Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best wishes for 2014

13Dec31chukar I couldn’t let the year slip by without wishing you all a happy and healthy 2014!

Each year is different for all of us. If I could sum up 2013 in one word, it would be Renovations! We’re still putting out house back in order!

Saw these lovely, silly birds Sunday morning. We’re always hearing the familiar “chuk chuk chuk” of these members of the partridge family, but we rarely see them. Sunday morning was a rare sight, and we had 8 chukars tromping around the hill behind our house. The roofline you see at the bottom of the picture is my greenhouse!

We have a New Moon tomorrow, Jan. 1! It turns “new” at 4:15 am Pacific Standard Time at 11 Capricorn. A New Moon is when the Moon siddles up to the Sun and blocks the light of the sun, making the night even darker. A New Moon inspires introspection, whereas a Full Moon invites action. This New Moon occurs in the Second House, which is the House of Resources – some people narrow it down to the House of Money. The Sun and Moon are joined by Pluto and Mercury, enhancing the effects of the New Moon. Pluto is dark and broody by nature, and is responsible for many resources found hidden or/and under the ground. Could be buried treasure, could be a mine, could be something you lost in the garden last Spring. Mercury implies business, and in the Second House that is likely to mean banks. Altogether, a very solid combination of planets.

And they are all in poor aspect to a Mars/Uranus opposition.Volatile, impulsive, money suddenly coming in and just as quickly disappearing. It’s going to be an interesting month, if not year. The planets in the Second House give us the opportunity to plan for the future. Sometimes bad things just happen and there’s nothing that can be done about it, but good planning often offsets the worst of it.

Good luck and Best Wishes for a happy, healthy – and prosperous – 2014! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 21, 2013


13Dec21mariner The craziness at work is done (for another year). Now I’m just coasting until after New Year. It feels good. This morning I spent three hours shovelling snow before I went into work.That also felt good and prepared me for spending a day sitting in front of a computer and using my brain.

It’s supposed to snow again tomorrow, and tomorrow is the annual Christmas Bird Count in our area. Snow usually means a smaller than usual turnout of counters. Which means those who do show up have a larger area to cover. Well, no matter, because it usually turns out to be fun regardless of who shows up or what the weather is like.

I’m still working on the Mariners Star that I started this Spring. Little by little. Piece by piece. I’ve missed several elf-imposed deadlines, but I’ll just keep plodding along until it’s done. I have the main stars finished – have to do the little “worlds” around the outside now, followed by a border. I have a few days slack time coming up – you never know what’ll happen.

Happy Solstice!

Until next time,

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Furball – The Frankster

13Dec20frankie What a gorgeous mancat Frankie has become. He was just a few months old when I first met him. Very difficult to understand how someone would abandon him. If he’s ever been inside a house, it was long before I met him. Just after I took this picture, I held the door open for him. He stuck his head inside and put one paw over the threshold, and that was enough. He hasn’t shown any interest since then in coming inside. Maybe someday.

So, anyway, I made him this house. It has wall to wall carpet inside and a cozy, round cat bed. He used it a few times, but there’s a lot of traffic around his food dishes – at least half a dozen neighbourhood freeloaders (cats with homes) and a few raccoons – and I haven’t seen him in there lately. There are a lot of post-reno scrap piles and plywood lean tos around the yard, so there’s lots of shelter for 13Dec20frankiehouse him if he wants it. He’s a free soul. Today it’s snowing and blowing and cold, and I hope he’s found a warm place to rest.

I made a couple of the to go with the bags I made for my co-workers. If Rusty and Ginger’s reaction were any indicators, I’m sure their cats will love them. As soon as I finished it, Ginger grabbed it by the tail and tried to run away with it, but Rusty stopped her so he could take it away. I trumped them both and put it safely in a 13Dec20mouse cupboard until I could get it out of the house. Guess I know what I’m making them for Christmas. I wonder if I could entice Frankie back into his house if I tossed one on his bed.

I’m leaving a link at Sarah Did It's Feline Friday.

Until next time,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Still working on it

13Dec17wristlet1 I was going to go to bed half an hour ago, but then I got a phone call that had me working on our Christmas Concert that’s coming up on Thursday. Then I had something else to do. And then something else…

13Dec17wristlet2 I was going to spend tonight sewing, but I had a horrible night’s sleep last night, and I don’t think I can concentrate on it. This little wristlet is a Christmas gift for the owner of this bag that I made for her last Christmas, and is made from this really easy Cake Clutch tutorial. Except, I managed to get the zipper backwards. No big deal. I like to add an inside pocket for loose change or anything you want quick access to, and I add a tab with a D-ring to hook your keys onto, or anything else.

It’s just under 10 inches from side to side, so she can fill it up and toss it into her bag, or use it separately.

Until next time,

Sunday, December 15, 2013


13Dec15bag1 I’m not as far ahead as I was last year, but I have two Christmas presents finished – the two for my co-workers. I finished them last week, but I just haven’t had time since then to blog. In fact, this month has been its usual craziness and I haven’t had a chance in weeks. Every time I sit down to write a post, something comes up. Often it’s Rusty, who insists on cuddling whenever I’m sitting at the computer. He doesn’t sit on my lap – he crawls into my arms, making it really difficult to type. My Monkey used to do the same – it this a boy cat trait? – and I had to perfect the ability to type with one 13Dec15bagzip2 hand (I’ve been a touch typist for 40 years!), but it’s still a slow way of typing. Right now the door to the computer room is closed and there are no cats in here.

We’re still making bags for my co-workers. Last year I made a shoulder bag for my boss and a zipper pouch for our front desk gal. This year I did the reverse. They both love (and have) kitties almost as much as I do, so I made sure the felines were front and centre. I bought this lovely Timeless Treasures fabric while I was in Fort St. John this past summer. I love the muted grays and 13Dec15bagback3 oranges, and I think she will, too. The body of the hipster bag was a remnant I bought, and they didn’t identify what it was. It isn’t cotton, but I love the look and feel of it.

The pattern was a free one that I found on the internet by Vibrant Designs, from 2011, but it’s gone. Now that I’d like to share it with you, about four weeks after I’d found it, there’s just an annoying “placeholder” at the site where it used to be. But I have a PDF of it, if anyone would like a copy.

13Dec15baginside5 I’ve changed the strap attachment a bit, because I couldn’t quite understand how the pattern attached the strap, so that’s a tiny bit different (hence the metal rings), but the rest is the same. Well, except for the pocket on the back. I didn’t do a very good job of it, but it’s not bad. Better than I used to do. And I got the zipper in and working in one shot. I’m rather proud of myself.

13Dec15bagcorner4 The squared bottom was a bit of a problem because of the many layers of fabric caused by the pocket in front. I usually trim away the fusible fleece so I don’t sew over it, but I guess I got sort of lazy this time. One side refused to “square” so I had to unstitch it and then trim all of the excess fleece and fabric away and then restitch it. Thankfully, the offending corner wasn’t too far from where I had my seam opening, so I could access it relatively easily for repairs and didn’t have to unstitch the whole thing.

I would rather have had the zipper opening towards the other end, but that wasn’t a big enough deal to redo any part of it. And I think it I make another one of these, I would make the front pocket a little shorter. Next on my To Do List are a few catnip mice to include with my gifts – can’t ignore the kitties! If I have time later on this week, I’ll show you the other gift.

Until then,

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bag or box?

13Nov19bag1 For the past two weeks I’ve been avoiding my Mariners Star quilt by doing other things.Most of which have been turning out less than… stellar. Like the last one, a drawstring pouch. So you aren’t seeing any pictures of them. This boxy pouch, though, that I finished last night – it went together pretty well.

I used a free pattern at So Chick that is apparently not working at the moment. 13Nov19bag2 Hopefully it will be again soon. I also used a second similar pattern at Pretty Modern as a backup for things that didn’t seem clear to me in the first pattern. I made some small mistakes – because I have to do everything MY way, but I won’t make them again next time. I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out – the zipper works! and I didn’t have to go back and fiddle with it. The “boxie” technique seemed a little complicated – and that’s where I had to refer to the second pattern – but it turned out boxie. The tabs at either end could have been better. I thought that I followed the instructions, but this is what I got, with fraying edges. I’ll know better next time. I like it!

13Nov19bag3 I want to make myself a lunch bag, so this is the first step. I needed to figure out how to make a boxie design rather than just the usual “tote” design. But the lunch bag is going to have to wait until after Christmas. I think I have some presents that I better get going on. But first, I need to finish that Mariners Star quilt.

I’m not that far from the finish, but every time I make a big design mistake, I need to work out my frustration by making something else, and it takes me a couple of weeks to get back to it. I think we’re there, now.

Until next time,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Spot the ham

13Nov14hams I’ve been thinking of purchasing a tailor’s ham since watching my neighbour use one a couple of years ago. But they’re sort of pricey. Well, not really, but we all have our spending priorities – and the price of a ham could almost buy another meter of really great fabric! On the other hand, having a ham is really useful when you’re trying to iron seams that aren’t flat, like seams in clothing or seams in a bag. So when I saw this ham in the hospital’s thrift store the other day with a $2 price tag on it, it was a done deal!

And even though Ginger is sitting next to it in the picture, neither she nor Rusty have actually shown the least bit of interest in it. Might be the only thing in the house they aren’t loading up with hairballs.

Do you like starry quilt blocks? How would you like to be part of a NASA quilt? Something that caught my eye the other day – Astronaut Karen Nyberg has created a star-themed quilt block while in space, on board the International Space Station, and it will become part of a quilt created by quilters around the known universe! Create a 9.5 inch block with a star theme and mail it off to Houston, Texas by Aug. 1, 2014. That should be enough time for the worst of us slowpokes! Click here for more information about the block, and here for information about Karen Nyberg! I’ll show you my block when it’s finished.

Until next time,

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Furball – Rain, rain

13Nov8Rusty No Indian Summer for us this year. The summer was hot, but short, and constant renovations in the backyard meant that I couldn’t take Rusty outside to enjoy sitting on the grass in the sunshine to watch the birds. It’s been steadily getting colder since September, and definitely more miserable outside. Temperatures for the past two months have been consistently three degrees colder, although overnight temperatures have been slightly warmer. Today it’s cold and raining… again.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The green house

Boy, October didn’t last very long, did it? And the weather wasn’t all that pleasant, either. I have my fingers crossed that this coming winter is just as short as the summer was.

13Nov6greenhouse At least the colder weather means more time at the sewing machine (even though the backyard is still a mess!) We finished up my greenhouse a week or so ago – as finished as it’s going to get until Spring. Mr. ZQ and I slapped on the last few panels in a major windstorm at almost freezing temperatures. The rest of the painting and building the shelves inside will wait until the Spring. See that mountain of dirt to the left? That’s my vegetable garden underneath it. The guys who did the brickwork over the summer left their wheelbarrow behind until they came back and finished up. I thought I could move that dirt around and level out the garden before winter, but 13Nov6booklets there was just too much else to do.It’ll wait. If worst comes to worst, I’ll grow my tomatoes inside the greenhouse!

I’m always working on something, but I’ve actually finished these! Finish is always good. Last year I made these pocket covers to hold some picture notecards that I donated to a fundraiser. I made some more for this year’s fundraiser. The notecards are about the same, but I think the pocket covers are nicer. Next year, if I do it again, I may even add ribbons to tie the edges together! See, I’m planning ahead. Our towns are rather small to have a 13Nov6inside bunch of postcards made up so, since I’m always taking pictures, I make up these little notecards with my photos. People seem to enjoy them, especially when they can get them for free! And I incorporated a new logo into the covers, using my inkjet printer. I think it worked well. Not sure if I’d recommend putting these through a washing machine, though. It’s been colourfast before when I’ve tested it, but different fabrics, different washers… You never know.

Until next time,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Furball - Happy Purrday

13Oct18now My little furballs are 4 years old this weekend (near as I can tell). I can remember their arrival like it was yesterday.


For more Friday Feline, go check out Sarah Did It .

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A potion notion

13Oct15pair The Hallowe’en equivalent of a Mug Rug. I dunno. Couldn’t find anything appropriate to rhyme with goblet or cauldron…

I found the pattern for these cute little penny rugs in the October 2006 issue of BHG American Patchwork Quilting, a magazine I recently picked up at a second hand store. I enlarged the pattern a bit (129%) so that it measures approximately 9.5 x 13Oct15cat 11 inches. Cute enough to stick on a wall! The pattern includes the rug shape and pumpkin. I improvised on the second and found the cat outline in the May/June 1996 issue of Quiltmaker, and I found the bat online somewhere.

They aren’t made of wool, of course. Anyone who has a passing knowledge of wool can tell that. I’m still using craft felt (recycled plastic). The “blue” pennies on the cat mat are actually purple – they just showed up blue in the picture. I do have a small stash of wool, but it costs dearly and I’m afraid to cut 13Oc5t15pumpkin into it and ruin it all. One of these days I’ll work up the confidence.

And so, I’ve stunned myself, by finishing two Hallowe’en gifts with over two weeks to spare! They look so nice that I feel like making a couple for myself, but I have other things that I have to do, first. So much to do and so little time.

The only good thing about winter is that it means more time for sewing.

Until next time,

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Trick or Treat

13Oct9bag I sat down at my sewing machine on Saturday after what seemed like an eternity, a summer full of house renovations that took so much of my time. And if I wasn't painting or moving things around, there was so much renovation "stuff" lying around and on top of my sewing area that I couldn't get to it.

13Oct9skinny1 So when I sat down at my machine (renovations are nearly over), it felt like I was starting all over again. So, in keeping with that theme, I cut four pieces of material and I cut them ALL the wrong size. Just like I was starting all over again! Turned off the sewing machine and didn't go back to it because sometimes days are just like that. The next day I measured up the pieces that I had cut and downsized the project. And this is what I made!

13Oct9skinny2 It's a cute little (should have been bigger) Halloween Trick or Treat bag. You can get the free pattern/tutorial here . The pattern is sooooo simple - which makes it all the more maddening that I cut the fabric wrong. Must remember end conversations with Rusty while he's sitting on my sewing table before I do any cutting because I really can't hold numbers in my head for very long.

Once I resized everything and made sure that Rusty and Ginger were occupied somewhere else, it went together so darn easy! My plan was to make several of them and 13Oct9skinny3 sell them at the Farmer's Market here in town. But there's only one Farmers Market left for the year, and there is no way that I'm going to have time to make up a batch of these to sell. Sigh.

I should give this one away - to someone who won't mind all of the defects (like, I had to use the salvage as part of the pattern in order to have enough). Here is Mr. Skinny modelling it for us. Mr. Skinny came from Mexico a few years ago, as a gift from my oldest brother and his wife who lived there at the time. (Anyone wanna buy a cute little house 13Oct9bagfabric in La Penita?) Mr. Skinny (not his real name) is a Dia de Muertos figurine. Anyway, he was having loads of fun deciding which was the best way to carry it. Ginger wasn't too sure about him because he was having way too much fun, so we took the bag away.

I thought, maybe I'll just use it to hold all of my Halloween fabric. Close, but no cigar. I discovered that I have just a teeny bit more than it will hold! I might have to go trick or treating myself this year just to put it to use.

Until next time,

Thursday, October 3, 2013


13Oct3mariner I’ve been clipping along on my mariner’s star, but earlier this week I hit a major snag. I was planning to shift the colours from black to purple-pink to golden as they went from top to bottom, using what fabrics I have – and while the changes aren’t very subtle, I kind of like it. However…

The pattern is foundation-pieced and it limits any gradual shading by pre-determining the shapes of the pieces. It adds more of a challenge, but I’m okay with that.

13Oct3rusty BUT, there’s this teensy-weensy little piece… It sticks out like a sore thumb when I look at it (doesn’t need it, but I drew an arrow pointing to it). I made it black and I think I should have made it purple-pink. The problem is, because it’s foundation-pieced, I have to take apart several sections in order to replace it. That’s the type of thing that will make this quilt a UFO faster than anything else. I’m thinking that maybe I will keep working on the rest of the quilt and delay making a decision until I’m ready to sew it all together.

Rusty was trying to help. As soon as I snapped the first picture, he was helping. 13Oct3pumpkins Perhaps he was trying to cover up the problem area. I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him so, but his aim is way off.

Fall is definitely here, but we’ve been getting unseasonal cool temperatures. Like, Brrrrr! Down to near freezing in the mornings, and not a whole lot of warming up by the afternoon. Not much getting done in the backyard, but it does make for some pretty pictures. I spent last 13Oct3goat Sunday at Desert Hills Ranch in Ashcroft. They’ve expanded their public viewing area and they’ve done a fantastic job of it. They’re becoming quite popular, with the new retail store with bedding plants, freshly harvested vegetables from their fields, the goats and horses that the kids (and kid-like adults) love, nicely arranged old farm equipment and more. You can spend a day down there and not be bored.

I can spend a day down there just taking pictures, It’s my type of place. When I was a child growing up in Ontario, my dad used to take us out onto the county roads for a Sunday drive and we’d usually end up at a farmers’ co-op or a retail store attached to a farm, where we’d buy pumpkins and gourds and Indian corn and fresh apple juice. I’d glad to see that tradition carrying on.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lookin’ good

13Sept26deck I said to Mr. ZQ halfway through the house renovations this summer that we’re “building our retirement home”, and it suddenly came to us that that was exactly what we were doing. We paid off our mortgage about three years ago, Mr. ZQ retired two years ago, and this year something snapped in our little home-owner brains and we decided that our long-neglected house needed some major fix ups.

13Sept26greenhouse First, the furnace, hot water tank and air conditioner, then removal of that ugly DIY fireplace, with brand new painting and hardwood livingroom floor, then replacement of every one of the windows, a sidewalk of paving bricks to finish off the front yard, and matching paving bricks in the backyard for a brand new patio area, pavers for the fire pit and more for the future greenhouse. Then a “little” touch up of the deck with a new roof, aluminum railings and vinyl decking. And finally, a little 6x12 greenhouse next to the garden is the last of this year’s renovations – just happening as we speak. The house has been a long time without any work – 42 years later and the same furnace! – and it was long overdue. We aren’t regretting any one of the renos that we’ve had done so far.

13Sept26mariner We already know that next year we need to paint the house and replace the roof! But this week, I got back to quilting, finally. Like the guy who did our deck, I have so many projects building up, waiting for me to finish this one, that I need to get moving on it and git ‘er done! This is the top third of the flimsy. Already have more done on the next later. Like our renos, I think it’s going to look pretty good when it’s finished. The pattern is called Sailing By The Stars and it’s a free foundation-piece pattern by RJR Fabrics. I’ve done a few modifications, which I’ll explain later on in case anyone is interested.

Until next time,