Sunday, October 29, 2017

Sunday Stretch #24 Frog

We spend so much time sitting in chairs or on couches here in the West and not sitting on the floor where our hips can rotate healthily in our hip sockets, that our hips lose their range of motion.  Our hip joints are the largest joints in our body, so lots of tightness happens here from this lack of rotation. There are lots of issues buried deep in the tissues of these joints too. Hip and knee replacements in the West are off the charts, especially as compared to those in the East. Living on the floor is a good thing!

Even if you can't quite get to the full pose of Frog, spending some time in Tadpole will most definitely help tightness in your hips. I have the cutest model for this pose for you today!

Benefits of this pose

  • lovely pull along the inside lines of the legs, which is where the Liver, Kidney and Spleen meridian lines run (acupressure points for these energy lines)
  • works deeply into the groin, and adductors
  • there is a slight backbend, so good for the low back, especially after sitting hunched over a sewing machine or cutting fabric for long periods of time
  • if your arms are outstretched, this stimulates the upper body meridians: the Lung, Heart, Small and Large Intestine energy lines; also a lovely stretch across the shoulders for same reasons as previous bullet
  • aids in digestion
  • helps to relieve cramps, both menstrual and digestive

Getting into the pose

It's best to get onto a yoga mat or a quilt, even a couple of quilts, or a folded quilt beneath your knees. This provides padding and helps the knees gently slide apart as gravity works its magic! Brady has a quilt I made for Brianne 11 years ago (before he was born!) doubled up and then his Halloween quilt I made him folded under his knees for extra padding.

Tadpole or Half Frog

Spread your knees apart as wide as they will go with just a slight tugging feeling. Keep your toes together. Stretch your arms out in front of you, draping your chest towards the ground. You can roll another quilt up under your chest if you like to rest on, or, if you have just eaten or want to relieve cramping in the lower abdomen, allow your belly to hang suspended. This is great for aiding digestion but also helps relieve cramping. Stay here for 2-3 minutes. 

If you'd like to go into the full frog, go to this next stage first. Raise your hips so that they are directly over your knees. This increases the backbend in your lower back. See if your knees may like to come further apart.  If you are okay here after several breaths, then proceed to full frog. You can't quite see how Brady is resting his forehead on his right forearm, but you can see his left arm fully extended.


Turn your feet out, Charlie Chaplin style. Allow the knees to slide apart, letting gravity do the work. Your job is to surrender to that pull, relaxing into this intense tug.  However, as Bernie says, you want to feel sensation. Do not make it sensational! 

If your nose gets squished (ask me how I know this) or it is too intense to rest on your chin, then rest your forehead on a forearm. Just be sure to switch arms part way through. The tug you get along the backs of your arms, into your shoulder blades, and in the lower back to some degree, is quite delicious. And then there's the pull into the groin and hips. Lovely. Stay here for 3 minutes or more, breathing slowly in and out through your nose, keeping relaxing as much as you can to get into the connective tissues.

Now.  How to get out?!

Easy.  Just slide forward onto your tummy.  Extend one leg at a time by tucking your toes under, lifting the kneecap to straighten the leg and pushing into the heel. Do the other leg. Be still and feel.  It can be fairly intense.  You may want to groan as you come out!  But. Notice. Breathe.  Then maybe rock over the pelvis a few times, or bend your legs at the knees and wave the lower limbs back and forth windshield wipers style to release.

Remember you can find tons and tons more information on Frog and all things Yin Yoga at Bernie Clark's website, Yin Yoga.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

DrEAMi! Linky #9

I was thinking that since I started these Drop Everything And Make it! linky parties, I have not had as many of those squirrel moments... Is it possible I am getting more focused and having less quilter ADD?!

Well, this month, I did have a moment, but it wasn't something catching my attention; I was actually asked to divert my attention! I got asked if I could whip up a mug rug for a blog hop with a tight deadline, showcasing Amanda Murphy's new line, "Winter Games" for Contempo, a division of Benartex Fabrics. Getting to pick eight fat quarters to use for the mug rug was too sweet a temptation not to rise to the occasion. So I dropped everything, well, the main thing I was working on, my mum's quilt, and followed the trail of this fun squirrel:
I sketched a few ideas, but the original one just stuck, a nod to the quilt on the cover of Amanda Murphy's book, Modern Holiday. I called this mug rug, the Leaning Tree Mug Rug.

I did a test mug rug to see if my free-form cutting of a tree shape would work, and yep, it did. I tweaked a few measurements, and cut into the fabric, and in no time at all I had not one...

but two mug rugs, thanks to a stack, whack and shuffle method developed by Karla Alexander.

They measure approximately 6” x 9". I went to town quilting them, using several different colours of Holoshimmer and metallic threads by Sulky.  You can find the tutorial here.

Last month:
Anja was entranced by two squirrels, this wallet and a cute drawstring bag
A granddaughter a granddaughter is indulged! Janine dropped everything to honour that request.
Patty whipped up this terrific Halloween quilt - you have to check out her fabulous quilting!
This. I have such love for Preeti's squirrel moment. What a beauty.
Ah the temptations! Thank you so much for sharing these.

So it's your turn! Link up whatever project tickled your fancy this past month. Be sure to check out some distractions of other quilters. We kindred spirits need to support each other in our oh-so-bad, but oh-such-fun habits!

Friday, October 27, 2017

I Like #9

My aim is to do one of these a month, yet it amazes me how fast that time comes around. I could probably do these at least twice a month as almost daily I find myself mentally noting, or actually photographing something for which I am grateful. Although I actually started writing this a couple of weeks ago, it is a day late because yesterday was travel day, which brings me to my first like.

1. I like Visa cards that give points. Since I first learned of the Aeroplan programme in 2004, I've collected points like a fiend, and have gotten many trips. Today, I am typing from the living room of Brady's house! I especially like getting great connections when travelling on points.

2. Winning Cheryl's Five Year Blogiversary giveaway at Meadow Mist Designs was a huge WOW knock my socks off win. I just love her designs, have done since I first 'met' her a few years ago when my blog was a baby. The prize was a hard copy of 15 of her patterns!! I already own a few; I've tested two for her, and and I've bought a couple that I love like Outlined Plus. Anyhow, to save on postage, because I live in Canada, she sent me all 21 PDFs of her patterns!  To enter you had to tell her your favourite which for me is Pike's Peak:

You can click the photo to buy your own copy of the pattern.

3. Each month I revel in the beauty of Mother Nature. This past month this moth posed on my kitchen window one night and allowed me to photograph her underside. I like moths. Butterflies grab everyone's attention, and although I'll admit I light up with a smile, don't care who sees me, whenever I spot a splendid Monarch butterfly floating around on their migration south, I do think moths are as beautiful, just in a more subdued way.

4.  I love Naala. She is our Rottweiler, age 10 years 8 months. We came dangerously close to losing her twice this month. As you may know from a previous post, she had an emergency splenectomy on October 13. Half a week after surgery, she then had a terrible several days of vomiting and then refusing to eat. We got that under control thanks to an anti-nausea shot and a few days of pills. I am thankful that she is eating almost like her usual self, is now bright-eyed and perky, although she does rest a whole lot more, but hey she was down to 81 pounds, this from a girl who was regularly 98 pounds her entire adult life. Besides, she's had major surgery, and experienced a rough week ahead of that surgery.

I am so grateful for an excellent vet, who suggested doing another blood panel, when he saw us for a follow-up appointment to the emergency trips, and who told us to turn around and take her back in for immediate surgery because he suspected internal bleeding. The pathology report has come back, and it is mostly positive: some benign, some 'bad stuff' as in cancerous, in her spleen, but the next two months are critical and if she gets through these okay, he feels she'll be fine. If she continues on her upward trend of the past few days, we are confident that will indeed happen and we can have a few more years with her.

5.  I like lucky stones.

These are actually the ear bones or otolith of a freshwater drum also known as a sheepshead fish. They are amazing, because those 'J' or 'L' shapes ingrained on them act as a daily journal of what the fish did, and ate, kind of like rings in a tree, but even more detailed. Here is a great blog post (not mine) about them. I have found four lucky stones so far in my recent rediscovery of Seacliff Beach.

6. I love love love being only 10 minutes from Seacliff Beach in Leamington, Ontario. I never tire of getting out of my SUV and seeing this

and of spending a pleasant hour or two in absolute Zen, walking along the shore, hunting for lucky stones, and collecting beach glass, of which I am amassing quite a collection.

7. I love music. Love. This month, Beethoven's 5th Symphony, the Fourth Movement, particularly resonated with me one day, such joy after the ominous dun-dun-dun-DUH of the First Movement. I do love many genres of music, and particularly like this new song, "Clouds", just released this past week, a collaboration between the Strumbellas and an Inuit group, The Jerry Cans.

Besides the catchy tune, rhythms, fiddle-playing, combination of both English and Inuktitut, and inclusion of Inuit throat-singing (see another of their songs below where you can both see and hear more of this technique, and see Northern Lights) the fact that two bands collaborate and share makes my heart happy (The Jerry Cans eventually recorded in the same place The Strumbellas did, 'The Woodshed', which they say was "our first step to sharing our music outside the North").  We can cooperate, reach out, across cultures...and together create such profound beauty, no?

8. I really enjoy CBC's À Propos programme, which I have listened to faithfully on Sunday afternoons for nearly a decade. I was French in my previous life, probably in more than one life, as I've felt such an affinity for all things 'française' since being oh, about 4, when I'd sit, spellbound, watching "Thierry La Fronde" on TV, a French programme. The music Jim Corcoran plays is predominantly la musique Québécoise, and I enjoy listening to favourites of artists I know, as well as hearing new releases from them, or from new artists.

9. I love my friends, and I am rich in many. They support me in many ways, from laughs to hugs, and from sharing to giving. I look forward to getting together with a few friends over the next few days. I have been so grateful for their support and messages of care and concern from near and far when we were so worried about and sleep-deprived because of Naala. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

10. I love Fall. I did not used to when I lived in Alberta. It lasted only a few weeks from leaves starting to change until they were off the trees. It was too cold too soon, and then drab brown. Knowing winter was around the corner, a winter that would last for the next 5 months or more, was altogether too depressing for this warm and sun-loving girl. Here, Fall is wonderful. So slow! With the vast variety of trees here, they change at different times, so many colours, such depth of colour! Here is last week on the Greenway:

Fall means we make salsa, something I used to do faithfully, but haven't for a few years now.
Although these are not our own garden tomatoes, they are grown right here in our county, as are the peppers, and majority of other ingredients. It is absolutely delicious, a recipe I've made for two decades now, from the sister-in-law of my sister-in-law!

Finally, I adore, no deeper than that, cannot express the profound love I have, for my grandson, Brady. I look forward to this next week with him, three of those days where I have him all to myself.
Posing outside a fantastically decorated for Halloween house

The DrEAMi! linky opens tomorrow and runs for a week, so I am looking forward to seeing what has snagged your attention to the point you've literally dropped everything to focus on the one project...I know snowmen grabbed Vicki...

Affiliate links ahead; thank you for your support! 💖 You many have noticed I've become an affiliate for Sewing Machines Plus. I have purchased from this company and have been pleased with the service, so when they invited me to become an affiliate, I took another look through their site, found a little more to it than I'd realized, ha, look out, and decided to jump in.  They have nine different brands of thread, in a variety of weights and fibres, and at good prices. They have free shipping on orders over $49 in the US. They have a promo deal on write now with the code TREAT.

Also remember Connecting Threads has their thread sale on, great time to stock up. It's what I do! My Avanté loves this thread; I used a few colours of it on 'Radiance', Aidan's quilt.
They, too, offer free shipping on orders over $49 in the US, over $75 goes free to Canada, the UK and Australia! Sweet.

Linking up with LeeAnna at Not Afraid of Color

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Winter Games" Blog Hop

I was super-excited to get to work with Amanda Murphy's fabric line "Meadow Dance" last month (heard in her newsletter today that it is sold out and being reprinted!) and then... to get to work with her next line, 'Winter Games' in my new favourite Christmas colours?  Over the moon!

Isn't that such a perfect winter print? There was no question that that was one I'd pick for using in my mug rug. Mittens with strings, how I always wanted a pair, thought it was so cool that you could just let them dangle, and even toques, which, as I said on Sew In Love With Fabric blog, rhymes with 'Luke' and is Canadian for a woolen hat just like those on the fabric.

Here is what I made:

The technique used will yield two mug rugs,  that you can whip up in a few hours. I like that!

First of all, I got the idea for the mug rug from the cover of Amanda's book, Modern Holiday. I've wanted to make that quilt for EVER. This book turned me onto fresh Christmas colours.

I've made free-form cut triangles before, along with several other shapes, thanks to Karla Alexander's Stack a New Deck book, so I figured I could do this without any paper-piecing or templates.
So let the games begin, shall we?

Leaning Tree Mug Rugs

Yield: 2 mug rugs 6.5" x 9.5"

Fabric Requirements
8 fat quarters in coordinating colours, or scraps, but note that the scraps need to be about 8.5" square for the large tree block.

Mini Trees
1. Cut four rectangles approximately 4.5" wide by 3.5" tall.
**Note that you will make four tree parts at once by stacking these four squares and making two slices with your rotary cutter. If that worries you, then you may do two trees at a time, but you will need to keep the partners together since this is freely cut without templates.

2. Place your ruler at a tree angle you like and slice through all four layers at once.
**Don't make these angles too sharp, or you will not have enough fabric to square to 3.5" in the end.

3. Now make a second slice to form the tree shape. Be sure to allow at least a 1/2" from the side edges.

4. Take the top tree and place it on the bottom of the tree stack. This shuffles the fabrics.

1. First sew the left side of the tree to the background. Note that things won't line up perfectly; trim the extra bit of fabric as shown below, so you have a straight edge. Press to the background.

2. Now sew the background piece to the right side of the tree. Press to the background. Trim the bottom edge straight. Square this unit to approximately 3" tall by 3.5" wide.
**Tip: ensure you have 0.5" or more about the tree top. Make four.

3. Sew a 1" x 1.25" rectangle of tree trunk fabric between two 1.25" x 1.75" rectangles of background fabric. Press to the background fabric. Make four. You now have this:
Note that the tree section wasn't trimmed when I took this photo.
4. Sew the trunk unit to the tree unit. Press the seam open or to one side. Square the mini tree blocks to 3.5". Set aside.

Large trees
1. Cut a 7.5" x 6" rectangle of background fabric and the same of tree fabric. Place the tree fabric atop the background having the 7.5" width at the lower edge. Cut a tree triangle shape as you did for the mini trees.

2.  Stitch and press as you did for the mini trees. Trim the bottom edge straight. Square the large tree unit to approximately 5.5" tall by 6.5" wide. Make two.

3. Sew a 1.75" x 1.25" trunk piece between two 1.75" x 3.25" rectangles of background fabric. Make two of these units. This unit will measure 6.75" x 1.75"; you will trim it to fit the tree unit after joining.

4. Join the tree unit to the trunk unit. Trim so that it measures 6.5" square.

You now have the following:

Arrange these so that you have one large tree with two mini trees on one side as in the first photo of this post. Sew the two mini trees together, one above the other. Then sew this unit to the side of the large tree block. Square to 6.5" x 9.5".

Layer with batting (great to use up scraps) and a backing piece cut approximately 7" x 10". Quilt. I had fun with my metallic threads, Holoshimmer by Sulky, and the most perfect variegated Sulky rayon. I also used Aurifil 2600 in the white/grey areas, and pieced everything on my 1947 Featherweight with pale blue Gütermann.

Both were quilted on my Bernina. I did swirls, echoes, pebbles, dot to dot, a loops and snowflakes meander, and flowing lines. Fun!

When done quilting, square it up and bind. I did a single-fold binding, cut at 1.25" wide, applied to the back, and then top-stitched down to the front.

Here's the back:
My impatiens are hanging onto summer as much as I am!
I used the mittens and toques fabric on one, and the pale green fabric I used for the tree trunks on the other.

I got my Angela Walters cup out (fitting because I pulled out her Shape By Shape 2 for inspiration) to see how it went with these:
I'd say pretty fine! Turquoise is such a beautiful colour.
How would you like to win a few fat quarters of these fabrics for yourself? Maybe make this mug rug or one of the others on the hop this week? If you'd like to see all the fabrics (there are 25!) in Amanda's collection, and read about her designs, click here.

Tuesday: The Benartex Blog Design Team - they used the games fabric to create two mug rugs in motion!
Wednesday: me! at mmm! quilts
Thursday: Debby Kratovil Quilts

To keep costs down, Benartex is sending to US residents only please. Just answer this question: have you ever made a mug rug and do you use it? Followers, new ones welcome, can get a second entry if you tell me how you follow me. See the top of my sidebar for where to find me beneath my profile. Due to the large volume of comments during giveaways, I won't be responding to comments. Be sure to leave your address in your comment if you are a no-reply blogger, like this:  ephdra (at) gmail (dot) com.  Thank you for your understanding while I work my way through comments on the last two posts; things have been pretty hectic and stressful at my house this past 10 days. My previous post explains why.
Good luck!

The giveaway is open through Friday, Oct. 20 11:59 EDT. I'll announce the winner on my blog on Saturday. GIVEAWAY HAS NOW CLOSED.

Sunday! (just been rather preoccupied with a very ill doggie, sorry): The winner is #70, Abbigail, and she has been contacted. She uses mug rugs all the time. ☕

Thank you to all who entered, and commented, and welcome to new followers. I've been using one of my mug rugs all week! I find they are perfect for the morning coffee or afternoon tea when I am having something small to eat. If you make one of these, please send me a photo and with your permission, I'd love to post it on my blog.

Linking up in lots of places!
Free Motion By the River
Sew Fresh Quilts
Quilt Fabrication
My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, October 16, 2017

Dog Gone Cute Blocks OMG

I needed to keep the October goal simple and sweet because I'm away for a part of the month. I do have another goal to complete by the end of October (a long shot is TWO quilts) but I put them on my Q4 FAL list, so didn't want to double up here. So my OMG goal was to make two 12X18" Dog Gone Cute blocks. The original post is here.

They are going to Karen at kaholly for her to take to Texas this winter. You can read here about the wonderful plans she has to help raise funds for Second Chance Farm who is helping take care of animals whose humans can't take care of them with the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

I came up with the colour scheme based on our two beloved dogs, Naala

who is a Rottweiler. This one is all batik fabrics except for the background.

I did Dog 3. I've made Dog 1 already.
The second one is for Rocco.
He is grey and white, and when he was a baby, he had the most gorgeous blue eyes. This one uses cottons, the swirly grey is a great one from Connecting Threads, and the eyes are a bit of turquoise left from the Meadow Dance fabric I used in Ribbon Stars.

As a few bloggers have said, these are like potato chips, betcha can't make just one! Lorna sells the complete pattern but you can also find the instructions in her blog posts. Dog 3 is here.

I don't think a week has gone by for some time that my heart swells and I have a lump in my throat (called 'moral elevation' by psychologists, in Option B by Sheryl Sandberg) at the good that is being done in the quilting world. I wish I could do more, but doing the little bits here and there that I can, I know, all adds up, as they say.

Since I wrote this post, just this morning I've learned of another cause, that of remembering the 70 273 physically and mentally disabled people who were murdered by the Nazis between 1940-41.

I had a DrEAMi! and yep, literally dropped everything to make a couple of blocks to send away. You can read more about this project here at The Barefoot Heart.
From pulling fabric to taking the photo, these two blocks took half an hour, a very quick way to help.

On a final note, please send some healing vibes and good thoughts via the big dog in the sky to our darling third daughter, Naala, pictured below with our second daughter, Dayna.
Just a month ago at Dayna's

She was hemorrhaging internally; we came very close to losing her. She had to have an emergency splenectomy on Friday, and although she is such a trooper, doing very well despite her 10 years 7 1/2 months of age and after major surgery, she has a long road ahead. We should know results of the histopathology in about a week, so if you have a moment, please pray she is in the 25% of dogs whose tumours on the spleen are benign.

48 hours after surgery, Sunday morning:

Smiled for the camera though:

Today, Monday, MacGyver is out cutting grass, and Naala cannot, nor does she want to, be left alone, which means I can't sew because my studio is upstairs. So 'If the mountain will not come to Muhammad....'
Lots of rugs on the floors to help with her traction
Reason #333 why I love my Featherweights, this one whose story I have yet to tell you! So I'm sewing in the kitchen, cutting and pressing station set up to the right on the counter!
Love portable sewing equipment.

We've been stalled on the last stage of the kitchen reno for various reasons, this latest, Naala, who must be kept very quiet for the next while as she adjusts to having no spleen, and has to make rather a lot of blood. Her PCV count was dangerously low, but it had risen one point, to 18, the morning after her surgery, so she's heading in the right direction. A high protein diet with extra chicken, liver, etc. is helping her on the road to recovery.

Linking up
Cooking Up Quilts
Elm Street Quilts