13 Small Pleasures: a baker’s dozen!

1. The first sips of hot tea over the rim of a bone china mug.

2. Standing on the deck on a spring or autumn morning as the crisp, cool air fills your lungs and the sun warms your face.

3. When the early morning sky looks like a diamond and you know it’s going to be hot later on.

4. Pushing your feet into the cool corners of the sheets when you are warm in bed.

5. Wearing a silk slip.

6. The wash of relief and satisfaction when you sit down and put your tired feet up after an especially long walk.

7. Feeling the warmth of the winter sun soak through your shoulders.

8. The first whiff of green in the springtime.

9. The scent of autumn in the sunshine.

10. The way rain smells.

11. Sinking into a hot bath.

12. Cracking the skim of ice in a mud puddle with the heel of your boot.

13. Holding hands.

What are your small pleasures?

Disappearing 9-patch (Australia Quilt part 2)

Hello again!

I thought I would explain what a disappearing 9-patch is for those of you non-quilters out there who check into my blog once in awhile. 🙂

You’re welcome! 🙂

A nine patch block is made up of 9 squares (patches) that are sewn together in three rows of three. Usually (but not always) alternating light and dark patches. Here is one of the nine-patches that is going into the Australia Quilt,:

002Now let’s make it disappear!

First I am going to cut it exactly in half, using the center block as my guide. That’s right – take a deep breath and slice that baby in half!

003Now, without disturbing it, rotate your mat and cut again the other direction, exactly in half, again measuring from the left side of the center square:

005Now lets make it disappear!

Flip the top left and bottom right blocks around so they are facing the other way:

23-03-2014 4-43-09 PMLike so:

006And Ta Da! Your nine-patch has disappeared!

Ordinarily you would sew them together at this point:

007However! Here’s a twist – the pattern I’m following calls for some extra white space added in. So I’ve sewn strips down the center to open it up a bit. Now the disappearing nine-patches look like this:

013 Here’s a recap: From standard nine-patches:

028To disappearing nine-patches (with a spacer strip):

014And here’s another disappearing 9-patch quilt top done the regular way (without the spacing strips):

011Pretty cool, eh?

Stay tuned for the next installment of Australia Quilt as I become a maverick and leave the pattern directions behind and head off in my own direction!

The Australia Quilt (part 1)

In April, 2010, Mr. C and I traveled to Australia.

001To buy some fabric.

002Well no, actually. We went so that Mr. C. could fulfill a life-long dream of doing his astronomy thing under the Southern Night Sky.

005But of course, I bought some fabric.

007I bought 12 fat quarters of these beautiful prints, designed by Aboriginal women who live in Alice Springs.015No, we didn’t go to Alice Springs. But we did go to The Plague and I in Canowindra, New South Wales, which is pronounced “Can-an-dra,” by the way (not Can-o-win-dra like it’s written).

I’m finally making our Australia Quilt, a variation on the disappearing 9-patch, using this pattern:

Image of impromptu quilt pattern #108I’ve done lots of this:

011Followed by lots of this (yes, that’s a seam ripper, lol!):

013Next step is cutting those beautiful 9-patches up so that they disappear. eek!

028All the while, Mr C (for carpenter) has been busily building a gate.

026What are you doing today?

Windmill Baby Quilt for Zachary

I made this little crib quilt for my first ever great-nephew, baby Zachary.

015My brother is a grandfather!

017I’m a little jealous.

018I followed the Pinwheel Baby Quilt pattern from the Moda Bakeshop site.

009I’ve never made prairie points before. I think they add a really sweet touch to the quilt, and they were really easy to make. I’ll do them again. I think the baby might like to play with them they way babies do with tags.

011I used my brand new sewing machine to do straight line quilting around the pinwheels, and wavy lines around the border in yellow. Very simple, nothing fancy.

019The fabric is a 4″ charm pack of 1930s reproduction prints. They were a gift from Dar at Dar’s Patchwork Garden. I’ve been saving them for something special. I think the 1930s prints are perfect for a baby quilt.

020The backing is a from my scrap stash. I think it is a Japanese print, but I’m not sure.

012At 31.5 x 38 inches big, it’s the perfect size for Samson.

013Infused with puppy love and great-auntie love.

Who hoo!

A local resident…


On knowledge, wisdom and a good bullshit detector {Just Write 8}

Good Sunday morning!

I am sitting here by my kitchen window, coffee at my elbow and browsing my morning blog posts.  The washing machine and the dryer are both on and I can barely hear the radio over the noise. Not that I’m paying attention, but I enjoy Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition, and CBC is always muttering away in the background of my life, whether I’m paying attention or not. Then, suddenly, some words made their way past the mechanical white noise of the dryer, and I heard this: wisdom is the perspective that knowledge gives us in how we live our lives.

Stopped me in my tracks. Caused me to tilt my ear toward the under-the-counter-mounted radio, like my little dog does when he hears something interesting. Actually caused me to set my (now empty) coffee cup down and pause.

What is wisdom? Wisdom is that which comes from the knowledge we have accumulated throughout our lives, and the perspective which we apply to it.

What is knowledge? Knowledge is understanding as opposed to opinion

  1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
    “a thirst for knowledge”
    • That is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information.
      “the transmission of knowledge”
    • Philosophy
      true, justified belief; certain understanding, as opposed to opinion.
    2. awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

It is knowledge and wisdom working together that make a good bullshit detector. We all need a good bullshit detector. It’s what causes us to ask questions. It’s what allows us to think critically. To look beyond face value to what lies behind. To look below the surface. To look beyond an acceptable answer and discover the real answer. A good bullshit detector protects us from charlatans. It prevents us from accepting defeat too soon.

In some ways, you could say that wisdom is simply having a good bullshit detector.

Think about it.

But then, you already knew that, didn’t you. I suppose I did, too. I’ve just never thought about it quite this way.

What I’m Reading: Juliet Marillier

I put a call out to my Facebook peeps for book recommendations, and the author Juliet Marillier was recommended. The library only had one book on the shelf, Heart’s Blood. Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop.

Juliet Marillier writes Historical Fantasy. This is a new genre for me. I have never been a big fan of “traditional” fantasy…you know, castles and dragons and magical swords (outside of Tolkien, that is). But historical fantasy? Wow…I’m hooked!

Marillier’s books take place in ancient 8th and 9th century Ireland, when Christianity was fairly new to the island. Many people still followed the old ways and worshiped the ancient gods & goddesses.

Marillier herself is a member of the druid order OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids), so she writes with authority on druidic spirituality and belief.

…her spiritual values are often reflected in her storytelling – the human characters’ relationship with the natural world plays a significant part. Juliet’s novels combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. However, her stories focus strongly on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters.

After I finished Heart’s Blood , I found the first book of the Sevenwaters Series, Daughter of the Forest.  Like Marillier, I also am fascinated with folktales, and I was delighted to discover that Daughter of the Forest is a loose re-telling of the German folk story the Six Swans.

Now here is an odd thing: The Okanagan Regional Library System only owns the first, fourth and fifth books in the series, which I find very odd! However, I am an intrepid library patron, and pursued books two and three through the inter-library loan program. Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy both arrived a couple of days ago and are due back in less than three weeks. Both of them. No renewals allowed on inter-library loans. Guess I better get reading!

I was completely enthralled and eagerly let myself be led back through the mists of time to a place where Gaelic mythology comes alive. If you are looking for something to read while waiting for the snow to melt and the crocuses to bloom, I highly recommend Juliet Marillier.

What are you reading this weekend?



Our Mobile Home BathroomRenovation

The renovations are slowly getting done. Kelly did the bathroom this week.




I love my new bathroom!

Quilt Blogging Fun

I just wanted to share this fun idea from
Every Tuesday, Val is hosting a Linky Party where you can link up an older quilting post. What a great idea!
But wait! It gets better…not just any old post will do….each Tuesday she’ll post two quilting/sewing themes.
Search through your quilting archives for old posts to link under the theme.
Don’t forget to visit a few other quilty friends to let them know how they have inspired you!
 It’s a quick and easy way to rejuvenate your old posts and share them with new followers.
What did I post? Look HERE   and then scroll down to Album Quilts and read about the quilt made for Haley in 2010!
Happy Tuesday!

Vintage Dresden Plate Quilt

This Dresden Plate quilt was given to us by Kelly’s grandmother, Louise Collins when we were newly married, many years ago.

001Louise was born in 1895. If she were still living, she would be 119 years old!

027It was given to Louise by her good friend Cathy Dunbar of Vancouver, BC.

002I am relying on memory, but I think Louise told me that the quilt was actually made by Cathy Dunbar’s sister, whose name I do not know.

033The quilt appears to be machine pieced. The applique is done by hand.

008It is hand quilted.

019She used green thread 🙂

035I don’t know how old the quilt is, but I am guessing it was made in the 1940s. At least, the fabrics appear to be from the 1930s and 1940s.


I am most definitely not a fabric historian, so if anyone of you can date these fabrics, please let  me know your opinion on its age.

026It’s in rough shape. The backing has mostly rotted away.

025Definitely005 well-used and well-loved.

We used if for several years on our bed at the cabin.

smaller corner shotI washed the quilt on delicate cycle and put it in the sun to dry.  It was very grubby, but came out nice and bright.



This old quilt just makes me smile. I hope Cathy Dunbar’s sister is smiling down on us as we continue to use and enjoy it.

Learning to be Retired

I am sitting at my kitchen table with my coffee and my laptop, looking out past the patio and over a couple of rooftops to the lake below thinking about why I have been unable to organize my thoughts to write a retirement post. Then this morning I read this blog post by Tamara Reddy and had an Oprah-sized ah ha moment.

Actually, I have had this same ah ha moment over and over and over. 🙂

Three months into my retirement and I am feeling a bit lost. Everybody I talk to and everything I read says it takes 1 – 3 years to feel settled after such a major life change. So of course, at only three months in, I have barely stuck my big toe in.  Of course I feel lost. It is normal.

Phew! It’s nice to know I’m normal! It’s normal to feel a bit displaced. To be tossing around and unable to settle one’s thoughts.

I keep telling myself that.

I have been very busy trying to replicate my life in Whitehorse.  I still feel that I must fill my every moment with productive work, and so I have tried to pack everything that I had planned for my retirement into these last three months.

Read dozens of books! Join community concert band! Join quilting guild! Join Fiber Arts guild! Bake bread! Try new recipes! Take quilting classes! Make friends! Lose the last of the weight! Become instantly fit!

Do do do! Produce produce produce! Time is my enemy and I am still fighting that.

I have not yet learned how to relax into a slower pace.

But I am working on it! Mornings last longer and longer as I sit with my coffee and read the blogs I follow. Walks are taken everyday, usually along the lake shore.

My advice to myself?

Dear Nita,
Just as your dance students learn how to be in their bodies in a new way , you are learning how to be in a new place in your life. Breathe! Relax into the movement. Don’t force it. Allow the new you to emerge as you dance your way into a new way of living. An inspired life, like an inspired dance performance, comes from a place of relaxation, understanding and joy.