Also made by my husband when he was in high school, is this handy little pine dry sink in our kitchen. I find it very useful for large awkward pots and also for my vases and candle holders. He gave it to his mother when he finished it, but when they moved house about 18 years ago they gave it back to him. I'm really glad they did because I love it!

Thanks for stopping by today!


Monday, April 06, 2015

Quilt Show

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter with family or however you celebrate. My family didn't get together this year, although my daughter did come home and we had a tasty roast beef crock pot meal on Saturday. Yesterday we drove her back to university town where she will stay to write her final exams in the next two weeks and then she's back home all summer. I'm really missing her more and more this year, so it'll be nice to have her home for a good long stretch in just a short time.

About a week ago, my sister and I attended a quilt show in Mississauga put on by the Etobicoke Quilters Guild. This is a really nice show, and a great place for inspiration. There was everything from old-fashioned 'granny' type quilts, to modern geometric dazzlers. I didn't take photos of all of the quilts, only the quilts that really caught my eye (but even then there were quite a few!!).

I really liked the subdued colours in this quilt with pops of red. Sampler quilts always make for a great display. The square in the bottom right was my favourite.

This next geometric quilt was one of my favourites. It reminded of an eclipse. The pattern was so effective even with the use of so much brown. I couldn't get back far enough to get the entire quilt in the shot (which happened a lot ... space was tight).

This next quilt had an old-fashioned pattern, but the colouring and placement made it look quite modern.

There were a few quilts that used batiks, and the effects were all stunning. I liked the slightly wonky skinny strips laid on top of the batik squares. It gave the whole quilt a softened hand-pieced effect.

There were some amazing appliqued quilts, and my hat goes off to the quilters' skill to achieve such delicate floral shapes.

Another appliqued quilt below. The fine details in this wall-sized quilt were amazing. There is so much work in the piecing.

Loved this quilted piece, which I think was a table runner. Just a stunning pattern and the colour choices made the pattern stand out perfectly.

You just can't go wrong with a nine-patch quilt! A great quilt that is simple, but colourful and cozy.

Another nine-patch with the same colourful appeal.

This next quilt was too high up on the wall to see the piecing clearly. The card for it said that the quilter used hand-painted fabrics. It looks just like a painting! I just wish it had been closer to see it better.

There were quite a few quilts that used black and white fabrics. Most of them I didn't like. One was in pink and black which just never looks good to me. This next one had a nice olive green for contrast, and I liked the way the green pieces seemed to float over top of a black and white background.

Another example using the black and white fabrics with contrasting red. 

Some of these photos don't do the quilts justice. Lighting was difficult as it came in through huge windows making a glare on some of the quilts. The next quilts had a nice layout, and when we looked closely, we could see just how much work went into it.

The next quilt is a bit of an optical illusion. The quilt was made with straight strips of fabric. The quilting stitches were stitched in a wavy pattern, and this makes the strips look wavy. A nice straightforward design with that interesting detail giving it a twist.

I really liked this next quilt, and stood admiring it for quite some time. The more I looked at it, the more I could see shadows of the triangles shifting and moving. It's a simple overall pattern, but the placement of the colours create the movement. I don't know if the triangles were placed randomly or in a definite pattern, but it looked great. The quilter said she made it after visiting the Rocky Mountains in the summer and knew she wanted to get the effect of the mountains and the pine trees into a quilt. I think she accomplished her goal :)

I liked the wonky squares in the next quilt ... and also the fact that it has feet!

There were cards beside all of the quilts giving a little insight into the making of the quilt. A lot of them were machine quilted, but some were quilted by hand. I once made a queen-sized quilt for my brother and his wife when they got married. It took me a long time to make it, but I had a few "quilting bees" and invited my family to help me quilt it by hand. There were lots of hands making that quilt. My mother, two sisters, my husband's mother and grandmother (who taught me a few tricks about quilting) and me. I had the quilt rolled onto an antique quilting frame that I found in my great-aunt's house. The quilt was a "bear paw" pattern since my brother had moved out to BC where there are grizzly bears. 

This next quilt has part of the same bear paw pattern in it, and a few more triangles then make up the maple leaf. I really liked how all the leaves are placed different ways, making them dance across the quilt!

The next quilt had a lot of movement and colour which I really liked.

 The quilting pattern was really detailed too.

Another quilt where the star squares seem to be floating on the background. Loved the bright, cheery colours in this one.

This was a very pink quilt, but the pink just didn't show up as well in the photo. I think there were retro fabrics used in this one if I recall correctly.

I didn't get a picture of this full quilt, but I did love the retro fabrics used in it. The pattern is "courthouse steps", and one that I've often thought of making. I spent many years as a legal litigation secretary in Toronto and many hours spent at the courthouses for my boss!

A lovely granny quilt. I think this pattern is "grandmother's garden"? A lot of work with the tiny hexagons.

Although this next photo was rather fuzzy, the quilt gave such an impact with the bright yellows and blues. Another beautiful sampler quilt.

The next two quilts were a couple of my favourites (together with the "eclipse" quilt at the beginning of this loooooong post). Loved the colours in this next quilt, and the simple, but effective pattern. I wish I had taken a close-up of the stitching.

And my favourite quilt of the whole show! I just love this pattern, and the brilliant colours make it stunning!

This last quilt was a lot of fun to look at. It's the pattern of "Sunbonnet Sue", but the quilter has used great imagination in Sunbonnet Sue's activities! My sister and I especially liked her scuba diving with her bonnet still in place ;)

Scuba diver in lower shot on right edge of quilt.

I hope you enjoyed the quilt show as much as I did! Maybe a few too many photos? Ah well, I couldn't stop at just one or two ;)

And here are a few photos of the Easter treats for my two kids ... I don't think you're ever too old to receive a few chocolate treats and a little bunny (click here for the pattern) handmade by your mom, do you?

Thanks for stopping by today!


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