Thursday 28 February 2013

Details, Details

I've been stitching little details into my house block. A book to read, a vase of flowers, some daisies, a tuft of grass, a doorknob, and texture to the front path. Just little bits here and there that I hope will help bring the whole block together.

I am trying not to do too much. But still have one big question in my mind. Should I FMQ the rest of the sky? Maybe little circles all tightly packed together. I can't  make up my mind, but I feel it should have stitching to blend in all the seam lines from where I have pieced all the bits together. I somehow feel that machine stitching would be less obtrusive than hand stitching. Opinions?


Wednesday 27 February 2013

Easily Distracted

I ventured back into my office today, intent on getting rid of more stuff and organising that which was staying. But I came upon a tiny quilt top I made way back in the early days of my quilting odyssey. When I say tiny, I mean tiny - only two feet by three feet. I suppose I could have made it bigger, but instead I thought it would be a good car seat blanket for a new born. Or in a stroller.

I also knew who would be able to find a good home for it. The lovely ladies at Bee Blessed. The bonus is I would see one of the founding members of Bee Blessed, Judith, this weekend, so if I stopped cleaning and started sewing I could give it to her when I saw her. That was enough of an excuse for me to stop cleaning indeed!

I dug up some of the original sock monkey fabric line - because I haven't really had a lot of call for it since - and I found two bits big enough to sew together and make the backing. I spray basted, making a right mess of my kitchen floor in the process. (Ick! More cleaning!) And then I quilted it in a simple stipple. All it needs now is trimming and the binding. I can do that on the train on Saturday and hand it over to Judith upon my arrival.

I'm sure it still counts as part of the cleaning because I haven't just moved it from one spot to another. I am actually making use of it and moving it on totally.


Tuesday 26 February 2013

Slowly But Surely

I wouldn't normally humiliate myself like this, but I have decided that my 'office' needed sorting out. This tiny space - 6'x6' is where my desk and computer are, as well as numerous boxes of craft things, stored letters, etc. Add in all the things that the girls think my office is a good place to shove stuff, and lots of half finished projects of theirs and you have a nightmare of a space.

So I started hauling out boxes and piles of things to find out what was there, organising things, and - most importantly - binning things. It will look a lot worse before it ever looks better.

On the bright side, I found a piece of wadding while I was digging deeper and deeper into the furthest corners. A piece of wadding, that with a little cut off the end and added to the side would be just big enough for the Siblings Together quilt. I was thrilled.

To celebrate making it through our annual rental inspection and filling another bag for the trash bin, I added the borders onto the Siblings quilt top, pieced the wadding and got ready to piece the backing that Helen had sent me to make it wide enough for the quilt. Imagine my surprise, and glee, to find that the fabric is actually about 56" wide and did not need anything done to it other than pressing.

That meant I could get on with the next job. Basting.

I feel a quilt finish coming on next week.


Monday 25 February 2013

When They Are Good They Are Very, Very Good

As a parent some days can be trying. Anyone who has children will know that. Sometimes, despite the overwhelming love, you drag yourself through the day looking forward to bedtime. Being a mum is the best thing in the world, but they can make your head spin on occasion.

Then days like yesterday happen. Those are the days that make the bad days totally irrelevant. The girls put a sign up on the sitting room door.

They said they knew it wasn't Mothers Day. That would happen in two weeks time. No, this was Mummy Day and something they were doing on their own accord. They went off to the Coop and bought some small treats (yes, chocolate was involved) and a dvd. They decorated the sitting room with paper chains, and some pictures. Last night we had a good old snuggle up together and watched the film.

It was the best.


PS: I would highly recommend the film. It was hilarious.

Sunday 24 February 2013

You've Got Mail

I loved all your suggestions of what to add in to the house block for fun. Seems I need to embroider a biplane doing a loop to loop, being flown by a monkey eating a doughnut, accompanied by a flying pig (or two). Yes, conversations did take a strange twist last night.

While I contemplated all the possibilities I have done my clouds and sunrays. I tried to do different length stitches and spaces on the sun's rays, but I think even stitching is part of my DNA and I didn't manage quite the effect I was planning on, but I am still happy.

Why has my chimney gone all wonky suddenly?

I was all set to put a tree down by the duckies, but then I decided that if a quilter lived in this house - as she must - then there was only one thing for it. She needed to have just received a whacking big parcel of fabric. It is only right.

I've small details I want to add in here and there over the next few days. I can see myself doing more little quilts like this in the future as I am having such fun making it up as I go along.


Saturday 23 February 2013

The Evolution of a Block

Do you plan your projects, or do you just see where things lead you as you piece various bits of fabric together? I tend to plan a little, and improvise a lot. I seldom write things down, or do a sketch first as I can visualise what I want in my head and just take it from there. And then if it looks stupid no one knows because I just change it and lie.

As you know, I made a house block with freezer paper piecing. Today I turned it into a square block. Only now there is a lot of sky. A. Lot!

I am incapable of taking a photo of something square on.
Absolutely incapable!
There is that big (traditional white) sky. What would you do with it? I am contemplating embroidering bright golden rays coming from the sun, and big puffy cumulus clouds stitched in blue perle. I briefly thought about a rainbow, but shot that idea down myself. That was just too twee for words. I could stitch a tree behind the bicycle and ducks. Or a for sale sign? I even thought about doing 'Home Sweet Home' up there in the blank sky. I prefer the idea of clouds, and sun rays. What would float your boat as an idea?

Since I was incapable of making my mind up about that wide open space, I set about putting clapboards on the house and thatching on the roof instead.

Just in case you are wondering, I FMQ'd the clapboards, meaning for them to look a little wonky and uneven. It was on purpose. Honest.


Friday 22 February 2013

Is Cookie Dough a Food Group?

If cookie dough is not a food group, then it should be. Or at least recognised as a suitable lunchtime meal in this house. If not, I think I just had a very unhealthy lunch. There was oatmeal in the dough. Does that count for something?

Chocolate Chip cookies are sublime. Crispy on the outside, chewy inside. When eaten fresh from the oven, oozing warm chocolate you are close to cookie nirvana.

I think that I might have published this recipe before, but it is easier to do it again and put the links in the appropriate place than find where it was originally posted. Besides, I am sort of on a cookie high right now and just feel the need to tell you all about them again.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter (8 ozs)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp cold water
1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 cups oatmeal
200g semi sweet chocolate chips (8ozs)
1.2 cup dessicated coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C; 350F; 160C fan oven; Gas Mark 4.

Cream the butter and sugars together. Add remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing in before adding the next. (That's it! Super easy.)

Line your cookie trays and place spoonfuls fairly well spaced apart as they will spread. No need to flatten your spoonfuls, the heat will do that for you. Bake for approximately 10 minutes, until golder brown. Let cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

See how long you can hold off before you eat one.

This recipe  makes approximately four dozen cookies depending on how big you make them and how much cookie dough you eat prior to baking. The recipe halves easily if that seems like too many to you. Alternatively, they freeze well.

If you make them, I hope you enjoy them.


Thursday 21 February 2013

Don't Forget, Mummy...

... It's Ella's birthday tomorrow, and you promised me you would make her a pencil case similar to mine.

Of course I didn't forget! I just like to do things at the last minute. Really!


Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Kindness of Quilters

It has been spoken about here, and on other blogs too, about how lovely the quilting community is. I wanted to take a moment today to mention some of the nice things that have been done for me lately by some of my online friends.

First up, this unexpected parcel arrived before Christmas when I was knee deep, well in Christmas stuff quite frankly. The lovely Alison won these templates for her amazing hand quilting in the Bloggers Quilt Festival. It was a well deserved prize but one she didn't think she would use as she already had all the tools she required for these blocks so she popped them in the post to me as a surprise.

I fully intend to try the Dresden template at some point, but am not sure if I will use the Star one. Alison said that she was perfectly happy to have me pass them on to someone else, so stayed tuned because I think I will be doing that with the star templates soon.

Next up is the talented and prolific hand piecer, Susan in Australia. She was having a clear out of some of her scraps and asked if anyone was interested. Well my hand was in the air and I was squeaking like the over eager scrappy quilter that I am. Susan sent me a fab bag full of fun scraps. Some that I stroke upon occasion, because I can.

Then last week I got an email from Helen asking me if I would like a nice chunk of quilters cotton - dating back to the 1980s apparently - to use as backing for my Siblings quilt. Someone she knew was having a clear out. Again, I said yes please. And this great chunk of happy floral landed on my doorstep this week. I've put the Siblings top by it so you can see that it will work very well as a backing for it.

Finally, today there was another unexpected package. I got a cheer me up gift from my friend Ange - real life as well as online friend, lucky me - because she knew I was having a bit of a rotten week. So she increased my wee collection of Stof Pure, as well as some chocolate and sweets but they didn't make the photo as I hid them before the girls came home. I am afraid emergency measures are called for sometimes.

I consider myself very lucky indeed to be part of this community and it has changed my life in many ways over the past two years. I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you to Alison, Susan, Helen and Ange, and to every other friend I have made through this blog. I appreciate you greatly.


Tuesday 19 February 2013

The Return of the Bulldog

Okay, sulking mostly done here and life needs to move on, even if I do feel bereft without my phone. On the bright side it is fixable (yay), and soon I will be able to once again spend my time waiting for the girls on the school run, and at dance class, utilising my time the way I usually do - replying to comments and other emails.

But phones are not the be all and end all. Life does indeed move on and I got the time to return to my girlie freezer paper piecing today. I reinstated the beloved bulldog, and the poor sad stand-in has been removed to return in another project some other day. I managed to get the bulldog back into the piecing with the help of greater minds giving me advice. I tend to just get annoyed when something goes wrong and lose the ability to approach things logically then. So a big thank you to everyone who convinced me that the bulldog must return and that it would not be the right royal pain in the behind I was envisioning.

As you can see I got the other side of the garden finished too. I love those wee little ducklings and the 'ugly duckling'!

Now, just the sky to do and then I can think about quilting.


Monday 18 February 2013

Today is Cancelled

Because I am sulking.

I will be found trying to console myself with this.

Hope your day starts better than mine.


Sunday 17 February 2013

Signs of Life

It happens every year, Spring comes along when you least expect it. One day your garden is full of snow, or water, whatever the case may be. The next, the birds are singing, children are playing volleyball with a beachball over a badminton net, and you spot the first signs of life.

For me today is was my chives. I was doing something out back and happened to look over at my mini herb garden and there was fresh green growth. I love that feeling I get as plants come back to life. So I peered a little closer and, lo and behold, the oregano was full of life below last year's dead stalks (which have now been removed).

I was surprised to see that even some of the plants in pots that I was so sure this rather wet and cold (for England) winter would see off were also sprouting afresh.

Well, that was it. This person who hates gardening went and did the only thing that I really like to do out there. Pruning. I make a wonderful pruner as I am viciously ruthless. In no time at all I had the wheelie bin full, and I was almost tempted to 'borrow' the neighbours bin too and fill that up with even more.

It was a gloriously warm and sunny day. It happens every year, and every year I get filled with hope that this will be the year we actually have a proper summer. Please let 2013 be the summer that the sun shines, the rain abates and barbecue gets used nightly.


Saturday 16 February 2013

Country Mouse Goes to the City

In actual face, I am not a country mouse. I was a city girl until I got dragged kicking and screaming into the countryside (I kid you not), a new stay at home mum. I tell you what, that first year or so was a shock. I used to email friends, incredulous that you could hear sheep and cows when in the back garden. Horse riders clip clopping past our front window.

Well, we are no longer in that same house and I think the cows are in even closer proximity now, but I love a trip to the city. More so than the others in this house I think, but I know how to entice them away from all this greenery.

It is not a long train trip to London from the middle of nowhere (as Laura Jane described our abode - which it isn't really). Soon enough we were ensconced in the Science Museum, pushing buttons, doing quizs, getting electric shocks.

Well, you knew when it said Do Not Touch it would be me encouraging her to do so, didn't you?

From there it was off to Chinatown. This is a must for us, and one of the main draws of going to the city, because we love, love, love dim sum. I even allowed my photo to be taken which I don't usually allow without hours of grooming, soft lighting and Photoshop promises.

We finished our excursion with something else we do almost every time we go to London, a visit to the National Gallery. As this sits on Trafalgar Square you have the benefit of human statues, buskers, political protests (well, we did today, it was for a country I had never even heard of), and the general hubbub of humanity that gathers there. I love it all. Except the crowds on the Underground. That I do not love.

Now I am back in my green space in the country. In an ideal world I would live here, but I would get to the city more often. Really, I need to go by myself so I can enjoy the wonders of Liberty's and other such delights.


Friday 15 February 2013

Drum Roll Please

Right, down to business. I have six potential prizes, three of which will be given away today. I have used Mr RNG as my right hand man to make the selection from the comments left. I have added one extra slot for a regular reader who is getting her ability to comment messed around by Google. That makes 125 people with their names in the metaphorical hat.

And the winners are -

First up -

And that would be -

Second number drawn -

Sorry, have had to amend the post. The second number drawn was a no-reply blogger and I could not find a means of contacting her so I have done a fourth draw.

And last, but certainly not least is -

Number 33 is -

The fourth number drawn is -

And that would be -

The best bit? They all chose something different as their first choice of prize. So they all get their top pick. The Monaluna for Sheila. The Tote for Lindis. And the pouch for Kathy. That is just the sort of result I could have wished for. By making multiple items and giving a choice I was hoping that everyone would get something that was right for them. Yay! One happy blogger here.

And my redraw means everyone does not get first choice. Alison - Little Island Quilting - gets her third choice which is the 1030's repro fabric.

Please folks, if you aren't sure if you are a no-reply blogger then ask someone you know who has a blog and your email how you appear when you leave comments. Is an email attached? You don't want to miss out like this.

Ladies, I will be sending emails asking for your addresses just as soon as I click on publish for this post. Thank you to everyone for entering. I just wish I had 125 prizes to give away.


PS: You realise that means the Hoop of Sarcasm (Kathy's description) will most likely appear again in the future for another attempt to give it away. Just saying.

Thursday 14 February 2013

I Blame the Dog

It was all going so well today. I cut the freezer paper pieces last night so today started with auditioning the fabrics to be used for my little cottage in the countryside. Eventually happy with my choices I started ironing on the freezer paper pieces, cutting and sewing. All without incident. Yay!

So confidently I decided to start on the garden. I chose my grass fabric, and my front path fabric, got my British bulldog and set to more piecing. Obviously I made the fatal mistake of getting overly confident because the next thing I knew I was looking at one upside down bulldog. Cut in a wedge shape so I couldn't just take him out and flip him 180 degrees.

Then I got really pissed off at myself when I realised he was my last usable bulldog. I had my heart set on a bulldog for this tiny quilt. I auditioned other dogs. We had the too big, too small, too long and the gormless.

The only one left that fit the wedge shape properly looks like he is afraid of his own shadow! Sometimes I really hate compromise!

At this point it was time to walk away from the sewing machine. This is how far I have gotten with this project today. I shall probably ignore it for weeks now as I am so annoyed with making that mistake.

I hope everyone has had a lovely Valentines Day. Mine was fine until that dog messed me up. Honestly, it was the dog's fault.


Wednesday 13 February 2013

Start at the Very Beginning...

... It's a very good place to start.

Despite having several projects actively on the go right now, today was a pondering day rather than a doing day. I spent a good deal of time sat on the floor poking about in my wee stash.

I contemplated and rejected ideas over and over again. What I had in mind I could not match up to fabrics. Silly I know but every combination I put together just did not work for me today. So I sat at the internet and browsed through Flickr and Pinterest instead, finding my inspiration here.

I decided that I wanted to do something girlie, frivolous and fun. (Like all the things I make are so serious!) And I decided on freezer paper piecing. So freezer paper securely washi taped to a cutting board I tried out my architecture skills with pencil and ruler. I do not think I am ready for full size house design as of yet. It took a few tries, and as I stuck to the same piece of paper it looked like total gobbledygook eventually.

I persevered and eventually had a house I thought would be a good size, I erased some of the superfluous lines, I did my little marks and numbering for future matching up, and then I did a few notes as a further attempt from me going terribly wrong.

My idea is to freezer paper piece the house and then free piece the background. I may think this is more doable than it actually is. But the best bit of the afternoon was pulling fabrics to feature in this block to make it fun.

I think my house will definitely need a British bulldog. And a gnome. Most definitely a gnome.


Tuesday 12 February 2013


We all make choices in our lives. I choose to sew. I choose to blog. I choose to blog a lot. This is my 681st post in two years (and three days). That could indicate that I have had a blogiversary. I've been planning for it for quite a while. I thought I would offer up something for all you lovely people who bother to come and read my ramblings. It would have helped if I had actually remembered what day my blogiversary was on of course, but that doesn't stop me from still doing a Reader Appreciation Day.

So today is about everyone who reads Canadian Abroad. It is also about choices. I have six potential prizes. I will draw for three of them. You get to choose what you would prefer to win. Here's what you can pick from -

1. Three FQs of Monaluna from Birch Fabrics, 100% organic cotton.

2. A pouch I made this morning. It is quite roomy; measuring approximately 9.5" across the top and 9.5" deep. Some Ruby Star Shining clocks, red solid, and one of Aneela's wonderful prints for the lining.

3. A yard of Little Red Riding Hood fabric. I've had this for ages waiting for me to turn it into a baby quilt. I haven't so if someone else loves it then I am happy to give them the opportunity instead.

4. This tote I made a couple of weeks ago was intended for one of you all along. EPP has been machine appliqued onto Essex grey linen. The lining is the aqua pins from Sew Stitchy.

5. If any of you are into the 1930s reproduction fabrics then I have a selection of five FQs you could have. (Some of these fabrics are larger cuts. I will cut a FQ of each if someone chooses this as their option and they win.) The three fabrics on the left are Aunt Grace Friends Around the World. The other two are of unknown origin.

6. And for those of you who are of a sarcastic bent, I offer up my Sarcasm hoop.

So, the rules. As per usual, I like to keep it simple. Leave a comment (only one please) telling me what your first, second and third choice for prizes would be. You must tell me your choices or I will redraw a name for someone who has put their choices in their comment. I must be able to contact you so if you are not sure if you are a no-reply blogger then please leave an email that I can contact you at should your name be drawn. Hint - if you leave comments on blogs and never get replies it might just mean you are a no-reply blogger.

That's it. One comment, three chances. I will make the draw on Friday, February 15 approximately 3pm British time. I am happy to post internationally.

A huge thank you to everyone for two years of support, friendship, laughs and inspiration.


** Please note - I do my utmost to reply to my comments as often as possible but in this instance will not even attempt it. Just know I am so pleased you took the time to throw your name in the hat.

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for taking the time to enter. The winners can be seen in Friday, 15th February's post.

Monday 11 February 2013


* I awoke to a white world again today. The novelty is wearing off, mostly because I knew I had to go into town and it couldn't be avoided. I took a photo of the view from my bedroom window. Emily volunteered to go outside to take more photos. Always check what your ten year old thinks of as suitable foot wear in snow. Always!

* All three of us had dental appointments today. This dentist told us we had 'good oral hygeine'. Beats the b*****d on the Isle of Wight who told the girls they were better off drinking cola than juice and that it was obvious they were on a bad diet. (Yes, I was traumatised after that encounter.) Despite that dentist's opinion Helen has made it to the ripe age of twelve without requiring one filling yet. Jammy git!

*FMQing fish is harder than I thought. I've done it but not sure I am happy with how I did it. My waves are a little better. 

* The girls are currently having a snowball fight of a different kind. Emily is outside and Helen is in. Helen opens different windows upstairs without Emily knowing where she will appear next and Emily tries to hit her with snowballs. 

* They are having a friend for a sleepover tonight.

* Do you think I will make it to the end of the week with my sanity intact?


Sunday 10 February 2013


Do you ever get ideas, and they ferment there in your brain, churning away, insisting on getting out? I've had an idea in my mind when I saw a quilt somewhere (can't for the life of me remember where) and I saw a pattern in it that was completely different than what the other quilter had made. This idea has been festering away, overshadowing the WIPs I should be working on. So I gave in. I was tempted to make a bigger quilt with this idea, but decided to try it out in miniature first.

Yesterday I cut 82 2.5" squares and 3 orange ones. Then I worked on my layout.

Today I tweaked the layout and then pieced my squares, with just a tiny bit more orange added in.

I was rather pleased with my three little fishes in the deep blue sea, until Emily guessed that they were birds, and then I was less certain that I had achieved my aim. Regardless, I am going to find a scrap of wadding and turn this into a mini quilt. Now quilting ideas are knocking about my brain instead. Best to get it over with so I can return to the jobs I should be doing.


Saturday 9 February 2013

Siblings Progress

My D9P is coming together nicely for my Siblings Together quilt. I love the bright colours against the white.

I think I will have to add borders to bring it up so size, because I have no more fabrics that seem to be the right shades in these colours. So many scraps in my stash but none that work in this project. So wide borders it is.