A blog about my interests, which include fabric landscapes and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Monday, December 30, 2013

A treasure

This is one of my Christmas gifts - and is something I will treasure....

It's a lovely vintage hankie case - made from, I think, fine linen.  I don't know if you can tell from the photo (click to embiggen it) but the flowers and the green leaves are appliqued and then additional stitching has been added.  The blue area has been satin-stitched.  The green edging is hand stitched onto the case.

Here it is open - and inside were a number of lovely hankies, including the pretty one with the red crocheted edging.

This belonged to my friends mother and she decided I would treasure it more than she would.  She was right!  Thank you Jan!!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A story for a Saturday

I found this in my files and thought you might
enjoy reading it too.  Unfortunately I can't credit
the original author because I don't know who
wrote it.  If you know, please comment so I
can give proper credit!

EDITED TO ADD:  Written by Paul Harvey!
(Thank you Rosalie)

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings.  Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work.  Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other.  What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.  Let me tell you about it.

I turned the volume up on my radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning talk show.  I heard an older sounding chap with a golden voice.  You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business himself.

He was talking about "a thousand marbles" to someone named "Tom".  I was intrigued and sat down to listen to what he had to say.

"Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job.  I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much.  Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet.  Too bad you missed your daughter's dance recital."

He continued, "Let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities."

And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles."

"You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic.  The average person lives about seventy-five years.  I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."

"Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime.  Now stick with me Tom, I'm getting to the important part."

"It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail,"  he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.  I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy."

"So, I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had.  I ended up having to visit three toy stores to roundup 1000 marbles.  I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in my workshop next to the radio.  Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away."

"I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.  There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

"Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast.  This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container.  I figure if I make it until next Saturday then God has blessed me with a little extra time to be with my loved ones...:

"It was nice to talk to you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your loved ones, and I hope to meet you again someday.  Have a good morning."

You could have heard a pin drop when he finished.  Even the show's moderator didn't have anything to say for a few moments.  I guess he gave us all a lot to think about.  I had planned to do some work that morning, then go to the gym.  Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss.  "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast."

"What brought this on?" she asked with a smile.  "Oh, nothing special,"  I said. "It has just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids.  Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out?  I need to buy some marbles."

This sure gives lots of food for thought doesn't it?
Enjoy your Saturdays,
and maybe go buy some marbles.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yummy dessert

I thought you might like to see a picture of
our Christmas dessert...

And, just in case you'd like to make your own,
here's the recipe...


1 - 3 oz. pkg. orange jello
2/3 c. boiling water
1/2 c. cold water
1 - 16 oz. carton Cool Whip, divided
1 - 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. chocolate crumbs
2 pkg. ladyfingers
1 can mandarin oranges, well drained

Dissolve jello in boiling water.  Add cold water and mix well.  Refrigerate until syrupy (30-45 mins).  Fold in 3 cups of the Cool Whip and set aside. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and gradually beat in milk.  Fold in remaining Cool Whip.  Grease bottom of 9" springform pan and sprinkle with chocolate crumbs.  Trim ladyfingers to fit the height of the pan and arrange around sides.  Spoon half the orange jello mixture into pan.  Cover with cream cheese mixture, and then remaining jello mixture.  Sprinkle with more chocolate crumbs.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Garnish with orange slices. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!

This is a picture of our Nativity scene that I originally purchased from Avon when I
was a rep several years ago.I don't have all the pieces that were in the 
collection at the time and, in hindsight, wish I did.

I came across this poem and thought I would
share it with you.  It was written by 
Wilfred A. Peterson.

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me,
Amidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music of the sighing streams
That live in my memory.
Help me to know
The magical restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art 
Of taking minute vacations of slowing down to look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend or to make a new one;
To pat a stray dog;
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life's enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my greater destiny.

May your Christmas be safe, healthy and above all happy.  From our house, to yours and to those you love, a very blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

New bookcase, and Christmas wishes for my female friends...

Here's my new bookcase,
assembled and filled...

It's a really sturdy unit so should
stand up to all the books I have.

Better yet?  There's room for more books!

I came across this poem and 
thought you might enjoy it.
There is no author listed on it,
so if you happen to know who wrote it, let me know
and I will give credit.

If I were ol' Santa, you know what I'd do
I'd dump silly gifts that are given to you
And deliver some things just inside your front door
Things you have lost, but treasured before.

I'd give you back all your maidenly vigor,
And to go along with it, a neat tiny figure.
Then restore the old color that once graced your hair
Before rinses and bleaches took residence there.

I'd bring back the shape with which you were gifted
So things now suspended need not be uplifted.
I'd draw in your tummy and smooth down your back
Till you'd be a dream in those tight fighting slacks.

I'd remove all your wrinkles and leave only one chin
So you wouldn't spend hours rubbing grease on your skin.
You'd never have flashes or queer dizzy spells,
And you wouldn't hear noises like ringing of bells.

No sore aching feet and no corns on your toes,
No searching for spectacles when they're right on your nose.
Not a shot would you take in your arm, hip or fanny,
From a doctor who thinks you're a nervous old granny.

You'd never have a headache, so no pills would you take.
And no heating pad needed since your muscles won't ache.
Yes, if I were Santa, you'd never look stupid,
You'd be a cute little chick with the romance of a cupid.

I'd give a lift to your heart when those wolves start to whistle,
And the joys of your heart would be light as a thistle.
But alas!  I'm not Santa.  I'm simply just me,
That matronest of matrons you ever did see.

I wish I could tell you all the symptoms I've got,
But I'm due at my doctor's for an estrogen shot.
Even though we've grown older, this wish is sincere,
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

The big (and final) REAL Studio Reveal!

The past two weeks I have been taking part in Vicki's 'Real Studio Tour' and today is the last week for the tour.  In week one we revealed our favourite non-sewing tools and in week two it was our favourite storage solutions.

This week, and one that is likely a hard one for a lot of us, it to post pictures of our they are.  Warts, mess, and all.  No cleaning up, no making pretty for the camera and the world at large.  Just the real deal. 

So, here goes...

Above is an overall view of my 'studio', which also serves as a spare bedroom
(with pull-out couch), computer room, and pretty much
anything that doesn't fit anywhere else in our apartment.

To the left of the door is our water cooler (kitchen is too small for it to have a home there).  You can see the sign on the wall that is reserving that space for a new bookcase, which has arrived since these pictures were taken and is waiting to be put together).

To the right of the non-existent bookcase, is my computer area.  It's difficult to tell in this picture, but the section that is covered in blue and white swings out and that's what I use for an ironing board.  That 'fabric' on top is a made-for-ironing pad and I also have a folded towel beneath it to absorb any excess heat.

This is my cutting table....a vintage kitchen table, which is up on blocks to make it high enough for me to stand and work comfortably.  Above the table is my inspiration board...a mirror in a past life.  Beneath the table is a cabinet which hold fabric, projects that are waiting their turn, and a container that holds all the rolls of things I use.  

We've turned the corner now, and beneath the window is where I do my sewing and hand stitching.  It's a very small table so tends to get very messy very quickly when I'm working on projects.  Beneath it (hard to see) is a plastic grocery box that currently is holding some of the white laces and supplies I'm using in my white cloth project.  You can see that piece on the table.

This is the next corner.  Another re-purposed cabinet.  This one holds a lot!!  On the top is one of those lazy-susan type things (normally used by scrapbookers) which holds my markers, small sewing tools, and whatever else seems to fit.  To the left of it is a little corner cabinet which also holds some little things - collectibles and more sewing supplies. (p.s. See the final picture for another view of this area and  further explanation of what's there).  The top section in the unit is all my watchmakers cases filled with beads.  More beads in the section below that, and behind the closed doors is fabric.  The jumble pile on the floor is all the white fabrics I am cutting up to use in my white embroidery work.

Here you can see the pull-out couch, along with the stack of books that are currently leaning against the wall waiting for the bookcase to be constructed.  In order to fit the new bookcase into the room, the water cooler has to be moved and will be going into the spot where you see the books now.  What was there?  Well...see those bit plastic totes in the front of the picture?  They were full (and I mean FULL!!) of denim scraps, which I have gotten rid of and the totes have been re-homed to a friend.  To the right (and out of the picture) is a four drawer filing cabinet tucked right in the corner.

 We have turned the corner once again and now we come to my closet.  It has floor to ceiling sliding doors and here I've shown you just one side of it.  The lower plastic shelving units contain all my crazy quilt fabric stash...sorted loosely into colours.  The two areas above that hold all sorts of crafting goodies - all labeled so I can find things fairly easily.  I haven't shown you the other side of the closet, because it's just more of the same.  To the right you can glimpse the doorway back out into the hall.

And below is the second photo of the corner unit.  On the wall I have a thread spool holder that my husband made for me.  Below that is a little shelf that holds things like my scissors and some of my pincushions that have been given to me....all within easy reach when I'm sewing.  You can see the top of the cabinet better in this picture and can now see the plastic little drawer unit I use for storing small sewing 'bits' - things like dome fasteners, sewing machine needles and such. 

So, there you have it....
my studio....warts and all.
Hope you enjoyed seeing it!
Thanks Vicki, this has been such fun!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Latest stitching efforts - and tears dripping off my chin...

(Bet that title caught your attention didn't it!!)

First - here's the latest stitching I've done on
wrapping cloth # 2...

The leaves & berries above were already on the fabric,
and I have added the flower vine to the left.

Below are web stitches, highlighting the
circles that were already printed on the fabric.

AND, and by no means does this deserve to come
last in this post, an explanation of my tears.

I am not a lover of the trappings of Christmas - the busyness, the frantic rush to buy,buy,buy - all leave me feeling cold.  I truly enjoy creating gifts for my friends though and the time and love I put into the things I make help me get into the Christmas spirit of giving.  We all need, however, to remember the reason we celebrate, and so often it gets lost in all the commercialism of it all.

I love listening to Christmas music and have it streaming on my internet/computer all the time I'm in my studio.  I have just discovered what I think is a new song and it quite literally brings me to tears every single time I hear it.  It's called 'A Baby Changes Everything' and is performed by Faith Hill.  I'm going to give you the you-tube link HERE.  Please listen/watch and enjoy.  Consider it my Christmas present to you.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Taste this.....

Jack just arrived in my doorway bearing this 
and a spoon
for me to taste test our Christmas stuffing.

mmmm mmm good.....

Friday, December 13, 2013

Week two of the REAL Studio Tour!

This is the second week of the fun studio tour that Vicki Welsh is hosting.  Last week we posted our favourite tool or tools that we use in our studios that was NOT used for its original purpose.  This week she would like us to post about our favourite storage solutions.  For me, that was an easy one!

First up...
I have a LOT of embroidery thread so
these are the greatest solution.
I have different colour families in
This is my green (for Christmas!)...

I have a LOT of beads!
The best storage solution I've been
able to find are these
watchmaker's cases
(available here in Canada from Lee Valley).
Again, I have one for each colour family.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Progress on cloth....

 This is the first section of my wrapping cloth # 2 - competed.  I think.  I might end up adding more to it, but for now I think it's done.

This is the second section pieced and ready to stitch. I've actually already added the word 'Joy' on the right (cross stitch on waste canvas).  This cloth is intended for our son and d-i-l and I was lucky enough to be given a number of pieces that originally belonged to her grandmother for me to include.  All but one little 'bit' here came from there.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

oh dear....

Oops - the demise of what WAS above,
has led to this...

My years-old Ikea bookshelf finally 
decided to breathe it's last.
May it RIP.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The last TUSAL, and progress on Cloth # 2

Today I have a two part post for you.  First of all, this is the last TUSAL post for 2013.  Thanks toDaffy Cat for the inspiration to keep doing this and post about it each month. 

To the left you can see my final pile of theads for this month.  There was lots of stitching going on!

The pile of ORTS for the year.  Perhaps you can see the little bits of paper in amongst the threads?  As I finished a project throughout the year I wrote it onto a slip of paper and put it in amongst my Orts.  It was a noble plan, that quite thoroughly fell by the wayside as I got into Christmas creating.  Oops!

# # # # ## # # #  # # # # #

The second part of this post involves what I've
stitched over the past couple of days on my
white cloth # 2...

 Above is a vintage piece taken from  a tea cloth that was embroidered
by my grandmother.  Above is a crocheted flower made over
a bone ring.  To the left is a seam I did with french knots
and detached buttonhole stitches.  

Below is worked on a vintage hankie.  I did
buttonhole stitch around another bone ring and added
some detached buttonhole to it.  Then I worked
the honeycomb stitching, which I'm really quite happy about.

Friday, December 06, 2013

The REAL studio tour!

Today, for a change of pace (and a bit of fun), I'm taking part in Week One of Vicki's Real Studio Tour. This will be a three week event with the third week being a post about the TRUE look of our working studios (no fair cheating and cleaning up prior to taking photos....ooooh.....scary!!  This week we are asked to do a blog post about our favourite tool or tools we use in our studios that we re-purpose. 

I actually have two tools that I couldn't live without.

1.  A small pair of pliers which is absolutely
invaluable to pull needles through heavier
fabrics. Most of you know that I love
working with recycled denim and I couldn't be
without my trusty pliers when I am trying to 

2.  This one is perhaps utterly silly, but
I use it every single time I need to
stuff anything.  It's quite simply a piece
of wooden doweling - 1/4" thick.
By complete happenstance, the end
(to the left in the picture) was slivererd off and it now is the most perfect shape to get stuffing into little areas.  Over the years (and I've had this for probably close to 30 years!) it has worn beautifully smooth.  It's the perfect length too.  It's one of the irreplaceable tools I have!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The last one!

I just, two minutes ago, finished the last Christmas present I'm making for this year!  There's cause for celebration and I should be jumping up and down....however.....I decided to share picture of it with you instead.

First of all, I used co-ordinating sewing themed fabric to
create a sewing machine cover and,
because I don't know the dimensions of
her machine, I just made it as a tie-on
cover.  Note the ties are made
from a measuring tape.

Then I made a Thread Catcher/Pincushion
from a really great free tutorial
found HERE.

I had some scraps of the sewing themed fabric
left over,
so I also made a little needle book, which
you can also see in the above photo.

now it's on to wrapping!!  

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Missing in action, and treasures

Sorry I've been away from the blog for longer than usual - had some family 'stuff' to deal with and now that's over with I can get on with my normal life.

In the past few days I've received some pretty nice things in the mail and I thought I'd show you (because, obviously, there has been NO stitching here).   First of all, this wonderful brooch came from Jackie Cardy in England....

I love it!!
The colours and the design remind me so much
of my favourite Christmas show that I
HAVE to watch every year
(How the Grinch Stole Christmas).
Jackie makes the most wonderous art using velvets.
Thank you Jackie!!
(please go and visit Jackie HERE to see her work)

The other piece that arrived in the mail came from my distant cousin in Australia.  She created this marvelous  little oil painting titled "In the Ovens Valley, North-East Victoria, Australia".  Perhaps those of you who are from Australia might recognize it.  The painting measures 5x7".  Thank you Margaret!!  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Have I mentioned how much......

I dislike winter???

This is what greeted my eyes when I opened the curtains
this morning.  

And it's still snowing.....

Monday, November 25, 2013

and more...

This is another small section of a piece of my new wrapping cloth.  Cross stitching on waste canvas is one of my favourite techniques.  Hopefully you can tell from the photo that I have used three different shades of purple to stitch the letters.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Please excuse the colour in this photo - it's a dull day here today which doesn't help AND I compounded the issue by purchasing new light bulbs - and got the wrong ones.  Trust IS mostly white!

As I mentioned before, the inspiration for this part of my wrapping cloth originated with the work of Ernst Haeckel.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doo, doo, doodle.....oooh.....

Today, for a complete about face, I thought I'd share with you what I've been making (knitting, actually) lately.  These are simply called doo-dads.

They are actually a type of pincushion, and don't
really look all that exciting when you first see one.
I am totally in absolute like with mine and
I use it every single day.
It sits beside my chair in the living room and is a depository for my small pair of scissors, a crochet hook (for when I, inevitably, drop stitches with my knitting, a large eyed needle for weaving in ends, and various and assorted other little 'necessaries' that tend to migrate south into the chair cushions if I don't anchor them down somewhere. I know it's perhaps hard to see from the photo, but the areas between where the yarn colour changes are actually open so leave room to store larger things (like an additional pair of scissors).  I've made a few for friends and they too are seemingly delighted with their uses.  Simple, quick to make and an invaluable tool.

The free pattern can be found HERE.    The only change I have made with mine is to hie myself out to the hardware store and invest in some large metal washers (in the case of these approx. 2 1/2" across).  I loosely stitch one to the bottom of each doo-dad and then cover them with a layer of felt.  The washers, although not necessary, add weight which helps to keep them from toppling over easily. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And now, for a change of pace....

I have signed on to take Karen Ruane's latest on-line class 'Simply Stitch 3' and already am sadly behind (because I really needed to finish that crazy quilted purse).  Now it's full throttle ahead on the class!

My first section is a nod to the work of Ernst Haeckel.  I admire his drawings so much and I just know many of them could be perfect inspiration for stitch work.  The first photo I'm showing today is some ledger work I did trying (and the key word there is 'trying'!!) to draw out some designs using his work as inspiration.

As you can see, my drawing abilities are definitely lacking, but what I was aiming for is the basic design.

Next is a picture of the beginnings of  a piece of stitching. 

The tri-shape on the left is a copy of
Ernst's work from his book and
is what I'm hoping to reproduce (somewhat)
in my stitching. 

If you are interested in seeing more of his incredible
work, just google his name and be
ready to be inspired!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Done, done, and......done!

by Studio Kat Designs
and can be found HERE.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Today, for your cooking pleasure....

Because of  the ongoing attempt to get our wayward recipe collection into some semblance of order, I thought I'd share a few with you.  The first one is what we had for supper tonight and I must say it's a keeper!

1 head cabbage, cut into 1" wedges
2 carrots, peeled & sliced
3 small turnips (or one larger), cubed
2 ribs celery, sliced
8 c. beef stock 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
3 T. veg. oil
2 large onions, cut into 1/4" slices
1 - 2 garlic cloves, fine chopped
1 large potato, cubed
Combine 6 c. of stock, cabbage, celery, carrots & turnips.  Bring to simmer and add tomato paste, salt, & some pepper to taste.  Simmer uncovered 1 1/2 hours.  In the meantime saute onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and saute for a further minute.  Set aside.  Add onion mixture & potatoes to the simmered veggies.  Add remaining stock.  Add enough water to cover.  Simmer for another 30 mins.  Serve topped with sour cream and a sprinkle of chopped dill.

 4 - 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
8 oz. of either Catalina or Russian dressing
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
Arrange chicken in crockpot.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours until chicken is well done.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Final piece, and yes, Karen, there IS white!

Here is the final piece for the purse...

And, here's the first piece of my next
white cloth...just for Karen...

The pink striped 'bit' is from a new tea towel 
that, I think, belonged to my grandmother.
The embroidered flowers mid-bottom
were done by my maternal grandmother.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

One more...

....section on the purse....

This time I did a little butterfly, using the waste
canvas technique.  The the seam treatment to the
right of it is just double fly stitches.

AND....for a change of pace (and because I didn't get much time to stitch today)'s a recipe that you
might like to try on a cold winter night....


4 lb. red potatoes (but any potato would do)
1 c. chopped onion
1 1/4 c. chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 c. cream cheese, cubed & softened
1/2 c. bacon, cooked & crumbled (or use bacon bits)
3 tsp. chives, chopped (optional)
3 tsp. grated parmesan

Combine potatoes, onions, stock & soup in
crockpot.  Cover & cook on low approx. 4 hours.
Add cream cheese & blend.  Top with bacon,
parmesan & chives before serving.

I might be putting a few more recipes on my blog over the next while because I have undertaken to type up all our loose recipes onto 4xz6" cards and put them into a photo album for the use of the resident cook.  Not at all sure but I might regret having volunteered for the job!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Beavering away.....

Yes, I'm still working on the crazy quilt purse, but I'm getting almost to the end of the embellishments...

 The embroidered pattern to the left here is a design from 'Embroidered Memories' by Brian Haggard.  The pink 'flower' on the right came out of my imagination...simply split stitch for the stems, lazy daisy leaves, spider's web for the flower, with some additional French knots. 

Below is (out of focus a bit...sorry!) a couple of pre-made flowers and leaves, with the addition of a button and some beads & French knots.  To the right of that is a seam treatment....just cross stitches...simple!

The seam treatment to the right was done using the
wonderful stencils created by Sharon Boggon...chain stitch, lazy daisy stitches, and my favourite French knots.

It has occurred to me that some of you
might not know what a real Magpie looks like...