Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hi, You've Reached Life and Times of Jill

I won't be in for the next while, but I should be back in September. Feel free to look aroud and leave me a comment -- I'll get them in my email.

Talk to you in September. Jill

A Time to Reflect

I'm really feeling like I need some time and space to think about life these days. I feel like life as a mother can really easily just pass you by. Your entire day flashes by, filled with mopping up spills and changing dirty clothes and keeping everyone fed and safe and relatively happy. There is so much action sometimes that it is hard to think. But yet because there are so few things to do aside from these tasks (and answering "why" and "how" questions over and over again and saying, "Outside. yes. we are outside now.") . . . see, like right now when my son woke up and had to go pee and get a drink and a snuggle before he could go back to sleep . . . that it is hard to keep your thoughts and emotions in order and in control. Its really easy to fall into self pity or envy or laziness or over eating becuase its so boring and repetitive.

With summer vacation approaching and the year coming to an "end", it seems like I'm looking back on a difficult year. I don't think I've had time to process everything that has happened. And although I feel like in some ways I've made huge strides forward -- I've lost weight, kept my house tidier and organized a lot of things -- I feel like in other ways I'm really dissatisfied. My inner life has been really dry lately. I've focused a lot on creating, which is good, but I haven't been into the depths for a while. My spirit is dry and my emotions are tired and I haven't been stopping to take the time and quiet I need to renew them.

I would like to say that I don't know where that time is going, but the fact is that I do know where its going. I spend it surfing from blog to blog and Flikr group to Flikr group, trying to find enough images and stories to fill me up. Instead of going into my basement and working on my own creations, or writing in my journal, or praying or meditating or excersising or actually emailing a friend, I saturate myself in images. I lose myself here, in cyberspace.

I know this, but I'm trying to decide what it means. Should I give up blogging, which keeps me in touch with many of my friends across the country and helps me keep track of what has happened in my life in the last 3 years? Should I stop posting on Flikr, where I'm being inspired and having fun doing swaps? Should I limit my time on Crafster, Facebook, Mothering Dot Commune? Pick one or two sites to putter on? Not putter at all? Focus my interests? Diversify my interests? Stop being interested?

I don't know. I do know I'm saturated with images. I remember when I went camping for the weekend, thinking that I had so many images in my head that I couldn't think of what I wanted to make anymore. I was losing my creative drive and vision because I was being absorbed into everyone else's projects and ideas. I could no longer see my own thoughts and ideas in my own head.

I try to do everything I do mindfully; I like to have a purpose and intent behind my actions so as to keep myself in check. I'm the sort of person who naturally leans toward chaos and disorder, so I need to work hard to keep my emotions and thoughts in order all the time. I feel like I'm losing my focus.

I guess what this means is that I'm taking a break. No blogging on vacation. Only the barest minimum of email checking and swap-related Flikr posting and Sept. Mamas posting. Otherwise, I think I'm going offline for a month. I need some time to see my own pictures and hear my own voice again, and the voices of my children and husband and the friends I will enounter along our trip.

I plan to come back to this blog in September, hopefully with some changes made both in me and my vision for my time online. Possibly with a new angle on my blog, or a different blog, or no blog at all. Hope you'll have a great month and tune in then to see what's happened.

Love to all. Jill.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Luxembourg: Who Knew.

So, as well as dabbling in the Mini Quilt Swap, I also joined a fabric and chocolate swap (who wouldn't?) that seemed like a lot of fun. My first swap partner was from Luxembourg, a place I had never heard of. I assumed it was a province of Germany, becuase it sounds kind of Germanish, but never the less sent my package to the address I was given with just Luxembourg on the bottom.

Imagine my surprise when my lovely swap partner, Lil, informed me that it was an actual independent dutchy! Of course I was fascinated and I had to go and check it out. It is a lovely little country (size-wise. as far as culture and history they kick Canada's butt). According to Wikki it is prosperous, beautiful, historically interesting, and a founding memeber in the UN, Nato, and all kinds of other important things. The best description, though, is the one from the Catholic encyclopedia the New Advent. An excerpt I am rather partial to runs as follows:

. . . it is situated at an elevation of about 1000 feet above the sea level, is mountainous and possesses a temperate healthy climate. The arable lands, including almost half the country, yield abundant crops of grain, and splendid pastures feed numerous herds of cattle and horses. The vine produces annually more than 1,300,000 gallons of wine and the fruit harvest is no less generous

It also has some cool, fairy tale like castles, towns and stoneworks , as you can see if you click on the photos there. Sure beats any archetecture you can find around here (rural decay, anyone? we've got plenty!).

So, all in all, my journey to discover Luxembourg was most pleasurable. Descriptions online were found easily, and the photos were no less generous to my opinion of the country.

I think I'm going to look everything up in the Catholic encyclopedia from now on.

I think I should start writing like that. "The fabric I discovered in this store was most generous, with the friendly staff abundantly at my disposal."

ETA: Lil just gave me a link to her virtual blog tour of the capital. Find it here:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

It's contagious . . .

I'm not usually one to be doing what everyone else is doing, but these English Paper pieced quilt blocks are really quite a fun pick up and put down hand sewing project. They finish up fairly quickly, so its also satisfying.

I'm not showing you the front because it may be featured in a mini-quilt sometime in the near future (if I can ever figure out what to do about my triangle one . . .).

Busy Week!

On Thursday, we went out to visit this older, childless couple in our church. They are farmers and he collects old John Deer tractors. He loves to give tractor rides, and the boys were treated to a ride on this tractor with Dad. We all got to drive in a vintage grain truck as well, which was fun. I think Dad enjoyed the tractor more than the boys, however.

Then yesterday our friends the Tucks came through on their way home to Fort McMurray. I've known Arden since grade 11. He played trumpet in the band and I played percussion, and he started coming to our ISCF group, then later the youth group Dave and I ran as teens. Dave was in his wedding party when he married Judith, who I get along with like a house on fire, and his older son, Nate is Dave's godson. It was a short visit - only one night - but very intense and enjoyable. One day we will live closer again and the boys can play. The boys had a blast. Nate and Andrew are very similar, tempermentally, so they played together really well. After the Tucks took us out for dinner, they boys had a huge wrestling / couch jumping / climb on daddy time in our living room. It was great. Even John, at 6 mos, was loving it.

Here are the boys sharing a bowl of cherries before supper.

Of course, we also have Art Camp from Mon. - Thurs. next week, so I've been testing out a few of the projects. I should have tried tie dying, too, but that will have to be tomorrow's project, I guess. Dave says he thinks the monster making project might be a bit much for Sasktachewan, but I hope lots of 10 yr old boys take it and have fun learning how to sew with me!

Some things never cease to surprise me . . .

like the brilliant yellow of canola flowers. Seriously, is that a real colour?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Quilt Giveaway

Amazing Dana from Old Red Barn Soap Co. is giving stuff away again. She has made and is giving away this amazing quilt . Go and enter. If you're really ambitious, make a video about why you want the quilt and get 50 entries. If I didn't have art camp next week you know what I would have been doing. At the very least check out the hilarious Bob the Builder video someone entered. Classic stuff.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fabric goodness folded after prewashing

How can you not love this photo? My husband tells me that I respond to colour how most people respond to drugs . . . do you think drugs would be cheaper?

Anyway, the bottom raspberry and orange and brown ones are mostly the Chloes Imagination that I was obsessing about ealier, which arrived last week. Also some Zazu thrown in (by he same designer) and some pindots -- my stash lacks blender fabrics. The top ones are for the quilt Im going to make with the fabric you can see here: Sorry not to be more saavy, but it appears my keyboard is still on the french setting and I can't seem to find the html brackets anywhere . .. ah well. the bright yellow and turquoise in the middle are just becuase I loved them. Ill make something happy for me out of them one day. Until then Ill just keep them where they can smile at me while I sew.

Here, there and everywhere

Just a side note: Aaron has turned on the French language feature on my keyboard by randomly pushing buttons while I wasnt looking, so I dont have an apostrophe right now, just this: è. Also, no slash (é) or question mark (É). Please excuse my poor punctuation until I figure out how to fix it.

We went on a little jaunt into Saskatoon this Sunday and Monday. We drove in Sun. night, and camped overnight so we could both get a little city culture into us and get our art camp shopping done (ie--go to Michaels) in our allotted time period and with everyone still sane at the end. Aside from neither of us packing the air mattress, this worked out great.

It was funny, because I was walking down Broadway (the main funky strip in town) and wearing my typical clothes -- jeans, a hand made poet-y blouse, my big green cordoroy bag and a scaf in my hair to keep the mess looking civilized -- and no one was staring at me. In fact, I was on the tame end of the fashoin statement scale. Sitting in a coffee shop by myself -- also normal. No one felt the need to come over and say hi and ask when the person I was meeting was getting there. In fact, no one said hi at all, except a guy who was trying to get his Saxaphone back from a pawn shop and wanted to know if I would kindly spare a nickel. I read the newspaper and wandered around and no one cared. No one will say to me any time this week, È(oh, no quotes either -- what do french people do when they punctuate their sentences on this computerÉ) So, Jill, saw you were having coffee by yourself. Was that a good article you were reading in the newspaperÉ. Not only that, but the coffee shop was open past 6 pm.

It made me realize that I am not the wrong person. I am just in the wrong place. It is a releif to be reminded of this once in a while.

Anyway, we had a good breakfast at a 50s diner (Dave and I are big diner breakfast eaters) and talked about the glowing optimism of that era, and looked for sandals for me and went to the quilt shop (of course -- and yes I did pick up a few odds and ends (ahem)) and to Michaels and Canadian Tire and the motorcycle shop and McNally Robinson (a bookstore chain) and McDonalds and Tim Hortons . . . quick, quick! cram in as many things we cant get at home into 20 hrs as you possibly can . . .

Then yesterday I went to the fair in Nipawin with the Hetkes and their three kids. It was really fun. This year Andrew went on someting other than the kiddie train. He actually tried every ride he could go on and would have gone on more if we hadnt arrived late and run out of time. He was super funny becuase he had the most serious, analytical face almost the whole time. We were on the roller coaster and while the other kids are screaming and waving their arms he was sitting perfectly still. About the 5th time around the thing really got going and whipped us around a little bit faster and Andrew exclaimed OH I like this! That was it. I was so impressed with his independence. He even went on things all by himself when we couldnt find a little friend to go with us and he was pretty calm about it. Aaron desperately wanted to go on the rides, but you had to be over 2 for everything except the bouncy carosel (I bought him a ticket to go in this once with Andrew and they had fun). He just kept whistfully saying Ride. Ride. Ride. After supper he got a little out of hand and I actually lost him for about a minute, which was pretty scary. It ended up that he was following the bees around the edge of the ride, since he couldnt go on the ride.

Today we just hung out in Nipawin and let the kids play while I visited. It was perfect - the kids played happily and I got to check out my new book that I got in Saskatoon -- the Creative Family (more on that once I finish it) and have a good visit with Sharon.

Still a busy week ahead -- Art camp shopping and project - trying to do, and guests Friday and SAturday, and then next week we (I) run a 4 day craft-based day camp. Since I pick most of the activities we re doing a lot of fabric-based stuff this year -- tie dying, softie making, batiking, print making. We have more volunteers this year, so Im hoping to still be breathing at the end, unlike last year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Testing, testing . . .

So, I was trying to make this lovely, cool little mini-quilt for my second month in the mini-quilt swap over at Flikr. My swap partner is from B.C., and the theme for the month was triangles, so I decided to try doing a wonky triangle. After a test run of the triangle, I made another, fantastic triangle in some of my favorite dots that I had been saving for something wonderful. Then I decided it was a little a-frame cabin and I made this cute little scene, all in triangles, to go around it. As I mentioned last week, in my rant, I went out and got some fusible web to stick it all down.

Well, either the ladies were right that I am stupid and incompetent, or they sold me old fusible, or my new iron is too hot, becuase it didn't work. I ended up with applique pieces (including my awesome triangle) that had fusible web on one side, and would not stick to my background.

This is the point where the situation gets truly Jillish. . . . So do I decide to change my idea? Or ask someone who might know what to do what to do? No. I decide to bravely plow on. I button-hole stitch around the applique pieces, sandwich the baby up and start quilting. I had decided that this would be a perfect project to try using thick embroidery floss on, since I want to do that on my play mat that I will make sometime before the boys are in highschool. So I started to quilt it . . . and the edges of the applique start to fray, and pull away from the background. So I undo half the quilting, re-zig-zag the offending side of the triangle, and do some looser, further apart quilting. Again, another section starts pulling away. And as I go, each piece I try to quilt starts fraying and coming off the background fabric.

So I stop, and post it on Flikr, and get some suggestions. But unsure of which one to try, I decide to try . . . all of them. First, I try appliquilting around one triangle on my machine. It looks kind of stupid, but the thing is stuck on there. But when I try to do that on my big, wonky triangle, my machine rebells and starts skipping stitches again. I change the needle. The new needle won't stay threaded. So in a panic (I have another 15 days to complete this thing, but for some reason I decided I had to so it right that moment) . . .I decide to hand quilt a second triangle to see if that will work. It doesn't really. I'm not happy with it. So I take a section of the big triangle and try some hand sewn blanket stitch on it. Didn't like the look of that . . .

So now I have three different, weird bits of stitching all over my quilt. None of which are working for me or doing the quilt any favors. So I decide to just cut the quilt apart. I saved the tree, which I really think is cute, and which isn't fraying yet, for some future adventure. And this is what I have left:

I can't decide wether to just bind it and send it off to my swap partner (it is 8 inches) or make another, square quilt with some sort of triangular piecing that I know something about. Ug. Why don't I ever just stop and think?

Monday, July 07, 2008

How old do I have to be

to be taken seriously? Really.

When I was in my 20's and I was a highschool substitute, I used to often get mistaken for a student by condescending secretaries. I would go to ask where the photocopier was and be told, "You need permission from your teacher to use the photocopier, dear". Even when people knew I was on staff, some would often pass off my comments or ideas with a vague smile and blank look as if to say "You are not old enough for me to listen to you, and your idea does not fit into my pre-packaged paradigym. Therefore, I am going to pretend that you did not speak".

Now that I'm in my 30's, I find the same thing often happens. I'm hanging out with the local moms (who are my age, I might add) and I'll say something relating to attachment parenting or cloth diapers or how no, actually, we didn't "all"go through the getting-stupidly-drunk-and-sleeping-around stage, and so we don't need to assume its inevitable that our children will, and I get the same thing. Same blank look. Same "its only Jill, just pretend she didn't speak and go on with the conversation" attitude.

Today I had the same thing happen for the umpteenth time at the quilting store. I went in to buy some embroidery floss and some fusible web to iron-on fuse some stuff on my latest mini quilt. I don't know where it is in the store becuase I've never done applique before. So I ask the woman, and she sells me this Heat and Bond stuff. I specifically said, "I want the stuff you just have to iron on.". I get home and realize its the stuff you have to sew around, too. Did she not hear me? Of course she did. Its probably just twenty cents more per metre and she thought "Oh, its only Jill. She's not a SERIOUS quilter, so she'll be fine with this stuff". When really, I have some of that stuff that they sold me LAST time I was trying to do applique (anoter customer in the store corrected the lady who was helping me and said, "That's not what she's looking for" to which the lady in the store said, "Well, its only for a kids project so it doens't really matter"). And I couldn't get it to work. On my coasters I used regular fusible interfacing and just zig-zagged them in place, and the jeans I tried to patch with this stuff, the patches fell off in the wash even after I blanket stitched it in place. They are constantly trying to sell me broadcloth instead of quilting solids and flanelette instead of flanel. In one of the local city's fabriclands, I had a woman tell me that I DID NOT want the large bag of stuffing. "Oh, you don't want THAT, dear" (subtext: becuase you're just a silly little girl who couldn't possibly do enough sewing to use up that whole bag of stuffing).

Dear. That's the sticker for me. Its always "dear". Like I"m their granddaughter and they're trying to teach me how to use a sewing machine for the first time. Like I can't sew a straight line and they're going to have to look over my shoulder to make sure I do it correctly. Like my sewing and quilting can't really matter because I"m not 500 years old and don't use calicos or polyester in my sewing, and after all, its only for my kids, or for some tiny mini quilt. That doesn't really matter, does it?

I feel like storming down there and exploding at the woman. Especially since Aaron threw a mug at my head while I was taking a rest on the carpet and I'm slightly concussed right now. But all that will do is make sure I get even worse service at the only sewing / quilting store within an hour's drive of my house. So instead I"ll just go in there and smile and find the stuff I want myself and make her cut it for me and leave as if this is normal and of course she misunderstood me, ha ha. Ug. Small towns drive me crazy sometimes.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Completed block - peas and carrots quilt

Looky, looky! One block completely sewn and finished. I'm so excited becuase I cut the squares big, so I could trim them down to size and get accurate blocks, and it worked! Its a bit tedious trimming all 12 triangle square blocks, but it yeilds such a lovely result that its worth it in the long run. I figure if I do them in pairs, and I don't get distracted by too many other things, I might actually get all the blocks sewn by the end of July. (No promises, though, Sharon). I do need to get these quilts and Andrew's quilt done before cold sets in in the fall, so I'm happy to feel like I"m finally making progress.

I love it when I start getting to this stage -- its so gratifying and exciting to be able to see something beautiful appearing out of all the cutting and chain piecing I've been doing so far.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Wonky Triangle

First attempt. I'm not really loving the balance of colour in this one (its kind of screaming at me to cut it apart or add another orange strip and somehow balance out the yellow, actually), but its just scraps from Jeremy's quilt . I am loving the idea of this. Along with my mini quilt I can see a whole quilt of just big blocks of these in blues and turqoises and whites. Hmmm . . .

Toddler Logic

If this box contains cookies . . .

And THIS box contains crackers . . .

The SURELY this box ought to contain pancakes.

Aaron can not figure out why I won't pull some pancakes out of the box for him whenever he's in the mood. Yesterday after his nap he practically had a tantrum (which is pretty rare for him) becuase I wouldn't get him a pancake out of the box. This morning, again, he jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen calling, "Pamanakaks! Peminakats! Paddadaks!" Fortunately big brother wanted Shreddies, which distracted him long enough to sneak a bowl of cereal in front of him and move the pancake box (leftover from the youth retreat -- I don't "do"boxed mixes for anything) to the back of the cupboard.
Speaking of toddlers, we had our first stitches this week. Four. Right on the head. Andrew tackled him headlong into the corner of a wall, while they were both running at break neck speed. So much for my theory that if I taught them to tackle gently around the waist all would be well . . .
Apparently Aaron has my skin, becuase when we went to get them removed today one had almost entriely grown over. (I gave up on my bellybutton ring after my body repeatedly tried to eat it).

Friday, July 04, 2008


The Lappy is fixed and I didn't have to reboot the hard drive and lose all my data. I just had to put in the disk I made with all the system info on it and boot from that disk instead of the hard drive. It asked me if it could fix my computer for me, so I let it. And it worked! Yay for technology that's smarter than me!

It made me realize that I need to print some of my photos. I don't have any hard copy prints of anything since right before Aaron was born. So that would be since Dec. 2006. I shall add it to my list of things to do.

To do:
make three twin sized quilts
organize two years worth of digital photos
keep Aaron from killing himself
entertain the children
keep the house from falling into total chaos
plan and execute craft-based vacation bible school
prepare for and execute summer vacation
find someone to look after cat for 3 weeks (always an onerous task)
world domination
Do you think that should keep me busy for the summer? I think so

My June Mini Quilt

You might remember my sneak peek of the mini quilt in progress right here . Well, my swap partner received it a few days ago, so now I can show you all.

This quilt is about 9" big. The worm is made of wool felt and he can pop out of his little hole on a piece of elastic. The flowers are made by sandwiching a circle of batting in between the two fabric circles and wrapping embroidery floss around to make "petals", and using buttons for the centre to tidy up the mess. Both techniques were from Quilt Sensations .
I had so much fun making this quilt. As soon as I signed up for the mini-quilt swap this idea popped into my head, and it actually turned out exactly how I wanted it, which rarely happens for me. It was also super fun sending it away to someone in another country, and I'm enjoying the excitement of knowing I have mail coming any day now.
This is the back. I put a bird on so he could hunt for the worm. I know, I'm silly.

The July theme is triangles, and I have a bit of a wonky idea (wonky is actually a semi-real Modern quilting term). I just have to have a chance to get into the basement and try it out.

July Recipie Swap: Beef Kebabs

This is for the recepie swap here . There's a button I'll try to work out soon.
Photos to appear next time I make this.
1 large round steak (more if you like lots of meat)
1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
olive oil
1 large ziploc bag
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 onion
1 container cherry tomatos (about 24)
12 mushrooms
1 zucchini
12 wood skewers
baking sheet, cake pan or other flat container

The night before or the morning of the meal, chop round steak into 2 inch pieces and place into ziploc bag. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice into bag. Chop garlic coarsely and drop in bag. Add olive oil to cover and sprinkle in some salt (add other spices if you like). Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

Soak wood skewers. Chop peppers, onion and zucchini into 2 inch pieces. String veggies and meat, alternating, on kebab sticks. Place in shallow dish as you finish them. Pour remaining marinade from ziploc bag over kebabs (its ok, you're going to cook them) and let sit for 10 min.

Heat BBQ to 350ish. Place kebabs on the top rack and roast for 45 min. or until everything is tender and not charred. Enjoy.

After you've done it once or twice, switch around the meat and veggies to suit your own taste. Have fun. I love making this for company, becuase I can have the meat and veggies all prepared the night before and then just assemble and cook them.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Status: July 3

What I've Been Doing: Trying to rescue my photos before my Lappy has a total meltdown, going to the wading pool, trying out my new workout videos, ambling around with small boys outside, mucking around on Flikr, cleaning sand and watermelon off of everything.
What I've Been Reading: Quilting magazines, a little PG Wodehouse, the book of Proverbs, the final statement from GAFCON , craft blogs, Spoiling Childhood
What I've Been Making: half triangle squares, a new skirt, mini quilts, oatmeal bread, lots of messes with the boys, a big hat, a spaceboy and some paper hexagons.
What I've Been Thinking About: starting a parenting blog, the demise of North American culture and society, becoming vegetarian, Morgentaller being awarded the order of Canada, how to keep life sane during the summer.
What's Making Me Angry: the word "mine", the demise of my Lappy.
What's Making Me Happy: little boys running, dancing, playing and exploring, dirty bathwater at the end of a long day, a light at the end of a very long tunnel (hopefully its not another train this time), the immanent approach of summer vacation, folk festivals, and visitors stopping in on their way cross-country.
What I've Been Planning: way too many quilts, lovely care packages for friends, swaps packages for lovely strangers, my vacation, Art Camp (again), the shape of our next year. And sleep. Sleep is good.

The Lappy is down again. I will probably spend a few days getting her up and running again, so no more detailed posts for a while. Sorry. If you want to see my finished mini-quilt, click the button in my sidebar and find the one with the worm and the flowers. Must clean this disastrous mess that passes for our house.