Monday, February 24, 2014

Crazy Quilt

The last time I was in the thrift store I showed you the few things that I had purchased.  I mentioned a knitting book that I picked up, but forgot that I had also picked up another book, "The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery Vol. II 1910-1921".  I have a complete set of the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery, which I picked up at the thrift store last year.  I've only just started reading this journal and it's quite interesting so far. I thought I'd share this one entry in the book with you ... L.M. Montgomery talks of her own crazy quilt:

"Monday, Apr 4, 1910
Cavendish, P.E.I.
   To-day, in going through an old trunk I came upon a "crazy quilt".  And I took it out and unfolded it and sat me down to study it and the memories of the past it recalled.  When I was about twelve years old "crazy patchwork" had just come into vogue.  It was "all the rage."  Everybody made at least a "crazy" cushion.  Some few attempted quilts.  I was among the latter.
   The name was certainly an inspired one.  "Crazy" such work certainly was - nay, more, rankly insane.  To my present taste it is inexpressibly hideous.  I find it hard to believe it possible that I could ever have thought it beautiful.  But I did think it; and I expended more "gray matter" devising ingenious and complicated "stitches" than I ever put into anything else.
   I was from twelve to sixteen completing the quilt - five years; and verily it was "Love's Labor's Lost" for by the time I had finished it crazy patchwork was out of the fashion.  My crazy quilt has been lying folded in that trunk ever since - and will continue to lie folded.  Perhaps future generations may regard it as a curiosity as we look upon old samplers now.
   Nevertheless, I felt many a tug at my heart as I looked over it to-day.  It was compact of old memories; almost every gay piece or bit of embroidery called up some long-ago incident or place or face.  As for the dreams sewn into that quilt, they were as thick as Autumn leaves in Vallambroso.
   A great part of the delight of "crazy" work was the excitement of collecting pieces for it - silks, satins, velvets - for of no meaner materials might genuine crazy patchwork be made.  Old boxes and drawers were ransacked and long hidden bits of finery joyfully found and used.  Contributions were levied on all my friends.  Did one get a new dress or hat a bit of the trimming must be begged.  Sometimes the work was at a standstill for weeks because of lack of scraps.  But eventually enough were collected and the quilt completed - a quaint cipher of many and many an old gayety and vanity and heartbeat.  Sometimes I sent away a dollar to an American silk firm and received a package of pieces about four inches square cut from remnants.  They were always very rich and beautiful, with the glamor of the outer world about them - the world of wealth and fashion where "grande dames" disported themselves in whole robes of these materials.  It was a never failing diversion of my chums and me to "choose out" the various dresses we would have if given our pick of those gay samples.
   There are many pieces from dresses of my mother and aunts in that quilt.  Many wedding dresses figure there.  And all are covered with intricate stitching.  The result is a very nightmare of jumbled hues and patterns.  And once I thought it beautiful!
    Well, after all, it gave me pleasure in the making and so what matters if the result was not worth while?  I had "the joy of the working" and that was the essence of heaven."
Isn't this a wonderful entry ... a little glimpse into her life as a young girl and handsewing this quilt.  It makes me wonder what ever happened to her crazy quilt.  If only she knew then that a crazy quilt would be prized by many today.  And a crazy quilt made by L.M. Montgomery herself would be incredible. 
I have a tiny little book on quilts ... you know the sort of book they have at Indigo at the front entrance ... little 3-inch square gifty books that are great for stocking stuffers.  This quilt book came complete with a thimble on a ribbon as a page marker.  Inside are amazing photos of antique quilts, and short excerpts and quotes from books about quilts.  It's really quite nice and I read through it every so often.  The journal entry above would've been perfect to add to the quilt book.
When I bought the journal book, there was a newspaper clipping inside the front cover about a woman who fought to get the home of L.M. Montgomery here in Ontario also designated as a heritage site.  She eventually won the battle, and we are always driving past the sign for her house on our way north.  Much of the journal I have now was written at her Ontario home in Leaksdale when she moved here in 1911.  I know that now I'll have to visit this heritage site and see the place where she spent the second half of her life as a minister's wife, and where she continued writing many of her books.
That's it for today ... sorry no photos.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Caution ... Horses!

My daughter has been a little crazy for horses since she was very young ... she takes after her mom ;)

The pony rides were her favourite rides at every country fair, my sister with the horses was her favourite place to visit because she could hang out with her cousins and the horses all day.  We started going to the Royal Winter Fair just for the horse shows. 

The riding lessons started when she was about 10 or 11. 

We stayed with a stable until things started to go sour for one reason or another, and then searched for something new.  Each stable fulfilled a need for a while, so I never felt I wasted time and money at any of them. 

She learned a lot from each individual horse too, not just the instructors.  Not every lesson was an easy one.  Some days were not all smiles ... and some days I could barely watch when she was on a difficult horse.

She's had her share of spills and bruises.
There've been other heartbreaks along the way.  Two of the horses that she had become very close to were lost.  One (below) to a head injury when he fell on ice  ...

... the other lost to blindness (who could not, understandably, be kept on at a jumping stable).  How I wish I had a place in the country at the time they had to say goodbye to him.  He was a real sweetheart and very young (below).  But as with any business, especially with animals, sentiment very often has to take a back seat.  But it was most difficult to learn his fate when there was nothing we could do to help ... a heartbreaking day.

With all the riding lessons, horse shows became the next natural step. 

And with horse shows come the ribbons.  Now horse show ribbons are so gosh-darned fancy. 

Any kid could come in dead last, but with a fancy ribbon for fifth place, they would feel they'd won the championship.  The smiles on the kids faces when presented with a fancy ribbon is priceless and worth every ride. 

My daughter has never really been one for all the horse trinkets like some girls.  Her room was never decorated with a horse theme, she never wore clothes or had a blanket with horses printed on them ... she just likes the real horses and the riding.  She'd rather buy horse gear, and she does have quite a collection of trendy saddle pads and she likes a good expensive riding boot.  I'm actually glad that this is her way, because then we don't have a room cluttered with junk.  But the ribbons!  What to do with a tote full of ribbons?! 

trust me, this ain't all of 'em
She displayed a few of the really nice ones on her bulletin board, but they're great dust catchers, and start to look tacky real fast.  So she's been checking on-line to see how other people display their ribbons.   She came across a very cool display in a shadow box frame.  The girl who had it (and sorry I don't have a link for it on my computer), had actually purchased the framed ribbons at auction for $100.  My daughter just had a birthday last week, and when she came home for Reading Week, she and I went shopping for her birthday present.  Michael's Craft Store has a great selection of shadow box frames, and with a 40% off coupon (yay!!) we picked up a nice big frame (16" x 31").  She got to work on it as soon as we got home, and this is what she put together ...

As I told her, "Once you frame something it becomes art", and so it has.  I think it looks really cool.  The memories encased behind glass are many.  A lot of good times, but there are also memories of when things went sideways on us.  Some show days the horses wouldn't cooperate ...


Some shows it was the weather ...
The most difficult shows were the ones when my daughter wasn't cooperating :[
But we had a lot of laughs too.  What's not to love when you have to get up at 3 a.m. to drive to the stable ... load horses & tack onto trailers and all drive off to the shows to stand out in an unprotected field all day long holding onto horses (the sweet Newfoundland Pony above tried to bite my arm all day long and finally succeeded).  But the excitement of getting first & second place ribbons! ... the thrill of a championship! ... well, those memories are all timeless in this frame.

One of my best friend's mother passed away a couple of years ago.  I had a chance to speak with her mother just a few months previous, and we talked about horse show ribbons.  She didn't believe in packing them away, she felt they should all be displayed with pride.  She told me "Every ribbon you see there (and they are displayed throughout my friend's house) represents every hour of hard work that you went through to get that ribbon."  She was talking about the hard work of both the rider and the mom.  She'd been a "horse mom" to my friend for probably 45 years, so she knew what she was talking about ;)
I quite agree with her, and am very happy that my daughter has found a great way to display all her hard-earned ribbons.  Although it seems the shows may be finished (for now), she still continues with jumping lessons with the horse club at university.  I'm so glad she's able to keep up the riding and hang out with the horses that she loves so much!
Sleepy horse after a long show day
Ah! that's better ... Champions that day :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Thrifting & Snowing. Snowing & Snowing!!

Here's a little mystery photo for you.  I'll reveal all at the end of this post ;)
I haven't been to the thrift stores almost all winter, but I decided to pop into a couple on my way home from seeing my dad on Saturday.  I told myself not to buy anything unless I was truly in love with it (because I really don't need anything .... shhh).  But the two small things I found were really nice!!

I actually found this last year, but never showed you.  It's a beautiful brand-new-mint-in-box Portmeirion Botanic Blue heart-shaped trinket box!  I was so happy to see it on the shelf, it hadn't even been opened!  I just love this little box.

Inside is a tiny butterfly ...
  A nice little box that I keep on my night table for my very special earrings.
I found this tiny mustard pot this weekend ...
It's only 2 inches tall ... isn't it cute?  It has such a pretty deep blue glaze,
and a nice detail around the lid.
I think I have a tiny mustard spoon that will fit in the lid too.
Also, a nice pottery lidded cheese dish ...  
I have another pottery piece with a very similar design,
and I thought the two would look nice on the table together.
And that's it.  I showed great restraint compared to what I usually do at the thrift store.  I picked up a knitting book too, with a lot of sweaters in it for a couple of dollars.  I can't decide whether to try knitting a sweater or not.  I was considering making one for my dad, who really loves it when I give him things I've made, but I'm hesitant to delve into this new aspect of knitting (ie. large clothing projects).  I noticed my dad doesn't have any lightweight sweaters, just large bulky pullovers.  He's not able to get in and out of pullovers anymore, the joints in elbows and shoulders have stiffened with age (he is 90!), so a thin cardigan would be ideal.  I'll decide soon whether to make one or just buy one. 
Still waiting for the light to improve indoors to reveal my daughter's project.  I can't wait to show that to you all, but it's doing this outside today... again ...
I know ... hard to believe, but this is how it's looked outside my window pretty much all winter.  There's a very fine snow falling, which you can't really see in these photos, but it's been falling since last night.  Not much snow has melted since the ice storm hit way back in December.
All the bushes have had a thick layer of snow on for the entire time.
The wind is really swirling that snow around off the roof (above) and adding a special zing in your face when you're outdoors.  Doesn't my patio look inviting?  You can't even tell there's a nice walled garden out there anymore.  I'm starting to forget what a colourful place is my patio in the summertime ....
 ah, yes! that's better!
The weather report I read last night said we'd only have about 1 cm overnight.  I cleared about six inches off with the snowblower this morning.  The roar of the snowblower providing an early wake-up call for my neighbours (and daughter, who thought she'd sleep in this week! ha!).  It was all done by 7:30 :)
It's another fairly wide-spread storm, so I'm glad we get to share this happiness, it makes it easier to bear don't you think?  Oh!  And the mystery photo at the start of this post?  Did you guess?  My daughter is home from university for Reading Week this week, and I had a free day today so we took our beloved Cody for a walk through the fresh snow.  We trudged our way across a huge soccer field on the way back, and Cody dropped deep down in the snow with every leaping bound.  When we got home, he looked like this ....
Just a little snowball build-up in those sensitive areas ;) 
Of course we couldn't stop laughing when we saw what he had hanging off him!  We pulled all the little ice balls off him while he whimpered and whined at us ... pooooor ol' Cody!
Hope you enjoyed your visit today.  I notice I have a few new followers and I'd like to say welcome to my blog!  Feel free to leave comments which is always a nice way to get to know each other a little bit.  I can't always send a message to some followers to welcome you because I don't have Google+, but I can reply to comments that are left on my blog.
Well, I won't be putting the mittens & winter boots away just yet.
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Although I am an "awards free" blog, I've agreed to accept the Conoceme Award from Lisa of Needles and Wool.  Thank you Lisa for thinking of me, and I'm so glad you enjoy reading my blog ;) 

The award comes with a list of questions about yourself, and Lisa has posed
the following questions for me:
1.  What made you decide to begin blogging:
Whenever I finished a sewing project, I used to take it to my mom to show her.  She was always my best support for my homemade things.  When she passed away three years ago, I had no one to share this with.  I'd been reading sewing blogs for a few years, and decided to finally take the plunge and start my own blog so that I could again share the things I make with other like-minded people.
2.  When do you feel most inspired to blog:
When I have finished a project, or if I've been somewhere and taken some great photos that I want to share.  Right now I can't wait to blog about an amazing project my daughter created yesterday!
3.  What is your favourite season:
The fall ... here in Ontario the weather has cooled off, the sky is often a brilliant blue (no haze from our muggy summers), the bugs no longer bite and I love being in the woods where the smells and the fall colours make me so happy!
4.  Who inspires you most in your life:
Even though she's no longer with me, I'd have to say my mom.  She was the kindest soul and was a great inspiration to all who knew her in the way she lived her life.
5.  What is your favourite part about blogging:
I love being able to share things I've made, but to have made new friends along the way has been the best!
6.  If you had one tip for a new blogger, what would it be:
Rather than trying to conform to what you think others would enjoy reading, write your blog so that you are true to yourself .  I read one person's blog recently through the GYB event who offered up all sorts of advice on how we should write our blogs ... everything from the size/colour of font, how much & what should be written, to how many photos we should share in a post!  It was very presumptuous of her to assume we should all conform to her idea of what a blog should be.  Your blog is your personal journal and you shouldn't let anyone mess with what you want to put in that journal.  It's an expression of who you are, and obviously being different than everyone else is what makes it all so interesting.
7.  What time of day do you blog most often:
I usually blog first thing in the morning and later in the evening.
8.  What is your favourite colour:
9.  What is your favourite topic to blog about:
I love blogging about the things I've made.  I wish I travelled more, because I love to blog about places I visit too ;)
10.  What are your hobbies:
Sewing, knitting, reading, camping, canoeing, hiking ... does blogging count?
11.  What is your favourite food:
Pizza ... and salmon ... but not together ;)
So there you have it!  A little bit about me.  I've already explained to Lisa that I won't be passing this award along to 11 other bloggers, but it was fun answering the questions, and thanks again Lisa for thinking of me!
And since I hate to have a post without at least one photo ... here's a little clue as to what my daughter has been working on which I'll share soon:
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lisa is a Winner!

Following up with the Grow Your Blog party, I have chosen a winner using a random number generator.  And the winner is ...

Lisa from Needles and Wool!!
Congratulations Lisa!
It would be great if you popped over to Lisa's blog for a visit.  She creates some really nice knitting projects and even has a "Stitch of the Day" on her sidebar which is a great idea.  Lisa and I started following each other through the Grow Your Blog party, and as always, it's been fun getting to know each other a bit through our blogs.  I'll contact you personally Lisa to get your mailing address.
Thank you to everyone who stopped by for the Grow Your Blog Party and left comments.  I visited all the people who left a comment (as long as there was a link), and have started following lots of new blogs through this event too.  I know a lot of you have enjoyed this event over the past few weeks.  It was time consuming to read through many, many blogs, but so fun seeing all these bloggers joining up together to share their blogs with new people.   Vicki of 2 Bags Full will keep the list of bloggers up all year should you still wish to visit more blogs even though the actual party has passed.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family loves chocolate chip cookies.  This is the most requested cookie in my household, even though I can make some pretty good baked goods ... pies, cakes & loaves ... it's the simple things that they seem to love best.  A couple of weeks ago I asked my son if he would like me to bake him something for when he came home.  He'd been under a lot of stress with the workload at school, and end-of-semester exams.  He immediately said "chocolate chip cookies".  And I was happy to oblige ...

Would you care to make some yourself?  Here's my recipe:
Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups chocolate chips*
Combine flour, baking soda, salt & chocolate chips.  Set aside.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Blend in flour mixture.  Gently roll into 1-1/2-inch balls and place 2-inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in 375F oven for 8 - 11 minutes until golden brown.  Makes about 3 dozen
*ok, so maybe I put in the entire 350g bag of chocolate chips rather than measure them out ;)

These are nice & buttery and don't last long!

so keep the lid on
Thanks for stopping by!
Linking up with Sarah for ...

Friday, February 07, 2014

Block a Week

Joining with Linda again today for Knit a Block a Week Challenge.  I wasn't able to post about my square last week, although I did knit a block.  So this week I have two blocks to show you. 
My first block is Block 56 "Big Heart".  I'm sure a lot of people will be knitting & crocheting lots of hearts now that Valentine's Day is near.  Did you see my Frozen Heart in yesterday's post? 


This is knit using the intarsia method, which I've not tried before.  If you've never knit in intarsia before and want to try this heart, I would suggest reading the instructions at the back of the book before proceeding.  Of course, I didn't do that (meh! I can figure this out as I go), but realized too late that a little planning ahead could've saved me a little aggravation later on.  Anyway, it all worked out well, and you can see on the back of the block where I twisted the two different yarns together to prevent any gaps between them.  This block did curl a little both top & bottom and on the sides, but not too badly ... of course I just cropped the curls right out of the photo because I didn't block it :)  
To be honest, I didn't really enjoy knitting the intarsia method when I had four different balls going across the top, but I am easily annoyed if yarn starts getting into a tangle, and I didn't like having four balls of yarn carefully placed all around me as I knit ... you don't want to have to get up in a hurry to run to the phone or anything!  I'll probably give it a go again should I come across something I really want to make though.
My second block is Block 197 "Harris".


It's quite a dense square with a nice nubby texture.  This block was easy to knit up and I liked the effect with the variegated yarn peeking out from the dark brown.  It didn't curl on any of the edges, which was nice.  I can see using this knit stitch for little mug rugs, or a heat pad since it is so dense.
Here are all my Chocolate Peppermint blocks so far ...

If you'd like to see other blocks in this challenge, just click on the link!
Thanks for stopping by!
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