Thursday, September 30, 2010

Summer Lingers in the Afternoons

In the chill of the early morning I pull up the quilt tightly around my shoulders. Mornings are brisk and refreshing. I see my breath in the air as I take out the garbage or go for a morning walk. 

By afternoon the autumn sun has filled the house with warmth and light. I'm restless at my desk, longing to be outdoors. And so, I give in and head for the beach. The tides are high these days; the sky blue, blue, blue; and as I walk, the cool wind blows away the cobwebs of care.

Not fully autumn, but definitely not summer. It's a quandary to know what to cook. In the mornings I think of hot soup or a warming dish, but by mid-afternoon, something cooler and lighter comes to mind.

Today's dinner struck the perfect balance. I played with the hearty flavours of roasted squash, created a red wine and onion reduction, and served it up on mixed greens with cranberries and maple for a hint of sweetness. And alongside, Almond Chicken breast. Satisfying and perfectly suited to the season.

Recipes can be found on my other blog....

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
Almond Crusted Chicken

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Make a Burlap and Lace Table Runner

This table runner was fast and easy to make. I've long admired the rustic look of burlap but it seems to me to be a fall-ish kind of material. Maybe because I associate burlap with potato sacks and harvest. I think the rough texture of the burlap tones down the sweetness of the doilies and makes for an interesting contrast. 

So, let's begin....

1. Gather your supplies. You'll need the following:

- one large coffee sack (I found this one at a feed store for $1.00)
- an assortment of doilies or pieces of lace, round, square, rectangular, the shape doesn't really matter, but there's more interest if you have a variety of sizes
- scissors, ruler, sewing machine, thread, needles

The runner pictured is 17 inches wide by 83 inches long, including a 2 inch fringe at either end.

2.  Prepare the sack.

Cut off the top few inches of the sack to clean up the edge. The sack I used had a drawstring through it about 3 inches down from the top. I cut just below the drawstring. 

Cut off the bottom seam and the one side seam. The sacks are constructed with just one side seam. 

Open up the sack. Pick out the leftover coffee beans (you can see them there on the far side of the table, beside my scissors. They are very hard, green and don't smell at all like coffee because they have not been roasted.

You will have a piece of burlap about 38 x 55 inches. Cut the burlap in half lengthwise, so you have two 55 inch lengths, each 19 inches or so wide. 

4.  Decide on the length you want your table runner. With the two pieces of burlap, you could have a length of 110 inches. I wanted mine 83 inches long, which allows for about an 8-10 inch drop over the ends of my table. 

Piece the lengths together. To avoid having an unsightly seam in the middle of the runner, cut the added length needed in two pieces and add them to either end of the 55 inch length. 

For example, I needed to add 28 inches to one 55 inch length of burlap to achieve 83 inches. So I cut two 14 inch pieces and stitched them, one to either end. Although you end up sewing two seams in place of one, the result will be an unbroken expanse in the center of your table.

I used a French seam technique to ensure a neat finish. To sew a French seam, place the fabrics wrong-side together and stitch a 1/4 inch seam. Press the seam to one side, then fold the fabrics right sides together. Stitch a 1/2 inch seam, completely enclosing the raw edges. 
To flatten the seam, press to one side and stitch through all the layers. This line of stitching will show on the right side of your runner.

5.  Finish the ends of the table runner.

Stitch a line of straight stitching 2 inches from the ends of the runners. This will secure the loose weave of the burlap. Then pull out individual crosswise threads, creating a fringe.

6.  Finish the side seams.

To avoid adding bulk, first finish the raw edges with a close zig-zag stitch. Then fold the burlap over to the wrong side of the runner 1/2 inch. Press. Stitch  1/4 inch away from the folded edge.

7.  Place the runner, right side up on a table, or the floor. Place the doilies, and or lace, balancing the shapes and sizes. Fold some doilies to the wrong side of the runner, creating a look of continuity. 

The oblong doily in the center that says "bread" has a rather full, ruffled edge. I flattened and folded it down. 

When you are satisfied with the placement of the doilies, stitch them in place. Tacking them by hand will result in a more delicate look because the stitches won't be visible. Another alternative would be to use spray adhesive. 

You'll notice a bit of writing in the top corner of the runner. The writing on coffee sacks is usually stamped on, and is barely visible on the wrong side. I thought a bit of ink showing through added to the authenticity of the coffee sack and decided to leave it in place. 

If you don't have access to a coffee sack, burlap fabric can be found at fabric stores as well.

I hope you enjoy making a burlap and lace table runner. I'd love to hear about it if you do.

I'm linking this post to Cheap Chic Home's Fabric Fun Thursday

And to The Shabby Nest's Frugal Friday

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Round Robin Stitchery Sampler

Here it is....

my finished sampler! 

It's been lost twice, found twice, traveled to a number of states, including Texas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oregon. One stitcher moved to Oman shortly after signing up, so she sent an add-on stitchery (which I really must photograph and show you). 

It started with my own border defining the stitching area, plus I did the Queen Anne's lace on the right hand side. Someone else added the bow. 

You can see that I didn't take the time to press it before photographing it. I'm just enjoying looking at all the details - ribbon embroidery, beads, fine stitching, unique shapes and fabrics, lace and button. 

I love all the details and the way it looks so coherent with everyone's unique style. It's truly a sampler of friendship and love between friends - many of whom I've never met. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Isn't this a pretty sampler? I can't take the credit for it - it's part of a stitching round robin. Ten women began mailing a piece of fabric around, each one adding their personal touch to the fabric. I was the final stitcher on the above sampler and contributed the three round flowers with the red French knots around them. The sampler has arrived at its rightful home. I'm waiting for mine to arrive. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Metamorphosis - Baby to Bride

She was born on a sunny day in a small hospital on the edge of the Amazon jungle. Here she is, just a few hours old. Good friends came by with a chocolate pie and we had a little party to welcome our third child into the world. I guess we laughed too loudly because a nurse came and told us to quiet down.

And here she is, all grown up, 24 years later, with her brand-new husband.

Happiest of birthdays to our beautiful daughter. You've enriched our lives, added to our joy, and we thank God for you!

Maggie of Normandy Life suggested that I link this post to Metamorphosis Monday - where posts involve an alteration of some sort - usually a craft project. Instead, this metamorphosis features the change from baby to bride!

Click here to find many more metamorphoses!

Autumn Beauty

"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile."
William Cullen Bryant

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face"
John Donne

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Pleasures

Yesterday involved a trip down to Victoria. Tim had meetings, I spent the day with my eldest daughter who drove me to a physio appointment (I told her she's being broken in for taking her mother to medical appointments decades from now when I'm very old - )

In the evening we celebrated 3 September birthdays - son Travis, son-in-law Gerry, and daughter Ashley (aka the Bride). We sat around the table enjoying raclette. Some people just can't stick with tradition and come up with new experiments for cooking at the table.

 One person commented that during one of our family get togethers he would like to sit in a corner and record the widely varying topics of conversation we engage in. 

Laughter, presents, frozen mousse chocolate cheesecake, conversation. It's all good. The saddest part was having to leave the party at 8:30 and drive 2 hours home in the dark. I hope the party continued with more laughter and fun after we left.

Today is drippy and cool with a damp breeze blowing in from the water. It's a perfect day for cozying up with some hot chocolate mix and spiced pecans. I made some of each the other day and packaged up little treats for the kids to take home from the party. After all, who doesn't love a tasty party favour?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Irene and Ruth, two sisters. Lifelong best friends. I love the way they're standing with their arms around each other. And check out the lining of their sunbonnets - so cute.

Today is Ruth's 80th birthday. Ruth is my mother-in-law, a woman whom I admire very much. 

Here's Ruth again, older now, with her brother and a friend I believe. Doesn't she have a lovely smile?

Ruth graduated from nursing school in Calgary in 1953. She met her husband there, and together they had four children. My husband, Tim, is the second oldest.

Her life hasn't been easy, but the stories would take hours to tell. She's just finished writing a book about her life, and her family's history. I'm looking forward to reading it. 

Ruth's faith in God through good and not so good times is an inspiration to me. She prays for her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She lives a quiet life, but one with great influence in the prayer arena as she prays for God's people around the globe.

Ruth is a faithful reader of my blog. So to you, Mum, I'm saying, Happy, Happy Birthday! We love you so much and wish we could hug you in person. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspired Ideas

There are some bloggers who have the sweetest ideas and are so willing to share them freely. Amy is one such blogger.

She's published a beautiful little online magazine chock full of simple and oh, so charming ideas. There's a link on my sidebar to the magazine itself.

This morning it took all of about 20 minutes to whip up a few of these little notebooks. They would be perfect to make with a child. And who doesn't need another place to write down lists or inspiration? I know I always keep one in my purse.

The hardest part was deciding what paper to use for the cover. I went with an autumn theme, since we're there! 

Decorated sugar cubes, a kitty trick or treat bag, rick rack flowers - these and so many more ideas, beautifully presented by Amy are sure to inspire anyone!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sewing Project: Dress for my daughter's wedding

Blogger readers of the past year might wonder what on earth the name of my blog means because there's been little fabric, thread, or paper posts. And I've missed puttering about with my hands, making something for me to wear or for my home or as a gift. 

Now that the wedding is behind us, I hope to get into a bit of a creative groove. Of course, my "day" job (which pays nothing) as a student still takes priority, but a little time for sewing can be carved out with intention.

So here's the first project - the dress I made for Ashley and Owen's wedding. It's an adaptation of Vogue 1108. I'd read that the off-the-shoulder look was constricting to wear so I recut the bodice (three times) to make an "on-the-shoulder" outfit.

I've been a member of Pattern Review for a long time, but haven't really used that resource as I should. Today I posted my first pattern review over there. It's a step taken with much trepidation as I don't consider myself an expert seamstress and assume everyone else can sew better than I can. Here's a link to the review for any sewing fans out there.

I enjoyed making this dress - it has some interesting construction details, a boned inner foundation, and those pleats. I think it turned it out well and I was happy to wear the dress, made of silk duppioni for the big celebration. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Sunday Hike on Mount Washington

The weather report said cloudy with showers throughout the day. We decided to pack our rain gear and go anyway. There is an urgency about these lingering autumn days that beguiles us into being outdoors as much as possible.

Mount Washington is Vancouver Island's skiing destination. But below the mountain lie the  meadows, streams, muskeg, and lakes of Strathcona Provincial Park. In May we visited the park - it was still completed covered in snow.

Wooden bridges cross creeks and boardwalks of sweet smelling cedar traverse soggy alpine meadows. A few scattered wildflowers are evidence of summer's lingering presence.

A bit of climbing brought us to Lake Helen McIntyre. Reddening blueberry bushes signal the swift change to autumn that occurs this month.

Misty fog drifted across the trees. Clouds came and went as we perched on a lakeside rock to eat roast beef sandwiches, apples and dark chocolate. Mugs of hot tea from Tim's thermos were the perfect accompaniment.

This little island looked intriguing. The clouds looked threatening, but soon blew over.

The stepping stones were perfectly placed. A walk around the island took at least 2 full minutes.

There were sweet wild blueberries to nibble on. Last bursts of summer in our mouths.

Bright vistas to enchant our eyes,

and darkly mysterious views to thrill our souls.

A few light drizzles were all that materialized from the wet forecast. 

Nearing the end of our 10 kilometer hike, we sat on a bench to soak in the beauty and enjoy another cup of tea. A bright blue jay danced in front of us on the boardwalk. Free entertainment of the very best sort.

Home again, in time for a shower and then church. We were so glad that we ignored the weather forecast. Our souls once again found solace and renewal in creation. Soon the autumn rains will dampen the meadows and then snows will blanket the trails. For now, we enjoy each sunny moment, holding them in our summer memories.

"You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand."
Psalm 16:11 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just Down the Road

I took a different direction on my walk today. Down Lowry Road past where the asphalt ends, then across the railway tracks used just twice a day, a little further on the gravel road and there it was...Little Qualicum Cheeseworks

The Cheeseworks and Winery are both part of Morningstar Farm

This log cabin was built in the 1880s by Jim Lowry, an early pioneer and blacksmith. The cabin is closed to the public, but the owners envision a museum of cheesemaking there some day.

Across the field the cows are slowly coming home for the night. In the distance fog settles on the land. 

There are ducks, rabbits, pigs and sheep. Picnic areas are available for al fresco meals. Visitors can wander through the barns, observe the milking and the cheesemaking.

I took my walk late in the afternoon so most of the activity had ended for the day. But you can be sure I'll return to taste a little cheese and wine, watch the process of turning milk into cheese, and I will, in all likelihood, tuck a piece or two of cheese from the shop into my bag to enjoy at home.

Thank you to those who commented on yesterday's post. I'm encouraged. You are wonderful friends, even though I haven't met many of you in "real life." 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Last night I went to a women's event. It's a weekly event and I'm hoping to make some new friends. Until now I've been busy with the wedding, and summer usually means a hiatus in many programs. This was the first meeting of a new season. 

I'm not the most outgoing person in the world - I consider myself to be shy. But I've learned to converse with strangers and although I come across as quiet, once you get to know me I can be quite boisterous. I have a sense of humour. I love nothing better than conversations that range from the serious to laughing so hard I cry.

I came home with a heavy heart last night. I know that making friends takes a long time. And I know that people who have friends are often not looking for more. But there was something missing from yesterday's meeting and I've been mulling it over today.

That missing ingredient was graciousness. From the moment I walked in the door there was little to welcome me. I felt like an outsider. No smiles of greeting, just a questioning look and when I said my name at the registration desk, I got, "Oh, we wondered who this person was - no one recognized your name." 

I sat beside a woman at a table and began to converse. I asked her questions, she answered them, but didn't really reciprocate. I found out a lot about her, she found out little about me. When her friend arrived and sat on the other side of me, I was introduced, then ignored while they talked over me about things I knew nothing about.

I tried to enter in when I could. I lingered after the meeting, but no one spoke to me. I left, no one said "goodbye," or "we'll see you next week." 

Graciousness: marked by kindness and warm courtesy, by charm and good taste. 

The most gracious people I've ever met have been from the Southern U.S.A. Perfect strangers engaged me in warm conversation, asking questions not to pry, but to get to know me. They made me feel welcome, not an outsider.

 I'll go again next week and I'm sure that over time, I'll get to know someone. But I don't feel like it. I feel like a pariah, as if there's something defective about me that repulses people. I know that's not true and I'm trying hard not to listen to that voice. But it's hard. Tears are very close. I miss my friends and my familiar groups. And I hope that I, when newcomers appeared, made them feel welcome, not alone. If I didn't, I know how they felt and I promise to do better.

Extend grace to a stranger today. You might just make their day. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Little Town of Ladysmith

Scattered along the eastern coastline of Vancouver Island are a number of small towns - Duncan, Chemainus, Ladysmith, Lanztville, Parksville, Qualicum Beach. In our frequent travels down to Victoria, I've noticed that each little town has its own character.

On Friday, Tim had meetings in Ladysmith. Since we were planning to go to Victoria for the weekend, it didn't make sense for him to drive halfway there, then back again to pick me up. So I packed up my bag of books and studied in the library while he was in meetings.

Studying went well in the morning, but in the afternoon I played hooky and explored the town. Ladysmith was founded in the very early years of the 20th century although the First Nations peoples had long lived there, harvesting the rich oyster beds and forest environment. Coal mining was the impetus that fueled the town's formation in 1904 by coal baron James Dunsmuir.

The town perches on the hillside overlooking the ocean and has some extremely steep streets. They'd make perfect hills for sliding down in the wintertime. One street in town is lined with picturesque old storefronts. Old mining equipment is placed throughout the town, highlighting its heritage. After the demise of coal mining post World War I, forestry became the economic backbone of the town.

I ate my lunch at Transfer Beach Park overlooking the water. Clouds scudded across the sky, threatening rain. I ate in the car, but then wandered around the park afterwards.

Dahlias and Black-eyed Susans added colour to the grey day. 

Through tree branches already thinning Glimpses of water beckon through tree branches already thinning. Although the calender says we have a few weeks of summer left, autumn has made an early appearance. 

Dinner with the newlyweds on Friday night was a lot of fun. They are so happy. And now they are enjoying the Mexican sun. 

Dinners with family, dinners with friends, helping our son and daughter-in-law with kitchen renos, morning church in our own beloved congregation, coffee with friends, more meetings for Tim, a visit to my physiotherapist, staying with daughter #1 and her husband - we packed a lot of fun and business into three days. 

It's good to be home.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I spoke too soon....

How could I forget the groom? And the family wedding photos? And the groomsmen?
There will be more to come. For some I'll have to wait for the professional photos.

Above is the groom encouraging his nephew, the ringbearer, to walk down that long aisle. He did a great job. 
The sweet flower girls were too shy.

And the four bridesmaids, standing in a pool of light. So beautiful.

Each of the groomsmen had a pocket square that matched the sashes on the bridal attendants' dresses. Don't they look handsome in their tail coats?

Although this is a bit blurred, it's a wonderful shot - the groom kicking up his heels as he and the bride walk back down the aisle after the ceremony.

Days Not at Home

  Last Wednesday morning we boarded a plane for The Netherlands, landing midday on Thursday, Amsterdam time. After figuring out our e-sims a...