Monday, November 30, 2009

For Today...

Outside my window... The sun is setting. My office window faces West so I'm seeing red and orange in the dark sky.

I am thinking... that I didn't get enough done this weekend. I still have piles of marking to do, but one of my colleagues (a half-time teacher who was just hired) has been helping us all out with marking and today she took some of mine.

I am thankful for... the generosity of my colleagues - the one who is doing some of my marking and another who is creating a writing assignment for me.

From the learning rooms... I learned how to knit on double-pointed needles! A whole new world has opened up for me.

From the kitchen... nothing. I am attending a dinner at the University Faculty Club tonight so I don't have to cook (not that I would anyway...)

I am wearing... a brown tweedy skirt and a turquoise and brown sweater, with brown leather boots and tights.

I am creating... another seed scarf and still trying to get my quilting projects finished.

I am going... crazy with all there is to be done here at school and at home before Christmas.

I am reading... Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland. She wrote the Josephine trilogy.

I am hoping... that tonight's dinner and speaker won't run too late. I'm tired and really looking forward to sleep.

I am hearing... classical music played on

Around the house... Christmas decorations went up Saturday night and Sunday. The OnlyChild and I got home from our play Saturday night around 11 pm and decided to clean and decorate. We went to bed at 1:30 am Sunday having not quite finished everything.

One of my favourite things... a clean desk. Hasn't happened yet this semester!

A few plans for the rest of the week... finish the final project for my course, pick up a couple of Christmas presents, knit some, sew some, sleep.

Here is a picture thought:

My sister, Sarah, and my two nephews. This picture was taken over 20 years ago. I have it framed and sitting in my office. Since I'm at work, my choice of pictures is generally limited to Social Studies images... and this photo!

Thanks to Sara at Fabric and Fiber Fanatic for inspiring this post.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

15 days

Our department secretary wrote this on the board on Friday:

I think it was meant to put the fear of God into the students... especially those who are behind in their work. (I teach in a self-directed program, you may remember, so the students are responsible for their own work schedules - with some limits, of course.)
It succeeded in putting some panic into me!
This is such a busy weekend and things don't seem to be slowing down for the next three weeks either.
Last night Mr. P and I went "Christmas shopping". We didn't buy anything, really, because we don't know what to buy. Should have planned ahead.
Today is pie-making day. Every Christmas we made meat pies (beef and pork with summer savoury). Mr. P makes the filling; I make the pastry (because, apparently, I make the best pastry in the world). He's doing the meat right now so I'll be going down to the kitchen to make pastry and "build" those pies in a few minutes.
The OnlyChild wants to go to a Christmas craft sale today. She's still in bed, though (hey, it's only noon).
Tonight, the OnlyChild and I have tickets to the theatre.
Tomorrow is cleaning day. I usually try to clean Friday nights or Saturday mornings, but I'm not going to clean before pie-making. That would defeat the purpose. So, tomorrow it is...
Tomorrow is also Christmas decoration day, when I put out the hundreds of snowmen and other items for the season. The only thing we don't do is put up the tree. We'll do that in a week or two because we have a real tree.
And, of course, there is the 50lbs of marking I brought home to do. I was so productive this week (no sarcasm there - I really was!) and was rewarded by being given yet more work. I can't really complain (but I will) because it means the students are doing their work, which is what I want them to do ultimately.
So... it promises to be a fun weekend.
Oh, and you might be happy to hear that I did finish my paper and submitted it the day before it was due - so no more complaining about that one (I have another one due next Monday; you'll hear about it instead haha). Yay! I rewarded myself Thursday night with two episodes of Mad Men and knitting a hat. I will post pics of the hat soon - I need to buy a BIG button for embellishment.
I hope you're having a holly jolly weekend!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sinta's 100th

Sinta is celebrating her 100th post with a wonderful giveaway.

Visit her at Pink Pincushion to find out how you can win this sweet pincushion and lovely book.

And... I wish a very happy Thanksgiving to my American bloggy friends. Enjoy your day!

Monday, November 23, 2009

True Confessions

I laughed when I read Camille's "Confession" post today. I guess everyone has their little secrets.

Let's clear the air a bit...

* I have a paper due on Friday and I haven't started it yet. Every time I get into it, I'm distracted by something else on the computer.

* When I get home from work, I take off all my jewelry and change into pajamas. Even if I get home from work at 4:00 pm.

* My young, good-looking neighbour is renovating his house and often works without wearing a shirt. Enough said.

* I have never had a massage. Ever.

* Last night, I watched three back-to-back episodes of Mad Men online while doing some knitting... and not working on that paper I was supposed to be writing.

* I love my old RexCat but I wish his 'time' was near because he messes all over the basement all the time. I stepped in some of his mess tonight while doing laundry and had to throw away my slippers.

* My sewing room is a bona-fide disaster zone. I care, but at the same time I don't.

* I wear hand-me-downs from the OnlyChild because I can't be bothered to go shopping for my own clothes.

* I told Mr. P not to buy me Christmas gifts this year because I'd rather spend the money on a trip to Paris next summer.

Whew, I feel so much better. How about you... what are your not-so-dirty little secrets?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

i need to quit my job

I won't, of course. But it's getting in the way of sewing time.

These two BOM blocks need to be finished. They were put together days ago and haven't seen the needle of the sewing machine yet. Look at this one from Bunny Hill, all forlorn with its blue marks for embroidery stitches. The poor little squirrel doesn't even have an eye yet.

And this beautiful leaf and acorn block from A Legacy of Stitches. It deserves to be stitched too.

Then there's the Swanky quilt I'm making for the OnlyChild's best friend. With any luck, she will actually get it for Christmas.

I started this table topper (made with leftover blocks from my Hometown quilt) over a year ago. I was planning to hand-quilt it but soon got tired of that. The other day I put it on the sewing machine to just get it finished, but ran out of time. So there it sits, waiting... waiting...

It snowed Friday night. Yep, it's officially Snowvember here! Mr. P's neck must be getting cold because I still don't have his black-and-orange-minus-the-orange scarf made. I'm workin' on it. This is my "watching television" project. I guess I don't watch enough t.v. or it would be done by now.

If I quit my job (my reasoning goes), I would have the time to complete all these projects and more, decorate the house for Christmas, go shopping for presents, mail out parcels, cook regular meals, clean more than once a week, do everyone's laundry and train the dogs properly.
How do you think Mr. P will respond to those arguments?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

haiku to bring sleep

Sleep, it's essential.
The bed is your blue-moon friend;
You worship in dreams.

I dream that I am sleeping here... at the Palace of Versailles...

Or here... in a plantation house in Napoleonville, Louisiana. (I did sleep in this bed.)

Ahhh... sleep. My little poem brought you to me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

tired + caffeine = rough day tomorrow

Yikes, I'm tired.

For the last two nights, I haven't slept at all. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration; I must have slept a bit. But it feels like I've been awake for days.

I never sleep well on Sunday nights - all kinds of things run through my head: did I do enough work this weekend? do I have everything ready for school tomorrow? what will I wear? why did I sleep until 9:00 this morning?

Then last night I came home from work and promptly fell asleep in the chair (instead of going to the gym. sigh). That made it hard to fall asleep at bedtime.

So what do I go and do? Silly me... I went to a meeting tonight and had 2 (yes, TWO) cups of coffee. The not decaffeinated kind. I can't handle caffeine in the mornings, never mind at 8:00 at night.

Now it's nearly midnight and I'm WIDE AWAKE, bouncing off the walls, and feeling a bit nauseated because I'm also extremely TIRED.

It's gonna be a rough day tomorrow.

Uh huh!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


My weekend started out like this... with a giant bag o' marking.

But it got better. Yesterday was the official start of the Christmas season with festivities down by City Hall.
I know it seems quite early for Christmas activities, but here in Canada we don't have an anchor holiday like the U.S. Thanksgiving to tell us when we should start. Plus, if we wait until late November or early December, it's too bloody cold for outdoor events.
Downtown is nicely decorated...
And at the appointed hour (5:00 pm - just when it began to get dark-ish), the Mayor and Santa Claus flipped the big switch...
to turn on the Christmas tree lights.
Ooohhh... aaahhhh. There were fireworks too!
We were actually a bit surprised that they even called it a "Christmas" tree, since that's not considered politically correct anymore. It might be offensive to someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, you know.... In fact, City Hall is no longer allowed to display a creche (nativity scene) because our government is supposed to be completely secular.
All cynicism aside, I love Christmas and the whole season.
After the downtown festivities, Mr. P, the OnlyChild and I went out for dinner. It was nice.
Then we went home and watched a movie... well, Mr. P watched a movie and I finished my Seed Scarf.
I like it. It's long and warm. There are a couple of twists in it, since it was my first time knitting on circular needles, but I think I can live with that. It was a learning experience. I plan to make another one... without the twists.
Mr. P requested that I make him a scarf too. He asked for black and orange (Philadelphia Flyer colours - I'm not sure if he was joking...) but I think plain black will do nicely.
Today was supposed to be a nice, sunny day with temps hitting about +10 celsius (about 50 degrees fahrenheit), but I don't think it got that warm. AbbyDog and I went for a walk this morning down in the River Valley.
Brrr... there was ice floating in the river.
AbbyDog loves a walk. She tugs on the leash quite a bit, especially in the first few minutes, but today she settled down nicely. She's much friendlier around other dogs than Derby is so I don't worry about meeting people with their canines on the path.
Isn't she sweet? There's something about the tops of their heads that I just love. Those little triangular ears...
We strolled around the neighbourhood a bit, too, stopping at the local yarn shop, which never seems to be open. I would love to shop local and make all my yarn purchases there, but every time I go over they're closed.
Look at this cute little fella in the window!
When we got home, Mr. P was out putting up the Christmas lights. We won't light them until the end of the month, but he thought he'd better get them up before the snow flies. It's quite unusual for there to be none by mid-November, so we are lucky.
We have them around the eaves and windows and along the hedge out front (which, according to Mr. P is a pain, but he does it for me). I promise to show photos when we turn them on.
I hope you had a lovely weekend. I've got the Sunday Evening Blues but I'm already looking forward to next weekend which includes quilting the Swanky quilt I made, a birthday party for my friend Patt Saturday night, and possibly the Homes for the Holidays tour on Sunday. Gotta love looking at other people's houses all dressed up for Christmas!
Have a great week!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pixie Dust Quilt

Back in July, when the summer seemed to stretch out so loooong before me,

Victoria of Bumble Beans asked if anyone wanted to make a block for her using Pixie Dust fabrics. V would collect all the blocks and make them into a quilt to be sold or auctioned off for charity.

I willingly volunteered for this project, as did many others. We received our fabrics and set about creating beautiful quilt blocks, which V lovingly sewed together. She sent the finished top out to be quilted by Stacy at Pixie Dust Fabrics.

The quilt is finished. And it's gorgeous! V would like proceeds from this quilt to go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. If you're interested in learning more about the quilt or would like to buy it, please visit Victoria. Click on the picture above for a link to her post about the Pixie Dust Quilt.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Cheryl!

We met in grade 7 and by grade 8 were close friends. By grade 9, we were calling each other "best friend" and spending every weekend at each other's house.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine - 1984

We went on vacations with each other and our families.

We stayed close all through university/college. And got into lots of (mostly) harmless trouble together.

Fredericton, New Brunswick - 1988
We celebrated each other's weddings... we both got married young; you at 19...

Woodstock, New Brunswick - 1989
And me at 21.

Fredericton - 1991
And we've stayed best friends even though we've lived 5000 km apart for the past 18 years.
I'm not good with the mushy stuff and flowery words, but you should know how much you mean to me.
So... my gift to you started with a pattern in a magazine many years ago. I didn't jump into it right away; even though I knew I had to make this "Let it Snow" quilt for you, I had no deadline in mind.
Then once I got going on it, I thought it would make a nice Christmas present. I stepped up the progress a bit so I could have it ready for December.
I sewed the blocks together and it began to take shape.
Worried that the applique wouldn't turn out well, I made a test block. I wanted to do this right!
The test block made a wonderful pillow cover (I hope you like it).
And finally I had the courage to put the blocks all together and to quilt it.
And two weeks ago, I took it down to the post office and sent it across all those miles to reach you for your birthday.
This isn't just about a quilt with skiers to represent an important part of your life. This isn't just about me using a skill I have to make something for you. This is about a friendship that has endured for nearly 27 years. You say I was the responsible one and always kept you grounded. You were the fun one who made me step out of myself and try new things. You kept me from "thinking too much" and showed me that a little fun never hurt anyone. I think we were a perfect match back then... and still are.
St. Georges, Prince Edward Island - 2008
Happy 40th Birthday, my friend. I love you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lest We Forget

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Barb's Ginger Jar

I couldn't believe it when I saw it either. But, Barb told me herself, so it must be true.

She's giving away one of her gorgeous Ginger Jar quilts!

I don't know how she can part with this beauty, but if it happens to come my way, I'm not going to say no!

Barb is celebrating her niece, Jennifer's, new blog and online store Inch Worm Fabrics. If you want to enter the giveaway, go on over to visit Barb at Bejewelled Quilts by Barb . Good luck!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Green Fairy Giveaway!

Head over to...

Because you could win...

Judi at Green Fairy Quilts is giving away her very last kit of "Morning Bloom". Beautiful!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

projects on the go

It's November... and I finally got my October block finished for Bunny Hill's A Tisket A Tasket BOM. I have been working on November's block, too. It's all put together and ready to be stitched so (hopefully) I should be able to show it to you later this week.

I got a little behind with Sandi's Seasons of the Heart BOM blocks. Here's September's:

And October's: (I need to get rid of the quilting marker lines on this one... oops)

I started a new knitting project, with a pattern from this post. It's knit on circular needles, which is a brand new technique for me. I've already got it all twisted, but since it's a scarf and not a sweater or a hat, I think it will be okay. It's just for me, anyway - not a Christmas gift. When I get a bit more progress made on it, I'll show you how it's going.
And finally... A giveaway! Barbara of Pinelands Patches and Beadscapes is celebrating her one-year blogiversary with a wonderful giveaway.

I just love those beaded snowflakes!
The weekend is drawing to a close. As usual, I didn't get half of what I'd planned finished. I did some (lots of) marking yesterday and some knitting last night. I went to the gym this morning, then to the fabric store (which was unbelievably busy because there was a members' only sale going on). This afternoon, I cleaned a bit, changed the bedsheets, and put together the BOMs. Now it's supper time. I still have marking and planning to do for tomorrow, so I'll be busy this evening.
Sunday night is my least-favourite time of the week. I'm most definitely a Friday afternoon girl!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sketchy Stitchy Applique

I just figured out where I got the 'scribble stitch' bird applique from that I used on my bird Candle Cosy. It came from Anita at Bloomin' Workshop. I knew it was someone I liked! Anita's blog was one of the first ones I started visiting regularly (when I discovered blogs - until last fall I didn't even know what a 'blog' was!).

If you want to visit Anita's wonderful post/tutorial on sketchy stitch applique, click here. Her ideas are so cute.

Gotta give credit where it's due!

p.s. My Candle Cosy was also featured on One Pretty Thing.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Me, on Friday...

Outside my window... It is very dark. Since we turned the clocks back, it gets dark so early. I'm ready to go to bed by 7:00 pm

I am thinking... that I should get off the computer and go and watch a movie with Mr. P. I can knit while I'm watching.

I am thankful for... the safe return home of Mr. P and the OnlyChild. I missed them both (even though the OnlyChild and I have already had an argument. sigh.)

I am wearing... Lululemon capris, my Paris t-shirt, and a black cardigan... with my booties from Nonna. I changed as soon as I got home from work.

I am remembering... my trip to Baltimore and Washington, DC last December. I was looking at the pictures the other night.

I am reading... Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards. He's a New Brunswick writer and a woman I knew was friends with him. His work is real and raw.

On my mind... Romeo Dallaire. He was the commander of the UN forces during the genocide in Rwanda. I (and 12 of my students) went to a presentation by him this afternoon.

From the learning rooms... still working on my masters course; still not really enjoying it. I signed up for another course next semester and I am already questioning that decision.

Noticing that... my sewing room is (as usual) in need of a good cleaning and clearing out. How the junk accumulates in here!

Pondering these words... to paraphrase the character Sydney Henderson from Mercy Among the Children: Any harm you do to others is also an injustice to yourself.

From the kitchen... As I was working on my course tonight, Mr. P came up with a bacon-and-tomato bagel for me. How sweet!

Around the house... did a bit of cleaning last night because I know tomorrow will be dedicated to finishing all the marking I didn't get done this week.

One of my favorite things... a nice, hot cup of tea after a long day!

From my picture journal...

In front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, December 2008.

From The Simple Woman's Daybook.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Candle Cosy Tutorial

Do your candles get cold? What kind of ridiculous question is that, you may be wondering. But perhaps your candle needs a cosy, if not to keep it warm then to dress it up.

I got the idea for candle cosies last Christmas. I was shopping one day and saw some of these made out of felt - they were selling for $8.99. Ha! I wasn't paying for one when I knew I could make it myself!

Would you like to learn how to make one of these cosies? It's a quick and easy project - and it is lots of fun. Keep reading.

Jar Candle (I bought mine at Michael's - on sale this week!)
fabric for background - approximately 7" x 14"
fabric for binding - 2 strips of 2" x 14" and 2 strips of 2" x 4"
strip of batting - approximately 3.5" x 14"
scraps for embellishment
thread to match fabric and embellishments
2 small buttons

Step 1:
Measure the circumference of your jar candle - this one was 12.75".

Step 2:
Measure the height of your jar candle - that's 3.5" for this candle.

Step 3:
Cut fabric strips for background. I cut 2 pieces the circumference + 1.5" x the height - 0.25". I figured out this formula through the trial and error method and it seems to work.

Step 4:
Cut your batting the same size.

Step 5:
Now you will decorate one of your fabric strips. I used a Christmas tree design (inspired by Linda Lum DeBono) but you can do whatever suits your fancy.

Step 6:
Before you sew, sandwich the three layers together like a quilt and pin/baste. I just used straight pins since this is a tiny project, but you can use spray baste or safety pins.

Step 7:
Applique and quilt as desired. Here I stitched around the edge of the tree then used free-motion quilting to stitch a design on the tree. I also used a meandering stitch on the white background.

Step 8:
Now for the binding. Fold your 2" strips in half and press. You are going to sew these on just like a quilt binding, using a scant 1/4" seam allowance. Trim off any extra.

Step 9:
Then fold to the back, press, pin, and hand-stitch down.

See, isn't it cute? Just like a mini quilt! I almost want to stop and just hang it on the wall like this. But I won't...

Step 10:
For closures, I made two buttonholes. I had the candle 'try on' its new clothes to see where to place the buttons. Then I sewed the buttons to the other end of the cosy.

And you're done! Have your candle model its new cosy...

Check the back to make sure it fits well.

Here's another idea.

I wish I could remember where I got this idea. I remember that I emailed the person who posted the instructions and showed her what I did with the 'scribble stitch'. I checked through my emails but I can't find it. So... if it's you, please let me know!

And if you're not into applique, you can use a really pretty piece of fabric and fancy thread. I didn't even put binding on this one.

On the right is a patchwork version of the candle cosy made to match a table quilt. I embellished it with a snowman button - another idea!

I hope this all makes sense. If you have questions, let me know and I'll do my best to help.

If you make one of these cosies, I'd love to see it!