Monday, March 31, 2014


My friend Janette, who blogs over at Old Wooden Palette, wrote a great post yesterday about her bargains at a craft store.  She is an incredibly talented painter, has sold several of her works, so you need to check out some of her work.  Reading her post about her Travel Art cases bargains made me want to write a short post about my bust-out-smiling bargains today!

I spent a pleasant hour and a half at Bealls Outlet, taking advantage of the Monday Fabulous Fifty (or whatever it's called) Club for my 15% off everything.  The prices are always fabulous at Bealls Outlet (pronounced Bells as in ding ding) but getting stuff on their Clearance racks is even better, and getting all this stuff for 15% more off?  Divine.

I was mainly looking for pickleball apparel, lol, for both me and for Joe, but I always check out their décor section too.  I scored some great deals in both areas.  Here are my best ones:

So, left to right is
1.  a rayon scarf, Bealls price of $9.99, in clearance at 70% off and then 15% off, ended up 2.57!
2.  Champions zippy for pickleball layering (and it's dryfit too) $12.99 70% off + 15% = $3.31!
3.  my all-time best deal I think ever!  Champions yoga top (I already have a couple of these and they are great) Bealls price $12.99 95% off (yep you read that right) + 15% = 0.55c!!  55 cents!  Too funny.  God I love American sales.

And no, Linda, I'm not planning on layering the yoga top, zippy jacket with the scarf to play pickleball!!  The scarf was me getting sidetracked.  Like that's never happened, I know.

Here is the bill for proof!  I also thought it cool to show the Bealls pricetag...Did you notice the tag in the first picture with the original price of $26.99?!

Got Joe some good deals on shirts too, and a cute outfit (Calvin Klein jeans and long-sleeved skateboarder style t-shirt) for my grandson, all at great prices.

And, I found this for our Mettawas Lane home.
It will go on the table in our front foyer, a perfect lake touch!  It had no price on it, and it was the only one of its kind, so they marked it at $4.99!  Of course I got my 15% off that too!

Between this Bealls shop, and my fabric purchases the other day, I think I've blown my first month's yoga paycheques before I've even gone back to teaching!! Good grief, there are too many exclamation points in these last few sentences.  Period.

Thanks, Janette, for the inspiration for this post.  ;-)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ellie Bag

This is an adorable free tutorial from Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt.  I have no idea how I came across the tutorial. . . clearly, or should I say, muddily, it's from the quilting vortex that I occasionally often find myself in!  I finally finished it this afternoon.  The zipper gave me serious issues.  But I persevered (reverse-sewed a few times) and got 'er done.  And I love it.

I see it as a make-up travel bag.  I had leftover fabric from Seaside Rose, so put it to good use.  On this side I quilted around the one clamshell in the middle of the front.

On this side I quilted a brittle starfish design of Leah Day's.  I used So Fine thread, but I wish I'd used a rayon so it would show up a little more.  Still, I kind of like the subtlety.  I used Sulky Blendables for all the other quilting.

Side view.  I really liked the handle application.  I think I'd make them slightly longer when I make another.  I also do really like the zipper that extends down each side, as it ensures you can easily get to the bottom to retrieve that pesky little eye pencil sharpener you know you popped in there.

Even though it's only 7.5" square, it's 4.5" from side to side, so it actually holds a ton of stuff!  I have a Bath & Bodyworks bodywash in there, a 95g marzipan chocolate bar, and a bunch of my make-up and there is still tons of room. However, it is not for moi, but will be going to a very special friend of mine.

I did get my two charm square quilts washed and dried so they're nice and crinkly.  I hauled them around the 'hood to snap a couple of outdoor mood shots, lol.

Hidden in Plaid Sight
On the cement bench under a spectacular humongous live oak that has shed its leaves and most of its pollen, and is now busting out in new leaves.  I guess they do still have a cycle down here in the tropical south.
Yes, I am reading The Tiger's Wife and am just enthralled by it.  I think I already mentioned that I am so amazed, awed too, that a 25 year-old wrote this incredibly rich in descriptive and narrative detail of a novel.

Winter Night

Not much winter in this picture!  The lily pads are blooming too, so pretty!

Update this evening - duh!
Just remembered this shell from Fort Myers Beach that I had saved with this bag in mind!  My mind works, sometimes just slowly. . . It had a hole in it from Mother Nature herself.  Perfect for a zipper-pull!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Today we took the doggies to Bayside Pet Resort, the BEST pet daycare and kennel facility ever.  Rocco goes in daycare, and he broke my flipflop, no joke, scrabbling to get away from me and into the waiting arms of his pet pal to take him to see his buds.  Naala, as usual, was a little, "Oh, do I HAVE to go?  Really? Okay then."  And off she went.

We went down to Fort Myers, where we met up with 3 other couples who also winter in Florida, and all are from Kingsville.  Two of the couple live on our street!  We are all within a few hours of each other, so we met up, played some pickleball, and then drove to Fort Myers Beach (an island in the Gulf) where we ate at a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that serves their buffet food fresh.  They only make a little at a time and then when it's gone, they make a little more.  The best green beans I have ever tasted.  Yum.  We walked on the beach for a bit afterwards too.  On the way, we crossed the Peace River, a very large, wide inlet of Charlotte Harbor, in the Gulf.  I was musing that it was a very different looking Peace River than the one I'm used to in northern Alberta.  Each has its respective beauty, however.

My niece is leaving in the wee hours of tomorrow morning for Costa Rica (correct Spanish pronunciation btw is Coast-uh, she told me, and she should know!) and so I google-mapped it, and was surprised at how close to the equator it is!  For whatever reason, (menopausal idiocy) I keep putting it in the Caribbean, mixing it up with the Dominican Republic, even though a good friend of mine recently bought a house there, and I checked out the west coast of Costa Rica at that time!  I checked the weather forecast and it will be gorgeous for my niece, low 90s all week.  Costa Rica is very close, relatively speaking, to Panama, which made me think of my dad, and how much he always wanted to go through the Canal. . .

I saw, on my zooming out in googlemaps, Cayman Islands, a place that has always fascinated me since I collected stamps many years ago.  Neighbours, one of whom comes to my yoga classes when they are here, and whose poodle, Ipo, Rocco adores, call the Cayman Islands their main home.  Those islands are just south of Cuba, to the east of Costa Rica.  I SHALL go there one of these days in the imminent future.

The current book I am reading, The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht, just mentioned the Monastery of Ostrog, which is in Montenegro.  So off I went to googlemaps and Wikipedia again!  I KNOW I've seen this monastery in another book, I think perhaps The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (another FABULOUS book, one I'd like to reread).  I had a feeling that the Obreht book was set in the Yugoslavia area, but no country has been mentioned.  So I gazed at Bosnia, and Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, the Adriatic Sea, Greece, Italy, trying to orient them, and wondering at the terrain, the climate (only 47F, high was 61 in Podgorica, Montenegro, today).  By the way, Téa AMAZES me with her writing, her description, her use of language, her characterization - in short, she's an incredibly talented YOUNG (25 when she wrote this!!) author.

I marvelled at the vastness of my beloved Gulf of Mexico today as we crossed the Peace River, as wide as the Manatee River by us, and similar in formation.  We'd driven 1.5 hours at 75 mph and scratched the smallest dint in its eastern border, and yet this Gulf is so much smaller in comparison to, say, the Atlantic Ocean.

And then I thought about how MUCH of our planet is water!!  I was beginning to grasp the enormity of that statement.  It's kind of like trying to think about how our universe never ends. . .  I was awed by the realization of the sheer magnitude of the Gulf, yet even more dumbfounded in the realization that the Indian Ocean, where the Malaysian Airlines jet is thought to have gone down, is even more vast than the Gulf, and no wonder it is proving to be a difficult search.  2400 MILES off the coast of Australia.

So in the space of several hours, my musings went from Fort Myers, the Gulf of Mexico, to Kingsville, Ontario, to San Jose, Costa Rica,  to the Cayman Islands, to Montenegro, and then out to the Indian Ocean.

And at times like this I feel pretty insignificant.  But not in a demeaning way.  I still feel marvelously connected to this wonderful, rich, Earth, and humanity.  Just tiny.  And really, is the fact that that cute bag gave me such issues that I did not finish it for today REALLY that catastrophic?  Um no.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Winter Night

This is "Winter Night", one of three 5" charm square quilts I brought to construct.  I did not ever dream I would have 2 finished and bound, and the third top nearly done this winter!

I wrote a post about its construction here.

I did not pay as much attention to detail in the basting process as I usually do; I thought (mistakenly) that it was only 36.5" and the flannel backing was uber-clingy....  So I simply spread the layers flat, smoothing them all out, pinning around the inner border.  Checked the back, and all looked good.  Started to stitch in the ditch, checked the back. . . uh oh.  Not looking so smooth.  Unpicked quilting stitches, got a little basting spray in there, taped it down this time, smoothed. . . better.  But not perfect, as my quilts usually are (as far as the basting process).

Moral of the story:  always tape down the backing.  Always spray or pin baste carefully.  Never skimp to save time.  Kind of a life lesson here, no?

Still, it turned out quite nicely, all things considered.

Here is the back:

I didn't go crazy (I nearly did, with fanciful meandering feathers planned) because I wanted the piecing to show (I love the interplay of all the darks with a few lights - your eye just zings around the quilt), I was worried some tucks might happen in the backing, and I just wanted it done!  I've been getting carried away, in a good way, with quilting the heck out of all my quilts lately, but once in a while it's good to simplify.

I love the back.  It's "Bear Hugs", a flannel by Henry Glass I picked up on sale from Fat Quarter Shop.  And the good news?  No tucks whatsoever in the backing.  The front has a few puckery spots, however, drat.

Here is my label, once again integrated into the backing fabric, and a part of that strip of leftover quarter-square triangle blocks and flying geese.

The quilt is named "Winter Night" in Another Bite of Schnibbles, and the charm square pack is Winter Rose fabric, so I didn't get creative with the name at all, as it was already perfect.
Trying to get some light on the quilting
I stitched in the ditch along each of the vertical and horizontal rows and cross-hatched through all the quarter-square triangle blocks.  In the flying geese, I swooped from point to point to give a little softness to all the straight lines and angles.

In the borders I decided to incorporate the leaf motif in the purple fabric bought at Alma Sue's to further soften the lines.

The light was fading fast, so I tried to get an angle to show the border.  I did a flowing leafy vine with a few curlicue vine-ish doo-dads here and there.

 Because it's not too tightly quilted, the quilt is nice and soft and cuddly.  I haven't washed this one or "Hidden in Plaid Sight" yet, but I will shortly and post pics of them all crinkled up.

What am I going to do with this baby?  I'd thought of perhaps starting up an Etsy store, and these two might just go up for sale there.  Not sure.  I get so attached to them!  This one also has a "sit-upon" purpose in my mind:  I can take it with me when I teach Yin yoga.  I like to sit on something fairly flat but with a little lift as it helps my knees and my hips open further.

Off to finish a bag I'm making for a special person. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wacky Cake #2

I decided to try Mary's (Sweet Little Bluebird) Lemon Crazy Cake recipe for dessert yesterday.  I am happy to say it turned out even better (SOOO moist) than the Coffee & Kahlua one!

Because good food is meant to be shared, I had to call our friend, John, with his dog, Brandy, to come over.  I was a little nervous that it would be okay, as I'd had to make a fairly major change to the recipe.  However, we had bought some organic vanilla ice cream at Publix, (just excellent! no preservatives and so creamy) so we had that as both a complement to the cake as well as a back-up if the cake wasn't edible.  I needn't have worried.

I iced it with vanilla icing, whipping about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese into the icing.  To die for.

You can find Mary's recipe here.  I had to make a fairly major change:  I had no lemons, so I used orange zest to increase flavour, and I had no lemon extract, so I used 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water instead of the 1 cup of water.  It turned out just super.  Lemony, with a hint of orange.

As always, we had a wonderful visit, both humans and canines!

I've written before about the importance I place on my friends, but it's never too many times to repeat that sentiment.  We had a wonderful day away this past Friday, at our dear friends, next-door neighbours, from Kingsville, who also winter in Florida.  The time spent, whether in deep conversation, sharing of a beautiful garden 

and music played by the carilloneur at Bok Tower,

or again, sharing good food (Jude made a fantastic fruit salad which I will make and share the recipe on here with her permission) and good belly laughter, ..... where was I going?!  LOL   Oh yes, no matter the activity, the time spent is always so much more pleasurable when shared with good friends.

We need to remember to tell our friends how much they mean to us, and how much we value the time spent with them.  Funnily enough, Jude has done that very thing with me in the past.  On Friday, she also told me how much her husband enjoys and values Joe as a friend.  It takes courage to do this, as you open yourself to another person, yet it truly is rewarding for both! 

We need and we thrive on this belly-nourishing and heart-nourishing - - veritable soul-nourishing we get from good friends. :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hidden in Plaid Sight

He's all done!

Here's how it started:
A gorgeous pack of charm squares plus 2 extra sets of 8, that I bought about 5 years ago at Sew Worth It in Sarasota.  They came in a tin, so cute, along with a pattern for a cute little 12 3/4" square quilt.  This line is "Follow Your Heart" by Kathy Schmitz.

The problem was that I didn't want to have all these pretty fabrics reduced to such a small quilt!  So there they sat, flipped through and admired, pattern looked at, and lid snapped shut again.  In this winter of finish up some of these old projects, I had to face all 3 sets of charm square packs and do something with them.  This one was the second one.  See here for the first.

I am so proud that I designed this lap quilt.  No pattern, just gut instinct and creativity.  It was fun!

What if...
I kept the same colours together, and graduated them from dark to light on the diagonal?  Hmmm...

I liked it, but it wasn't very big.  I had leftover light fabric from "Winter Night", so wondered what would happen if I used rectangles as spacers.  I didn't have enough for light sashing, so decided to go with my stash of Kona black cotton.  Hmmm, again. It just might work.

Laid out a few rows to get the effect
It DID work!

Framed in black.
I had bought the Craftsy class, Dot to Dot Quilting, with Angela Walters, back at the end of November.  Prior to beginning to quilt this quilt, I decided to watch some of the lessons to see if I could use any of the techniques here.  Well, it turned out that this was the perfect quilt on which to try the designs, and techniques to create my own quilting designs!

In the two lower right corner black squares diagonal from each other you see a wedge design, which is basically a quarter of her starburst design, expanded.  Also, in the black with red hearts square and going up diagonally in the other two black blocks is my own dot to dot design, created thanks to the principles learned in class.

In the top row, middle red square, is a nod to Angela's Free Motion Feathers class I took and used extensively on Seaside Rose.  Also I wanted to see what would happen if I combined the wedge designs with their points going inwards.  That example is the red square on the bottom right.  It ended up making a central diamond pattern!

Her diamond design is in the top left tan square, and the others have various combinations of her designs.  The bottom right square is my own design again.

I tried to get some back light on the quilt to show off the quilting.

Here is the border design, showing the corner.  I used the wedge triangle shape combined with half diamond designs.

I used Sulky rayons on the top and The Bottom Line and Gutermann cotton in the bobbin.  I decided to go with the burgundy through the cream and black lattice to emphasize the plaid look. I was a little concerned at first, especially about using it on the cream, but I think it looks good.

A glimpse of the backing.

The label, again as an integral part of the backing.

Against the flowering shrubbery.

Ahh!  Feels good, in more ways than one!
Quilt details:
Name:  Hidden in Plaid Sight
Size:  46 X 51.25"
Pattern:  by moi, Sandra Jane Walker
Fabric:  Moda and Kona cotton, 100% cotton
Backing: Moda "Renewal" by Brannock & Patek (purchased this at Quilts n' More! in Port Charlotte, FL)
Machine-pieced and machine-quilted on my Bernina Artista 180 using Sulky rayons with The Bottom Line and Gutermann cotton in the bobbin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Attaching a Continuous Binding Tutorial

I have got this stage of making a quilt down to a pretty exact science, gleaning bits and bats of several different instructors' methods over the years to make it my own.  First of all, I have to say, that Christa Watson, whose blog I've followed for the past 6 months recently posted the BEST tutorial I have seen on this, right here.  She does everything exactly as I do, except for the final seam,  However, the difference there is negligible, as in cut a 45 angle first or last.

I have wanted to write this for a long time, because I've seen so many that "mess up" the final seam so the binding is, in effect, NOT continuous.  Also the mitred corners get missed as far as stitching them, too.  Happily, Christa, a quilter of some renown, who has been featured on the cover of and is a regular contributor to "Quilty", is the creator of Colorful Chevrons quilt, does this BEST method.  Yes, I'm on a soapbox.  Okay, cough, I'll get off now.
TONS of pics alert!

Step 1
Tip:  Choose a binding that not only goes with the front of your quilt, but also with the back.  I once had a constructive criticism from a quilt show (and I've only entered that same one a couple of times, so I don't have a lot of experience here) that my binding didn't go with the back of my quilt.  And it didn't.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


but kind of cool!  Inside each fat quarter from JoAnn is a piece of cardboard.  When I took off the label and took out the cardboard from within each one the other day, I found this drawing on one!  Obviously the person wrapping the fat quarters put a little whimsy into her job that day!  It made me smile.

I thought I'd do a brief book review, for all the hundreds who read my blog, ha ha.  This is a very good purchase I made on Amazon, one of only two quilt books I've purchased this winter, both of them on modern quilting.  The book is Vintage Quilt Revival by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich, and Faith Jones, avid bloggers and modern quilters.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Biscuit Basket

Happy National Quilting Day, one day late!  I spent my day making this basket!  Finish Number . . . I don't know, I should count them up!  Or not, as I'd probably be elated for a nanosecond, and depressed the next when I realize we are here for one more month and I had 26 total projects, of which I think I might have completed 10.  Never mind: focus on the positive!

I bought this pattern and the packet of Rigid Weave 1 3/4" roll last year at my LQS, Cotton Patch Quilt Shop last year.  Planned to make it in the summer, but it didn't happen.

I thought I might make it out of some of the batiks I bought for another of Karla Alexander's Stack a New Deck quilt, but I saw this roll in JoAnn's a month or two ago, and just LOVED the colours.  Thought it might grow up to be in a Bento Box quilt, but then decided nope, it would be perfect for this project.

This is the first time I've bought and worked with jelly rolls.  I'm sure those at a quilt shop are die-cut, so very precise; this one was not!  Consequently some of the strips were as much as 3/16" too wide.  I tried to compensate during stitching the tubes, but still had a few tubes where the fabric is not taut against the stabilizer.

Pretty colours, n'est-ce pas?
The good news is that I got it 50% off , so $6.50 for 20 strips, pretty good I'd say.

Auditioning the layout prior to sewing

One complaint regarding the pattern is that she insists on using 44" wide fabric, something which I believe is pretty hard to find.  The majority tend to be 42-43" wide.  These strips were not 44", so I had to use two to make a 22" tube of fabric

Below, you see the bottom all woven.  The 3 green ones form the sides and the 5 blue and green ones form the front and back longer sides of the basket.  It's totally finished off inside, no seams or raw edges.

Starting to weave
It was tricky to get the tubes butted tight against each other, and I stabbed myself several times in the process!

The end result was worth it, however.

The colours are jewel-like no?  And speaking of jewels (gosh, I'm good sometimes, ha!) what is that pendant you see hanging from the top centre of the basket?

Add caption
A closer look.  Yep!  It's one of the 1.97 earrings pair I picked up at JoAnn's the other day!  It just called for something to jazz it up a bit, and the earrings were right there...  I'll use the other one for either a cool look (cough) and just wear one earring, lol, or I'll attach it to a zipper for a pull with bling.

Think I might be changing the lanai colour scheme...
What IS that brownish thing I just noticed now in the righthand lower corner??  Sigh.  Bella's butt.  HOW many pics has she backed her butt into??  It IS a cute butt...

What am I going to use this for?  Joe's usual question when I want to buy something, that, or, "Where are you going to put it?"  So, I've been thinking of possible uses.  Sewing room of course, as I can never have enough catch-all organizers, or a lanai catch-all, and I suddenly thought of the bathroom too!

And yes, those are all shells and sand dollars from the Sarasota/Bradenton area beaches.