Monday, March 27, 2017


Although the temperature still dips below freezing overnight, there are many signs of Spring around.  This morning M. and I saw (and heard) a long line of geese flying north and I saw my first robin in the pussywillow tree.

Our dinner menu features Steelhead Trout, my favourite fish.  What goes well with fish?  I like Herbed Corn and Couscous.

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 TBS butter, melted in
3/4 cup chicken broth
Bring to a boil.
1/2 cup couscous
2 TBS minced fresh chives.
Turn off heat and let stand, covered for about 5 minutes.

Well, today fresh chives are available, peeking out from under the snow and old, dried shoots.  I managed to cut a small handful, washed them and used a long tweezers to separate the chives from the "chaff".

It's even nice enough to hang out the wash, even though there is still a small pile of snow on the cement slab under the clothesline.  AAAAH!  Love the smell of sheets hung out to dry!  (They're still in the basket at this point.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Last Saturday the Dear One went to Morrinville to pick up our "plug" order.  Plugs are small plants in a finger sized bit of dirt.  They come about 500 to a tray and all need to be transplanted into 4- or 6-packs, or into individual pots.  We're almost finished doing the transplanting, and the greenhouse is starting to look prosperous.
This next is a picture of some Dahlias that I transplanted today.  These were quite easy to do as they are a pretty good size already.  They are planted individually in 4" pots.
The first tray I transplanted were pansies, and these particular plants were very small.  I've put my finger by them to give you an idea of the size.
This week I transplanted about 2,000 of these little things.  It's really dirty work as I scoop up the potting soil by hand to stuff it into the pots or 4 packs.  Then I take the tray to the potting table and poke the little plugs out of the 500 plant tray onto the table.  I stick my finger into the soil to make a hole and pop the little plant into the hole, then press the soil down around it.  2,000 times in the last few days.  Makes for VERY dirty hands!

After the initial excitement of buying the material for the new quilt, I made myself finish up the donation quilt that had been started.  In fact, all it needed was the machine quilting, which I finished that Saturday morning.  It needed some material for binding, and I found this dark blue at the IDA where I buy most of my material.  (Yes, it's a drug store, but they have a very good fabric section.  Wonderful! Because otherwise I'd have to drive an hour to buy thread, material, etc.)

After I did that machine quilting (stitch in the ditch for that quilt) I did cut out all the coloured strips for the new quilt and half of the beige background strips.

I got to work on the largest blocks (supposed to be 20" but mine are not that large--mainly because I've sewed a fairly generous 1/4" seam.)  Pretty soon I'll post a picture of the blocks that are completed--7 of the needed 9 large blocks.  Tomorrow I'm going to the country quilting group and hope to finish lots more.

Friday, March 17, 2017


This little girl turns 76 today!  Blessed and contented.

Friday, March 10, 2017


On Wednesday morning I was able to put together the latest quilt top.  I had written about "webbing the top"--here is the top on my pressing "desk" with all the vertical seams sewed.  So all eight rows are sewed together, row by row.  I tried to get a better picture, as the light is glaring off this one.

The one above shows the sides, this one following shows the top as the quilt lies on the pressing desk.
Here it is with the horizontal seams being sewed:
And here it is on the floor, all seams sewed together.  This makes it 44" x 55", a good generous size for a lap quilt.
Time to look for a backing fabric.  Here are two possibilities, both flannel, neither big enough in itself, but it might make a nice combination.  Off to the right are a few other 

This morning I was able to sew these two together to form a large enough backing.  There was also enough left-over batting that I could form a large enough piece by sewing together two pieces.  I'm ready to make the "quilt sandwich" on this one.  (For some strange reason this paragraph insists on being "centered.")

Today is the first 50% off day at the local quilt shop in their twice-yearly sale week.  I don't usually buy fabric then.  They give me 10% off year-round, just because I'm beyond 55 years old, and that's good enough for me.  But I'm planning a big, major quilt for DD#2, so I did go in this morning and look for beiges.  

The pattern stipulates 14 (!) different beiges for background, and calls for 1/2 yard of each.  But I want to enlarge the quilt from 70" square to 105" square, a floor to floor queen sized quilt.  Translating that to the larger sized quilt and from yards to meters meant I need one meter of each of the background fabrics.

I had looked earlier and found at least 7 beiges that would work.  But this morning there seemed to be good beiges here, there and everywhere.  I found 15 (!) that I thought might do well.
I may not use all of them, but what a lovely selection!  And what fun to put 15 bolts of fabric into my cart and have them cut a meter of each.  And then I thought I should look for the contrasting fabrics.  This is what I found:
Nice, rich colours that go pretty well together.  I'd like to find one more of the orange/brown, but could go with this combination.

I'm just SO eager to begin this quilt.  It's the "Entwined" pattern that I posted recently.  But before I start I really need to finish the donation quilt and a smaller table topper that I have the top almost completed.  They both need to be "sandwiched," quilted and bound.  THEN I can allow myself to dive into this one.  I can't wait!

Thursday, March 9, 2017


When we were in Arizona in January, someone who lived there full-time told me it was the coldest, rainiest January in 22 years.  Well, he said, "The worst January in 22 years!" We did notice that we had to have the heat on every morning and sometimes left it on for the whole day, just to keep the indoor temperature up to 70ºF.

Now in Alberta we are having what must be record-breaking cold.  This morning the thermometer on the balcony registered -25ºC, or -10ºF.  That's COLD!!!

When we came here in the second week of February, the temperatures were mild and there was a big Spring melt going on.  Soon after that the temperatures fell and so did the snow. Now it feels like the very depths of winter.  I'm missing the daily walks with my friend, M.

But as long as it's indoors weather, I hope to get some sewing done and finish the donation quilt top.  Maybe even finish that quilt before the next Quilt Club meeting on Tuesday.  That would make this time worthwhile.  Or maybe I should do some spring cleaning, the kitchen cupboards, perhaps.

Monday, March 6, 2017


All the blocks for the quilt top started last Friday are completed and have been laid out on the underside of a cheap plastic table cloth.  It's called flannel backed, but if that's flannel, I'll eat my quilt.  It is, however, "grabby" enough to hang onto the blocks and keep them in order.  You can even roll up the tablecloth with the plastic side outside the roll.  This is a good way to transport a quilt without losing the order you want to keep the blocks in.

Now that they are arranged it's time to sew them together.  For this I follow Bonnie Hunter's method called "Webbing the Top".  You can find it if you go to, click on "Tips and Techniques" and scroll down to "Webbing the Top."  It's a great method for keeping all your blocks where you want them when you gather them up to sew them into rows.

From the right hand side rows 1 & 2 have been sewn together.  Then rows 3 & 4 were sewed together. Then rows 3 & 4 were placed right sides together on top of rows 1 & 2. The seam between rows 2 & 3 was sewed. I'm talking about the vertical seams.  The horizontal seams will be sewed after all the vertical seams are complete.

You can also see in the snap that the first three blocks of row 6 have been laid on top of the 1st three blocks (vertically speaking of row 5.  Here's a close up of that:

I have learned a LOT from Bonnie Hunter; she's a great resource not only for techniques, but also for patterns, which she shares generously.  THANK YOU, BONNIE! 

Sunday, March 5, 2017


Way back in 1981-82 I was teaching 4 year-old kindergarten for Salem Private, a Baptist church run school.  There were several 4 and 5 year-old kindergartens run by Salem Private, scattered throughout Salem, Oregon.  Mine was in a church close to where we lived.

One of the 19 students in that class was a little blond girl named Mary.  I've forgotten her last name.  She had the most spectacular melt-down that I've ever seen in a student.  It was time for us to sit in a circle on the floor for one of our daily activities and Mary did not want to participate.  When I insisted, she had a total fit, screeching and flailing around.  The other children were stunned into silence.  What to do!

I took a chance and told the children to wait quietly in the room and took Mary to a little storeroom next door to hold her, soothe her and calm her down.  It didn't take too long and we were able to return to the classroom.  Obviously the sit-down circle didn't happen that day.  We simply went on to another activity.

That evening I called Mary's mother and explained what had happened.  She didn't seem disturbed about it.  I suppose Mary did that sometimes at home, too.

At the end of the school year Mary presented me with a gift: this cheerful coffee mug:

This cheerful mug has been my daily coffee mug for lo, these 36 years!  I suppose it has fallen a few times, but it endures!  If it ever breaks, I will miss it greatly.  Who can't feel cheerful starting the day with a good cup of coffee from a mug like this?

And most times when I drink my coffee I think of Mary, who is now a mature woman of 40 years.  I would just love to see her now.

Friday, March 3, 2017


The Rail Fence was really not working!  The beige should have had a deeper contrast value-wise with the other fabrics.  This morning I took apart 32 - 6" seams and moved the one strip to the other side of the beige fabric.  This looks better.

Two fifths of the blocks are complete.  The other three fifths need to be made yet.  Then I'll lay them out on the floor and arrange them so that there are no "L's" of dark or light fabric formed by the layout.  Just offhand I can spot four.  Some of the colours need to be shifted also to a more random placement.  But this seems quite a bit better to me.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


When we had our town quilt club meeting on Tuesday I was reminded that we are making quilts for a nearby nursing home.  I had forgotten about that.  It's time to get busy.

I had a pattern I wanted to use, and got out a stash of materials that would do (I thought).
Here's the pattern:

This is a pattern called "Entwined" from 40 Fabulous Quick-Cut Quilts by Evelyn Sloppy (What a name for a quilt designer!), published by Martingale & Company in 2005.

Here's the material I planned to use, some strips sewn together:

I realized right away that this was not going to work!  There are supposed to be 5 strips in a group.  I had planned 4 whites and 1 coloured.  NOT GOOD!

So I took one of the white strips off each group, and sewed on another coloured strip.  The planned pattern changed also, to a Rail Fence design.

Well, I don't care a whole lot for that.  So I went the closet and looked for a fabric, a fairly large piece for the "rail" that would make a good contrast to the other fabrics.  I found this humungous piece, and cut off about 12".  This is 108" wide, and meant to be used as a backing for a whole quilt.

After I cut off the 12" I thought maybe I shouldn't have done that!  It's now just 108" x 108"--and was probably planned to be the backing for one of the large quilts that's in the pipeline somewhere.  But it's cut now, so that's it.

I was able to cut five 2 1/4" strips from that.  The other strips are all 2 1/2", but because the samples of fabric were just barely over 12" wide, I need to make the third, beige strip a little narrower if the block is to end up as 6" square, unfinished (5 1/2" square finished.)

O.K.  We'll go with that.

That's not too bad.  But it does show that a stronger contrast between the "rail" and the other two strips in each block would have showed up better.  Too late now.  This is what we're going with!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


My dear cousin Joan lives in Michigan and wrote me an email about Ha-beets.  I know that people have trouble posting comments, so I will pass it on here.  She wrote:
"Wow - did I smile when I read your latest about Ha-beets because the person who first told me about pizza used the very same wording!

"One girl in my class (and I would say it was 7th or 8th grade) told several of us that she had had something so very good to eat over the weekend - Ha-beetsa Pie!  We asked what it was and she told us it was a pie that had tomatoes on it.  I don't know about the rest of the girls but I envisioned a pie which had as its filling over an inch of stewed tomatoes which appeared like a fill of apples in an apple pie and thought that isn't for me.

"Later I realized she was murdering the words pizza pie and here comes the very interesting part.  This classmate was Grace Theissen and she lived on that dead end street that was just up a short way from your home on Prescott Ave.  Did she learn about pizza from the same woman as Aunt Jo as she called it the very same word?  Interesting!"

Indeed, I do remember that family.  There was also a younger girl Margaret who was my age.  I can still picture her face, her thick brown braids, and even the type of dress she wore.  In those days girls wore dresses!  Blue jeans were coming in as play clothes, but our closets held mainly dresses.

We don't know if both families learned about pizza from an Italian family, but obviously there was a source somewhere in our neighbourhood.

Thanks for the comment, Joan.  That was interesting.  I'm surprised my mom didn't share the recipe with your mom, as they were very close.

A LITTLE FAMILY HISTORY:  Joan's mother and my mother were the youngest of a family of 11, 5 girls and 6 boys, all born to a young couple who came from the Netherlands, sometime in the 1890's.  My Mom was the youngest and Aunt Ann was the next oldest.  They had an older sister Sue.  These three little girls were the "tail end of the family."

When I was growing up in New Jersey, my Aunt Clara and Aunt Sue lived next door to each other on Hill St. in Midland Park, my Aunt Ann and our family lived near each other in Hawthorn  and Prospect Park.  An uncle, brother of our mothers, lived on Vreeland Ave in Midland Park, and a brother of my dad and his family lived also on the Hill Ave.  When we got together the place was overrun with cousins having fun together.  I don't remember any fights or disagreements, but that may be because I was on the young end of the cousins.  On the young end there was Walter who was my age, then three girls about the same age, Joanne, Margery and Ruth Ann, and finally a trailer Warren.

In 1948 our family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and Mom and Aunt Ann missed each other the rest of their lives.  We did visit back and forth, and there were letters, but long distance telephone calls were only for emergencies in those days.  Families dreaded getting a long distance call!  How good we have it now with generous phone plans and email accounts!

By the way: If you'd like to post a comment, click on the icon and when the little window comes up that says "Google Account" click on that.  It will offer other possibilities.  You can use the "anonymous" and if you want to, you can give your name in with the comment.  That should allow you to post your reaction or an addition to what was said.  I'd love to hear from you.  If that doesn't work, just write me an email and I will add your comment to the blog.  THANKS!