STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Quick and Easy Cold Supper

Some evenings it's just too hot to cook a meal for supper... too hot to even entertain the idea of turning on the stove or the barbeque. I always struggle with new ideas for a cold supper, other than potato salad and a few other common favourites. Tonight I came up with a new pasta salad idea. I cooked some penne and chopped some veggies - red and green peppers, celery, cucumber, red onion, tomato and some raw broccoli. I cooked some frozen peas, and tossed it all together with  Kraft Zesty Italian dressing, a good dash of black pepper and some chopped fresh herbs - I used basil and oregano. It was served up with some shaved Black Forest ham, cheddar and a freshly toasted bun. Yummy! Quick and easy! Just the way I like it on a warm evening. What's your favourite easy "cold supper"? Feel free to share your ideas/recipes as a comment.

Peace,
Linda

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." ~ Frederico Fellini

Waging War!

The battle is on! You go away for a few days and everything goes to h*ll in a hand basket, as they say. I was in Maine for four days and when I came home on Sunday evening, one of the first things I did was check the garden. It was immediately obvious that someone/something had paid a visit. And not in a good way. Everything but the tomatoes and beets had been chewed on, and I mean really chewed. Not just a nibble here and there. The bean row looked like someone had mowed across the top of it. Three of my five cucumber plants were also majorly chewed off. The lettuce, peas and carrots also suffered damage from some hungry critter. Plus the slimy slugs were feasting on the lettuce! I am NOT happy! You work so hard to get things to grow, and it has been a challenge this year with so little sun and not much warmth... You battle insects and weeds. Then a four legged critter comes along and decides to help himself. I am blaming a groundhog. He's been seen...  he is big and fat and obviously hungry. Why the heck can't he eat the weeds??!! So, two live traps are now set... Did you know the best bait for a groundhog (woodchuck) is cantaloupe? Or so my online research tells me... I'll let you know if we get him. No luck last night... Keeping fingers crossed for tonight.
After that unhappy discovery, I checked out my (17) hostas. Arrggghhhh! More critters! I have been keeping a close eye on my beloved hostas and up until now, there was no sign of slugs or earwigs. Well, I guess someone told them I was leaving town, and they moved right in. They obviously had a "field day" in my absence chewing holes in the tender yummy leaves... So, yes I'm on the warpath! I'm waging war against groundhogs, slugs and earwigs, and anything else that tries to "move in" to my garden, vegetable or floral.
On a positive note, the raspberries are ripening. Good thing there aren't many low to the ground or Mr. G. Hog would be after those too. He actually had the audacity to run into the raspberry patch last night when hubby found him in the garden... He'll really be in trouble if he starts in on my berry patch... I picked the first quart of berries this morning. If I can get another pint tonight, I'll be making the first raspberry pie of the season tomorrow... Yummy! Perhaps that will calm me down while I plot my next move against Mr. Hog......
Coming up next.... photos from Maine Quilts 2015, and also my trip to Grand Manan.

Peace,
Linda

"We have descended into the garden and caught three hundred slugs. How I love the mixture of the beautiful and the squalid in gardening. It makes it so lifelike." ~ Evelyn Underhill, Letters

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Garden Favourite






I love clematis! Sadly I have little luck with my own. I think it's a combo of not being in the right spot (not enough sun) and the fact that my hubby cut it back severely a few years ago, and it has never been the same since. Some varieties of clematis like to be pruned back and some don't. Guess which one mine is? Right - the "please don't prune me" type. Anyway, I am lucky to have three neighbours on my street who have GORGEOUS clematis and I drive by them each day and admire their beauty. So here are a few photos for you to enjoy too. Aren't they wonderful? (Thanks to Don, Greg and David for allowing me to photograph their beauties!)











Peace,
Linda

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." ~ Alfred Austin

Friday, July 24, 2015

On My Bookshelf

A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and  Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander is a New York Times and international bestseller. Regrettably I was not a keen history student in school, but am doing my best to "make up for it" now as I certainly enjoy historical fiction. This book, I must admit, is not my typical choice, although I have read many stories set in this time period. This is what I would call an aviation story, a true story of two WWII pilots- a German and an American. They "meet" in the skies over Germany in December of 1943. A badly damaged American bomber was struggling to fly, with twenty-one year old Second Lieutenant Charlie Brown at the controls. Half of his crew were wounded or dead. Suddenly a German fighter appears, piloted by German ace Franz Stigler... he could destroy the Americans with the simple squeeze of a trigger... What happened next would astound you, and later be called "the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II." The encounter haunted them both for years, until as old men they decided to search for each other...
It's an incredible story, a well written story of human compassion and mercy. It is enlightening to read how the German population suffered under the Nazi regime, as well as how many of the German pilots were loyal to their countries but not to Hitler. Well worth the read....







These are some of the books on my bookshelf, awaiting my attention. What are you reading these days, and what books are you looking forward to?








Peace,
Linda

"Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean, they show us how to live and die." ~Anne Lamott

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Totin' a New Totebag





Do you ever get the desire to just start a new project, even though you have several underway, and others that you really should be working on? C'mon, be truthful.. I'm sure I'm not the only one this happens to...
(Sometimes you just need a little "variety"... at least that's my theory)






The urge hit on Monday evening to make a new totebag. Since I'm off to Maine tomorrow to attend the Pine Tree Quilters' Guild state show "Maine Quilts 2015", I thought I really should have a new totebag "just in case" I make any purchases and need a bag to carry them in. ... Okay, I KNOW I really don't NEED a new totebag, but what's need got to do with it? Since I already had the pattern and all the fabrics (all purchased together last January in Florida) I figured this was a good excuse opportunity to get it made up. After all, it was all right there in front of me, with the interfacing, Peltex, thread - I didn't need to purchase anything to complete it. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)











You might remember a while back I made this totebag - same pattern - the Fiji Tote by Pink Sand Beach Designs. I really like this pattern- it is so well done. Clear instructions, laid out step by step with colour photos for every step. It goes together slick as a whistle, everything fits... NO problems at all. It is not difficult. I love the Peltex in the bottom to give it a nice squared base, and the sides have interfacing part way up as well as the fusible fleece, so it holds its shape well, and stands on its own. So I started it Monday night, and finished it up last night. Tada... what do you think?




Peace,
Linda

I love quilting, and have plenty of material witnesses.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mosaic Monday at the Garden

Kingsbrae Garden in St. Andrews by the Sea.... Ahhh, what a glorious place to wile away a few hours.. Having won both national and provincial awards, it has been named one of Canada's Top Ten Public Gardens. The estate and property which now form the gardens were donated by John and Lucinda Flemer; the estate had a long history of fine gardens and Kingsbrae was created to expand this heritage. The 27 acre site includes two ponds, streams, a woodland trail, and a variety of gardens. My favourites have always been the perennial garden, the rose garden and the knot garden. Before you even pass through the entrance you can enjoy the entry garden (this year featuring an impressive display of colourful begonias and two begonia "trees," above), the white garden and a wonderful cottage garden, complete with a wonderful drift of lavender.
Other treasures include the bird and butterfly garden, the children's fantasy garden, a sculpture garden, the heath and heather garden and a therapy and scents and sensitivity garden. Display gardens showcase various collections of plant species, and demonstration gardens provide a place for experimenting with different gardening styles. These change over time, so there is always a reason to visit again! And of course there are always different things in bloom as the season progresses. I'm quite sure if I lived in St. Andrews I'd visit every week or two! You can walk through the garden in an hour or so, but if you have a camera in hand, or you are taking note of potential additions for your own gardens, it's very easy to spend several hours.... or more.


A section of the Knot Garden


Won't you walk with me now, down these paths for a closer look?






In case the floral beauty is not enough to keep you happy, you might chance upon this fine fellow. He surprised us when he just strolled out of some high grass, and let us walk right up to him, getting within about 2 feet. I didn't want to push my luck by getting any closer as I did take note of his sizeable claws... He was admiring himself in a mirror.. what is the saying.. "vain as a peacock"?  Well this fellow DID appear rather vain!



Of course, if I had a tail like this, I might be a little vain too....

Beauty in all colours, shapes and sizes, everywhere you look at Kingsbrae Garden. Over 2,500 species. Worthy of several hours of your time, for sure!


I'm linking to Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage. Thanks Judith for hosting. Be sure and drop by to see what the other participants have been up to, or join in the fun...

Peace,
Linda

"Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature." ~ Gerard de Nerval

Friday, July 17, 2015

Beautiful St. Andrews by the Sea

Acckkk! Another busy week has passed! I've been off on three "road trips" in the last ten days- first a day trip with a friend, then a quick trip for a funeral, and lastly a teaching gig. In between, there's gardening chores of watering, fertilizing, weeding and deadheading and all the usual fun stuff like laundry, meals, etc. etc. You know how it is. Days pass and blur together...
My blogging will tend to be sporadic this summer (as you have already seen.) I made a promise to myself to try and enjoy the summer days more and not worry about "I should be doing this" or "I should be doing that." If a friend calls with a suggestion or plan for the day, I'm going to say YES as often as I possibly can!  (Take note, friends. I'm waiting for your call...) Our winter is much too long, and summer is way too short and should be enjoyed at every opportunity. I'll blog when I can but I'm trying to not feel "tied" to it.

Last week my friend Karen H. and I did a quick day trip to St. Andrews, a lovely little seaside town in the southwest corner of New Brunswick. It sits on the tip of a peninsula which stretches into Passamaquoddy Bay, part of the Bay of Fundy. St. Andrews by the Sea, as it is known, is picturesque, to say the least. It was founded by United Empire Loyalists in 1783 and has a rich history, enjoying a National Historic District status. Many of the charming homes are between 100 and 200 years old. St. Andrews has long been known
as a charming summer resort town, and there is something for everyone - whether you want luxury accommodations at the Algonquin Hotel, a game of golf, more adventurous activities such as sea kayaking or whale watching, or you just want to stroll the charming streets  to shop or dine, it's all there! Karen and I had a lovely lunch at the Niger Reef Tea House (built in 1926) next to the Blockhouse. The cream of mushroom soup and fishcakes were out of this world!! Oh soooo good!  :) 

The West Point Blockhouse next door is the only one remaining of the twelve that were used in defense of New Brunswick during the War of 1812-1814 between Britain and the USA.












A visit here is not complete without a stroll along Water Street to enjoy the shops. The Whale Store has always been one of my favourite shops. I love the colorful wood carving by artist Werner Arnold on the front of the shop.












Of course you also have to walk out to the end of the town wharf. You never know what activities will be going on.. we watched one boat loading their crab pots...








What a beautiful view, looking from the wharf towards the shops and homes on Water Street. It was a hot day but there is always a nice breeze out on the wharf.










We had tentatively planned a visit to Kingsbrae Gardens, but it was 5pm by the time we made our way there. After a visit to their plant centre, and some deliberation (will we? won't we?) we decided to go for it, and we had the entire 27 acres to ourselves! Never saw one other visitor other than a few people who were leaving as we entered. What a delightful place to spend a few hours. I still have many Kingsbrae photos to edit and will share them with you in another post, but here are just a couple for a sneak peek...



A visit to St. Andrews is not complete without seeing the Algonquin. This grand old lady first opened her doors in 1889, and not long after was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was a CPR Hotel for many years, but has changed hands several times since then. It closed in 2012 for over $30 million in renovations and re-opened last year, under Marriott. I'm sure the room costs have risen from the $3-$5 range of 1889....

Ahhh, what a beautiful day we had. Thanks Karen!

I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at St. Andrews by the Sea and I hope you'll return to join me for a stroll around beautiful Kingsbrae Gardens.

Peace,
Linda

"Most people have never learned that one of the main aims in life is to enjoy it." ~ Samuel Butler


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Little Late Lupin Love







I feel very "behind" on some of my blogging topics. I nearly missed the lupins altogether in June! The patch I usually visit and photograph was just "not itself" this year, there are usually huge swaths with many colours, and this year there were very few. Winterkill? I don't know. Or perhaps it's just the normal progression of things.. lupins are short-lived as a perennial in your garden, so maybe they die out too in their wild setting?  Did anyone else notice fewer lupins this year, or was I just not looking hard enough?











I do love lupins though, and did manage to find some to feed my obsession... I know Sara in Finland has been waiting patiently to see my annual lupin photos... that's what brought her to my blog in the first place! Imagine - a friendship over thousands of miles, all because of lupin photos! So here you go Sara- just for you. I'm afraid they're not up to my usual lupin standard, but maybe they'll be better next year... (I have used a few photos from my archives to round out the collages.)
Do drop by Sara's blog here to say Hello - she has some wonderful lupin photos for you to enjoy as well here, here and here.




The lupins are done now for another year. We'll have to wait twelve long months before we can enjoy their beauty again...

Peace,
Linda

"Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty." ~ John Ruskin

Friday, July 3, 2015

Winnings Received...

No, I did not win the lotto...    :(
You're likely thinking I haven't been "living up to" my blog name Stitch Lines lately. You are right, there hasn't been a lot of stitchin' goin' on... at least not that I've shown. But today I can now show you one small project that's complete, mailed off and now received. Several weeks ago, Sheila won my "1000 Posts Giveaway", the offering being a quilted iPad case. She was happy with that idea (not sure what I would have offered if she didn't have an iPad or tablet... haha) Anyway she told me she'd like one in blue. Since I've been on a bit of a green kick lately, I chose several blue fabrics but threw in a little green as well. Here is the resulting case. I make small adjustments/changes and notes with each case I make, and after four, each slightly different, I think I've got it down pat now. I've decided I prefer the strips on the outside pocket running diagonally as on this one and on Laura's case.
I will have some more "stitching" to show you soon, I have started a new miniature in reds and lights, using up many very small triangles left over from a larger quilt. The blocks are 2.25" square with 49 pieces in each block... Yes, I know. I'm crazy... Certifiable, probably..  I have another Miniatures class coming up in 10 days so that always spurs me on to get going on a new one...
And last night a loyal reader (Hi JK!) told me she wants to see what's going on with all the green and neutral squares I've been cutting, so you'll be seeing that soon too...   :)
I will be teaching two classes at the Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival in October, info is slowly being added to their website. As soon as the website is completely updated, I'll be adding a link on my sidebar. Watch for it!

Peace,
Linda

Life is a story. Make yours the best seller.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!






Happy Canada Day everyone! I am so very proud and grateful to be a citizen of this great country! We are so fortunate to have rights and freedoms which many others in the world do not. I've done a lot of travelling and visited many amazing places, but I wouldn't want to live anywhere else!
So three cheers for Canada today, celebrating her 148th birthday! Wow, that's a lot of candles!!   :)









Peace,
Linda

God keep our land glorious and free
O Canada we stand on guard for thee!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On My Bookshelf...

Have you read any good books lately? I always have a book on the go, always. I read every night (in bed, usually) before I turn out the light, even if only for 10 minutes.. but usually an hour at least. It relaxes me and helps me forget the stresses of the day. I keep an ever growing list of books I want to read and am always open to suggestions, if you have any.
Today's review is brief, as is the book. Sold by Zana Muhsen is a true account of modern slavery. When she was fifteen, Zana and her younger sister Nadia who were born and raised in Birmingham England, were told by their father (a Yemeni) that he was sending them on a six week vacation to Yemen so they could get to know his family better. What sounded like a wonderful vacation trip quickly turned into a nightmare and it didn't take the girls long to figure out their father had literally sold them into marriage and they were helpless prisoners. They had to adapt to their tragic fate and a very foreign way of life where women have absolutely no rights, living lives of servitude. They lived in very primitive conditions and endured rape, beatings and childbirth with no modern "assistance". After 8 years of living this nightmare, Zana managed to escape, leaving her younger sister and children behind. Without giving away any more of the story, I will say it was a captivating read. The best written book ever? No. A heart-wrenching story? Yes. It opens your eyes to what women in such male-dominated cultures endure in their daily lives of  such a wretched existence. It's a quick and easy read, and it makes one appreciate what a wonderful life we have, living in North America where we take for granted such things as running water and electricity, anaesthetics, contraception and medical care. Others are not so fortunate.
I have just finished reading The Clifton Chronicles by Jeffrey Archer, all five of them. That will be my next review. I'm currently reading A Higher Call by Adam Makos, a true WWII story. What are you reading these days?

Peace,
Linda

"Maybe Heaven will be a library. Then I will be able to finish my to-read list." ~ Kellie Elmore

Monday, June 29, 2015

On the Edge... and in the Garden....



We're on the edge... of summer! Technically summer arrived over a week ago. On the calendar. But we're still waiting for "summer weather." Summer temps... sunshine... you know, the lazy hazy crazy days of summer... We're waiting...   on the edge..    the brink..   the cusp...  But we continue to have overcast grey days, and lots of rain. After the winter we had, and the long cool spring, I was really hoping for a nice summer. Still waiting... Could someone please check and see if Mother Nature got the memo that summer started a week ago...?


This is how things look around the hosta garden today. Yup, lots of water drops...











My large hosta bed across the front of the house is one of my favourite "subjects" especially after a rain (or maybe I should say days of rain...?) Anyway, they were covered in water droplets today. The droplets are like beads scattered, and roll as easily as beads of mercury... I can imagine the fairies, bowling with them...







With all the rain we've had, plants are growing at an amazing rate, and buds are sprouting up earlier than usual. Many hostas are already budding, as are the echinacea, filipendula and many others.








Up next, On My Bookshelf...

Peace,
Linda

God made rainy days so gardeners could get the housework done.  (Okay, the housework is done! Bring on the sun....)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

eXpendable

If you are local, and looking for something to do this evening, I have a suggestion. Get yourself up to FHS before 7:30pm and buy a ticket at the door for eXpendable at the Tom Morrison Theatre. It is a musical, conceived, written and directed by local playwright Joanna Doak of Chameleon Jo Productions. It features a cast of local very talented young adults, all with good strong voices and a good deal of experience on the stage, one of the strongest casts I have seen in a long while, short of Broadway.
Now I do have to warn you, this is not a show for children. Cinderella it is not. The subject matter is mature, and not what one would call "pleasant or humourous." It deals with the subject of sex trafficking. Yes, we're all aware that sex trafficking exists.. we've heard of it in Thailand, or India, or Las Vegas. But it happens much closer to home than you would care to think. Young girls are taken from the streets of Maritime cities too... Halifax, Moncton, and yes even Fredericton. They are put on a circuit, and moved frequently so they are difficult to find. American stats tell us that sex trafficking is a $32 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. victimizing between 300,000 and 400,000 American children every year. It is estimated there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, and 5.5 million of those are children. It's been proven that whenever and wherever there are large sporting events such a SuperBowl, the demand goes up.
The eXpendable storyline is fictional, but the characters represent stories that are very real. The cast do an amazing job of portraying very believable characters and you cannot help but become emotionally invested in their situation. (I will tell you there is no actual violence in the show, no one is harmed, but the suggestion of assault certainly is there...) This is not an easy show to perform, I'm sure. It is challenging and emotional, as well as being educational. We have a great deal of talent in our city; I know several of the actors and am so very proud of all of them. Actually I know one very well- she is my sweet young great-niece, Mallory. The youngest in the cast at 17, she plays a very convincing role as Lily, an innocent 14 year old who has just been coerced into the sex trade world. It was not easy to watch her be drawn into this world of control, abuse and assault. I admit I much preferred her previous roles as Ariel in the Little Mermaid and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. But we don't live in a Disneyland world, do we, we live in a real world where sex trafficking is a fact. I know her parents struggled with whether to let her participate in this project, and difficult as it was to watch her play this role on stage, it has been good for her, and I'm sure has opened her eyes to some of the harsh realities of life, good preparation for leaving home and heading off to university in another year. She is becoming a very good actress, clearly conveying her feelings with her facial expressions and body language before she even opens her mouth to share her wonderful voice. The years of training with voice lessons, TNB and school musicals is paying off...
After tonight's performance, the cast prepare to take this show to Ontario next week. Good timing with the Pan Am Games coming to Toronto soon... They will be doing two performances in Toronto, and one each in Hamilton and Welland. They still need to raise more money to cover their costs, so why not get yourself up to FHS tonight and take in the show. You will be amazed and impressed with the talent, I promise. And you will leave the theatre a different person.

Peace,
Linda

"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you did not know."
~William Wilberforce
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