Author Archives: margaretloyer

Quilting–a hobby or an obsession?

From Guest Blogger Margaret Loyer

I don’t sew. If necessity demands, I can replace a button or mend a hem. I can even darn socks. However, that doesn’t make me a sewer. My four sisters all sew but somehow I missed that gene.

I’m on holidays at the moment with my oldest sister. Since we drove, she brought along her sewing machine and enough paraphernalia to outfit a craft store. My sister isn’t just a sewer but a quilter and an obsessive one at that. Since she started quilting seven years ago, she’s made more than 100 projects ranging from table runners to queen-size quilts.

When planning our holiday, I knew that quilting would be a major activity. So true. In the first three days, we visited seven quilt shops and two craft stores. My sister bought 13 pieces of fabric and innumerable spools of thread and notions. Our evenings have been spent plotting the route to the next stores, usually working a circular path to encompass as many as possible in one day. If tomorrow goes as planned, we’ll visit five more stores and travel close to 200 miles, all in the name of quilting.

I never properly appreciated the variety of material available for sale. You can find fabric for any age and any theme. Animals are plentiful as are flowers, trees, and pagodas. Colours are not one-dimensional. Do you want blue? It can be light or dark, robin’s egg or midnight, with stars or unadorned. Cotton may be a type of material for the uninitiated but it’s just a guideline. You have to know if you want batik (tie-dyed), prints, or solids. Bolt after bolt must be perused to ensure the right combination of colour and pattern. Some quilt patterns call for as few as two contrasting fabrics while others ask for as many as 23 pieces of fabric; that’s a lot of perusing.

So far, my contribution has been to consult mapquest.com and to navigate. I’ve also been helpful in finding sales on thread or refill chalk. My sister will grudgingly admit that I did find the one piece of yellow fabric needed to complete a child’s quilt and that had eluded her and the sales clerk for several minutes.

Watching my sister sew has also been eye-opening. I have often said that it’s a lot of cutting and sewing, then re-cutting and re-sewing. I was right. It also requires a level of dedication that is far beyond what is applied to most careers, except perhaps if you’re a rocket scientist.

In my next life, I want to come back as a rocket scientist.

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Cooking – a Right- or Left-brain activity?

By Guest Blogger Margaret Loyer

The answer lies with recipes. A right-brainer scoffs at a recipe. If they use one, it’s only as a starting point with guidelines. They decide how to make something based on what’s in their cupboard.

A left-brainer follows a recipe religiously. It may be one from a book or from their memory because they’ve made it a hundred times. However, the base instructions must be there and only minor tweaking is allowed.

My sister, Cathy, is a right-brainer without par. Case in point, when my husband and I and Cathy were in Hawaii several years ago, we were invited to attend a welcome party with others at the timeshare resort where we were staying. I pulled out a piece of paper on which to write a shopping list of ingredients needed to make a shrimp appetizer that I knew by heart. My sister started looking in the refrigerator to see what was there. She ended up pulling out leftover chicken, tomatoes, onions, and salad dressing, then putting together an amazing topping that she spread on crackers. I was astounded that she could just wing it with whatever was on hand. What does that make me? A left-brainer.

I can look at a recipe and decide if I’m going to like it based on the ingredients. However, I cannot look at a recipe and decide what I have to change so that I will like it – unless it’s something simple like replacing peppers with celery. I have to try a recipe at least once before I’ll change more than that. Sometimes I’ll get really adventurous and I won’t put in the salt or I’ll decrease the amount of sugar. I may get palpitations as I’m doing it, but I persevere. No one can say I don’t live on the edge.

Next time I’m in the kitchen, I’m going to consider creating a meal based on the wildest combination of ingredients I can find in the refrigerator and cupboards. I may not do it, but I’ll consider it.

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Southern Georgian Bay

Southern Georgian Bay (Ontario, Canada) usually brings to mind the tourist area surrounding Wasaga Beach, the longest freshwater beach in the world. It is situated at the southernmost tip of Georgian Bay, a couple of hours drive north of Toronto. Wasaga Beach has stunning vistas, even at the end of October when the wind and waves are attacking the shore and only the hardiest are willing to walk the shores.

Just 20 minutes west of Wasaga Beach is Collingwood. Skiers will associate the area with the Crazy Canucks who trained on the hills at Blue Mountain. Hikers know its extensive trails with year-round access, allowing a leisurely stroll along the banks of a river or a strenuous workout up the side of a mountain.

We took several day trips during our visit. One in particular was a drive from Collingwood to Tobermory which is at the north end of Bruce Peninsula. It’s an easy drive straight up the middle of the peninsula on Highway 6. Note that there is no water view unless you take side roads to the coast, e.g. to see one of the many lighthouses. We stopped at the following towns and villages as we travelled:

Thornbury – one of the many farms along the highway is raising miniature horses; their feed station was identified as a mini saloon;

Meaford – everywhere we turned there were scarecrows hanging from sign posts and buildings; there’s an outlet mall which is set up like a junky garage sale but has some good deals on furniture and tools;

Owen Sound – this is a very pleasant town half-way up the peninsula; it’s the winter home of Chi-Cheemaun, the car ferry that travels from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island;

Tobermory – situated at the tip of the peninsula separating Georgian Bay from Lake Huron, this is the starting point for the car ferry; it operates from the long weekend of May to the week after Thanksgiving; unfortunately, we arrived two days late;

Sauble Beach – we stopped here on the return trip when we took a side road to the Lake Huron side; the waves were even higher than at Wasaga Beach; the wind was strong enough to make us stagger as we walked;

Southampton – also on the Lake Huron side, this is a tiny version of its predecessor in England; there were many sail- and fishing boats but no yachts or cruise ships as we saw in England.

Suggestion: Visit the area from mid-September to mid-October when the tourist attractions are all open. Otherwise, go in the winter for ski season.

Tourist info: www.visitgeorgianbay.com

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