August 29, 2013

Blue Gold

It's finally blueberry season here in Newfoundland!
Sunday afternoon I took all three boys for about 3 hours, then again on Monday Aiden and I went for another 3 1/2 hours. I figure we have about 4 gallons picked so far. I made a wonderful blueberry pie and we've been eating berries on our cereal, on our pancakes and with ice cream. Yumm!

I'm also still picking a few strawberries, though there's not much left there now. Nathan really  loves these, especially drizzled with warmed up Nutella. Strawberries are usually finished earlier than this...I didn't expect to get much of anything when we got back from Florida, but we picked big containers full for a while. I love that kind of surprise!
19 berries. I figure we might get another dozen or so before we're done for the year.
Here's the other blue gold I've been working on. I now have 17 of my flowers ringed in blue hexagons. This is what they look like laid out 8 x 7, like they will be in the finished quilt. Of course, the order will change a lot as I get them all finished.
Here's a different arrangement, to give a better idea of how they will look in the finished quilt.
I'm using two different blues for this ring of hexagons. I have made roughly the same number of each and have them in my hand sewing bag I made. I just pull one out at random and work my way around each flower without paying too much attention to how many of each blue I'm using. I will confess that if I use 4 of the same blue in a row I usually pick on the other blue for the next hexagon, but that's as much as I'm letting myself influence the order.
I've been doing other sewing too, but I can't share much yet. I really like how this spare hexagon flower looks a label for this small gift, which is already finished.
Another gift has been started (for Christmas no less!), but there's not much accomplished yet. I can say the pattern is from Kristy at Quiet Play, and I think it will turn out really well. I can't wait to share both.

August 26, 2013

What to wear?

Devotion for the Week...

I've been thinking about clothes a lot lately. School starts next week here and so I've been checking the boys' drawers and closets to figure out what clothes they have outgrown. After weeding out everything too short in the arms or legs or too tight in the waist, their wardrobes seem a little depleted.

Seriously, do they have to grow so fast?

Now I've moved on the the task of sorting through bags of hand-me-downs lugged up from the storage room. Nathan seems to have hit the jackpot! Between the clothes Aiden and Zachary wore at that age and the clothes we've been given from others, I think he'll have enough clothes for 2 or 3 kids. We'll be passing on what we don't need. I'm not sure yet what we have that will fit the other two, but there are bags from their cousin, so I'm confident I'll find something.

With all these thoughts about clothes, I remembered something Paul wrote to the Colossians. Well, to be completely honest, I remembered that he wrote it, but I had to look up who he wrote it to. Here's what he had to say: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3: 12-14)

I find it interesting that Paul uses the imagery of getting dressed in this passage. Getting dressed is something we do every day, something we do deliberately. In the same way, we are to choose to wear these traits every day. It is to be a conscious choice we make - to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with everyone we encounter that day.

This sounds a whole lot easier than it is. When we're around people who rub us the wrong way, or people who are rude, it's not easy to respond in love. And yet that is exactly what Paul is calling us to do. We will have plenty of opportunities to practice, of course. We'll be tempted to respond impatiently to whining kids, there will be times we think we're better than someone else, times we want to lash out at the person who hurt our feelings, and times we want to just walk away from someone who doesn't ever have a kind word to say. In those moments, we are to remember what we are wearing. Not the shirt and pants, but the compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility and most of all, the love.

Paul started off the passage above with the word 'therefore,' which begs the question - what was he talking about before the 'therefore'? In verses 5 - 8 he talks about things we should no longer be doing, such as anger, rage, malice, sexual immorality, etc. Then he says, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." (vv 9-11) So, we have taken off the old self and its practices, like taking off dirty, sweaty clothes. We don't want to wear that character anymore. Instead we have put on a new character and this new character has nothing to do with our physical person. It doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, your status in society or your background. Your new character is to be that of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, because of this new character, and because of the power of Christ which is in each of us as believers, we are able to wear the traits Paul lists for us. Now it is up to us to choose to put them on at every opportunity.

August 22, 2013

My New Favourite Skirt

I finally got around to making my circle skirt and I love, love, love it! It drapes so beautifully and is incredibly comfortable.

It's a full, twirly skirt, which doesn't work well outside on a windy day! Thankfully we were able to do a quick photo shoot between the gusts.

I used this tutorial for the pattern. My only change was to add a pocket, for which I used this tutorial (mostly for the shape of the pocket) and this one. I had never put in a pocket before, and these two tutorials made it really easy. Now I have somewhere to keep my keys or my phone without needing to take my purse everywhere.

I see myself wearing this one a lot, and maybe even making another one (or two!).

I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday.

August 19, 2013


Devotion for the Week...

We absolutely loved our vacation. It was so much fun to see new places, do new things and make so many wonderful memories.

But when we drove up and saw this...

That was a great feeling. It's nice to get away, to have a change from the familiar, but then it's good to come home again too. I like being back in my own kitchen. I like having all my clothes available, not just the ones that fit into my suitcase. I like having my sewing machine and my fabric stash waiting. As Dorothy said, "There's no place like home."

To the Philipians, Paul wrote this about those who live only for themselves, for this life, "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven." (Philippians 3: 19, 20) In other words, for those who believe in Jesus, this earth isn't truly our home. Our home is heaven, where we will live for eternity with God. Because of that, our lives should look different. Out minds shouldn't be focused solely on earthly things.

The struggle is with our minds. Because we live here on this earth -loving,working, suffering and rejoicing - we often forget that our minds are to be focused on more than just here. Obviously we have to think about earthly things some of the time. We have to care for ourselves and our families and we are to be actively engaged  in supporting ourselves. Paul wrote emphatically about the need for believers to work, rather than spending all day waiting for Jesus to return (read 2 Thessalonians). He even stated "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."(2 Thessalonians 3:10) So we don't ignore earthly concerns, but neither should they be our sole concern.

Sometimes, though, it's hard to find the right balance because this place feels like home. We've never experienced heaven to know what we're missing. While many people imagine wonderful scenarios, we don't have memories of heaven to show us how earth is lacking the things we need. In Florida I sometimes wanted to bake, but I didn't have muffin pans or all the ingredients I needed. At home I have all those things. I missed something I knew home had that our rented house didn't have. We can't feel that way about heaven because we haven't been there.

Fortunately, the Bible does tell us a little of what to expect in heaven. Revelation 21:3,4 says, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

God Himself will live with us, and He will wipe away the last tears we will ever cry. In heaven there will be no more heart attacks shortly after retirement, no more Alzheimer's to steal a loved one's memory, no more living with chronic pain. All of it will be gone.

As good as it feels to be in my own house, sleeping in my own bed, I can only imagine how it will feel one day to be truly home.

August 16, 2013

Sea Glass and July Sugar Block Club

Rocky beaches are probably my favourite type of beach. My Grampy taught me early on about the joys of hunting for pretty rocks and shells. Then I'd make Dad let me bring them home when we left my grandparents'. Mom and Dad's driveway still has beach rocks strewn among the gravel. And Mom still makes Dad bring home more.

We went to a rocky beach today. This particular beach usually yields only a couple pieces of sea glass per visit, but today the place was full of it!

This is what I collected. All three boys also picked up a few pieces to add to their own collections.

Last night I started stitching my July block for the Sugar Block Club and finished it up this morning. I'm happy to report I managed to have all the pieces turned the right way with this one!

The middle is an on-point Ohio star. The corners are paper pieced and super quick. Only two seams!

 I used Bonnie Hunter's Triangle Buddy method to make bonus HST units when making the flying geese units for the Ohio Star. It's pretty simple.

First, draw a sewing line from corner to corner. This is the line for the flying geese unit.

To cut your template (or triangle buddy) , figure out the finished size for your HST, cut a square that size and cut it in half diagonally. As you can see, I used a very fancy recycled index card for my template.

Draw a line at the edge of your template. This is the line for your bonus HST unit. These two lines may not be 1/2" apart, so your seam allowances may be less than the standard 1/4", but not by much.

Sew on both lines.

Cut between the lines, centering the cut as well as you can.

 Et Voila!

Four beautiful flying geese units and eight bonus HST units! Now, I admit there isn't much you can do with 8 HST pieces, but if I sewed as much as Bonnie Hunter does I could probably make enough for a whole quilt pretty quickly. Instead, I'm just going to set them aside and wait until my next opportunity to add another set.

When I finished the block I couldn't resist laying out all eight blocks together. I love how they look together. It's hard to believe there are only four more blocks to go!

 I'm linking up with Kristy's Paper Piecing Party and TGIFF.

August 14, 2013

August Sugar Block Club (sort of...)

I am starting to get caught up again with my BOM sewing. I started with Amy Gibson's August block. At least, I tried to. Here is Amy's block.

 Sticking with my blues and cream/tan colour scheme, I used one blue batik and two cream backgrounds.

Do you see my mistake? Somehow I didn't notice that I had all four corner pieces turned the wrong way, a mistake that completely changes the look of the block. Gone is the plus shape, and in its place I have a square.

Fortunately, I like the new look, so I'm leaving it as is. I am probably going to make another version sometime, following the pattern properly, of course!

For this pattern, all 20 HST units were made slightly bigger than needed, then trimmed to size. I will admit I found the trimming to be incredibly tedious, but it sure does produce accurate results. I've never seen so many perfect points in one of my blocks. Tedious, but worth it.
I have all the pieces cut for the July block as well, so hopefully I'll get that stitched up soon. I love how these blocks are looking so far.

I am linking up today with Lee at Freshly Pieced and at Quilt Story.

August 12, 2013


Back in 2010 I taught a quilting class. Many of the 12 ladies in the class had never threaded a machine before, others had made many quilts and just wanted a night out with friends. All of them made the same quilt, Midnight Garden, designed by Sharon Sebrow.

I made my sample version following the printed colour scheme because I love bright colours on black.

Some of the ladies followed my lead, while others took an entirely different garden path. One chose a white background, another orange, another royal blue and another chose a deep purple.

They were all beautiful. They were recognizable as a Midnight Garden quilt, but they also reflected the personalities and preferences of the unique women who made them.

In many ways, our lives should be like those different quilts. We should be recognizable as Christians, while at the same time embracing and celebrating our individuality.

Jesus said, "Let your lights shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Using that as our pattern tells us two things.

First of all, we should be shining lights in our world, doing good deeds as a simple matter of everyday living. A good deed shouldn't be out of the ordinary for us. Doing good, showing kindness and caring, should be the norm. It should be how we are known in our communities.

Second, those good deeds are not to be done to draw attention to ourselves. It isn't "Do good deeds so everyone will think you're a good person," or "Do good deeds so people will like you," or even "Do good deeds so you can get into heaven." Nope. Our good deeds are supposed to point people to God, causing them to praise Him.

What are these good deeds we are supposed to be doing? Jesus didn't specify in this passage what they should be. There are generalities given in the Bible, but not specifics. We are told to love one another (John 15:17), to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30) and to consider others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Within those guidelines, there are as many possibilities as there are people on this earth.

I machine stitched around my Midnight Garden flowers. Some of the ladies hand stitched around theirs with a blanket stitch and one lady hand stitched x's all around each flower. They are still the same flower. Though my background is black and Rose's is purple, they are both Midnight Garden quilts.

Your good deeds will likely be different from mine, but as long as we are both doing things that bring praise to God we will be recognizable as belonging to Him.

August 09, 2013

10 000+ km Later

Our poor Trailblazer doesn't know what to think. We're usually a rather low mileage family, but over the past five weeks we drove 10 155 km (6 214 miles). We went from Newfoundland to Orlando, Florida and back home again, with stops in Nova Scotia both ways. Driving through New York and the Jersey Turnpike on the Sunday of the July 4th holiday weekend was my least favourite portion of the entire trip. Let's just say that in our small Newfoundland town there isn't a single traffic light and all the streets are a single lane in each direction. Not so in New York or on the Jersey Turnpike!

For our 20 nights in Florida, this was home.

  I know, we were really roughing it.

The pool in the backyard was wonderful. We swam almost every day, mostly in the mornings before hitting one of the many theme parks after lunch. Aiden and Zachary became quite proficient swimmers with all the practice.

Three Sandhill Cranes visited daily. Not knowing anything about family habits among cranes, we guessed it to be a family unit, with mama, papa and the baby, who didn't have the distinct red patch on the head.

These little geckos were everywhere. We loved watching them, especially the ones who climbed the mesh around the pool and puffed out the pouch under their chins.
Universal Orlando's The Hulk
We rode every roller coaster on Disney and Universal property, many of them multiple times and in the front row. It was a blast! By far my favourite was the Chinese Fireball side of Universal's Dragon Challenge. Aiden and Zach are tall enough for all the rides, but Nathan couldn't go on the big coasters, so his favourite was Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom park. We rode that one 6 times in an hour, just before closing. We'd ride, then head right back to the entrance where there was no wait at all and just ride again.

We also spent 6 nights with my parents and 2 with my grandmother, during all of which I took 0 pictures. Mom is an avid photographer though, so the visit was well documented. The boys met, or were reintroduced to, lots of my extended family, though nowhere near all of them. Mom is from a family of 6 and Dad from a family of 13, so that means lots of aunts, uncles and cousins. It was great to see everyone again.

And yes, I did sew some of those many, many hexagons I basted before we left! I had 23 flowers finished before we left and now all 56 are done.
55 of the 56 - I had already started adding blue hexagons to one when I took this picture

I also added the blue ring around 12 of those flowers. That means I am almost 1/4 of the way through adding the blue ring (14 being the 1/4 mark).

We still have another few weeks before school starts again. Hopefully that means I'll have time for lots of stitching - probably with my machine, rather than by hand. I think I'll take a break from the hexagons. It is meant to be a long-term project after all!

I hope you've been enjoying your summer too.

August 05, 2013

In the Lord I take Refuge

A Psalm for the Week...

Psalm 11

In the Lord I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
"Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bow;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes the sons of men;
his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
but the wicked and those who love violence
his soul hates.
On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
he loves justice;
upright men will see his face.